Tuesday, September 30, 2008

night of total terror

okay, so this can't be a real movie review since i fell asleep during the second half of the film. i've written about it before but i've not seen it all the way thru. night of the lepus [latin for crazy fucking huge maneating bunnies] was on tv late saturday night. after a couple of beers the movie became even funny. yes, lepus is one of those flicks that must be seen to be believed. i recall a couple of years ago when anna was teasing me and shouted from the living room about some cornball movie on tv with a giant killer wabbit eating people all up. i came running in and shouted, is it night of the lepus? to which anna gave me this look and said, holy shit i just made that up and there's a real movie about killer bucktoothed furballs?

there sure is, and it stars janet leigh, stuart whitman and rory calhoun. i simply can't believe it got the financing to get made much less the distribution to theaters. but the '70s were big on eco-horror and so someone thought that big bunnies would be a sure bet. the movie is hard to sit thru and the wabbit attacks are just plain silly, with huge close-ups of the furry cuties which then cuts immediately to a hacked up body. and that's it.

i think the plot involved pollution that made the bunnies grow all big. but i can't tell you how it ended because i was on my third beer and mr sandman stole me away before the movie ended. even so i think it might be worth seeing all the way thru. if your a masochist, that is, and yep, you got it, i is one, for gawdawful movies. perhaps it was a night of total terror. or maybe just boredom. i for one love it when films relish in their campiness and i think this one does just that. it doesn't get any shittier than that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

what is the sound of a scream

for the past few days i've been mostly off-line and hanging with anna and nicholas, reading and watching tv. i've not watched any movies. i have been re-reading david foster wallace and as the previous post quoted garrett caples. caples is an astonishing poet whose book complications i've been dipping into for months now. his style is rather dense and hypnotic and pitched just so. many pieces read like the hip-hop that he admires. i've not been a big fan of hip-hop, my own musical preferences run the range of indie and alternative acts with a big dollop of hardcore and i'm a big big fan of electronica too, but when a gifted writer references hip-hop in his work and also writes essays and articles about hip-hop then maybe i should just shut my trap and listen.

so then, on saturday i took nicholas to spirit halloween superstore. the store focuses on props and decor that are rather gory. instead of being freaked out by them nicholas was utterly entranced. there were two life-sized animatronic characters that shook and screamed in pain which sort of scared nicholas. and yet, every time i turned around he was right back - at a distance - to look at them. i couldn't get the boy outta the store, even. there was a witch's broom that stood straight up and rolled about the floor on its own with sound fx of cackling laughter. oh man, nicholas couldn't leave it alone. first he circled the broom, then he followed it, and finally he picked it up to figure out how it worked.

i had to literally carry the child outside to get him out to the car. he loved it. made me so proud i had to wipe a tear from my eye and tell him that no i wasn't crying it was simply a piece of dust that landed in my eye.

i think i've written about the trailer below before but i don't think i've actually posted it. i recall watching this trailer for alien either in late '78 or early '79 and was both haunted by it and thrilled. i couldn't wait for the movie to open because of the beauty of the prevue. whoever directed this piece knew exactly how much to show of the film while retaining the mystery of the story. it opens with the dry cracked landscape of an alien planet rolling at the bottom of the frame while cutting to images of that leathery egg all the while the word ALIEN is slowly being pieced together at the top of the frame. the soundtrack is more like sonar soundings than music and the images of the crew intensify in various states of terror. then a scream cuts back to a full-frame image of a giant planet and the freighter the nostromo in tiny relief while the film's catch-phrase in space no one can here you scream fills out the bottom of the screen. i've no idea why i just described the trailer itself and doing a poor job of it. it is one of my favorite trailers of all time. i remember an even shorter teaser trailer that showed only the egg and a crack of light with the catchphrase but i might be mis-remembering this trailer. here it is.

from the moleskin

do lose yr conceptions
                          of poetry
that is important
poetry - the life in poetry
that it is larger than you

I tried to fight life's alchemical book
                                        garrett caples


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

house on haunted hill [1959]

william castle was a consummate showman, the kind that no longer exists. castle would wire the seats in a theater to give the audience a small jolt in order to enhance the action onscreen. his films, with or without gimmicks, are, in my opinion, some of the most enjoyable b-movie fare created in the late 1950s to early 1960s. castle threw everything he knew about scaring people in his films and the results are campy, goofy and a blast to witness.

this movie starts with a few rattling chains, moans and screams - classic haunted house sounds - with the disembodied head of elisha cook as watson pritchard floating in the center of the frame telling us about the history of this haunted house. the great vincent price stars as a millionare in a bad marriage who hosts a haunted house party for seven guests and guarantees each guest $10,000.00 if they survive the night. are there real ghosts lurking in the house waiting to pounce on the guests? cook seems to think so and his large head and slightly psycho expression fits the part of the true believer to a t.

price is as always a wonderful menacing presence. he was the thinking person's b-movie actor. even in crap he was sui generis. when i was a pup watching bob wilkins' creature features program i saw the abominable dr. phibes starring price as the eponymous villain. it freaked me out, one scene in particular, where a man was in a tent in the desert and phibes bound his arms at the wrist with two locked manacles, each were studded with spikes that pierced the wrists of the hapless man. then price all so cool and calculating placed the key to the manacles in a clay jar just out of reach of the man and left the tent. the man then managed to kick over the jar, which broke and unleashed all these scorpions which then proceeded to crawl all over the man, down into his shirt even, as the man then screams out in pain.

cut! for that scene and price's intellectual manner in delivering such a punishment left me huddling under the blanket for protection. price is not so obvious in his sadism in house but it does strike me as odd that william castle in another flick, the tingler, created characters whose marriage was so bad that both the husband and wife try to kill each other. and the characters speak about their desires for murdering one another as if it was the most natural thing married couples do. and so it is for price and his wife in this flick who try to do the same to each other. the levels they achieve are nearly shakespearean in breadth and scope.

thus castle's innovation for this flick was to drop skeletons on the audience during key scenes which i imagine would either make the people leap from their seats in either terror or hilarity. the fx is rather hokey but yet castle achieves a rather cheap surrealism as the atmosphere of the film is reminiscent of a commercial haunted house: safe, goofy and at times terrifying.

watching this movie was like slipping into a pair of thrashed but well-loved jeans. it ain't all that beautiful but the feel is comfy and the look of the jeans is either bummy or timeless or both at the same time. castle made only b-movie horror. yet a couple of his films are the highest of that low genre. he was an artist of the first intensity, really. we could use another william castle now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

the new hippie

last night my mother-in-law went to an equinox party to celebrate the change of the season. there was smudging and i think some chanting and i don't know what else. but it was done in love and friendship and i say why not. for i love this time of year and today is the first day of fall. love is in the air, really, i hope. anyway, when i told anna i thought such a gathering is cool and hopeful she told me she knew i would dig such a celebration. because, you see, she told me i'm a hippie at heart. yes, the new hippie. god help my soul.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

haute tension [2003]

french cinema is not known for its contributions to the horror genre, with notable exceptions, e.g. the films of jean rollin, france has produced very little in the way of scare pics, especially fright films that feature much gore. extreme cinema is not an unknown in france at all it just seems that filmmakers are not interested in making full-on horror movies.

until now. director alexandre aja and his producer/co-writing partner gregory levasseur obviously were weened on the horror genre, particularly flicks made in the u.s. and italy. lately i've been going thru their filmography with the exception of their latest release, last summer's mirrors starring keifer sutherland. i'm going to have to wait until it is released on disc to see it after missing its brief run at the local cineplexes. they did a remake of wes craven's classic the hills have eyes a couple of years ago. i wasn't terribly impressed with the revision and i'm not a big gorehound, except when gore is done well, and the film was particularly wet and gooey. that was good and was the only good thing about the film. it was aja's and levasseur's second feature.

however, aja's and levasseur's first feature is very good and very wet. after reading rave reviews on the net about the film upon its release i had to wait until '05 for its appearance on dvd here in the u.s. my first reaction was a rather mixed one. the psychology of the transfigured self is rather shallow. the filmmakers' owe more than a passing nod to say hitchcock's psycho but the debt to the late, great filmmaker is barely acknowledged by the young frenchmen. rather, haute tension plays like an homage to early '80s u.s. slasher movies and italian zombie cinema.

even so, the transfigured self features prominently in the storyline and its treatment is mostly flat which influenced my early reception of the movie. but on subsequent viewings the film worked its peculiar magic on me and i found myself reading the film for its influences. aja and levasseur know the history of italian gore cinema so well that they hired the best fx man in italy, giannetto de rossi, and the effort was worth it. the movie is soaked in blood and gore. and the machinations of death are unique. the film starts out slow but after the first death, to mis-quote dylan thomas' poem, there is no other. for it is powerful and visceral and leaves the viewer utterly quaking at the audacity of the filmmakers.

the plot is simple: two young women plan to spend the weekend at one of their parents' country home. during their first night there is a knock on the door which bring forth the very depths of hell. however, all is not as it seems, the bogeyman is a hulking man in work coveralls, eyes hidden by a baseball cap, and who drives an old, rusty truck. his weapon of choice is the straight razor. to say more would be to give away the filmmakers' central plot device, which i think is structurally the weakest part of the film.

at any rate, my viewing of this movie moved beyond the obvious weakness as i read thru the many homages and the sheer delight of gore done well. the score is near-perfect and the photography, lighting and editing are superb. this is not a movie for everyone or even for those who love horror. because it is french this flick got the awful 'art-house' label and was even the midnight movie for the french film festival held here in sac last summer. it is not 'art-house' at all but a sucker-punch to the solar plexus and an affront to all that is decent in mainstream french films.

if that ain't praise enough i don't know what is. should you see this film do yourself a favor and forgo the dubbed version. it stinks. stick with the original soundtrack with subtitles. you won't need to read the movie once the action starts. screams of terror and pain don't need translation.

Friday, September 19, 2008


there's a german expression about those tunes that loop themselves in our brain, playing over and over, if we want them to or no. that phrase in english is 'earworm' and i've had the song below 'ghosts' by the u.k. electro outfit ladytron on continuous play since i saw the video for the song on mtv2 last night. don't know much about ladytron except that they took their name from an old roxy music song and the singer sounds quite a bit like a sexy stan ridgeway of the '80s new wave band wall of voodoo. i can't get this song out of my head. it's stuck and i think the only cure is to pick up the album. help!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

monster mash for breakfast

sure there was a health food kick in the 1970s when eating holistically [sp?] was the mantra for many post-hippies who wished to dive deep in their shag carpeting and stare at the wood paneled walls all the while pining for their own private walden. but the '70s was also a time when smoking was allowed everywhere, including high school campuses, and tv advertisements had the temerity to call a sugar filled breakfast cereal for children SUPER SUGAR SMACKS but you could get '8 essential vitamins and minerals' with each spoonful.

ah dem were da days. my own favorite cereal back then was BOO BERRY. the adverts and packaging was what sold me since most cereal for children is pretty much a variation on a theme, crunchy bits full of sugar. being a child who loved the weekly horror show, creature features, hosted locally by bob wilkins, who looked so much like woody allen to me that i thought wilkins was woody allen, that a cereal based on a cartoon monster would appeal to me is no surprise.

BOO BERRY was one of three monster-based cereals that i think are still on the market, but i don't know, since i've long given up sugar in milk for breakfast in favor of a more adult and therefore bland offering of GRAPENUTS. the other two cereals were FRANKENBERRY and COUNT CHOCULA. i would eat all three or either one but BOO BERRY was my favorite because the color it would make the milk would be light blue. changing the milk's color was most of the fun when eating cereal. drinking the slurry of sugar and milk after the cereal was all eaten was quite an experience too.

furthermore, what is halloween without a few monsters in our midst [insert, if you want, political pun at your leisure]? especially three as tasty as BOO BERRY, FRANKENBERRY and COUNT CHOCULA. the voices used for each of the characters in the commercials are exactly what you'd think they sound like. so for the frankenstein character we have a voice like boris karloff, the dracula character is the voice of bela legosi, and the ghost sounds like peter lorre. dig, if you will, a classic commercial.


Monday, September 15, 2008

the lunatic is on the grass

actually, he ain't. but i'm thinking of the charlie rose interview of david foster wallace which i watched last night. wallace lights up when talking about movies and says he approaches them as a fan rather than a film scholar. i in turn lit up when i heard that for that is exactly the point. why engage in a subject, whatever it be, if it doesn't first give pleasure. dry texts about boring subjects abound like weeds in a vacant lot. as schoolchildren we've all been privy to having our eyeballs hang from their sockets when faced with an explication of what-we-better-know-is-good-for-us. and if it's good for us then it must induce pain or at least have no taste and very little texture.

pleasure is how i try to write, in poems and movie reviews and the miscellany found on this blog. life is a gift, the greatest one i know, and when i read a poem, or watch a movie, or hear a song that gives me great pleasure i am transported to the first degree of intensity. i have hope in our human being again and that art is neither a privilege or luxury. they are necessities in our lives, however we wish to define art.

however, near the end of the interview wallace talks a little about his drug use and his attempted suicide. i'd forgotten about that, i had watched the interview when it was first broadcast in 1997 when i was in the midst of my own recovery from a breakdown in 1996. life is also a hellish experience too. and for some the pain of existence is bearable only thru an act of negation. to simply not be. i know the source of such pain. yet the pain is not a permanent condition. when i told a friend today how affected i was because of wallace's suicide he said [and to be fair to my friend, he is not a reader of wallace and was rather non-plussed by my feelings for the writer, who, in the eyes of my friend, was a stranger to me] rather off-handedly, 'you won't be reading anything new by him anymore'. i know that and knowing that makes that absence more palpable.

i don't want to end this little piece by saying that survival at any cost is the goal. but it might be. tho i have my own illness to deal with and have gone thru a couple of episodes of real doozies, the experience of survival makes my living that much more pleasurable. i sit here at the beginning of fall, my favorite time of year, and halloween, my favorite holiday, is just a few weeks away. the light in northern california at this time of year simply makes you glad to witness it. there are times when survival means just thinking and then planning the next step and that next step for me must be a pleasure, whether it is a simple cup of coffee or reading the newspaper or finding a new poet to fall in love with. i am always learning to de-accelerate and simply try to live, in the phrase i heard recently, in the freshness of the moment. it is a lesson i shall never master.

the rose still smells just as sweet

what's in a name, indeed. this weekend i got a check in the mail, money for canceling my flood insurance policy. funny, but i didn't remember canceling the policy. sac is in the center of a flood plain and tho flood insurance is optional anna and i always take the option. because the threat of flooding is always present. it's flooded before, it will again.

but the check, another one arrived today, is for another richard lopez who lives in texas. how many richard lopezes exist in the world i shudder to think. but it's a lot. more than a lot. and this is not the first time i've received something for another richard lopez in the mail. sure it's funny but damn the mean of my name. there are beauties in the world regarding names and as a writer i notice names before faces and there are a few i'm instantly attracted to. but for me, mine is not one of them.

oh well, anna called the insurance agent who realized his mistake and had been calling to get the checks back. as for the texas richard lopez it seems that he canceled his policy at the wrong time for anna had googled his town and it was in the path of hurricane ike. i hope the other richard lopez is okay and just traded up his flood policy. ike was a horror to behold, i understand.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

for those who go before us & we who will follow

death is a void, a negation, a luminous absence we shall all know. still death comes at a shock and delivers horror and loss. so much for eloquence, which for now can kiss my ass. i am in shock to wake up this morning to the news that the very gifted writer david foster wallace committed suicide friday night. i am literally struck dumb by the news. i've been an admirer of his since the early '90s when i found a few of his pieces i think in the paris review. and when i read his non-fiction essays published in harper's i was hooked. i have a confession, my prose style owes much to wallace's style as it does to my own invention. i loved how wallace mixed high erudition with low slang, bad grammar, double-negatives and so on which amped his black humor to the first degree. my own prose style is to wallace's style as that of an italian exploitation filmmaker ripping off the movie jaws, but still it was eliot who announced bad poets imitate, good poets steal. if that doesn't give a writer license to ape his masters then what. . .

a video of an interview of wallace with charlie rose can be found here.

on top of this news i am still reeling from the death last week of reginald shepherd, a poet i discovered also in the early '90s. contemporary poetry lost a luminous voice and one of it's brightest talents. i didn't know the poet except from his work and his blogging. our paths crossed only when we both appeared in an issue of the zine concelabratory shoehorn rievew. his death comes as a shock just the same.

it is significant to me that both these writers were born in the 1960s. they are part of my generation and i guess i've reached that crucial and weird age when our contemporaries begin to leave. it sucks big time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

as i walk thru this wicked world

i see

mr clean all buff & pissed his clothes spattered w/ paint standing on the busy street corner confronting the young man who is making moves on clean's wife / one wrong word and i swear there's gonna be blows

a lone man in sunglasses holding up crumpled copies of the watchtower asking me if i need something to read

the door open on the church of scientology and i see a huge portrait of l. ron hubbard / his eyes seem to scan the street

a young tattooed woman dropping off dvds at blockbuster so stunning that everyone / men & women / stare in astonishment

am/pm gas station now closed w/ the windows shuttered being demolished by a front loader & it was open just the day before yesterday

& then recognizing the young homeless couple buying groceries at safeway supermarket as the manager of the store and i exchange a few pleasant words which end w/ 'here's to the usual madness'

& there's one thing i want to know 'what's so funny 'bout peace love & understanding'

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

we scare because we care

the wake of the success of the blair witch project brought many tv shows that capitalized on the home-made camera work and cinema verite-style of the film. one of the more imaginative of this fare was the tv show fear broadcast on mtv in 2000. the premise is simple: take a handful of young people, hook them up with cameras so they can film themselves, place them in an old hospital or prison in the middle of the night, psyche them out with frightening back-stories of the sordid happenings and the plentiful deaths done in these places, and give these young people a set of tasks in the name of investigating paranormal phenomena.

it's a genius set-up and even the most hardened and realistic of us would maybe freak-out in such situations. the mind is scarier than reality it seems and we can scare ourselves real good as we are tasked to go into an abandoned death chamber all alone and with little to no light to shine the cold light of reason upon our surroundings. the air temperature, the smells, every little creak and crack, and the shadows on the walls and floors would trick us into believing, if only for a moment, that some menacing thing is watching and could pounce at any second. i loved the show and tho fear i think trailed on for a couple of seasons it is an episode in the first season anna and i remember the most, the one where the participants investigated the old west virginia state penitentiary.

the clip below is where one member, ryan, is tasked to go into the death chamber and pull the tarp off the old electric chair and then sit alone with the chair in the dank cold of the room for 15 minutes. already two participants couldn't complete the task and chickened out. i recall when this show was first broadcast anna and i were in bed watching and at this particular moment we laughed our asses off. because i too would scream like a girl. watch, listen and shudder. remember, it is all in the mind. the mind is a terrible thing to taste.


Monday, September 08, 2008


ernesto priego - poet, cultural critic and theorist of ink - is asking for tattooed poets to contribute to his new blog tattoo poetics. this is a discussion of poetics and ink i've long been wanting to participate in and read. spread the word and bombard s. priego with your texts and pics.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

what is written on the skin

i'm contemplating what image to get for my fourth piece of ink and where to put it. my first tattoo is a very poor looking home-made skull [happy face-looking, really] on my left ankle done by my brother when i was sixteen years old. i know many persons would normally get something as awful as that piece covered up with a piece done by a professional tattooist. but i think tattoos are part of our personal narrative and the palimpsests on the skin should be visible as we move thru our limited number of days and years.

a couple of days ago geof huth wrote a bit on tattoos and reminds me that i had asked him what a vis-poet thinks of the art. frankly, i'm a bit surprised on the number of poets who are inked. guess i shouldn't be considering how popular body art has become. but when i got my skull-cum-happy face there wasn't a whole lot of people with tattoos. or so it seemed at the time. yet, i'm happily surprised by not just the number of people who are inked but also their varied reasons, which of course are all personal, why we get inked.

i'm not intimating that i was way ahead of the curve of body art at all. not in the least. thom gunn probably had all us poets beat by getting his panther in i think the early 1960s. when i was in my early 20s and was taking a grad course in poetry writing i recall a dream i had which i related to a couple of older friends [older at that time meant a person in his/her mid to late 30s] at a poetry reading. i dreamt that i was a tattooed john berryman. i was reading the dream songs like a madman back then. i was a bit ga ga over berryman's dress, his tweed sportcoats, thick black-frame eyeglasses, his steal-grey beard, too. yet, i've always liked the admixture of the hi and the lo, tweed jackets and ink on the skin.

well, shit. i'm no berryman and the old poet can keep his own madness to himself. my dream was significant only because before i got my second tattoo at age 19 - a panther on my right shoulder done by local tattoo artist bill liberty - i had a dream about having a number of tattoos, which i think somehow gave me permission to become and revel in being a tattooed person at a time when, again, tattoos were still very much part of a subculture and not widely embraced. i still like the mix of hi and lo and still like sportcoats covering up a bit of ink. anyhow, i see that poet john bloomberg-rissman's second tattoo is a repro of a work by paul klee and it's a beauty too. it reminds me of those things i like written on the skin. and a shining example that the why of it is as personal and mysterious perhaps as the number of choices we make of the images we place on our bodies as the narratives of our lives deepens and exfoliates.

Friday, September 05, 2008

i saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at trader vic's
his hair was perfect

fall is nearly here. i feel it. i know it. the light, as always, is changing. it's still hot but it gets darker earlier, halloween geegaws are now displayed in the stores, and my mind is skipping like a child walking in a light rain. you know how much i love this time of year, esp. october and the holiday of halloween. so i'm gonna celebrate the scary season beginning now. i'll be posting more horror movie reviews and whatever i fancy related to halloween in addition to my usual stuff re: my life in rhyme.


dig the new chapbook by jonathan hayes T(HERE) published by phrygian press. this is in my humble opinion hayes' best work. a long poem both in verse and prose finally wrapped between two covers with a killer piece of art glued to the cover with a print-run of 100 copies. this is a lovingly detailed, hand-made book by publisher arnold skemer who also edits and publishes the lit. zine zyx.

there is no price listed but send $5.00 to phrygian press care of arnold skemer at

58-09 205th st
bayside ny 11364

or make inquiries to jonathan hayes at jsh619atearthlink.net.



uptake receptors
revolving doors –
hit-or-miss Derringer barrel

hello, yes
i am your nomuseose
what are you hacking?

the the of yore line

“i want to be adored.”

ok, i’ll walk thru you!

Atoms are not afraid of conflict or sex.
Everything is made out of the same Silly Putty.

Race through the cobblestone alleyways by the chestnut vendors roasting, and out of the Town Square by the horse carriages toward the pining pinewoods.

The grotesque features are deep-rooted vines growing in shapes of murky shadowy pasts .

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

about last night

the lovely bungalow becomes a tattoo shop

on the corner a young man on his cell phone passes

looks at me and asks how goes work

waiting for the light to change a bum on an old ten speed bike

cradles a styrofoam cup in his left hand

do i look drunk he queries

are you i ask

heading down that street he says

i go and meet you half way

Monday, September 01, 2008

opening a barrel of wine & finding yr manuscript

what is sure to be a long, stressful week i find myself tempted in my longing for a sort of writing that brings forth catullus and his scatological, lusty, sensuality. indeed, my own reading habits move from the l=a=n=g=s to visual to post-beat to lyric to formal to [for really isn't there a better word for this] post-avant, and every permutation inbetween. in other words, i'm not catholic in my tastes.

when i read thru my own work i find - and i'm not a good judge of my own work for i am too close to it - my subjects gravitate toward the same sort of things, drugs, music, movies, street people and walking. on my newest chap [i'll make a formal announcement very soon] anna asked me after reading it that maybe i've exhausted these veins?

i don't know, but if i can have a poetic conceit [don't we all share in some conceits, see our writings in some light with both an eye for tradition, as well as the present, and thinking about the future too?] that maybe, even a little bit, that the ancient roman poet catullus might nod in approval upon reading my poems. and why not think that, all poets living and dead are brothers and sisters. might not be the most happy family and certainly one of the most dysfunctional, but it is a family and what we all share and relate to is a love of words and writing.

so then anyway, i'll have a couple of book publication announcements in a bit. life is life after all and writing is part of my life. a big part, maybe not the most important part, but it is a life just the same.