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.

The Year Comes for Us

December was kind of weird.

Despite managing to post some reviews from a truncated project, and a Crapfest recap, I was largely off movies for the month. That’s not unusual; Hubrisween – or any similar movie challenge – usually leaves me with a hangover. So I engaged in some other braincell-killing pursuits, until I could bear to watch a movie again. Which is good, because I’m trying to gear up for another challenge in March, one that will ease me none-too-gently back into the world of Movies I Should Have Been Watching. I do really enjoy wallowing in the Cinema of Diminished Expectations, but there are so bloody many conversations I cannot take part in because I was watching Sausage Party instead of A Quiet Place.

Let’s do the non-movie stuff first.

I couldn’t afford a new laptop, but I still needed a portable computing solution, so I got a refurbished Chromebook instead, and I love it (of course, I love it because I’m not using it for its intended purpose). It does everything my phone does, with a larger screen and keyboard. My phone had started to be a transistor radio to me months ago, when I started using Amazon Music to sing me to sleep (their phone app has a sleep timer). I started to explore music podcasts for the same thing, since most podcast apps have a similar timer, or simply stop after an episode finishes. My favorite in this period was Trance Paradise, hosted by Euphoric Nation (yes, I am 61 years old and listen to a lot of Trance). That led me to the Internet radio station After Hours. Now, I sighed, if only I could find a podcast or radio station for my other love, late 60s – early 70s psychedelic rock. Exploring apps on my Chromebook, I find one that has links for Trance stations… and another for largely more electronia, but had the occasional oldies station, so say hello to my other new love, Psychedelicized Radio.

Which is all to the good, as I like music playing while I work, but it wasn’t using the potential of the Chromebook to its fullest. Then, by golly, enter Whizical Digital Imaging and their app, Kaleider. It’s an image-mirroring program that can produce some stunning, moving kaleidoscope images, and though I can find nothing that says it’s triggered by music (it has its own music player) the shifting of the images in time with either of those music stations is often more than can be chalked up to happenstance. This provides an experience that’s closer to meditation than anything I’ve managed in years. If I had this toy back in my heavy acid-dropping days, I would never have come down. I’m reminded of some parts of Ernie Kovacs’ TV show that were simply recordings of classical music with kaleidoscope images. In black and white. This is better.

For instance…

It’s also been fun tracking down images of old black light posters to feed into the program. I briefly considered trying to make a video of Kaleider in unison with some music, but then I realized the reaction would be something along the lines of “Oh, you stoned fool,” and went back to playing Gems of War (something else the Chromebook can do, and my dumpster-diver PC could not).

But what’s this? Christmas, and a number of Amazon gift cards? Hello, suddenly affordable replacement PC! It’s not magnificent, but a very definite step up. (I still can’t play No Man’s Sky, which is something I’ve wanted to do for three goddam years, but hey) What I can do is run Plex, which suddenly put the sneakernet in my house out of business. I had been jealous of my pal Dave’s home networking, and now I don’t have to be! Movies stream like magic to my TV! I feel like I’m finally living in the year 2000!

So. Movies. Let’s do the rare theatrical outings first.

Aquaman: I loved it. The further the DCEU gets from the Snyderverse, the better. As my son Max exclaimed, “There was actual color in this movie!” Strong cast, good director, and the sort of visual overload I once moaned that you could only get from Chinese movies. My major takeaway from The Expendables was “My God, Dolph Lundgren actually learned how to act!” and he is great in Aquaman! I have never been so happy to reassess my opinion of an actor. I’m also impressed that the DCEU hasn’t tried to movie-up their costuming as Marvel did. That didn’t work out so well with Deathstroke in the post-credit scene in Justice League, but damned if they didn’t make the gold-and-green for Aquaman look good. Amber Heard had already proven she could pull off the classic green Mera look. Hell, I didn’t even mind the minor rewrites of Justice League to make the timeline in this movie work.

I know, I know, you’re sick of superhero movies. You’re where I was with slasher movies, romcoms and 80s movies reboots. They’ll fade into the past soon enough. In the meantime, let me have my fun.

Ralph Breaks the Internet: I’m torn. I really, really loved the first one and its videogame-centric worldview. This is a sequel that did everything a sequel should: took our established heroes, gave them new challenges and vistas to explore. The satire is much wider here, but still pretty geeky. Overall, I liked it a lot, I think: the take on the Disney Princesses is pretty funny, and I liked that the animators cared enough that when they’re mucking around the Marvel part of Disney, they included a Stan Lee avatar. I’ll need to watch it again when it hits home video. Also, the post-credit scene was perfectly timed to answer a question that occurred to me.

Speaking of home video…

My local movie resale shop has a deal where if you buy 3, you get the 4th one free, and that is how I went home with Sausage Party (the others were It Follows, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and The Black Cauldron, if that matters). This is the R-rated version. I understand there is an unrated, unexpurgated version out there, and holy shit, am I not interested. The R-rated version pretty much took me to the limits of where I was willing to go. The world-building was fairly okay; the supermarket as a place where food waits for “Gods” – people – to come and take them to the promised land, and those that sit on the shelf too long are gathered by the “Dark Lord” and taken to the hell of the trash can. You probably already know about the overtly sexual relationship between hot dogs and buns, but you are not ready for the oversexed nature of all food. From there we fall into too-easy racial stereotypes as ethnic foods enter into the story, the discovery that the “Gods” are monsters who will eat our main characters and the eventual war between the two, climaxing – quite literally – in a food orgy, which is at least inclusive of all possible gender combos, and has one impossible act. The question that is going to linger with you is why?

Well, I may have given up on Pixels after five minutes, but I’ve seen Sausage Party all the way through.

Not sure what that proves.

“Complete and unexpurgated” had caught me by nasty surprise recently, too, as I had a copy of the extremely strange Italian movie Nude for Satan that claimed to be this. I had gotten really tired of the “Die Hard is a Christmas movie” thing (jesus, people, I was making that joke years ago), posted “Oh, so I suppose you’re going to tell me Nude for Satan isn’t a Christmas movie” and slapped that thing into the player, thinking this was likely a prime candidate for Crapfest. What I didn’t know was that there was a Dutch version of the movie into which some wily entrepreneur had spliced actual hardcore porn footage. There are few things like being entertainingly puzzled by a demented Italian flick and when your protagonist opens a door and reacts in shock, you are slapped across the face by several minutes of well-lit, enthusiastic fellatio. On Christmas Eve, no less. This would happen over and over again, with only a minimal attempt to actually connect it to the movie surrounding it (and often not even that bare – *snicker* – minimum), rendering the plot even more confusing. Something about Satan trying to switch our two stars with versions of themselves from the past, and lecherous giant spiders and oh yes, more porn.

Obviously the only way to follow that up was by finally watching Venom (please do not inquire about this train of thought). I’m okay with Tom Hardy finally getting his superhero movie, but I’ve never been a Spider-Man fan, nor of any of his morning zoo crew. It’s pretty standard stuff, with crusading reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) finding out that Earth-Sony’s version of a not-stupid Elon Musk (Riz Ahmed) has managed to bring back some alien symbiotes via his own private space program. The symbiotes have to bind with a compatible host to survive in our atmosphere, and most people aren’t strong enough to survive the binding. Brock is, and is soon talking to himself and turning into a whole bunch of shapes as Venom (and biting off a couple of heads). The upshot is that a more powerful symbiote, Riot, has taken over Ahmed, and wants to bring all its symbiote buddies back to Earth to eat us. Venom wants to stop this, which is a character turn that feels entirely unearned, but we agree to let art wash over us. Venom made a ton of money at the cinemas, and I’m not sure why; I don’t regret ceding 90 minutes of my life to it, but it’s not something I’m going to grab people and say “Hey! Watch this!”

Last watch of the year was something I had meant to get to for a while, unsuccessfully: The Night Comes for UsTimo Tjahjanto’s action follow-up to Headshot (preceded by the equally Netflix-produced horror movie May the Devil Take You). Ito (Joe Haslam) is one of the Six Seas, Triad drug lords in charge of keeping the trade efficient and problem-free. When a few members of a village skim the Triad’s profits, Ito and his crew are sent to massacre the entire village as a lesson to others. Ito, however, hits Kill Critical Mass, and instead of letting his men finish off the lone surviving 6 year-old girl, kills them instead, and that is where the problems begin.

Ito’s attempt to leave the country with the girl and start a new life gets very complicated when the other Six Seas want the girl dead to complete their message, and Ito six feet under as well. To do this they call in his childhood buddy Arian (Iko Uwais), as well as the female assassins The Five Lotus Petals. What that really means, though, is this movie is basically one long fight scene, and is already infamous for its brutality. That’s it. Theoretically the movie’s about the different paths Ito and Arian’s lives have taken, but it’s really just a Macguffin surrounded by fight scenes. It’s fun to see Uwais play on his reputation as a good guy.  Julie Estelle (the formidable Hammer Girl of The Raid 2) is on hand as The Operator, an impressively deadly lady whose job is to exterminate the Six Seas. At the end, The Operator, five of the Six Seas and at least two of the Five Lotus Petals are still alive. That’s a sequel I would watch.

You might want to bring plastic sheeting to a viewing, though. Pretend it’s a Gallagher concert.

New Year’s Eve was spent talking myself out of watching The Emoji Movie, on the faulty theory that then 2019 couldn’t possibly do anything worse to me, but I finally decided it was best not to tempt the bastard. Now I suppose I should start thinking about teeing up those movies of (harrumph) quality I was talking about.

Right after The Emoji Movie.

 

 

 

 

The Hubrisween Hangover

Told ya I was going to be scarce, didn’t I?

Oh, I had plans, I tell you what. Hubrisween going off like clockwork filled me with so much hope and optimism, you would have thought it was Christmas already. In fact, the Christmas present I should buy myself is a T-shirt with the word HUBRIS in big block letters and a large arrow pointing up at my grossly inflated head. Because I had planned a wondrous thing: another movie challenge which would result in my watching and reviewing 25 offbeat Christmas movies in 25 days.

I blame this on my own personal demon, a tiny Vic Diaz dressed in red that perches on my shoulder and tells me to do things like eat entire pies in one sitting and set outlandish, ruinous movie challenges for myself. If I carry that metaphor a little further, though, it would mean that the opposing angel figure would be a barely-dressed Michelle Bauer, and how the hell I could ignore that is beyond me, so forget I said anything.

This is kind of American Christmas personified, huh.

Any rational person would have said, “Hey, idiot – it’s the Holidays,” but as we know, rationality has little to do with my world. If you follow me on any other social media, you know that after eight years of scraping by on part-time work, I finally went full-time. That means a four-person staff went down to two doing the work of four. Again, that accursed rational person would point out that this meant less time for watching and kvetching about movies. Thanksgiving arrived, I had every bit of two and a half reviews written, and my body said, “Oh, a couple of days off? Good, I’ve been saving this up.” And thus began the loss of a week I do not remember at all. It is not possible to completely cough up a lung, but I surely tried. Still trying, as I type this up. Just not as frequently.

The Victorians had an… um… interesting… idea of what made an ideal Christmas card.

Luckily for the world, my old comrades at The Daily Grindhouse have independently decided to do the same thing (the Christmas movies, not the coughing up of body parts), so keep checking up on them for all your questionable Christmas needs. I’m actually relieved that I don’t have to watch some of the flicks I dug up, but some sound so bizarre I have to check them out. I’d made a vow that there would only be one Psycho Santa movie (and of course that’s one of the few I managed to watch), and I was going to re-watch a few old favorites I’d not seen in a while. But forget about it, Jake, you got too much real world work to do.

I’ll see you around, I hope I hope I hope.

“FUCK YOU! IT’S CHRISTMAS!”

 

 

Greetings, New Followers

I know you’re out there. We always pick up a few new followers during the Hubrisween event, so welcome. Also, I hope you were not fooled by that event into thinking that we always update daily. We generally try to do that once a week, and we generally fail at that.

We are also not sure when we started speaking of ourselves employing the royal “we”.

It was probably about the time I accidentally published this on Halloween day. Hooray for being pulled in multiple directions!

Anyway.

If you look at the little calendar widget to the right, you’ll see that October was pretty solid, but the months leading up to it were… spotty. Truthfully, watching and reviewing 26 movies is time-consuming, and I had been banking reviews for October since July. And I was still writing up Zoombies on Day 30. Every other time I’ve done this, I wound up hating movies for a couple of weeks, which is when you get a post about solitaire games or fidget spinners.

Get to writing, boy. Your cookies depend on it.

This time is different, for some reason. Well, the reason is actually obvious, and that reason is my brain is drying up with age, because I am going to try to do it again next month. With only a month to throw this together, it’s probably going to get smaller in scope as December 1 approaches, but barring untoward circumstances, something will be happening here. The baby Jesus only knows what that might be.

Anyway.

There are only two things you should know about me, going forward.

You are never going to convince me that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a good movie.

You are never going to convince me that The Last Jedi is a bad movie.

If you’re able to live with that, again, welcome. We’ll try to have some fun.