X: X-Tra Nothing (2021)

Are you surprised? TRICK!!!!!!

There was an outside chance (way outside, like over in the next block) that I was going to be able to do an X movie, but as is its normal habit, Life got in the way. I am girding my loins for two days of shoots involving children, and I’d rather face zombies and werewolves. Still need to find a way to have dinner on the table, but I have a cunning plan.

Why yes, it does involve a crockpot. Good catch.

If I had knuckled under and doomed my family to starvation, I probably would have done Xiangxi Legend, a recent Chinese movie about the dangers of tomb raiding. There have been a number of these over the last year or thereabouts, so there was undoubtedly a robust tomb raiding industry in that country. The trailer for Xiangxi Legend informs us that there are different schools of tomb raiding, just like there are for kung fu, which only supports my supposition.

I mean, that doesn’t look terribly Halloween-y, but just look at that poster! I swear to you the posters for Chinese action, horror and fantasy flicks have had a marvelous renaissance of late, by which I mean posters that make me want to see these flicks urgently. Which is just what I need: more movies to watch (did the sarcasm font load?).

Seeking out movies like this with English subtitles remains the same challenge as it ever was, but we all need a little sport in our lives, no?

Please don’t answer that.

V: Very Likely Not (2021)

Back during one of these Hubrisween marathons, I recall Chad Plambeck, currently of Confirmed, Alan_01, decided in a moment of madness to do the reviews in practically real time, watching a movie, then writing the review for the next day. Given Chad’s passion for screencapping, this must have been like grinding in a video game for magic socks or something. I’m surprised he survived.

I see the Police budget passed.

So here I am, in practically the same boat. Managed it pretty well in R through U, but my work week is usually pretty front-loaded, with Wednesday being the Day of Deadlines. At least there are no City government meetings for me to mark time through this week. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to miss a solid chunk of the ass-end of the alphabet. Sorry.

Today was going to be Verotika, “Glenn Danzig’s directorial debut, is a horror anthology that compiles stories from Danzig’s line of comic books of the same name. Stories which focus on horror content that’s often sexual and violent in nature, usually featuring scantily-clad female protagonists.” I’m actually not sorry for passing that over, because hey, I already did Catacomba this month, and I’ve already double-dipped on boat horror and Internet horror.

I would, however, really like to watch my W choice. Hopefully I can find enough Vaseline to fit it in today.

Q: Quiet, You (2021)

Please see this post for an explanation of why we’re so spotty for this year’s Hubrisween.

If you don’t care to click over, rest assured the reason is work. My commitment to improving government transparency actually pays me money; in other words:

P: Probably Not (2021)

Oh thank the sweet lordy Jesus, I finally found the “Classic” WordPress Editor, aka “The Editor That Actually Does What You Want”.

Just in time for another skip day. Of course. (I will miss that big Drop Cap, though).

I was going to do the 2013 Malay film Penanggal: The Curse of the Malayan Vampire for today, but the accelerated Hubrisween viewing schedule I had chosen for myself worked against it. A third of the way through, I realized that the movie was too Malaysian; there were bits and pieces that a native would instantly recognize and know their significance. If I had employed my usual leisurely approach to these things, I could research and hopefully find the cultural touchstones. I don’t have the time to do that currently. Sorry.

I will say that the movie is well-shot, and frequently beautiful. I may circle back later and try again later, mainly because Islamic horror movies exert an exotic fascination for me. But alas, today is not that day.

Happy Semi-Hubrisween to You

Oh. Hello. Yes, I’m still alive. Caught COVID from a vaccine-hesitant co-worker, but that’s over and, yes, I still live. Thank you vaccines. (I was amused that one of the reactions to my positive test was “Think of all the movies you can watch while you’re down!” This from a person who didn’t realize how exactly down the virus puts you)

I’ve got at least four drafts still loitering around about my absence from this page and why. Suffice to say that anxiety and depression, the usual culprits, are to blame, and the continuous dumpster fire of Current Events did nothing to alleviate that. Days were spent working, evenings were spent playing the newly-resurrected City of Heroes with friends, which offered escapism, stress relief and companionship during lockdown.

Most of my friends are still actors, even though I counted myself out of that game long ago. My main CoH buddy opened a show a couple of weeks ago, and that, along with the rehearsal period, put me at liberty most evenings, so I eased back into the Old Ways, the watching of movies, that had narrowed down to once a week – my usual Friday night brain-cleaning binge.

You know, I thought, this would be a good time to get back into the blogging game. Hey, Hubrisween is next month! Never mind that this was in September, and when I did Hubrisween in previous years, I started banking the reviews in July. Hell, I reasoned, if I can get halfway through the alphabet – to the letter M – by the end of September, this was doable.

And right there is the Hubris part of Hubrisween.

The real world intruded, as it is wont to do. I’m facing the busiest two week span I’ve had in a long time, and am stealing time to rap out this apology/reintroduction piece (In fact, as this goes live, I’m working on a live remote). I got through the letter H and stalled out, because once more, in my usual lump-headed fashion, I had found a way to make watching movies a job, a chore. That shouldn’t be work, that should be a joy.

So I realized a full return to the event was not in the cards.

But those first eight reviews are already scheduled, so enjoy. Maybe more will come. Hope springs eternal, yes?

Love in the Time of Everything Sucking

Yeah, I woke up this morning thinking of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Who doesn’t?

It’s been pointed out that I’ve been gone a while. That’s happened before, of course. I have great admiration for bloggers who keep on pumping out the posts, week after week or day after day. Once upon a time, I tried blogging every day and the results weren’t so hot. There are just days when you don’t got nothing to say, and it’s better not to say it.

Of course, the problem this time around hasn’t been a lack of things to talk about, it has purely and simply been a lack of motivation. You’ve probably noticed that there’s a bit of a pandemic going on and the country’s gradual slide into fascism has picked up significant speed. This has given rise to a new term for a new neurosis, doomscrolling. Relentlessly scrolling through Facebook and Twitter to find the most recent horrible news, the newest outrage, until you reach the end of your cache, then refreshing and starting all over again from the top.

I’ve been doing this. I’m trying to break myself of this pernicious habit. Maybe coming here and bugging you will help.

I’m in a halfway decent spot – so far, my main job allows me to work from home. My two side hustles dried up, but at least I can still manage to get bills paid. Mostly. Even that’s in a bit of a perilous state now, for reasons a bit too complex to go into here, so add that into the Doom Pile.

Stress has done its expected damage to my mental health. I’m still medicated, which helps, but my ability to focus was thrown into a wood chipper. My reaction to a Stay Home order should have been “Great! More time to watch movies!” but for several weeks I was unable to watch anything longer than 30 minutes. So thank God for Castlevania and the new Harley Quinn cartoon. And, more recently, the return of Doom Patrol.

Oh, Charlize, I have failed you.

This has abated somewhat but still crops up. For instance, I tried to watch The Old Guard a couple of weeks ago, and still had to tap out after a half hour. That movie had Charlize Theron wielding a battleaxe. That is two big red check marks on the Dr. Freex list and it still couldn’t engage me.

Then the next day I watched the new blu-rays for Horror of Dracula and Mystery of the Wax Museum back to back. Go figure.

Then again, Old Guard was showing me a bunch of familiar tropes. I was already familiar with the other two movies, but I went into them mainly for the restoration and gorgeous transfers. There’s no secret that the best way I found to survive the last four years with my fragile sanity intact was re-watching Marvel movies (I needed to see good triumph over bad as violently as possible), so The Old Guard‘s setup was all too familiar, even though it’s not strictly a superhero movie. The familiarity of gothic horror was quite welcoming, in retrospect.

My New Precioussssssss

I have quite the backlog of things to view and pontificate upon, if the world would just stop ending for a few minutes. I went into hock to buy that Al Adamson box set because of course I did. I would expect no less of myself. That’s a lot to get through. You know, if.

I should go get some work done now. I’m hoping to produce some capsule reviews in the next day or so. If certain dumbasses would refrain from saying something stupid.

I should probably just close those two tabs, shouldn’t I?

 

Cabin Feverish

Friday Mornin’ Comin’ Down Freex: Yep, this is the post I started a week ago. Let’s see if the wait was worth it. It may seem quaint at this point. Back to a week ago, when we were all so young, and had such hopes:

That’s kind of an all-purpose title, isn’t it? Lots of people have it these days. I’m one of the lucky ones. As a practicing introvert from waaaaaaaaay back, not much has changed for me. This is how I normally live, folks.

I’M WORKIN HEAH!

The previous week was the scheduled Spring Break for the college where I work (what I often bitterly refer to as “unpaid vacation”), but I still put in some hours by going to the college, packing up my editing rig and camera equipment, then transferring it to my home so I can work this week. It’s now taking up the entirety of the dining room table and the only problem I foresee is the fact that dining room chairs are made to be comfortable for exactly how long a meal might last, no longer. My ponderous ass is already protesting.

The Boy’s college and my wife’s private school – for students with learning disabilities – have both gone online learning. Turns out the stuff my son has been studying at college has proven essential for converting wifey’s school for online. So yay us.

This is The Grinch. Its monthly payments WILL stop Christmas from coming.

I find it mordantly funny that the week before everything went to shit I got tired of only having one functioning automobile in the family and bought a used 2018 Kia Soul. I had long wanted a Soul. I just bought it at the most absolutely wrong time in all of recorded history, which also renders that moment quintessentially me.

I do like the car, though. Let’s see if I get to keep it.

But that’s not why we’re here (cathartic as that was for me). Artists have been putting stuff online for folks stuck at home, which is a Good Thing. After all this is over, I’m sure we will all have a deeper appreciation for them and their work. Who am I kidding, they will go back to being despised, spat upon, and told to get a real job.

Oooh, bitter twist there. Sorry. Back to being upbeat and entertaining.

Anyway – I have no art to give away except my words. Everything else I have is somebody else’s, and not mine to give away, except the stuff that’s already public. So.

Slight digression, but there is a reason for it:

One of my oldest friends, Scott, a good guy with religious convictions (unlike your humble narrator), once offered the following metaphor to explain different religions espousing different interpretations of God/Messiah: to him, God was a sort of Celestial Mirror Ball, constantly catching light and throwing it back out. You caught the light flash that mattered most to you, while other people caught different flashes, but they’re all from the same source.

I liked that metaphor. It was inclusive without the whole my-way-or-the-highway bent that turns me off so much religion.

For my part, I believe in God, just not necessarily the God I’m told I should believe in. Too many of those versions are small, entirely absorbed in earthly matters to the point of being judgmental of personal relationships or really wanting His (always his, never Her) mouthpieces to be wealthy. I instantly distrust anyone who claims to know exactly what God wants, because God is vast and unknowable; casting him/her as entirely absorbed in what we advanced monkeys are doing limits him/her.

I also think God is beyond gender.

(Man, I did not expect this to get all religious. It’s my habit not to discuss such things, as I think a person’s relationship – or non-relationship – to God is ultimately a personal thing, or at least should be. Man, all this to get to a really stupid point, and here it is:)

As a recovering hippie, I love kaleidoscopes. There is often a point while looking at one that the image gets so complex, the details so intricate, that you wish to stop them in time, to drink in all that elegance and detail. But you can’t. It moves on, and you cannot possibly comprehend all that is before you. It seems to extend beyond and behind you. And for all you know, the center point of the design is actually miles away.

And that, even more than the Mirror Ball, is what I think God is like. Mind-boggling, beautiful, and finally, incomprehensible. God isn’t limited; my mind is.

So for me, God is a kaleidoscope. At least, I dearly hope God is a kaleidoscope. That would be cool.

Cripes, all that to get to this, the aforementioned art I can give away:

Any of the videos on hdcolor‘s YouTube channel are worth watching. They help me achieve a nice, relaxed alpha state. The music is good, too. But I do prefer to supply my own.

What’s that you say? Am I still doing those psychedelic playlists? Funny you should ask.

There’s more, but why overwhelm you? That’s six hours of music right there. Also, I’m not saying you might want to cue one of those up and then open a kaleidoscope video in another browser tab, but I do rather wish I’d had that technology back in 1979.

Hey, we’re back to writing in the present day again. There are movie posts I want to get to, but I don’t have to tell any of you working from home that this shit is exhausting. Stress and anxiety are doing their usual jobs on me – they may have actually doubled their productivity – and watching movies is actually kind of depressing right now. Oh, look at how we used to move around so freely, get so close to each other without a second thought.

The Real World is messing with my escapism, yo.

Speaking of which, my Kindle just bricked itself. I want to speak to the manager.

On the other hand, I am also about to have the first true weekend I’ve had in some time. I can’t do any of the things that normally steal away those off-hours, except fill my pill organizers. My liquor supply is about to take such a hit.

Maybe I’ll sober up enough to do some writing. Who knows?

We’re all improvising like Second City here. Stay inside, stay safe. Watch a movie for me.

 

Well. Hi there.

I have a veritable mountain of excuses. But let’s climb that mountain, stand on its summit with arms held high in exultation, and give you the most pertinent one: I finally bought a new keyboard.

I like things dim in my office, so I’ve been using backlit keyboards for the past several years. The latest was made by Redimp, and I bought it because it promised I wouldn’t be replacing it for the reason I was five deep into the specie: I couldn’t rub the letters off. I can touch type if I want, but it’s a slow process for me, so I usually do not want.

Nice keyboard. Clicky. I like clicky. But there was a flaw that I only truly discovered when I answered one of those consumer product questions from Amazon.

It was the space bar. It would either not put in a space, or it would provide two, per press. I’m one of those folks who if they see a problem with a line they just wrote, I have to fix it immediately. This had the effect of making me write each sentence twice, as it were. Very slow, very frustrating. No fix was forthcoming from the manufacturer, so I finally replaced it with one from Pictek, which was on sale.

redimp

Quick review: It sucks.

The left shift key and the Enter key (for God’s sake) didn’t work on that one. One exchange later, and here I am, making only one space per press and pressing Enter joyfully. Not a clicky keyboard, but the action on the keys is smooth as all get out. And just in time for Christmas! (In summary, and in keeping with the season: Redimp naughty, Pictek nice)

Now I should get back to work on the Crapfest recap I gave up on when I found myself in UnintentionalLongWordLand. Of course, there’s all sort of holly to be decked and fa’s to be la’ed, so it will take a while. I hope to do better in the future, and justify the hosting costs for this site.

That wasn’t an easy decision, either. Chad Plambeck recently shuttered his blog, after 20 years, and is shifting to podcasts. I considered that, but I edit video and audio for a living, so naaaaaahhhhh. But heaven only knows what 2020 will bring, eh?

Anyway.

Have the Happy Holiday of your choice, be safe, hug your loved ones for me. Seeya.

meatball-pan

Let’s Anti-Party

Hey, I see you out there, checking if I’ve updated lately. Honestly! I have checked, and I feel badly about not putting something up here. I’ve been working on a piece about the two Suspirias, and it’s proving one of those bits of writing I’m slogging through. Right now I’m just going to say that I liked the remake/reboot/whatever and there, I’ve probably insured that I’ll never finish it.

Man, February. This month is rough.

Facebook may be a miserable cesspool, but there is one thing it does, via “Your Memories” – it serves as a snapshot of where you were one, two, five, ten years ago. At least, depending on how much you share/overshare. Turns out for the past several years the week of Valentines Day always tries to kill me; besides my day job, there’s always at least one nighttime City Meeting to attend to, three shows (grab those Valentine dollars whilst you may) and other miscellaneous shoots. Something about this time of year makes people want to schedule events that require reportage. I shouldn’t complain, our entire crew -including the Engineer! – was out shooting Saturday, and my co-worker Pebbles (not her real name) was kind enough to take over one of the City Meetings from me. So it was only one City Meeting, four shoots, three stories edited and three nighttime shows for me with associated load in, set-up, tear down and load out.

This shit is a young person’s game, and honestly, this year the load worried me. I usually preface such weeks with a Tweet that says “Just in case this week kills me, remember I love you,” but this time I meant it. But, you know, one day at a time it wasn’t too bad. Dragging myself out of bed Saturday morning to go to the 10:00am shoot was the mightiest summoning of will power I’ve had to perform in quite some time, and christ only knows what that footage looks like. Then, the stories from the Friday shoot and the Sunday shoot have already been edited and okayed, so the odds seem in my favor on that score.

GIMME!!!!

As you know, my job changed back in October (largely for the better), and I am glad to report that my new health insurance kicked in at the beginning of this month, which means yay! I’m medicated again! We’ll see how much difference this makes, whether I will actually be able to watch a movie again or finish that furshlugginer Suspiria review. I’m actually posting on social media again, and hey look, you’re reading something that dribbled from my brain.

Usually in these little pauses in my movie consumption I fasten onto one of my older loves, reading or gaming. Neither of those are lighting a particular fuse this year, but what is keeping my brain afloat is something I’ve been largely ignoring the last, oh let’s say decade or two: music. At the age of 60 I re-discovered Internet Radio (back in the day Dave and I ran a Live365 station that was meant to underscore gameplay in City of Heroes. Ah, those were the days). Dude, there are stations out there that play trance music 24/7. Yes, yes, there are others that play different genres, but go talk about them on your own blog.

I’m wondering if this current passion is kindled because it’s puts me back in a younger mindspace: the mid-70s, when I was starting to pay closer attention to music right about the time that FM radio was beginning to take off. Those long nights spent listening to AOR stations and wondering just what I was listening to, and hoping desperately the DJ would tell me. (Long distance telephone calls cost money in those days, so calls into Houston radio stations were right out. I was living in the shadow of Texas A&M at the time, and the only two FM stations played easy listening music and country) Research was mainly limited to talking with like-minded friends (not many; my music was “too weird”) and Creem magazine. But mainly those off-kilter off-hours DJs in the days before programming analysts and corporate radio.

So many genres! Including… BIBLE?!

So here I am again, hearing the bit of music that really grabs me and wondering “What is that? How can I hear it again?” After Hours FM has a forum which posts playlists, and some of the sets do still have DJs doing the song announcement bit, meaning I’ve bought six songs in the past week (Russian stations like Anima Amoris are not so forthcoming)(Proofreader me points out that Anima’s actual site tells you what track is currently playing, unlike AH. Спасибо, Ivan!). This portion of the passion (with the brew that is true) takes me back to the late 80s, where there were some weekends when I just had to have new music, and would walk a mile or so from my fourplex hovel in Montrose to the Sound Exchange, a wondrous repository of all kinds of music. Both the fourplex and the store have been developed into oblivion, but at least The Sound Exchange still exists, they just found an equally boho neighborhood for a new location. I am going to be forever embittered by the gentrification of Montrose. But now we’re back to the Old Man phase of life, with me shaking my cane at high-rises where my little apartment and favorite dive bar used to live.

Am I back? Is better living through chemistry finally going to allow me to finish that damned Suspiria entry and even watch movies again?

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the little Monkey Dog who would sleep in my lap during movies the past year decided to run away and never come back (guess she’s peeing on someone else’s sofa right now), so drag me up another double shot of antidepressants, cue up some Goa music and kung fu, and I might be able to watch something tonight. I have a rare 24 hours between clocking out and tomorrow’s show with nothing on my calendar. I’d say let’s party, but I am not a partier. Let’s anti-party. Yes, that’s it, let’s anti-party.

Best Laid Plans

Well, that was certainly a week. But tonight I’ll finally be able to start watching that list of Good Movies!

(checks mailbox)

Oh God damn it.