2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) ***1/2 and Wanderlust (2012) **1/2

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) ***1/2 Third Viewing


The first time I saw 2k1:ASO, I was bored silly. The second time, I fell asleep midway through the movie.

I feel like I haven’t given the movie much of a chance. I love most other Kubrick movies with Dr. Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange in my top 10 all-time favorites. So, why not 2k1:ASO?

I found a high-def version and watched it on my 96″ projector screen. What a difference that made. I also split up watching it into two parts. I went in knowing the film was slow. 2k1:ASO is the original big screen space movie. While the 60’s aesthetics feel slightly dated, the effects are flawless, simple and much better than Star Wars nine years later. And much better than some of the CGI efforts today.

The visuals were designed to meditate on the themes of film. Every other shot could be a picture in a fancy coffee table book. And like a coffee table book, Kubrick lingers on each image a bit long. The static image overload, classical music and minimal dialog tend to lull me into a sleepy dream-state. And like waiting for a play, there’s five minutes of classical music at the beginning, during an almost arbitrary intermission and even after the credits, changing how you’re suppose to even view the movie. You’re supposed to be lulled. It’s movie as hypnotism. The clean spaces, the empty spaces, the slowly spinning geometry. The pace showcases an overconfident director. An hour could have easily been cut, but Kubrick wants you to engage with all the images and mull them over. He wants you to think during the movie, not just absorb and feel. Absorption and emotion are abstracted concepts. Kubrick distances us from the main character, Dave, at the same time humanizing the computer HAL.

I’m sure you know the plot. A 12 foot black monolith suddenly appears to apemen. They learn how to use bones as tools to kill. The same monolith appears 40 feet below the moon’s surface, it’s a transmitter pointing them to Jupiter where there is a much larger monolith. Dave and HAL are sent to investigate. Dave kills HAL. Dave goes on a trip.

I saw the sequel and honestly remember nothing about it. I think the monoliths were supplied by aliens. Eh. I saw the monoliths as an evolutionary spark, an evolutionary jump and a metaphor. The apemen became men after contact with the monolith. Modern man is defined as one who creates tools to destroy others. (Never mind that many animals use tools today.) The bone as the tool reaches the end of its usefulness when we create an artificial man (HAL) who in turn, like man, tries to kill us (represented by Dave). Only by killing our own tools can we evolve, like a space Billy Pilgrim, into a new incarnation, the space fetus. Pretty rudimentary, I know.

If you saw 2k1:ASO and were bored, two pieces of advice—see it on a giant screen and go in knowing it’s a meditation piece. Heck, split it up by the intermission.

Zone out.

Do It: Seconds of Pleasure by Rockpile (1980). The Summah of Power Pop continues with this loose rockin’ record from Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe. Picked it up on emusic cheap with bonuses featuring Everly Brothers covers and some spiffy live tracks. Dave and Nick back in their heyday.

Avoid It: Televised non-celebrity poker. Not crazy about watching pedophiles, scuzzbuckets, and Drakkar Noir 70’s studs playing poker.

The Tweeter: Did they give Nora Ephron Epinephrine? #toosoonforwordplay

The Facing Book: Dear Cymbalta, thanks for dissipating my back pain and easing the Black Blanket days, but writing is harder. Are you psychosomatic? Does creativity have a chemical base or is it just the creative urge that is tampered? Or both?

Bonus Movie Review:

Wanderlust (2012) **1/2 First Viewing


Sitcoms have ruined comedy movies for me. With sitcoms, we get to really know the characters. Even secondary characters. The Bumblebee Man on The Simpsons, by now has been onscreen enough for his own movie. All the initial comedic stereotypes get filled out to a more full character. But movies paint with a broad brush, especially in comedies. You may get a few specific details to extrapolate out a personality, then it’s off to plot town. And that’s the good part, secondary characters are usually treated worse. The gay best friend, the obnoxious neighbor, the dumb blonde, etc. With dramas and even horror, secondary characters can be mysterious and non-obvious because those traits serve the story. However, in comedy, obvious is the quickest route to hilarity.

An informal The State movie, Wanderlust mixes Lost in America with director David Wain’s last movie, Role Models. It’s like Lost in America, as Jennifer Anniston and Paul Rudd decide to chuck the rat race and start over. It’s like Role Models because the two normal characters become involved in a weird subculture and learn that they’re okay people to the point where they over embrace their new lifestyle. Role Models had LARPing and Wanderlust has hippies.

It’s an amiable movie with a few chuckles. The broad brush stereotypes–from the commune set to Rudd’s McMansion brother (Ken Marino and wife Michaela Watkins)– do get filled in to varying degrees of success. Everyone, except the two very obvious bad guys, end up likable and happy. It’s well-cast with everybody in alternative comedy showing up and getting a laugh. They’re great with plenty of throwaway lines.

The problem is Rudd and Anniston. They are both basically playing another slight variation of their already established personas. Not a ton of chemistry there and some of their actions seem a function of plot and not character. Both of them needed to ‘go for it’ more. More manic, please.

The movie is a hard R, but not a mean or gross hard R. Oh, Joe Lo Truglio and your penis.

Anyway, seeing naked old people run in slow motion is always funny, like basset hounds running in slow motion. Always awesome.

Next Up: 24 Hour Party People (2002), Alien (1979), The 400 Blows (1959), or After the Gold Rush by Neil Young (1970).

Africa Brasil (1976) **** and Don’t Go In the Woods (2011) *

Africa Brasil by Jorge Ben (1976) **** First Listen


Wow, what a surprise. I recognized the first song immediately. I listened to it about a hundred times on an old Brazilian music collection put out by David Byrne. Talking Heads are probably my favorite band, so I collect everything the band has put out, plus all the solo stuff. In 1989 Bryne started a record label to highlight Brazilian pop music and the lead track on Africa Brasil and the BPM collection was this track. He even made a video for it. Ponta de Lanca Africano, that’s the name of the grooviest non-Talking Head Talking Head song ever released.

Okay, so I don’t speak Brazilian, so I have no idea what the songs are about. He could be screaming, “Kill the Jews,” over and over, but damn is it funky. Actually, after a little research, most of the songs are about innocuous subjects like sports and love.

My first thought on hearing the album was, “I know where Bryne and band borrowed their mid-period Afro-funk Talking Heads sound.” And that’s my favorite period of Talking Head‘s records.

My second thought was, “Shut up, stupid. Just groove.” This album is all dense Afro-funk groove. Ben’s warm voice is just another element in the tight arraignments balanced against the light, airy backing vocals.

I’m not sure what else to say, except it’s a timeless record I’ll listen to a lot. If you have even a passing interest in Brazilian music or mid-period Talking Heads, give it a listen. And dance.

I did check out a few other Jorge Ben albums and while they were good, leaning more to the Latin mix, Africa Brasil is a bigger and tighter album. James Brown and Fela Kuti would be proud.

Do It: Nap. Tired. Sleep.

Avoid it: The new Smashing Pumpkins CD. I only listened to the first four tracks. Where’s the emotion, Billy? The sound’s feeling old.

The Tweeter: I hope when Abraham Lincoln stakes a black vampire he says, “Now, you’re a free man!” all cool-like. #notinmovieihope

The Facing Book: “No one ever reads my posts. Please post something if you’ve read this,” Every 13 year old girl every on Facing Book.

Bonus Movie Review:

Don’t Go In the Woods (2010) * First Viewing


I was looking for a modest slasher movie to clear my brain after writing last night. Ugh. Directed by and story by semi-famous actor, Vincent D’Onofrio, Don’t Go In the Woods is an extremely generic slasher pic masquerading as an excuse to film some band’s songs. As someone who sees a lot of horror movies, and even likes some musicals, I’d like to write to Vincent directly….

Dear Vincent,

As an actor, I think you’re great. If you’re in a movie, I’ll probably see it. I picked this movie based solely on your name as director. You seem like a smart guy. (I know, here comes the but…sorry)

But Vincent, watch some more horror movies before making another one. Especially the sub-genre of horror that you are trying to do. True horror fans know the genre can be used to say something else, like you tried. A note: even the point about artists and greed and ego and how creativity can be a poison has been done to death in many, many horror movies. As horror fans, we’ll go along with that.

But what is beyond tiresome are the many ‘stuck in the woods with a serial killer’ tropes. You did them all. People unaware of their surroundings. Completely unprepared or even willing to change their plans when trouble starts. People acting completely irrational. The authority figure who’s late, so he dies before anyone knows he’s coming. The parade of dead bodies the female lead runs into as she’s screaming. Oh, she falls down.

And while the reason they didn’t have cell phones was dumb/plausible, every horror fan knew the ending the second you did it.

I get it, you needed to get someone to pay for you to film this band singing songs and wrapping it around a horror movie gets cash, but the songs had only the most tangential relation to the plot. I know you saw the Buffy episode Once More with Feeling, because you cribbed some shots. Did you notice how the songs progressed the plot and the character’s emotion? Not just emotion. Take the songs out and nothing’s changed and we have a 30 minute short. And it’s a thirty minute short horror fans have seen before.

Some good points. When actors direct, they tend to like actor close-ups. This is the best way to go if you have actors who can command the screen. Um, the acting and singing was, politely, uneven. The girls usually did the best, but the boys had the biggest load to carry. You had many innovative shots and each chuck was well directed. Sadly, two back to back songs stop a movie dead.

My favorite part of most serial killer movies is the moment all the teens figure out shit is crazy and start to freak out, it usually happens to start the third act. Your third act hit with 10 minutes left in the movie.

The directing was fine and I’ll check out you next movie. There’s potential. Try a drama, horror’s harder than it looks.

Thanks and have a nice day,
Full Metal Jacket was awesome.

Bryan

Things I learned from Don’t Go Into the Woods:

—Do not chop up your tennis shoes with an axe just for fun, you will step on broken glass within 30 seconds.
—Never give your cell phone to megalomaniacal indie band leaders. They will chop them up with an axe.
—Axes, great for chopping up stuff.
—If you’re in a crappy indie band in the middle of the woods, hot chicks will appear out on nowhere like in a beer commercial. To par-tay.
—The guy with the two T-shirts, “Let’s Hug It Out” and “I Pee Excellence” really deserved to die.
—This lyric by the blind guy in the band. Yes, the crappy indie band has a blind guy and an Asian guy, “I am blind and I do not want to see.” Most of the lyrics were are these simple verbal negations. Tiresome.
—The movie does the stupid blind joke, “Hey, I hear something, nah, it’s nothing.” Twice. And then don’t pay off the set-up later.
—Watered down Wilco mixed with screaming Emo lyrics is not good.
—Oh, Eric Bogosian, you’re Vincent’s best friend for showing up for 10 seconds at the end.

Ack, taking a day off. Post not up to my mediocre standards…..

Next Up: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Alien (1979), screenThe 400 Blows (1959), or After the Gold Rush by Neil Young (1970).

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) **1/2 and Chicken Skins

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)**1/2 First Viewing


Long time ago, I heard an apocryphal story about a group of people dying after taking communion. They bled from the eyes, became ill and some died. Later it was “determined” they were not fully faithful and God was punishing them. I searched on the internet, but couldn’t find the story. I did find a page of happy communion tales, floating wafers, many blood-soaked wafers restoring the faith in this person or that. God sure is extremely selective.

Let’s pretend the “Bad people who took communion” story is true for a sec. I always think about the unintended consequences. Wouldn’t this mean that that particular sect of the Catholic church is the only true church? Or else eye bleeding would be through the roof in every church. And since the eye bleeding no longer happens, seems like the one true church no longer exists and we’re all going to hell. (Insert Apologetics here.)

In any event, God is one capricious SOB, haphazardly applying punishments and rewards, caring for some faithful by providing proof, but not most others. So the faithful is left to invent their own miracles in their own lives. God-believing miracles. In any event, if the whole eye-bleeding thing did happen, I’d never take communion ever again even if I thought I was true-blue believer (talking to you snake-handling guy who died last week) and I’d become an opthomologist.

Alice, Sweet Alice‘s story bookends with two Catholic communion services. Both end in death. That’d make you pay attention in church.

Weird older sister Alice actively hates her younger sister (Brooke Shields) and her upcoming First Communion. Her dad’s estranged, her mom clearly loves Brooke more, her aunt is a bitch. And she just started menstruating. Has a young girl in a horror movie not had her first period at a bad time.

So, is Alice the bad seed, a murderer? Clues point to yes, but also to other answers. If made today, I’m sure Alice would avoid the more Catholic/Faith aspects of the story and given us the twist ending we’ve already guessed because it’s in a million other movies.

While the movie lags in the middle, I didn’t see one twist coming. That’s good. There’s nothing great here, but it fits nicely in the giallo genre mixed with The Bad Seed with some nice imagery. Another post Exorcist movie. The acting is like a Pixies song—quiet, loud, quiet, loud, loud, loud.

Unfortunately, some of the good characters act out, not so much of love, but stupidity. I mean, if the person you’re looking for stabs you, make another plan. Warily calling out their name, not smart.

But, hey, Brooke Shields in her movie debut is tortured and killed at the top of the movie. That’s worth a star.

What I learned from Alice, Sweet Alice and other thoughts:

—Do not piss off the church staff on the phone, they hold a grudge.
—Yellow raincoats, with the exception of the Gorton’s fisherman, are always a harbinger of evil. Strike that, I know nothing about the Gorton’s fisherman.
—Has a creepy, morbidly obese pedophile downstairs landlord with stains on his shirt and underwear and a cat fetish ever made it out of a movie alive?
—Once again, puberty, the worse monster of all.
—Giant, sharpened butcher knives can be found practically everywhere.
—Catholic priests in movies are either Vatican 2 sexy-young or Vatican 1 older than God. No priests are 35 years old?
—Thank you, presidential pictures on government walls. You were the only way I knew this movie took place in 1962. (See every episode of X-Files)
—Can committing a sin erase other sins? Short answer, No, say every other movie ever made. Long answer, we all gotta try. We all gotta try.
—Yellow raincoats and that creepy clear plastic mask both come in multiple sizes, but when worn are all the same size to others.

Finally, Alice, Sweet Alice was brought to you by The Communion Wafer Council. “People are dying to have one, you’ll kill to get one. Communion Wafers.”

A note, Alice, Sweet Alice was supposed to be Aftermath (1994), but I couldn’t find a copy to watch. So, A,SA. And I watched it on YouTube. Public Domain fun.

Do it: The Electric Version by The New Pornographers. Solid, mid-to-up tempo power pop. If someone told me that this was their favorite album of all time, I could see it, it’s an album that a college student could latch onto and make it their own. While, there’s a sameness to some of the sound, the sameness is a likable sameness like a Ramones sameness. Wha? Another breezy Summah Album.

Avoid It: Everyone says I’m a cynical curmudgeon who doesn’t like anything, but this is the hardest section every day to come up with something to say.

The Tweeter: It’s about fifty-fifty, either I’m warming my hands or I’m cooling my balls with my hands. #die-a-beet-us.

The Facing Book: Wow, I saw Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma Thunder just walking around downtown today. Shouldn’t he be in Miami? Game five is tomorrow. Oh wait, sorry, pimply white kid wearing a jersey.

Bonus Comedy Filler:

I’m trying to use my restaurant savings card (POGO, the cheap guy’s mistress) up before it expires at the end of the month. So, I’ve been eating at Popeye’s Chicken a lot. Not good.

And like every other Fat American, the breaded fried chicken skin Is my favorite. I have a procedure, like an autopsy, for removing the skin. Breast chicken skin is the best. Once removed, I can either set it aside as a fatty dessert after being good (ie, eating the white chicken meat) or as an immediate fried chicken fat jolt to the stomach.

After staring at the mini-pile of chicken skin carcasses, a hoary old comic idea came once again to the forefront of my stomach…

Chickenskins, the all chicken skin-based restaurant. You know the drill. A buck a skin, ten bucks a bucket. Only the top of the breast. All ‘skins are double fried in chicken fat and then wrapped around the food of your choice and lightly fried again. Hamburger patties-chickenskin style. Carrots–fresh and chickenskinned.

You name the food and we’ll wrap it in Chickenskins goodness and refry it to seal in the flavor. Snicker bars, butter, ice cream, corn on the cob, you bring it in and we’ll ‘chicken skin’ it for less. We use a special chicken fat adhesive to stick our mouth watering skin onto any food for frying.

You haven’t lived until you’ve had our CS Soup and Salad. Ask for extra chicklets, the crumbled chicken skin from the still delicious underside of the breast. Our Kid’s Skins and CS Shakes are perfect for any kid above age three. ( A choking hazard may occur for kids under three.)

In our poorer neighborhoods, check out CS Skins, they may not be Grade A breasts, but skinned gizzards are just as tasty. Look for our caravan at your local state fair. Or keep an eye out for our Skins Street Team Food Truck. We’re so good, you’ll beg us to throw our skins into your car.

Also, Chickenskins always gives back. Behind every CS is a dumpster full of semi edible goodness for all of our homeless brethren. It’s self serve, a dollar a fistful. And dogs eat free, bones that is.

Chickenskins, we’ll peel the flavor off for ya!

Next Up: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Alien (1979), The 400 Blows (1959), or Africa Brasil by Jorge Ben (1976).

Abraxas by Santana (1970) ** and Headhunter (2011) ***1/2

Abraxas by Santana (1970) ** First Full Listen


I hate George Lopez. He’s not funny. He shoots for the lowest common denominator, easiest jokes. He took a kidney from his wife and then divorced her. He’s the Mexican Jay Leno. Except, he’s also appointed himself America’s Hispanic Comedic Voice. C’mon Latino’s, shoot higher.

And that’s how I feel about Santana. They’re the George Lopez of music. Just because you’ve been around forever, doesn’t make you the king. Oye Como Oy Vey!

I saw Santana at Saturday in the Park. Let’s be more specific, I was in the same outdoor area with Santana. They were lifeless, bland, unengaging and played all that Mexican themed jam rock. So, five songs, forty-five minutes. No impression. I think some people play Santana the way some elevators play music. Outdoor BBQ music for an under attended cook-out. Background.

Abraxas is mostly instrumental in that jam rock way. Jam rock combines, to me, the worst elements of rock with the worst elements of jazz into a song that won’t end. Add the some hispanic spice. Now, it doesn’t end with bongos, because if you’re Santana, everybody in the zillion piece band gets some kind of solo in every song. Every song besides the two hits and two others are an instrumental. With solos. Did I say instrumental, I meant to spell ‘filler.’

Jam Rock takes what should sound like freedom, man, freedom of sound and calculates it down to an everybody gets to play aesthetic. Math rock has less math. The few live tracks at the end of the CD bear this out. They sound like note for note bad remixes of the same overlong songs from earlier in the album. C’mon, in the 18 years since it’s original release and the reissue, you couldn’t find a decent version of Black Magic Woman? Not very rock and roll. Not at all jamming.

The only passable songs are the two hits you know and Hope Your Feeling Better.

Oh, and Carlos Santana, the hat is looking played out. Take it off.

Do It: Stroganoff. It’s good.

Avoid It: Rancid Stroganoff. It’s rancid.

The Tweeter: Did you know grammarians Strunck and White would team up to rape babies and cheat at cards? Not true, but certainly nicer than their real accomplishment. #thatstupisstylebook

The Facing Book: Horrible pun based on picture in post. Repeat.

Bonus Movie Review:

Headhunters (2011) ***1/2 First Viewing


Art thieves make good movie anti-heroes. Yea, they’re bad guys, but who can be that mad at them? They’re stealing from the one percent. Boo, the one percent, go Robin Hood on his ass. Also, to most, art prices seem to be not only inflated, but arbitrary. The targets are seen as shallow status seekers or richer than God with the ego to match. Plus, there’s the whole sexy cat burglar aspect. I think that’s why there’s been more Art heist movies than actual art heists.

Roger is an art thief motivated by the oldest of motivations, the ridiculously hot girlfriend he’s trying to keep. Rogers’s pretty up-front about it, he’s short and not the best looking (think a Swedish Steve Buscemi which is is still pretty good looking, just not for Sweden) and he’s overcompensating.

By day, he’s a CEO headhunter for tech corporations and by other part of the day he’s an art thief. He uses the information he gleams in the recruitment process to find wealthy art owners and how to steal from the. He’s extremely competent at both jobs and likable because he knows his flaws.

Then he meets Jamie Lannister. Ok, the handsome actor who plays Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones. Still, Jamie Lannister. While it’s a cliché of heist movies to ‘have that one last big heist,’ Roger sets up that his goal was always, one big heist and out.

After the first third set up, the movie switches into full forward focused motion, like a shark. Roger gets put into some pretty intense situations and uses his wits to get out of them, believably. For action movies, I have a rule similar to the three stupid moves rule of horror movies, the action hero can benefit from “dumb luck” three times, then he’s out. I counted only one time I thought the hero got dumb lucky, everything else fell into the realm of plausibility and some of it was just downright clever, which is always the hope.

Shaun suggested this Swedish movie to me and it’s a great movie if you’re a fan of the “Things go badly” heist movies, which I am. And don’t be put off by it being a foreign movie with subtitles. There’s a lean American sensibility of the best American heist films in Headhunters. Certainly, if this was in English, it’s make a tidy profit in the USA. I hope it doesn’t get remade. Bigger (more explosions, car chases, etc) would not be better. The movie is intense precisely because it’s not big and dumb. The twists aren’t random or outrageous or crazy, but used to increase the tension and the immediacy of Rogers’s problems.

There’s zero gristle. Everything that is shown is used and not always the way you would expect. It’s crisp and easy to follow with a lead you can root for and damn, are those Swedes a handsome bunch. Although Steve Buscemi would be an ok choice for an American Roger. And Jamie fuckin’ Lannister.

Things I learned from Headhunters:
—If Jamie Lannister wants a job, get him that job.
—Be careful of moles when shaving your head with an old disposable razor. Okay, I knew that, but it’s an ongoing fear.
—Swedes got no problem with nudity which is awesome.
—The main character has a great answer to the question, “What were the worst ten minutes of your life?”

Next Up: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Aftermath (1994), The 400 Blows (1959), or Africa Brasil by Jorge Ben (1976).

200 Motels (1971) ** and Bring Me the Head of Alberto Garcia (1974) ***

200 Motels (1971 ) ** First Full Viewing

In the beginning of the creative process, ‘Yes’ is good word. Say yes to as many ideas as you can. Especially if what your making isn’t heavily plot-driven, if you’re chasing an emotion or abstract idea.

However, there becomes a point where the yes ideas need to have import in the art, the ‘yesses’ should have meaning—-to theme or to emotion or to plot or to pace.

Has Frank Zappa ever had idea he didn’t pursue or throw in there? Just for fun? Because no one, Zappa included, ever said whoa there, think it through.

I had my GFF Shelly also watch 200 Motels with me. Hopefully, she’ll comment. Shelly was to give me another perspective. You see, I should like Frank Zappa. He’s weird, he’s funny, he’s in the underground. I’ve tried in the past to like him, all failed. And while there are some bright spots, generally the more focused comedy pieces, Frank Zappa’s art is busy mess. Say, no to something. All yes makes the yes irrelevant.

Overworked. That’s the word. Sometimes, the best quality of an artist is knowing when the fuck to leave the art alone. To be done. I could be wrong on their motivations, I think Zappa and The Mothers of Invention don’t know when to stop screwing with their movie and some of their songs. So, it’s all (now) dated chroma key tricks ahoy. Just because you can edit and loop video doesn’t mean you should. I always suspect when I see re-used shots, cheap fast/slow rewind, and a general overuse of video tricks as a transparent effort to ‘fix’ missing shots, under shooting and lack of a story.

I don’t know the back story to the production, but here’s my theory:

Hey guys, I got this studio space for a week starting tomorrow. Let’s make a movie. We’ll figure it out while we’re shooting.

The Mothers of Invention have been on the road forever. 200 Motels. They all go more bonkers from being on the road, I dunno, maybe it’s drugs? Songs are sang. Sketch-like flights of fancy are are taken. Ringo Starr plays Frank Zappa. Frank Zappa is barely there. Keith Moon is a nun groupie who dies (?) of an overdose (eewwww, like real life). Everyone knows they’re in a movie and talks about it all the time, that’s kinda neat. 200 Motels is an early example of the now popular meta entertainment trend. Pre-meta, if you will.

Tim and Eric is a good example of the new meta entertainment using a lot of the modern old-timey video tricks to create an overall strange-land effect. The difference is these tricks are used for a purpose. A winking purpose. Zappa may be making some inside jokes about the freak lifestyle, but they no longer stand up. Also, any sketch-based movie is usually, inherently uneven. 200 Motels has more misses than hits.

Also, 200 Motels‘s kitchen sink approach doesn’t build toward much, just noise. Maybe I don’t get it. Early music video? Granted, I liked the last third more than the rest of the film, but I think that’s just Stockholm Syndrome.

Things I Learned?

—The Mothers of Invention really hate Frank Zappa. He’s a dictator and a puppet master who steals their ideas. I’m sure it’s just an extended lame joke.
—This movie has talked directly to my penis more than I ever have. Guess I should talk to my penis more. Seems like our conversation ended years ago.
—I can see why teens might like it, TMOI say a lot naughty words. Funny, naughty words.
—Ringo Starr can actually be not funny or likable. Who knew? First time in his career.
—If you’re going as Frank Zappa for Halloween, just get a weird mustache/goatee and a purple long-sleeved turtleneck sweater.
—Drugs are bad?

Do It: The Fiery Furnaces. Like Zappa, TFF’s music is filled with abrupt tonal shifts, looped lyrics and strange instrumentation. Unlike Zappa, there’s a more of a cohesive feel and weird logic at work.

Avoid It: Season two of The Killing. I now know who killed Rosie Larsen. Blah. Blah. Blah, not worth the time investment. With very little forward motion, the–I’m guessing–series finale could have run after the season one finale. Oh, and the show spent most of the last episode trying to glorify and redeem all the characters that it once needed as suspects. You know, except the killer. Killer bad. The good news, I don’t have to think about The Killing anymore.

The Tweeter: True Blood stole my idea I had for a marketing opportunity for True Blood a week ago. Maker’s Mark Whiskey. A groupie was drinking it tonight. #iwastoolate #makersmarkambassador

The Facing Book: A fun (?) game you can play while out dining. When you’re ease dropping on another table, pick one person. Imagine that everyone else at the table is about to take that person to jail or rehab without their knowledge. The stupid everyday conversation they’re having suddenly seems way more important, way more tension-filled.

Bonus Movie Review:

Bring Me the Head of Alberto Garcia (1974) *** First Viewing


The weather’s been in full summer mode, so I was in the mood for a western. A movie where everyone was miserable from heat. I thought BMTHOAG would be a classic Sam Peckinpah western. Not so much, but it is a classic Pekinpah movie. Morally compromised men. Lots of slow-mo shooting. A story that goes sideways. And everyone is miserable.

Alfredo Garcia is the movie’s MacGuffin, everybody wants him. Actually, like 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag, Alfredo Garcia’s head is the MacGuffin. A million bucks for said head. It’s a mad, mad, mad head.

Warren Oates is a down on his luck American bartender in Mexico. Think Rockford without the PI badge. He gets his prostitute girlfriend to help him find Al Garcia. And at its heart, the film is a love story. Like Sid and Nancy or Bonnie and Clyde is a love story. Although, for a movie with rape in it, the love story is kind of sweet and an effective motivator.

They drive around third world Mexico in a crappy car. Mexicans in crappier cars chase them. There’s a rape break with Kris Kristopherson. Then, things get weird, go bad. Things get shooty.

Warren Oates is fantastic as he slowly slips off the sanity burrito, wearing big sunglasses, shabby clothes, drinking tequila. That toothy, grim smile. His performance makes the film. The ramshackle, mostly plausible plot is engaging. Surprisingly good, but quick ending.

If you’ve liked any other Peckinpah movie (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs), you should like this unconventional Peckinpah movie.

Things I learned from BMTHOAG:

—Do NOT sleep with El Jeffe’s daughter. He will not like you.
—Pay more to have a pubic lice free hotel room.
—Ice. What can’t it do? Especially in hell.
—You can live on Tequila alone. I’ve always wondered.

Next Up: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Aftermath (1994), The 400 Blows (1959), or Abraxas by Santana (1970).

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) *** and A Cheap, Comic Life

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) *** Second Viewing


Remember J-horror? Before those sparkly vampires? While most horror trends succumb to their own clichés, the best of the Asian horror boom of the early 2000’s still works. There’s a randomness and inevitability to the horror. Dread.

A Tale of Two Sisters doesn’t rely of the wandering, pale, black-haired, disjointed female ghosts cliché of other J-pop horror efforts. At it’s heart, it’s a drama about divorce and loss between two sisters. The best horror films are usually dramas where the fear and rotten emotions of conflict are rendered into horrifying flesh. The first two-thirds of The Exorcist is also a drama about the change of growing up and the new changes in the world.

There’s really a pretty crafty mystery at work in ATOTS. One I didn’t catch in the first viewing so many years ago. The set-up is extremely familiar, two teen sisters are forced to move into a haunted country house with their dad and evil, new stepmother. Slowly, crazy shit happens. The dad, certainly Lithium’s best customer, is emotionally unavailable. The step-mom vacillates between extreme roles, uncomfortable in any of them. The older sister tries to protect the withdrawn younger sister from the evil step-mother. You get the drill.

Of course, that’s not what really is going on. Clues abound.

The pace sometimes borders between slow and deliberate and slow and plodding, but the cinematography is fantastic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shoddy looking Korean movie. (Japanese, yes. Korea, no.) They’ve gotta have a great film school there.

Things I learned from A Tale of Two Sisters:

—Evil spirits, like young’uns in action films, love to hide under the sink.
—Korea has the best wallpaper.
—Pets, always the first to go.
—Puberty, the worst monster of all.
—The psychiatrist-waiting-for-patient two shot. This technique begins every third Korean film.
—Old Dunlap bags are the best way to store bodies. (A shout-out to Audition)
—Put an adorable Korean baby in the film and I’ll add a star to the review. Sorry, no Korean baby in ATOTS. You earned your three star rating honestly.
—I’m beginning to think my star-rating system might be flawed.
—Also, I wrote this review for the “Lithium’s Best Customer” joke which wasn’t framed well enough.

Do It: Tom Scharpling. Do it, Tom Scharpling. The king of free entertainment, Scharpling has had some crushing professional, personal and physical set backs lately. Me, I’d go all fetal baby, but Tom Scharpling is just getting better. He’s steamrolling the chumps. His radio show, The Best Show on WFMU just celebrated it’s 500th show, listen to it. The Best Show reminds me why I wanted to be a DJ so long ago, why I was a DJ so long ago, before the corporate vultures picked the bones clean. He just interviewed Weird Al and Tommy Stinson for his podcast Low Times. And he’s teamed up with podcasting’s reigning king of ‘making it about me’ Marc Maron for another funny podcast, The Marc and Tom Show. The dude should be more famous. That said, he’s still grinding away like everyday is game four of the playoffs. I miss one post one day, and I’m a big baby Sisyphus, screw that rock. Not Tom. He’s back at that rock. Also, he’s a Tweeteraholic. Do it, Tom, just keep doing it.

Avoid It: The usual Disneyland Dad Father’s Day hangouts. Valentino’s and Godfather’s. Pizza Hut and Pizza Ranch. Dairy Queen and Cherry on Top. Champion’s Fun Center and the bowling alley. On Father’s Day, these places become a giant bowl, nay well, of sadness, desperation, averted eye contact, forced interest and that one awkward smile as divorced dads try too hard, way too hard. Look, I know that sounds cynical. There’s plenty of happy dads and kids scarfing down half-priced meals on dad’s day, but it’s inevitable, there’ll be one father/daughter paring who’s psychic emotional scars will almost be palpable to nearby tables. Your J-pop pitch black spirit devouring souls under the guise of healing. I know, I’ve been there. I’ve been (am) poor, planning a whole day around one trip for crappy, half-price pizza and a game of pinball. I’m always putting too much stock in that one day.

Related side note—Why son, Why? Why don’t you want to talk to me? I’m sad. I miss you. Just the thought of Father’s Day…

Tom Scharpling. Tom Scharpling. Just keep doing’ it….

The Tweeter: I like sentence fragments. A lot. A real, real lot. A real, real, real lot. Like more than full sentences. Brain fragmented, like sentence fragments. Say what, again?

The Facing Book: Dear Facing Book timeline, why must you remind me that I’ve done Jack and Squat between 2007 and birth?

Old to begin, I’ll setcha back, setcha back, setcha back.

A Cheap, Comic Life:

Next Up: 200 Motels (1971), Aftermath (1994), The 400 Blows (1959), or Abraxas by Santana (1970).

Abbey Road by The Beatles (1969) ****1/2 and Keyhole (2011) ***

Abbey Road by The Beatles (1969) **** 1/2 Own


This was the first Beatle‘s record I ever bought. I was maybe, 10 or 11, and had this old orange suitcase style record player. At the time, my favorite songs were the Ringo songs, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Octopuses Garden. They had plot and were funny. Was Steve Martin in some kind of video for Maxwell’s Silver Hammer? Bang bang. Songs for an unproduced musical?

Now, I’ve heard all The Beatle‘s records probably as much as you—offer not valid for Chris Topher and other Beatlemaniacs—so, the songs are more subconscious at this point, they’ve always just been there. Anything I could say about them has already been said more eloquently by others by now.

But I listened to the hell out of Abbey Road. Hundreds of times. This was my Beatle‘s record. I don’t think I even bought any of the others (Beatle‘s Love excepted and that doesn’t count), all inherited or dubbed.

I remember spending hours looking at the album cover. The Beatles themselves weren’t that important. It’s the Volkswagen in the back. What kind of lives did those people inside the album cover live? Not knowing John, Paul, George and Ringo were just outside. That’s what we used to do—stare at a record sleeve the first twenty times we listened to the music. CD’s and MP3’s have all but eliminated that goofy past time.

America’s greatest achievement, packaging, is all but an afterthought in the itunes age. I mean, what’s the point of Pink Floyd‘s Animals if not staring at that flying pig?

Abbey Road, their 11th, is more stripped down than the last few. The White Album should be my favorite with it’s darker John Lennon production tricks. But no. It’s an adult record with too much revolution on its mind. And Sgt. Pepper’s is the ultimate Paul McCartney pop record, the Snoopy of Beatle records, everyone loves it. But I owned Abbey Road. So, that’s the one I’ve heard more than any other.

All the Beatle‘s are given their equal due. I’m not sure of songwriting credits, but’s easy to pick out what I think are the quintessential Ringo songs, John songs, Paul songs and George songs. More than the other records, George and Ringo are really given a showcase. And while the Ringo songs are now my least favorite, they’re kinda gimmicky, the George songs, Sun King and Because, gave me a greater appreciation for the denim Beatle. Doo-Wop turns into a nice rock drudge. I think they front-loaded the Ringo songs, got them out of the way, to prime you for the epicness of the end medley where everyone’s style melded into a whole. Even John’s Come Together is a joke front-end ‘hit’ song, the record’s palette cleanser from the other Beatle records.

In a lot of ways, Abbey Road doesn’t really get started until She’s So Heavy, all the other songs clearing out The Beatle‘s back catalog. It takes the meditation of George’s songs and the sweeter ballads of John’s songs to set the right mood for Abbey Road‘s existence, the medley that is most of the second side.

Favorite moment: The ten seconds after the first “She’s so….”

Least Favorite: The next ten seconds. Jazz influences ruin rock.

Redemption: The last “She’s so….” through the rocking sudden end of the side. My crappy suit case record player didn’t have auto arm return, so I’d let it go ka-chhhh, ka-chhhh, ka-chhhh on the last groove for about a minute. Good times. On the CD, Here Comes the Sun sounds so wrong after She’s So Heavy.

Remember that old Sonic Youth record, Evol? The last track of the second side had a resetting groove at the end of the song, basically replaying the last four notes ad infinitum. Drone all night. Awesome. I Want You and Loving, Touching, Squeezing were my favorite songs to slip cue as a DJ. Tight.

Final Dumb Comments or No Learning:
— I always thought the lyric was, “He had feet way down below his knees.” I like my lyric better.
— You know who needs a mojo filter? Effin’ Jim Morrison, that’s who.
— Apparently, the lack of shoeshine will help make you a great toejam football player.
— Walrus Gumboots. Now at Target.
—Maxwell was not a nice man, but he was a real hit with the ladies. Ba-Da-Bing.
— A square world is a real buzz kill.
— I may be good looking, certainly I feel as if I am hard to see.
— Funny papers are no substitute for real money.
— Ten Bob notes must certainly be small or mean Mister Mustard has a huge nose.
— 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7: that sounds like only 7 good children went to heaven. The Beatles, your Sesame Street substitute.
The Beatles may also earn you Latin Class credits. Or is it fake Latin? Italian? Anyway, all foreign language lessons should end with a drum bridge.
— Polyethene Pam. Now at Target.
— Need to wonder? Suck your thumb next to your lagoon.
— Monday’s always on the phone to me, AMIRIGHT working peeples?
— Robbing is a different skill than stealing.
— A man once died trying NOT to air drum to Ringo’s solo. True Fact.
— Love. It’s physical, makable, takeable.
The Beagles sure do love their queen. Oh, adorable Beagles. Did you see the Diamond Jubilee concert? Paul was the only one who didn’t completely suck. Madness excluded.
— Paul did marry the Queen. True fact. Her vocals were turned way down on Band on the Run. After a belly full of wine, he beat her. So, she took him for billions. It’s how the monarchy runs.
—And so concludes, Jokes You Only Get While Listening to Abbey Road. If you have any complaints about Beatle facts, you can take a long and winding road, pal. Slip out through the bathroom window.

Do it: Falling Off the Sky by The Db’s. The last time The Db’s released an album Ronald Reagan was still in office. And like last years, Here Now by The Feelies, their comeback effort, Falling off the Sky is a solid addition to an already great canon of country-tinged power pop records. Falling Off the Sky could have come out comfortably after Big Star‘s #1 Record without sounding dated in any era. A pleasant summer shandy for your ears.

Avoid It: This is PIL by Public Image LTD.
Also shooting for a comeback, Johnny Rotten’s back—years after cashing in his generic anger for the lucrative cashola—and This is PIL suuuuuuucckkks. I’m listening to it while I’m writing and was planning on making some kind of Malcolm McLaren is rolling over in his grave joke, but the awfulness of the record is sapping my strength, my ability to focus. It suuuuuuuuuccckkkks. If he’s trying to make a dirt stupid parody of himself, Rotten’s still falling short.

The Tweeter: Tweeter, the best place to rail against abstract concepts and the minutiae of life while making pop culture references.

The Facing Book: Hey (old) ladies in the (every eating) place, I’m calling out to ya (I’m also easedroppin’ on ya), let that one old lady talk. It happens every time I’m out, one woman is jabbering away, monopolizing 95% of the conversation. I’ve never heard anything Mrs. Never-Shut-up say that was even remotely interesting or not self involved. C’mon, other lady, speak up! #seewhatididthere? #beastieboys

True Fact: Famous grammarians Strunck and White used to team together to rape babies and cheat at cards. True Fact. OK, not a true fact, but I hate developing my own informal Style Book and needed someone to take the fall.

Bonus Review:

Keyhole (2011) *** First Viewing


Let me tell you about this crazy dream I had a few weeks ago. No, don’t go away, it’ll have a point. I promise.

You see, I had been watching strange old Asian horror movies, Japan’s Hell (1960) and Korea’s Cure (1997), and they wormed into my subconscious. Usually, we’re being chased in dreams or looking for something. We’re the passive hero subjected to whims of large outside forces, the stuff of horror movies. In this dream, I actually was one of the bad guys. I started out as a good guy. You see, I was part of a large group of teenagers visiting a enormous, cylinderal, haunted house. I got bit by a demon almost immediately and turned into a demon. I knew that I was not only in a dream, but also in a film. My dreams often come in different film styles. (Never a RomCom or porn, sadly) So, I started working with the other demons killing teens. With my claws, I shredded and skinned. We released giant bees forcing the teens down a series of hallways, only to block the other side, so they had to run through miles of angry, oversized bees. Funny thing, I didn’t feel any remorse for my actions. Also, I knew that was OK because I was in a film playing a part. I’m rarely the lead in my own dreams, but that’s another story for a lower self esteem day.

Keystone is a fully realized filmed dream of a 1930’s gangster movie. If you’ve never seen a Guy Maddin film, this is probably his most accessible. It’s like he’s got an AV plug on a dream helmet. While David Lynch flirts with dream-like imagery and logic, Maddin fully commits. Every strange emotion, blurred logic and editing, characters as self aware functionaries and as knowing symbols, casual nudity (lots of old man scrotum), the dream hero’s blasé stance on his own predicament, acceptance and embracing of the supernatural, the set as artifice, time fuckery, and ghosts, ghosts, ghosts. Every dream element.

This is how your dreams operate, right? Mine certainly do.

Usually when a movie eases from beginning weirdness to semi-coherent plot, the movie usually benefits. In Keystone, the black and white gangster premise was enough to support the machinations of the dream and of the hero’s searching in the dream. I did lose some interest in the last thirty minutes, both because of sheer image overload and because the sense the film started to make didn’t fulfill the earlier promises.

Jason Patric, Isabella Rossalini, and Udo Keir are in it. Keyhole looks lush like the best old time movies. Kids in the Hall‘s Kevin McDonald is in playing basically a KITH character that’s wildly out of place which makes it, oddly, appropriate. Oh, that 70 year-old dude is fully naked 100 percent of the time. Who needs clothes in dreamworlds?

I like that Canadian Maddin. Although aggressively strange with a silent movie vibe, his movies don’t strike me as pretentious. They really should, but they don’t. I guess it’s because Maddin is so good at showing a kind of movie reality as dream. He’s trying to understand, not impress.

Not for everyone and not in the daytime.

Oh, in my demon dream Roger from Mad Men kept harassing me to hurry up and do a better job. He tapped his watch a lot, cigarette dangling from his mouth. Kinda cool Roger, thanks for drooping by.

Next Up: 200 Motels (1971), A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), The 400 Blows (1959), or Abraxas by Santana (1970).

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) *** and An Open Letter to Drug Dealers

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) *** From Memory, Saw Many Times


I’m pretty sure I saw this one in the theater, summer of ’84. I might have even been on a date. I always say when I see stuff in a theater, somehow my feeble brain thinks this gives the review more credibility. Scrabbling for credibility, another weak grasp in a series of poor autobiography titles.

More than I remember the date, I do remember the buzz before the movie came out in my high school crowd. It wasn’t the Porky’s buzz of a few years earlier, but everyone was fully expecting a new Jason or Mike Meyers (not the scary Canadian kind, but the other one) bogeyman. ANOES did deliver on that front. I’d even say Freddie Krueger was in the zeitgeist even before the movie opened. Lunch boxes and the like.

And for the time, the oooey-gooey special effects wowed. They were front and center in the marketing campaign. Boy, they look so dated now. At least it wasn’t the abomination that is any movie with early CGI. Yea, you suck, 90’s horror/CGI-fests.

I have a joke-based memory, meaning I make jokes to remember things, and I definitely remember comparing Freddie Krueger to James Bond. He quips, he kills. The quippy nature of the villain represented a minor change in popular horror movies. We were encouraged to root for Freddy, not fear him. He’s the funny one. Although we may have secretly rooted for Mike Meyers or Jason to slaughter the stupid teenagers–as we are at heart all a bit of a psychopath–we weren’t encouraged by the filmmakers to do so. Wes Craven knew that franchises needed a likable lead, even if that lead was slaughtering you in your sleep. So, Freddy, the Catskills Killer and funny-man was born.

Halloween was mostly the Jamie Lee Curtis story, not Jason’s. ANOES was Freddy’s show. Quick, besides Heather Langenkamp, name the human leads in ANY of the sequels which were more interesting than Freddy. John Saxon, hardly.

ANOES actually kicked off a feeling in me that I should root for the bad guy in horror movies, that horror movies were mostly about the visceral thrill, the special effect, the shock. Call it the MTV-ization of horror movies, the quick jolt over building the mood. As a budding young psychopath, I looked for the bad guy winning in horror movies for years. It wasn’t until after college that I began to appreciate the build-up and it wasn’t until a child was born that I began to root for the hero again. Full psychopathy averted.

And Heather Langenkamp and the whole set-up of the movie was pretty solid. She’s a sympathetic character like Steve McQueen in The Blob trying to warn her friends of the dangers unseen. And like a Poltergeist, darkness lies underneath the sunny, suburban surface. However, this time the primal danger is terrifying—everyone has to sleep. Add to that, your parents held a secret that could get you killed and it’s nightmare fuel time.

BTW, who didn’t secretly think their parents were helping the bad guy or at least covering for a dismembering, ratty sweater-wearing, quip-spouting, horribly burned janitor with a manicure problem?

Well, what teenagers didn’t secretly think that?

Do It: The Humble Indie Bundle V. It’s the last day to get eight great indie games for just under nine bucks. Bastion, Amnesia, Swords and Sorcery, Braid, Super Meat Boy, I’ve played them all and you can connect them to your Steam account as well.

Avoid It: Smokie Beef Sticks. Sometimes, I think my diet is Dollar Store sponsored. I read the following disclaimer on my 99 cent food-like snack, Smokie Beef Sticks, smoke flavor added. Dipped in a solution of potassium sorbate to retard mold growth. This means THERE IS mold growth, it’s just retarded. More like fucktarded, am I right my beef-stick-eating ladies?

The Tweeter: So, CEO Jamie Dimon just apologized to Congress. Great, when exactly is he going to jail? Jerry Sandusky may have a new strategy. #allshallburn

The Facing Book: Great news! I can finally touch my knees. WITH my hands! And WITHOUT bending my knees! Look out Mr. Presidential Physical Fitness, you’ve just been ousted!

True Facts: Last week in an interview, a Coke executive said that Coke’s true competitor isn’t Pepsi, but tap water. True Fact. Well, mission accomplished in my house, Mr. Coke Executive. Have you met Mr. Presidential Fitness? No?

Bryan Gahagan, Man of Letters:

Dearest Drug Dealers,

I know times are hard. The economy is down and kids just aren’t looking ‘for kicks,’ as you say. But this is not a time to stagnate. This is not a time to pack up your meth kit and go home. No good sirs and ladies, this is the time to innovate. This is the time to reintroduce quality craftsmanship back into this time-honored profession that you call The Game.

America is not in decline, we’re only regaining our wheezing, flem-spittled breath.

And you can be there to help usher this new age. Drug dealers matter. We shall not crumble under the Third World aggression of a Mexico, of an Afghanistan.

And we shall do this by doing what Americans do best. We shall innovate. How do we innovate? How do we wrest the mantle of Drug King, of Drug Leaders, away from the oily foreign hoards currently yapping at our well toned heels?

The answer is simple. One word. Packaging.

How often has a fresh-faced, bright-eyed junkie–nay, customer–come to you eager for your wares, only to be rendered sullen and disheartened by the whole transaction a mere hour later? More times than you can count on your blinged-out posse’s fingers and toes, I imagine.

Let me explain. You’ve built a multi-million dollar processing facility in the basement of an abandoned factory somewhere. You’ve hired the best men to process your goods. Security is flawless. You have a multi-level distribution system with the right tentacles in all the right corridors of power. Everyone is handsomely paid off, with you at the top, rightfully basking in success. There’s only the best quality in ingredients, the highest of ammonias, the premiumiest of filtration systems, the double-lined crackless ceramic tubs.

However, when your product, certainly the Cadillac of Methamphetamines, is delivered to your customer, it’s in a three cent cellophane bag. A three cent bag.

Think about that. The cheap cell phone burner you used to make the deal came encased in hard plastic, form fitted and nearly indestructible. Yet, the dime bag of quality blue sunshine costs way less than a dime for the bag. It’s the first impression a client has of your product.

Even McDonalds knows you need to spend more on packaging than food. It’s why, they are McDonalds and you are an unknown in the business world.

Let’s think for a second about practicality and how a lack of oversight can ruin your business. An excited customer, ready to relax with your premium wares after a hard day, quickly grabs a cheap Baggie of product and it rips. Product falls from the packaging and slips away into the crevices of the customer’s shopping cart. Later, a passing police dog easily sniffs out your product. It’s a pretty well known product, you know.

Well, it’s one less customer if you’re lucky, one lost empire if you’re not.

How do you change the current production models? First, secretly lobby those companies that make your containers. Ziplock. That other one. They know that upwards of 80% of their business is dependent on you. You are their valued customer. These companies know how to make quality containers. It’s their business interests to protect your business.

Thick, multi-threaded, color-coded, secure Baggies. Right-sized and with ornate labels that appeal to each user. The kingpin who has not considered all the options will not be a kingpin for long.

Consider cardboard inserts for heft, security and a bag that stands up. What customer hasn’t fumbled with loose product because he couldn’t obtain its precious contents exactly when he so desperately needed it? Individual compartments, single serving sizes, and problem solved.

Someone who takes daily medication doesn’t just chuck it all in a loose Baggie, they have a hard plastic container with each day separated for convenience, for clarity. Think about it. Consider all your packaging options. For holidays, perhaps gift wrapping or a small box. As always, details make the business.

I’m positive that if you ponder all the options, your business and your loyal customer base will be limitless, like the imagination and energy of those you wish to serve.

America has always been about, not just the steak, but the sizzle. The sizzle of a million brains on fire with desire. The crisp snap of a new bag, a new habit.

So, fuck you, Mexico! Fuck you, Afghanistan! America will always be number one as long as we continue to innovate and as long as we continue to rule in the lucrative packaging arena.

High quality, drug-resistant, resin-lined space-aged bifurcated methamphetamine containers. It’s a no-brainer. Literally.

Sincerely,

Bryan Gahagan
Lover of Breaking Bad and
Ziplock Baggies.

Next Week on Bryan Gahagan, Man of Letters:

Dearest Kleenex,

Have you considered the needs of 95 percent of your current market, that is the chronic masterbater and his friend, the humble masterbater?

Next Up: 200 Motels (1971), A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), The 400 Blows (1959), or Abbey Road by The Beatles (1969).

1001 Records You Must Hear Before You Die

I’ve decided to ditch the Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums. (C’mon, Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot at only #495!)

Instead I like the randomization aspect of an alphabetical-by-album-title list like 1001 Records You Must Hear Before You Die. Plus, I start with Abbey Road! Sorry, Outkast.

Next Up: 200 Motels (1971), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The 400 Blows (1959), or #500. Abbey Road by The Beatles (1969).

2 or 3 Things I know About Her (1967) * 1/2 and Mad Men

Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1967) *1/2 First Viewing


A Warning! This review will be fragmented and abstract and not necessarily speak much to the film. This last season of Mad Men was mostly on my mind during the viewing of this classic French film by New Wave Director Jean Luc Goddard. I’m putting my deconstruction disclaimer up front, like Goddard.

Released in 1967, I imagine Megan made Don to see the film on the advice of one of her actress friends. Megan wants to be an artiste, you see, but lacks the self-reflection needed to create authentic art. She’s not dumb, just life has been too easy for the rewards she wants. Her rewards will always be echoes of other people’s work. Even the work that she creates fully has phantom meanings and phantom worth.

Don worships the image. Ascribing meaning to image, imbuing art with hidden desires is his bread and butter. If something has meaning, then it also has desirability. If it has desirability, well, then, you can sell it. You can reinvent it. You can create meaning and desirability where nothing previously existed. That’s America.

Anything desirable has transactional qualities. Although, Don is slowly learning that transactions have costs sometimes not worth bearing, transactions that are neither fair nor known.

Anyway, Don hates the movie. It goes after the corrosive nature of the consumer culture, it works overtime to separate meaning from image, words from meaning, the nature of meaning from itself. It’s a very anti-American film, both saying America is a great evil by being in Vietnam and by saying that we are stuck as who we are. America even fucks the lead. Literally. I get it, Don thinks. America Uber Alles.

We are helpless victims that only know we have arms and legs and hearts because of the failings of language. The characters, mostly interchangeable, spout what seems like nihilism. There’s no narrative, no story, only situations. Fragmented images, unrelated actions, and meandering philosophy 101.

Be real, like people can be, Don thinks.

There’s a God-like narrator who whispers, ashamed or unsure? It’s all pointless deconstruction. To create you must destroy, Don’s heard, but it’s all destruction. No onward. No upward.

The lead of the film, Juliet, is a house wife who prostitutes herself for extra money. Very transactional. She desires nice clothes, has some nice clothes, but finds no meaning in her life, in her things. Did she call herself a thing? Really?

Shouldn’t this be a dream instead of just an abstraction?

Megan does feel a twinge inside. The acting game of late has been feeling very transactional, very abstract. She also wishes for forward momentum in the movie, but none arrives, no answers to those problems given. The husband, Roger (Ha), in the movie is remote, living on a plane other than his wife.

Where’s the connection? He has his own obsessions, his own wars in his head, and rarely even seems to talk to her, much less even look at her. His back is always to the camera, it seems.

She is pretty and has some nice clothes. No one has to sacrifice, no one is asked to sacrifice. Is stasis the new revolution? Is there even revolution in stasis?

Unlike Don, who seems angry at the ‘anti-ness’ of the film, Megan is non-plussed. The women don’t mind being house wives and prostitutes? They’re also not happy or unhappy, that’s frustrating. Are they just things? Do they want to be things, accepting a hidden fate? The film demands that you don’t absorb it. She thinks, I’m French Canadian, why didn’t I connect?

Later in the evening, after sex, Don works on his latest ad campaign and Megan works on forgetting. The next day, they tell their friends and co-workers that they saw the movie and leave it at that.

****

My thoughts:

The film’s themes are dated. The philosophies, the film’s tricks, the ideas, everything, feels dated. Maybe if I was still in college, it would have the sheen of deep meaning, but we all gotta grow up sometime, stop pondering and live life.

Everything we consume already comes to us pre-deconstructed. Deconstruction is nothing new anymore. My favorite show is MST3K for goodness sake.

I recently read an article by a black writer complaining about Mad Men. He said, it’s not that they’re white as to why I feel so disconnected to the show, it’s that their problems and dramas are too esoteric for me to relate to.

Like 2o3TIKAH.

See, meta. The orboros of life.

Things I learned from 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her:

—Parisian whore houses have good daycare.
—If everyone in the film stopped smoking and drinking, no one would need to be a housewife/prostitute.

That’s about it.

Do It: Saints Row 3. It’s Grand Theft Auto deconstructed and made much, much stupider. My most played video game this year.

Avoid It: Candle Wax Ear Treatments. C’mon, don’t be a chump.

The Tweeter: Did you know Prince often writes songs while dreaming. Also, you should forgive him if they go astray or sue him if they go too fast. #partylikeits1999

The Facing Book: Hey everybody, check out this news story…(insert what you’re reading here)

Next Up: 200 Motels (1971), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The 400 Blows (1959), or #500. Abbey Road by The Beatles (1969).