Record Inserts of the GODZ!

Took last week off to go to my uncle's funeral, but now I'm back with something of dubious value to anyone! Hooray!

Recently I got some new space to move things to, which is good 'cuz I'm one of those hoarder people you see on TV. I am hoardcore! I am sporting a hoard-on! I live in a hoard-house! I make stupid jokes about what is supposedly a mild form of mental illness! Inappropriate glee for everybody! Anyway, after getting actual shelves to keep DVDs on instead of just having to pile them in mass amounts of boxes, I cleared up some space and actually can access my old LP's again. (Still can't play 'em... my turntable is either broken or unplugged - due to more hoarding pile-up I can't check the plug-in to see which it is. Besides, what good is life if all the mysteries are explained?).

Anyway, even though they've been making a slight comeback on the nostalgia market, "records" are still a foreign concept for a lot of people nowdays (hell, CD's are becoming foreign to a lot of 'em, since people are getting stupider and are willing to pay for "access" and trust electronic media to keep their libraries for 'em - I could do a whole huge rant on this but I'll hold off), I figured I'd go through my LP's and post some stuff from the inserts and cover art. I was a rabid metal/punk in the 80's, even before thrash emerged, so I've got original vinyl copies of a lot of stuff that's now considered classic... and a lot of other things that are now forgotten. There's a lot of stuff I could post, and I'll probably do more as I dig through the collection, but here are just a few things to start us off. Some bands filled the album sleeve with things. The Dead Kennedys would give you whole booklets of Winston Smith artwork, or posters (I have that Frankenchrist poster that got them sued), and SST would stick multi-page catalogs in their releases. Still got those.

So, let's go through my record collection and make fun o' stuff! I hope the 'net will resize these things so they're not crazy, or I may have to delete the post. I am tech-ignurnt). I'll avoid too many really obscure things, to make it more interesting for those who know the bands, but probably never saw 'em on vinyl.

This first lovely photo is from the sleeve of The Dayglo Abortions classic Here Today, Guano Tomorrow LP, which brought you such beautiful songs as "Hide The Hamster," "Drugged and Driving," and "Fuck My Shit Stinks" (that one always makes me cry!).

Spud there, on the far left, is not quite succeeding in doing the ol' tuck-yer-wiener-between-yer-legs-and-look-like-a-girl trick (made famous by Tommy Lee in the Pamela Anderson sex tape - she screamed "Stop it, I hate that!" when he did it). You can still see far more of his schween than you ever wanted to. The drummer, Jesus Bonehead, on the far right, seems far too amused (I always worried about that boy) and appears to be in the process of trying to attempt the feat himself. The other band members, Cretin, Mike Anus, and Nev The Impailer (sic), are caught in a faux-vagina crossfire. And I'm not sure it showed up in the scan, but down in the left corner there's a recipe for "Hamster In Cream Sauce Flambe." I haven't tried that. But I sure as hell played the fuck out of this silly album. "Drugged And Driving" is a helluva song, even if you're straightedge.

Next up, we have a picture from the back cover of The Great Kat's Worship Me Or Die LP. She appears to be torturing her bandmates, and they're reacting with appropriately cheesy expressions, because as dominatrixes go, they don't get goofier than Kat. Anyway, the reason I posted this is because I think it's as close as you will ever get to seeing a picture of The Great Kat with her mouth closed. Yep, she's still baring her teeth, but at least her jaw isn't hanging open like an attacking pelican, the way it is in every other picture of her you will ever see. Search the web if you doubt me. Apparently an unhinged jaw is crazy-genius-metal 'n' shit. If you can see her fillings, there's more metal, y'know.

Shall we do some Slayer? Aye, we shall. Didja know that when Slayer started out, they used corspepaint like a black metal band? It wasn't extreme, just some Hellhammer-style eye-darkening, but, yep, they did it and here's the proof, from the back of the Show No Mercy LP.

Kinda goofy, ain't it? Hanneman, with that inverted cross. And yes, Kerry King once had hair instead of a big goofy beard that he brandishes in fury.

Also, Slayer's gotten a lot of crap for being psuedo-Nazis. I don't think they are (Tom Araya's Chilean, fer christsakes... but then again, he's also supposedly a Catholic, so he's apparently able to reconcile himself to a lot), and most of the blame goes to the song "Angel of Death," just because it's about a Nazi. Hardly an endorsement for Nazism, that one. But, I gotta admit, they asked for a lot of that trouble themselves by calling their fan club the "Slaytanic Wehrmacht." Here's a merchandise order form that came in the Hell Awaits LP:

I still think they were just being ill-advised kids goofing around with fearsome imagery, but that fan-club logo's more right-wing lookin' than the GOP elephant. Anyway, somewhere I've still got an original Hell Awaits tee shirt, ordered from that very form. Or the remains of it, anyway.

Metal bands were big on covering their record sleeves with montages of photos. This was the one in Slayer's Hell Awaits (or part of it, anyway - my scanner's not big enough to capture the whole thing). Look closely and you can spot Slayer clowning around with King Diamond (he's wearing sunglasses - he always did in those days when he didn't have his Kiss makeup on), and Tom and a friend (Kerry?) pretending to snort lines of what I believe is margarita salt. If it didn't get cut off by the scan, you can also see them with Michael Jackson... or, at least a poster of him.

The following message was hand-written on a sheet of typing paper slipped inside my Plasmatics Coup D'Etat LP. Not sure who wrote it. Could be Wendy O.'s handwriting, for all I know. In any case, it was weird/interesting.

Metallica's Ride The Lightning came with a merchandise insert. I ordered every shirt available. Anyway, here's a copy of that artifact, which has probably never been seen by 98% of their current got-into-the-crappy-Black-album-first fanbase.

And from Sacred Reich's Ignorance album, we have a much more interesting merch sheet. This was from the days when Sacred Reich was still a crossover thrash/hardcore band, and before they got on MTV with horrible songs like "31 Flavors" and tried to be "accessible." I love the way Miss AquaNet 1987 is holding the shirt up so it won't restrict the view of the boo-tay (which I don't see listed on the merch sheet). It was kind of out of character for Sacred Reich to be doing this stuff, but, hey, whatever sells obscure band shirts, I guess.

We were recently talking about Peter Steele, since he died a few months ago. Most of his fans nowdays only know about him from Type O Negative, but here are a couple of shots of him with Carnivore, from the back and sleeve of their second album, Retaliation. Later I might try scanning some of the sleeve of their debut LP, which had a cartoon of a bunch of bestial skinheads and such covered with three-armed swastikas... which, at the time, supposedly didn't mean anything, but later got picked up by some idiot-supremacist group.

Pete was still holding down a day job with the NYC sanitation department, and you can see he's wearing a tee-shirt from work in the second photo.

Here's Death, from the back cover of their first LP, Scream Bloody Gore. Mere children, inventing death metal! You can practically see their bicycles parked outside the garage where they practiced. They look more like refugees from the film Over The Edge than death metal pioneers, but, there they are. I have that Kreator shirt. Igor gave it to me. Thanks again! I still wear it.

From Anthrax's Spreading the Disease LP we have a sleeve cartoon drawn by the multi-talented Charlie Benante. Play "Where's Waldo" with Freddy Krueger (unless the scan cut him off).

And, finally, because I wanted to make sure I put in at least one thing that nobody'd likely be familiar with, here is the back LP art of the Comely album by the obscure band, Bar-B-Q Killers. I never got into them all that much, because they've been described as a combo of Scratch Acid and Jesus Lizard, two bands I never much cared for, either. So, this stuff was noisy and (to my taste) boring... but, you still have to notice a band who puts an adult hydrocephalic on the back of their album (unless that's just a distorted picture), and has song titles like "Her Shit On His Dick," "Dookie Tingue," "Jose O. Dingleberry," and "Fistula."

Some day, if I get the energy, I need to go through those LPs and look for hidden messages scratched in the "gutter" and make a list of those. Y'know the blank section of record in the middle, around the label? Sometimes bands would scratch messages there. I can't remember 'em offhand, other than Carnivore's first album had "Spread Your Legs, I'll Seed Your Eggs" scratched there. Part of the fun of vinyl.

The main fun of vinyl, though? The smell. Kids today will never know what a record smells like, and that's tragic, because that's one of life's greatest scents. Yeah... try to download a smell, ya disposable-society-supportin' fuckers.


All knobs to the right! Ten thousand watts of Hell! All knobs to the right! Bid your balls farewell!

This is just meant as an observation and not as a judgment or anything, but... anybody'd who'd buy a Jackson Browne album would suck a cock. Which is fine if that's what you're into, nothin' wrong with that, but, just know where you stand. Or kneel, however you go about it, and god bless ya.

When I was a kid he was always described as "rocker Jackson Browne," but I beg to differ. What did this guy ever do that "rocked"? Okay, "Running On Empty" could possibly be good if The Drive By Truckers or somebody kicked it in the crotch and did a beefed-up, grittier version of it, but that's about as "rockin'" as I've ever heard this tired, Daryl-Hannah-smackin' washrag ever get. Most of his stuff makes James Taylor sound like... well, I was gonna say Lemmy, but that's not really true, because even a comparison with Bread can't make James Taylor sound like Lemmy. But Jackson Browne does make The Eagles sound like Motorhead! How's that? The accuracy sends chills down your spine, no? I guess it's wrong to hate somebody just for making music, but when it's that music, I think maybe it's fair enough. Death to false soft-rock!

Is it wrong to wish that Jackson Browne start dating Tila Tequila? They deserve each other. (If you haven't heard about that, read up on it here and here and here - it's one of the most pathetic ploys for attention anyone's ever done. Did she really think nobody was going to check up on that shit? She says she has multiple personalities, but from what I've seen she doesn't even have one). Who mated Angie Dickenson with a chihuahua, that's all I wanna know.

Wow, I'm really being an asshole today.

Anyway, since I've told you what's bad, I guess maybe I should do a few music reviews and tell you what's good, eh? Okay... attention, you fucks! (Man, I still miss Bruce Rohers). The best stuff I've heard in the past several months is actually something I heard in the mid-80's. Medieval. I got this band on vinyl back then, one of my blind "this looks heavy" purchases, and I quickly loved the damn thing. The crunchy, dirty home-grown production made them sound like a garage band, and they looked like a bunch of preppy high-school kids. Nobody in a thrash band had short, normal-guy hair back then.

And while they were speedy enough, they weren't trying to play faster than everyone else, like most bands at the time were doing. And while bands were coming up with crazy names like "Slayed Necros" and "Satanic Slaughter," these guys were three brothers named Timmy, Willjious, and Terror (okay, maybe that one was made up, but he just did production so I'm not sure it counts) with a bassist named Elwood Chew. Seriously... Elwood. And they were from Kalamazoo, Michigan. In other words, there was NO pose to this band. They weren't playing the game, just the music.

Would Slayer or Venom include such a photo on their lyric sheet? I think not!

And the music was crazy-great. It was stripped-down and simple (except for some crazy shredding frequently layered all over the bottom end) Motorhead-influenced stuff, but ultra-catchy. When all my vinyl got buried under piles of video-hoarding and I didn't hear 'em for over a decade, I could still remember nuances of this music. Finally Renaissance Records released a limited-to-1000 CD of it, and I promptly went to their website to order one. Never do that -- Renaissance Records is a rip-off and took my money and never mailed me anything, never answered e-mail, nothin'. But, a couple months ago I found a guy in Greece selling a copy of the CD for a reasonable price, and he delivered and it hasn't left the stereo since. Until a reliable company re-releases this masterpiece on CD, you can find a download on this site. I don't usually recommend downloads 'cuz I'm all into supporting-the-band and stuff (I tried, guys!), but since it's so hard to track down and a definite must-have, you may want to try it. Up to you. The band is apparently still somewhat-active, since the CD had a few new tracks on it, and those also killed! I hope these guys put out some new material, 'cuz I'd definitely be buying it.

I've gotten a few other CDs lately... I'm not sure I've really listened to them enough to be reviewing them yet, but, what the hell, I'm irresponsible, I'll do it anyway.

Exodus has a new one, Exhibit B: The Human Condition, which they may be considering the second half of a double-album that started with the unholy-great The Atrocity Exhibition: Exhibit A. Exodus is keeping up with Slayer for the title of ol'-man-band-that-still-kicks-ass. Listen to this as you read (you fucks!).

Lyrics to that are a bit cheesy (but considering the previous post covered Manowar, I think we've established that cheesy lyrics can actually be pretty cool), but that riff kills. And you gotta love thrash bands that let you hear the bass. Is Tom Araya even plugged in? This next one starts out a little Iron-Maiden-y and then goes into this crushing thing, laying waste to all in its path.

And you can always win me over with an attack on the Christian right, and this one rages. New vocalist Rob Dukes sounds kind of like an amalgamation of their previous vocalists, and I like that you don't really need a lyric sheet to make out most of what he sings.

While I'm on Exodus, let me harken back to a song on a previous album, Shovel Headed Kill Machine. The song is "Deathamphetamine," and it has possibly the craziest, how-the-fuck-are-they-playing-that?!? riff I've heard in a decade. It starts at exactly a minute into the song, and it's insane.

Another good thing I got lately was Same Thoughts Different Day by The Subhumans (the Canadian punk band, not the one from the UK, although I love them, too). This is a re-recording of their classic Incorrect Thoughts LP. The band wanted to re-release the original, but discovered a defunct label they never heard of claimed ownership of it, even though they never got a penny from this company. There was no documentation to prove ownership, either from the label or the band, so rather than go through a legal fight the band decided to do what Doom did with their "Fuck Peaceville" album and just re-record all the songs, problem solved. I've heard the original (thanks to the magic of bootlegs) and these new versions have much more oomph to 'em. I'm fond of the spare, minimalist sound of the original, but the re-recording is a definite improvement in every way. Can't find anything off the new one, but here's one of their old versions just so you can get the flavor of the band. Top-notch punk for you fucks!

Got another punk band, Th' Inbred, Legacy of Fertility. I'm a bit dense, I guess, 'cuz I didn't get the joke in the title until I noticed that the font was a copy of The Misfits. They're rough hardcore with some weird time signatures thrown in there (they used to be compared to Victims Family, and I can understand why, although these guys were more hardcore and raw than VF, and perhaps not as musically talented (but then, who is?)).

Speaking of Victims Family, Ralf is now playing for Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, which sounds a good bit like the Dead Kennedys did at the end of their career (Frankenchrist, Bedtime For Democracy). I was never super-crazy about the Dead Kennedys last couple of albums, so I feel pretty similar about this new project. Jello's lyrics aren't as cuttingly clever as they once were, but still, it's nice to see him still in the game, and even though this band didn't blow me away, they're far, far from bad, either, and I'm still glad I bought it.

The intro is long, but Jello's always fun to listen to, so, go ahead and click it.

Nice, ominous bass intro on this one...

Anyway, if none of this stuff appeals to you, then I suggest some Jackson Browne.

And cock.

Born to Live Forever More...

Another week of mild-to-moderate levels of local insanity has past. It definitely feels like summer already, which, combined with other recent developments, has sent my mind time-travelling to my teen years during the mid-80s... My bestest pal (+ sporadic mightyblowhole-poster), da5e, + I used to spend a good deal of time refining our local daytime routine, which involved hitting the local malls + gas stations, hunting for videogames + pinball machines with which to do battle, dropping cash in toystores + comics shops (+ drugstores + grocery stores, cuz back then, comics were sorta ubiquitous + comics shops were rare + treasured establishments that disappeared almost as fast as they opened up), bombing local hilly roads on our skateboards, + listening to metal + punk rock... He's the guy who introduced me to Manowar. Most likely, the song was Dark Avenger offa their 1982 Battle Hymns. That's the one with narration by Orson Welles, cheesy over-the-top narration... about a pretty angry feller name of Dark Avenger + his trusty horse, Black Death... I feel the need to stifle a giggle now, but back in the day, since we had no images of the band + didn't know about the loincloths + swords + such, we thought it was pretty cool stuff, expanding on the rock operas that we dug by Rush + Floyd + their ilk...

Here's a link to the mega-cool AngryChairs blog + their complete uploaded discography of Manowar, and, even better, here's a Manowar post from the Metal Inquisition, detailing a little bit (maybe too much... do I need to know about Joey DeMaio's vegetable selections at the grocery store? ...yeah, kinda, it looks like, cuz I couldn't stop reading...) of the personal lives of the band members. Don't expect any kindnesses from the poster, who seems to be bitter, maybe about having once loved this band, but the band's fans definitely defend 'em in the comments section. Recommended reading, f'sure! My personal take on Manowar is that they were a band I used to listen to when I was a kid. I still have quite a few songs offa their 'good' records on my iPod, +, as a musician who primarily plays bass, can't help but be impresst with much of the basswerk on those early albums. Thmubs-up to the musicianship + dedication to the music, if a nose-holding thumbs-down to loincloths, swords, inflatable stage-dragonry, silly pyrotechnyx, etc... 

Other recentnesses...

Finally got to watch Nightmare Alley, the 1947 film adaptation of the 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name, with Tyrone Power as Stanton Carlisle, the young carny whose high aspirations precede an inevitable + interminable fall... This is a pretty classic film noir, + darker than I expected. Power is an excellent lead in this one, playing a next generation carny + acting it nearly sociopathic. Just watch his face when the women of the film - all three of em - talk about love + the like. He just fades away from em without ever moving. When he finally falls as far as he can after getting caught in a pseudo-religious scam, it seems well-deserved. And in the end, he + his Molly seem to've supplanted the previous generation's Zeena + Pete, which is still a great step up from where Stan landed. I dvr'd it off of Fox Movie Channel; knowing their scheduling, it'll prob'ly be on again - numerous times - in the coming weeks. Don't miss out!

And I finally got to start Iain Sinclair's White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings, which twists its way thru Ripperology, the psychogeography of London + the strange + surreal world of rare bookdealing. So far, it's excellent + I recommend it, esp to fans of Alan Moore's From Hell... that's From Hell the graphic novel (or the complete scripts, if you can find em... they're almost best as companion to the original + its extensive notes), not the film From Hell. Repeat, not the film. The graphic novel features some incredible work in a realist-style by Eddie Campbell, creator of, among other things, the classic Bacchus comics. Eddie's art style is used as wondrous juxtaposition to the apotheotic + gruesome conjurings of the scripts + makes those moments in the work that much punchier by that stark contrast. Here's a peek at a particularly neat-o panel wherein (the fictional version of) William Gull explains his own personal cosmology:
(But the film couldn't've suckt more balls if it'd been lockt in the drunk tank with a gay biker gang...)


Darn You, Thomas Pynchon...

So, having received a stack of books from the prolific zwolf over the years, I thought I'd comment on some of my recent reading, since some of these choices were actually his. (I assume this cuz he sent em to me... He might've just thought I needed some stuff here at the haus to make people think I'm smart... S-M-R-T!)

Anyway, I started this most recent reading jag with
Jack London's The Jacket (or The Star-Rover)
If you're only familiar with London from his dog-alicious tales of the Great White North, this will certainly be a digression. And a worthy one, as it details the story of a condemned-to-deathrow inmate who learns how to astrally project his consciousness across the very gulfs of time + space... Interspersed with these remembrances of his past lives lived throughout history are his detailed descriptions of the woeful state of the penal system in the U.S. at the end of the 19th Century. Quite a good + enthralling read.

When I finished The Jacket, I grabbed the next book in the stack, which happened to be Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker.

This one was more of a challenge to actually get through, as the language of the novel is that of the post-nuclear-holocaust society that has forgotten almost all of the scientific advances of mankind's relatively recent past and the story hinges on the philosophical question confronting this future: should we even attempt to recreate the technology that destroyed our race? And Punch + Judy show up for the fun, as well. This was a weird book; the expanded edition features some appendices that illuminate some of the more obscure stuff + also help with some of the Anglo-specific stuff that means little to my not-so-worldly frame of reference... A neat read + good, but be up for a little struggle early on to get into the rhythm of the language. The language is so well-crafted that it gets easier soon, in the same way as Alan Moore's Voice of the Fire. I recommend this for those linguistics fans out there, too. (If such things as linguistics fans exist...)

After wading through Riddley Walker's thick, soupy nu-language, I was up for the streamlined narrative of a good hardboiled crime novel. And there, waiting for me, sat David Goodis' Shoot the Piano Player.

This is an incredibly fast-paced novel, which was adapted as Tirez sur le pianiste in 1960 by the legendary Frenchie filmmaker François Truffaut. Ain't seen it, but if it's anything like the novel, it's OK with me. The novel is fast-paced like few others. It's one thing to eagerly anticipate finding out what happens in the next chapter, and totally something else to find your breathing + your pulse have sped up from the on-the-edge-of-yo'-seat tempo of this book, about a talented piano player with 2 brothers, 1 girl, and a whole pile of trouble standing between him + doin' his thing.

After that, I decided to check out an author whose work has come up numerous times in reference to the magical realist movement, Haruki Murakami, starting with his novel Kafka on the Shore. Mind you, when I think of magical realism as a literary movement (and not as my current lifestyle choice...), Japan is not the place that comes to mind. And yet, Murakami has crafted a weirding world that melds the supernatural with the mundane, not unlike Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Jorge Luis Borges (who is - hands down - my favorite writer, period). A teenager runs away from his home - and possibly the long arm of the law - to find a new home of sorts with a pair of very strange characters in the private library that they maintain... and an old man with a very strange talent searches for a missing cat. This was absolutely excellent + inspired me to grab another Murakami novel...

...which would've been no problem normally, but I finished Kafka... late on a Saturday night, after the bookstores here have long closed. So, rather than go bookless til Monday morning or afternoon, I snatched the copy of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon that I bought my wife during her recent jag of Tom Clancy / John Birmingham / Ken Follett / Clive Cussler novels + dug right in.

Stephenson's earlier work was some straight-up science fiction, in the same vein as William Gibson. And I'd just read Gibson's Pattern Recognition + Spook Country prior to starting The Jacket at the beginning of this jag, noting that his recent work was less about the future of a decade or so down the road + more about the day after tomorrow or next week. Stephenson achieves much the same with Cryptonomicon, reaching some conclusions about current technology + the directions it might take very, very soon. At the same time, though, there's another storyline to the novel, focussing on the codebreakers of World War II + spending a lot of time lasing in on the near-future + past of the Phillipines. This is a classic summer read, thick + complicated, with plot twists, good guys, bad guys, some of those gray guys (but no little grey men), and above all, fun.

At which point I turn to my newly-snagged Murakami novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. This one is very freaky, and again pairs + juxtaposes the mundane + the sublime, looking upon both as roughly the same. And in this novel, as in Kafka on the Shore, a missing cat figures heavily in the story, which centers on an unemployed man whose wife leaves him just as he meets some very interesting women (including a psychic prostitute - she only sees clients in their dreams - , a cat-findress + a young girl with a limp + a penchant for leaving people at the bottoms of wells) and some odd fellows as well, like a passive-aggressive mob enforcer + a man mute by choice since his youth...

Oddly enough, both Cryptonomicon + The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle detail a good bit of WWII-era "secret" history of the Japanese campaigns in China + Mongolia. That detail, combined with all of the codebreakery in Cryptonomicon, made me certain that I was experiencing some odd synchronicity, almost like I was being steered by some strange force into re-attempting to read Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow... But I remember my last run at that one, + decided to veer off-course for a bit first. And waiting for me at Barnes+Noble that day was...

Chuck Palahniuk's newest novel, Tell-All. Chuck's a great writer, + I thoroughly enjoyed this fast read, which skewers Hollywood nicely. That being said, though, I saw the "Wad A. Tweest" climax coming from the dustjacket. One of my favorite things about Palahniuk is that his narrators are always such unmitigated fucking liars... and that they lie most of all to themselves (+, being privy to their internal dialogues, to us the readers). That makes his characters, like, breathing real. I also wonder how much Palahniuk is screaming "fuck you!" to all of us, since the hardcover of his new one has fucking glitter all over the cover, and, once you touch it, all over you, too... Thanks, Chuck! Here I am, buying a book, trying to expand my mind through literature... and you gotta put glitter all over the covers of your book, so that my wife's gonna think I was staring down the cleavage of some strippers instead! "Honest, honey... it's from a book I was reading..." just doesn't sound too plausible. Unless you were reading a book about strippers...

Then I watched La Jetée, a 28 minute French film...(thank you, IFC!)
It's actually less of a film + more of a photomontage with narration. There is a moving picture shot at one point + some mumbled, barely audible German dialogue, but otherwise it most resembles a short comics story.

In a post-nuke future (seems to be a lot of that going around...), the people who've survived in France live underground. A group of scientists (who mutter in German + look ominous + malevolent) are experimenting with time-travel on subjects that seem at best barely willing. They finally center their efforts around a man who has a vivid half-memory of a beautiful woman + some sort of violent incident. Her face continues to haunt him, making him an ideal candidate for the time-travel-trials. After a bunch of botched attempts to visit the past, it is decided that he should instead be sent into the future, where he meets a race of future-men who send him back to his present, where/when he discovers that he is now a target of the scientists who have been experimenting on him + must escape immediately or be killed... This was extremely reminiscent of classic EC Comics stories + the short speculative fiction of The Planet of the Apes author Pierre Boulle. Wicked good, yo!

Well, then... I've read my way right up to it + should be well-prepared for tackling Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, right? Wrong. Just like before, I got started well, finding some incredible little chunks of verbage that sang off of the page...

"...alienists in black seven button suits..."

...and then it somehow just fell away from me. Again. By somewhere around page 90, I was struggling to even read a full page before going narcoleptic. What the fuck am I gonna do when I go back to re-read Ulysses?!?

Darn you, Thomas Pynchon!!!

So I laid it aside + went for the rural horror of Thomas Tryon's The Other. And what a great choice. The central concept of the novel has been plumbed by subsequent writers + filmmakers, but this early variation still packs a solid wallop. I still need to see the film, but the book - in a lovely new illustrated edition by Millipede Press - is engaging + powerful. As with the new Palahniuk novel above, I saw the twist coming from the git-go, but so what?! Knowing that a boxer won the fight still ain't the same as seeing that fight, even if it's a replay. This one is written in a very no-frills style, almost conversational, and that style lends itself well to the slooooooow reveal that culminates in the novel's climax. Now I have to go find a copy of Tryon's Harvest Home, which is s'posed to be somewhere in the vein of HPL + The Wicker Man (the original, schmucks! Not the shitty remake!), cuz it's reputedly also excellent!

And, because reading scary stories about little kids is a sure recipe for bad dreams, I put The Other aside in the late evening + turned to What If Our World Is Their Heaven? The Final Conversations of Philip K. Dick, a transcript of conversations PKD had with some of his close friends shortly before his terminal stroke. PKD was clearly enthused about the early roughs he'd seen of the then-upcoming film Blade Runner, based on his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, as well as excited about his ideas for an intended but never completed novel. In a nice piece of synchronicity, Blade Runner aired on cable this week, giving me a chance to look at it immediately after reading PKD's excited descriptions of the film's perfect portrayal of the dirty dystopian future he envisioned in the novel, even though some important parts of the novel - like Mercerism + android animals - had to be left out.

The real meat of this book, though, comes when PKD explains the events of 2-3/74, which convinced him that he was being enlightened by an information source from outside himself that informed him of his son's life-threatening illness + the 'fact' that the world as we know it is a complete lie, fabricated to obfuscate the true teachings + meanings of Christ + to mask Jesus' second coming...

(who could do something like that, hmmm? Could it be... Satan?!?)

...cuz none of that'd cause bad dreams, right?


more movie reviews, o' course

I'm not feeling all that hot and I'm losing patience with myself for making typos, so this is all ya get this week. But, it's still free, so you can't complain.

Completely at random from the untyped-up archives, since I haven't watched a movie in a couple weeks (hooray for narcolepsy)...

After Hours
(C, 1985) A night in the life of the unluckiest man alive, as filmed by Martin Scorses, at his most atypical. An average office worker (Griffin Dunne) meets a girl (Rosanna Arquette) in a cafe, thinks she's cute, and calls her back. That's his first mistake in a hellish night of black comedy in which he's the only sane person and is thrust into one awkward situation after another. On the cab ride to Arquette's place, all his money flies out the window, leaving him stranded across town with no money. Arquette turns out to be beyond flakey, so he escapes from her. Lacking money for the subway, he does a favor for a bartender, and that goes really badly and his downwardly-spiraling night starts turning into a Moebius-strip of madness that all seems to be interconnected. If Cornell Woolrich wrote comedies, they'd turn out like this. Has funny moments, but works best as an absurdist horror film of sorts. A very strange, well-done puzzle of a film that went pretty much ignored (I blame the lame poster art). Scorsese basically made this as a palate-cleanser when The Last Temptation of Christ wasn't living up to his expectations, and he needed to do something simpler. Very underrated.

Atlas in the Land of the Cyclops (C, 1961) aka Altas Against The Cyclopes, Maciste Nella Terra dei Ciclopi, Monster From the Unknown World. The evil Queen Capys has far more cruelty than smarts, and kills one of her own men in a fit of I-have-been-displeased-ness, before he can give vital information about a toddler who escaped a massacre she'd ordered. Gordon Mitchell (as Maciste, not Atlas) becomes aware of the situation and sets out to save the day, battling the least-fearsome lion ever, holding up collapsing roofs, lifting carts, and carrying God's cookie jar! He also throws guys around, pushes huge rocks, bends steel bars, serves as a tug-of-war rope over a lion pit, brawls with an acrobatic muscleman (even using everybody's favorite old-school wrestling move, the Airplane Spin, even though the airplane wouldn't be invented for centuries), rows a galley ship all by himself, and fights a cyclops (the special effects are actually kinda impressive). There's another scene that I hope is a special effect with a rubber doll, but I'm afraid it wasn't because you can see the kid kick -- a guy holds a toddler upside down by one leg! There's a guy named Erroneous, and I don't think they're trying to be funny. One of the better peplum flicks, despite the lightweight plot.

You can watch the whole thing online, with some commentary by some guys who think they can do the MST3K thing (based on the few minutes I sat through, they can't, but that's okay 'cuz they don't know how to record themselves, either).

Dead is Dead (C, 1992) A drug dealer with an "I don't give a shit, just make it look like a helmet" haircut gets his arm torn off by an unseen monster int he woods while he's picking up a payoff. A girl grows his arm back with some blue liquid medicine they were experimenting with in an old hospital that burned down. He sells some of the medicine to a drug dealer, then kills him. The medicine brings him back to life and he goes out for revenge, using a tiny cap gun and some of the medicine that's gone bad and turned green, and will turn whoever takes it into a mindless zombie. This shot-on-video no-budget home-job starts out pretty well, but by the second half it loses all plot and people are just killing and re-killing each other in a slow, meandering blah.

Off The Beaten Path (C, 2004) Blair Witch-inspired shot-on-video horror about four amateur filmmakers investigating a story of a Satan-worshiping hermit named Jasper Hagen who did evil things in the backwoods. It deviates from the Blair Witch style by alternating regular filmmaking (establishing shots of their truck going down the road, etc.) with the point-of-view footage shot by the actors. They go out in the woods looking for cabins and spots were dead bodies were found. Deep in the woods they find inverted crosses and carvings on trees (it's typical stuff any metal kid would carve, but it freaks them out) and only the main guy wants to keep going; the others are all easily terrified. They press on and find some creepy abandoned cabins, a pentagrammed altar, and a book with crazy things written in it. Then it variates into an Evil Dead rip-off, but with much, much milder gore. It’s very amateurish and highly derivative, and screws up its “found footage” atmosphere with too many non-P.O.V. shots, and it’s obvious when the actors aren’t ad-libbing (when they do they sometimes come up with hilarious lines like “inverted crosses in the shape of a pentagram!”), but despite the limitations, it does still manage to generate a few moments of tension and spookiness, and is a whole lot better than most of the no-budget shot-on-video dreck that’s saturating the market. But, that’s faint praise indeed. If you loved Blair Witch and aren’t picky, you’ll probably welcome this one. Only an hour long. Found on the Decrepit Crypt of Nightmares 50 DVD pack.