Monday, February 28, 2011

Let's watch Sam Rockwell dance

Someone put together all available clips of one of America's best character actors, Sam Rockwell, dancing. I saw Rockwell perform in a production of "The Hot l Baltimore" in Williamstown a decade ago (before movies beckoned) and although he probably had a total of seven lines, he was quite the charismatic presence. Without ever stealing a scene from anyone in the semi-all-star cast (Justin Long! Sara Gilbert! [Actually the ultimate star was Becky Ann Baker, who is an amazing actress--she played the mom in Freaks and Geeksand if you ever see her listed in anything--go see it]), he was simply arresting. Imagine if he had danced.

As spotted at The Vulture.

Friday, February 25, 2011

John Waters continues to flaunt his demented charm

I haven't had time to put anything brilliant together for the blog in the last few days, so here's someone who makes it look effortless. Yes, John Waters is a national treasure from the depths of the dank watering hole down a city alley where few dare to tread. We need him to wake our consciousness up to weirdness, creativity and thought processes that are grounded in street-level reality yet way, way out there. Just like most of America, once you scratch its shiny surfaces.

I'm reading his book, Role Models, which is an eclectic collection of essays about what inspires him. It's such a fine mix including Little Richard, Leslie Van Houten--the Manson murderess that he believes should be paroled, Tough psycho-lady strippers and barkeeps from his native Baltimore, pioneering amateur pornographers who dealt in straight Marines and rough trade, literary novels of fetishistic desires, and modern art that makes people really mad. He explains it all very eloquently and with his trademark wit. And although he doesn't cover his most important muse, Divine (this time), I now know the secret of John's mustache and like most of what he sets out to accomplish, the truth is a welcome blend of shocking and amusing.

Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Soft Boys - I Wanna Destroy You

There's lots of things that deserve to be destroyed and there's many things that should be preserved, nurtured and cared for. Good luck sorting them all out and most of it is out of our hands anyway. From 1979.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Demented-Movie-Trailer Tuesday

It's a beautiful day and I'm watching movie trailers on YouTube. You can too (unless you're at work--if so, wait 'til later). Why watch deliriously bad film when you could be outside working on your golf game? Because other people decided these films were a good idea and you get to marvel at those decision-making processes. And because we all could use a little vacation from reality to forget the state of the world before heavy doses of BBC-News-reporting knowledge set back in, weighing us down with man's inhumanity to man. With that in mind:

Mantango - Attack of the Mushroom People (1963) is an excellent shipwreck starvation mushroom mutation horror film from Toho Studios. Of course "excellent" is a completely subjective concept.

The Bat - I've never seen The Bat. I just like listening to Vincent Price's voice. Plus Agnes Moorehead is in it and she's tops.

Destroy All Monsters (1968) - Even if you don't like the film (and if so, what's wrong with you?), you have to admit that the title is really cool. Maybe too cool. I can imagine a couple of hipsters having the following conversation:
"So what'd you do last night?"
"Watched Destroy All Monsters."

Robot Monster (1953) - I keep embedding clips from Robot Monster but I don't know if you, mythical reader, have watched it yet. WHY NOT? It's fantastically bad! Seriously--the worst film ever made. The worst of the worst. Don't you want to see rock-bottom film making? Don't you want to LIVE?

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) - I can't think of anything much more frightening than giant leeches gratifying their distorted desires. Can YOU?

The Beach Girls and The Monster (1965) - Hey, let's chill and head down to the beach for some laughin', singin', surfin' and SINNIN'. The glamorous Watusi Dancing Girls will be there dancin' to music by Frank Sinatra, Jr. and... AUUUUUGUUGHGHGH!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The HGTV Drinking Game

Now that I'm (almost) over my three-week cold, it's time to drink! Coffee and alcohol are at the top of my list. What could be a more festive celebration of good health than playing a round of the HGTV Drinking Game?

Perhaps some of you don't watch HGTV, but for those of us who do, we know it's the equivalent of an entertainment tranquilizer with very few bad side effects. The worst outcome from watching marathon sessions is a craving to watch even more, and then you might notice your brain-waves altering to include desires you've never experienced in your life. Such as, owning a cookie-cutter house in a new development with a nearby park and all the amenities; tearing out your entire kitchen as a first do-it-yourself project; and an obsessive need to find just the right throw pillow.

Let's tune in and raise a glass. Grab your friends because you love to entertain and gather around the flat-screen TV (mounted above the mantel for streamlined sophistication). Here we go.

Drink any time the following occurs:

1.) A young couple insists on having a bigger kitchen so they won't keep bumping into one another when they cook.

2.) A couple insists on having double sinks in the master bath so they won't keep bumping into one another when they get ready for work.

3.) David Bromstad says a room he's designing is going to be really special.

4.) A designer tells a homeowner to bring the outside in.

5.) A designer claims that something they designed will make the room pop.

6.) Mike Holmes insists that this won't be a home inspection; it will be a Holmes inspection.

7.) Mike Holmes shakes his head and reassures a homeowner that this time we'll make sure to do the job right.

8.) A decorator buys a chandelier for ten dollars at a garage sale and turns it into something elegant and exciting.

9.) Candice Olson does something self-effacing.

10.) Genevieve Gorder manages to look smug yet humble.

11.) A host declares that a house isn't big enough for a family's growing brood.

12.) Anyone says the words granite counter tops.

13.) Anyone says they love to entertain.

14.) A doorbell rings.

15.) A prospective home buyer insists that a kitchen or bathroom will have to be updated.

16.) Anyone describes a room as light and airy.

17.) Anyone says wow. Drink twice for wow factor.

18.) Anyone mentions hardwood floors. Drink twice for the word laminate.

19.) Drink three times if a potential home buyer desires a man cave.

20.) Drink the whole glass if a potential home buyer expresses a desire for a room exclusively ordained for scrapbooking.

Of course, if you just want to get full-on plastered, forgo all these rules (or triggers if you will) and simply drink whenever a commercial or HGTV promotion comes on. You'll be on the floor within 30 minutes, guaranteed. Maybe you should consider installing that vomitorium you were thinking about. After all, you love to entertain!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The price of cool - the unholy alliance of music and advertising

Bloggers and other people who write for free must eventually contend with the question of advertising: to place ads on the blog or not. On the one hand, it's a fairly painless process that will provide grocery money (or much more for a chosen few) from a labor of love. On the other, it really messes with the look of the blog and you know, it's advertising. We'll never embrace advertising. Even people who work in advertising loathe advertising.

We're marketed to almost from birth when the photo rep comes around the maternity ward, waking the new moms by shoving forms in their faces to purchase baby's first photo (less than an hour old--not usually a good look). Even as I type this, I'm looking at my turn-of-the-century circus posters hanging on my wall. Advertising as quaint decor. Also in place is my Obama diorama full of campaign buttons and decals. Advertising for power. Who else has succumbed to the easy money of the sales pitch? I looked up the coolest people I could think of and here's what I found.

Caveat: I have no "pure" concepts in regards to "selling out" at all. I've got advertising right here on the blog, if you haven't noticed (please click--I'm jobless, so go right ahead!). Also: musicians are truly struggling to make a living, especially if they're oddballs with their own style and flair. The kids are not paying for recordings any more, so that means touring constantly. And that's not ultimately a healthy lifestyle, and not even that lucrative for most. So if musicians want to be cool but also get paid to shill product, we have only ourselves and the current digital market to blame. Otherwise, they'd all be working as office temps and then where would we be?

Iggy Pop. He's already licensed his music around but this is above and beyond the call of advertising.

Debbie Harry bread commercial. I hope she made some serious "bread," man.

She looks good in jeans. Good call, Murjani.

Eminem for Chrysler. This ad had an ad embedded in it. I've reached my quota, thank you.

Epic BMW short film with James Brown. And an explosion and Marilyn Manson. No surprises here; just buy the car, chumps.

Bob Dylan for Cadillac Escalade. Oh lord, this one is tough to take and has already been adequately parodied by Wreck & Salvage.

Metallica in a Guitar Hero ad that references "Risky Business," old guys and explosions. Blatantly uncool concept trying to prove it's cool, which makes it even more uncool. Is this partially why Guitar Hero is now defunct?

The Clash for Levi's. *sigh*

Please feel free to visit our kind sponsors in the margins of the screen. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Penguins falling down

These penguins are falling down, jumping about and being unintentionally funny by living on ice and sporting flippers. I'm sorry to laugh, but I couldn't think of anything else to post after Valentine's Day, and I wasn't going to drag out Valentine's Day posting any further than necessary. Thank you, penguins.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Buster Keaton - Seven Chances for Valentine's Day

Happy Heart-shaped Day. Here's a fine example of the genius of Buster Keaton: the famous chase scene from "Seven Chances" featuring brides and boulders.

Oh, let's watch Buster run some more. It's more entertaining than anything else going on at the moment.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Everyday Fashions of the Sixties as Pictured in Sears Catalogs

This fabulous oversized Dover book came directly from our local library and was edited by JoAnne Olian. Since it's getting harder and harder for me to find original vintage catalogs and magazines lately, I've resorted to republished material. I hope Dover doesn't mind if I share with you. Everyday Fashions of the Sixties As Pictured in Sears Catalogsis still available through Amazon, but be forewarned: it's basically a slew of Sears Catalog pages and only three of them are in color. Still, as an indicator of 60s fashion, this is tops.

Look how cool Sears and the sixties were together.

Everyday Fashions of the Sixties as Pictured in Sears Catalogs

Flats are for fun, so let's stick one up the butt of the fashion industry until they give up on the concept of five-inch heels for everyday wear.

These gals look kicky in their 1968 separates. We used to shop from the Sears Catalog in the 70s and a lot of times the clothes would look nice on the page but when you got them home in their plastic bags, they were weird fabrics in unflattering colors that hung wrong. I would look from the page to the real thing and shake my head in wonder--it was like two different planets of reality and me with nothing to wear.

Let's check out the junior set, who look like 37-year-olds in these "costumes." Same feeling I got when I used to look through my mom's 50s-era high school yearbooks. The sophomores were so matronly. Everyone was styled "old" back in the day and we think of the 60s as a "youth quake" so this is kind of peculiar.

What if we add a new hat to the mix? That will liven up these fuddy-duddies. Hmm, maybe not...

Perhaps you want a more sophisticated chapeau? Why did women want such an enlarged-head look? This baffled me as a child. And probably frightened me too.

Whereas footwear was pointy and whimsical. Like something a go-go dancing elf would wear.

The Uggs of their day. Still works for me, unlike Uggs today.

How about a little "Jungle Magic," including leopard-print suspenders, for timeless hipster cred? Then put on a cozy fur hood to make your head look even BIGGER.

Back in the day, in order to pose in stretch pants, ladies had to stand with their legs splayed in the stiffest triangular way possible. It was fashion law.

Or else you could go for the Right-Now Pants look of '68. And that model on the right will make damn sure you do. Note that by decade's end, two out of three models are styled to have normal-sized heads. What a relief!

How I long to colorize this page, but I'd be here all night and even I'm not that obsessive. It's almost criminal of Dover not to put these on the inside colorized cover, especially because they're period-era Ban-Lon knits of Textralized™ nylon yarn, wrinkle-shy and un-crushable, i.e., scritchy-scratchy dresses that will hurt you with chafing and rashes. Still, great for travel!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Baffling Broadway

I grew up in a Northern Californian suburb where cow tipping was considered a viable Saturday night out, so we didn't hit a lot of Broadway shows. But everyone in our cul-de-sac had numerous Broadway and movie-adaptation soundtrack albums in their record collections and we listened to them a lot. Then in high school, when most drama geeks were traipsing about, awkwardly performing most of this stuff, I had the one drama teacher in the country who hated musicals (and for complicated and unpleasant reasons, didn't get along with our school's excellent music teacher). We did Shakespeare and Neil Simon plays instead.

Since I didn't see many of these musicals until years later, some of these songs remained a real mystery to me. What was their purpose and how did they come to be? Like this one: Buddy Hackett sings "Shipoopi" from The Music Man. On record, this really blew my mind. What was up with Buddy's helium-induced voice? What was "shipoopi" anyway? What made him sing it with such conviction? Looking at the film clip--why are these dancers going so crazy during this number? It's not even that fully orchestrated to induce this kind of town-square frenzy. Still, despite everything, I like it.

West Side Story's "Prologue." I walked into the family room while my parents were watching this on TV and I stopped in my tracks, mesmerized. A musical filmed outside in an urban environment? With finger-snapping, dancing gang members threatening each other to a sinister tune? It was so dark yet everyone was so snappily dressed. Who knew you could get away with this kind of stuff? TV: not always evil.

"Turn Back O Man" from Godspell (at 4:37). I don't remember if we got the record to "Godspell" or if I saw the movie on HBO first. All I know is that Godspell was the shit. I mean--I loved it. I got the piano sheet music and played every song, especially this one. I thought the thrift-store fashion sense was the ultimate. I thought John the Baptist was hot. I thought Victor Garber as a stick-thin Jesus in a Superman shirt was adorable and mime-like.

Because I was a child, the hippie playfulness of the cast was appealing and not questionable to me in any way. Especially because everyone in the film initially casts off their worldly goods, quits their day jobs and follows a gentle storyteller while traipsing around a strangely unpopulated New York City. Every budding drama geek's fantasy! Now it's dated and looks really low budget and precious, but then, it was like Sesame Street for Christian grown-ups with the apostles as muppets.

This is the "sexy" number where Sonia the sultry apostle tries to tempt Jesus with worldly goods and maybe even some sex. It's kind of implied in a vaudeville manner. Anyway, it confused me: who would try to tempt Jesus? That's just WRONG. Let him tell his parables in peace. It does inject a necessary shot of animal magnetism in an otherwise chaste theatrical endeavor. And that's probably why everyone digs this number.

"The Book Report" from You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. A big show-stopping number about children stressed out about homework. I didn't know you could make drama from this, but apparently it works for a lot of people. This show also features manic-depressive odes to suppertime and songs of bullying and low self-esteem. Like the comic strip it's based upon, it's very uplifting!

"Anything You Can Do" from Annie Get Your Gun. My friend Jill and I LOVED this song so much we actually lip-synced it for the school talent show. I had to play Howard Keel to her Betty Hutton because she was blond and starting to get buxom. Had we watched the film, we would have noted that Hutton's Annie was actually more butch than Keel's Frank. That's what makes the song great: competitiveness between the sexes with tons of gender blending traits throughout. Plus it's hostile, funny and clever all at once. Here's the Ethel Mermen Broadway version set to Batman because the film version can't be embedded. Baffling, yet it definitely works.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Make a face

More silly art class art. The assignment: make faces out of objects found around the house; photograph them. I did these in ten minutes. Speed art. found object face 1 found object face 2 found object face 3

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Time out for a hamster haiku

Talk about SEO success stories. All you people doing your "hamster haiku" search, look no further! I took a silly online art class this month (called "The Art of Silliness") and had a grand time making 30 days worth of silliness. In fact, I got so into it, I kind of ended up drawing in a mixture of my child-like cuteness phase of smiling, waving animals, mixed with my satirical former heavy-metal chick nihilism. The results were at times, interesting.

This was a photography assignment: take three photos, one of something hollow, one of something made of silver, and one of something smelly. Write a haiku about them. Jackson and I teamed up to include all three subjects in one photo. And here 'tis:

hamster haiku

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Half-ass TV Recap: Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Reunion Part 2

Real Housewives of Beverly HillsI hate myself but here's the half-ass recap of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Part Deux (ode to Cedric). So I was really tired and getting over a cold when this aired on Tuesday and I was doing an art assignment in the dark of my bedroom the whole time--typical half-assed TV watching as usual.

The housewives of Part 2 were really shiny with lots of sparkly diamond-looking things around their necks, wrists and earlobes. I guess they were wearing the same outfits as last week, but I didn't even notice then because I was so busy yawning and reading a great book of interviews with comedians called Satiristas: Comedians, Contrarians, Raconteurs & Vulgariansby Paul Provenza that is changing my whole existence and entertaining me at the same time. Not like this show, Bravo. Well, changing my life for the worse, I suppose. Where was I? Oh yes, bitching and complaining over my cable TV habit.

The show started off with NYC fight of the century recap: Kim telling everyone that Kyle had asked Camille a bunch of questions about going to Hawaii and was Kelsey going and so forth, and then Kyle just started crying. And Kim was all, "What's WRONG?" And then there was endless fighting and watching of softporn films starring Camille in her 20s and that sort of thing. So we'll never know what really happened between Camille and Kyle in New York. And perhaps we're all better for it.

There was some more Camille-shaming as she was shown in a hot tub in a sky-blue bikini, comparing herself to Jesus. If only Catholic Mass was more like that! Camille sheepishly said, "Uff, Jesus, right. Sorry 'bout that everybody."

On to Cedric-gate. It turns out that Lisa's permanently buffed and ensconced house guest Cedric was a conman, freeloader and overall despicable person. Of course, when Lisa's husband Ken calls him despicable in his proper British accent, it sounds like the worst thing a person could ever be. Not like when an American says it.

Anyway, the Vanderpump/Todd household had been asking Cedric to move out throughout the entire show but he kept bringing up his abandonment issues, even though he's close to 40 years old. A very beautiful-looking almost-40 but still... So even though he had to sleep between his prostitute mother and her boyfriends at the tender age of seven to "keep her from being raped," as he explained over Lisa's daughter's birthday dinner, Cedric had to go. Except he wouldn't. Lisa explained that she one day asked him to pick up his clothes and he freaked out, packed up, and ran off into the mean streets of Beverly Hills. He then insisted on meeting at Ken's office at dawn and tried to "get something from them" or he would "tell all." What a masher! And it turns out he does have family after all.

Cedric MartinezHow could Lisa be so stupid? "I don't know, I must be stupid," she explains. Everyone had warned her about Cedric taking advantage, but I guess his abandoned-in-a-phone-booth-in-Paris back-story really worked on the Vanderpump/Todds, at least for a while. Well, it was interesting watching Lisa try to move her face to match her grief. I was rooting for her to make a proper facial expression and it almost happened.

Then Cedric had his say, interviewed in an unbuttoned shirt which made him look extra conman-like while at acting class. He says that he wasn't thrown out, he left of his own accord and that Lisa was really demanding and she would call him every morning to go work out in the home gym and he was basically her rent-free companion. Jesus--the poor man. And she's a big phony and she's hanging out with people who aren't even her old friends and just you wait, America, the real Vanderpump will show her true colors soon enough and he'll be vindicated. Then he goes back to acting class. To act. We'll miss you Cedric. Oh not really.

Who was next on the chopping block? Taylor and her despicable marriage to Russell. The implication throughout the season was that Taylor married for money and now she's miserable. She and Russell (can I just call him Asperger's Russell? I know that's offensive, but he seriously seems to have it) went to Mexico to work on themselves and they had talks. FASCINATING. They will stay together for the sake of their daughter, I guess. Taylor continues to look miserable. Russell looks blank and uncomfortable.

Intrepid host Andy Cohen then asks Adrian if she would set up one of her brothers with Kim. Adrian: "Eh, no. They're so busy and you're so stand-offish right now, Kim." Kim nods. Great. That wasn't humiliating in the least.

Kyle bullying montage: Kyle is shown throughout the season making fun of Kim's housing and cheese-buying choices. This escalates into accusations of craziness, drunkenness and a slap fight in the back of a limo with Adrian trying to run interference and a camera crew holding everything surprisingly steady. Very professional of the camera crew--I would have been shaking like a leaf in that limo of purgatory. So Kyle looks somewhat mortified while watching her tirade of evil while Kim, across the room crumples further into a Kleenex-dabbing ball. Kyle wishes she could take back everything from "that night." She trades places with Camille to sit next to her sister and while Kim says "I love you and want to work things out with you," Kyle nods but never reciprocates the love thing. She claims Kim never supported their family as she said that night. Oh, sisters. They're delightful.

Lisa defends Kyle and Taylor brings up Kim's drinking gain. Oh, friends. They're the best. Kim refuses to talk about "that night" or her drinking or anything personal. Well, that just proves she's crazy. If she won't admit it, she must be. It's Catch-22, reversed (Catch-44?) and you're living it, Kim Richards. Perhaps she should try becoming a satirist. There's plenty to work with here.

On to Camille's crazy dinner party with the sadistically drunken medium! You know that TV show that just got cancelled starring Patricia Arquette, "Medium"? Well, the real medium that the show is based on, Allison Dubois, was sitting right across from the Housewives at Camille's party, sucking on an electric cigarette and giving Kyle the what-for, I tell you. You missed it? It was the talk of the Internet, dahlings. But in my half-assery, I barely paid attention to that episode and missed most of the dinner party. Then the parts I saw were so excruciatingly uncomfortable that I couldn't bring myself to watch the whole thing. But basically Kyle demanded a psychic reading and Allison in her drunken craziness complied by saying Kyle's husband would never fulfill her and their marriage was doomed and she could tell when and how she would die and all kinds of cool futuristic things.

Then afer the housewives left, Allison predicted bad stuff for their children and Camille said that Kyle's hot husband and Grammer-realtor, Mauricio, had flirted with her. It was the dinner party of the century, dahlings! So back to the present day, Kyle thought she was set up and Camille denies that but thinks Allison was reading her future with Kelsey, like the psychic wiring of the night must have gotten mixed up over cocktails or something. And I think that's the best "read" of the whole show. Not that Allison was a fucking bitch from hell, but that she read the psychic signals wrong. Lisa puts forth her theory that she was a fucking bitch from hell (but in more polite terms) and we wrap up the show with regrets:

Yes, there were regrets, but what an experience, declares Kim. And what great new friends! The other housewives grunt in unison.

Do I regret recapping the final episodes of a reality show from wealthy-lady hell? No, I live for this moment. Thank you for sharing it with me. Cheers! (*holding up a mug of tea while doing spell-check*) Yes, this is truly living!

I made the effort and recapped Part 1 before I realized it was a two-parter. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have bothered, dahlings.

Thank you Vulture for your helpful and acidic chronology since I refuse to take notes when I watch shiny-garbage TV.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The monstrous notebooks of Guillermo del Toro

The New Yorker's Daniel Zalewski produced this nifty video of the origins of fantasist Guillermo del Toro's wondrous movie monsters. This covers the realm of art, film and monster geekdom whole handily. Zaleski's massive profile of del Toro is in the February 7th issue right here.