Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Two girls, two cups

Just a little video post. This is an English folk outfit called Lulu and the Lampshades, and they do have access to guitars and a drummer. But can apparently make do without.

You're Gonna Miss Me, Lulu and the Lampshades... by FestaMesta

Sunday, June 26, 2011


A couple of people who made the seventies that much more liveable passed on this past week. One of course is Peter Falk. 83 at the time of his passing, he'd reportedly been suffering from Alzheimer's. Still, he made his last film in 2009, titled American Cowslip. It's not well known, but sounds eccentric enough to be worth trying.

Falk made impressions as himself in Wings of Desire, as the storytelling grandfather in The Princess Bride, in several raw films directed by his friend John Cassavetes. And of course, the good lieutenant. This here is a nice message delivered by Lt Columbo, after his introduction by Ruth Gordon.

Also taking leave was Gene Colan, one of the best artists to ever work in mainstream comics. In some ways he was a late bloomer. While he started working for Timely (which later became Marvel) right after his service in World War II, it was in the sixties that his style started to gel, and the horror-infused wave a decade later when he really took off. The keywords for his art were "mystery" and "sensuality". His figures breathed heightened, soap opera emotion, and violence was beside the point.

Along with Daredevil, Batman, Doctor Strange, Dracula, and a brief and underrated stint on the Spectre, Colan was the artist for most of the late Steve Gerber's classic Howard the Duck comics. And in these panels, Howard's new friend Winda Wester drops some more wisdom.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Decent Friday Random Ten

No day when you can make two of your coworkers laugh on separate occasions can be all bad. (Well, provided it's not derisive laughter, which it wasn't in this case.)

1. Nancy Wilson--Welcome to My Love
2. Blossom Dearie--Everything I've Got
3. Talking Heads--The Big Country*
4. Ladytron--The Lovers
5. The New Pornographers--Bones of an Idol
6. The Beatles--Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
7. Fiona Apple--Parting Gift
8. Simon & Garfunkel--A Hazy Shade of Winter
9. Fol Chen--You and Your Sister In Jericho
10. Elton John--Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

*Rural and outer suburban living is not for everyone. That's the truth at the heart of this song. That Byrne sounds like such a dick while delivering it could be an error in tone, or could be a stroke of genius.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Don't try this at home

Who amongst us hasn't reassured a young boy that our clothes haven't disappeared, just become invisible? Hey, that's a lot of hands!

The above is from the MF Publications (yes, really) comic entitled Captain Marvel. It's been preserved for curious 'surfers at the Stupid Comics arcive. It's a fun site, thanks to the host's game sense of humor. And it's worthwhile for me, because I believe in stealing ideas from absolutely everywhere.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sketchy premises

This is pretty exciting. Scientists have found evidence that North Americans of the Ice Age depicted mammoths and/or mastodons in art. First of all, if you live in Florida, close your eyes and picture an Ice Age. Weird yet refreshing, am I right? As they say:

"This is an incredibly exciting discovery," said Dennis Stanford, anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and co-author of this research. "There are hundreds of depictions of proboscideans on cave walls and carved into bones in Europe, but none from America -- until now."

I'm also interested in this.

Believed to be genuine, this rare specimen provides evidence that people living in the Americas during the last Ice Age created artistic images of the animals they hunted. The engraving is at least 13,000 years old as this is the date for the last appearance of these animals in eastern North America, and more recent Pre-Columbian people would not have seen a mammoth or mastodon to draw.

Creating images of the animals was a form of idealization. If you prefer, prayer. So a lot of evidence shows that early human hunters regarded their prey with a kind of reverence. Once you lose that, things go downhill fast.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Masters of disguise

The next time you in da club and you meet some fine, fine lady, remember she could be a cuttlefish.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lonesome Rhody Friday Random Ten

Posting today's Friday Random Ten after watching another old movie on DVD, this time A Face in the Crowd. Entertaining to say the least. In truth I think Elia Kazan and Budd Schullberg push their totalitarian allegory a little further than it wants to go, but it's fun gettng to that point. And it's a little shocking to see the raging hillbilly Brando that was Andy Griffith at the time. There must have been a time when he told Otis the Town Drunk, "Listen man, I've been drunker than you and I was still able to bed multiple groupies. Get it together!"

1. David Bowie--Boys Keep Swinging
2. Duke Ellington--Mood Indigo
3. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross--Moanin'
4. XTC--Senses Working Overtime
5. They Might Be Giants--Nothing's Gonna Change My Clothes
6. Sufjan Stevens--Movement VI--Isorhythmic Night Dance With Interchanges (From The BOE)
7. Talking Heads--The Girls Want to Be With the Girls
8. Fol Chen--Cable TV
9. The New Pornographers--The Bleeding Heart Show
10. Blossom Dearie--A Fine Spring Morning

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Will not call her the princess of prints! We're all better than that.

Sometimes a little bit of targeted web-surfing can expose you to some interesting porn artists. asolutearts is a good resource for this even if you're not in the market for buying art. This artist from North Carolina, Natalia Moroz, is a fortunate find.

She's mostly a printmaker, and in particular works in linocut. It's--from my limited perspective--a different kind of work than painting. In painting all the levels, whether your talking about color or line, blend together. In printing they very often stay separate, so you can at least sense where one thing ends and the other begins. I'm only sort of saying what I want to say here, but the important thing is that Moroz seems to have an understanding of the medium that allows her to do great things with it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The original bunny boiler

By the time you swear you're his
  Shivering and sighing,

And he vows his passion is
  Infinite, undying,

Lady make a note of this—
  One of you is lying.
—Dorothy Parker

If Ms Parker had added a coda to the effect that "the other one is batshit insane", that would basically be Leave Her to Heaven in a nutshell. See the following railroad meet cute.

Cornel Wilde is basically saying what he needs to say to get layed. Gene Tierney means every syllable of purple prose that falls from her mouth. That turns out to be bad news for him.

It's an odd, grandiose, and not really successful noir/melodrama from 1945. A writer meets a mysterious woman, falls in love with her, and marries her. Then she makes his life hell. She kills his annoyingly cute invalid brother, gives herself a miscarriage, and accuses him of being in love with her stepsister just because he is.

A lot of nice elements are here. The technicolor photography is beautiful, especially in the first third set in Taos, New Mexico. There's a fine supporting cast, including Chill Wills and Vincent Price. Price had been one of Tierney's hulking boytoys in Laura, and he's better cast here as her vindictive prosecutor ex.

The unfortunate thing, though, is that the film's formula is familiar by now from a thousand Lifetime movies of the week. These are the potboilers where a woman meets a charming man, albeit one whose just a little too intense. As soon as she is legally and/or conventionally stuck with him, he turns into a controlling and abusive monster. LHTH is of an older vintage, and the genders are reversed, but it's just as pre-programmed in the end.

Still, if it catches your eye on TCM or someplace, you may as well stick with it. The effort does pay off in certain scenes. While I couldn't say the movie was entirely my cup of tea, I respect its craft.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I recently finished reading Tim Powers' Last Call. This was a book I had been meaning to read for a while. I had enjoyed The Anubis Gates, and the culture of high-stakes gambling is a fertile area for fiction.

And there is much to enjoy in Last Call. Powers successfully sneaks a fantasy world into a realistic contemporary setting. The premise of the book posits, pretty much, that every serious poker player in the Las Vegas area. is a mystic of sorts, at play with archetypes found in the Tarot. This is completely bonkers, but you can find yourself buying into it before you even realize it. Also appreciated is the way Powers piles on characters, creating a rich tapestry of ne'er-do-wells and eccentrics.

Still, while I read with some pleasure, there was a way in which I couldn't get behind the story, something that left me cold. Some spoilers follow, if you're concerned about that sort of thing.

The protagonist, Scott Crane, is an ex-gambler who lost his body and really his soul too in a game called Assumption twenty years in the past. The man who won it from him has been preparing to take him over, and misfortunes have been coming his way. One of these misfortunes is the death of his wife Susan, who suffered a fatal heart attack and whose death he covered up while falling into a drunken stupor.

Susan persists as a wraith in his life as he goes on a quest to save himself. Along the way he's also trying to save his adopted sister, with the help of their gambler stepfather. Around halfway through the novel the sister, Diana, muses that she had grown up hoping that Scott would marry her, and resented his marrying someone else. And for me I think that's when the book's spell started to break.

Susan continues to talk to Scott on the phone, trying to dissuade him from his quest. When he drinks, he not only sees her but gets intimate with her. It's implied that the spectral woman he interacts with isn't actually his dead wife. But in a way it doesn't matter. She's a burden. In life we lose people ometimes through death and sometimes in other ways. We have to move on and let them go. But there's something more vicious at work here.

Diana doesn't just recall a passing crush on her brother. The two actually do fall in love. While they aren't blood relatives, the lack of blood relation is the only thing separating them from a villain shown to be evil because he wants to get it on with his own half-sister. Okay, so, hypocrisy. So what? But as Scott and Diana grow closer together (the lack of an actual sex scene between the two is a mercy) he kicks his dead wife like a bad habit while her late husband and the father of her sons fades from memory. The sorcerous game to be King and Queen brings with it some definite royal failings.

I'd compare and contrast Last Call with Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Powers and Gaiman are both wearing Jungian hats. Both create hard luck heroes who turn out to be more than they appear. And in both cases, the protagonists are widowers. But in American Gods, there's an enduring love between Shadow and Laura, and she's a wild card instead of an evil. That's what I would call getting it right.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hoppity Friday Random Ten

If you have fairly long legs, you can--depending on step size, of course--take two or three stairs at the same time. It's a time saver that can also get a priceless expression out of your coworkers, so that makes it worth trying.

1. Sly & the Family Stone--Hot Fun in the Summertime
2. Fol Chen--The Idiot
3. The Beatles--Girl
4. Nancy Wilson--The Very Thought of You
5. Elton John--Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
6. Talking Heads--Stay Hungry
7. Simon & Garfunkel--America
8. The New Pornographers--Stacked Crooked
9. Patsy Cline--Heartaches
10. Kendra Shank--L'Amour est Bien plus Fort que Nous

Thursday, June 9, 2011

How it can all go so wrong

In Dunkin Donuts today (don't judge me) my table was a few yards from a group of older men: fifties/sixties. One talked the most and the loudest. On just two points, really. All politicians should be shot, and kids today are so fuckin' dumb. To his credit, it was someone else who tried illustrating the second point by bringing up Leno's mindnumbing "Jaywalking" feature, but seriously these tirades went on for a good half-hour, and then it was time for me to leave.

Today I had my most vivid understanding of what Pete Townshed meant by "hope I die before I get old."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weird ide@

I've had the idea of setting up a blog as a fake Twitter account. It would ideally look exactly the same, but every post would have exactly 141 characters. Sadly I think the work done/minds blown ratio wouldn't be in my favor.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"What was that?" Saturday Random Ten

Was in the coffeeshop at Borders this evening, hoping for the muse to strike. I noticed by the picture windows they were setting up a sound system. Sometimes bands or solo singers play in the store, so I was curious if this was going to be something like that. It turned out to be a guy doing a radio talk show. Sort of an aspiring Larry King with less personality—keep reaching for that dream, I guess. After a few minutes I found this distracting without really being interesting so I left. I did manage to write some (possibly) good stuff in a lined notebook at the bus shelter.

1. Nellie McKay--Beneath the Underdog
2. Miles Davis--Israel
3. Patsy Cline--San Antonio Rose
4. Talking Heads--Take Me to the River
5. Elton John--I've Seen That Movie Too
6. Beck--Soldier Jane
7. The New Pornographers--Sing Me Spanish Techno
8. Finn Riggins--Antoinette Pt. 1
9. The Kinks--Last of the Steam-Powered Trains
10. Ladytron--Versus

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sportin' Life

Gil Thorp is... Well, you can read about it here. It is and always has been pretty weird, but a square, Middle-American kind of weird. For crying out loud, one of the Left Behind authors used to write it. So when it deals with surprising topics, the surprise is indeed rich. This past year, the strip backed into sort of dealing with the bullying of gay teens. Now as you can see above, Thorp has found an antagonist in a demagogic school councilman who takes the Scott Walker line on teachers. As opposed to the more melodic kind of Scott Walker line.