please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Beauty of Ads, and Ads of Beauty

Me: successful trial lawyer in 1950's Los Angeles. You: my personal private investigator and butt of most of my jokes, built like a refrigerator. You really wear that suit. I need you to do some digging for me, Paul.

I enjoy ethnic food, small special people and lips. Freakishly big lips. With bulging eyes. Loincloth, bone through nose; spear. Under 5" tall, speak in clicks and pops. Me: 300 pound shut-in, live with mother.

You: speaking wad of dough on my television, touting the benefits of your warm, steaming cinnamon rolls, holding frosting tube and crotch level and giving a good, hearty squirt. Then you laughed, in your high-pitched girlish way. Buddy, what are you trying to do to me?

Was giving plasma at plasma bank. Asked you (working there) out on date. Laughed at me. Why haven't you called?

CORPORAL CUDDLESWORTH! Reporting for duty, sir! I've re-upped, and am looking at an extended hitch, due to backdoor draft!

You: Painter of Light, painting the light of my soul. Strumming my life with your fingers, killing me softly with your song. Me: not sure, really.

I saw you in the SmartMart, and we were hangin out over by the magazines, and you saw the one Deer and Hunter one with the guys smiling with the camos and the safety orange caps, and you said that that was a pretty big buck and I said so too so you and me hung out talking about guns and camos and elk and buck until one of us said hey lets buy some beer and go home and watch the Sportsman's Channel so we did, and after that you said you wanted to show me your "toys", and after that it all gets fuzzy.

Mature adult, 46, seeks employed, classy lady for evening time entertainments. No weirdoes.

DEAL FLIPPED! BACK ON MARKET! Like new, slightly used "fixer upper". Needs a lot of love and attention, plus maybe some work on "shingles". "Leaks" a little, but warm and "cozy". Shag "carpet", "rumpus room"...Section 8 welcome. Credit check.

cashier checkout one login. progresso chx/veg (2) 4.50 marlboro gold 100's 5.75 mikes hard lemonade 6pk 8.00 total: $18.25. log out. why you log out? miss you.

Me: fop. You: prick-me-dainty. Swooned at the sheer audacity of manservant attempting to serve terrapin and canvasback! Had flogged. Mislaid both handkerchief and beauty-mark. Carriage ride home: Had simply dreadful vapors. Interested, dear sir, in visiting your Rooms, perchance to Spend.

You: Maverick cop who doesn't play by the rules. Me: By-the-book Lieutenant.
Dammit Maverick! You have any idea how much that little stunt of yours last week cost the taxpayers? DO YOU? If I ever so much as get a whiff of you cutting corners like that again, I'll bust you down to ticket-taker at the toll-booth on the turnpike! Don't think I won't do it! I'm putting you on administrative leave followed up by desk duty for the rest of the- YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT I CARE! DON'T YOU EVER - I'm sorry Maverick, but you're off the case... I'm- NOW DON'T GO GETTING ANY CRAZY IDEAS ABOUT GOING AND TAKING THE LAW INTO YOUR OWN HANDS! THAT'S WHAT YOUR LONG-SUFFERING PARTNER WHO WAS ONE DAY FROM RETIREMENT DID, AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM!

(For more of this kind of thing, by all means look here.)

Found this weird little exercise in an old notebook of mine the other day:

A Catalog of Helpful Pamphlets, from Chas. A. Toilston
& Sons in Law, Independence, Mo.
"Westward the Way of Empire Takes Its Course", c. Eighteen Hundred and Eighty-Four

IF YOU ARE OF DUSKY HUE: A Guide toward being lazy, shiftless and no-account for Neegroes.
  • Proper uses of colloquialisms such as 'jelly-roll' and 'getting (one's) ashes hauled'
  • On Miscegenation: "Stay offen dem white wimmens. De Mistahs, dey string you to a tree."
  • How to shuffle effectively toward a modicum of worldly success
  • House Neegro versus Field Neegro: the Necessity of Place
  • Religion: All you got, brother.

IF HE FALLS INTO A PORK-PROCESSING VAT: A Guide for Widows of the Tragic, Though Inevitable, fatal accidents that plague modern industry
  • Thugs, Accidental fires and Community Disapproval: Why you must never sue The Employer
  • Why you must not swear off consumption of Pork Weiners.
  • Prostitution: A lively option for the future!

A SMOKING CRATER WHENCE STOOD OUR FOE: On why Almighty God commands that We As Americans must smash those Pygmy Nations elsewhere in the World.
  • The importance of aged, syphillitic admirals in the shaping of International Policy.
  • Poor Burrheads: On why the rest of the world must not look after its own affairs.
  • Indo-China: Golden Crescent, Land of Our Future Triumph
(Oddly enough, a few pages later I find the actual advertisements that inspired that one. Here are a few selections from...)

Comfort Magazine's 'Emporium of Bargains and Oppurtunities', July 1934

"Ladies. Dr. Cheeseman's Pills give positive relief. Absolutely harmless. Best for over 100 years. Double strength 2 dollar box. Sealed."

(under "Miscellaneous")

"Rubber Goods of every description, mailed in plain wrapper, postpaid by us. Write for mail order catalog, saving 50%"

"Amazing Profits selling new instant skin whitener to colored people. Wonderful demonstrator whitens skin ten shades instantly. Write for free sample and liberal offer."

"No dull times selling food! People must eat!"

More of this sort of silliness next time.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wrong About Everything

Good lord; it's snowing again. This will give The Oregonian free range (it thinks) to print more letters from jackasses that have "Thanks a lot, Al Gore," as their punchline, failing epically to either be funny or accurate.
It's the kind of thing that makes a person want to hop in their car and go for an educational spin around the block, but probably I won't. Not when there's Chex Mix to be made.

I seem to have a full schedule of Seattle-being-in next week. A physical, to determine whether or not I'm able to actually work (which, if the last test was any indication, will consist of someone asking me if I'm ready to get "physical, physical...You wanna get physical? Let's get into physical..."), then an Orientation...God knows what that'll be. Then, on Friday, a real live gig at the Convention Center.
I'm almost never asked what department I'd like to work for, but I was in this case and said, "Video." We'll see.

Thursday of this week marks the return of the Jeopardy! online test. I've utterly failed to qualify these last two years: maybe this is it. I was in the running for Teen Jeopardy! back in high school, and I think two things were working against me: instead of picking one contestant from each city, they did it by region, and I'm also pretty sure that they didn't put boys with hair down to their ass on the show back then.
One of the other finalists that day was a little guy who came up to my hip. Blue blazer, I knew the type; he'd been forced to compete by his parents, even though he was twelve or something. I asked him, "When you didn't know the answer, what'd you put down?"
"'Green', " he said.
"Mine was 'fish'."

Of course, the snow was almost immediately melted by falling rain, circa noon yesterday. So I go over to The Provost's house to pick him up. After some mediocre sandwiches at the Red Bicycle, we get some errands out of the way and set to talkin' about history, media, things that matter.

This caused me to think yet again about my own sentimental reasons for not wanting to see the "old" forms of media disappear completely. Silly though it might sound, newspapers and network television provide a common context for discussion and human experience. Maybe you haven't paid attention to YouTube or Hulu enough lately to see some clip of some jackass bein' a jackass, but I bet we can all sit around and talk about "Cheers," say. The newspaper too is a place where we can all get together, if perhaps only in shared scorn. It serves a larger purpose; and if the big chains go away (chiefly due to their need to diversify into "new" media, I might add), the small ones will still be around because people need local news, and they won't get it anywhere else.

In short, the 'democratization of information' might actually kinda suck, in some ways. I think it's given lies and babytalk way more cultural cache than they ever had before. Nowadays, you need to apologize for not being a dumb shit.

And the age where a president could say, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost the country," may be more or less behind us, but I don't know. When World Wrestling Entertainment unveiled the character John Bradshaw Layfield (or 'JBL'), who more or less was a vicious parody of George W. Bush, I said, "If the Republicans have lost WWE, they've lost the country." This was 2004, and while history may suggest otherwise, I still feel that I was right in a larger sense.

It's this overarching theme of how connectedness both makes things quicker and (sometimes) more convenient, but it also makes the possibility of cascade failure more likely. We'll call it the Battlestar Galactica Rule (because one of the first things they noted was that wireless technology is very easy to track, and so returned to dial phones and non-networked computers -sorry, I won't do that again). It's obvious to anyone who's ever observed the basic interaction of bodies in nature, or how bad ideas spread quickly in crowds. Oh, the examples go on and on.

And the easy spread of information (or more accurately, that which could be described as 'information') hasn't made us less partisan, more community-minded. It's caused this enclave mentality that effects me just as much as anyone. I keep noting that I don't necessarily have a realistic take on what the city I live in thinks anymore, as I'm likely to be given a biased impression by what 'information' on the subject is made available, since it's generally made available by interested parties.

There's that 'media bias' argument, again. On one hand, I still say that talking about "the media" is like talking about "society", or "the Native Americans believed...": you're automatically going to be wrong about a great deal due to how simply you're viewing it. Your generalization makes you wrong.
Where from there? Okay, this too: the media is about as liberal as the conservative interests that own it. Bumper sticker. Pretty true, too, but even more so; it will appear whatever way it needs to appear in order to sell the greatest amount of advertising, and only sometimes is a direct expression of the political views of its ownership. Like FOX News, or Conservapedia.

Oh? And does not Wikipedia also censor? Uh, no...They barely do so when ordered to do so by some court of law. Furthermore, they don't tell you what to think, like Conservapedia: they open up the debate to any swingin' dick that wanders in. Truly democratic, in many of the best and a lot of the worst ways.

Brzz. I'm wandering here. I'll tell you how I did at Jeopardy! tonight.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Please Stop Tickling Me, y'all.

For those outside the Portland area, Sam Adams is Portland's first gay mayor. He also is a career politician going back to the entirely-unmissed-by-me Vera Katz administration. Adams always struck me as a second choice at best, and full of attractive bad ideas that were as expensive as they were unworkable. I've voted against him every chance I've had, except I did vote for him for mayor.
Not sure why I did that. Probably because he seemed better than the rest. I don't know.

The shit storm over Sam Adams' (2005) fucking of eighteen-year-old Beau Breedlove, and subsequent covering-up of same, comes as a bit of a surprise since I imagined -like everyone- that though ostensibly gay, Sam really was just asexual and achieved his greatest pleasure through Policy.

As always, the first part is sorta sordid, but still falls under the heading of "private". The second part -The Lie- is what kills ya'. Not only did Sam lie, but he told others to lie. An opportunistic real estate developer/would-be mayoral candidate was made to look like a giant schmuck for bringing it up at all, and Amy Ruiz from The Mercury is said to have gotten a job with Sam for not investigating the story more deeply.

Though I have seen several comforting denials of this, it remains pretty funny-looking. The Oregonian printed the accused parties' denials as if it put paid to any further speculation. Oh. They say they didn't do it. I feel better now...

And uncomfortable questions are raised that since Sam was not just "mentoring" (the original description of their relationship) Beau, he at least waited until they guy was eighteen...Uh, well where do we start trusting his word again? Now you're a pedophile gay pervert horndog, just exactly as the reactionaries around here would have us all believe?

I knew that if I waited long enough, I'd get to see the comment that raises itself above the mere stating of opinion that tends to characterize scandals.
The Comment that Raises Itself Above is a tried and true laugh-getter, in my life. It's what Booty refers to as "the hilarity of shallow depth" writ large. It never fails to tickle me.

And so this appeared on The Mercury's Blogtown PDX:

I cannot pretend for one minute to know, let alone feel indignant, about the private affairs of consenting lovers. This is a play for media storm, and I do believe there are deeper truths at play, whatever the case may be.
(And it's difficult for the rest of us, whoever we may be at this time, to dispute such things. It is a storm for play. We too, must not pretend to know things. There are things we do not know; that is a natural fact.)

It's quite a stretch to say that any of this casts little more than a faint shadow upon a career of political substance. Shall Mayor Adams be perversely vindicated in an apparent anticipation of torches and pitchforks raised against his supposedly corrupting influence as a gay man? The hype is mere stigma.
(No; we disagree! The stigma is mere hype! The shadow that is cast, despite being a career-ending one, is mere simulacra of a shadow. It is what it is, to quote a great man. And we want non-perverted vindication, lest we show that the torches and pitchforks were...Gay man corrupting...Sorry; that sentence holds too many directional changes in subject for me to grasp with my all-too-linear brain.)

Holding politicians accountable is not a matter of dragging representatives off pedestals; nay, it is of calling them to the duty of consistently doing our bidding to the best of their abilities. The election is over; the work of governance is what matters, especially in these tricky times.
(The Comment that Raises Itself Above makes a lot of weighty pronouncements, despite not really saying much in so doing. Nay. It then often follows up with statements that hold up pretty strongly on their own due to their sublime obviousness, albeit stated more gracefully than what we read in The Pamphlets. A comfortable generalization is the capstone of such statements, plus an appeal to that old crowd pleaser, "...these days...")

Scapegoating is the transparent leverage of political distraction. There's no place in government for the moral determinism of churches or weak journalism.
(TEE HEE HEE! STOP! YOU'RE KILLING ME! Wait; what is scapegoating again? And it sort of seems that while you wish there was no place for churches and shitty reportage, both certainly are there, and that's why you composed this vaguely worded rant about Something. I just wish the author -who goes by the unassuming handle of 'B70'- had gone even lower in the sententiousness department: "We are all here now; no one can deny that..." say.)

** ** **
There's a certain esoteric art in working a spotlight, I failed to note in my last post. I have no idea how anyone with even sub-standard eyesight does it. You need to focus a very powerful and bright light at a target far away to illuminate a point that is tiny and ill-defined. Plenty of other lights will be interfering with your ability to see whether or not that's your light wandering around the wings, or someone else's, and being able to aim the damn thing with any accuracy is something approaching the mystical.
I find the best way to do it is orienting my head a bit to the side of the barrel, so as to see the actual beam of light as it leaves the instrument, and continues on through space. If I kept on looking directly ahead as if eye and instrument were One, I'd probably lose my performer and never get them back. By backing away from Me, my aim improves.

How's that like journalism? Well, I hesitate to say. Uh, you need to be a clear light in all the dazzling bullshit? Most of it is ballyhoo (an actual term in lighting, by the way) but it's also about focusing attention on a single point. By focusing the attention, you may either deter folks from looking elsewhere, or bring greater depth of content to the one point, or both.

Uh, should Sam resign? No, I don't think so. It's just kind of disturbing that I can't find many arguments in favor of his staying.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Martin van Buren?

On the night before Obama's inauguration, which was also Martin Luther King Day (or "Black Saint Day", as a friend once called it), I was running a spotlight at a Boyz II Men show.
Well, here's how I summed it up over on Reid's blog:

"You know, yesterday I was working. Boyz II Men was playing Spirit Mountain Casino, and after setting up the stage, lighting, sound, video and band gear, I also ended up running a spotlight during the show.

So, successful black band plays to capacity crowd on MLK Day, one day before the inauguration of the first black president of the United States. Do either of these items get mentioned? No.

On one hand, I appreciate that they had no obligation to talk about either of these things, but they did go on and on about how honored they were to still be doing whatever the hell it is they do after eighteen whole years. It was like it was B2M day, and it was odd to put it lightly."

True. As I also noted, the crowd was largely populated by large white women. These were attended by either reluctant boyfriends or the men they married -possibly to these very tunes. Also: lots of gay men, generally accompany-ing their big, fat lady friends.

This scenario was made even more iffy by the fact that these were brand new bleachers we were standing/sitting on. My co-worker Lord Douchebag pointed out, "They're held together with aluminum crossbars! They're gonna collapse the minute any of these ladies start dancing!"

I was certainly worried about it, since I also had had a hand in constructing the entirely makeshift and improvised spot platform. It was sitting uncomfortably atop a number of folded-down seats, with legs propped up by tiny wooden shims in front, resting on four-by-fours in back.

"Just shove some poker chips under there!" I yelled. Someone came back with, "I know where we can get some!"

Later, during showtime, I'm trying like hell to keep a hold on this enormous piece of lighting equipment, which is swaying back and forth along with the entire bleacher. The lady seated immediately in front of my feet (and who, if things go terribly wrong, will have a hundred or so pounds of fine lighting equipment landing on her head) at first had some resentment about our presence back there, but noticed our headphones and indicated "ears" to her boyfriend. They got headphones. This is official.

Luckily, the lighting director didn't count on us knowing the artist's names, which I appreciated. "Spot Two, you got The Bald Guy..." he had said. This was nice, as earlier in the day we had been unable to name a single song that they had done. "I Wanna Sex You Up", for instance, is by Color Me Badd. I knew this. But these guys?

So yeah. They kept on acting like something far more profound than what they are, and the audience followed suit. The buffet food made our business agent violently ill, and gave some rather serious runs to another one of the stagehands. I, who had two servings of shrimp n' bay scallops in butter sauce at lunch, was just fine.

The next morning, I got up and went to Seattle. I listened to the inaugural speech until the southern-most reaches of Cowlitz County, when I lost OPB on the radio. Seemed good. I liked the fact that Obama made it a point to basically say, Hey, we've been childish shitheads for too long. Let's do something about that, and maybe for a few minutes, the resta you assholes should shut up and let the grownups talk.

That's what I got from it, anyway. The NPR folks, too. I rolled into Seattle nine minutes before my appointment with the folks at McCaw hall, which gave me scarcely little time to both find a parking space and figure out where the hell in the thirty or so buildings that comprise Seattle Center which one was McCaw hall.

I paid for parking, and received eighteen dollar coins in change. Idly, I wondered, so who's on that coin these days? I mean, from Ike to Susan B. to Sacajawea for chrissakes...Who could possibly...I didn't have time, and rushed over to the theater.

I was greeted by a number of happy Seattle Center employees who were overjoyed that I, the last testee of the day, was there. I am already an extra with IATSE Local 15, which enables me to do theatrical work in King County proper, but to work in the many venues incorporated in Seattle Center, you need a City Card.

So the two people ahead of me were quickly run through the process. The one before me was a young lady dressed for a job interview were she -say- looking into becoming a receptionist at a law office. It was pretty clear that she didn't completely understand what she was wandering into, or perhaps was recently graduated from college with a degree in Theater, and had quickly figured out that there were no jobs for her anywhere else.

People continued to be so happy to see me, as I represented the last one of the day. After me, they could go home. The deck manager was a nice man who came right out and said it: "This is really just to weed out people who honestly don't know what the fuck they're doing at all. Climb this ladder."

And I...Climbed the ladder. Then I helped him put away some cables. Pass.

I went up to the lighting bridge after this. I encountered a guy up there who was with the secretary-lookin' one from earlier. He wasn't testing her skills; he was telling her how to hang and focus a light. He asked what my knowledge level was in this area. I said, "Well, I've been with IA for two years. Before that, I was LD on a local television show, did a year at a local rock venue, I'm house AV at Nike, and was at the art museum before that..."

"Fine," he said, "I just wanted to know if you've ever done this before."

"Yup," I said. Then we got talking about an older guy we both know, although it took a few minutes while we confirmed that we were talking about the same guy. "In his late seventies? Number one on the list in Phoenix? He once threw Ronald Reagan into a river on a film shoot in the Fifties?"

"Yeah! That's him! He loves that story!"

"If only he'd stayed in the river..." If I were the secretary-lookin' lady at that moment, I would've been saying: goddamn it. It was two techs being all chummy. Later, up on the loading bridge, he basically let my sloppy knots go, and her complete lack of knot-tying skills go. He also did not test our skills as far as loading bricks. He just showed us how, including the perhaps unfortunate use of the phrase "yes you can," to the lady, who was black.

After that, a visit with the stage manager, who assured me that the Seattle local is entirely okay with answering questions, not just bark bark..."You know, a lot of the Portland guys..." I said.

"I know," he said.

Thence over to the home of Disco Boy and Girly-Girl, for brisket and endless conversation. It's interesting to note that One A.M. is wayyy past bedtime for both of us, now. The next day, even though both of us really shouldn't do this, we went record shoppin'.

For me: Queen's first album, which I can't find here at all, and Brian Eno's Music For Films, which I've had a very hard time finding. For the lady: Excene Czervenka's one-off project Auntie Christ: Life Could Be A Dream.

And -would you believe- who's on the dollar coin? Martin van Buren, who certainly was a controversial figure of his time, and a political genius of sorts if I read him correctly...But hardly a president that anyone has thus far felt any serious need to commemorate.

Ah, matter o' fact, I have a number of presidential history type stuff I'd like to talk about, but I gotta get up in the mornin' n' do somethin' stupid. I'll be back.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Singing Bull

Rise of the Common Woodpile (1991) -Caroliner

Caroliner is also known as Caroliner Rainbow, and adds little apellations to their name for each album. Hence, on the album “Banknotes, Dreams and Signatures”, their name becomes Caroliner Rainbow Scrambled Egg Taken For A Wife. On this one, they call themselves Caroliner Rainbow Open Sore Chorale. They are also known as The Singing Bull of the 1800's.

The 1800's loom darkly over all of their work. The songs seem to be the testimony of long-dead pioneers and settlers, complete with primitive god-fear, deep distrust of nature and yes- abject stupidity. Of course, the fear is mixed with awe.

On the all-important lyric sheet, the album describes itself as 'A Hymnal, comprising songs made Popular by Caroliner, the Singing Bull.' Then, at the bottom: 'Mendota, 1860'.

Mendota is the old Wisconsin state mental hospital, and this serves as your first clue as to what this album is really about. The book Wisconsin Death Trip, by Michael Lesy, is the literary inspiration and companion piece to this album.

The book is a collection of grim pictures from the Wisconsin frontier of the early 1800's, mixed with case files from Mendota, newspaper clippings and anecdotes. Unlike most histories, this one accurately portrays what life was really like for people in that time, including the botched abortions, suicides, incendiary compulsions, mayhem, religious manias and outright fear that gripped our forebears. So the album could be accurately described as what's going on inside the head of each lunatic at Mendota.

The only other album I've heard dig so deeply into the nightmare of the American psyche is Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle, or maybe Tom Waits' Bone Machine. The only other band I know of that makes music so brutal and dark is Coil, or maybe Current 93.

In fact, short of Coil's Gold Is The Metal (which also is on the Periodic Table), I can think of few albums that go so far out of their way to be unpleasant and sound exactly like what people largely do not want to hear. This is not necessarily a recommendation on my part; it's an attempt to explain something I like for some goddamn reason.

** ** **

With the creaking of an old wooden door, and the clanking of various metal objects, side one begins with “Hazel Wet Lap”. It's about the revenge fantasies of a bunch of grade school children against their teacher: “Hazel held grudges/ like you wouldn't believe/ she'd spank children until they'd piss or bleed...” and the chorus, shrieking now as loudly as had been deadly guttural growling before, is simply-”OWWIE OWWIE OWWIE OW! OWW-WOW OWWIE OW!” It's fucking terrifying.

You are introduced in this song to two things: the two narrative voices Caroliner speaks in; the screaming child/Kali death goddess shriek, and the so-low-it's-barely-discernible of long-dead rotted and gone back to dirt pioneer/cow. Also, you get a little picture of how these people talk (here and in interviews); archaic/surreal/poetic. “The children envisioned a teacher-fountain/ with a knife in her vein...

The final line is enigmatic, and all the more threatening for it: “If children are shown what makes you griiinnn (this is delivered in a leering, bloodthirsty groan)/ enjoyment will be contagious/ a lesson somewhere therein.”

“Child Heart o' Dirt Pump” is next. It is a revival/hoedown song, replete with out-of-tune organ. In short, it is about a child who eats dirt uncontrollably, and shits out perfect soil for planting. He becomes a sacred rural dying god figure/ coveted posession: “Nailed that child up with Spirit/ in the shed of Farm Equipment”. The proud daddy sticks his hat on his crucified son's head, but evil is afoot: “One mornin' out for How's My Boy/ open the doors, he's not hanging there/ Tell-tale hammer; Someone's took him/ I'll never see my favorite hat again”. It's all like this; hilarious mixed with scary mixed with confusing mixed with grim, grim, grim.

I'm not really certain what the next song, “Beetown” is about. Even after owning and liking this album for years, studying these lyrics closely, I can't tell you. Every verse is about something different and undefined. Here's one I like: “Listen ye people -you can not cry or laugh/ when we sell star jewelry, the North of America we'll own half.” Manifest Destiny? Westward the Course of Empire Makes Its Way?

“Empty Halo”, the song following, wouldn't make a half-bad cover tune for a straightforward bluegrass band. The shrieking death voice of Kali and this new voice, that of a dirt-dumb back country yokel, trade verses.:

KALI: “Be-caause in dea-th I griiinned!”

YOKEL: “I grinned the widest when ah when ah sinned.

KALI: “Grinning more than ever now!”

YOKEL: “My face is gone!”

The narrarator of this song is dead. There's no other way to put it. “Pleasant smiling cold white skull with a thoughtful sinning song.” More great lines abound: “Accidents do happen, and I'm the man who makes them.” It's about learning to be bad in the world and make it pay, just to die anyway and sit thinking about it for eternity.

“Burdensome Blood” is the next song. It is a pleasant melody, matching sitar and banjo, quietly sung verse with shrieking death voice chorus. After a few verses, it becomes clear that this song is told from the perspective of someone who abducts children, cuts off their legs so it can have more to walk around on.

Children wonder they fold legs, frown/ grabbing arms and legs, holding down...” (and people worry about the deleterious effects of listening to gangsta rap) “Children can't let loose of my leg/ they got big idea; plead and cry, beg/ OK now walk on two legs more/ lift my torso up, walking on four!” Frightenin', frightenin'.

And now the title track. Throughout the album, there are intimations freely given that nature is trying to take our (that is to say humans') place. “Long since gone; family left the hill/ long left, a woodpile sitting under roof, smiling still.” The worms and the woodpile begin to learn: “Taking up loose by-and-bys/ Knowledge collecting/ From good-deeded minds, worm and mankind/ round them up and one listened to my old banjo/ setting them down, it thanked this old fellow.

And the chorus goes, “Rise, rise up and take the instruments of man/ put them to use in better use than we can/ Rise, rise up and take the instruments of man/ RISE, RISE, RISE!” It soon falls out of its

groove, into chaos. At the end, all you hear is this dead mechanical spinning.

Ending off the first side is “Gut”, a song about a man who “stuck out his neck/ and that cost both eyy-es”, but gains solace from the many sounds he hears in each of the 1,000 cupboards in his house. Like most Caroliner records, the song is cut off by the needle picking up.

The second side (they only make records; no tapes or CDs. They recorded one of their albums on an Edison-era wire spool that still had ghostly bits of turn-of-the-last-century music on it) starts off with “Recorrupting Checkerfield”. It is a surreal American history lesson: “Change at a glance/ wood to wire fence...For every History describes a lone philosophy.” If I understand you correctly sir, you're saying that history is told by humans, each doomed to see things only as they see them?

With the fences changing, so too is God: “Only ones stuck by river/ knew no Beaded Curtain Wearer/ Taking Checkerfield asleep instead/ submerged world in counterfeit.

The music is three different genres; fast bass-driven rave-up, free jazz chaos, breaks of deliberately sloppy bluegrass. Actually, within this structure there are also breaks of pure, threatening machine noise. Large and foreboding like the very hills are coming to get you.

The last line- “Origins! History unrevealed! Recorrupting Checkerfield!” History is a bloody lie in America.

“Brittleback” comes next. The new world of trains and gambling halls. The music has changed in response to this leap ahead in history; more organ, but with trombone, dance hall ambiance. As the old man gambles on the newfangled train, his geneology remains with him -he's still the rustic ghoul his parents were. “Brittleback hard straw arm/ Brittleback straw hard leg/ Lop-horned Mom birthed him all along; Stove pipe's making back frame.” This is wandering into Tom Waits territory, but much harder to follow.

Our next hymn begins with the sound of a needle scratching on an old record, then the drunken horn band begins. What sounds like an extraordinarily drunk old Irishman begins to sing: “Being a part of God's Kingdom/ our blessed house is a holy diadem...Pulling family away from sin/ accepting Bible as friend.” Behind this, an oddly lovely clarinet melody is competing with tuba and trombone. This is “Climbing Jacob's Ladder Through the Fireplace”.

The story unfolds; one night whilst in holy contemplation before the fire, a golden ladder appears to a man, going right up his chimney. Of course he and his family start climbing, “to climb on up and meet God's Son.” But about halfway up, they catch fire: “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! My finger's wounded/ and Wife's nose ugly-rounded/ Kid boy cried for a year/ Bible wrong; falsely founded fear!” Now he no longer believes: God's let him down. “Hair is not working on parts of me...Couldn't read the Bible anyway/ now in compost it decays/ I durst not want to ever pray/ Even tho I'll speak again one day.

We go back to the land again briefly for the next tune, “Sullivan's Lower Trunk”. It is banjo and that crazy dumb yokel again. The song is about the necessity of dowsing; divining water where “the only bath that a man could take was by wiping knee blood off the ground.” But the song is also a parable, sort of. It's not Thom Sullivan who was the best diviner of water: “Thom strained his face, loosening pants; out came young brother Pride.” Pride is a whole other set of legs growing out of Thom's lower trunk. Better still, it finds water (and 'could smoke a cigar with no mouth').

It approaches the level of a folk tale when people (or vestigial appendages) have names like Pride, but usually there is some sort of discernible message. Here, there is just a crazed tale told as if it were perfectly normal, because to the narrarator, it is.

The final song, “Victory Arm Force”, reminds me of something a friend said to me once; “No wonder our asylums are so full. Once every generation, we send our young men off to fight some war they can never understand.” In the case of this song, it's unclear what war is under discussion here, but it hardly matters: there's always a war.

That War was a real puncher/ red dirt all the summer/ I saw Hell in the arm of a chair/ pillow your blown hand there.” As everyone around him begins dying, he begins to see that the earth is indeed a living organism. First, he sees a fence made of human arms: “A fence, strung together and darned/ the armposts go slack and angle/ companion them with leeches to wiggle,” and then he sees- “Why the ground is a Body complete! Each blade of grass-hair sweet!

The strange, metal-like music accompanying gets louder and more screamy. Summer is replaced by rain- “lay face on ground Forever/ until I woke up later, circling/ to find a glass-stored Summer.” He's dead, and he's part of the earth now. The earth continues to swallow all, and it becomes clear that the real war is between man and nature.

Then, as the song seems to be screaming to a close, it goes into this barbed lull. Very low, someone is

growling through their teeth: “Buried in the ground/ entire American legs/ fingers coarse-mouthing/ tugging at Blood in vain.” And it all begins again; we take up with our narrarator as he is now- after going through wind and tearing up the clouds; “The War has changed me new/ Mountained me this summer/ 100 arms, 10 legs and long green-haired.” Yup, the hills really were coming to get you.

I needn't belabor the obvious point of this record; that we shit on the earth and it shits back. One of the big images these guys use is that of a bull's head atop a Victorian dress-ed lady's body. In the midst of this surreal history lesson, it's easy to miss the point. Also, you notice that the way they put things is unique indeed; I don't know of any other band with a lyric voice so entirely its own.

I once saw them in the basement of a house in Olympia. Old-timey posters asked ten cents for admission. They were every bit as insane yet lucid in person, which is a very large compliment. They were all dressed in rotted Victorian finery, splattered with Day-Glo paint. At one point, a Floozy joins the crowd. She is dressed in tattered petticoats and skirts, sprayed Day-Glo as well. As she holds on to her enormous hat, she commences to stamp the floor like this here's a good old hoedown. Perfect. At one point, the singer runs upstairs and finds the drunkest guy in the house, gets down on the floor -on all fours- and rides him like a pony.

They stopped recording and touring some years ago. It was said that the entire band was financed by the state-assistance money that the two brothers who formed the nucleus of the band received for being crazy, and they lost it. The funding, that is.

** ** **

The main body of this review was written ten years ago. I just found their MySpace page, and it's a doozy. I particularly recommend that you read "The Most Callous of Pacific Northwest Tours". It seems to suggest that they're touring again (and they're definitely still making records), since they reference Portland's own Someday Lounge (which in Caroliner speak becomes 'Somewhat Lounge').

Other web content I've found on this exceedingly strange band includes a Wikipedia entry, of course. It includes the line, "lyrical vantage points so convolutedly arcane to make comprehending them impossible," I wonder about that. Am I reading wayyy more into this album than is necessary? Possible. The Wiki entry also includes one of the band members citing "buckets of nails being kicked down the stairs,"as an influence.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Love With Links

When I'm somewhat out of ideas, and feel that publishing another record review would be lazy, I get even lazier and link to a bunch of other stuff I find amusing. To wit:

Our friends at The Beast have published a list of last year's 50 most loathesome people. It's screamingly funny, angry as hell and not especially partisan.

Our friends at Something Awful have made this thing that is sort of like a webpage for a temp service that specializes in evil henchmen. It's five pages worth: make sure you get to Tendermane.

Dan Savage has been trying to find what definition, if any, would define "Saddlebacking". I myself voted for Definition 4.

In examining Seattle's Craigslist yesterday, I was intrigued by a posting titled "HIPPIES WITH THE FLOW". This led me down a long, strange road leading to the under-appreciated site, which you might recall once had a terrible story of racism and harrassment by someone who wished to sully my good name.

I keep wandering in and muttering things at Zrharc! The Comment Word Verification Dictionary, but they haven't updated since the fifth of this month, and I just don't know. (This joins such blogs as The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, Literally, A Web Log and Apostrophe Abuse in my heart of snarky, grammar and word lovin' hearts.)

Blogspot does indeed seem to be heading closer and closer to inclusion of actual words on th' Drunk Catcher/Screen Door/Spam Killer feature, for whatever reason.
Why just recently, Junk Thief's word verifier asked me to spell such difficult words as 'berries' and even more ominously; 'guest'.

Speaking of which, I see that Andrew Wyeth has died. Hm.
Patrick McGoohan, Ricardo Montalban and Andrew Wyeth? I don't think I see a pattern...

World o' Crap has a nice shout-out to why it's safer to work Union. In my experience, it's true.

I found this lovely thing, randomly, the other day. Also ran into this guy from Portland who seems to be living in Vietnam these days. I like his writing.

Oh my, so much crap, indeed. But - it keeps me amused.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Best Spam Scam Ever

(I responded to an ad on Craigslist the other day. What the hell, right? It was a driving job...And that was all that was offered in the way of an explanation. I wrote an email asking for specifics: what/who would I be driving, what would the hours be, did I need my own vehicle, etc. I didn't send a resume, as I figure that being an ex-taxi-driver was more valuable to the position than being an itinerant stagehand. Here is what I got back.)

Hello Driver,

We are great to receive your resume in our database about the driving
work.We are hiring you for 2 months for promotion and we will be
paying you $780 Weekly.There is a promotion that will commence in all
Sephora Beauty Stores around the United State of America which will be
starting on 26th of January and will last till 27th of March.

(Hello, Emailer! I am great to receive your email!)

Job Requirement.
---- You must ensure you have a driver license.
---- You will be working for 3 days in a Week Mon, Tue,Wed from 10: AM till 5 PM
--- We need to know the kind of Car you available with you and if not
we will hire car for the event that you will drive.
-- You will be working for us in moving cosmetic products and other
promotional gifts from one Sephora Beauty Store to another as soon as
they are needed during your working hours.

(I see several requirement here In Fact. What car available with me not: Hire car. Ten: AM! Sort of sounds like the second installment of an action movie series called "Ten".)

--- You will be given a promotion uniform for driving during the promo.
--- You will also be given Sephora Beauty Store location where you
need to load cosmetics and deliver goods during promo time in your
city and we will ensure the promo location will be in your city.

(I will be given a pretty pink uniform and matching car. Also; store I've never heard of in my city! Promo time!)

You will be given a Certified Check for advance payment of first week
before the promo starts in other for you to gets ready for the work
because we will not like any sort of dissapointment.Kindly send me the
following Information for the issuing out of the Certified Check to
you by next week.

(Here we go. Assuming that 'Diane Polk' is not deposed Nigerian royalty, I still see the possibility of something wrong here. A Certified Check ain't nothin' t' fuck with, and I don't a hundred per cent see how giving me one prior to my actually doing any work could bounce back poorly on me...Except if it was drawing on an account with no money, and suddenly I was on the hook for $780. " other for you gets ready for the work" is fucking poetry, and "we will not like any sort of dissapointment" both takes me back to earlier spam I've read [in particular MRS. MARIFE CARREON DERONA and her "It will be highly unfeasible for you to try to run away"], and of course: she misspelled 'disappointment'.)

1. Full Name.....
2. Address.....
3. City.......
4. State......
5. Phone Cell/Home.....
6 Age........

(These are all nice things. I like a Full Name. Having an address...City good...Sex...I'm waiting for them to ask me for my bank account number. They don't, though.)

We will also be sending you the Sephora Beauty Store around you where
you will be driving and also you will picking up your uniform there at
that center by 23rd of January.

(This is getting better and better. They're sending me a store!)

You are highly welcome and enjoy the promotion.

Happy Sephora.

Best Wishes,
Staffing and Recruiting Dept,
Regional Manager Mr.Petra Johnson.

(They're right. I am highly welcome. Wait a minute: 'promotion'? Do I already work for this company, and I just forgot? Yeah, happy...Sephora to you too, pal...Diane- wait a minute- Petra, I mean, and Petra who happens to be a man, which I haven't encountered before. Accompanying all of this was a Seattle phone number. I want to call just to find out exactly what scam this is, but I'm not sure.

(Looking at Craigslist again, I note that the original ad has disappeared. Fascinating.)

Well, Happy Sephora to you and yours in Holiday Type Season in Your Town/Area!


Friday, January 09, 2009

Lars Larson is a Cheap Little Punk

One of my favorite things that reactionaries do is wax horrified at relatively minor things, in order to get you that way too. This is either for purposes of entertainment (which is always Limbaugh's excuse), or for good old market manipulation. But the basic rule seems to be -relay all information in a tone that registers you as shocked, just shocked, and you will get the ear of your average asshole quite easily.

And so professional shit stirrers like Lars Larson spend their time creating things for people to be incoherently angry at, and encouraging them meanwhile to ignore/ridicule the actual problems of others.

Lars would like you to think that he's crusading in the public interest, and Sissy Jennifer over there thinks she's a cute little girl. But really, he's a middle aged dude in a pretty, frilly pink dress. (thank you, Salty Miss Jill.)

Along with the unending need of reactionaries to get people outraged about pretty inconsequential things simply for the purpose of entertainment, there's this knee-jerk union bashing that's getting more and more ubiquitous as the economy gets worse. The UAW, you know...
Never mind that a lot of your Page 14 corrections are now coming around to noting that they way overstated how much an auto worker makes...And said nothing about how much a CEO of an automobile company makes, while consistently throughout the decades even in the best of times whining about needing to bailed out. Their crap product can't compete, you see.

I look around the media a bit, and I note almost no commensurate anger at the the geniuses actively running the economy into the ground, utterly failing to suffer from the effects of their flawed decision making. Well, there is a token story about the one German businessman who took the classic approach of jumping off a building, but that's the Germans for you; they're more about Honor over there.

For all the bluster, there remains very little oversight indeed, and I imagine it's gonna stay that way, since politicians are bought and sold by the selfsame crooks who got us here in the first place, and the media won't talk about it, because they are owned by selfsame crooks.

But of course, the really dangerous thing is the possibility that a children's book is about trade unionism. In this case, 'a play adapted from a book', by Oregon Children's Theater. Cue Helen Lovejoy: 'Won't some-one pl-eeease think of the children?'

Apparently Lars got some sand in his oyster after being alerted to a grave threat to our moral foundation, namely:
OCT press release about its upcoming show, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type, which included the following teaser: "The book is widely used and supported by unions as it promotes their message of organizing, empowerment, and solidarity. Lawyers of labor and employment law also recommend this book."
(thanks to Culture Shock PDX. Matter of fact, more quotes from them right below:)

The plot of the slim volume is simple: The farm animals are cold. Banding together, they use a typewriter they have found to type a note asking Farmer Brown for electric blankets. When Farmer Brown ignores their repeated requests, the animals refuse to produce eggs and milk--in other words, they strike. Outraged, Farmer Brown sends his response: “There will be no electric blankets. You are cows and hens. I demand milk and eggs.

The labor/management impasse is resolved when the farm animals offer to exchange their typewriter for electric blankets. Farmer Brown decides this a fair exchange and everyone gets what they want.

About this, Lars said;

"Aren't the animals making demands that will drive the poor farmer into bankruptcy? How is this any different than union autoworkers forcing GM out of business by making unreasonable demands for outrageous wages and benefits? Isn't using subtle messages to teach unsuspecting children that unionism is good a lot like a madrassa teaching Palestinian children that Jews are dogs that ought to be put in the ovens?"

Uh, Lars: straw-man much? Plus, I'm liking the 'Not to Painfully Overstate it, But...' argument tacked on the end there. The above quote is also taken from CultureShockPDX, because if one goes to Lars' website, one is not able to read transcripts if one is not a member of Team Lars.
This is probably just intellectual self-protection; he knows his arguments don't stand up on the page. You can't hear his overwrought, pseudo-outraged stage voice.

** ** **
'Marxism' is a word Leftists haven't used it in any serious context in over thirty years, but rightists (I guess) can't get enough of it. And unionism has something somewhere to do with Marxism, and that is a word that we have been taught to immediately fear.
So anyway, unions are bad, especially in These Tough Times. Of course, people like Larson use the opposite argument when times are good: If things are so wonderful, then we don't need unions, right?

Wrong, dick. Despite obvious corruption in some unions, they remain one of the very few ways that an average worker may hope to see anything proportionate to the extraordinary profits made by their bosses, and even that is still a very small percentage indeed.

I've ran three labor actions in my life without ever involving a union (before I joined IATSE), and every time it was simply because the employer wasn't even following the law. In each case, the employer had decided to blithely ignore basic aspects of labor law simply because they felt they could, and knew damn well that they would get away with it. When their staff responded with civil collective bargaining, it surprised them, and ultimately they went with our suggestions.

So let me leave it there: Employers will break the law if you don't watch them like a hawk, and will scream and cry even when being asked to do something that the law requires, and has required for a very, very long time. I've had to basically get up on a chair and shout, more often than you'd think, just to get what was legally my due.

And while I'm well aware that our deeply ingrained fear of Words in this country preclude there being any serious discussion of socialism, let me break it down kinda easy for you: only the coldest-hearted reactionary scold would say that the government should not take care of -say- those who are paralyzed from the neck down.
While on one hand, you think they'd fall back on some sort of 'well, that's the market!' argument for letting them die, they also have this whole 'life is sacred' clause that they don't really believe in (because it only applies to fetuses and the terminally ill), but must constantly espouse.

Anyway, I'm not asking for the gummint to prop up my useless body. I'm asking for something much simpler -the ability to bargain with those who own Things but do not own me- and am always amazed at the amount of pants-pooping this inspires among those who shout for a living.

And, as a former radio engineer, I must point out that if that pussy came into my studio wearing that fucking gun of his, I'd keep his ass waiting outside until he took it off. Nothing untoward would happen to him in there anyway, and there's nothing more dangerous than a sissy with a gun, to quote Gore Vidal.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Fun on Stage with Dane!

So I mentioned in my last blog post that I wanted to do a screenplay that was a fictionalized take on Elvis's '68 Comeback show. It occurs to me that what I really need to do is both listen to Having Fun With Elvis On Stage, which I still haven't done, and order the DVD of said 1968 NBC program, and watch it while taking notes.
While watching parts of the original show on cable recently, I was struck by how much open contempt the performer had for his audience. Maybe not contempt, but even then he was already too fucked up to care. Furthermore, this was the final triumphant shout of an early voice of Rock n' Roll whose time had come and gone. He used to be the Bad Boy, now he was an Elder Statesman, and not taking it so well.

In short, everything They used to hate him for, They now saw as perfectly harmless, compared to what They were routinely being asked to Sell. They hoped maybe Eblis could come in and sort of retake his mantle by being a mixture of sexy and dangerous, yet somehow less scary than, say, Jim Morrison.

That's the prelim, at least. But I still have plenty of ideas. For instance, I've been wanting -for years- to do at least a comedy sketch about those retrospective shows on Lawrence Welk that one may see each and every Sunday afternoon on PBS.
They are inevitably hosted by a woman you've not really heard of, who was only somewhat famous while being on "The Lawrence Welk Show", and spent her entire career smiling. When I say 'smiling', I mean leering like a shit-eating whore, as was apparently mandatory for all who appeared on the show.

Now she is several decades older, and living at the Lawrence Welk Retirement Home, located somewhere in Southern California (which does, in fact, exist). When she speaks of her family, it's with an odd wistfulness, as if they haven't spoken to her for years. In fact, at times she spends more time on that than she does on Larry.
In the conceit I'm working out here, Elvis did not debut on Ed Sullivan, but on Lawrence Welk. Despite the obvious impossibility of such a thing, stay with me; ultimately Elvis sounded kinda like Larry when he spoke of "today's music" on the '68 Comeback show.

So we zoom in on a large woman who has mounds of hair, wearing a large, shapeless thing with lots of applique all over it. She is standing in a garden in front of some sort of residential complex. A smile of disturbing ubiquity is plastered on her face.

She says, "Hi. You all know me..." Then she looks to her right, momentarily unsmiling, at someone who has said something. Cut.
Same scene on zoom-in. "Hello. I'm Queenette Van Halferstram. You may remember me from the Larry Belk show."

While she is talking wistfully about 'my wonderful son, Randy, his beautiful wife Elaine, and my two grandchildren Todd and Ginnifer', you are starting to wonder where this is going. She is spending way too long talking about how...Well, it soon becomes clear that this is going to be a retrospective about the first appearance on Television of a Great Star.

Like I said, in this case, Elvis appeared on Lawrence Welk instead of Sullivan. And Lawrence Welk is named 'Larry Belk', and Elvis Presley is named 'Dane Bramledge'.
The main thing I'm wanting to do with the thing is make the viewer wonder: okay, this is a fake documentary, but who is filming it? Because it has behind-the-scenes shots like the opening one of Queenette, but also full on interviews with both people in 1968 dress...And people clearly speaking forty years later, as annoying bloggers who obsess about music.

Dane Bramledge is a moron, and no pains are taken to conceal this. The ridiculously old-school German-American teevee show host is openly outraged at the hedonistic, openly sexual dance moves of the young buck...Which of course are replayed in bad, pseudo-Kinescope. Unlike Elvis, Dane does not dance suggestively, he actually is miming sex, embarrassingly.
You know: he's jerkin' back n' forth, pantomiming in n' out, with clenched fists. He's delivering something from the rear, with hand suggestively placed on the back of Whoever. He's laying on the ground, thrusting his pelvis upward...Suggestively...

A relatively quick montage of the fella's movies is briefly suffered. Of special interest: 1964's Dane Goes To The Republican Convention, in which an obviously-on-pills Dane says, "Well, this will certainly result in good things in the future days to come..." Staring blankly out of frame the entire time.

Then we meet the Manager, the Network Producer and The Sponsor. I'm not sure how you're gonna make Colonel Tom Parker any funnier than he actually was, so let's not get into that. The Producer? Well, I suppose one could amuse themselves asking endless questions about exactly how each Linda Bird Johnson-lookin' chick was selected to sit in the front row at this joyless Hootenanny...

But the Sponsor is one Irving Shaloub, I've decided. Instead of Hawaii, the Comeback is filmed in good old Burbank, and Irving has a store there called Shaloub's Coats and Pants. But we flip forward to the present day, and there is The Blogger, saying, "And we all know what that turned into, right?"
A present-day commercial: A histrionic singer sings the store's name, three times. "Suits and Coats and Things...It's suits n' coats n' thiiings...SUITS N' COATS N' THIIINGS!" * And at the end, a sweaty-sounding voice-over comes in and says, "Suits and Coats and Things. That's our name; wear it out."

For all that have actually seen Elvis's '68 Comeback on NBC, you already know about the embarrassing gospel sequence. But for the resta you, here's how it goes:
Elvis is sitting there with Scotty Moore and the rest of the band. He talks half-heartedly about how impressed he is with the hot new music of today: "The Beatles, The Beards**...I don't know who else, but it's all...Well, it started with gospel and rhythm n' blues..."
Suddenly, we have a medium close-up on a black man who is wearing a black dashiki with a gold collar. He starts into some of the worst interpretive dancing seen by mankind. The band, once they recover, is wandering into a florid, over-orchestrated version of "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child". Elvis, for some reason, is accompanied by who I'm pretty sure is The Supremes***. They wander into a medley of associated songs.

This is where the source material becomes just bad enough as to resist parody. But we get around this by reintroducing The Blogger:
"I mean, this guy had already insulted all of black America by doing crap versions of all their favorite songs, and then wasted all of whatever legend-status he had left doing shitty beach party movies...Now, when the record companies were all terrified that they'd have to spend the next god-who-knows-how-many years promoting bands who wanted to...Well, it was 1968, the country was coming apart at the seams, and Dane was there to be the Establishment's version of Jim Jimmerson."

Now, in reality, 'Jim Jimmerson' is a one-shot voice characterization by Stephen Root from "King of the Hill". But in this case, he appears as Jim Morrison's doppelganger.
Can't you see it? Everything The Lizard King thought he was, reduced to its idiotic worst? A montage intervenes, of Jim Jimmerson trying to walk sexy, but it's clear that actually he has some sort of disability, and just can't walk very well. A hit song of the time is played;
"You will be my Love Basket/ In a purple sky/ you can be my love basket/ know you're going to die..."

The voice-over (from where? It's never said what part is documentary, and what is not) comes in and says, "And with the release of 1970's Let's Die Tragically Young, it seemed like it was all over, but..."
The next shot is of a guy in his late sixties, on oxygen, fat. He wheezes several things about "blane...", but none of it makes any sense. Again, possibly Jim Morrison did himself a favor by leaving the stage when he did; jus' sayin'...

Since I haven't done enough research yet, I couldn't tell you how the damn thing would end. I suspect that...Well, I've always had this other idea for a video for The Free Design's "Kites Are Fun", which is a twisted enough song on its own (though I became familiar with it through the late 90's band Tomorrow's World): Elvis/Dane thinks he's going to take on this whole new psychedelic music thing where it lives, failing to note that popular music has already moved on to gritty songs of open revolution.
We open onto a shot of well-scrubbed white girls and boys, wearing mint-green tuxes and prom gowns. As the song begins -"Iiii like flyyyin'...Flyin' kites...", they start to tap their toes rhythmically. Then Dane steps out to sing the solo, but is represented by the photo cliche of the time: as he is represented in full size on stage, his face is also looming in profile above him.
And: well, I don't know.

I have other ideas. For instance, a terrible ABC television show called life is awful (y'know, like "thirtysomething"), which I have no idea what the premise would be, but it hardly matters, as far as I've noticed. What matters is the theme song, which would be a series of car horns, crashes and screaming, punctuated occasionally by Johnny Hartman from the recording of "Lush Life" that he did with John Coltrane.
To wit:
CRASH!!!AAAAAA!!!! " is awful..." KABLOOOM!!! SMASH!!! " is awful..." (gunshots, more screaming) " is awful..."

Well anyway, more soon.

*I've always held that a fake commercial for this fake store would feature loving, sweeping shots of suits, coats and...Brass tacks, say. Then another of suits, coats and...Teddy bears. Then suits, coats and an incredibly quick shot of a middle-aged man lying on a bed, wearing powder blue boxer shorts, with an obvious erection.
**It's possible that he meant The Byrds.
***Of course, it could have been anyone. Elvis hardly would have cared, which was kind of the point of all of this.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Man Up and Face the Rain

The frequent commenter known as ZODIAC MOTHERFUCKER, from The Onion's AV Club blog, used the phrase that titles this blogpost in a challenge to one of the Onion's writers. He was referring to Blair's Death Rain Habanero Chips.
Now, mainly I enjoy the phrase 'man up and face the rain' because it's so in the mode of ZoMofo. He writes consistently in all caps, and does his best to act like a fourteen-year-old boy (suggesting once that a "Star Wars" prequel called "DERTH VEDER" would 'own'), despite the fact that he/she is probably not. Also, the phrase sounds like a bizarro-world John Fogarty lyric.

On the other hand, that fella up there left is named, I believe, Boukun (and on the right: Boukun's ghost?). Or maybe that's the name of the company. I don't know. I do know that I originally bought a bag of these things at Uwajimaya, having no idea what I was buying (habanero-flavored potato rings, it turns out).
The product itself was no great shakes, but I immediately became curious about what the website ( would hold.

A lot of time and care is put into Japanese products' websites: games, cartoons, etc. But isn't that also the case with, say, Budweiser's website? Probably. I don't know. But Bud doesn't have an adorable spokescharacter named Beano, who is an eyeglass-wearing soybean who sometimes weeps with fear. Especially in (the one cartoon I can't find) where he has to wrestle a Sumo giant.

Boukun, on the other hand, isn't afraid of shit. He's the prototypical pepper with a bad attitude; from that family of products that dare you to try them. But this guy goes wayyy too far.
What does this bruised wonder do, upon noting his honored status as a famous food product? He decides that (his) best move would be to hold a press conference, and when you are asked about -say- your vacation plans, let out a red cloud of noxious steam that causes the journalist's heads to explode. (I hope you all can see that cartoon, as I am not able to export it, not being able to read the text over there. It's the one on the far right, second line down. Just hit 'play'.)

He also has totalitarian dreams, as we all do, as referenced by this terrifying evil pepper bus tour idea. God help me, I want one of those masks.

This also, for some reason, reminds me of the movie Viva Knievel! (1977). Well, I know why: it was another topic of discussion on the AV Club. It is not a good movie, but like all the time devoted to a demonic potato crisp by Actual Professionals, it makes you note all over again that you can make a big deal out of anything.

This goes double for Evel himself. On his early '70's album Evel Speaks to Kids (I think that's the title: I don't actually own this album), there is the usual overdramatic theme song; some histrionic man is singing, "He's a maaannn...With a promise to keeep..."
What promise? To make as much money as possible by largely failing to do what you were paid to do? To who? 'The kids'? Promoters?

Better still, there's a sequence on the album when he is asked by a grade schooler; "When I jump my bike off the roof of my house, should I wear a helmet?"
(...and instead of suggesting that maybe the kid shouldn't do the initial bad idea he is asking about...)

An odd little smack! noise is heard. Evel asks the kid, "That hurt?"
The kid says, "No."
Smack! "That hurt?"
SMACK! "Ow!", the kid says.
"Get a helmet," Evel concludes.

He has conducted this entire interview in that entirely flat, emotionless lack-of-affect that made Evel seem badass -yes- but also would seem to preclude him being the focal point of a movie. That doesn't stop America from demanding just this, though, and Evel never ceases to be just that.
He is introduced to a sassy, vaguely feminist photographer played by Lauren Hutton. I don't remember her character's name, but it doesn't really matter since her name pretty much is The Women These Days I Don't Understand 'Em, What With Their Liberation and All. Then he is introduced to the crowd by pre-senility Frank Gifford:

I love that he seems to suggest that five or ten years worth of drugs will be just fine. Unfortunately, you will then explode.

Gene Kelly does a little too well as his drunk mechanic. Red Buttons is...Red Buttons! Frankly, I forget. There is an adorable little boy named Tommy that Evel is looked-up-to by, which leads to many awkward exchanges that are supposed to be tender, but aren't because Evel doesn't do emotion.
So lines that are supposed to be warm-hearted , delivered in flat-affect tone, come out as "tommy.yourdaddylovesyouverymuch.tommy."

I suspect that there should be some romance between that ball-breaker photog and Evel, but I don't knooowww...Gene Kelly having a breakdown after being "drugged", thrown into the looney bin, FREAKIN' OUT!!! Oscar, baby.

Leslie Nielsen as a bad guy! People forget that he spent the better part of twenty years playing a heavy. He has the entirely well-conceived and certainly not needlessly convoluted idea that the easiest way to smuggle "drugs" into the United States is to lure a popular stuntman/daredevil down to Mexico, kidnap him and his crew, drive a full scale replica of Evel's distinctive and highly recognizable mobile home into the States whose walls are filled with "drugs". The thinking goes that everybody loves and trusts Evel, and is well aware of his bizarre views on what "drugs" will do to you. Certainly his bus would be the last place anyone would choose to do th' smugglin'.
Evel, upon first hearing this unlikely invite, is lying in bed, shortly after -as usual- failing to make a jump without also breaking one of the eventual thirty-five bones he broke.
A bit tactlessly, he says, "Viva Tequila!" to his mechanic, who he knows is battling the bottle. They go.

I don't need to tell you what happens. You already know. It puts me in mind of this other great idea I had for a screenplay. Not Derth Veder, the story of an intergalactic warlord with a speech impediment, but a movie based on Elvis' '68 Comeback.

And, as of three years ago, the folks over at Rejected 'Love Is...' Comics gave us such things as that over there....
That's one of the tamer ones, by the way. But the greatest part of all was how the blog, for its brief tenure, was haunted by someone claiming to be the original author of the comic, who apparently has been dead since 1997.

Her contributions to the discussion included:

"Don't Stare at My Adam's Apple you are the dumbest broad ive ever met im my life...i forgot u knew me sooo well...and you know how to spell my name...Kim is coming to get you...I AM KATUI AMYO BIATCH...Copyright infringement... yeah thats right ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS ALL CAPS


Like every decent troll I've ever met, they only created a blog profile to bother other people, which is a shame since I would have loved to hear what this person actually had to say. In any case, another one of those places where a very very big deal got made of something relatively meaningless. C'est la Internet.

The one claiming to be Catharine Mayo (who could not, unfortunately, spell her name in any other case) commented on each of the posts. Other people tangled with her (as 'Don't Stare At My Adam's Apple' did), but ultimately the whole thing petered out, and now most of the comments are from lonely spambots, drooling in the night.

Ahh. Well, especially to all our peeps up in da NW, man up and face the rain. Back soon.