Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Busy day today, so let me just post this, one of my favorite clips of anything ever: Freddie And The Dreamers trying, and failing, to start a dance craze. It's not too late. We could all be doing the Freddie someday.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Following an Internet train-of-surf today, I discovered a film fact I didn't know before: after he retired from comedy, Harold Lloyd spent years taking pin-up pictures. How I got there: First I saw that the trailer was up on the Apple site. This looks pretty strong. I more or less trust Mary Harron to make an interesting movie, but I wasn't sure about Gretchen Mol as Page. She at least, looks the part, so that's half the trick there. From there I went to the official Bettie Page site and that pointed me to this item, which brought me here, a sub-section of the official Harold Lloyd website. From the site:

After Harold retired from filmmaking, he became obsessed with 3-d photography. For over 20 years he traveled all over the world, taking close to 300,000 slides!

Throughout the 1950s, Harold snapped close to a hundred thousand photographs of young women, most of them nude. The girls came to his studio, or traveled with him to various locations around the country -- hundreds and hundreds of gorgeous models, whose curvaceous figures made them perfect subjects for 3-D photography.

And they're not kidding. Page is here alongside a pre-Faster Pussycat! Tura Satana. It's quite lovely work, really (if decidedly NSFW), as are his photos of his world travels. You'll have to shell out some big $$$ to buy the fine art prints, however.
Pictured is Robert Nelson, a prosecutor in the trial of a dominatrix accused of manslaughter. One of her clients died of a heart attack while tied to a rack. To my untrained legal brain, she'd be off the hook if anything happened. I think anyone going into an S&M session knows there's some risk involved, particularly if you weigh, as the alleged victim did, 275 pounds. But her allgeged next course of action—letting him hang there then enlisting her boyfriend to chop up and dispose of his body—might not have been the smartest move. Oddly enough, however, it might have been this decision that led to a not guilty verdict. Without a body, it's tough to prosecute anyone for manslaughter. That didn't stop Nelson from trying, however and as part of his closing argument, he donned a leather mask and re-enacted the death. Didn't work. But at least he has some cool photos to remember the case by. And so do we all.


"Old North Clark bums lolled at the bar, whores screeched in anger, Secret Chinamen went by. Noises of hootchy-kootchy interfered. They went right on." —Jack Kerouac, On The Road

I'm not sure where on Clark you'd find that kind of action now, although there's a pretty intense gay bar with rentable rooms just south of where this picture was taken. (Stevie found a price sheet once.) But at 6:15 a.m. it looks like this. No hootchy-kootchy noises or secret Chinamen. They're not much in evidence at any point, but it's still the heart of our neighborhood. I found out yesterday, while reading a clipping in in the window of a real estate office, that it used to be an Indian trail. I imagine you could see all the way to Lake Michigan from it back then. Later it was Green Bay Road and then Clark. They call this neighbor Anderonsville after a Norwegian pastor who left his stamp on the neighborhood. (He also helped found Illinois State.) I just assumed it was because it was such a Swedish-identified neighborhood, but the Swedes came later in the early 20th century. They wanted to get out from the crowds of the city and the two- and three-story housing here was more affordable since there was no need to pay for an elevator operator or other such staff. We live in one of those buildings now. It's quiet. I'm not sure this was ever the site of the jazz-and-rough-character action Kerouac wrote about. (I'm pretty sure his "Old North Clark" was well south of here.) I would like to have seen that, but I'm not sure I would have wanted to live there for long. I'm not sure I'd ever want to leave here. The stretch of Clark around the corner from us has turned into a friendly stretch of restaurants and little shops. I know it's a form of gentrification, but it's happened without, to my eyes at least, draining the character. There are yuppies, sure (and, sure, people would probably lump us in there; we buy the fancy cheese) but there are also folks of all nationalities and income levels. And the predominant tone is just... nice. Now if only everyone else would stop moving here, we'd be all set.

We saw this shoe-shaped dog toy (really a bad idea when you think about it) at Target yesterday:

But this is no ordinary shoe-shaped dog toy. Look closer:


Friday, January 27, 2006


And your robot this Friday is this guy:

He appears in a really impressive/chilling promotional film from a special effects comapny called Embassy Visual Effects inc. You can watch the whole short, which looks like a trailer for a movie about third-world robo-cops, here. It's all digital, believe it or not. And creepy as hell. Let's not leave without another screen grab:


Totally, totally SFW.

Slate, on the other hand, sends a different message:

Sadly, there's no "video" option here. You know, you wouldn't think this would be news, but apparently it's good the blood pressure and whatnot. Also, he said "beats." link

Finally, as long as this entry is getting sexy—and to carry on the unintentional Superman obsession of the week—Fleshbot links to this out-of-context Superman panel. (Via Sexoteric):

Thursday, January 26, 2006

(reposted from The A.V. Club blog)

After sending their debut single, "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" directly to #1 on the British charts, the Arctic Monkeys released their first album Whatever People Say I Am That's What I Am Not yesterday. It sold almost 120,000 copies. The album is on pace to sell 200,000 copies this week, doubling the one-week British debut record previously held by Franz Ferdinand. On NME's latest list of the 100 British albums of all time it came in number four. For perspective consider this: Exile On Main Street is #43. It won't even be released here until later in February.

All together now America: The Arctic Whaa?

I'll confess to never having heard of the band until recently and I don't feel too bad about that. I don't think most people on this side of the Atlantic followed the Sheffield quintet's rapid ascent. Not to be behind the times, I downloaded the two singles (and b-sides) available on iTunes last night, including "Dancefloor." So are they that good? I can't tell yet, but I do know that I like "Dancefloor" better each time I hear it and that none of the b-sides sound like throwaways. (Well, "Chun Li's Spinning Bird Kick" kind of sounds like a throwawy, but it's still several kinds of awesome.) From the five tracks I've heard, the band combines a blokes-from-the-street perspective inherited from Blur, The Jam, and young Rod Stewart with a sound very much in line with the whole classic-garage-and-early-'80s-post-punk-remade-as-insanely-catchy-pop moment. I'm impressed so far and I want to hear more. But is it that good? I don't know yet.

The British music press builds up and knocks down band all the time, but this one feels different from the usual hype, and not least of all because the band came up more through Internet word of mouth than the usual channels. I guess time will determine how much different.


This just showed up in my inbox (emphasis mine):

The laughs are non-stop in this 4-movie comedy collection, featuring Which Way is Up?, Brewster's Million, Car Wash and Bustin' Loose. Widely considered the "funniest man alive," Richard Pryor stars in one side-splitting romp after another in these timeless classics that will have your rolling from beginning to end.

Maybe it got cut off. Maybe it was supposed to read "Widely considered the 'funniest man alive... in heaven.'"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Alan Greenspan hawks the Apple IIc. You could totally call your bank with this thing. Amazing! (Via the ever-wonderful You Tube)

(reposted from The A.V. Club blog)

Let's take a break for a minute from considering the debate over Munich, the merger of The WB and the UPN (as long as you guys keep Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls whatever you do in your own boardrooms is cool with me), and the Kanye West Rolling Stone cover and consider a more overlooked creative tempest: The one surrounding Evil Breed. Also known as Samhain and Evil Breed: The Legend Of Samhain this film showed up on my desk yesterday and immediately caught my eye. It's not every cheaply made horror movie that features a cast comprised almost entirely of porn stars and Richard Grieco.

Let's take a moment to appreciate the actors: There's Jenna Jameson (who needs little introduction), Ginger Lynn Allen (The Pink Lagoon), Chasey Lain (WMB: Weapons of Masturbation) and, as "The Breeder," Taylor Hayes (Captain Organ). Also, there's Grieco. (Booker, what happened man?)

You might think this wouldn't be the sort of project that would stir a lot of passion in most filmmakers. But apparently writer director Christian Viel isn't most filmmakers. On the message board of the film's IMDB entry, Viel explains how his vision got corrupted in great detail, in a post labeled "Samhain director apologizes... And provides some clarifications." A sample:

I get the rap for writing this film but truly, many people had their fingers in it, from the distributors (including their receptionist, I kid you not!) on to Mariani, who should claim credit for all the Screamish references. He is the horror trivia buff that wanted those in, not me. In the end, I was mostly a typist who tried to fit in a semicoherent structure all the mumbo jumbo they wanted packed in as exposition in this flick, except for most of the gore scenes. Mariani did come up with the Grieco one.

It goes on like that for a long time. I haven't watched this one yet. But if I ever do, I'll know not blame Viel for making the best Grieco-and-porn-heavy gore-fest. I'll blame the receptionist.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


About five minutes from now making fun of Kevin Federline will be as lame as being Kevin Federline. But while the moment lasts, please enjoy this clip of K-Fed getting down to K-Fed:



• I know I'm late to the table here, but, man, is Red Eye a great thriller. I almost wish I didn't know the premise going in, but even if you do the transformation of a key character is set up so slyly it almost doesn't matter. There might not be a better villain right now than Cillian Murphy. Thing is, he's a good actor even when he's not playing the bad guy. I hope there are more films like Breakfast On Pluto in his future and he won't just be squaring off against Bruce Willis this time next year.

The A.V. Club has an interview with Stephen Colbert posting later today. What's almost as funny as The Colbert Report? This page dedicated to Tek Jansen, the hero of Colbert's espionage novel Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure.

Another reason not to trust IMDB. Via TV Barn

• Comics fandom at large can't seem to make up its mind whether Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All Star Superman is the best thing ever or completely overrated. I lean way toward the best thing ever side of things. Without ever dipping into camp, Morrison captures what's so effortlessly wondrous about Silver Age superheroes, both the feats of daring and the larger than life emotions. They could beat back alien invaders but often got their feelings hurt in the proceess. My friend Noel compares them to a waking dream. Morrison gets that and Quitely conveys it with his almost child-like depictions of his characters, particularly Superman and Lois. It come out every six weeks. I wish it was daily.

Monday, January 23, 2006


It was the kind of January weekend that invited sitting around at home. So we did. The highlights:

• Excitement came in the form of finally setting the house up with wireless, which has been great, so far, although I've yet to make good on my promise of surfing the Internet in the bath. (Stevie seems more likely be test this out first.)

Smallville: After years of circling around it, Stevie and I finally delved into it. So far, I like it. It's not quite Buffy and it clearly has aspirations to be, and the monster-of-the-week approach is already starting to wear on me. But there's a windswept, Great Plains mythic quality to it that I like. My comic book shop pal Tom tells me that a) It gets better then gets worse and b) The actress who plays Chloe gets cuter. Now how is that possible?

• Chess R&B: After being neglectful friends (at least in that respect) Stevie and I finally tuned into our pal Bryce's show on Radio DePaul. It began by focusing on R&B and soul music recorded on Chess then kind of morphed into a Chess oddities show, including some totally bizarre psychedelic blues from Muddy Water's Electric Mud album. Must acquire. Bryce and I are cooking up a musical salute to Canada that will mark my return to college radio after a nearly 11-year absence. I'll keep you posted.

• Dog-walking. We love our dog.

Friday, January 20, 2006


My lovely wife Stevie bought me two tickets to a Josh Rouse show for my birthday and last night was said show. We made a night of it, going out for sushi, ice cream, and tequila and capping it off with fried cheese sticks at the concert itself. (Best to hit all corners of the culinary/alcohol worlds if you're going all out.) The show was pretty great, if a bit on the short side. Former Sarah MacLachlan guitarist Luke Doucet opened the show. He was only okay, but I do love the title of a song (really more a fragment of a song) from his new album: "if i drop names of exotic towns that you'll never see, in the songs that i write, it's that that's all i have when i miss my girl & you're taking your home tonight."

Rouse played a few new songs, barely touched last year's Nashville album and played a lot from 1972, which is my favorite, so that was okay. I would have liked to have heard more, especially since it was a nice, intimate venue and, hey, what else does he have to do? But he did play The Church's "Under The Milky Way," noting that it was "magic" song for him when he was 15. As Scott T. noted when I said that to him, that's pretty much true for everyone our age. Excuse the terrible photo. That's a sweater vest Rouse is wearing, not a flannel blanket. That'll teach me to buy a .5 megapixel camera. Below is a not-much-better picture of Stevie and me at the show.

I spotted this on the way to the train. This is why Christmas decorations should come down by January 1st. It's not just gauche; it has the potential to disturb impressionable youngsters.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

RIP Wilson Pickett

Reposted from The A.V. Club Blog

It's hard to think of anything knocking Wilson Pickett down. I'd heard reports that he was ill for a while, but nothing could stop the Wilson Picket I knew from records like "Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won't Do)" and "In The Midnight Hour." If one trait characterized his music it was energy. Just about any Pickett single can leave you exhausted, and he had a lot of singles and a lot of hits. The curious can hit the highlights out of the deadening context of oldies radio on this this two-disc set.

I've spent the afternoon grabbing random CDs from my inbox and giving them a listen. A lot of what gets shipped to me is, frankly, terrible, be it derivative, radio-targeted hard rock, dull electronica, or whatever. Some of it comes from an absence of ability or inspiration, but if there's one thing that kills music of any genre, it's a lack of passion. In his classic period from the mid-'60s to the early-'70s, Pickett never sounded like he wasn't singing for his life, even on a track like "Land Of 1000 Dances," which could have been a throwaway novelty in lesser hands. A lot of it was god-given talent. But god only gives so much. Pickett understood how hard you had to work to send a soul through speakers.

What better way to begin a new online project than sorting out some old ones? Looking at my bookmarks bar, I realized that some of them date back nearly to the pre-history of the Internet as we know it now. Here's a sentimental journey of some dead, outdated, or just irrelevant links I had to purge:

Rodney's Joke Of The Day: The link's as dead as Rodney Dangerfield himself, but it turns out that rodney.com is still a going concern. So is Rodney's Joke Of The Day. I don't know if these are all reruns or if they come, Tupac style, from the vault. But the site of an open-shirted Rodney delivering jokes like, "She was a wild girl. Her idea of safe sex was making sure the car doors were locked," now seems more poignant than disturbing. Or funny. R.I.P. (Though somebody really should take down the "E-mail Rodney @ Home" option.)

Film.com: This is now just a feeder for Real player. Goes to show you that even a strong URL can only get you so far. I remember this site having a great name, great design, and no memorable content. R.I.P.

Iconographics: Did these guys really go out of business? They were a movie poster shop that used to make the campus rounds. I still regret not getting one of the original Fargo posters with the cross-stitch pattern. I hadn't seen the movie yet, so I felt like a phony buying the poster, no matter how cool it looked.

Girls On Film: Not to gloat, but I always thought this site was bullshit, even though I kept pulling for them to turn it around. There aren't enough female film critics out there, but the put-on just-us-gals sass of their writing never did it for me. They had a book in 1999. You can buy it on Amazon for a penny.

The Amazon.com product page for Tenacity Of The Cockroach And speaking of books that could have sold better... Here's the Amazon page for The Tenacity Of The Cockroach:, The A.V. Club's 2002 interview collection. I used to check this obsessively for new comments and monitor its sales rank. Both have, um, plateaued.

ultimatetv.com: I don't even know what this was. Now it's a Microsoft-backed DVR.

The Unofficial WB site: Here's a footnote that's still up, if not exactly active: When the WB first started in 1995, they didn't bother with a website. Then they kept on not bothering, so someone made one for them. How nice. He seems to have given up in 2001, but if you're looking for info on Mission Hill or Jack & Jill, it remains a great source.

The rest aren't as interesting. Okay, even those above aren't that interesting.

Monday, January 16, 2006

New blog! Excitement!

This is still very much a work in progress. My old blog withered and died and I'm ashamed to go back to it. This one, however, will last forever. That's my dog, by the way.