Monday, March 31, 2008

Cine! Cine! And the Greatest Blood Show on Earth!

Vampire Circus is one of my favorite Hammer Studio films from the 70's. This was often broadcast on the local spook program Creature Feature. It was a great day and great weekend (even though I had church the next day) whenever this film was on. I'd call my brothers and my cousin into the room and we'd sit around my tiny black and white TV and get spooked. Ah, a great mixture of carnival, vampires, Hammer sexiness, the tiger woman (!) and revenge.

I have walked away from this forgetting that it was all about movies and music. From the looks of my calendar I take in 10-12 movies a week but I never get around to writing about them. In the past week I've watched several different kinds of films. Between my Tarot studies, work and writing a new book (and rereading Dune) I forget to maintain this thing.
  Last week I watched the orig
inal The Transformers and I'm one of the few of the era that doesn't get teary-eyed nostalgic over this overhyped, extended, noisy toy commercial. It was crappy then (in the 80's) and it's crappy now. In fact, in the wake of so many great animated fil
ms and TV shows, this Transformers resurgence is just blatant catering to unknowing 80's-babies. For some reason the song "You Got the Touch" is used frequently in The Transformers (animated), a song later used to comical effect in PT Anderson's Boogie Nights.

  But not all that I've seen has been like this. And even though I put down The Transformers, I did get a few chuckles out it. It was after all, Orson Welles' last film.
  In the past week I have taken in  Tales from Earthsea (Ghibli studios), Derailed, The Matrix (for the first time in 10 years), Quatermass and the Pit, Dust Devil, Titus and various episodes from season two of Carnivale.

  Overall it's been an entertaining absorption. I'm currently undecided which DVD's to purchase from xploitedcinema: the French import of Ms. 45, Vampire Circus or Accion Mutante or Santa Sangre. These are just diversions from the real heat, the mind rotting work that I have cornered myself into. I'd be just a little bit crazy if I wasn't able to escape into film.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Praise Yahweh!

Television is unnecessary. What's more entertaining than Youtube?

Friday, March 21, 2008

NIN: Ghosts

It was 1990, our last week of school and we decided to have a picnic as a send-off. It was Olga, Rachel, Shanee, Mike P., Ralph, Sean, Andy, Biscuit and myself. Olga, Rachel and myself being Hispanic, the picnic was named "The Spic Picnic" which I remember really offended me. I still have the flier in my yearbook.
  I think someone else came too. It wasn't Stephanie because by then she'd blown everybody off and left without a goodbye or a forwarding address. We were driving home after much sun, fun, food and one bottle of beer. Rachel was driving the big beige Lincoln her dad gave her. The one she was embarrassed to be seen in. But it made for a great taxi. Mike and Olga were still dating at the time and sat in the back seat with Ralph. I was in the front passenger side with Shanee and Rachel. They'd set it up that way because they knew how much I liked Shanee. Eighteen years later, here we are about to celebrate 16 years together.
  Mike had brought several tapes with him including Peter Murphy, David Bowie and this new band called Nine Inch Nails. This last one was so noisy and industrial (little did I know, not having yet heard Einsturzen Neubauten nor Faust) that I didn't pay much attention to it. Of course, NIN's core member Trent Reznor went on to bring underground credibility and mainstream success to the band. They gave us members of Filter, Trent made Marilyn Manson a star and has had too many imitators to possibly list. NIN went on to record The Downward Spiral and The Fragile (still my favorite album of NIN). And now, 18 years later here I am trying to access the NIN website with little luck, trying to give them my money to download the new album of all instrumentals called Ghosts I-IV. I venture that the website may crash soon from too many hits.

  Reasons why this is an interesting investment to me:
  a) in an alternate reality, this is what a new King Crimson album would sound like.
  b) Adrian Belew of King Crimson, plays on several of the songs.
  c) in an alternate reality, this is was David Bowie's Low would sound like if recorded in 2008.
  d) pretty great instrumentals; better than anything else that's out there at the moment in this genre of music.

  You can even try the first nine tracks for free.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

R.I.P., sci-fi dude...

The man who wrote "The Sentinel" and 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Childhood's End has finally begun his ascension to that outer other. He'd spent most of his life writing about extraterrestrial visitors and journey's into the mysteries of space and has now exited this plane of existence to meet with the great monolithic slab in the sky.
Arthur C. Clarke, though never a favorite of mine as a sci-fi writer, did turn me on to a lot of great concepts and ideas:
a) apes worshiping a humming black slab of unknown that always seems to appear in one of my books or stories
b) that Jupiter could possibly become a new star in our solar system.
c) the ridiculous concept of RAMA.

Ideas. Things that I will never be able to get out of my head. Like Ray Bradbury he was the last of the great sci-fi theorists of the 20th-21st century.
Ground Control to Mr. Clarke: have a swell trip.

" I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do. "--HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crimson Fever

It has been confirmed that King Crimson will regroup in August and play several dates in Chicago, Texas and New York. And thus the journey appears in the horizon. Tickets must be bought soon. As they become available travel plans will have to begin. And New York tickets sell fast.
  This is the newest version of Crimson. It will have Tony Levin back in the fold and will be augmented with the addition of new drummer Gavin Harrison, originally from British prog outfit Porcupine Tree. This is some excitement. This is also terrifying. Any year that Crimson unites is a year where strong forces are at work. It means there will be travel but it will all be worth it. I can already feel the nervousness I get right before they are about to go on. Like minutes before I was ready to hear them go on and play "Dangerous Curves" for the first time in 2001.
  Trey Gunn left the band in 2003 and with Bill Brufford gone since 1997 they have worked as a quartet through their tours, 2000-2003. Five years and a few projects (not ProjeKcts) later, here we have the latest incarnation of the Crimson King. This will be the first time since '97 that they will feature a second drummer and not since 1972 have they acted as a quintet with a second drummer (Jamie Muir). 
The many faces of Crimson throughout the years:

And welcome Gavin Harrison.
That sounds really strange, welcoming a new member after all of these years. But the band has always been in a constant flux of change and progression. As Bill Brufford once put it: "Crimson is something you take off the shelf, use it and then put it back for a later time."
  Sometimes you add something to it to make it a little better.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thundarr Thighs

Last weekend we attended Megacon in Orlando. This was our 11th year going. Some years have been great, others so-so. Sometimes weather has been an obstacle. Others, traffic. This year, there was a bit of a traffic problem. They switched venues without really mentioning it but it was at least closer to the old venue. It was a better location, the hall was easier to get to and from. It wasn't too far a walk from the parking lot. But the overall experience was friendly, funny, nostalgic. They have a soft-sword group duel where kids will challenge adults to a free-for-all showdown. Lots of costumes, lots of funny inside jokes. The kids enjoy hugging each other now, offering free hugs at every turn. Better than when I was their age and everyone wanted to pulverize everyone else.
  The first thing we did was buy art and comics from small indie artists. This is my favorite part of Megacon because I get to meet hardworking artists trying to get exposure. Some are just above mediocre others are really great and have some great ideas. Sometimes this art is worth something, most times it is only worth what value I give it. I bought a sketch of Catwoman for $2. I thought of my brother who should one day get a table and sell sketches.
  My other favorite part is the people in costumes, lots of cute girls dressed like our favorite comic book and TV character.
  Like Tank Girl:

My other favorite part was buying limited edition figures of Thundarr the Barbarian. Thundarr was a favorite action adventure cartoon of mine when I was younger. It was the highlight of my Saturday morning cartoon viewing. A strange mythical adventure that took place in a post-apocalyptic future, revolving around the three main characters of Thundarr (the said Barbarian), Princess Ariel, a sorcerer; lastly Ookla the Mok, a sort of hybrid of Chewbaca and sasquatch (from the TV show).
It was also a favorite of my companion when she was growing up. It's one of many commonality that bonded us from the start. We also acquired an illegitimate collection of the show on DVD, since it has yet to be released like other Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Though the second generation episodes look a tad blurred on our 42" TV, the show manages to still impress and entertain the way it did back in the day. Still an exciting show.
  Buck Rogers and Wilma were there too. 

So were the X-Men, The Joker and Batman with his family....

Check out the miniature Wonder Woman in between Nightcrawler and Beast. Jugganaut was there too...I thought I used to work with him?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Good Enough For Now

I have been tuning in to the WFMU annual fund raiser for over a week now. This isn't like the fund raisers I'm used to in my little radio station. These guys make it exciting and funny, not a stressful begathon. Yesterday Yo La Tengo was in their studios in Jersey City, taking requests for pledges for about four hours. Once a hundred dollar pledge was made you were able to request any song for them to play. They ran through a strange songbook which included "Jessie's Girl", "I Can't Explain", The Velvet Underground's "Run Run Run", "Paint It, Black", "White Rabbit" and they ended with a hilarious medley of "Chantilly Lace/MacArthur Park/Afternoon Delight". If any band could successfully and hilariously combine those songs, it was these three from Hoboken, NJ:

In other music news, surprisingly, I turned on Saturday Night Live this past weekend and Wilco was the musical guest. I do believe this was the first time they've been on the show and the band was terrific playing "Hated It Here" and "Walken". During the latter, Jeff Tweedy was sporting a pretty nifty Nudie Suit.
Apparently this ruffled the feathers of a few fans who were denied one of three concerts they were playing as the band had to reschedule for a later date to accommodate their TV appearance. But rest assured you can now remove Wilco from the list of bands and performers that have never played SNL. Iggy Pop anyone?