Sunday, October 30, 2011


Paul had already seen this dreadful-looking new Three Musketeers, and wanted to see it again.  "Nothing you'd rather see?" I asked, figuring literally anything would be better.

"No.  You'll like it.  It's really good."

OK, fine, but I demanded a price: Before going to this thing, he'd first watch Richard Lester's absolutely peerless 1973 adaptation of Musketeers.  I explained that it's one of my favorite movies, which is usually a good way to get Paul reasonably intrigued.  (He trusts my opinions, except about James Bond.)  I started the movie and...

...He loved it.  Well, why wouldn't he?  Between an absolutely perfect cast (Charlton Heston's splendidly villainous Cardinal Richelieu is like a miniature acting class in itself), George MacDonald Fraser's witty script and some truly sumptuous settings, Lester is given free reign to make this material his own, and the result is not only a first-rate adventure tale, but one of the greatest comedies ever made. 

I don't know how Lester did it: Hackneyed bits of physical comedy become gaspingly funny purely through his staging and cutting.  That sort of thing almost never works; usually when a director fusses over a gag, it becomes notably less amusing.  (The sheer visual invention Steven Spielberg brought to 1941 is admirable, but it won't make you laugh.)  But here Lester repeatedly stages a scene in a seemingly deadpan manner, then cuts to a reverse angle which reveals its absurdity, and damned if it isn't funny every single time.  And he knows just how long to hold a shot, just when to cut, just when o move the camera.  He's just really good is what I'm saying, and The Three Musketeers (like its equally vital sequel, The Four Musketeers) is a world-class work of cinema.

Which is a pretty good thing o introduce a twelve-year-old to, don't you think?  We went to the new Three Musketeers the next day--and just an aside here, but boy do I wish contemporary moviemakers would stop ending their movies with setups for sequels nobody will ever want to see--and Paul still claims to like this one better.  That's understandable--it's pitched to contemporary kids, with explosions, wirework and whatnot.  (Also some of the phoniest looking CGI you'll ever see.)  It's all about immediate sensation.

But as for which one he'll actually remember, well, I have a feeling I know.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Started and abandoned two different posts recently.  One was just a silly generic thing, but the other was somewhat more personal in nature, and my inability to make it work disturbs me.  I just haven't been feeling the writing thing lately, although annoying computer glitches haven't really helped.  (When the screen freezes as you type, it kinda interrupts your train of thought.)

Anyway, just to post something, and in the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd post something scary.  Regular readers might expect me to follow that up with a clip of Linda Carter singing or David Naughton extolling the virtues of Dr. Pepper, but no, I'm serious.

I could (and probably have, and no doubt will again) go on for some time about The Exorcist, which freaked me the fuck out like no movie ever has.  I was eleven when I saw it the first time--well, saw part of it; my brother wound up carrying me out of the theater because I was literally paralyzed with fear--and I think the reason it got to me was because it creates such a believable reality.  The sets, the costumes, the lighting show no trace of artifice.  Everything looks so lived in, seems so natural, and when things go to hell (more or less literally), the impact is...well, again, as I watched the scene embedded above, I felt my limbs going numb.

Oh, and you know what else scares me? This.

Friday, October 21, 2011


There is a slightly aloof, not-quite-there manner that defines feline behavior.  Cats may be wonderful companions, but they always exist in a world of their own, somehow unknowable.  They may share this world with you, but they are always a step removed.

Except for Delmar.

Whatever Del feels is always right there on the surface, and whether it's utter adoration or inexplicable rage--he has no middle ground--you will damn sure know about it.

He will sit on your lap and smoosh his face into your chest, his half-wheezed purr so intense his whole body vibrates, and one of his gangly legs may slither around your wrist, his paw caressing you, drawing your hand to him, making sure you will pet him even as he hugs you, his devotion so overpowering it almost terrifies.

Or he'll hop on your lap with his half-tail twitching, a growl already forming somewhere in his chest, and that same paw that lovingly stroked your hand will slap down on your wrist, a solitary claw sinking deeper and deeper until blood bubbles to the surface, and his fiery eyes will burn into you with a terrible anger.

Your instinct at this point would be to throw this wretched beast to the ground, but if instead you take your other hand--the one that isn't streaked with blood--and gently rub Del between his ears, those terrifying eyes will gradually close and something resembling bliss will pass across his sharply-angled face.  His claw may or may not leave your hand, which has likely gone numb by now anyway, but one of his other paws may reach up to stroke your face.

And maybe sink a claw in there, too, but more gently, and compared to the pain in your hand, it's nothing.  Maybe it will bleed as well, but that's part of the price you paid when you let him into your heart.  He is in your heart, after all, because no matter what, you know how much he loves you, and if you didn't love him, who else ever would?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


There was a time when there would have been a reason for me to mention that I'm going on vacation for a few days.  That is, my usual daily postings here would have been interrupted, so I felt the need to provide some sort of explanation.

Now, of course, I'm lucky if I knock out ten posts in an entire month.  I could be hospitalized for a week and you, the theoretical reader, would never know.  It's weird how much effort I used to put into this site, and how indifferent I seem to be these days.  It's not that I don't have the will to write, it's just that sitting down to do it is so, like, hard and stuff.  And, well...

Ah, screw it.  I'll be back here when I get back.  In the meantime, here's Marshall Crenshaw with one of my favorite covers of all time.

Sunday, October 09, 2011


The official reason is simple: I plan to turn the second bedroom into a kind of entertainment center.  With my recently-acquired plasma TV, blu-ray player (wi-fi compatible) and surround sound system, it will be a place to retire from the world, to immerse myself in whatever sounds or images I crave at the moment.

To make room for all this, the bedroom had to be cleared of all the accumulated stuff that had piled up over the years.  Most of it had been ported over from the apartment, where it was all dropped in boxes and moved to the house in order to save myself the time and trouble of actually sorting it.  But this time, for whatever reason, I felt the need to decide what would be tossed and what would go down to the basement.

Some of this was easy.  Did I really need to keep the program for Reefer Madness: The Musical?  Nah--throw it away.  And some of the work Psychokitty Delmar had done for me--he'd slept in some of the boxes and ripped up, for instance, the 1941 Des Moines Register with a beautiful Ding Darling illustration commemorating the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I'd meant to have it framed or something, but now it was an easy toss.

Then there was...everything else.  Family photos, drawings made by my ex-wife's niece, home-dubbed VHS tapes, calenders with important dates from my past marked on them, goofy cartoons drawn by my mom.  These are things I dare not throw away, the only links I have to a life I once led.  But what are they now?

They are of no real significance except that which I give them.  Even examining them now, they draw me back, but there is something ultimately destructive about their siren song.  There is no returning to the time from which they sprang, and no point in longing for it.  My life now doesn't depend on any of this.

Or so I tell myself as I tape the boxes shut and lug them down to the basement, where they sit on shelves or piled on pallets on the floor to keep them dry.  They still exist down there, but soon they'll just be more stuff that exists in the background, like the empty boxes of laundry soap I keep forgetting to put in the garbage, as forgotten as the memories they represent.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011



Bella's on the floor, trembling, her legs flailing.  She's having a seizure, something her vet has said is not uncommon with beagles.  As long as they don't get more frequent, everything will be fine.

I pick her up and cradle her in my arms, as I always do.  We know the drill.  She'll shake violently for a few minutes, then stop.  I'll plop her down on the ground, she'll walk, still a little shaky, to the door.  She knows the seizure has made her lose control of her bodily functions, and she doesn't want to poop in the house.

Which is what happens.  But after bringing her back in, she has another seizure.  Then another, more violent.  Her limbs twist as I hold her, the ferocity of her shaking causing my own body to tremble.  Her mouth foams, she pees on me, and I cuddle her tighter, convinced at this moment that there is no greater love than what I feel for her.

Janie watches, and says she'll pray for Bella.  I find myself doing the same, making every conceivable promise to God in exchange for this dog's life.  I bawl like a fucking baby, pulling Bella tighter to my chest, mumbling, "Precious baby, love you, baby girl" over and over like a mantra, as if my words can make somehow make this stop.

Still.  Somewhere my mind shuffles awful thoughts.  Vet bills, meds, money I don't have.  The credit cards are maxed out.  How am I going to pay for this?  What does she need?  Can she be cured, or is this going to be a permanent condition?  If she's like this all the time, will she...that is...can she live like this?

Her tremors become more intense, each worse than the last, and then her body goes limp, followed by an awful stillness.  "Oh God, no!" I cry, my tears dropping onto her matted fur, already sopping wet with drool and pee.

Big brown eyes peer up at me.  She inhales deeply, the tail half-heartedly wags.  She raises her head and licks away my tears.  I place her gently on the ground and she marches unsteadily to the door, then turns and looks at me, one long ear flopping over her tilted head, as if to say, "Come on!  I gotta go!"

I grab her leash and we head outside.  She takes the steps down from the deck carefully, but her stride becomes more certain as she moves through the grass.  She does her business, then marches forward, head down, nose working overtime.

Scenting.  Something has been in the grass, and she means to track it, tugging hard at her leash, doing what she was meant to do, as all good beagles must.  I pull her leash in a different direction, back to the house, and she doesn't put up a fight.

She knows we both need rest.