Monday, December 20, 2004

Lori's 30th birthday was Saturday, and by chance we got Logan's Run from Netflix and threw it on after an afternoon of seafood and art museums. I vaguely remember the short-lived TV series from back in the day, never actually saw the Michael York version, and Lori didn't know just how appropriate a film it was for this final milestone birthday before old age begins. It was delightful, and we learned a valuable lesson about utopian societies. When it comes to the human race, every advance is a step backward. And vice-versa. Of course, we all go through our own personal Carousel. On my 30th birthday I got loaded alone and watched Nail Gun Massacre in a bedroom with a sheet for a door in a drafty house I was sharing with two other unemployed guys. I am thankful to have been renewed.

Soemthing Weird Video won't give me stills for a Doris Wishman feature review I wrote for the next issue of Resonance. "You should have your writer do that when the review the picture." What?

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Merle Haggard Official Site

He's in Tacoma at the Emerald Queen Casino January 29th. I'm thinking this might be worth $50 to see him up close just once.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Yogi Yorgesson

He yust goes nuts at Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

El Santo y La Tigresa

Legendary wrestler El Santo takes time away from fighting witches, vampires and zombies to protect flamboyant Mexican celebrity/politician Irma Serrano (or as she is known in her homeland, "La Tigresa") in this weak star vehicle. She's the owner of a vast estate and someone is trying to kill her, so Santo pays a visit to solve the mystery. Between dodging attempts on their lives, they enjoy a cockfight, shoot at rabbits, poison a cat and fall in love. A deep, dark family secret is eventually divulged that outs the culprit, and Serrano finds the time for a few rousing musical numbers. Santo doesn't get too active in La Tigresa (he was well into his fifties at the time), walking through his fight scenes and climbing into the ring only once for a brief, obligatory wrestling match. Most of the film he spends wearing slacks and squiring Serrano to various social events, his face hidden at all times by his trademark mask. Comedy relief is provided by Santo's sidekick Carlos Suarez, a cowardly boozehound who is nearly lynched by cowboys in one knee-slapping scene. This particular entry into the Santo canon is remarkable mostly for Serrano's character, who comes off as a tasteless, arrogant rich woman but still functions as the film's nominal heroine. Garbed in garish gowns and makeup, she flaunts her wealth with competitive public gambling and after an attempted poisoning demands that her maids taste-test her meals before serving them. Serrano was well known in Latin America at this time thanks to her film career and a gossip-worthy private life (later she would involve herself in Mexican politics as well), and her star power is all that is required and delivered here. Monolingual English-speakers who seek out this lesser Santo episode should beware the 2004 DVD release from Vanguard Cinema. The subtitles appear only sporadically, and when they do, the grammar and spelling are wretched enough to deserve their own interpretation.
Mark Deming has started his own blog. I demand that you look at it, at least once in a while.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Congratulations to Pat Bills and Terri Mac for the triumphant birth of their latest baby, Roz, born the morning of December 9th, 2004. While the rest of the world mourned the loss of Dimebag Darryl, a new life bloomed to take his place. God's work is mysterious, but undeniable.
Grassy Knoll Inner Sanctum

I love the things I find by chance online.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A good weekend, fraught with ambivilence and apprehension though it was, and my activities can be summed up in three words: Japanese, rocknroll and cockfighting.

See, I've been developing an article on cockfighting films (yes, they exist, enough so that I can concoct a flimsy argument that there's a "genre") so I stocked up at Scarecrow, pulling down every title I could that included cockfighters among the main characters. Boy, that was a good feeling, walking up to the girl behind the counter with EL GALLO DE ORO (THE GOLDEN COCKEREL), ROOSTER: SPURS OF DEATH, REALM OF FORTUNE and COCKFIGHTER. Lori, of course, was loath to actually watch roosters fight to the death, but I've gotten used to it, and I have to admit it's a damn beautiful sight to watch all those feathers fly in slow motion, and the fetishy close-ups of handlers tying on the spurs make me wonder why the S/M community doesn't appropriate the gear into their edgeplay (perhaps I'm naive and they already do). The stories are all essentially the same, some underprivileged schlub trying to score riches (like the fella who wants to win enough money to buy his dead mom a fancy coffin) or be identified as the top of his craft ("Cockfighter of the Year!") and their obsession always pays off but they lose something along the way. Familiar enough, pretty much every boxing movie you ever saw, but of course it's COCKFIGHTING so it's more like a boxing movie that focuses exclusively on the trainers and gangsters instead of the actual athletes themselves. In the American films someone is always popping up to make impassioned speeches defending the "glory" of cockfighting (one movie has the balls to suggest that our entire legal system is based on lessons the founding fathers learned in cockfighting pits), but the foreign ones (Mexico and the Phillipines) have no need to apologize. So yeah, for the past few days it's been cockfighting, cockfighting, cockfighting ...

... except for the first live rock show I played in five years, a mere three-song set at some cornball "Nuggets Tribute Night" at a local place called the Lo-Fi. My pal Jeremy did all the legwork, recruiting a Japanese garage rock band called the Jailbirds to help back us up. I didn't meet these guys until a few hours before the show, and it wasn't hard to pick them out of the crowd as they walked down the street ... six young Asian guys dressed in tight flared trousers, Beatle Boots and velvet jackets wearing sunglasses on one of our typical grey Seattle afternoons. They were all very personable and laid-back about having a total stranger just walk in and join the band.

We "practiced" by playing the songs once through during soundcheck, then I proceded to drink bourbon and pace. Honestly, I wasn't terribly nervous, not once I got there. The place was pretty cool (looked more like an art gallery than a rock club, no smoking inside but they did have a full bar), it was clear the audience wasn't going to be expecting much and everyone was pleasant and accomodating. We opened up the show with me and Jeremy doing a slow, quiet version of "You're Gonna Miss Me" accompanied only by a harmonica player, then our Japanese friends joined us for a rousing run of "Midnight to Six Man" that was unfortunately truncated by some flubbed cues after the solo. We finally got our legs on the old Pop Tarts standard "Sorry," which was sloppy and energetic in all the right ways. I'm usually reticent when playing guitar in front of people, but I was feeling just right enough to rip out some furious licks and trade head-bobbing rockisms with my Japanese bandmates, who took it all in stride and were as pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out as I was. Meanwhile, Jeremy belted it out and shook his tight white denim trousers, poncing about in proud Rod Stewart fashion (I don't know about all the scarves this kid wears, though, we might need to have a talk about it).

The Jailbirds stayed on stage for three of their own numbers, which were fucking explosive once they cut loose all the caucasian deadwood. Nothing you haven't seen before, but as good as you've ever gotten it ... fast trashy garage punk with Japanese accents, white shirts and skinny ties, but no arrogant "fuck you" attitude, it was an all-inclusive "everybody shout at the top of your lungs and dance" approach that made them irresistible. Hands down, the hottest version of "For Your Love" that I've ever heard, easily besting the Yardbirds (it's their weakest track anyhow). After that we stuck around to watch a weak 60s revival band struggle to follow the Jailbirds, then got the hell out before a perfect night had a chance to go horribly wrong.

Sunday I savored a mild hangover, watched cockfights and daydreamed.

Monday, November 29, 2004

First thing I see as I walk out of the apartment today is a street person with a blanket wrapped around himself burqua-style singing "Ballad of a Thin Man." Was he singing at me? Am I Mr. Jones? Am I supposed to curse myself for being a cog in the machine? Am I supposed to wanta trade places with him? Well, I don't.

Monday, November 22, 2004

For the past several years, my only birthday wish has been to enjoy a period of overindulgence without guilt or judgement, and this go-round was no different. Manhattans, loud music, pornographic gore and as many bong hits as necessary ... while this doesn't differ at all from what I want on a regular basis (I've had plenty of fine Tuesday nights with all the same ingredients), it's the suspension of good sense that's most important, letting myself go without worrying about the precious time I'm wasting in the bargain.

Lori and I had a fine time for my birthday, but this year's bacchanale did start feeling a bit perfunctory as the day wore on. By mid-afternoon I was bleary, satiated, too loaded to "do" anything but also beyond the transcendence that drugs and alcohol can provide in certain perfect moments. Still, I gorged myself on steak, shrimp and crab and watched a stack of movies WITHOUT TAKING NOTES, which was a pleasure in itself.

I got lucky at the video store, scoring a copy of NEW YEAR'S EVIL, a film I've been seeking for some time ... if anyone remembers Pinky Tuscadero, that same actress plays a "new wave" DJ who becomes the target of a psycho, yeah, yeah, ho-hum I know, but the phony Quincy-punk trappings are quite sublime. ISLAND OF BLOOD (aka WHODUNIT?) was also just quizzical enough to work, but the big one was NIGHT WARNING, which features the brilliant Susan Tyrell in a mind-boggling performance as Jimmy McNichol's murderous, sex-starved aunt. Check that one out as soon as possible, I swear to God ...

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Friday, November 19, 2004

PSF Interview: Terry Knight

Terry Knight was murdered earlier this month by his daughter's boyfriend. Why wouldn't this make national news? I sure didn't hear anything about it up here in the Great White North.

Knight has a checkered reputation, but without him Grand Funk Railroad would never have made it out of Flint, Michigan and Bloodrock wouldn't have had a Top-40 hit about a gruesome airplane accident. Good taste was not his strong point (the interview above briefly discusses the "apple pie" album cover too) but he's always been an intriguing character, so dig it.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

As my 37th year approaches without significant fanfare, I find that I'm looking forward to advanced age more than any point since my 21st birthday. When I was young, like grade school young, I used to believe that 40 was probably the best age anyone could be. My idea of a "cool guy" back then was Bing Crosby (actually, that's still my idea of a "cool guy"), and even goofball adults like Jerry Lewis and Abbott & Costello seemed to be having a lot of fun in their mature years. I wanted the Monkees lifestyle (constant hijinx, rocknroll and a house full of toys and costumes), but the concept of being a young adult was hazy to me, and I couldn't quite conceive of someone being neither a school-bound child nor a family-saddled adult. So I figured that one way or another, by time a guy got to be 40, hell, he'd have it made. No way would his mom still boss him around, he'd definitely have some kind of cool job like acting or astronauting, and the broads, well broads love old guys, just check out how Dorothy Lamour couldn't keep her hands off those two prune-faces in the "Road" movies. By the time I hit 40, I'd be wearing awesome pinstripe suits every day, guest-star on chat programs and variety shows and have about $7,000 in the bank (which was as much money as I could conceive of at the time).

I guess it could still happen ... the broads started digging me a lot earlier than I imagined and even if I had a great suit I wouldn't wear it unless it was tailored out of denim. But I could still use seven grand in the bank (with my current credit limit I could spend that much pretty easily, so that ain't bad) and the whole "cool job" thing still taunts me on the horizon. I'm no optimist, but the idea that maybe I was right back in fifth grade is a notion that keeps me floating fairly evenly lately. It's unlikely that I'll regain my status as a youth revolution leader any time soon (although my seminal psychedelic manifesto THE WORLD IS DOOMED YEAH YEAH YEAH, a bestseller back in 1991, still commands some nice coin on Ebay) but what the hell ...
Check out the fine Midwestern hardcore here ... THE PROCESS OF ELIMINATION

Monday, November 15, 2004

Portable Turntables

Am I the only guy here who wants this for his birthday?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Have not written here for a while, indeed have not written anything at all in the past few weeks. Lori and I completed our move into a fine new apartment and my time has been consumed by unpacking, organizing and settling in. Lots of space, plenty of windows, it's a definite improvement over our last joint.

I've been welcomed into the Film Threat fold as a staff writer, and I got my first box of review items from them last week. Over twenty DVDs plus a galley copy of the upcoming Roger Ebert book The Great Movies II ... unfortunately, the box contains a high percentage of homemade pre-fab "cult" movies with cookie-cutter names like Catholic Ghoulgirls, Bloodsucking Redneck Vampires and Night of the Chihuahuas. Much as I champion the creation of backyard art, there's nothing worse than a shot-on-home-video gore comedy. Perhaps future generations will find them quaint, but most of these things are so self-aware and tongue-in-cheek (without any genuine humor) that they cancel out the kind of charm that cheap horror films can deliver. It's the accidental humor that is so sublime, and it can't be spoofed.

Oh, and before I forget, congratulations to President Bush on his landslide victory! Slightly over half of the American people have spoken, and it is now time to drag the country into a brighter tomorrow. Welcome to the end of an empire.
Sorority Girls' Revenge

Monday, October 25, 2004


Lori and I voted for this guy last night.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Here's the audioblog that Lori and I started up. It doesn't play on the computer here at Westward Seafoods, so take a look, and if the buttons don't work for you either, let us know.

Monday, October 18, 2004


Formerly a vocalist with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and the star of several all-black westerns from the 30s (Harlem on the Prairie, The Bronze Buckaroo), actor Herb Jeffries made his first and only stab at film direction with this addled comic nudie-thriller. When a madman stalks and slashes a group of strippers (who also moonlight as TV aerobics models), it’s up to a pair of wisecracking cops to get to the bottom of the mystery. Jeffries’ wife, stripper Tempest Storm is the leading lady, sharing the spotlight with Johnnie Decker and Larry Reed, two third-rate nightclub comics who stumble their way through the plot tossing out leaden one-liners and unrecognizable celebrity impressions. While Mundo Depravados isn’t funny, sexy or scary, the film is a good-natured slice of cheesecake, despite the bald-faced misogyny on display. Their profession may involve public disrobing, but these poor girls are spied upon no matter where they congregate. Whether it’s in their changing rooms at the TV station or a private all-girl party, there’s always some pitiful peeper enjoying the view through a secretly drilled hole or convenient vent. With only two real “suspects,” the mystery’s conclusion won’t surprise anyone (except the moronic onscreen detectives), but by that point the viewer will have either been lulled to sleep by Storm’s wooden monotone or charmed into submission by the sweet, daffy dancers who relax after hours by stripping for each other. - FRED BELDIN
A weekend of Rebel Yell and water-filtered smoke has drained me of anything usable. Sore-throated, vague headache, dislocation ... I slept late, had a bad breakfast and here I am at "work," not even trying. I assume I'll have a few good hours later, like I usually do, just enough time to get the mandatory tasks out of the way before I crash again.

Saturday was great, Lori and I spent all day shopping. Normally I don't go in for consumerism, but we needed to pick up gifts for a friend's wedding, and that's a good excuse to haunt the bookstores and second-hand joints. I got a few publications for myself (tax write-off stuff) plus a nice double-feature DVD of GLEN OR GLENDA and JAIL BAIT. We got a lot of stuff packed for the big move, but we're still way off the mark ... if anyone has any moving boxes we can use, mail them to us, please.

I encourage everyone within eyeshot to run out and find a copy of THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION ... it's easily the best giant spider invasion movie ever filmed in Wisconsin. "Starring" Alan Hale Jr. and no one else, it's quite sublime and is sure to tame any demons you might be battling.

We tried starting an audioblog this weekend, but it really hasn't worked the way we want it yet. We signed up with, which promised a fool-proof way to post songs for $4.95 a month. Unfortunately we don't have the proper software to transform CDs into MP3s ... also, the format is a little screwy, the end result isn't a downloadable song file, just something you hit "play" and listen to. Does anybody know anything about this subject? We sure as hell don't, but I have so many wonderful records to share with the world ... not to mention the celebrity impressions I've been working on.

Thursday, October 14, 2004 - Study: One in 100 adults asexual - Oct 14, 2004

Oh, great ... now we gotta give THESE assholes equal rights under the law too. When will this madness end?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Simple-minded teen sex humor is punctuated with graphic slasher murders in this mediocre genre effort. Also known as Bloody Pom Poms, the film takes advantage of its central character's frequent nightmares to clog up the narrative with disturbing dream sequences. Further confusing matters is the fact that all the pretty young cheerleaders look about the same, so once the bodies start dropping it's easy to stop caring who gets it and when. Cheerleader Camp tries hard to win us over, offering goofy setpieces like horny old men spraying themselves in the face with hoses, a football-themed sex fantasy and the most horrible "mooning" sequence ever filmed. Cheerleader Camp won’t hold pleasure for any except for the most dedicated Z-level celebrity watchers. Exploitation vet George “Buck” Flower mumbles and scowls his way through his role as a crusty red herring, and future hardcore porn star Terri Weigel gets some practice from a garden tool. Ex-teenager Leif Garrett is bloodless as a philandering boyfriend, and his performance is distinguished only by an awful gelled-up hairdo and his weak, white rap duet with morbidly obese sidekick Travis McKenna. Betsy Russell had a healthy career in low budget, low effort exploitation films during the 80s, playing the title characters in Tomboy and Avenging Angel along with starring here. There are two Playboy Playmates and one Penthouse Pet among the toothsome castmembers, and director John Quinn went on to helm an assortment of softcore sex films like Fast Lane to Vegas and Sex Court: The Movie.

7:18 West Coast Time ... just watching George W. Bush blaspheme on television. It's disturbing to see someone hail his God with such craven emptiness. God has blessed Iraq with freedom, thanks to us. As long as there is man, there will be manifest destiny and holy crusades. We are so weak.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Download At Home With The Munsters
My paternal grandfather died today. I must come from good genes, though, since he was 90 years old and this is the first immediate relative I've had pass on ... at 37 that's not a bad average, but it's getting late and none of us have all that much time left. I'm not sad, exactly, but I am worried about my father and grandmother, who are certainly feeling this loss a hundred times more than me. So don't cry for me ... far as I'm concerned, anyone who makes it to 90 has won the trophy and should be celebrated rather than mourned.

I'd like to publicly thank him for taking me fishing in the Atlantic ocean, where I caught a hammerhead shark (no exaggeration ... it was a short one, about two feet long, but a fuckin' hammerhead all the same and I got to eat it too). Also thanks for helping me paint a crude and fanciful picture of a Viking ship which still adorns my wall ... my grandfather was an amateur painter in his retirement years, cranking out hundreds of landscapes and lots of bird paintings. What a life, man, he spent thirty years of retirement in Florida painting and fishing, twenty of which were spent in good health with his wife in a pink house with a canal in the backyard and lime trees in the lawn. He worked for it, of course, a full stretch with General Motors in Flint, but he was one of the few who actually got the reward he earned.

I want to go to the funeral but I'm deathly afraid of flying. Taking off work, who cares, jacking up my credit card, who cares, but the thought of having to get up in the air in one of those rattling death traps is already making me sick. But I think I'm gonna go, regardless ... if the plane ends up crashing you can enjoy this entry as an "eerie" "premonition" of my own "death." Hold on to those Clutters singles, they may finally be worth something by next Friday ...


How could I forget ... my grandfather (Marion Beldin) also taught himself to play the organ during his retirement, and he played often, mostly popular standards from earlier in the century. However, one of his many songbooks also had a few contemporary numbers, and when I was first goofing around with the guitar, I stumbled upon the charts for Bob Seger's "Night Moves." I never cared much for that song, still don't (although I'll fistfight anyone who puts the man down), but that instantly recognizable riff was also written out in guitar tabliture. G-G-G-G-F-C-C-C-C-F-G ... a fuckin' monkey can play it, but it's the very first time I was able to pick out a recognizable tune, and it made all the difference towards whether I was going to keep hammerin' at the thing or simply set the guitar down next to my trombone, model rockets and Boy Scout handbook.

This is why I think of my grandfather whenever I hear "Night Moves" ... and vice-versa.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Monday, October 04, 2004

Download America's hidden cinematic history here ...

Internet Archive: Prelinger Archives

Friday, October 01, 2004

Had trouble sleeping again last night … I dreamt of barbed wire and poison ivy, forced to choose which I would walk upon, with a pair of exultant comrades who found the game exhilarating and life-affirming. I awoke with vivid memories of an old girlfriend from my pre-drinking age era whose virginity I took reluctantly (at her request) … somehow one recollection led to another, skipping across the years and a hundred forgotten co-workers and acquaintances, a flood of anecdotes dislodged at two AM to threaten my rest. It took a while to relax, thank God for my fortune and count to one hundred before I could drift off again into puzzling dreams of murky messages.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

So, who has the guts to go to THIS with me?


Halloween in Vancouver, land of semi-legal marijuana and ... well, I'm not sure what else, but that's pretty good on its own, plus an all-night exploitation festival featuring serious classics like LADY TERMINATOR and POOR PRETTY EDDIE. They'll even serve you breakfast if you can make it all the way to morning. Anybody got a train schedule handy?

And now your lesson for today ...


Here’s an unobtrusive bit of hackwork from the director of The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow and the man responsible for siring Alan Alda. The Devil’s Hand examines what happens when a man foolishly follows his dreams into a world of voodoo and the occult. He finds himself in thrall to the redundantly named “Gamba, the Devil God of Evil,” tossing aside his faithful brunette fiancĂ©e for a gorgeous blonde enchantress. As the protagonist Rick, Robert Alda is dull and ineffectual, making it hard to believe that a witch with supernatural powers would choose him to seduce out of all the men of the world. He’s a willing pigeon, however, smugly enjoying his sudden success with gambling and the stock market, not to mention his overwhelming desire for his evil paramour (perfunctorily played by Linda Christian). The Devil’s Hand starts off nicely enough with a series of eerie events that quickly get explained away as mere “magic,” and gets more tiresome from there. Judicious editing might have turned this into a decent Twilight Zone episode, but seventy uninvolving minutes are used, padded with stock footage that appears to be from the 1930s. Neil Hamilton (aka “Commissioner Gordon” from the Batman TV series) co-stars as the “High Executioner,” whose specialty doll shop is a front for a Satanic chapel decked out with mannequins, torches and an ever-present bongo player. Good girl Ariadne Welter was a regular in Mexican cinema (debuting in Luis Bunuel’s Ensayo de un Crimen), and had a role in the confounding gore oddity The Brainiac the same year as this, her only American feature. The best thing about The Devil’s Hand is undoubtedly the sleazy bump-n-grind rock instrumental that accompanies the opening credits, as well as a brief scene in which Alda angrily tells Christian to turn the damn noise down, proving that he not only has bad judgment, but also bad taste.

Monday, September 27, 2004

My asocial tendencies are seductive, and it's often after weeks and weeks without contact with people I'm close to that I suddenly realize just how isolated I've made myself. To anyone I haven't returned letters, emails or phone calls to, I apologize, and I'm struggling to climb out of this particular hole and squint into the bright lights. I have packages for various people that sit in the corner untaped, a stack of homeburned CDs on the shelf ... not to mention many (or most) of our wedding thank-yous still to be signed and licked.

Lori and I will definitely be moving at the end of October. We'll be in the University District, kind of a cross between the worst tendencies of East Lansing and Ann Arbor (for those of you in Michigan), but close to Lori's school and work. More space too, a whole extra room to devote to our genius. I'm looking forward to clearing out the old space and resettling, a fresh vista for us to blissfully blunder into.

Friday, September 24, 2004

"Nothing's perfect in life, so you have an election that's not quite perfect. Is it better than not having an election? You bet."

Is there any doubt that our American election will be controlled and compromised like the Iraq election? You bet.

While we should all vote in November and continue with our discussions and protests and fundraising, I fear that the outcome of the 2004 Presidential election has already been decided in some dark room somewhere.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


As a cinematic experience, The Terror is third-rate at best, a long-winded fable that limps in circles, too haphazard to be great art and not outrageous enough to be great trash. Still, the true student of B-movie mythology may want to spend an hour with it anyway, notorious as the film is for being one of low-budget director Roger Corman's classic rush jobs. After wrapping up his humorous horror free-for-all The Raven early, Corman had two extra days left of Boris Karloff's contract that he was loathe to waste. So instead of tearing down the sets, Karloff was walked through a series of hastily prepared scenes with co-stars Jack Nicholson and Richard Miller. Corman then subcontracted the direction of remaining exteriors and connecting sequences to various assistants, including Francis Ford Coppola, future cult filmmakers Jack Hill and Monte Hellman and even Nicholson helming a few shots. With more directors than some omnibus films and no time for a proper script, The Terror was bound to baffle, and its slippery story eventually becomes too sluggish to bother deciphering. While the film is worth little more than an amusing anecdote in Corman's colorful legend, he got lots of mileage out of this patchwork monster. Five years later, Corman again found himself owed two days' work by Karloff, so neophyte director Peter Bogdanovich was offered 20 minutes worth of footage from The Terror to use if he could incorporate it into a new feature for the horror icon. The result was the taut, fascinating Targets, which cast Karloff as an aging horror star whose personal appearance at a drive-in is interrupted by a deranged sniper; of course, The Terror is the program on screen during the mayhem. Corman productions continued to cannibalize chunks of The Terror in years to come, usually in self-referential spoofs like the silly but enjoyable 1976 comedy Hollywood Boulevard, which featured Richard Miller relaxing at a drive-in and enjoying his own performance from 13 years earlier. - Fred Beldin

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Russ Meyer is dead.

A great artist. If you haven't, pick up Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Pretty much anything he did is good ... even his weakest films are wildly kinetic. He was about a lot more than boobs (but aren't we all?).

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


It's been a twenty-four year wait, but last night I finally caught the great Chuck Barris' masterpiece, his 8 1/2, his Birth of a Nation, his World's Greatest Sinner. THE GONG SHOW MOVIE is available from any number of bootleg DVD purveyors online, but financial circumstances prohibited me from plunking down $25 for a film so iconic, intriguing and mysterious to me that it was bound to disappoint. Finally Scarecrow Video came through and stocked it, so I was able to actually rent the holy grail, a film reportedly so awful that it was pulled from distribution after a month and never released on any sort of home video.

Was I disappointed? Well, of course I was. As a child I was enamored with the Gong Show. I was desperate for some color, outrage and surreality in the bland world of canned vegetables and Methodist culture in which I languished. If nothing else, the Gong Show was loud and abrasive, and sometimes that's all it takes. Chuck Barris simultaneously mocked and celebrated the untalented, rewarded and punished eccentricity. It was all a big send-up of television as a whole, and if the panel of "celebrity" judges (talent-starved hacks like Jamie Farr, Pat McCormick and Jaye P. Morgan) took themselves far too seriously, their bloated arrogance taught me just how unimportant famous people really were.

So, the movie is a massive ego trip for Barris, a disjointed, overindulgent fantasy about his own stardom in which he attempts to self-aggrandize by painting himself as an exhausted, put-upon TV producer imprisoned by his own fame. Yeah, yeah, we've heard that one before. It's hard to be successful, no one really knows just how hard, and you have all these lunatics hounding you for spots on the show night and day, and the censors are breathing down my neck, and my sweet, understanding girlfriend left me because I'm a prick and I told her to get lost, and ... you get the picture. Barris obviously thought that a self-deprecating portrait of himself on film would be perceived as brave or truthful, a great statement on fame, but by the end of THE GONG SHOW MOVIE, when he's exiled himself to the deserts of Morocco to get away from the pressures of celebrity, a television executive flies out a marching band and dozens of friends and fans to beg him to return to TV because of how damn special he is. Amazing.

About a third of the film is real Gong Show audition footage, which is truly fascinating in the bizarre lengths people will go through for fame. Various censored clips from the show are used too, including two teenage girls whose act is seductively licking popsicles, a man dressed as Christ on a cross singing "Please Release Me," and "Count Banjula," a man dressed as Dracula hanging upside down from the ceiling strumming the banjo ... his act ends abruptly when the rope accidently breaks and he crashes painfully through the floor of the stage. The narrative never flows, the plot is nonexistent and a cruel streak of bad taste humor warps the moments when Barris tries to take the film in a serious direction. It's no wonder THE GONG SHOW MOVIE was universally hated when released in 1980. Even the TV version was running out of steam by this point ... if the film was made a year or two earlier, it would have gained an audience no matter how bad it was, but this flaccid ego trip just had everyone confused and offended.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Gloomy Bear, the Naughty Adult Bear.

Anybody ever hear about this service? - The world's largest online marketplace for freelance talent.

I went through the trouble of registering for a free account to check it out, and while it seems like a boatload of good opportunities, the "basic membership" essentially isn't enough to actually bid on any of them. So I gotta pony up the $200 yearly (maybe more) for the privilege of being rejected for a whole new batch of jobs. The thing seems legit and would easily pay for itself quickly if it's as good as it seems, but what ever is? Nothing. My theory has always been that if you have to pay money to a service to get a job, it's a scam ... I'd be perfectly willing to fork over 10-20 percent of what I make to a website that points me in the right direction, but money up front sounds like a ripoff.

On a more positive note, I want to publicly thank fellow genius Rob Lightner for hooking me up with the newly revived Amazing Stories magazine ... it was a long, bumpy road filled with rewrites, near-misses and long silences, but I got a contract in the mail on Friday so I can only assume they're actually going to use my review of ALIEN VS PREDATOR . Thanks again, Rob.

Lori and I went to a poetry reading last Thursday. Cranky is a literary journal run by a friend of Lori's and we wanted to "support the scene," if I may reuse a trite phrase. I think all clear-headed people can agree that most poetry is garbage ... or more accurately, ALL poetry is garbage, but occasionally some verse strikes a personal chord within a particular reader. You can throw everything you learned about poetry in college out the window (actually, that's true on any topic). There are no rules. Poetry is in the eye of the beholder, and most of what I behold is irritating at best. Even my own stuff ... I never begrudge anyone who mails my submissions back, which so far is everyone. Far as I'm concerned, nothing I write is poetry until someone pays for it.

There was a handful of good writing on display Thursday night, some nonpretentious stuff and some that was extremely pretentious but striking enough to overcome the fact. The big star was this deaf Russian guy, and even though he sounded like a retarded Dracula, the words were inspired. Still, I counted three wool scarves on guys INSIDE the building, so yeah, that's the kind of crowd it was. One thing I noticed is that the prettier the poet, the worse the writing. One girl just got her PhD in poetry (look for her at a coffeeshop near you soon), and while her stuff was uppity and pointless, her breasts were impossible to ignore. Even Lori noticed. Luckily, they had a makeshift bar and we both got lit, but that just made it harder for us to stifle our guffaws.

So if I no longer feel comfortable at rocknroll shows, can't stand the literaries and think most fans of my favorite movies are geeks or perverts, where is the cultural universe I fit with? At home, I guess, amongst my library of rejected thrift store LPs, remaindered books and Al Adamson videotapes. I look forward to growing old ...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Friday, September 17, 2004


Gabba Gabba Hey, the Ramones Musical

Rock and roll officially dies in Australia. There are no words for how stupid and embarrassing this is.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Johnny Ramone dies.

He was nobody's favorite Ramone, but what the hell. Surrounded at his bedside by friends like Eddie Vedder and Lisa Marie Presely? What a strange world celebrities live in.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The United States announced it will shift more than $3 billion earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction to improve security and oil production, the State Department said Tuesday ... In order to offset the redirection of money, the United States will reduce spending on water and sewage projects by $1.9 billion and electricity by $1 billion.

So let's get this straight ... we invade a country for the purpose of liberating it from an evil dictator who won't allow his people basic human dignities. Then, after said invasion causes devastation to the area, we use the money earmarked to rebuild the infrastructure to MINE FOR OIL.

It's so transparent that you have to give our government a doff of the cap for having the fucking balls to prove every single war protestor right ... it was all about the oil all along, and the people of Iraq are going to keep on suffering while we spend money on "security" for the American businessmen who will be profiting from the vast oil fields.

It's like we're begging for more terrorism. Or fewer personal liberties at home ... while we fuck everybody on earth, our lives become more endangered by foreign nationals bent on revenge, so the government gets to clamp down on free speech, privacy and free movement, all in the name of keeping the peace. I don't think I'm kidding.

Lori found this story last night on CNN and went on a tirade (perfectly appropriate, although truth be told I was pretty tired at the time and just wanted to watch Satanic Rites of Dracula). This morning I figured this would be big, big news, screaming headlines about corruption, etc. Has anybody else seen this anywhere? I had to hunt for fifteen minutes to find it on CNN ... it's nowhere on the main news page, you have to do a websearch to catch it at all.

If Bush wins again, and I fear he will (let's not quibble about election results, the bottom line is HE WON), then he's going to be prime target for assassins and terrorists, but he'll certainly double his security and be perfectly safe while the rest of us sit and wait for the next shoe to drop. It will soon get to the point where the only way to be safe is to agree to the identification tattoos and microchip implants. After the next terrorist attack, the living will envy the dead.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Note the "advertiser links" on the right side of the page ... these fuckers always win, even when the publicity is bad. - Fight over Wal-Mart at Mexico ruins - Sep 11, 2004

The Boyfriend Arm Pillow

Friday, September 10, 2004

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Kuchar Brothers ... they're in town this weekend to show some of their new films.
Strange how motivating a hangover can be. Lori and I met on Capitol Hill last night and went to a place called Charley's ... decent enough, a bit low-rent, and I drank vokda concoctions with ridiculous names (including a Tropical Quaalude). Lori had a Dr. Pepper, which we hadn't seen since our days at Bilbo's ... a shot of Amaretto dropped into a beer, tastes just like, except apparently you need a special license to set the shot on fire, which is unfortunate, since setting liquor aflame always makes drunkenness more exciting. It was a pleasant, necessary drunk that led to strangely vivid dreams ... a television soup commercial starring a posthumous Charles Bukowski, a zombie epidemic resulting in the streets of Seattle covered with sickening chunks of human flesh, James Brown judging a dance competition I somehow ended up in, damaged elevators, lady midgets propositioning bus drivers, a phone conversation with an ex-friend that I'd really rather not remember. Upon waking I was up in a flash and ready to go get out the door in record time, despite a vague unease and softly throbbing forehead. I feel energized (for now), and I'm wondering how long it will take for my work here at Westward to drain the fucking life out of me today. Wanna take bets? I say by 11:00.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents A Wedding

Of course, we have Sorend to thank for this clue, but I have to remark on the remarkability that someone decided to make a musical based on one of Robert Altman's most boring films (of many, many boring films, God love the man). The reason this is worth mentioning is because one of the few geniuses I know, Mark Deming, made his feature film debut in the original screen version. I'll be interested in knowing whether his character (a tiny part, but a speaking role nonetheless and also the first human to appear onscreen before the credits) has been translated to the stage ... Dr. Deming's dialogue was mostly unscripted, and flowed directly from the core of his wild, untamed soul, so if anyone checks this stage production out and discovers that a certain character goes on (and on) about the 1972 Ray Milland film Frogs, then we'll know that our hero deserves a royalty check of some sort.

More Mark Deming for those so inclined.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Friday, September 03, 2004

Word has it that I'm going to try playing music with a stranger again. This time a guy named Jeremy (actually, they all seem to be named Jeremy), not the Jeremy of the Rolling Stones tribute band (who shall henceforth be referred to as Rod to keep things straight) but a Jeremy who spent his college years in Missoula, Montana, a good sign if I ever heard one. His Stranger ad was generic yet specific, not listing cool bands that he dug, sticking instead to styles and instruments played. He's over 20 (30), which is a good sign, and seemed pretty cool on the phone, plays drums, guitar and keyboards (if I remember right), so if we actually get on (which rarely happens) then he'll be a valuable asset indeed. So I guess Monday is the day ... I better start practicing, or at least memorizing the dozens of riffs and bits and pieces I've been accumulating over the years. If all goes well we can bring Jeremy (er, I mean Rod) along and turn the thing into some kind of Revelators experience. That's the fantasy, anyway.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

I know you're all wondering what I thought of Andy Milligan's 1985 haunted house thriller CARNAGE, so I shall oblige ...

Amoral anti-genius Andy Milligan turns in his most disciplined, conventional horror film with Carnage. Gone are the hard-bitten street hustlers he usually cast, replaced with clean-cut drama students who were mistaken if they thought this was their big break. Maybe Milligan had the same misconception, since he's more careful with pacing and plotting than before, but this is the same director who brought us shrieking gorefests like Bloodthirsty Butchers and Torture Dungeon, so there's no shortage of transparently fake decapitations and disembowelments for the faithful. Milligan gleefully rips off The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist, but hallmarks of his own cinematic obsessions arise as well, most notably in a throwaway scene involving one character’s cold, insensitive mother. While Carnage is too hokey to be frightening, Milligan packs in one outrageous shock sequence after another and holds the audience’s attention better than his often tedious (but more personal) earlier films. Carnage is truly godawful, but enjoyable in a way that the rest of his shrill, misanthropic oeuvre is not.

There's two more reviews I need to grind out for AMG before Thursday (I'm allowed three submissions per week and Thursday is the deadline if I want to post my full quota), but the problem is that the next one on the list is CRIMSON, a truly breathtaking piece of Spanish crime/gore garbage that I'm in love with and want to do right by. But I'm running out of ways to express how mindbending these broken, surreal films can be. I think I need to start consulting dream interpretation books ... the best of these bad films are like nightmares where nothing makes sense, the storyline non-linear, the characters behaving strangely, violence surfacing suddenly and without provocation. There's no other way to describe them or the pleasure they provide. These films fail entirely when judged by conventional cinematic criteria, so things like bad acting, confusing scripts and half-assed direction don't matter. So what's left? Other than sheer outrage and spectacle?

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A Clown.
Lori and I spent yesterday afternoon at an unnamed location visiting with some of our more politically radical friends. I only vote when absolutely necessary myself, and when I do I'm the kind of wise guy who votes Libertarian just so I can be smug about it at parties. But I can dig it, their thing is righteous and I'm with 'em all the way, so when they hold a bake sale to raise money for Kerry's campaign, by god I'll buy some of those purple heart-shaped sugar cookies.

I never considered it before, but a bake sale such as this is a highly illegal activity. We live in dark times, so these opposition guerrillas have to quietly set up in a densely populated area for only a few short hours at a time to avoid capture. In this case, by the kiddie wading pool at a local park, where a steady stream of joggers, strollers and roller-bladers ensured a quick turnover of pastries. The idea is to sell as many baked goods as possible, then cut out fast and split up for several weeks if necessary to elude the goon squads. But Kerry's campaign is important to these democratic warriors, so they brave certain torture and humiliation at the hands of Republican forces to scrape up money for their beloved Kommissar.

Spitfire radicals all, these swashbuckling bake salers were all packing guns, but each had only one bullet -- for themselves, if they were captured. They are very aware that Bush's braintrust is proficient at placing spies in the ranks of the rebellion, so they trust no one, not even each other, and every member of the organization is identified with a code name and number (i.e. "Dandelion, Zero Six"). But there is rousing camaraderie amongst the bake salers, and they exhuberantly push their donuts and lemon squares.

"Every snickerdoodle we sell buys one more bullet to aim at George Bush's head," our anonymous friend declared. "We will choke him to death with those mitten-type things you use to pull hot things out of the oven, what are those called?"

"Oven mitts?"

"Yeah, our fucking oven mitts! Goddamn!"

Lori and I felt privileged to be in the company of these dedicated men and women. We purchased some delicious homebaked goods and helped bring our country that much closer to a perfect, pure reign of liberal feel-good humanism.

Friday, August 27, 2004


Once again, Japan steps up to put a green, rubbery face on mankind's collective fear of world war, terrorism and apocalypse. If this movie can't make us all stop and think, then we are truly doomed. - 9/11 toy found inside candy bags - Aug 27, 2004
Check this band out ... instead of a drummer they use a tap dancer. It works better than you'd think. You can download the whole album for free, so fuck it, right?

Tilly and the Wall

Despite some unexpected gum surgery, Lori and I made it out of the house to attend, well, a Rolling Stones "tribute" night (I know, I know). I thought only Chicago wasted its time with multiple-band tribute sets, but here in Seattle the phenom is just as popular. This was a benefit for "No Vote Left Behind," which billed itself as a means to get young people active in the democratic process, but actually was just left-wing propaganda designed to evict our current feudal lord out of office. The political discussion was limited to a drummer (never give the drummer a microphone, please, I beg you) describing Republicans as "assholes" and "stupid assholes." With brains like this behind Kerry we can look forward to another four years of our current administration.

Anyway, I was in no mood to speak or be spoken to, so I glowered at the drunken revelry around me, and cringed painfully at the pitiful drag queen that served as emcee. What the fuck is it with Seattle and drag queens? A fag in women's clothing isn't shocking, subversive or amusing anymore, and this one (its name was "Anna Rexia," get it?) was as bad as they come. Dude, put some fucking pants on.

We only caught four bands, and they were pretty terrible, the only saving grace being that they were limited to three songs each. Finally, fifteen minutes behind schedule my pal Jeremy's band came on, the whole reason we were there, and they were better than I expected. With only one rehearsal under their belt they acquitted themselves nicely with "Before They Make Me Run" and "Happy." Jeremy was pulling out all his Rod Stewart moves, even had the rooster hair and silk scarves going. The more Lori and I thought about it, the more we realized that he could very well become the Rod Stewart of the next generation, and you can take that as positively or negatively as you are inclined.

Manos, the Hands of Fate is the sole production of Hal P. Warren, an El Paso fertilizer salesman who wrote, directed and starred in this peculiar low budget horror story. A stuttering, staggering sort of film, Manos stupefies the viewer with an odd, timeless pace thanks to innumerable continuity gaps and awkward editing. While a painfully amateur production all the way, the damaged technical aspects are matched with a story of illogic and confusion that lend the sort of dreamlike frisson that only sublimely wretched films can provide. What might have been just one more curiosity in the junk room of cinema history is given life by John Reynolds, whose performance as the bizarre caretaker "Torgo" is so eccentric that he's worth recommending on his own. Reynolds twitches, sways and fidgets so incessantly that his movements appear choreographed, like an extended pantomime piece. His enormous knees and clumsy gait are never explained, but his glassy eyes, paranoid demeanor and overall itchiness make him stand out amongst an otherwise indifferent cast. This addled obscurity actually earned a few playdates back in the day, but was generally met with derision by audiences, and misfortune followed in its wake (including Reynolds' suicide). After sitting on the shelf for decades, it was resuscitated by the snarky comedy series Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which roasted Manos, the Hands of Fate in a popular episode. As a result, video and DVD copies have kept this charming little epic in circulation far greater than the rural Texas drive-ins for which it was meant. Seek out the original, non-ironic version first for an utterly unique cinematic experience. — Fred Beldin

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Melida Arredondo told CNN-affiliate WFOR, "My husband did not take the news well."

Welcome to the 1960s. The first insane war protest has occurred.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I can feel a dry spell coming on.

Let me elaborate ... since taking on a full time (well, 35 hrs per week) job again, I've been keeping up nicely with my writing, probably putting down more words than I was with unlimited leisure time. Part of it was a few opportunities for new venues falling into my lap, occasions which I rose to admirably, plus the Resonance deadline necessitated extra work as well. Still, between stealing a few minutes here and there on the clock and heading right for the keyboard immediately after returning home, I was pumping out fairly decent stuff on a regular basis. This past weekend slowed me down. I had ample time to work, but just couldn't get my brain around it. There are no assignments outstanding, just various projects that, if correctly executed and pitched to the right editor, might expand my horizons and gain me a few months of home officing. But I'm stuck, nothing cooking, so last night I gave up on trying.

Instead, Lori and I went down the street to a fancy joint called Rosebud (not a gay bar, although everyone who works there or patronizes the place seems gay to me) for Manhattans. This has become one of our favorite diversions, ordering Manhattans in different bars around town. Typically the dive bars I prefer atmosphere-wise just can't make 'em. Although it's just bourbon and vermouth, there's something about the shake and the presentation that requires a bartender who knows more than just shots. So we have to upscale it ... if anyone needs to know, we've found that Von's on Pine wins as far as the value to quality ratio (you can't beat $3.00 for a Manhattan made with Jack Daniels, and that's all the time, no happy hour price), but it's a fucking rib joint, so you can only hang out there for so long. The Deluxe Grill on Broadway serves the best possible Manhattan, but you gotta pay for the privilege. $8.00, but that's with Makers Mark in a huge glass, easily worth two of anyone else's drinks in potency. Still a little uppity for my tastes, but I always feel comfortable there, enough for two drinks anyhow.

Last night Rosebud did the trick, but we had to suffer through the bartender's impersonations and juggling. Like I said, everyone is gay.

So if anyone is still reading, you've probably noticed that I'm going to have to work out my writer's block here with mundane details, more mundane than the average weblog (I fucking hate the word "blog" and I just won't use it). Better make some coffee.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Rent this one too ...


After a long-faced town minister abandons his post due to the local population's indifference to religion (his congregation has been whittled down to three elderly women), a sinister figure in black sweeps quietly through the village to wreak righteous revenge on several of the more wicked citizens. Sinners abound, including a corpulent, self-important banker, an addled, goat-poisoning crone, a violent alcoholic, a pair of adulterers and a disrespectful son. These wretched souls are visited in the night by the Grim Reaper, and each must face eternal justice (or in the words of the videotape box synopsis, "each must face their own terrible horror and terror"). This Depression-era period piece boasts a unique idea in casting the Angel of Death as a serial killer, but ultimately A Day of Judgement is more a heavy handed morality play than the horror film it bills itself as. The scenes of the Reaper's revenge are clumsily staged and often confusing, and despite brief gore effects and a laughably cheap vision of Hell at the climax, the remaining running time (too long at 101 minutes) is a dull, Southern-fried batch of cliches. Some actors are tolerable, others amateurish, and many are regulars from the films of producer/actor/director Earl Owensby, a prolific maker of low-budget features for drive-ins of the South during the 1970s. A Day of Judgement is hardly in league with whacked-out religious horror gems like Blood Freak or the gory testimonies of born-again exploitation director Ron Ormond, and its fragile morality is sometimes questionable (why does the resigning pastor escape the scythe when he allows his own feelings of failure to drive him out of a town that desperately needs spiritual guidance?). A corny "it was all a dream" ending finds our sinners casting aside greed, lust, drunkenness and hatred as Sunday morning beckons with a brand-new preacher who sports a strangely familiar black cloak. This simplistic view of human nature as something that can be simply "scared straight" isn't likely to win any new recruits or even provide sniggering entertainment for nonbelievers. — Fred Beldin
It's about time, too ...

The Official Site of the New Vanilla Fudge

Friday, August 20, 2004

Ten movies you should rent this weekend.

Directed by George Barry

Assorted directors

Directed by Chano Urueta

Directed by Doris Wishman

Directed by Al Adamson

Directed by Michael Findlay

Directed by Ed Adlum

Directed by Richard Haines

Directed by Rene Cardona

Directed by Juan Ibanez and Jack Hill

Last night my old lady and I spent far too much time at the Tractor Tavern, enjoying about half of a performance by the Tarbox Ramblers. I say about half because these bald-headed fuckers went on and on and on and on ... a great band, the first band I've gone to the trouble of the leaving the house for in a while, and for about half an hour I was digging it enough that I was determined to finish it off and buy a CD. Song after song we waited politely while six drunk "dancers" (Lori accurately likened them to the Peanuts kids in full swing) ruined it for the rest of us by encouraging the Ramblers to ramble on for a full 75 minutes. As Lori wilted patiently, I drank myself into a firm position that I wanted to congratulate these guys on their blurry, rhythm-heavy blues and uncanny resemblance to Pat Bills (all three of them, it was eerie). At the second song of the encore they lost me, so we spent the hour-long bus ride home with irritated headaches and a sense of wasted time.

Still, this should serve as an endorsement of the Tarboxes. It's a raw blues for albino Bostonians, reverent but not slavish, idiosyncratic without being postmodern, mostly standards with a few high quality originals tossed in. Most assholes love it when a band just won't shut the fuck up ... if you are such an asshole, then you'll be entirely satisfied. I appreciate the fact that the Tarbox Ramblers are likely semi-pros, boasting four-star reviews and puny paid admissions, and they probably figure they won't be back on a Seattle stage in a while, so why not milk it for the drunken enthusiastic few? Good luck to 'em ... I'm still enough of a fan to want to follow up and see if I can't find a venue for a write-up.

Speaking of which, my new scheme is to interview Carol Channing when she comes to town in September. More on this as it develops.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

On a less dour note ...

Dig the bubblegum machine.

I urge everyone to visit this site and download Jeff Thomas' "Straight Aero" immediately. Can't get it out of my head, a swell 60s groove that celebrates the singer's absolute squaredom ... "I don't smoke, I don't sniff glue/And I don't hang with the cats who do/Avant garde and underground/Never really been my scene or sound/Straight Aero." Genius.

I am becoming distressingly square my own self, substance-wise anyhow, and not by choice. Reefers have been cut down on due to occasional dizzy spells, alcohol makes for headaches and I never really had a cocaine personality (although I have some friends who do, whose names shall remain famous). What I have is a ritalin personality, which is similar, except that the drive to stimulate oneself into artificial arrogance is tempered by an extreme fear (and/or hatred) of social situations, which results in a much lower profile. It also reflects a preference for the cold fluorescent light of a pharmacy over the filth and noise of a crowded nightclub restroom.

I'm probably better represented by the second offering on Week 86 of the Bubblegum Machine, Jona Lewie's reserved but catchy synth-popper "You'll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties." Here's a cat who's hep, but can't make it with people ... it's gonna sound boring at first, but give it a chance or two. Trivia note: the background chorus is sung by Kirsty MacColl, the woman who wrote "They Don't Know About Us," which Lori and I have considered "our song" for some time now (although these days it's getting stiff competition from Guitar Wolf's "I Love You Okay"). Now look, I hate Tracey Ullman as much as everyone else, but for Chrissakes, what a song. In fact, if anyone can score me MacColl's original recording of "They Don't Know," let me know. It's very important to me.
I am nurturing a tender melancholy as of late, something so diminished from the burly depressions I've known in the past that it barely registers ... but still, my heart beats sluggishly and I'm prone to fits of nostalgia for times that I'm relieved are long gone. People I miss desperately but never call or write to. Places I never want to see again but wish I had the option of avoiding. I know I'm exceedingly typical in this kind of ennui, particularly at my pre-middle age state, but there we are, most of us anyway. It's hard to look into the future ... I looked into the future ten years ago and couldn't see anything except some murky hope. Now the future looks clear, and that's the problem. I see desks and buses, diets and eyeglasses. More money, but at a terrible price. At least I still look good ... I see myself aging gracefully, growing distinguished and even dashing in the eyes of certain women with particular tastes. Yes, I will be that guy. Is that the best I have to look forward to?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

A new piece for the Stranger ... freshly delivered, expect it cast into ink next Thursday.


Serial killer chic never goes out of style, and it doesn't get much more retarded than the Zodiac Killers. Rip-Off Records kingpin Greg Lowery heads up this goon squad of bad taste and familiar riffs. Snotty vocals, monosyllabic guitar solos and songs like “Nazi Interrogation” and "Genetic Mutation” are exactly what punk purists of a certain stripe swallow whole. Killed By Death-style noise is common enough, but the Zodiac Killers push the attitude to cartoonish degrees of aggression. Is it cool to do a record cover photo shoot at an authentic Zodiac slaying location? Or to distribute bullet-pierced posters shot with the same ammo the real killer used? If one says yes, then one will call it rock & roll. Live, the band is a ghoulish, sloppy spectacle, but it's punk as hell and their outfits (complete with Zodiac symbol armbands) are pretty sharp. - Fred Beldin

Pat Todd & The Rank Outsiders

Reportedly the new honky tonk band from the man behind the Lazy Cowgirls. Are the Cowgirls broken up for good now? This cryptic website won't tell you anything, but keep an eye on it. Pat Todd is a great songwriter and a turn away from punkrock and toward straight-up country is the most appropriate choice he could make.

Deming explains.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

OK, Jesus Christ, now I need a beer. Mm, yeah, that's better. My unchecked anger got the best of me again about thirty minutes back. Finally getting my head together enough to send more writing samples out to new magazine prospects, and after a half hour of carefully crafting the perfect introduction letter and selecting the pieces that display my versatility, fuckin' Yahoo suddenly refuses to attach files to my email and erases what I had spent so much time on. I could blame the heat, the new job, the coffee, lots of things, but it doesn't matter, I screamed myself hoarse and punched a few walls. I've been much more level lately, but this kind of thing cuts me deep. I mean, if the TV reception is bad or I bite my lip, I've learned to deal with it ... but fuck ass motherfucker if something gets in the way of some responsible act that I've finally fought my way through the haze of melancholy to tackle. Another half hour down the line and I had achieved my goal, but I only have so many half hours left in my life, and even fewer of these occur when I have energy, peace and quiet and a spark of confidence.

I hate you all.

I've been obsessing over the abject selfishness of the modern world lately, pretty much every time I walk down the street and witness petty acts of negligence that would brand me a crank if I was ever to demonstrate the irritation they cause. But they all pile up, you morons, and that's exactly why lesser men lose their minds and commit themselves to killing sprees. Jaywalking, littering, aggressive driving, it sounds silly but all of our actions, no matter how mundane, cause ripples that affect our environment and our fellows. But some people apparently travel in a bubble that allows them to float along peacefully without regarding anyone else.

You wanna know why the rest of the world hates Americans so much? BECAUSE WE DESERVE IT. Or at least you do. YES, YOU!

Saturday, August 07, 2004

What the hell ... here's a review I wrote for consideration by the newly refurbished Amazing Stories magazine. Turns out they don't need it, so I guess it goes here.


Monty Python may have made the first attempts, but TV comedies of recent years like Kids in the Hall and Mr. Show have proven that graphic violence gets laughs. The modern world has become so desensitized to severed limbs and spurting blood that gore can serve as a punchline, either for crass shock value or as a winking reference to slasher film conventions or some other meta-motive. The societal impact of this phenomenon is best left to philosophers and politicians, but the fact of the matter is that this kind of extreme slapstick is now de-rigueur, and the British import Shaun of the Dead is the latest to mine mayhem for mirth.

It's decidedly rare for a feature-length horror/comedy to succeed on either front; witness the Scary Movie franchise or any number of Troma hack jobs as examples of bad taste replacing humor and suspense dispensed with altogether. Against the odds, Shaun of the Dead emerges as a film that could lose the gags or the gore and still stand up, a film with energy, wit and of all things, subtlety. British telly watchers will be familiar with stars Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson from the BBC-TV series Spaced, which was helmed by Shaun director Edgar Wright. The characters are essentially the same, a slacking twenty-nine year old and his long-suffering girlfriend. Along for the ride are a boorish best friend, a pair of pretentious flatmates and the title character's mum, all of whom suddenly find the irritating minutiae of their lives swept away forever when a cannibal zombie apocalypse forces them to barricade themselves in the local pub.

While we've all heard that story before, co-writers Wright and Pegg build slowly to the action, allowing their characters both exaggerated tics and humanizing details. The early scenes of Shaun capture the ennui of post-collegiate life perfectly, with friendships strained by responsibility and a sense of betrayed potential shared by all. The approach of the zombie attack is obvious to the audience from the start, but for our heroes the drama drops out of nowhere (pretty realistic, that) and once the carnage begins it's a non-stop gut-muncher full of the exploding heads and ruptured organs so beloved by gorehounds. There's tension too, thanks to some Night of the Living Dead-style claustrophobia. Already a hit in its Merrie Olde homeland, Shaun of the Dead arrives Stateside to further jumble our genres and expectations. - Fred Beldin

Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 'The Blob' director, 'Shorty' Yeaworth,�dead at 78 - Jul 29, 2004

At midnight tonight, I do a phone interview with the director Lech Kowalski, known for punk documentaries like D.O.A.: A Right of Passage and Hey, Is Dee Dee Home? But there's more ... he's been working on a trilogy of films called "My Wild Wild East," and the first two installments are great. The Boot Factory is about Polish anarchist punks who turn their squat into a successful hand-made boot factory, and On Hitler's Highway covers the people who live and work along a road that was built by Nazis during WWII.

Kowalski lives in Paris, so this will be my first ever intercontinental phone call (well, technically I did that this afternoon ... I looked up the number for a hotel in Paris and called just to make sure the phone card worked). Pretty heady stuff for someone who is nearly pathological about answering a ringing phone ... fuck, you never know who it could be, why open yourself up to potential misery and embarrassment? Anyhow, the only time I could talk to him was 9:00am Paris time, which with the time difference makes it midnight here. I'm treasuring the chance to drink coffee after six, but I'll be hurting tomorrow for sure.

I have just discovered Judee Sill. If you hate the whole singer/songwriter archetype, then don't bother to check this out.

Monday, July 26, 2004


Saturday, July 24, 2004

Fucking miserable hot, the kind of heat I thought I had left behind in the Mudwest ... so much for the cool Northwest. It's been a stifling week, and I haven't the energy to face urgent matters like the rapidly charging Resonance deadline, overdue thank-yous to friends for their matrimonial generosity, not to mention an average week's worth of laundry. I've spent the afternoon sitting in front of a fan reading a fairly pointless biography of Keith Richards (didja know he took dope?). My lethargy has led to the need for a quick shot of coffee and ritalin, which has roused me, but the air is too thick for any real activity.

A new temp gig has surfaced in the purchasing division of a company called Westward Seafoods . The best I can say is that it could be worse. The office is relaxed and friendly, the work is dull but plentiful and time flies. That's a genuine concern to me, however ... each day I spend praying for the clock to burn through the hours so I can return to my freedom, but as a human, my hours on earth are limited and precious and should never be squandered. This has always gnawed at me at every job I've ever endured. I suppose I have no right to demand a living from the world, even if some are lucky enough to have it handed to them. Still, a satisfied mind and relaxed body ought to be human rights, impossible as that is.

Oh yeah, the wedding ... for anyone who wasn't there, we had a fine time, and Mike Rodriguez threw us a classy (but drunken) party afterward that was one of the best I've ever attended. The Steve toasted us with a brilliant, rambling, philosophical speech that referenced Pink Floyd. I reconnected with many old, dear friends in meaningful ways that give me hope as our advancing ages continue to lengthen the spans between meetings. The entire time we spent in the Capital City was stressful and there wasn't much sleep, bouncing as we were between family and crowds of pals that we strove to give equal attention. I was touched by the outpouring of support, however, and proud to declare my love for Lori Tschirhart, a declaration that no one needed to hear to believe. I haven't much interest in visiting Michigan any time soon (finances forbid it no matter how I feel) but I sincerely wish I could convince everyone at Mike's party to move to the Left Coast and dig everything I'm currently digging ... won't happen.

With the new job and all, my discipline will be sorely tested. Hopefully I can persevere against malaise, sleeplessness and eternal frustration. In three months (the purported length of my assignment) I need to have a new plan that will put meat in the larder and allow me to extend this tentative self-respect as I march proudly toward age 40, at which point I've been told that life begins.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

We're back in Seattle. Or rather, I am. Lori rather ironically had to fly back to Michigan mere days after our return home due to a family emergency, so I've been spending what was to pass as our honeymoon alone, watching Paul Naschy films and drinking Rebel Yell bourbon in the dark.

I have lots of writing to catch up on, here and abroad, so a compact travelogue will follow within the next twenty four.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Lori and I have taken our time getting across the country, sleeping late in cheap motels and stopping at popular tourist traps like the Montana State Prison and the Mystery Spot. I'll have some details soon, since we've endured many adventures and weathered a flurry of curious episodes since leaving the safety of Seattle. Thanks to several gallons of rum concoctions and expired medications we have kept big sickly smiles on our faces as we reconnect with family members, friends and near-friends and even a few benign enemies.

The wedding is Saturday.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Flowers of Evil

Basic Hip Digital Oddio is a consistently fine website to check for unique sound recordings, but this week's downloadable album, Flowers of Evil by Ruth White, is one of the ... no, absolutely the eeriest thing I've ever heard. English translations of Charles Baudelaire's poems set to primitive electronic music/noise. I haven't been able to get much farther than "The Litanies of Satan," which I downloaded first. It's a truly frightening piece, and I had to turn it off halfway through because I felt evil spirits being conjured in the corners of the room (and I wasn't even stoned at the time). Check out the upcoming list for future offerings, it's usually interesting and always obscure. Almost on a par with bubblegum machine, the current reigning favorite mp3 website in my small, limited universe.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

There is a woman across the street with a bucket of soapy water, washing a child's chalk designs off the sidewalk. It strikes me that I've never seen anyone do this before. Seems a slightly cold act, with a feeling of finality to it. Not only that, but she's wearing a tight black leotard and costume cat's ears on top of her head. What is the world coming to?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Well, a correction is in order. There is further evidence that Robert Quine's death was a suicide, an intentional overdose. This is not a whacked-out hotshot. RIP

Lori and I will be leaving Sunday June 13th (with luck) for our drive across country to the Capital City of Michigan (the name of which I forget). For anyone who cares a little, we'll be getting there sometime the following weekend. Then the wedding is June 26th ... if you didn't get an invitation but you're reading this, most likely you're invited and the damn thing got lost in the mail. You wouldn't be the first. Drop me a line and I'll straighten you out.

Friday I'm interviewing Jehane Noujaim, director of the fine documentary Control Room. She spent time at the Al Jazeera network at the start of the Iraq invasion and captured the goings-on, and it's a great film. I'm having trouble getting all my ideas and facts together ... I'm politically ignorant, primarily because I tend to see both sides of every argument, and that's an exhausting thing. Far as I'm concerned, EVERYBODY is wrong, there is no truth and the best you can do is just be polite to your immediate neighbors. So I tend to feel that the war is none of my business ... which, of course, is not so. The one thing I came away with is the feeling that Al Jazeera are as biased as Fox News, which the reporters readily admit to. So is there anywhere we can get honest coverage of the war? I guess that is my first question to Ms. Noujaim.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004 - Guitarist Robert Quine found dead - Jun 8, 2004
Too bad. One of my favorite guitarists. Just goes to show, you oughta kick before age 50.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Well, hell ... as has just been pointed out to me, I have now at least two readers. Thank you, Mr. Soren Davis, Chicago's King of the Tom Cats and a major player in his region's Freestyle Shouting League (he has enormous lung capacity due to years and years of smoking). I'll see you in the Capital City come June.

Speaking of Lansing, last week I did an interview with the Lansing Noise concerning my tenure in the Clutters. Supposedly there is now a healthy "twang" (Good god, how I hate that word) scene in Lansing, with bands sprouting like dandelions (attractive in bunches from afar but unremarkable when examined in detail) and for better or worse, the Clutters were one of (if not the) first "alt-country" (Holy Christ, how I hate that term) band to gig in the city. No matter that no one really liked us much, because anyone with a punkrock bent thought we were fat pussies for having slow songs and a bearded violin player, and all the people who actually listened to the Torch and Twang radio show considered us far too loud, sloppy, stoned and stupid to take seriously. All of these criticisms were entirely valid, by the way. Still, we had more character than most anyone else from that dirty little sideways town, so what the hell, we deserve to be remembered as much as anyone. Keep an eye out for the article, and we'll see just how much column space actually gets devoted to us in the final analysis.

The new Reigning Sound record, Too Much Guitar, is fucking great, maybe not the masterpiece that Time Bomb High School was, but who can have two in a row? Real soul for real people. Anyone with an interest in rocknroll is encouraged to shut the fuck up and go buy it. Well, no, get Time Bomb High School first, I guess, but you won't go wrong with Too Much Guitar either. Great version of "You Got Me Hummin" ... and "We Repel Each Other" is a great title for a love song. Still looking for a copy of the latest Seger Liberation Army recd, but no one is stocking it around here ... yes, that's right, I'll have to buy one.

I'm thinking of going back to school ... either theology studies or flower arrangment. Seriously. These are my two choices.


First off, I wanna give a hearty "fuckin' A" to fellow genius Dave "Ragz" Hanson, because, far as I know, he's the only other set of eyes checking out these entries other than my own. Am I wrong? Doesn't matter. The vacuum I shout into just got a little more crowded, and who better to share my closet than someone I've known for twenty years? Grow some tits, Dave, it's just you and me in here.

I went to my first official big star press conference on Saturday ... I'm not a big fan of Donnie Darko but I have to admit the new theatrical "director's cut" made a few plot points clearer, even if they probably still need to tack on an extra thirty minutes or so to actually make sense. It opened Saturday night at SIFF, so I was afforded the opportunity to be in a room with Drew Barrymore for forty-five minutes and I said what the hell. It was everything I expected, that is, dull, but like I said, I was in a room with Drew Barrymore for forty-five minutes and lemme tell you, she sure looks good from across a large crowded room full of Seattle journalists. Lots of pointless buttkissing, stupid questions and general fluff ... maybe if it was a movie I cared to write about (like this) I would be more enthusiastic, but short of Drew pulling me aside to tell me she likes my boots and wonders if I have a place she can hang out for a few hours and watch 3-D porn films, the event was not going to deliver for me.

More later? More later.
Werewolf of Woodstock

The Woodstock music festival is finally over, and a local farmer, furious at the noise and garbage generated by the throngs of hippies, takes out his aggression on the abandoned stage during a rainstorm. In perhaps the first (and last) instance of a werewolf being created through massive electrical shock, he is struck by lightning and somehow transformed into exactly what he hates most, a filthy long-haired creature in torn clothes and bare feet. Meanwhile, a struggling rock group hits upon a great gimmick for their demo tape. They travel to the empty festival site and play their songs on the legendary stage to legitimately claim they were "recorded live at Woodstock." The werewolf sightings convince the local police that a hippie is to blame for a recent murder, and the rock band is immediately under suspicion. However, a pair of hip, young detectives from Los Angeles aren't so sure, and when the girl guitar player is abducted by the beast, the rest of the musicians are recruited to assist in the rescue by playing their instruments as loud as possible, drawing the hippie-hating monster out into the open. This peculiar Dick Clark production proves that the generation gap was still considered bankable in 1975, or at least enough so to warrant a late-night debut on ABC's "Wide World of Entertainment" program. Cheaply shot on video, it's clear that no one thought much further than the goofy premise, and once the novelty of the concept cools the remaining action quickly becomes rote (although a third act scene featuring the werewolf making a hasty getaway in a stolen dune buggy is priceless). As the monster, Mod Squad star Tige Andrews spends all his time swathed in bandages or hidden behind a cheap wolfman mask, and the damsel-in-distress role filled by Belinda Belaski is a stereotypical flaky hippie who feels "vibrations" and eventually bonds with her captor. Perhaps an Altamont Speedway werewolf would have had more resonance with the target audience. The psychotronic viewer will note a fleeting appearance by Al Adamson leading man Robert Dix as a policeman; it's nice to know he found work in a "legitimate" production like The Werewolf of Woodstock. - Fred Beldin

Memorial Valley Massacre

Slasher films are often criticized for their habit of encouraging the audience to identify with the killer. Memorial Valley Massacre is an extreme case, but not for genre-standard hand-held POV shots. Instead, the "maniac" is a feral forest-dwelling manchild resisting the encroachment of modern society with violence, and his victims are city-slicker campers who threaten his pristine wilderness with litter, ATVs and land developments. While the gentle valley hermit feeds his pet mouse and frees a hapless rabbit from a snare meant for men, the "civilized" weekenders guzzle beer, blast speed metal and prove themselves to be among the most repellent disposable characters in slasher film history. This unique perspective doesn't make Memorial Valley Massacre worth watching, however, unless one is interested in seeing what happens when the worst elements of 80s junk horror and teen sex comedies collide. Slutty teenage girls dance in the rain, a fat kleptomaniac kid provides unneeded comic relief, and a gang of mismatched bikers dress like extras in a John Mellencamp video. The death-dealing wild boy's outfit is a Halloween-cheap faux fur getup accented with plastic buck teeth, and if he's been isolated for twenty years, where did the candles in his cave come from? The third act boasts a steady stream of absolutely unconvincing gore effects, so the squeamish need not fear unless they’re sticklers for logic. Most of the cast was never heard from again, but a few genre regulars appear as ringers among the amateurs. William Smith has a pointless role as a retired Army general who loves his RV and John Kerry (no, not that one) is an alcoholic park ranger with a secret link to the killer in the forest. Cameron Mitchell is onscreen for all of three minutes, getting off easy with top billing and minimal effort as a greedy land developer. - Fred Beldin

The Demon

By not including any actors of color in its lily-white cast, this dull, dimly-lit slasher nonsense from South Africa is a rare instance of apartheid actually sparing the dignity of those it means to oppress. The Demon moves disjointedly between two sets of characters whose lives are impacted by an "aberration of the species" that is "less than a man and more than a man." Exactly what and how is never addressed, nor is the reason why the rubber-masked killer wears pre-Freddy Kruger razor-tipped gloves but chooses to suffocate his victims with ordinary plastic bags and twine. Cameron Mitchell is set up early on as a main character, a psychic investigator called upon to find an abducted girl. He glares intensely into space, tears up a feather pillow and speaks in hushed tones to the vengeful father, then disappears for the next thirty minutes, reemerging just long enough to be shot in the forehead ("Did your extra sensory perception prepare you for this?"). The bulk of the screen time is enjoyed by a pair of cousins who teach at a nursery school and spend quality time with their respective boyfriends. Meanwhile, the unidentified maniac looms in the background, stalking the girls for some reason rather than just offing them outright like the rest of his prey. It all leads up to a lengthy cat-and-mouse that ends when a resourceful naked pre-school teacher makes an impromptu smock out of a shower curtain and protects herself with a bottle of shampoo and a pair of scissors. Ridiculous as The Demon is, few will gain any pleasure squinting through the dusky cinematography or enduring the long wait for things to actually happen. Boycott it. - Fred Beldin

Saturday, May 22, 2004


Only the most devout Peter Graves completists should bother with this limp, derivative TV werewolf story. Aside from a few well-wrought attack sequences, Scream of the Wolf is useless as horror, mystery or even unintentional comedy. Board-stiff Clint Walker's character operates as a curious kind of red herring, set up so obviously as the killer from the outset that the viewer is likely to disregard the clues. As an obsessed big-game hunter, Walker spouts half-baked Nietzschean philosophy and glowers meaningfully at his friend/nemesis Graves, taking the story into Most Dangerous Game territory and destroying any supernatural elements with the worst cop-out ending short of the "it was all a dream" bit. Director Dan Curtis keeps it slick and professional, but everyone here is just picking up a paycheck, except for Jo Ann Pflug, who gets to the core of her shrill, domineering character and throttles it for all she's worth. Both Curtis and scriptwriter Richard Matheson had respectable TV terror reputations; Curtis helmed a number of Dark Shadows episodes, Matheson was a Twilight Zone veteran and a year after this misfire they collaborated on one of television's great horror experiences, Trilogy of Terror. Scream of the Wolf's resurrection on DVD shouldn't be interpreted as the discovery of a lost gem, but rather a mercenary attempt to squeeze a few bucks out of a best-forgotten public domain yawn-fest.

Thursday, May 20, 2004


A moody little revenge tale with a no-nonsense title, The Severed Arm is good for low-impact proto-slasher sleaze. Trapped for weeks in a cave-in, a small group of men draw straws to determine who will sacrifice an arm for food. The loser is a bad sport, but the others amputate anyway, mere minutes before finally being rescued. Fearing the legal ramifications of their desperate (and ill-timed) act, they tell authorities that the arm was crushed by falling rocks; luckily, the victim has lost his mind as a result of the experience, and his madness allows the others to keep their conspiracy alive. Five years later, a severed arm is mailed to the former leader of the doomed excavation, and one by one each member is attacked by an axe-wielding maniac. Who else could the killer be but the one-armed man? It's a cute premise, but too easy to poke holes in if one isn't careful. Why do the spelunkers assume that no one will believe the one-armed man's "crazy" story? Wouldn't the police search for the missing limb after the rescue and discover the lie? And why trust the daughter of the disfigured man to help when the bodies start dropping? First time director Thomas S. Alderman (his only other known credit is for 1974's Coed Dorm) moves things along at a decent pace, but much of The Severed Arm is too dark to determine what's happening, set as it is in caves, dimly lit stairwells and all-night radio stations. Some versions of the film have been stripped of excess grue, but the murders are disturbing nonetheless, and the whole exercise is shot through with a very '70s grindhouse flavor that should please exploitation fans (dig that "eerie" synthesizer score!). The acting is par for the course, relatively flat even when the leads are facing certain murder. Former Gidget and Beach Party girl Deborah Walley figures prominently in the film's "poetic justice" conclusion. Character actor Marvin Kaplan (from TV's Alice) does his usual wisenheimer/schlep routine as a bearded late-night DJ named "Madman Herman." Ray Dannis was far more lively in the oddball cannibal classic The Undertaker and his Pals than he is here as the reluctant amputee, and brawny Vincent Martorano had a meatier role the following year as a soft-hearted killer/kidnapper in The Candy Snatchers.