my interview with the aussie poet michael farrell is up at e-x-c-h-a-n-g-e-v-a-l-u-e-s.
Really Bad Movies
a bard's eye view of love, life and psychotronic cinema
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
thanks to everyone who expressed concern for nicholas. he's doing well, happy and full of energy. what alarmed us so on friday has not fully gone away just yet. again, i don't mean to be vague, but we think it is a minor thing. and we'll continue to monitor him till it goes away, clears up, heals etc. etc.
so then, happy that tonight i put the final dot to my interview, and sent it off on its own. i think, i hope, it turned out well. at least the answers turned out well. more details forthcoming.
now to bad movies. and i don't mean to really bad movies. i mean hollywood films that are an affront to our humanity. i like bad films, revel in them, but there are a few turds that are life-suckers, energy drainers, and assaults on our time and money. not to mention mind and body. and yet, best or worst lists of anything, be it burgers or boomboxes, are totally subjective. for the past few days i've asked coworkers and friends what they think are virulent movies. answers ranged a bit, but when i suggested a couple of the films on my list, i often got, rich, what are you high? that's a great work of cinema!
nonplussed, indeed. i say what the fuck. my list, a short list of 5 films tonight, are movies that have taken away 90+ minutes of my life, time i'll never get back. not to mention the dough i forked over so i can watch them. each of these films were seen at a theater or drive-in, and not rented. genre and exploitation movies are very dear to my heart, but i love every type of movie. i've never walked out of a movie, but i've come damn close. each of these films have the distinction of being tattooed on the grey matter. i can only hope that someday my long-term memory is shredded. it'll spare me the pain caused by remembering lines, music, faces and images from these films. as conrad's and coppola's kurtz reminded us, the horror! the horror!
without further ado, without commentary, and in no ranking order here is a very subjective list of the five of the most suckass movies ever to be conceived, financed, shot, distributed and advertised. lord help me.
witches of eastwick
Monday, June 26, 2006
we had quite a scare with nicholas last friday. without going in to too terrible details, so far he's in great health, the phone call we received from his daycare scared anna and me shitless. the news was like the blow from a frying pan across the bridge of the nose. so our weekend became a bit of a vigil, not at a hospital or anything of that sort, but to monitor our boy and see if he be okay. thus far, he's one happy little clam. i do not mean to be vague about his condition, only that i feel a bit strange writing about it publicly. so i won't get into any details, at least for the moment. i only wish to record a bit of our reactions. suffice it to say, things quickly got back to normal, tho we are still on vigil.
bad shit happens all the time. and health is the greatest gift we'll ever know. i never understood the worry of a parent until i became one. then suddenly the world is transformed into a myriad of dangers, stress and worry. and pleasures and the most profoundest senses of completion and joy. not to get terribly rhapsodic, or paranoid, about it, tho.
the world is everything that is the case. or something of the sort. we had to miss out on taking nicholas to see his granddad jump out of a perfectly good airplane, he's a skydiver and there was a festival called a 'boogie' held at the davis airport, on saturday cuz the temp. was 100+ f. and way too hot for nothing but burrowing indoors with the air conditioner running at full blast. when the temp. gets that high, and the sun is like a blow-torch, the air feels like the inside of an oven cooking a thanksgiving turkey. outside you fucking cook!
so then, working on the finishing touches of my interview, and am now up to sonnet #7 of my ed wood series. and when i said earlier that i'm gonna self-publish my super8 film loop poems, i mean i'm gonna do it with a lot of help from a poet i deeply love and admire, and whom i'll identify if he's ok about me yakking about him.
and thanks kt for the link to the bad film website. i know that website, and if i'm not too embarrassed, and really i'm not, perhaps soon i'll post some of my favorite movie websites. actually, i'm curious what non-poetry websites y'all frequently visit. or would that be too embarrasing, eh?
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
check out uk poet sean bonney's blog found via daniel f. bradley.
tonight i watched the wonderful noir commedy by danny boyle shallow grave broadcast as part of pulp month on ifc, then scribbled a few notes for ed wood sonnet #7 in my notebook. gawd knows if i can read it tomorrow, my handwriting is so bad.
i have 'heart of gold', earlier it was 'cinnamon girl', by neil young looped on the soundtrack of my head. there is a german expression, don't know the original, my mother-in-law uses for bits of songs stuck in the head, earworms.
never was a big fan of young, but always respected his bad-assitude, and his talent. example: harvest is, in my estimation, a great album.
Monday, June 19, 2006
back on the saddle. wrote #6 in my sonnet sequence of ed wood. started to collate and edit a small chap that hopefully will be out in a couple of months. a big adherent to diy publishing, the chap'll be self-published and free to whomever wants a copy.
yasser [see the comments to this post here] has got me thinking about very bad movies. i'll take it up, and come up with a list by this weekend. but bad movies are totally subjective, since i'm a nut for the worst kind of cinema imaginable. could we be talking about so bad they're good movies, or movies that have wasted my time and money. i'll settle on the latter and have a list of ten movies that are complete, in my opinion, waste of film stock. but i might throw in one or two films that are crimes against celluloid but i love anyway. thanks yasser for the idea!
and check out this new journal the onion union esp. mark young's essay about community. and eileen tabios's poem about medical technology. read the whole of the journal at lunch today, and love the ethos of its editors/publishers. poetry should/must bust down the barriers of commercial culture. recall that d.a. levy published his works with a copyrot.
and michael farrell has started his reading revival2. i can't wait for the second installment from this intrepid, fascinating poet.
shit, here in sac the trash film orgy opens this sat. with the absolutely nuts, utterly breathtaking surrealist romp thru the wastelands of southern california and '80s punk rock repo man. produced by ex-monkee michael nesmith and directed by alex cox with a killer soundtrack by iggy pop, black flag, circle jerks, suicidal tendencies et al. this is one of my all-time, seriously way the fuck up there, movies.
finally, reading the winter '06 issue of house organ i'm flattened by this very short poem by sheila murphy.
extrapolate planned stillness
infract static dance
this poem is a small miracle.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
been like a bear holing up in his den, eating, drinking then doing a lotta sleeping. have not written at all this week, and only tonight made a couple of superficial changes to the interview text i've been working on.
b.f.d., as they say. night before last anna and i watched a program on pbs about making new boxes that'll house the declaration of independence for several hundred years. then last night fell asleep watching a show of speculative fiction, tho many of the scenarios, such as global warming, are based in fact, on how the human species won't last another two hundred years.
which leads me to thinking about poetry. do you write, do i write, with the thought that our texts will last as long as the race does? do i care about permanence, being around, in the form of texts, after i croak? short answer: no, not at all. we die, we all die, everything dies, the human species and this planet will die, so what do i care about my piddling little poems surviving.
why bother stating that anyway. cuz, i'm alive, for what it's worth, and for me poetry is part of the arts of survival and living. they are parts of the processes of my consciousness, again for what that is worth, and therefore have value, in fact are invaluable, to me. i do more reading than writing, which means that reading is an absolutely integral part of these processes of living, both textually and sensually. and yes, all are of the mind, if in a mammalian, or reptilian part of the brain, along with the intellectual properties which make of these texts and sensualities. and my reading also means that i value, highly value, the works of my comapdres, living and dead, in the art.
for what that is all worth, again. who gives a fuck about living after death. living is in a near-continual presence. one day i'll be kicking up daisies. we all will. in the meantime i can write and read, and as the great berrigan said in 'last poem', let none regret my end who called me friend.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
couple of days ago alex gildzen sent me a link to the blog of bill reed. reed had interviewed herk harvey in the early '80s about carnival of soul's rising cult status. here are parts 1 and 2 of reed's interview. it was because of the increasing popularity of video at the time that, i think, contributed remarkably to the rediscovery of this masterpiece. that wasn't talked about in the interview. at any rate, my mother-in-law saw the film, i think, tho anna may correct me on it, in the early to mid-60s in her native sweden. the images of the film were inscribed in india ink on the mind's eye for my mother-in-law. and she had remembered its creepiness thru the years.
still, it is a good time now for persons passionate about cinema, cuz the dvd format has brought so many films, from dusty giallos to bollywood productions, and everything in between, back into print. or coming into print. and there are excellent production companies lovingly restoring these films to the digital format. yes, there is a paucity of excellent theaters and drive-ins where ideally movies should be seen. there are probably more screens now then 30 years ago, but there were more theaters, one-screen houses that specialized in art-house, kung-fu movies, horror, porn, you name it. dvd ain't ideal movie-viewing, but for this slob who loves films, everything about movies, posters, trailers, radio ads, you name it, dvd is the next best thing to being in a chilled grindhouse, eating greasy popcorn, breathing in second-hand smoke from yr seatmate's kools, and watching movies.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
lovely post about drive-ins by aldon lynn nielsen.
Friday, June 09, 2006
making a list for my fave films of the last three decades of the 20th century, i remember a little gem from new zealand that my brother and i rented sight unseen off the shelf of the mom-and-pop video store in the mid-80s, the quiet earth. we became obsessed with the movie, and since there was no internet in those days, there was very little information to be had about it. i've not seen the movie since, tho we had rented it at least a half dozen times in a row. the movie is based on a novel, but we could not locate, and we tried ordering it, a copy.
the film is about three survivors of a govt. project gone wrong, so wrong that our survivors are the only ones left on earth. the catch is that one of the survivors was one of the scientists working on the project, and that all three seemed to survive because each one, for their own reasons, such as the scientist's attempted suicide, were nearly at the crossing point of dying when the catastrophe struck. the rest of the film is spent on the why and how of their survival and how maybe they could rectify the damage done, and bring back, or go to, the people that had disappeared.
the movie is beautifully photographed, and ably acted. the direction is solid, as the characters develop and move from scene to scene. i confess to having a 'thing' for apocalyptic, last-person-on-earth films. the movie, at least how i remember it, is an ambient study of space-time, civilization and loneliness. how the movie ends is a stunner. my brother and i talked about it for weeks, trying to parse its code. for some, the conclusion may seem like a letdown, but for me it ends on the perfect note. tho it was a head-scratcher, it fits the themes of space-time and loneliness quite well. how it ends is the reason we wanted to read the novel, perhaps a few questions would be answered.
at any rate, i'm writing this based on my memories, which are over 20 years old now. i can still see the penultimate scene, the lovely photography. it is strange and wonderful. the movie, long out of print, is getting its dvd release later this month. according to this film there are indeed more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt in yr philosophy.
have the day off from work. gonna spend it hanging around, taking nicholas to the park, and perhaps the office to show him off. as a dad now, i can understand and appreciate a parent's impulse and desire to show off his/her child. that is one of the reason's way i enjoy tom raworth's photosets so much, that it is not incompatible to be a first-rate poet, or in my case just a poet, and also be a loving father, grandpa and hubby. the same goes for poet daniel f. bradley who has another blog to showcase his daughter oia.
so i read in the paper this morning a story that claims grey hair is the new blonde. i guess it started with richard gere last decade, moves on into anderson cooper's silver tresses, and is now presently located with some guy that won the american idol singing extravaganza. shit, i've been losing my hair color since i was a teen. it is now pretty solidly salt and pepper, heavy on the salt. cooper and i are the same age, if that tells you anything. but grey is the old grey and not the new blonde. my age, since i'm a goofball and overall idiot, confounds some people cuz i act retarded, like a 15-year-old boy, but look like an old man. it's just as well. when i started grad school almost 10 years ago , i colored my hair with some stuff that would gradually wash out. it did just that, however instead of the pepper and salt combo i got purple hair. that, along with my gold hoop earring, made me look like some emo-boy. i think, i dunno exactly what my professors, classmates and coworkers thought. but i sure didn't like it, so grey it went and greyer it is going. there.
gotta run. nicholas is waking up. tom orange has posted his list of influential albums of the past 20 years. check it out. i love lists like these, and when i have a bit more time i'll riff off orange and post my own highly subjective, idiosyncratic list of films beginning with the 1970s.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
jim mccrary and i share a few of the same passions. one of those passions is for the brilliant horror movie carnival of souls. a box-office dud at the time of its release, the movie has since (i think it belongs in the public domain now. there are several dvd versions you can get, my copy is a cheapie double-feature, the second movie is about a haunting from a woman burned as a witch in salem, ma starring christopher lee and called horror hotel, purchased for about five bucks.) become a classic. the story has been ripped off by many a horror film, the latest being the so-so the sixth sense by m. night shamalamadingdong (why, oh why do producers keep giving him money to make his crappy films?) . i even think there was a remake a few years ago by none other than the terrific director wes craven. not to diss craven but i tend to shy away from remakes of classic films for fear of disapointment. sorta like watching yr favorite book turned into a film, it usually is shite. there are exceptions, yes, such of the '04 version of george a. romero's dawn of the dead. both are brilliant, for different reasons. but then so, at any rate, i've not seen craven's version of one of my favorite films.
the film stars candace hilligos as a young woman who survives the trauma of a car crash. she is haunted by hallucinations, paranoia, lack of affect, which suits her icy exterior. i'll not give away the film, if you've not seen it yet, but you get the general gestalt when i compared shyamalan's film to it. the film reeks of atmosphere. it is genuinely chilling, creepy, with many images burned into yr retinas and then the mind. you won' t forget it, ever.
sounds like hyperbole, i know. the film does not escape the look of its miniscule budget, but the filmmaker used what little he had to such tremendous effect. i recall being told by anna's mother about the film long before i saw the movie. she remembered the movie as being the creepiest she had ever seen. she's not one to appreciate over much the horror genre, so i took that to be a ringing endorsement. anna and i caught the film on tv during a weeklong halloween movie-a-thon hosted by rob zombie. we went to bed freaked out, forced to agree that carnival of souls was one of the scariest movies we've ever seen.
the filmmaker herk harvey was a veteran director of industrial films before he made his one and only feature. that the film bombed might explain why harvey never made another one. which is a shame, since the man was a natural storyteller. he spent the remainder of his life making industrial and educational films in lawrence, ks. but i think harvey did have an inkling as to his growing fame. harvey, as 'the man' in souls, is the one presence you don't forget in the movie. that's him dressed as 'the man' in the wikipedia article. most of souls was filmed in lawrence, with a smaller portion shot at an old carnival beside the great salt lake in utah. the carnival has since sunk into the lake, but many of the lawrence features remain to this day.
back to mccrary, a long-time lawrence resident. he emailed me some memories of the film, its landmarks and of inviting harvey and his wife to a halloween party back in the ealy '90s. i've asked his okay to quote from his note, so here i'll end with mccrary talking about ol' herk and his film.
Harvey bits – the building, the organ factory, stands empty downtown where much of film made, a friend has the actually organ in his house. Beautiful old stone building. The department store is there, still has the “only escalator west of kansas city – when film made”. Some of other locations filmed here still look same, park scenes. Sometime, I think around 1991-2 I was involved at local art center and we threw a Holloween Party and on a whim invited Herk and wife to attend…not only did they attend, brought video of COS’s and arrived in full custome – he with famous white face goul makeup and his wife as another goul. What a great person.
Friday, June 02, 2006
i'm not much of fetishist. things are just things. but i say that then find myself drooling over the books of new zealand poet-printer alan loney, via his website electio editions. his books are meticulous and gorgeous, and way out of my price range. the only affordable publication i can find of his is a chapbook produced by cuneiform press (scroll down to see it), a manifesto on the art/craft of printing.
often loney's books are collaborations with visual artists. check out the photos of these beauties. i love how the texts are shaped and shape the white space of the page, language enharmonic of the images at the opposite side of the books. i don't have any of loney's books at hand, i'm just marveling at them from the distance of the pics on the web.
for more loney, here's a reading at kelly writers house, an excerpt of his manifesto, and another extremely dear production.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
find myself combing thru my movie books, dvd guides, and drive-in theater websites. for the hell of it. shit is like fetish-porn to me, esp. photos of drive-in theaters. what, a pathology? naw, only that summer kicks my movie habit/passion into overdrive.
which kinda explains the ed wood sonnets i'm currently working on. wood was also a noir novelist, and that has worked its way into the texts, too. i have four poems so far, and all need a good long stint of revisions. using as my source text the oral history nightmare of ecstasy: the life and art of edward d. wood, jr by rudolph grey. my only rule for writing is to do it very fast, and worry about revisions later. but like all rules, it was made to be broken. for i found myself making changes to #3 as i was writing #4 tonight.
and i'm beginning to see my poems based on super8 porn loops as a little chap. probably publish it myself, with a little help from friends. maybe even publish it as a pdf file, too. first i must gather all the texts and whip them badboys into shape, see how they fit together.
i'll end this ramble by saying last night was reading bill knott's excellent blog. nothing more, just check it out. curious to see if he does publish all his poems there. and check out this visual poem by daniel f. bradley. and these texts by welsh poet lloyd robson.
sh, listen! do you smell something?
name that movie