Friday, February 23, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders

Frank and Cindy
A dank mood led to a spree of music downloading yesterday -- didn't make me feel any better, I guess, but I was sufficiently energized by what I uncovered.

Who remembers Cheetah Chrome Motherfuckers? Absolutely unhinged Italian hardcore, frantic, furious noise that shatters before your ears, I was thrilled to uncover a bunch of tracks from a CCM demo tape here. Sounds so fast, so blitheringly spiteful and contemptuous of musical niceties that they're downright abstract.

Another fine find was Stack Waddy, a beautifully gnarly biker-garage-metal outfit from the UK circa 1971 that sounds like Motorhead on heroin instead of speed fronted by Captain Beefheart. Yes, it's that good! John Peel signed them to his Dandelion label back in the day (because no one else would) and they were well known for audience abuse, chucking bottles at the crowd when they didn't respond the right way. Construction workers by day, their two LPs are pretty much all covers, cool stuff by Pretty Things, Beefheart, Zappa, Bo Diddley, Kinks, Lazy Lester, all recorded in one take. Glorious. Absolutely glorious.

Let it also be known that The End Times will make what was private public on March 10th at 9:00pm, an appearance at a house party in the Montlake neighborhood. Contact me if you wanna make it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I can't believe it ... just last week I reread Clinton Walker's excellent Bon Scott bio Highway to Hell and prepped myself to commemorate the anniversary of this great man's passing, which came and went yesterday. Yup, check the records, it was February 19, 1980. So anyhow, hoist one for Bon, if you're a hoister, otherwise I don't give a damn what you do because it's February 20 now and I missed the boat. What was I doing all day yesterday? I don't even wanna tell you, that's how lame it was.

Anyhow, in Bon's honor (and because Pat and Terri don't have time to search YouTube on their own), I present this pre-AC/DC vid ... the band was Fraternity, the time early 1970s, the country Australia, and Bon Scott had a beard.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I just wanna take this moment to reflexively and without careful deliberation declare the following: FUCK AL FRANKEN. That guy is as much problem as solution. If'n you wanna argue with me, I'll take the matter seriously and articulate an opinion, til then I'm gonna stick with my gut and say he's no more than Rush for people without a sense of humor.

"You naughty little Germans. Naughty, nasty little Germans. That's why I keep coming back. 'Cause you're naughty. Nasty. I like it!" - Sharon Stone

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Amazing TRUE Story Of Christian Stand-Up Comedy

I used to have a bunch of those Christian Archie comics as a kid ... they sold em at a diner in Northern Michigan where my parents owned property. My stepfather's brother (stepuncle?) had Jack Chick comics all over his house too, not just the tracts but full-sized color comic books that made me cry at night because my mother wasn't saved.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

There are no words left in the language to describe this.


Thanks to Bleeding Skull, the best sleaze/horror review site extant.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


If anyone's hip to some 'core, check out Something I Learned Today for this wild live-on-the-radio F.U.s gig from 1984 ... it rips truly. The setlist is primarily taken off their Do We Really Want To Hurt You and My America LPs, which I've never heard before, and they've traded in the epileptic spazz of 1982's Kill For Christ for a leaner, though still punishing, velocity (but I could do without the weak Grand Funk Railroad cover). The F.U.s morphed further into "mature" rock styles and changed their name to Straw Dogs in 1985 ... but I barely know the story, so check out FU guitarist Steve Grimes telling it like it was, and is.

Monday, February 05, 2007

For the second year running, I got loaded at a superbowl party and paid the price, although this go-round the price was not so high. Last year I had the beer before the whiskey and couldn't leave the house at all, this year I reversed the process and as a result I was able to (slowly, with a tremble) head off to work. Much as I hate football (perhaps that's too strong a word, but I'll stick with it for now) Lori and I had a fine time with our pal John, who was not only celebrating the game but also his 28th birthday. We all got lit, enjoyed Prince and listened to Lee Hazlewood records after the sports were over. On the way out, John handed me a few burned copies of Bob Dylan's satellite radio show, which are helping immensely in getting me through today. So it's his birthday, how come I got the gift? It's good to be the king.

Reviewing BLACK SNAKE MOAN in a few hours for Seattle Sound. I'm hoping it's good, but not expecting it to be. I'll let you all know if it's safe.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Birthday to John Carradine

This February 5th marks the 101st birthday of the late, great character actor John Carradine, and a day worth celebrating for cinephiles of every stripe. With a resume that includes at least 250 film appearances (Carradine himself boasted a tally closer to 500), his unmistakable presence is impossible to avoid if one goes trolling through the history of American cinema.

Carradine's onscreen debut was the small role of “Buzzard” in a 1930 remake of the hillbilly meller “Tol'able David,” and in a career that spanned six decades portrayed rednecks, cowboys, hobos, mad scientists, priests, pirates, Nazis, railroad tycoons and more. Following his death in 1988, previously shot footage of Carradine continued to “star” in new titles for several years. Carradine performed as Count Dracula, Ebenezer Scrooge and Abraham Lincoln, plus he shot Jesse James in the back. He played second banana to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis and logged thousands of hours in live theatre performing the classics of Shakespeare.

A busy, working actor, he was cast by directors from every strata of show business; John Ford and Al Adamson, Nicholas Ray and Ted V. Mikels, Douglas Sirk and David L. Hewitt. Carradine may not have been proud of rent-paying gigs in sleazy exploitation flicks like “Sex Kittens Go to College,” “Vampire Hookers” or “Satan's Mistress.” Still, for fans of such ignoble masterpieces, an appearance from Carradine can redeem nearly any monstrosity (unfortunately, there was nothing he could do for “Myra Breckenridge”).

Carradine was a highly theatrical screen personality, a tall, reedy man with the wit of a rogue and an eccentric personality. He had skill enough to breathe life into the simplest of characters, or he could ham it up with the ripest bombast. Even when walking through an uninspiring role with an industry-standard minimum of professionalism, he could lend the dullest exposition a whiff of class with his tremendously deep, sonorous voice, which rumbled out of his chest with the carriage of royalty.

Actually, it's quite likely that Carradine's best performances were never caught on camera. His true love was the stage, and for many years he directed and starred in his own traveling Shakespearean troupe, an endeavor funded with well-paying roles for low-budget producers. Carradine was well versed in the words of the Bard, so no doubt his very best work was as Hamlet or Othello, at the peak of his powers before a live audience.

It would be impossible to adequately cover Mr. Carradine's accomplishments in this brief space. Those with the yen to delve deeper into his filmography are encouraged to seek out Tom Weaver's comprehensive book
John Carradine: The Films (published by McFarland Press). For the casually curious, raise a glass to one of Hollywood's most distinguished character actors by checking out one of the following titles, ten personal favorites of mine, which are each blessed with a classic John Carradine performance.

BLUEBEARD (1944): John Carradine is at his best as the star of this moody Edgar Ulmer-directed crime thriller. He's the sinister painter and puppeteer Gaston, a dashing figure to the young ladies, but also possessed of a cold, reptilian cruelty in the face of his own perverted lust. The beautiful girls who model for his paintings are later found floating in the river, strangled to death, but Carradine is too cool to be caught.

STAGECOACH (1939): This landmark John Ford western features an all-star cast, but Carradine stands out amongst the ensemble, perfectly unctuous in a slippery, multi-layered performance. He's the mysterious gambler, a fallen Southern gentleman who takes a sudden shine to the pregnant wife of a wounded cavalryman. Carradine plays the cardsharp as a man suspended between impulses both noble and sinister, with intentions that are sometimes pure but always misguided.

SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS (1977): Widely acknowledged as one of the best films ever made, this boneheaded jiggle-horror-comedy is made even better by a John Carradine cameo. He's a roadside hobo who meets a crew of oversexed cheerleaders with car trouble. The saucy teens flaunt their curves at the sun-baked trash picker, leaving him to mutter, “Nobody listens to me, I'm just a crazy old bum.” He gets the last laugh later, when a bumbling gang of small-town devil-worshippers abducts the girls for use in a sexy (PG-rated) satanic ritual.

WIZARD OF MARS(1964): In the title role, Carradine appears only as a hazy floating hologram, meaning he probably filmed the whole thing in one afternoon with minimal sweat. It's a colorful, if yawnful, tale of a mission to Mars gone awry. Four American astronauts (including a ladynaut named Dorothy) wander the red planet's desolate surface, eventually stumbling upon a yellow brick road leading to an abandoned cavern. Carradine is the disembodied soul of an ancient civilization, and he lays some truth on the earthlings.

THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940): A bona fide classic, John Ford's adaptation of the Steinbeck novel is nearly as powerful as its source material. Carradine is the Preacher Casy, who loses his religion and is later made martyr to the cause of Oklahoma migrant workers. “Maybe there ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue,” he says, “there's just what people does.” It's easily his most textured, sensitive screen performance and a must for all.

THE BEST OF SEX AND VIOLENCE (1981): Lightning Video released this quickie compilation of exploitation trailers for films like “Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde,” “I Spit on Your Grave,” and “Tanya's Island.” Carradine is our host, cracking the corniest of one-liners with the bemused smile of someone reading his lines for the first time off cue cards. Sons Keith and David join him between Rudy Ray Moore trailers, asking to borrow the family car; it's a warm moment in an otherwise cynical production.

OF HUMAN HEARTS (1938): Jimmy Stewart is the star of this civil war melodrama, but the plot turns on Carradine's performance as a stern Abraham Lincoln. The president summons battlefield doctor Stewart to the White House and scolds him for never writing home to his poor mother. Threatened with court-martial, the ungrateful son tearfully writes to his sainted mama as President Lincoln sneers at this callow youth, quoting Shakespearean verse to express his disappointment.

BILLY THE KID VERSUS DRACULA (1966): With this William Beaudine brainteaser, Carradine gives his ripest performance as Vlad Tepes, flamboyantly stomping through the Old West with satin cape and garish goatee and waging war against reformed outlaw Billy the Kid. Yeah, it's stupid, but in all the right ways. Contrary to rumors, this was not based on a true story; in reality, Billy the Kid and Dracula got along very well, although they rarely saw each other socially.

VAMPIRE MEN OF THE LOST PLANET (1970): Al Adamson added hasty footage to a bizarre Filipino monster movie for this goofy treasure, which played drive-ins and TV spook shows under other titles like “Blood Creatures from the Prehistoric Planet” and “Horror of the Blood Monsters.” Carradine plays a brilliant scientist with a decidedly cranky disposition; when his space expedition crash-lands on a mysterious planet, the old coot won't even leave the capsule. The set-bound Carradine spends the film alone, barking out orders over a walkie-talkie while his younger cohorts wander the California desert and pretend to interact with spliced-in dinosaurs and cavemen.

THE SHOOTIST (1976): John Wayne's final role was poignantly prophetic, a cancer-ridden gunslinger trying to meet death with dignity and leave the world with his pride intact. John Carradine is in peak form as the undertaker who offers to bury the Duke free of charge for the privilege of displaying his famous corpse to the public for profit. As the man who embalms John Wayne in his very last picture, Carradine is entitled to some recognition for putting the final nail in the coffin of the traditional Western.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Nightmare Room: Camp Nowhere

This Twilight Zone for youngsters is based on a series of spooky kids' books written by popular author R.L. Stine. Premiering on the WB television network in 2001, The Nightmare Room took titles and themes from Stine's novels and adapted them into lightweight tales of the bizarre. They were later compiled for DVD release, with each episode providing good-natured chills aimed directly at juveniles. Pre-teen favorite Amanda Bynes stars in "Don't Forget Me," and this inaugural episode packs a lot into a slim half-hour. Hypnotism, a threatening homeless man, mysterious cracks in the basement oozing suspicious white slime, and the imprisoned souls of lost children are all involved in the swift-moving plot, along with that eternal childhood fear: parental abandonment. A two-part episode, "Camp Nowhere" concerns some campers who try to overcome their irrational fears while spending the night at a "haunted" cabin in the woods. Morning comes and they discover something far more frightening than they had ever anticipated. In "Full Moon Halloween," a group of junior-high students are locked in a house and informed that, at midnight, one of them will become a werewolf. First, however, there's the matter of some pesky rodent-sized creatures from Borneo that zip through walls and gain a taste for human flesh after exposure to light. Adults might find the plot twists a bit pedestrian, but all horror productions rely on a certain amount of predictability, and there are lots of creepy special effects to thrill the youngsters. Parents can rest assured that there's no graphic violence and very little mayhem overall. Still, there are plenty of cheap shocks to make the kids jump and a genuine supernatural mystery at the base of each story, so beware The Nightmare Room. FRED BELDIN

I had forgotten about reviewing this DVD til tonight, when I saw Tyson's post about Harry Potter ... I can't contribute anything to the endless dialogue about JK Rowling and her prodigious output, but when Tyson used the term "R.L. Stiney" it brought me back to my own 1970s-era childhood, when Dynamite and Bananas magazine were a major source of humor for me. You got em cheap from Scholastic Books, and every few months the teachers in the Flint School System would pass out catalogs and order forms for various Scholastic products including Judy Blume, L. Frank Baum, Ranger Rick magazine and the like. But Dynamite and Bananas were boss all the way with pre-teen hipster gags, Star Wars references and centerfolds of assorted Welcome Back Kotter stars ... sometimes even iron-on decals for one of those lousy v-neck tees my maw used to make me wear under shirts no matter what the weather ("I Hate Homework!" et al). Anyhow, R. L. Stine was not only the funniest writer for aforementioned mags, but he also wrote quickie humor books about the lighter side of dating, the low quality of lunchroom cafeteria food and other essential laffs for the kind of kids who buy their own books at age ten.

It's damn hard for me to dig Stine these days, but that's a tribute to his talent and craft rather than a gibe at his worth. Along with Ben Hamper and Lester Bangs, I gotta doff my cap to this peculiar literary inflence of my early years.

P.S. Gotta say, I'd never heard Lester's voice before, aside from Jook Savages on the Brazos. Check it out.
Mystery Poster

Wow. More international psychrock rarities than anyone could download in a lifetime. Check out the Howlin' Wolf and Chubby Checker psych recds and lose your mind ...
Randy Newman, the Last Patriot.