Entry 0049: Popcorn Double Feature

fallpopcorn

7-inch: Popcorn Double Feature by the Fall

1990 Cog Sinister SIN 5

Favorite Track: Popcorn Double Feature

 

This blog entry just became difficult. I originally perceived it as a critical review of Mad Max Fury Road and Jurassic World. Especially comparing and contrasting the female leads between the two. Fury Road has an obvious feminist message and a host of strong, fun, and bad-ass women surviving in the post-apocalyptic desert and fighting in great car chase sequences. The main protagonist Furiosa goes on a journey of self-discovery while trying to save the young breeders from  Joe’s horrible control: she believes they can flee to an idyllic Eden of her childhood, but it is not there. It is just dust in the wind. Growing up means turning and facing your challenges, fixing the corrupt society you live in. Also, killing the tyrant.

However, I must admit that I was more intrigued by the villains of the movie. The men were wild, mad, ferocious, hilarious in quotes (“Witness me!”) and, for the most part, deformed with no reason why. I couldn’t stop wondering what was going on with the men: did their misogyny manifest itself physically? Or did radiation and other post-apocalyptic problems re-enforce the struggle for control and dominance? Joe had a tad of Henry the VIII in him–a man desperate to produce a male heir but shooting blanks. Or in the case of Fury Road, running over your progeny while racing to bring him back.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am glad for the message about violence toward women and sex slavery. Fury Road is a great step forward for portrayal of women in movies and addressing important issues. I just happen to be someone who will always be more interested in the bad guys/girls.

I also find it interesting that in “feminist movies” (whatever that is really suppose to mean?) the woman typically is associated with one of the worst traits of men: violent. Where are the “feminist movies” where men are associated with one of the best traits of women: compassion?

Now Jurassic World already has a meme concerning Claire running away from dinosaurs in high heels. Also, she undoes her shirt to become more revealing, has the most unrealistic love interest with the lead male character, and did I mention she ran away from a dinosaur in high heels through mud? I strongly suspect that whoever designed those heels paid to have her wear those throughout the movie.

That being said, Claire makes a journey of self-discovery as well. Opposite of Furiosa, you are not suppose to like Claire at the start of the movie. She is selfish, ignores her family, thinks of living dinosaurs merely as numbers on a graph, and is not afraid to create monsters to generate revenue. But as her park crashes down all around her, she holds a dying dinosaur’s head and finds empathy; she saves her sister’s children and learns the importance of staying connected to blood; her business exterior crumbles into dust. She even learns to love Owen although that damn love story is a mess. The point is Claire makes a similar journey as Furiosa and is not the one dimensional character as the high heels meme makes her out to be. The problem is with Jurassic World’s script: it is a mess. Too many story lines and ideas that most are never resolved or quickly resolved mired with a portrayal of women from a 50’s magazine.

Anyways, I was trying to avoid all of that because what I really wanted to do is make a list of some of my favorite popcorn double features that I would love to watch outside.

Here they are:

Steve Martin Night:

Feature One: The Man With Two Brains

Feature Two: The Jerk

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger Night:

Feature One: Total Recall

Feature Two: Commando

 

Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Night (I actually have a million of these):

Feature One: Outlaw of Gor

Feature Two: Mitchell

 

Cheesy Horror Movie Night:

Feature One: Chopping Mall

Feature Two: Brain Damage

 

Good Horror Movie Night:

Feature One: Suspiria

Feature Two: The Thing

 

Sci Fi Action Night:

Feature One: Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai

Feature Two: Big Trouble in Little China

 

Comedy Night:

Feature One: Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Feature Two: Clue

 

French New Wave Night:

Feature One: Band of Outsiders

Feature Two: Jules and Jim

 

Akiro Kurosawa Night (really an all day event):

Feature One: Seven Samurai

Feature Two: Ran

 

Anime Movie Night:

Feature One: Princess Mononoke

Feature Two: Akira

 

Anime Series Night:

Feature One: Select episodes from Cowboy Bebop

Feature two: Select episodes from Neon Genesis Evangelion

 

Anime Series Night 2:

Feature One: Select episodes of Death Note

Feature Two: Select episodes of Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated

 

Okay, that is enough for now.

 

Entry 0048: A Snotful of Free Write

deadboys

LP: Young, Loud, and Snotty by the Dead Boys

1977 Sire Records SR 6038, promo

Favorite Track: I Need Lunch (You can give me flak for loving a song with offending lyrics but I don’t take them seriously. I love the music most of all and see the lyrics as a snapshot of teenage male frustration, although not expressed maturely, is a raw emotional response.)

 Before I get to brainstorming certain scenes of the novel I am working on, I will write about the Dead Boys. One thing I am trying to do more with this blog is add a section about each album I select. If I had a time machine, I would easily go back in time to see the Dead Boys. I’ve seen a whole concert at CBGB’s on YouTube and it was amazing. They scream pure frantic energy. They sing danger. They play like they were battling a horde of orcs with their instruments. I would love to see every 70’s and early 80’s punk/post-punk/hardcore/art-rock bands, but the Dead Boys would be one of the first. When I first heard Young, Loud, and Snotty, my mind was blown. I had not expected its explosive power. I had not expected to like every track. I think this album was the beginning of my comprehension not to underestimate any of those early punk bands. Something magical happen at that time in the world of music. It may not be for everyone, but it has kept me spellbound for 32 years. Although, technically, I didn’t hear original punk music until approximately 1997ish so, revising the last sentence, kept me spellbound for 18 years.

Now to some creative writing:

 They caught up with him before he could squeeze through the fence leading into the construction zone. They pulled him back by his jacket, pinned his arms to his side. A lean youth with a snaggletooth grin twisted some fiber optic cable around his ankles while humming a musical refrain. The song was hauntingly familiar but outside of Zach’s recall. He wasn’t experiencing dread, but resignation. Did he want to be captured? Zach could smell the excitement and grease. A gob of spit landed on his cheek and there was a scuffle broke out around him and the snaggletooth teen landed on his back from a solid punch to the face. A barrel-chested man wearing an open jean jacket, black boots, and a ripped pair of riding pants turned his shrewd close-set eyes toward him. The frown lifted.

“I’ve seen you before.”

Zach slid his tongue around his mouth. His molars were intact.

“Nobody here really cares who you are. What you are now. I can see you are one of them. Dr. Kauffman’s loyal no-wave. You probably don’t remember us.”

Zach looked at the dirty faces and the curious eyes. They seemed a pack of wild animals and yet, they had done nothing to him save immobilizing him. Violence only as a necessity, but a necessity to what? They did call him a no-wave, a brain burnout. They probably saw the Black Widow jack built into the back of his neck and assumed. But assumed correctly.

“We talked before you erased your memories. Don’t you remember me? Captain Insensible.”

The rough man held out a callused hand. All of the fingers had metallic rings around them. Zach smiled at the ironic gesture and managed to shrug his shoulders. Captain Insensible laughed but did not tell his gang to let go. He looked at the never completed high-rise as if expecting someone to still be pounding nails into the wall. Then he shook his head.

From above dropped a piece of highway that smashed into the playground two miles south of the construction zone. Everyone but Zach and Captain Insensible looked around nervously. A cloud of dust billowed against the orange horizon like an ashen flower.

The snaggletooth stood up and dusted his black pants. “Why are we wasting our time with him? He doesn’t know where the Black Widow is. He’s worthless.”

“No body is worthless, Snitch. His brain is not destroyed in the way Dr. Kauffman proposed. All of those memories Zach here is forgetting are still in that brain of his. He has just lost the ability to find them.”

Captain Insensible smiled.

“We can always extract them.”

 

Entry 0047: Seeing Calvino (Milkmen Stomp)

deadmilkmen

LP: Eat Your Paisley by the Dead Milkmen

1986 Restless Records 7 72131-1

Favorite Track: The Thing That Only Eats Hippies

 

 I am very fortunate to own all 4 important Dead Milkmen albums in their original release. Are they important albums? Maybe, maybe not. Actually, I haven’t even heard their latest album and I bet there are some good songs on it. But the first four albums always held an allure to me that fed my craving to have a complete collection. One of the reasons is that I never heard the first four Dead Milkmen albums. I had a CD of Death Rides a Pale Cow which is a hits compilation. I found Beelzebubba first with the immortal Punk Rock Girl. I admit I swaggered a bit after buying that one. I didn’t know anyone else who owned one of their albums on vinyl although I assumed one or two of my friends did. They are hard to find. On my copy of Beelzebubba someone wrote, “Long out of print!”

Eat Your Paisley was the last one I found. Thanks to Black Plastic Records for that. Allmusic.com gave it only two out of five stars, but I disagree. It is my second favorite Dead Milkman album behind Big Lizard in My Backyard. Two Feet Off the Ground is completely underrated. I Hear Your Name, Happy Is, and Take Me Apart would make excellent mid mix-tape obscure tracks. Everything else is playful. Of course, Beach Party Vietnam and The Thing That Only Eats Hippies are the standouts. Give this album a shot if you have never heard it. Re-listen to it if you have. In this humidity, this can be your oasis.

My summer has been particularly busy at the public library preparing an art exhibit titled Seeing Calvino. Three amazingly talented artists by the names of Matt Kish, Joe Kuth, and Leighton Connor have illustrated all 55 cities in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. And I, somehow, managed to convince them to bring them to display at the library in the department I work at. My mind is blown. This artwork was recently projected against giant screens during the Eutropia 2015 music festival in which Patti Smith and Jimmy Cliff played before the images. The exhibit is to run from September 1st through November 15th.

I am not overly familiar with Italo Calvino as Invisible Cities is the only book of his I’ve read and one of four I can name. Post-modern and philosophical are descriptors that come to mind. Invisible Cities is a dialogue between Marco Polo and Kublai Kahn, but, as neither speak the same language, Polo uses objects from each city to describe it to Kahn who may or may not be interpreting Polo’s objects in his own unique fashion. The book challenges the ideas of what makes a city, who lives there, the history of cities, and, most importantly, are all cities the same or are they different?

Matt Kish, Joe Kuth, and Leighton Connor take their brilliant personal interpretations of each city and have rendered it for us to “see”. With simple strokes or minute details, they have brought Calvino’s images to life while adding an interesting third interpretation to the story. Are our artists faithfully designing these cities as Polo has seen them? Or are they like Kahn and left to their own devices? Maybe Polo never went and saw any of these cities and is merely describing the different aspect of Kahn’s own city?

Why don’t you come down to the Cincinnati Public Library on September 1st and decide for yourself. Or create your own interpretation.

Entry 0046: Blasts from the Past

FifteenLucky Fifteensurvivor

LP: Lucky by Fifteen

1999 Sub City Records SC002-1, dual color

Favorite Track: My Congressman

LP: Survivor by Fifteen

2000 Sub City Records SC015-1

Favorite Track: Colorado

 

In 2000, when I was 17, I had a Sub City Records mail catalog and some of my parent’s money to burn. So punk rock, right? Anyways, I had heard of the band Fifteen because of being a DJ for the Lakota East’s radio station–something that I forget was much more of a fascinating experience than I had comprehended at the time–and my friend Dave and I respected Jeff Ott’s lyrics, but they just were not very good musically. It didn’t help that the album was live and the recording garbled like they set up the mic a foot away from the left speaker.

So why was I so attracted to Lucky and Survivor? The cover of Lucky depicts a black and white photograph of Lucky Dog, a former Fifteen bassist, who had recently committed suicide. Survivor was a bold sky blue with sewn together throbbing red heart. Maybe the images stuck out because I had recently lost family members. Maybe it was because I was just a teenager trapped in that awful awkwardness of puberty and pre-adult angst mixed with intelligence without wisdom. Maybe I never even thought of it and just ordered them on a whim. I did that a lot back then.

When the CDs came in the mail, I immediately threw on Lucky. I was probably blasting it–sorry mom and dad. I had a black CD player tucked into the corner of my bedroom next to my grandfather’s old TV with antennas with our NES system hooked up to it. I blared music from that box regularly. By the time the CD was done, my mouth was agape. I had to tell Dave. Something changed. Then I heard the first track of Survivor: they could play!

Okay, that sounds a bit patronizing to Jeff Ott and the rest of Fifteen’s talent. They always could make music, but their craftsmanship skyrocketed for these two albums. They quickly, alongside of Rancid, became the staples of my music collection until I bought a Clash cassette and heard Joy Division.

When I found them both sitting on the shelf at ShakeIt Records, I had to buy the vinyl copies. This was recapturing a part of my childhood. They are also pretty rare. The clerk said, “One person sold both. One person bought both. Always happens with these two.” Which kind of makes sense as in Fifteen is that type of band where you either like them or you don’t. As I walked home, I wondered how much time was going to change my perspective on the music. I hadn’t listened to the albums since college and, as I have grown older, my musical tastes have landed heavily in the late ’60’s and ’70’s. There are a lot of ’90’s punk bands that are great, but I never really dug deep into the obscure bands to break out of that stranglehold of heavily produced Clash/Buzzcocks sound exemplified by bands such as Rancid and NOFX. Dilinger Four may have been as hardly known as I went back then. In other words, I feared listening to these albums would not be as exciting because the “punk sound” (which in itself is a whole blog entry of debating fine and mostly pointless genre descriptors) had become homogenized.

And I forgot exactly why that made Fifteen so exciting. From the opening bass line of “Family Values”, I re-discovered that Fifteen had borrow their sound from previous punk artists (like all artists do) but had their own unique take on it. And they were not trying to write pop songs, but craft strong political anthems. And how political. There is no mistaking where they stand on the issues. When I was a teenager, I agreed with every word he said. For the most part, I still do although I think their inflexible hardline stance shows a little naivety about the complexities of human nature and human motives. But really what dragged me down was how sad some of the songs were. I couldn’t believe I listened to this music nearly every day as a moody teenager. I was so bummed out by the end of Lucky, I almost did not put on Survivor. During “Colorado” which is maybe my favorite Fifteen song, my favorite lyrics became an hour long conversation with myself. The lyrics go, “The only thing worse than a stupid American is an American who actually gets it and does nothing.” It is a great barb on a lot of leftist/humanitarian people who say they are against homelessness, racism, sexism, etc. but then don’t help the causes by attending benefits, protests, volunteer activism, etc. Yet, is singing a song about it really doing anything? How does one really decide what actually changes society and the people around (besides obvious things like making marriage legal for same sex couples)? Being nice to somebody could be just as powerful as thousands of people marching to the Capital Building. You just don’t see the change that is happening before you. Ott’s lyrics are designed as an attack which makes people defensive and less likely to understand the point he is trying to make. A lot of punk rock, if not all of it, is a us-verus-them mentality, which is fascinating because punk rock also espouses that everyone should be themselves and not conform. Which is why I have been really digging Stiff Little Fingers’ single “Suspect Device” because after singing about not believing in them (i.e., authority figures), they change the chorus at the end to “Don’t believe us.” They admit they are suspect devices as well.

All in all, these were two great purchases. Grim perhaps, and maybe not destined to have heavy rotation on my player, but an important musical influence that has shaped my life not just in punk taste, but politically and in being aware of such issues as needle usage, inherent sexism and racism in our social systems, and how much waste a rock band actually makes in its career. I would definitely see them live if they were to reform and tour again. And I miss being a radio DJ playing all those songs one is not suppose to play on the radio. Which is really funny because I never listen to the radio.

I just realized how weird I am.

 

Entry 0045: Flexible Dirt

lightningbolt

LP: Fantasy Empire by Lightning Bolt

2015 Thrill Jockey Records Thrill 380

Favorite Track: Mythmaster

 

 Recently, in the process of creating a philosophy, I stumbled upon the magically combination of words: flexible dirt. I am fascinated with the possibilities with this image. Cosmic horror here I come. My idea is to write two short weird tales about flexible dirt. One will be set at the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. The other will be set in a “library” which is really an asylum where the patients act like they are working at or visiting the public library, but who are the doctors?

I am about to just play around to start fleshing out both of the stories below. But first, a few words about this entry’s chosen LP. This is the only Lightning Bolt album I own on vinyl and I need to rectify that. It may be my favorite although Wonderful Rainbow is up there. But you should check this album out. Even though it is loud, abrasive, and bizarre, this is easily the most accessible Lightning Bolt album that doesn’t lose any punch for studio gloss–this album sounds like how they sound live. It is experimental but there is pulse and rhythm. There may be too much feedback for some, but if you believe there isn’t any life in today’s music, you better give this a shot. Lightning Bolt has captured the speed-addiction of punk rock and drowned it in chaos.

Story One: at the Sedlec Ossuary

I could hear the chanting from the cemetery surrounding the Ossuary. The building was small with white walls and simple wooden doors. No sentries stood at the door, but an instinct told me it was locked. For a moment, clouds darken my vision by blotting out the moon and stars and, had I listened to the mad man’s rambling story and looked up into the depths of space at the constellation Orion, I would have noticed a fourth star notched in his belt between Alnitak and Alnilam. But at that moment of darkness, a great din was heard from the inside: a shattering of glass, the knocking over of something heavy, human screams when flesh is stripped, and, after a haunting moment of silence, the oozey sound of dissolving metal. I had fallen into an unmarked open grave, my footing lost as one of the sounds–the most horrible because of its familiarity–caused me overstep my gait. I was uninjured though my dress clothes were now dirt stained, however, the fear of death stole all other thoughts in my mind. The vision of my still body in a box slowly being lowered into the ground froze my muscles and each shovel of dirt made my heart thump. I was a skeleton underneath this costume of blood and skin. It wanted to come out.

The grave was only half dug so I easily climbed out and proceeded toward the back of the church where the curious sound of bitten metal sang like an owl satisfied with the night’s hunting. Was I propelling myself toward death? I couldn’t really say. Rationality was a traffic light burnt out. I turned the corner and stopped, my breath halting on the back of my teeth. Low, almost at ground level, where oval windows that had been barred over to prevent people peeking into the basement. The chanting had been originating from there before the cloud cover and the sounds. One of the window’s–the nearest one to me that I almost walked on it–gratings had been chewed through and fallen in the grass. Snaking its way through the weeds and flowers, curiously shaped in what could have been a hundred different models of animal life I had seen in wild or at zoos–from the common house cat to a giant ram with a sinister upturned horn growing from the center of a very human face like that cryptic stone sign hung on the literary salon in Old Town Square–was a patch of flexible dirt. It had no visible organs; it was sentient. It had no eyes; it moved carefully around tombstones and flower pots. It had no legs or a thousand; it was quick. It left no trail of blood and no stains adorned its changing body under the lunar light. However, inside the infamous Bone Church, five skeletons were splayed in a gory pentagram…

Story Two: at the library

 “Do you ever wonder if we are insane for working here?”

Steven nodded his head, his large baby blue frames falling an inch down the bridge of his nose. His face lit up in wild excitement. The annual self-review he was working on would not be finished it time now. He had a new program idea and Colbert could already tell that Steven was planning to take his question to the most literal expression as possible. Steven would probably assemble a collection of the second floor crazies and have them act as shelvers, maybe even pull books and audiovisual materials for a display. Colbert drummed his fingers hard against the counter top. A Stooges song. Nobody ever knew it was the Stooges though. Colbert helped a patron place holds on Fun House and Raw Power and looked blankly at the patron who had not recognized the drum pattern. A bedbug crawled up the patrons pale forearm like a moving freckle.

Steven laughed. Everyone in the Films and Music department looked at him. It wasn’t an incorrigible laugh; it wasn’t inappropriate. It was full of life and long have the many who frequented the library everyday had lost that aspect of their lives. Now they found it invasive. Steven was unaware of the disruption he had caused particularly in an aged woman (by time or by lifestyle, who knew?) with a lazy eye, who began scribbling a note regarding time, place, and cause of the disturbance.

Colbert asked, “What’s so funny?” He drummed the opening salvo of 1970.

“There is a lot of flexible dirt here,” Steven replied.

Drum pause.

“Huh?”

“In between the shelves, across the audiobook table, in the corners of the catalog, and all over the Dewey Decimal. Flexible dirt–the thing that eats ideas.”

 

Oof, I want to keep writing but I need food. I have a new favorite coffeehouse because I can actually get some writing done there but they don’t serve meals–just some pastries. I need to find a way to eat before coming here but I am so used to the routine of getting tea first then eating while drinking. Sigh.