Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The 2008 Collection

I've been paying $5 a month to keep my Podcast page up and running... one of my resolutions was to use it; if only to do some long music podcasts... 

Every year I put together a mix-CD of some of my favorite songs I found in my record collection while collecting or songs I found somewhere on the net.    I give them to friends.  For the first time I offer them to the cyber world.    I hope you enjoy it... 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

End of the World

Joe.My.God posted this.  I don't know anything about this performer, except he's gay, and sounds a little like Rufus Wainwright, except not as annoyingly nasal-ey.   

It's a lovely video and song.   And it's been a while that I've heard a song and it made me want to buy the whole album.  

Monday, January 26, 2009

Winter Vacation

I've been on vacation.   I've not had any extended time off from work for about four months, so it was badly needed if only to catch up on stuff around the house.   Of course, what I ended up doing was taking lots of afternoon naps.  The sort of sleeps where when I would wake up at 5:30 to a early dark winter afternoon I wouldn't know what day it was.  

I did create a to-do list and I'm happy I got to 75% of my tasks.  The one about writing a store of blog posts got pushed to the back of the list.  Right above laundry; This is still waiting for me.

So what I did on my Winter vacation.  

1)  FACEBOOK.   For the last six months various friends would send me an invite to join Facebook.  I'm on Myspace and Friendster, but I rarely, if ever, check my messages.   If I get a new friend request it's some cam-bot girl wanting me to look at her cam show.    I don't know what happened this last month, but everyone, and every conversation came back to the question, “Have you joined Facebook yet?”  I put it off, because I couldn't bare to fill out another profile questionnaire.  But from meeting Gwen in the parking lot of the gym saying: "How come you are not on Facebook", to Graeme guaranteeing that I would get a date within a month; I finally sat down and joined.   

And now I have to add my voice to the chorus.  If you are not on it,  you must.   The only way I can describe it is that it's like a map of everyone I've ever had any social contact with, from current friends to ones that I haven't talked with for years, old lovers, school friends from high school, people I met in passing performing in shows, suddenly they are all gathered in one spot; and suddenly I know what they are doing, thinking about almost to the minute.   In a way it's exciting and a little frightening.   There is a function called “Status”… this is where people put what they are doing now… I put that I was doing Pub Trivia at a local bar and a friend popped in to say “Hi... I knew you'd be here because of your status…”   Forget about worrying about Big Brother.  We are our own Big Brother. 

I've put a link on the Left to my Facebook account.  If you want to be my Facebook friend, just send me a request and mention that you are a reader… Love to have you jump into the pool… Come Join Us… 

Here I am having lunch with Mark (left) and Randy (right).  Mark I haven't seen in 7 years. 
2) Election.  I spent the inaugural ceremony at Sidetracks a local gay video bar.  They advertised they would be open at ten in the morning and most importantly they would have brunch snacks. I thought for sure that there would be at most fifty people there.  So, I was shocked when we walked and saw hundreds of people.  So much for the snacks, but I did nab the last piece of carrot cake.  It was an amazing place to be.   Of course, as per my usual, while Obama was being sworn in I was at the bar getting drinks.   

Oh, and I had a social faux pas.   I was in such a hurry to get out of the house that I just grabbed some newly bought clothes that I'd gotten on sale at Sears that weekend.   After the swearing in ceremony some guy came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Um… you have tags on your pants…”  I had left on not only the “70% off tag, but the long sticker down my leg that proudly showed how big my ass is…”   Once a nerd always a nerd. 

But what a feeling of celebration.  I can't remember being so excited about a politican and seeing so many other people excited.  His speech was inspiring.  I can only wish this country luck to get back on track.  I compare the Bush administration to as if we had a slumlord running our apartment building for the last eight years.   Everything needs to be fixed.  This country needs new tile on the kitchen floor, but that toilet also needs to be replaced.   I'm not expecting miracles, but boy do we need one… 

3) Because I was off I decided since I wasn't going to travel, I had license to spend money will a little touch of the devil-may-care about it.   I went to see a local production of Xanadu, which was fun, if a little over priced; bought myself a new scent Cordovan; and went out on Saturday and drank a little too much wine and beer.  (I forgot the golden rule of “never mix, never worry”) Oy…  Thankfully, nights like this are becoming few and far between. Here I am at Daniel's Birthday party.  I also, went to my friendly local tarot card reader to see what the next few months will bring.  A sweet faced, white haired middle aged woman named April M greeted me at the Chakra Shoppe and for $30 dollars told me that I need to do more meditation.  That I will have a love affair in February that will quickly turn sour, but that June and July are better months for romance.  I'll have good months with money in April and May, but look out in June and July.  Lucky in love, but not in money in the summer.  And May will be bring major adjustments in my life when it comes to my job and my family; She shook her head and said it will be very stressful.  You've heard it here first… check back for the results… 

4) And generally I napped a lot.  Dinah, my cat, has gotten high points for getting cozy this last week.   She can be a mess of trouble and is still attacking and biting, but she knows how to create a little nest among my legs on these cold chilly nights.  

Anyway… that's all the news… that's fit to print… J  


Monday, January 19, 2009

Hello Mr. President.

I've never felt such excitement in the air as for the election of our new President Obama. Tomorrow I'm going to a local video bar at 10 in the morning to watch the ceremonies. However, my Polish pessimistic side of me is just waiting for everything to fall apart. But for now I'm wishing everyone a happy President inauguration day.

In honor of the occasion I present this oddity of albums. A musical album with Perry Como and Kaye Ballard as the President and First Lady. This was one of Irving Berlin's last musicals. And it's not his best. But even bad Berlin is better than anyone's worst.

So enjoy our historic tomorrow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Minus 8 degrees this morning!

This winter reminds me of being a teenager in the 70's. Winters then always seemed to be this long and cold. I found this January 1977 Post in my diary to prove it, here.

I woke up this morning and for some reason I was worrying about all the birds and squirrels that usually run outside my bedroom window... Stay warm little creatures.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Very Odd(s) and Ends Ads
Circa February 1929 Photoplay Magazine
I Thought I Had Bad Self-Esteem Until...

It's just common sense that in collecting these women's magazines from a bygone age that most of the ads will be about women's special issues.  But to see the number of ads you'd think menstruation was all women ever thought or talked about.   

This ad is particularly disturbing.   Can you imagine working in a office and having the Personnel Manager start talking about your period.   The look on the employee's face says it all, "First I'll kill her by smashing this typewriter over her head and then I'll jump out the window..."

Actually this ad needs Aaron's razor sharp tongue to tell this woman where to go...

But not to leave out the men... I give you The Man I Pity Most

Here Earle Liederman "A Muscle Builder", takes pity on the modern man with his weak muscles and organs.    I found this odd that there was an ad aimed at building up men's muscles in a woman's magazine.  The other ads are almost exclusively about women's health and beauty needs.  Then I read the last sentence...  It contains 48 full page photographs of myself and some of my prize winning pupils I have trained. Look them over now and you will marvel at their present physiques.  

Muscle magazines are well known as coded as 'pink' in the day.   I'm assuming they were trying to appeal to the Joan Crawford fan base.

Because the text of this ad is in .5 type... I'll recreate this homoerotic tone poem below:

POOR OLD JONES.  NO one had any use for him.  No one respected him.  Across his face I read one harsh word - FAILURE.   He just lived on.  A poor worn out imitation of a man doing his sorry best to get on in the world.  If he had realised one one thing, he could have made good.  He might have been a brilliant success.  

There are thousands of men like Jones.  They, too, could be happy, successful, respected and loved.  But they can't seem to realize the one big fact that practically everything worth while living for depends upon STRENGTH, upon live red-blooded, he-man muscle.

Every you do depends on strength.  No matter what your occupation, you need the health, vitality and clear thing your big strong virile muscles can give you.  When you are ill, the strength in those big muscles pull you through.  At the office, in the farm fields, or on the tennis courts, you find your success generally depends upon your muscular development.

Here's a short cut to Strength and Success

"But" you say, "It takes years to build my body up to the point where it will equal those of athletic champions" It does if you got about it without any system, but there is a scientific short cut.  And that's where I come in.

In just 30 days I can do things with your body you never thought possible.  With just a few minutes work every morning I will add one full inch of real live muscle to each of your arms and two full inches across your chest.  Many of my pupils have gained more than that but I GUARANTEE to do at least that much for you in one short month.  Your neck will grow shapely, your shoulders begin to broaden. Before you know it, you'll find people turning around when you pass.  Women will want to know you.  Your boss will treat you with new respect.  Your friends will wonder what has come over you.  You'll look ten years younger, and you'll feel it, too. 

But I'm not through with you.  I want ninety days in all to the job right and then all I ask is that you look yourself over.  What a marvelous change! Those great squared shoulders! That pair of huge lithe arms! Those firm shapely legs!  You'll be just as fit inside as you are out too, because I work on your heart and your liver, all of your inner organs, strengthening and exercising them.  Yes indeed, life can give you a greater thrill than you ever dreamed...


But don't worry ladies... weight loss is so much easier for you.  Just ten minutes will roll the fat way and absorb it into your body.  Keep the fat in the places you want it and roll it to where it will do the most good.  

Then send away to the Psychology Press in St. Louis (a hotbed of psychology in the late 20's) and find out just what you should avoid to get your man.  You'll learn the secrets to a man's mind with the booklet "Fascinating Womanhood".

Just remember not to have exposed or irritated skin.   "They just don't belong.  They express bad form more clearly than an ill-fitting frock..." 

And finally A New Skin.   Never again "suffer humiliation nor take a 'back seat' in society, business, or love affairs."    All around an amazing ad worthy of any art museum or tee-shirt.  

Peace... stay warm... 

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Worst Movies I watched from Netflix in 2008

Per my ying and yang of Netflix reviews … I wanted to conclude with some thoughts on some horrible movies I sat through this year. It actually was not that bad for my Netflix picks. Maybe I've just gotten a little more savvy about what I should be watching. I'm only including eight films instead of the traditional ten. I could have included The O in Ohio, which wasn't so much bad as not funny and disappointing. And the She-Beast, which was an awful movie, but partly because the print was so bad I could barely see it.

Doing these lists can be dangerous. People get so emotional about their movies. If I recommend a movie to someone and they don't like it, the worst that might happen is they'll not trust my advice again. But if I tell you I hated your favorite movie an argument might ensue. I am pretty confident that these films are no one's favorite movies…

The Neptune Factor: Take one part Poseidon Adventure, one part Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and mix with large helpings of the early 70's craze for aquariums and you have The Neptune Factor. This movie is so dull that it's almost a zen-like experience. The seafaring threesome (Ernest Borgnine , Yvette Mimieux , and Ben Gazzara take a diving bell down to where no man has gone before. That is unless you are not counting that plastic diver at the bottom of your fish tank. The plot follows our stars as they try to save some fellow marine biologists who fell into a crack in the sea floor during an earthquake. There they find giant fish of the same variety that you can find at any Pet Smart. Best scene: Borgnine being attacked by lion roaring Angel Fish. I swear the cast was looking at their watches waiting for the movie to end.

Doomsday: Occasionally I like a good futuristic Apocalypse story. I loved the 28 Days Later films and I'm not against the occasional violent, zombie blood bath.. But this film was one gigantic headache. Filled with screaming heavy metal music, it's nearly non-stop like someone just left a CD playing in the editing room; horrible violent mutilations and death scenes, and poor, poor Malcolm McDowell who should have done a sequel to Caligula instead of having any connection with this overblown, faux video game of a movie. Worst scene a bloody execution while Fine Young Cannibals song She Drives Me Crazy is played in the back ground. The director is supposed to be some new wunderkind. Egads learn how to put your camera on a tripod Mr. Marshall.

Days of Darkness: As I said, I love a good zombie movie; but when a zombie movie goes bad… they go terribly bad. The plot is standard: A group of people are trapped in a military base in the desert while zombies wander around trying to get in through the barbed wire fence. But they aren't really zombies they are dead people with aliens in them; Follow the zombie rules people! That wouldn't be bad; but the real purpose of the movie seemed to be just an excuse for the actors all run amok with improv'd dramatic scenes about their lives. It's the Pasadena 'Lil Theatre on the Mall's Players' big chance to read that monologue that they've been saving up for ten years. The repentant porn star with the virgin daughter, the sickly Christian preacher, the gay guy who watched his partner devourer their adopted Chinese daughter… Argh… Even the zombies looked bored.

Macbeth (2006): This year I made an effort to watch at a filmed version of a Shakespeare play every few weeks. One of my favorites was Roman Polanski's Macbeth. Just brilliant! This version takes the classic story of Macbeth and his lady and envisions it as a two hour Mazda commercial. It's not really bad, just insanely disconnected as the extraordinarily attractive actors spout the Bard's dialogue. Out, out damn spot.

New York, New York: I've been wanting to see this film for decades. Martin Scorsese, Liza Minnelli, great 40's big band songs. How could it fail? Oh man… I felt like I was being dragged through a field of broken glass by the end of the second hour of its three hour running time. Very colorful broken glass mind you, but it is painfully uninteresting and irritating. Liza actually fairs the best and it could have been really something if Scorsese had actually written a script in advance. According to the documentary I watched on it; he decided that he wanted a movie that would look like a 40's musical, everything else would be modern and 70s. Such as not having a script. And when actors don't have scripts they resort to yelling and screaming at each other. Even Liza was told not to sing like herself, but to develop a high reedy voice that would be in keeping with the 40's big band singer style. Unfortunately she just sounds out of tune. Note: There is an amazing last number called Happy Endings that steals the show. And Note again: It was cut when it first was released. Also the closing number is pretty spectacular. But you have to wait three hours for it to happen. At the same time I rented NYNY I also got a Showtime's Master of Horrors episode that I watched the next night. It was about how George Washington was really a cannibal. It was awful, disgusting, sophomoric. But after it was over I thought, well it was better than New York, New York.

What the #$*! Do We Know!?: I've been interested in this new found theory about "vibrating"and willing success into your life. It's recently found a new blast of fame with "The Secret". This movie take that theory and adds quantum psychics and then tries to explain it's theory by having poor Marlee Matlin get drunk at a wedding. All the while these new-age BS "scientists" give some mumbo-jumbo theory about how if you visualize that you have a car it will appear in your life. I was offended, confused and overall completely bored by the whole thing. To top it off that 80's channeler Rhamtha had something to do with the making of the movie. I shouldn't even put this movie in this list because technically I just watched half of it; the rest I skimmed through at 2x the speed. If anyone tries to talk you into watching this movie be very suspect.

The Sunshine Boys (Peter Falk/Woody Allen): The Sunshine Boys with George Burns and Walter Matthau is one of my favorite films. Matthau makes the word "Enter…" one of the funniest moments in movie history. So I was interested in seeing how it would be with the great Peter Falk playing the Matthau role and the always interesting Allen in the George Burns role. Add in Sarah Jessica Parker as their agent niece and I thought it couldn't be that bad. I had no idea it would be this complete train wreck. As someone wrote on about this pairing, "Falk and Allen are supposed to be a 50's comedy team, but they act like they are in two different movies. "Indeed one is left asking how if these two ever shared a coffee and a chat together, never mind a TV career" To top it off, they are supposed to have had this great career but you never see a second of their act. Absolutely one of the most needless remakes in history, that is until the release of Casablanca starring Madonna.

Charlie Chan: Curse of the Dragon Queen: Remember when there was this resurgence of Art Deco in the 70's. Everyone wanted to go back to the 30's. By the time this movie came out that fad had already died away. But I guess the director wanted to make sure that they nailed that coffin down tight. An amazingly spectacular 70's cast of has-beens: Peter Ustinov, Lee Grant, Roddy McDowall, Angie Dickinson, and a very young Michelle Pfeiffer. I had this year watched a slew of Charlie Chan movies; it was a passable series with some good mysteries. Except for the accent and the white suit there is very little connection with the original character, and the real mystery is how did this ever get released on DVD. The screenwriter David Axelrod's credits include The Dean Martin Roasts and it shows. Every joke is painfully overplayed. Poor Angie Dickinson who plays the Dragon Queen seems to be just passing through the film on her way to some costume party. Ustinov puts Asian American relations back a couple decades and Roddy McDowell plays the role in a wheelchair in order to make sure that there isn't a single group that isn't offended. The great character actress Rachel Roberts committed suicide shortly after the completion of this movie. I think Chan should solve That crime. Click Here for the trailer

I had to watch this movie in ten minute bits, I was determined to make it through. I think I might need an intervention.

I watch this abysmal dreck so you don't have to…

Sunday, January 11, 2009


We were hit with a surprise snow storm starting last night. We were told it would be one to two inches... but it started and didn't stop. I walked around with my camera. It was very pretty.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sweet Marijuana

This very odd musical number is from the long forgotten murder mystery musical, "Murder at the Vanities" starring Jack Oakie and Kitty Carlisle. Filled with grisly killings, ditsy showgirls, lecherous policemen and a bunch of faux Busby Berkeley numbers you get your moneys worth with this film.

This number Marijuana although short is a show stopper. Why they perched girls on top of cactus plants is any one's guess. Or maybe there is something I don't know about the evil weed.

Thanks to my friend Paul for making me a copy of this...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

My Favorite Movies of 2008

I should start with one of my long winded apologies about not posting for a couple of weeks, but it seemed like none of the blogs I read were posting after December 20th.   Much like the streets and highways during the holiday season, the cyber highway was also pretty slow.   Even people that usually post every day were down to once a week.   

That said, I've had lots of ideas for year end posts that I never got to because of family obligations, out of town friends, and general malaise.   I hope everyone had a happy end of the year… 2009!  Argh every year seems more like I'm in a science fiction story.   2010 will be almost unbearable.   I say let's start a petition to put it off another year.   

Anyhoo… I've been a Netflix subscriber since October of 2000… Back in the day when I had to wait four days for my movies as there was only one hub in San Diego; back when my mailman stole every other one; back when the sleeves were a slippery plastic.    I had first heard about Netflix at a dinner party.  My friend Patrick talked about this movie subscription service where you got a movie and when you watched it and sent it back you got another one.   Impossible… what?  No it couldn't be…  I purchased my first DVD player a little while later and began an insane journey into film and TV series watching.  My first DVD was Sex and the City followed by the Judy Garland Show.   Hello Mary…!!!  Four years ago I upped my movies out quota to 8, cut off my cable and exclusively watch nothing but DVDs.   

For a completest like myself it's been a blessing and a curse.  I've watched all of Six Feet Under, X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel… currently I'm plowing through the Doris Day Shows and the Naked City.   As my friend Sally once said, "Lord save me from the completest".  

This year I watched over 250 DVDs… about five a week… At times it feels like I have movie watching homework.  Right now I should be watching Love Story, but I thought I'd better pound out a post instead. One of my favorite features of the system is the ability to write a mini 300 characters review about the movies I've watched and send it to my Netflix friends.   I thought I'd modify that structure a bit and give you my 10 favorite Netflix movies of 2008. 

10.  Portrait in Black:  This year I had a renewed interest in Lana Turner movies (Postman Always Rings Twice, The Big Cube, Imitation of Life) but this one really made my camp bone tingle.  Not to give too much away but Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn kill Lana's dying husband and most of the movie is wondering how they are going to get away with it.  Sort of Colombo but with more Edith Head dresses.   I just love these outlandish melodramas with lush scenery, over the top performances, and insane twisty plotlines.   And you ain't seen nothing until you seen Lana try to drive down the Pacific Coast highway, in a rainstorm, a dead body in the back seat, all while wearing a black dress bedazzled with rhinestones, and after she tells Quinn, "I don't know how to drive"... Hilarity ensues. 

9. The Host:  I loves me some big monster movie.  And this one took me completely by surprise.  
Funny, scary, and punch you in your gut emotional.  This Korean made film tells the story of a down and out lakeside vendor and his family as they battle a toxic sludge made monster.  It sounds pretty standard, but I was laughing one moment and holding back the tears the next.   Note: If you do get this, don't watch the dubbed version, go for the original with subtitles.  The dubbing is awful; I almost turned it off when I started to watch it the first time around. 

8. Killer Bait
I already wrote a post about this film.  See HERE.  However this was my year to do a Noir festival, The Big Heat, Naked City, Black Angel, Strange Impersonation, The Dark Corner, The Big Combo are all worth seeing.   What makes Killer Bait stand out is that it's so undiscovered.  Awful print, terrible sound, but Lizbeth Scott's performance just leaps out and pulls your hair out of its roots.  

7. Imitation of Life:  Amazing that two Lana Turner movies made my list, and more amazing that this film snuck by me for so many years.  This Summer my pals at Hell in a Handbag, put on a staged reading of a homage to this film at Hamburger Mary's called L'IMITATION OF LIFE.  Ed Jones' hilarious portrayal of Lana was spot on, and creative director David Cerda told me afterwards that most of the script was straight from the movie, the lines were so funny.   Such as when Lana tells her black maid/friend "I never thought of you as having friends…"    I put it at the top of my list.  I was expecting another camp fest, but the great Douglas Sirk once again took schlock and made it into art.  True there are campy parts, but it uses the melodrama format to punch home the message of the racial problems of the 50's.  The ending will leave you speechless and in tears.   Ironically I watched this instead of watching Obama accept the Democratic nomination. 

6. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer:  I read the book years ago and remembered nothing about it except I read it in about two days and loved it.   I recall when this movie first came out critics said it wasn't as good as the book, the book was impossible to film, etc… Maybe they should have waited a few years between reading it and watching it because I thought the film was brilliant.   The story of a man born seemingly without a soul but the ability to detect the slightest smell.  Seems like an odd subject matter for a film, but rarely have I been horrified and titillated at the same time.  Erotic in the best sense of the word.  And lushly beautiful. 

5. Tess of the Storm Country:  This year I've been watching a lot of Mary Pickford movies.   Poor little Mary Pickford… but if you haven't seen one then you are missing out on a major part of film history and some amazing films.   Mary was America's number one star and her films show why.  They are so well crafted that I can see them being watched 500 years in the future and they would still be understood.   Mary always plays the underdog, be it in modern times like in My Best Girl or as a street urchin like in Suds.  I picked Tess of the Storm Country not because it was the best of the films, but it was the one that I will remember forever.   It's a simple story of rich evil people trying to bring down the poor but hard working people.  Mary plays a simple girl who falls in love with the rich man's son, is betrayed and of course resurrected.   It's so extremely overplayed, over dramatized, over everything.  But soon I was caught up in the drama I was clutching my handkerchief rooting for poor Mary to win in the face of adversity.   It's simply a movie that has to be seen to be believed. A four hanky as my mother would say…  

4. Mephisto Waltz:   This is probably the only time I will ever say this, but Alan Alda was pretty sexy in the day. As those who know me know, I love TV movies.  This movie plays out with the same pace as a TV movie, but with big screen cash behind it.   It's a lovely 70's tale of devil worship and music.  Soul transference and I understand now why every man was in love with Jacqueline Bissett.    Plot: A aging brilliant pianist wants to take over the body of a young man to continue his career.   Reason to watch: A party filled with worshipers of wine and the devil and a dog wearing a William Shatner mask.

3. Brief Encounter:  Again, another movie that I can't believe I'd never seen.  Noel Coward's urban and sophisticated dialogue brings to mind how terrible screenwriting has become these days.   A short film about two people brought together out of ordinary circumstance and torn apart by their honor.   Just a simple, honest and unforgettable film. 

2. Hangover Square:  The great Laird Creger's swan song as a man who goes mad when he hears dissident notes plays like a great opera; An amazing score by Bernard Herrmann whose music makes this film.  Cregar was a giant of a man with the softest eyes in the world.    Linda Darnell plays a bitchy dance hall queen who almost steals the movie.  Reminded me of a combination of the best of Hitchcock and Welles.  Another classic film that should get much more notoriety that I've seen it have. 1. Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasens:  My favorite film of the year is this small documentary about the end of days for an L.A. restaurant.   Neatly paced with some lovely film portraits of the people that worked there for over 30 years, lots of stories about the where the elite went to eat.  Wonderful testament about the power our jobs have over our lives and how our lives affect others, even if it's just making sure they have a nice dinner.  I laughed, I cried, I really wanted to taste their chili.

Coming soon: My much funnier post on the worst movies I've seen this year…