Sunday, September 30, 2007


If we truly lived in a democratic nation, and the final arbiters of justice in the nation were nine learned justices--a Supreme Court, if you will--then it would surely be expected that those justices to be fair and impartial, or at least as impartial as a human being could be. We wouldn't, for instance, allow anyone to get on the court who openly admitted his or her hatred towards certain ideologies, and surely if someone clearly prejudiced did somehow land on this court, steps for removal would immediately be taken.

Of course, this isn't a democratic nation.

Clarence Thomas has, God help us, published a memoir, and even though he won his battle against Anita Hill--he's on the court, after all--he can't let it go, not only dismissing Hill's claims of sexual harrassment, but spinning a conspiracy theory that she was just a front for abortion groups determined to keep him off the court.

As a black kid in the south, the KKK may have been scary, but not as scary as liberals: "My worst fears had come to pass not in georgia, but in Wasington, D.C., where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony."

So members of congress who rightly questioned his suitability for the court are worse than the Klan, according to Thomas. You might think that kind of trivializes all those black corpses hanging from trees, but remember, in the world according to Clarence, race doesn't matter. That's why it's okey-doaks to abolish affirmitive action; just because Thomas was himself a beneficiary doesn't mean African-Americans today should be allowed the advantages he had. He was black when he needed to be, now he's color-blind. A miracle!

Thomas is a douchebag, no question. What does it say for the rest of us, though, that we let this guy--clearly closed-minded, hostile to change, openly contempuous of his own race--set the laws of the land? It's obvious what's wrong with him...but what's wrong with us?

Saturday, September 29, 2007


No matter how this scenario plays out, everybody loses.

Hollywood studios have been ramping up their production schedules, trying to get as many movies before the cameras as possible by the beginning of next year, before contracts with unions representing actors and directors expire. The Writers Guild contract expires next month, however, and those crafty scribes have figured out that many of these projects being rushed into production lack finalized scripts. So if they strike now, the studios are screwed.

Hard to have much rooting interest in a pissing contest between gazillionaires, but what is really made clear is how slipshod movie production is. Many, many movies, including megabudget tripe like Justice League Of America and Another Night (the much-unawaited sequel to A Night At The Museum) start filming before anybody's even bothered writing the damned things. I realize this occasionally works--studio execs love to hold up the example of Casablanca, which was written on the fly--but in general, this is like constructing a building without bothering with a blueprint.

Of course, what good is a blueprint if the architect is incomepetent? Could a sequel to A Night At The Museum filmed without a script conceivably be any worse than the original with a script? The screenplay for Justice League (Jessica Biel turned down a part in this because she didn't find it interesting enough. Let me rephrase that: This movie doesn't even sound good enough to interest Jessica Fucking Biel!) is reportedly "not ready," but can anybody who sat through, say, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 or Transformers believe those scripts were worth filming?

Summing up: If the writers go on strike, we'll be deprived of awful Ben Stiller movies. If the strike is averted, more crap is on the way.

My head hurts.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Not that I've had a blinding revelation or anything, but I might have been too hard on 3:10 To Yuma when I mentioned it yesterday. It didn't do much for me, but it's certainly a well-crafted piece of work. Director James Mangold is clearly no Delmar Daves, much less Anthony Mann, but then again, those directors worked in an era when audiences were more patient, not expecting constant action or motion every five minutes.

Additionally, 3:10 To Yuma is fraught with the weight of expectation. So few westerns are made these days, any new one seems to carry the future of the genre on its shoulders, and you can feel the strain here, as the film wants to be an old-fashioned oater, a modern ADD-edited action epic and an ironic comment on filmic traditions, all at the same time.

Recent musicals have been victims of this tendency, as well. Dreamgirls tried so hard to be all things to all audiences, it felt as though its negative was processed in flop sweat. On the other hand, Hairspray didn't try to be anything other than what it was, and was wonderfully entertaining.

And Hairspray, for which I had incredibly low expectations, turns out to be my favorite movie of the year so far. How the hell did that happen? There are movies I know are better--Zodiac, say, or Sicko--and movies I liked a great deal, like Bug. And Ratatouille, for crying out loud! That's a movie to fall in love with, expertly realized, a near perfect combination of humor and pathos. Yet somehow, I felt detached, disconnected. I didn't take it to my heart.

Maybe it's me. These last couple years have been a bit of a rollercoaster, emotionally speaking--I believe I've written about that here occasionally, yes?--and even though movies used to provide succor in times of need, lately they feel more like a hollow distraction.

Or maybe it's the movies themselves. After all, I was in the mood to be entertained when I saw 3:10 To Yuma, so I wanted to enjoy it, but it just didn't deliver on anything more than a basic level. Zodiac was undeniably well-made, but so self-conscious in its echoes of seventies cinema it couldn't even breathe. Sicko was a well-made film about an important subject, but Michael Moore fell into his familiar schtick too easily. And Ratatouille--well, no, the problem with that is me, because there was nothing wrong with that movie.

I should go see it again. Perhaps I'll fall in love with it this time, and my faith in the movies will be restored. It'd be nice if I could at least believe in something.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


Right, well, it's my day off and I'm not sticking to one topic. Please join me, won't you, as we pinball around my psyche.

1) I saw 3:10 To Yuma last night, mostly because I was in the mood for something entertaining but not taxing, and the neighborhood theater where it's playing has cheap admission and bargain prices at the concession stand. Usually, I'm not a popcorn sort of guy, but I make exceptions for Bond pictures, Indiana Jones movies and non-"serious" westerns.

Anyway, as for the, it was okay. I enjoyed it enough while it played, but I saw it less than twenty-four hours ago and damned if I can remember much about it. And I like westerns. If I didn't spend so much time going on about Vincente Minnelli, I'd go on and on about the greatness of Anthony Mann and Andre DeToth, and don't even get me started on Sam Peckinpah, or we'll be here all week. I'd love to see the genre make a comeback, but 3:10 To Yuma doesn't seem like the harbinger of greater things. I am cautiously optimistic about The Assasination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, however. The Ron Hansen novel from which it's adapted is great.

2) Hey, speaking of Vincente Minnelli, look! A clip from The Pirate, neatly showcasing Minnelli's stylish direction and the absolutely brilliant comic performances of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland.

You know, you can find this on DVD online for less than fifteen bucks. Buy it! Buy it now!

3) If you have errands to run and you want to do them in blessed silence, may I suggest weekday mornings? I went to the bank, Petco, a book store and an auto supply store and...nothing. No crowds, mostly no other customers at all. It was nice. Well, except...

4) The bank. I keep going to the same branch of the bank, with the fading hope that the same teller--let's call her Busty--will return, but she never has.

Several trips in a row, I was serviced (ahem) by Busty, a well-rounded, curly haired brunette who favored low-cut tops with no bra. Once, she was wearing a button-down number with several of the buttons undone, and as she leaned forward, her spectacular mounds burst forth like Vesuvius, only with popping nipples instead of scalding lava. I realize it's probably wrong to just stare gape-mouthed at a woman's tits (and I'm pretty sure it was obvious I was staring), but Holy Joe, they were spectacular. And huge. And right there!

Busty's gone--I hope she didn't get in trouble for displaying her Twin Peaks, but she was rather blatant about it--so now going to the bank is as exciting as...going to the bank.

But in memory of her charms, here's Mike Nelson, Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo.

5) Actual headline in today's New York Times: BLACKWATER TOPS FIRMS IN IRAQ IN SHOOTING RATE. Funny thing is, I've known this for years now, and I don't have the resources of the Paper Of Record at my disposal. It's almost like The Times, like all mainstream American media, has been willfully ignorant of what was always there, like they've chosen to simply ignore the pernicious forces the U.S. government has hired to do its dirty work. Weird...

6) I always mention my cats when I do one of these random thoughts things, don't I. Well, not today. Nope, no mention of adorable, fuzzy Monika or dangerously psychotic Delmar. No mention at all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Sorry. I know things have been pretty depressing around here lately. When I'm not avoiding writing by posting music clips, I ramble on and on about the latest wretched turn in my life, or the latest tragic events in the wider world. It's not always a fun read around here, or maybe I'm just not a fun person. There must be some reason why women keep dumping me.

Oops, I did it again, off on another woe-is-me tear. It's not as though my life is entirely without joy, although moments of pleasure tend to be fleeting...No, damn it, that sounds depressing, too.

Ah, but we do, after all, live in a rather depressing world. Dog-eat-dog doesn't begin to cover it; more like dog-kill-dog-just-for-pleasure. People are cruel, simply because they can be. In America right now, the gap between rich and poor has never been greater, and the president goes out of his way to give extra perks to those who need it least. And we do nothing about it! We stand slack-jawed, allowing ourselves to be abused by the powerful, utterly convinced of the futility of even attempting change.

I could link this tendency to my personal life, of course. There's a reason why it seems I write about my cats more and more often. They're my only companions these days. I don't go out much, not right now. Why the hell should I? I don't even want to date, because I can write the story before it happens, and what's the point of getting hurt again?

Say, didn't this start out with me apologizing for being so depressing? Heh.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


It was an odd weekend.

Saturday was all about doing the things I used to do for fun, the things I hadn't done for so long: hanging out in book stores, listening to music, going to a movie, just driving around and enjoying myself.

Except, of course, I wasn't really enjoying myself.

Oh, it was okay. A beautiful, sunny day, warm but not hot, a slight breeze, everything almost perfect. But somewhere in the back of my mind a nagging little voice kept saying, "Shouldn't you have moved beyond this? This is the same thing you've always done." And how could I answer that voice?

At the beginning of this year, Tabbatha and I planned to move in together. We looked at several apartments. And me, I was looking at rings. That was the talk--we'd get married, Paul would, in essence, become my son (he'd taken to calling me "dad"), and maybe--who knows?--maybe we'd even have another kid.

Then we stopped looking, stopped talking about it. Suddenly she decided she never really felt that deeply for me. Poof, just like that.

"But I know you and Paul like each other, and you can still do things together," she said. So we have, mostly just continuing our Tuesday night tradition of going out for pizza.

But Sunday I took Paul to a movie, Dragon Wars, because he and I both love giant monsters trashing cities, and this has plenty of that. We went out to eat first--Paul loves Fuddrucker's--then to the movie, and afterwards, he asked with great excitement what we would do next. "Well, now I take you home." He nodded quietly, like I was ending the day too soon.

I called his mom from the car and reminded her I had several boxes of books my sister had given me for Paul. Should I just bring them up, I asked, and she said yes.

Carrying the first box up, Tabbatha stood at the top of the stairs, holding beloved kitty Midnight. She opened the door to her apartment, Midnight plopped down to the floor and scrambled for the bedroom. I started to follow him, wanting to say hi to my old buddy, then stopped when I saw the bed was occupied. New boyfriend.

I went down to get more boxes, and by the time I returned, the bedroom door was shut. I had hoped to spend a little time with Paul exploring his new haul of books, but instead I could tell my presence wasn't welcome, so I got the hell out.

Driving home, I listened to Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me on NPR. It's a pretty funny show, but I didn't feel much like laughing. All I could think about was the story my ex-wife told me from when she worked at a radio station with Dan Coffey, a comic performer of some repute. He was originally tapped to host Wait, Wait, and believed it would be his ticket to the big time. Instead they went with another guy, and Coffey went back to selling shoes.

Sometimes, things don't go according to the plan.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Ah, Monday, and again, not feeling much like writing. Partly because I overslept, and I have other things I really need to do. And partly because...You know. The usual.

Here's a great scene from Albert Brooks' Modern Romance, one of the best comedies of all time. That's Bob Einstein, Brooks' brother, as the salesman, and be sure to stick around for the last few seconds--this happens to me on a regular basis.(Only with "Solitary Man" instead of "Along Comes Mary"--sigh.)

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I'm in a Brit Rock mode.

It started with that stupid Across The Universe movie. I haven't seen it--and won't!--but just the image from the ads of Bono, complete with Lennon specs, doing "I Am The Walrus"--Help me, Jeebus, help me burn this image from my mind.

Oh, this helps. Nothin' like the real thing:

I realize I've said this about a million times, but man, those guys were great.

Anyway, that of course led to this:

Which led to this:

That was The Dukes Of Statosphear, a goofy side project from XTC. This could have led to more XTC videos--and one day, no doubt, it will--but instead I stayed in a sixties mode, remembering a time (well, not literally remembering; I wasn't actually there) when Pete Townshend didn't sell his songs to Jerry Bruckheimer productions, when Roger Daltrey didn't host infomercials, when John Entwistle and Keith Moon were alive:

Finally, The Kinks. If Ray Davies isn't the greatest songwriter of the rock era, he's awfully damned close, and "See My Friends"--God, what a gorgeous song:

Friday, September 21, 2007


Delmar wraps around my feet, Monika stretches at a crazy angle on the floor, and I hesitate to mention them for fear that I'm turning into someone who has nothing better to do than write about my cats.

When Mom died, we put her house up for sale, but the thought did cross my mind: I could live here. And if I had, I would have inherited not just Monika but all of Mom's cats, and probably the dog, too, and of course, I would have brought Delmar with me. The temptation was there; I could have actually owned my own place, and finally moved beyond my status as lifetime renter.

But that would have meant moving back to Perry, finding a different job, restarting my life. And more, it carried with it the knowledge that I would probably cocoon myself within those walls, animals my only companions, my life essentially over.

I stayed where I was, but really, what have I got to show for it? When Tabbatha broke up with me, she told me that if I searched my heart, I'd find that my feelings for her weren't truly romantic. But they were. Maybe I didn't convey it properly, or maybe--ah hell, it doesn't matter. It's over, and instead of the life I wanted with her, I have...this. The inertia of my life is stupefying, but it's all I have right now.

I live day by day, never really enjoying anything, just kind of taking up space, existing to no purpose. One of these days that may change, I may break from this simply out of neccessity, but until then, Delmar is still at my feet, Monika has curled up atop the TV, and they're the only things that matter right now.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


When Monika curls up beside me, her tail thumps incessantly until I find just the right spot to scritch her. Petting her isn't enough; she demands a good scritching. Under the chin, along the side of her face, and on her snout, right between her eyes--those are the favorite spots. That is when the tail stops twitching, and curls around her body.

As far as Monika is concerned, I could spend the rest of my life just scritching her. I could take breaks when she's in the litter box, and possibly when she's eating, although even then, it might help her digest. Certainly the rest of the time, though, should be devotd to her--just because she's sleeping is no reason she shouldn't be getting her due attention.

Fortunately, scritching Monika makes me happy, too. I love watching her eyes scrunch shut as she drifts off to her happy place, and hearing the gentle, machine-like whir of her purring. It may not be what I want to do as my life's work, but hey, at least I'm making somebody happy, even if it's just a cat.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Ten years ago this month I moved in with my then-fiancee. I'd moved to her hometown a few months earlier, acquiring my own apartment, but the arrangement seemed silly, given that we were spending pretty much all of our nights together.

But it was different actually living together. Her apartment was small, and there were no real seperate corners when we fought. Which, of course, we fought, though that didn't for one minute make me doubt my feelings about her, or my intention to marry her. (Though, in retrospect, maybe the Vegas wedding was a bad idea...)

When I go on about her, or us, or the marriage, it's not because I'm still not over her (though I have a string of ex-girlfriends who'd claim otherwise), but because I'm still not over what she represents: One time in my life when I absolutely believed in what I was doing, when I took a huge chance on what felt so very right.

My life, God knows, is a string of bad decisions, but most of those I recognized even at the time. This was different. This was my shot at happiness...and it blew up in my face. Every relationship since then--hell, every aspect of my life--has had me second-guessing like crazy. At least, up until I met Tabbatha. I was certain about that one, too, and...


Here's Was (Not Was), featuring guest vocalist Frank Sinatra Jr. (!), laying it all out. Yeah, you do have to be courageous to play the odds that love will win. Of course, the house always has the advantage.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


It's my day off, and I'm just hanging out at home. Then, noise in the hallway. The maintenence guy is stripping the floors in the hallway.

Okay. I can deal with the scrape, scrape scrape and the whirring of buffers. Unfortunately, he's brought a radio along, and he's playing a local classic rock station. Loud.

Worse, it's Two-fer Tuesday, which means when you hear one awful Billy Idol or Rush song, you know you'll hear another immediately after. My ears perked up somewhat when I heard Cheap Trick's "Ain't That A Shame"--I knew they wouldn't follow with something really cool like "Southern Girls" or "Downed", but I was hoping for maybe "Dream Police". Nah--"The Flame".

Right now, it's The Who. "Who Are You", of course. I was fully expecting "Won't Get Fooled Again" as the second choice, but they went for the somewhat more surprising "Squeeze Box".

Annnd we round out the hour with some Ted Nugent. If I had to imagine what hell sounds like, I'm sure The Nuge would be involved somehow.


The Iraqi government has terminated a contract with Blackwater USA, a private security firm that has provided cover for non-military US personnel--what our government euphemistically labels "ambassadors", but mostly representatives for various business interests. Last weekend, eight Iraqis were killed, apparently by Blackwater personnel, who have long provided a thuggish presence in Iraq. When outrage by citizens led normally dickish and ineffectual Prime Misister al-Maliki to announce plans to prosecute the Blackwater goons responsible, it was quickly pointed out that, according to terms drawn up by the US occupying forces, the government can't prosecute American contractors.

This is the democracy we've given them, ladies and gentlemen. This is the "victory" we're fighting for.

Oh, and according to a respected British polling firm, the number of Iraqi civilian dead could be as high as one million. That's one-sixth of the number of dead from the Nazi Holocaust.

The latest number of dead American troops: 3782.

The number of lives destroyed is, of course, beyond calculation.

Here's the final sequence of Milos Forman's adaptation of Hair, made in 1979, about the sixties, with absolutely no relevance today.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Sorry, folks, too depressed to write.

But is there still joy in the world? Yeah, as long as there are Chuck Jones cartoons.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Ah, the weekend. Time for relaxing with some mellow, mellow sounds.

How about we start with some live System Of A Down?

And--man, I did NOT know this clip existed!--the MC5 from 1970. Too bad they bleep the "motherfucker"--but still, it's the MC5 kicking out the jams!

Back-to-back numbers from Was (Not Was):

A goofy but lovely song written by Akira Ifukube:

And let's wrap this up with Sparks. Are Russell's theatrical moves a parody of rock star behavior, or is he being serious? Come on! It's Sparks, so the answer is: Both.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Well, I was all prepared to nash my teeth endlessly over Our Beloved President's speech to the nation last night, which would almost certainly have spiked my blood pressure to dangerous levels, but I see my ex has "tagged" me over at her blog.

So, though I don't get the whole meme thing, I'll still play:

Accent--What, mine? Eh, I'm from Iowa. Vague midwestern twang. Or maybe not, since I've had any number of people through the years assume I'm originally from New York, and their assumption was based mostly on how I talk, so who knows? (I've also had people ask me if I'm Jewish, which I think is some sort of midwestern code for "Are you from New York?")

I Don't Drink--Is this a complete-the-sentence thing? Mostly, I don't drink, and if I do, it's usually beer. But not crappy, mass-market American beer. Samuel Smith oatmeal stout--that's a good beer.

Chore I Hate--Hey, sometimes, just getting out of bed is a chore. Thank you! Goodnight! I'll be here all week!

Pets--My cats, Delmar and Monika. I've been known to go on about them sometimes...

Essential Electronics--I'm sitting at a computer, posting on my blog, which I use frequently to prattle on and on about favorite DVDs and albums. I think that sentence should give you some clues.

Perfume/Cologne--What? No.

Gold or Silver?--No, the order is wrong, and it should be "and" not "or", as in "Silver And Gold", the beloved Johnny Marks song Burl Ives sings so lugubriously in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. My brother and I are still prone to breaking into Burl's mid-song patter: "Couldn't really call it a Christmas tree, now could ya?" When we do it, Burl inexplicably sounds like the Pepperidge Farms guy.

Insomnia--Either that, or I sleep too much. Kinda goes hand in hand with crippling depression.

Most Admired Trait--My own or in others? See, this is just ambiguous wording. I'll go with the safe answer: Sense of humor.

Kids--No. Of course, if Tabbatha and I were still together, I'd have claimed Paul as a step-kid, but...

Religion--Oh, let's not get into that.

Siblings--Two brothers, two sisters. I used to have a third brother, but he was killed five years ago. Five years. Damn.

Time I Wake Up--Way too early.

Unusual Talent--Boy, these are random, aren't they? Well, I can belch on demand. Does that count?

Vegetable I Refuse To Eat--No, no, see, I'm good with vegetables. Many fruits make me sick. Is there any way this is interesting to anyone?

Worst Habit--I dunno. Inability to break free of my crippling depression? Yeah, I'll go with that.

X Rays--Again with the ambiguity. Have I had an x-ray? Hasn't everybody, at some point? In any event, I've got a steel plate in my right foot taking the place of the heel I shattered in a suicide attempt. So, you know, that gets x-rayed a lot.

Favorite Meal--Tuna casserole. No peas.

Aaaannnd...we're done. With not a single mention of Iraq. Oh crap, I just mentioned it. Never mind.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Seeing the remake of Halloween put me in a John Carpenter mood, so I watched The Fog again on DVD. Sure, the plot turns kind of silly, but that doesn't matter; Carpenter's already done his job, creating and sustaining a mood, not only of fear and dread but a kind of quiet melancholy. He really is a great filmmaker, and I wish he could get work these days doing something besides collecting paychecks for the rights to redo his work.

Seemingly unrelated to my musings on Carpenter--or is it?--I had a dream last night about my late, much beloved cat Pinback. (I say "cat" for easy identification purposes, since Pinback was, of course, a strange visitor from another world, only assuming the form of an earthly cat.) In the dream, Pinback sat on my chest and hissed at me everytime she felt me breathe, which was something she actually did pretty much every day. When I woke up, Delmar--who strongly resembles Pinback in both appearance and attitude--sat beside me, glaring menacingly.

As I got out of bed and proceded with my day, and since a day off means an excuse to kill a whole day visiting favorite web sites, I found myself at The Onion's AV Club, which featured a review of a new album by the band...Pinback! At another site, a read a review of a DVD reissue of Return Of The Living Dead, directed by Dan O'Bannon, who co-wrote John Carpenter's Dark Star and co-starred in it as...Pinback!

Dark Star is a wonderful movie, Carpenter's first feature, expanded from a student film he and O'Bannon made. One could argue O'Bannon is as much the auteur here as Carpenter--the film strongly influenced Alien, which O'Bannon wrote--but it already shows Carpenter's affinity for blue-collar heroes over their heads, who must overcome their own ennui before they can take any kind of action.

Through the years, Carpenter has always shown an affection for beer-guzzling regular joes, and there's never a hint of condecension in his work. (They Live might be a goofy alien invasion movie starring a pro wrestler--not that there's anything wrong with that--but it also is the only action movie I can think of with homeless construction workers as its heroes.) This attitude is reflected in Carpenter's stylistic approach, which is always simple, straightforward. Stylish, yes, but never showy. Clearly, he considers himself a bit of a working-class filmmaker--a craftsman, not an artiste.

In any event, here's the opening credits to Dark Star, complete with a Carpenter-penned theme song. Like the movie itself, the song, with its drawled vocals and exaggerated twang, seems jokey at first. But as you listen to its instantly catchy melody and wistful lyrics, you realize it's more sad than funny. Much like Dark Star itself.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


My mind is absolutely blank right now, or at least it's supposed to be. I'm trying an experiment in free writing, just putting down whatever comes into my mind as it comes into my mind...but nothing's coming to mind.

So I'll do the most trite, hackneyed thing imaginable, and look around the room to see if anything inspires me. Hopefully, I'll come up with somethng better than "I look at the floor and see it needs sweeping." Nothing against George Harrison, but Holy Joe that's lame.

I try to give George a break, I really do, to appreciate how he must have felt when Lennon and McCartney shouldered him out of the way and did most of the songwriting themselves. But let's face it: They were better.

Even on Abbey Road, the album on which George unquestionably brought it--so much so that John realized he needed to do some serious work or risk being shown up--even there, with "Something", a lovely song in so many ways, but still: "Something in the way she woos me"?

Wow. So the whole point of this free writing thing is to set my mind wandering, and I still wind up writing about The Beatles.

Hey, at least I'm not writing YET AGAIN about Vincente Minnelli. Because I could do that, you know. I've never written about The Band Wagon in this space before. At least, I don't think I have.

Or Bush, I'm not whining about him, or posting Richard Thompson clips, or prattling on about my cats.

Well, okay, strike that last part, because as I was looking around for something to inspire me--which of course led to that whole pointless George harrison tangent--I of course saw Monika curled up on the floor, legs splayed in all directions, eyes clenched shut, so darned adorable I want to go over and hug her, but Monika doesn't like hugs and besides, I'm not supposed to stop writing, I'm not supposed to break the, um, spell.

So far all this experiment is proving is how hopelessly insular my world is, that my freed mind is unable or unwilling to explore new areas, so I keep doing the same thing over and over again, like poor Del Shannon forced to sing "Runaway" one more time, the same cycle that may well have led him to kill himself.

Wait! Suicide--that's one topic I've never really explored here. I've alluded to attempts in the past, my broken feet and scarred wrists, but I've never really explained the reasons behind the damage, maybe because...I'm scared? There are, apparently, dark places I avoid by choice, but perhaps that very reluctance is why I need to follow these paths, wherever they may lead.

So does that mean my postings here are about to get even more depressing than usual? Or will I just go back to posting shit I found on YouTube? Guess we'll have to wait and see...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Another 9/11 anniversary. Do we care anymore?

For a "Day That Changed Everything", we've become rather blase about the whole thing. Oh, I know the network morning shows will likely lead with this, and we'll get the usual montages. (Think they'll still trot out the Samuel Barber accompaniment?) But by tomorrow, we'll be back to discussing Britney Spears' lame performance on MTV.

Maybe it's geography. Here in the heartland, the attacks simply didn't have the same impact. We weren't under attack, they were, the East Coast power elite. There is a heightened awareness of our vulnerability, but even the release last week of a new Bin Laden video was greeted with a shrug.

And it's weird how the notion that the attacks were, at least in part, an inside job has gained traction. That's been a poular conspiracy among wackjobs everywhere since the attacks occured, but you here it repeated more often now, discussed at work, in bars and restaurants, overheard from blue collar workers to moneyed professionals. The theory now has thankfully dropped the noxious anti-semitism of its early days (when it was the work of the International Jewish Conspiracy), and seems more and more to be targeting Our Beloved President.

How else, people wonder, could he have gotten us into Iraq? Without the attacks and the climate of fear they created, how could he have found the political backing to go ahead with a boneheaded plan that was already in the works? Viewed in that light, the devastation of 9/11 suddenly looks very...convenient.

Like any good theory, this one has just enough plausibility to seem believable on the surface. But let's face it, Bush would have gone ahead with Iraq anyway. Fabricating links to al-Qaeda made it an easier sell, but they weren't needed. They'd have had the "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud" taglines ready to go, questioned the patriotism of anyone who opposed them, all counting on the willfull ignorance of the American people. It would have worked, too, and we'd be right where we are now.

Today 9/11 is a vague memory to many in the country, a hazy fragment from a time before The Forever War, from a country we used to call home.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Having avoided the remakes of John Carpenter's Assault On Precinct 13 and The Fog, and actively dreading the "re-imagining" of Escape From New York, I nonetheless headed out this weekend to see the latest Carpenter retread, Halloween because...well, it's what Mom would have wanted.

This incarnation of Halloween, of course, was written and directed by Rob Zombie, and man, oh man did Mom love the Zombie. She caught a White Zombie performance on Letterman, went crazy for the music and, more importantly, for The Man Himself. She, uh, apparently thought he was hot, and that creeps me out on so many levels...let's move on.

The point is, she dug the man and his music, and when he started directing, well, so much the better. Seeing The Devil's Rejects was literally one of the things that rejuvenated Mom after her cancer was discovered (Rob Zombie, Life Force...Who knew?), so clearly she'd have wanted to see his latest opus, even if it is a pointless remake.

Well, not entirely pointless. The first half of Zombie's Halloween crafts an origin for Carpenter's seemingly motiveless killer, as a kid from a white trash family with a pure love for his momma and baby sister and a growing hatred for everything else in his wretched life. The psychological underpinnings of Zombie's script are as subtle as his cracker aesthetics, but they're believable and, occasionally, moving. The writing and filmmaking here can't be faulted, and the performances by Sherri Moon-Zombie and Daeg Faerch as a mother and child with a bond that is almost stronger than death are simply outstanding. If only the whole movie had been this good, it would have ranked alongside Jonathan Kaplan's Over The Edge or Tim Hunter's River's Edge as a study of alienated, invisible youth.

Unfortunately, it turns into just another slasher movie, complete with characters who know things they couldn't possibly know. Zombie's staging remains competent, but the material is so familiar (it is a remake, after all), and the action ultimately so tedious, that it finally leaves a bad taste.

Still, the final scene ties the film back to its opening sequences in an almost sentimental style, and I suspect Mom would have loved it. Hell, she might even have cried. You never could tell with her.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Yesterday, a clear blue sky, warm with just a slight breeze. A perfect late summer day.

This morning, overcast, a dampness in the air, and chilly, too, the wind rattling treetops, leaves falling even before they've changed colors.

Summer is over, with its punishing heat and unexpected, unwanted farewells. Autumn has arrived, the season of quiet melancholy.

Looks like a perfect day to wallow in sadness, but for one thing, one small joy. Last night, as I tossed and turned, unable once again to sleep, Delmar appeared at the foot of the bed.

The thing about Delmar is, he's a largely unremarkable cat. His body is rangy, his face rather ordinary, and he seldom gives or asks for affection. He could be a typical Steve Buscemi character, or perhaps the husband Billy Green Bush so memorably played in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore--not a bad guy, but somehow not able to connect with his family.

When Delmar hops on the bed, he stays at the far end, there but not there, and if I reach for him, he skitters away. This time, though, he came closer, and put a paw on my shoulder, and slowly moved it down to my elbow. Then he did it again. And again.

He was petting me.

Science claims cats are lower life forms, they lack what we call souls. They may feels a sense of devotion to those who feed and shelter them, but they certainly are not capable of human emotions.

But what Del showed me was an expression of love so pure, the exact thing I needed at that moment, a comfort as profoundly offered and accepted as any I have ever known. I wanted to hold him, to hug him and never stop, but Del doesn't like hugs. Instead, with him still beside me, I had the best night of sleep I've had in such a long time.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I went to see the new Iraq war documentary No End In Sight the other night, and the whole thing depressed me. Not the movie--despite the ecstatic reviews, it was mostly a tedious jog down well-trod paths. Anyone paying any attention already knows the facts laid out here (Paul Bremer is a douchebag? I'm shocked!), and a far more interesting film would have concentrated not on the well-known failings of Rummy & Company, but on the Democratic enablers who passively sat by while the Bushinistas did whatever the hell they wanted.

No, the depression came from the actual screening itself. No End In Sight's brief Des Moines run was at the Varsity, an old neighborhood theater transformed several decades into an art house, albeit an art house specializing mostly in solidly middlebrow fare. My mom hated going to movies there because of what she called "the Varsity audience"--moneyed, well-educated people who make a point of reacting to any psuedo-brainy reference in a movie to show they get it. So if, for instance, there's a line about Kierkeguaard in a Woddy Allen movie, the audience will laugh smugly, not because it's a funny gag, but just because, hey, they've read (or, more likely, scanned) Kierkeguaard.

And so, during No End In Sight, we'd get clips of Rummy's sneering press conferences, or photos of Bush in front of the Mission Accomplished banner, always accompanied by derisive chuckles from the Varsity's Peanut Gallery.

To what point? Everyone's seen these clips a million times--they can't have any impact anymore. And in any event, the proper reaction to seeing this parade of horrors isn't condescending laughter, it should be disgust, or outrage.

Ah, but disgust or outrage might lead to action, and an audience like this isn't likely to take any action more daring than patting themselves on the back for towing the liberal line. These are the type of people who cluelessly throw their support behind Hillary Clinton, not knowing or caring that she supported Bush's actions in Iraq every step of the way, until public opinion turned, and it was actually safe to oppose the war.

Friday, September 07, 2007


Oh, I'll get over this eventually, I guess, but for right now the punishing, crippling depression continues. I'm not sure what's going on--I'll start to feel better, then WHAM, I'm right back down. Previously, bleak moods were marked by excessive amounts of sleep; these days, I can barely sleep at all. Which, of course, means I'm tired all the time, and unusually cranky and irritable, even by my standards.

Most writers I admire were or are plagued by depression. It's an occupational hazard. For me, right now, the despair gets in the way of everything. I can't be funny or insightful or entertaining--I know, I know, why start now?--and so I feel I have nothing to say, nothing to contribute. I'm running on fumes here, and even the fumes are drying up.

Sorry. This all sounds really depressing.

I'll get back to actual writing one of these days, I swear. But for now, here's a rare thing that actually makes me laugh, even in my current mood, Chris Elliot's hilarious parody of the documentary on the recording of the cast album for Stephen Sondheim's Company. Almost funnier than Elliot's parody is the notion of parodying such a thing in the first place--what was Letterman's audience supposed to make of this?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


From now on, the mission statement here is FUN! Wholesome fun for one and all.

With adorable kittens

and puppies!

And what could be more fun than clowns?

Well, okay, that was just creepy.

But this will be fun. All the kids love Marilyn Chambers and--what?

This is an actual headline in today's New York Times?



Sorry, folks. Fun has been cancelled.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Hey, look--I'm back!

(Crickets chirping.)

You know, I was gone for a couple of days?

(Wind howling, tumbleweed blowing by.)

Okay, fine. But I won't let indifference get me down. This space is now going to be devoted to nothing but FUN!

No obsessing about my constant relationship failures, or the sucking misery of my job.

No mention of Mr. Bush's photo-op trip to Iraq, which had the desired effect of making virtually the entire mainstream media follow his script: See, the surge is working!

Certainly no reference to the ACLU's release of a comprehensive study of killings of unarmed Iraqi citizens by members of the US military, a document that lays out in stark detail everything that's wrong with the occupation, and possibly with our entire national character, and so has been systematically ignored by the usual media outlets, at least here in America...

Uh, yeah. That's the sort of thing we...sigh...won't mention anymore.


Sunday, September 02, 2007


I'll be away from here for two or three days--much needed time away. Lately, life just seems to be a constant stream of bad news, and i find myself second-guessing every thing I do, wondering about every choice I've ever made in life, sinking ever deeper in despair.

So a depressing song to leave with? Hey, here are two, both from my favorite makers of beautiful sorrow, Richard and Linda Thompson. This is an exceptionally fine performance, nicely shot, with lovely and restrained fretwork from Richard (the second guitarist, incidentally, is Simon Nicol) and Linda in exceptional voice. (She often wasn't during this period, as the acrimony that ultimately led to the Thompson's divorce tended to affect her vocally.) The first number here, Pavanne, is pretty good, but the second, Just The Motion, is a truly great song, the emotional and philosophical centerpiece of their finest album, Shoot Out The Lights...That's all for now. I'll be back here Wednesday.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I was going to write about the Republican presidential candidates' typically offensive reaction to Iowa's four-hour allowance of gay marriage, or perhaps about Bush's latest pro-war whoop-de-doo, or even about the Yankees' sweet, sweet three game sweep against the much-reviled Red Sox.

Screw it. Here's a classic MST3K take on a Gumby short. I use the phrase "That squares my breasts" way too often in daily conversation.