Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Also, we are presently in the midst of shipping VIDEO WATCHDOG #132, which returned from the printer on Wednesday. It's a fine looking issue, with a great diversity of films and television covered, and the general tone strikes me as more nostalgic and light-hearted than our previous CASINO ROYALE number. For those of you who have been petitioning me for the return of "Things From the Attic"... it's in here!
I also wanted to mention some additional information about THE THOMAS MANN COLLECTION titles, which I blogged about a couple of days ago. Apparently there is some uncertainty at large about whether the set includes the full-length versions of the made-for-German-television THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN and DOCTOR FAUSTUS, or their condensed theatrical versions. I am currently two episodes into DOCTOR FAUSTUS, which is certainly the miniseries version; the IMDb lists a 137m running time for the movie, and the first two parts alone nearly amount to this. It takes awhile to get going, but I'm very much caught up in it. As for THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN, it's packaged in an ever stouter disc booklet than FAUSTUS and lists a running time of nearly five hours. Also, THE THOMAS MANN COLLECTION is a Koch Vision (formerly Koch Media) and this label is rapidly becoming synonymous with careless DVD transfers. DOCTOR FAUSTUS looks like it was mastered from an old PAL tape, with lots of staggering during camera pans; it's acceptable only because it's the only opportunity I've had to see this film. It's also letterboxed in a manner that requires me to wide-zoom the picture, which gives it a bit of a taffy-pull, but it's the only way I can fill my screen and get both tiers of the English subtitling. I had the same complaint about Koch Media's LA BELLE CAPTIVE, and their release of Alain Resnais' MURIEL was only somewhat better. This label is exercising superb taste about what to license and release, but they could use an employee with a clue about how to present it all on disc properly.
Lastly, as I type these words, there is a large box sitting in our living room. It contains, I am told, two preliminary copies of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK -- the first two bound copies in the world. These copies are supposedly hand-stitched, in the manner of the dummy blank books we received last year, and once we approve these, the remainder of our order will be sent to the bindery, completing the print run. So why am I sitting here blogging, when I could be holding my book, savoring the fruits of my labors? Well, Donna wants to camcord the occasion for posterity, so rooms have to be cleaned (it's hard to find a presentable room here during the shipping of an issue, which is what's going on at the moment), showers have to be taken, and we have to learn how to use this camcorder, which we haven't touched in years, all over again. So much for spontaneity... but I hope to have some kind of report on the "grand opening" on the Bava Book Update blog later this evening.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Speaking of Cronenbergian things, I'm told that my Millipede Press book on VIDEODROME is proceeding nicely and now in the photo selection/clean-up stage. This past week I pulled out some additional never-before-published shots, including several of myself on the set -- images I literally haven't seen in decades. I was surprised to discover that photos exist of me standing on the actual Videodrome set, and the derelict ship where the film's closing scene takes place, and in Rick Baker's EFX workshop holding a severed arm and a big chunk of Barry Convex cancer. There are also shots of me in the company of David Cronenberg, James Woods, Debbie Harry, Mark Irwin, Carol Spier, and co-producer Victor Solnicki (who I didn't recall meeting). Since I don't anticipate seeing too much more of myself in the book than an author's photo, I will share some of those images here once Donna has a chance to digitally rejuvenate them.
PS: Truphen Newben is back with two more terrifying TALES FROM THE PUB at YouTube: "The Return" and "Doppelganger."
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
This was around the time I was just dipping my toe into home video and still very much a dedicated reader. Somewhat earlier in my life, in the mid- to late-1970s as I was chain-reading my way through my literary education, I read a great deal of Mann and loved it -- those two books particularly, though I also found myself deliriously overwhelmed by the scope and style of his most colossal work of the imagination, his JOSEPH AND HIS BROTHERS tetralogy. I was thrilled to know that both novels had finally been adapted for the screen and couldn't wait to see them. What I did not know is that it would take another 28 years for that to happen.
Only now have the film versions of THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN [Der Zauberberg, 1982] and DOCTOR FAUSTUS [Doktor Faustus, 1982] become available for viewing with English subtitles, in a DVD box set from Koch Vision called THE THOMAS MANN COLLECTION -- along with an epic miniseries production of Mann's BUDDENBROOKS previously televised here as part of PBS' GREAT PERFORMANCES. The seven-disc set runs longer than 19 hours, making its hefty cost seem more reasonable.
I'm posting this information in a state of excitement; I haven't as yet seen the films themselves, though I plan to dig in soon. But what I can tell you is appetizing. THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN stars Rod Steiger, Marie-France Pisier and Kurt Raab, and was scripted and directed by Hans W. Geissendörfer, best known for his political vampire film of 1970, JONATHAN. DOCTOR FAUSTUS stars Jon Finch (great casting, I'm guessing) and Marie-Hélène Breillat and was written and directed by THE TIN DRUM producer Franz Seitz, who also produced both films -- some twenty years after producing a picture based on Mann's celebrated story "Tonio Krüger."
For those of you who aren't familiar with the novels, both works explore the hazy margins between disease and inspiration, art and malady, genius and madness. THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN is the magic realist chronicle of the education and elliptic romances encountered by a young German male while stuck for a long period of time at a health sanitorium high in the Swiss mountains, and DOCTOR FAUSTUS is the fictional story of classical composer Adrian Leverkuhn, whose musical genius is rumored to have been cemented through a deal with the Devil.
This is one of those DVD releases that sneak out completely under the radar, so I thought I would bring it to your attention -- merely as a public service. Incidentally, if your knowledge of Mann's work is limited to a viewing of Visconti's DEATH IN VENICE, you haven't yet discovered him. These productions bode well to be the ideal place, short of the books themselves, to get acquainted.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Scripted by Robert Dillon -- whose other credits include Roger Corman's X THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES (1963), PRIME CUT (1972) and FRENCH CONNECTION II (1975)-- Castle's THE OLD DARK HOUSE is not really a remake of the 1932 Universal classic directed by James Whale, though it too claims basis in J. B. Priestley's 1928 novel BENIGHTED. I'm told that the Whale film is very faithful to the novel until just before the end, and the Castle film's storyline bears only very loose similarities to the earlier narrative. Castle's film was not accorded much respect upon its release; in the United Kingdom, it was issued in a cut 76m version, while, in America, it was issued at its full 86 minute length. However, US distributor Columbia refused the expense of color prints, releasing it only in decidedly unlustrous black-and-white. It was shown this way on American television until sometime in the late 1980s, when it began to appear on premium cable channels and local commercial stations in color. It looks startlingly good in color, and I was also pleased to discover how much precision and compositional quality Arthur Grant's photography gained when I zoomed the full-frame picture up on my widescreen set. This, too, is the way THE OLD DARK HOUSE was meant to be seen and too often hasn't.
My newfound appreciation of THE OLD DARK HOUSE certainly doesn't extend to comparing it to the 1932 version, which is truly incomparable, nor would I compare it favorably to some of Castle's own work. It's not a perfect-of-its-kind confection as were THE TINGLER and HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. However, it's fairly assuredly the finest of Castle's many attempts to fuse humor and horror, and the opportunity to work with a thoroughly experienced British cast and Hammer's top-flight technical crew (including production designer Bernard Robinson and composer Benjamin Frankel) put Castle ahead of his usual game, which often made use of some less-than-impressive American supporting players. Top-billed American actor Tom Poston, returning to the Castle ranks from the previous year's ZOTZ!, carries the film confidently and amiably. In the earlier film, Poston played a variation on the absent-minded professor character played so successfully by Fred MacMurray in two then-recent Walt Disney productions, and came off as a likeable if diluted eccentric; here, he's playing a role better suited to his range and qualities and he manages to navigate a narrow and sometimes treacherous path between drama and physical comedy. Surrounding Poston are a motley crew of British players as the creepy Femm family: Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Joyce Grenfell (who fears that, if she stops knitting, the world will end -- as indeed it does), Mervyn Johns, Fenella Fielding, Danny Green, and the seemingly normal Janette Scott. Castle obtains a stronger body of performances than he got in any of the other films he directed in the 1960s, and if truth be told, the performances are uniformly stronger here than they were in the average Hammer film of this period.
So... the performances are delightful, the script's dark comedy plays well, the art direction is splendid, the music is appropriately baroque and doomy -- what is it about THE OLD DARK HOUSE that doesn't quite work? Somehow, whatever was necessary to bond these elements into a happy, organic package simply isn't in evidence. It isn't just that Danny Green makes a poor Morgan when compared to Boris Karloff -- indeed, when this film was first released, the James Whale version was considered all but lost, and few who went to see it knew much more about the earlier adaptation than the stills they had seen; the Morgan in this film isn't even the Femm's butler but rather a super-strong, strangulation-happy family member. Castle was able to cast his films, knew the atmosphere he was after, and had the right sense of humor, but he simply wasn't capable to make all these components move as one. In some ways, he didn't develop as a director beyond the abilities he'd acquired while making films for the Whistler and Crime Doctor series at Columbia in the 1940s: here as there, actors are trotted out in character when they are needed, and one almost feels them disappear as they move offscreen. The action is too stagey to convincingly blend with the mise-en-scène.
The film includes the credit "drawn by Charles Addams" (a monstrous hand actually paints the great man's signature onscreen in moon-pale ink), though the great NEW YORKER cartoonist drew neither the film poster nor designed the production. What he drew was the old dark house visible behind the main titles -- and drawn black on a deep purple background, his work isn't terribly visible, at least not in the print I viewed. Nevertheless, his presence acknowledges the debt that the Femms played in developing his own Addams Family -- indeed, he openly acknowledged that his butler Lurch had been inspired by Karloff's Morgan in the original film. It was clever of Castle to hire Addams, not only for the coup of adding his name to the credits and advertising, but for recognizing the relationship that existed between Addams drawings and the movie that he wanted to make. If you think about it, all of Castle's earlier horror films had been comedic though in a non-diegetic sense; they were genuinely horrific, but comedic in the way he sold them. After the rip-roaring success of HOMICIDAL, Castle's work in horror sought to balance horror and humor; it's there in 13 GHOSTS, in MR. SARDONICUS (if we see the version including Castle's "Punishment Poll" footage), and in I SAW WHAT YOU DID -- and it's in THE OLD DARK HOUSE that this uneasy fusion works best. It works well enough, in fact, to have inspired in other people the idea of developing Addams' cartoons as a television series.
William Castle (who died in 1977) is still about as popular among movie fans as he ever was when he was alive. Most of his best movies are available on DVD and he inspired the character played by John Goodman in Joe Dante's terrific 1993 movie MATINEE. Neither Castle's nor Hammer's most devoted admirers have had much good to say about THE OLD DARK HOUSE over the years, but it's doubtful that a cut or cropped or colorless version of the experience really passes for an intended viewing of THE OLD DARK HOUSE. My memory suitably refreshed and corrected, I think it harbors enough of the mysterious and spooky and altogether ooky to warrant a closer look, should a Sony DVD ever wend our way.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I recommend the TWISTED SEX compilations, and also another equally fascinating comp called THE LATE LATE SHOW, because -- at their best -- they are like archaeological digs into a buried world of lost, or nearly lost, cinema. No one who truly loves movies can fail to become absorbed in the revelations they have to show and tell us. The trailers used to fill out THE LATE LATE SHOW, for example, are from primarily European films so obscure to American sensibilities -- stuff like X-RAY OF A KILLER, HEADLINES OF DESTRUCTION and THE BLACK MONOCLE-- that it's like a window into an alternate universe.
A couple of nights ago, I decided to load up the first volume of TWISTED SEX for the first time in at least a decade, giving myself something to watch while I decided what I really wanted to watch. It only took a few trailers for me to realize that I had already made my choice, and I stayed with it for the whole 100 or so minutes. Leaving the program's erotic content out of it, which is considerable and sometimes extends to full frontal nudity for both sexes, I found myself primarily absorbed in what these trailers have to tell us about those sidestreets of cinema history that have never been thoroughly investigated and may never be. One such case is MADAME OLGA'S MASSAGE PARLOR (1965), the fourth and final entry in American Film Distributing Corporation's notorious "Olga" series, which now survives only in the form of the promotional trailer included here and other excerpts that were used to pad AFDC's compilation film MONDO OSCENITA. Also currently believed lost are two Barry Mahon titles promo'd here, FANNY HILL MEETS LADY CHATTERLY and FANNY HILL MEETS THE RED BARON. Though it's no longer lost (thanks to the efforts of Something Weird mogul Mike Vraney), the trailer for Andy Milligan's VAPORS -- a collection of high-contrast still images -- gives the film the aura of something lost, something eluding us even as it falls within our grasp.
As interesting and poignant as it can be to witness scenes from lost movies, I find it just as remarkable to encounter familiar voices and faces in the unlikely environs of sexploitation and its ballyhoo. For example, the trailer for STRANGE COMPULSION (a 1964 film evidently influenced by PEEPING TOM as well as Sacher-Masoch) is narrated by Les Tremayne, an experienced radio and voice actor (he narrated FORBIDDEN PLANET and dubbed RODAN) principally remembered by children of the Seventies as the avuncular co-star of SHAZAM. Then there are the sightings: someone who may be Robert Alda is glimpsed in the trailer for ALL WOMAN (1967); the famous NYC photographer Weegee shows up as the unlikely star of THE IMP-PROBABLE MR. WEEGEE (1967), seemingly set in Paris; John Beck, a member of the classic psych band The Seeds before becoming an actor, can be seen in a clip from Barry Mahon's GOOD TIME WITH A BAD GIRL (1967); Richard B. Schull drowns a woman in a toilet and gloats about it in the promo for WATCH THE BIRDIE (1965); and RE-ANIMATOR's David Gale can be seen with Jennifer Welles in the trailer for A WEEKEND WITH STRANGERS (1971). I have to wonder if Farley Granger himself ever knew that he was the star of something called BAD GIRLS, apparently a reissue retitling of an Italian giallo picture alternately known as THE SLASHER IS THE SEX MANIAC and PENETRATION.
A trailer for something called THE BRUTES (1970) not only features German actor Klaus Löwitsch (DESPAIR) but turns out to be an exploitative US retitling of Roger Fritz's Mädchen... nur mit Gewalt, not a film I realized had achieved an American release. This movie is legendary among fans of progressive rock as one of the few films to be scored by the pioneering Krautrock group Can. It introduced the song "Soul Desert" from their album SOUNDTRACKS -- which can also be heard in the trailer, though not the same performance included on the album. Similarly, I noticed that the trailer for THE RAPE KILLER makes use of library music whose descending electric bass pattern I recognized from my past viewings of TWILIGHT PEOPLE and MY PLEASURE IS MY BUSINESS (with Xaviera "The Happy Hooker" Hollander). Also mixed into this highly-charged intoxicant are trailers for movies with titles like THE IMMORAL, STEFANIA, and THE WEIRD LOVEMAKERS -- which hail from the last countries you'd expect: Sweden, Greece, and Japan, respectively. (Okay, that THE WEIRD LOVEMAKERS comes from Japan is not so unexpected.)
It's an old defense that the kid caught with an issue of PLAYBOY insists that he's only perusing it for the articles, and a not-always-supportable argument among devotées of sexploitation cinema that such films often have more than eroticism to commend them. But watching TWISTED SEX VOLUME 1, I must admit that I spent almost as much time scribbling down notes as I did looking at the screen. So, apparently, did Robert Plante, whose nostalgic blog Chateau Vulgaria has been running intermittent write-ups about the TWISTED SEX series since last September. He's currently up to Volume 6, and his notes include valuable additional information about release dates and distributors. You can find them here.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
You may remember that I've mentioned here in the past a novel-in-progress, one which I've actually finished several times but never fully to my liking, called THE ONLY CRIMINAL. I first got the idea for this book almost as long ago as I began researching the Bava book; it's the best idea I've ever had for a novel, but for some reason, I could never quite find my way out the other end of its maze. Some months ago, at the request of my agent, I sent her a nearly-but-not-quite-finished draft of the novel because she had found an editor who expressed interest. Last night before going to bed, I sent her an e-mail asking if there was an update. This morning, she copied me on the editor's response, which I reproduce here in full, minus his signature:
"Thank you for sending over THE ONLY CRIMINAL. I thought this was a fun, well-written book supported by a great, fantastical idea. However, I would have liked if the author focused more on one or two main characters, instead of jumping around so much, and began digging deeper into what the Only Criminal really is earlier in the book. I hope you find a good home for this project."
I must be getting old, because I can remember 1) when "fun", "well-written" books with a "great idea" were in demand by publishers, and 2) when editors still worked with writers on promising manuscripts to make the most of them. Those days, it would seem, are somewhere over our shoulder in the next county.
This editor didn't know my work, evidently, or understand the book, even if he derived pleasure from it. Like my other novels, THE ONLY CRIMINAL is about a central character and others in his immediate orbit, but it's more importantly about a global phenomenon tied to found artifacts of, shall we say, infernal provenance. That's my thing -- I've worked hard to make it my own, and according to the reviews I've received over the years, it's well-liked. You wouldn't ask J. G. Ballard to please resubmit his latest after beefing up the characterizations and leaving out the clinical lingo and psychosexual sociology, would you? And dig deeper into "what the Only Criminal really is earlier in the book"? Never mind that I begin asking that question as early as the first chapter!
This careless little paragraph got me angry enough to spend the day doing something I haven't been able to do in longer than I would care to admit: I finally finished THE ONLY CRIMINAL to my own liking. It was much closer to being finished than I suspected, and perhaps part of me hadn't been willing the cut the cord until now, until the Bava book was behind me. I sensed what still needed to be done the other day when it occurred to me that I might conclude the climactic chapter with a passage I had used to finish a novel I wrote back in the 1970s and never tried to publish, a segue from my own words into words and images imported from the Bible. I did this, and voila, it fit like a missing jigsaw piece. THE missing jigsaw piece. I excitedly spent the rest of the afternoon polishing some other areas, changing some street names and such, and now I feel the book is as good as I can make it -- at least as good as I can make it until it finds its way beneath the wing of strong editorial guidance. If such a thing still exists. I believe it does.
I've printed off a copy of the manuscript and I intend to ship it out tomorrow to another agent who has agreed to consider me as a client. It's time for a change. I'm hopeful; it's a special book. In the meantime, please be so kind as to light a candle for me and THE ONLY CRIMINAL... or I may just give T.O.C. your address.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I think the cover of this issue, with its Charlie Largent-created centerpiece, gives a very good indication of what fun it is. (Click it to see it giant-sized.) We're not calling it one as such, but this is very much one of our "All Review Issues." David J. Schow (who hearby joins the elite group of writers who have had their names on the cover of our magazine) contributed a wonderful piece on the delicious Season Two of THE WILD WILD WEST; Bill Cooke delivers his long-awaited coverage of THE TARZAN COLLECTION 2, with its half-dozen RKO productions starring Johnny Weissmuller; Shane Dallmann roars back with reviews of Classic Media's GOJIRA, GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN and MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA discs; and, by popular demand, "Things From the Attic" returns with my vintage tape reviews of some Paul Naschy rarities, the crazy Ed Wood-scripted THE REVENGE OF DR. X, and TOWER OF SCREAMING VIRGINS (one of the first letterboxed tapes ever to hit the market). And that's still just the beginning!
You can read all about it on the "Coming Soon" page of the VIDEO WATCHDOG website, and sample the opening pages of our WILD WILD WEST and TARZAN coverage, as well!
Incidentally, if you're keeping track, this is the first time we've featured Boris Karloff on the cover of VIDEO WATCHDOG since our fifth issue, back in 1990. That issue included the first published excerpt of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, and we enjoy the symmetry that this will be the issue on newsstands as that book finally becomes a reality.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Our visiting friends from out-of-town have departed, so today we're buckling back down to work today -- albeit slowly and not altogether willingly. Sitting in the sunlight for a few days engenders its own form of drunkenness and it's a pleasant way to wile away the waning days of spring. Maybe I'll do my proofreading outdoors on the patio swing, as the sun totters below the horizon.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
So I haven't had time to blog, nor even time to watch much of anything since Sunday night's SOPRANOS finale. However, last night, I had the treat of introducing Roger Corman's Poe films to my friends' teenage son who has already made his own computer-animated Poe short without ever having seen Corman's trail-blazing work in the field. I chose PIT AND THE PENDULUM as his introduction, and he enjoyed it... almost as much as his mother did, who was shuddering anew while enjoying having her memory refreshed of a film that she saw back in the 1960s in her native Belgrade. We all loved the zinger ending, though Donna had to compromise it by asking how Barbara Steele's character got gagged after she had been tossed into the Iron Maiden.
To report some recent work I've done: my next SIGHT & SOUND columns will be devoted to DA Pennebaker's DONT LOOK BACK and Bret Wood's PSYCHOPATHIA SEXUALIS, respectively. Also, SIGHT & SOUND requested my participation in an upcoming forum in which various critics are asked to write about their choices for "Forgotten and Overlooked Films" -- I submitted a couple hundred words on LE ROMAN DE RENARD ("The Tale of the Fox"), the 1930-37 animated feature by Ladislas Starewitch (the family's preferred spelling -- he's Wladislaw Starewicz on the IMDb).
Also my VIDEODROME book for Millipede Press is currently in the layout stage and I am supposed to see some sample layout pages tomorrow. I'll report more fully once I've seen the pages.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
McDowell certainly wasn't alone in his affections for IF....'s enigmatic, coffee dispensing heroine; in fact, I must admit that the possibility of learning more about Christine Noonan was one of the major reasons I was so keen to get to the audio commentary and extras for this superb set. On the one hand, I was disappointed in this regard because McDowell's commentary was recorded in 2002, a year before Noonan's premature death from cancer, so her passing goes unreported by the disc, even in the 2007 comments by film historian David Robinson, a visitor to the filming who augments the commentary track. But on the other hand, McDowell tells us just enough about this robust yet alluring Eastender to appease our curiosity and keep it vibrant at the same time.
The film, which Criterion will release on June 19, is a scathing criticism of Britain's public school system with surrealist passages, and was filmed by cameraman Miroslav Ondricek in both color and black-and-white. Noonan appears in only a few scenes of the film, and all but one of her scenes is in black-and-white, the palate that brings her particular qualities most to the fore. She first appears as the waitress in an off-the-A3 greasy spoon, who serves coffee to a pair of hooky-playing collegiates played by McDowell (in his first screen role) and David Hood. McDowell, sizing up the Girl (as she's called) like a predator, steals a kiss, for which she slaps him good and hard. He demands sugar for his coffee, takes two heaping helpings, then drops the polluted spoon back in the sugar bowl before walking sullenly away to a jukebox. Moments later, her hand appears on his shoulder.
He turns to face her.
Her eyes fix on him, tease him, tempt him.
It's such an odd role and Christine Noonan -- short, thick-haired, and solidly built -- seems an odd, decidedly non-ethereal actress to have been cast in it, but she lays absolute claim to it, her appeal still direct and enticingly musky after all these years. "She was really like that," marvels McDowell as he watches the moment where she turns to meet his covetous gaze through a curtain of heavy black hair.
Knowing that hanky-panky was out of the question with his wedded co-star, McDowell cheekily proposed to Anderson that he and Noonan perform some of their wrestling in the nude. ("It's up there with the one from WOMEN IN LOVE," he says of the sequence, "it was quite risqué for its time.") Anderson demurred from suggesting it to Noonan himself, but was agreeable if she had no problem with the idea. McDowell promptly approached his co-star and opened, "Lindsay has asked me to ask you..." to which she replied in her broad Eastern accent, "Oy don't moynd." Within minutes, they were both starkers and making cinema history. For his part, McDowell remembers feeling as though he had "died and gone to Heaven."
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
For me, recently, that song is currently "Ballad of a Thin Man" from Bob Dylan's HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED album -- and, for some reason, the live version from Manchester 1966 (erroneously released as THE "ROYAL ALBERT HALL" CONCERT) seems even more insistently impassable. I've taken to playing the song every night before retiring, a ritual I've been known to enact in the past with other minor key songs like "Telstar" by The Tornados, "Love Song for the Dead Ché" by The United States of America, "Share a Little Joke" by Jefferson Airplane, and "Swimming Horses" by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
You hand in your ticket
It recently occured to me, in the course of this obsession, that if you just change "bone" to "phone," you've got a scene from David Lynch's LOST HIGHWAY.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
The problem has been cleaned up for now, but our site was hacked earlier this week and I guess it could happen again. With that in mind, in the event we're not able to receive online orders due to malicious mischief, if you need to subscribe or renew, our toll-free number is 1-800-275-8395. If you can't telephone toll-free from your area, our you-pay-for-the-call number is 513-297-1855.
Friday, June 01, 2007
It was my birthday on Wednesday. Donna gave me a Zen Vision: M (a 30 GB "IPod" sort of thing that can play up to fifteen hours of music or four hours of video) and a pair of Sony noiseless headphones. I don't have any plans to watch video on it, but the display is nice, and the headphones sound really fine. Donna's had a similar Zen product for a couple of years, but I've always resisted the temptation to join the IPod generation for reasons as vague as they are various. Yesterday I got it charged up, docked it with my computer, and filled half of its available giggage with mp3s. And wouldn't you know it? I love the thing. It appears to be the accessory I've long needed to make walking on the treadmill not only less of a drudgery but actual fun. I walked five laps in the late afternoon on a #5 incline (one more than I usually do at my best) and another two in the evening just because the presence of music in my head made moving around seem more pleasing than sitting or standing still. I think the internal focus on music also takes away (valuably) from some of my usual focus on myself, which can foster anxiety and lead to nail-biting and other unattractive habits, so I'm now seeing in this needlessly postponed device the possibility for positive change. As I say, it's nearly a week since Wonderfest and I still have fingernails -- not like Richie Havens has fingernails, but they are fingernails.
Producing a new issue is always anxiety-inducing, so they may not survive next week, but I'm curious to see how my ZV:M will see me through the process.
Favorite ZV:M listening so far...
Robyn Hitchcock's performance from last Saturday at a "Games for May" tribute to Syd Barrett. Backed by musicians calling themselves Robyn's "Heavy Friends," the acoustic and electric set gives us a satisfying replica of what we might have heard, had Syd not retreated from the limelight and instead returned for an anniversary performance of his music. No "Baby Lemonade" or "Opel" regrettably, but a "Dominoes" and "Wined and Dined" to weep for, and throbbing ticking whiplash performances of "Astronomy Domine" and "Interstellar Overdrive" that sound directly channelled from the night everyone made love in London. This morning, as my coffee was brewing, I picked up my acoustic bass and surprised myself by being able to play both of these numbers by ear.
I'm also still getting a lot of pleasure from revisiting Patti Smith's TWELVE, her new album of covers. I haven't been an active listener to Patti's music in many years, but her choice of covers I find both sympathetic and adventurous. "We Three," from her classic EASTER album, has also become a renewed favorite of late.
As I said at Wonderfest while accepting my Rondo Award for "Best Website," VW's return to a monthly schedule is bound to interfere with my blogging duties. I can already feel it claiming some of the energies I was putting to use here. I intend to continue as best I can, but it won't be as frequently as before, and its character may even change somewhat. Stay tuned and we'll see what it becomes together.