Search This Blog

Friday, March 20, 2020

GEARING UP FOR COOKOUT SEASON (HOPEFULLY)

It's always a good day when one's new shirt for the cookout season arrives. (Though it's anyone's guess as to when this year's cookout season can officially start...)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

WHAT IS SEEN CANNOT BE UNSEEN

I'd hit it. (Oh, yeah, right. Like you wouldn't.)

I just mentioned this in a Facebook group conversation with fellow plague shut-ins and I felt it was worth publicly disseminating:

Considering how fast the adult film industry cranks out "parodies" of movies and TV shows, out of sheer morbid curiosity I just checked to see if a proper X-rated version of the CATS movie exists and what salacious idiocy it bore as packaging art. It could not possibly be more ludicrous than the actual movie, right? A proper tenderloin parody does not exist — YET — so the search did not yield the results I was looking for. That said, and I say this as a friend and as a concerned citizen: Do NOT Google "cats porn version." Trust me on this one...

Monday, March 16, 2020

PARK SLOPE DURING CAPTAIN TRIPS

As seen in the window of a temporarily closed boutique on Park Slope's 5th Avenue.

Went out for a brief-but-necessary errand to a print shop ad surveyed the state of the neighborhood in the process. During this time of caution, the streets in my section of Park Slope are uncharacteristically barren as the locals hole up and settle in to weather the CORVID-19 pandemic.  Vehicular traffic was equally sparse, save for the scheduled B63 buses. Small businesses and eateries are temporarily closing though, surprisingly, there was a long line as locals waited for the pricey artisanal butcher shop to open.



Friday, March 13, 2020

EARLY-MORNING GROCERY SHOPPING WHEN THE PLAGUE IS IN TOWN

As America copes with Corvid-19, aka the Coronavirus, the expected hysteria is setting in ad supermarkets nationwide are witnessing hordes of skittish homo sapiens freaking out and acting like idiots. Here in Brooklyn's tony Park Slope, the populace is not exempt from hoarding and mannerless selfishness ahead of a crisis, and today's virus-spurred annoyance found the locals in fine form.

Since I barely got any sleep last night, I figured I would hit the Associated supermarket around the corner before my body inevitably shut down for rest. I needed exactly three items that I had forgotten during yesterday's run, due to being overwhelmed by the crowding at the two big local markets, items that I could not make the soup that will sustain me for the next few days without, so I got to the market a half-hour after they opened, figuring it was too early for insane, panicked crowds.

WRONG. 

The place was possibly the most packed I have ever seen it over the 23 years that I have lived here, even during previous hysteria ahead of hurricanes and nor-easters, and the market just was not ready for today's onslaught. The Associated market opens at 8am, usually with two cashiers and one manager (plus a handful of stockers and the deli person), and today was no exception, so the tumult was initially met with two open registers, which was soon upped to three when one of the managers opened and manned another. 

The view from about midway on the checkout line: facing the front...
...and the rear.
The queue for the cashiers stretched from the registers all the way to the rear of the store, and the photos I took to illustrate this were from my vantage point a little above the halfway mark on the checkout line. There was no express line, so those of us with a handful of items were stuck behind nervous hoarding shoppers with ludicrously overflowing shopping carts. There were of course the inevitable meltdowns as nerves frayed and tempers flared, with the most memorable being from a woman who needed just a bottle of laundry bleach but who was daunted by the prospect of having to wait on an interminable line. Upon trying each of the three lines and seeing each was as long as the next, she let out a shrill shriek, exclaimed "YOU'VE GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!!!" and angrily lobbed the jug of bleach at a bare shelf, narrowly missing the heads of the couple that were standing there.
For my part during all of this, I just remained calm, secure in the knowledge that it would soon be over and that I only lived just aroud the corner. That said, the usually five-minute trip around the corner for three items ended up expending thirty-four minutes. Believe me, if the items were not vital for the next few days or if they could have been had at one of the two nearby well-stocked 24/7 convenience stores, I would have immediately gone elsewhere.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

AUGHRA SPEAKS


After bailing on a dim sum meal with dear friends this morning, I had planned to stay in today due to having overdone it during my last gym workout, but I had to go out to pick up a prescription and obtain a stamp for mailing out my rent check. I had intended to pick up the prescription first and swing by a 24/7 deli for a stamp on the way back, but the independent mailing shop that used to be run by a now-deceased local character who was an amusing (if paranoid) curmudgeon was unexpectedly open on a Sunday, so I went in.

The place is now run by the late curmudgeon's sister, a blonde old school former hippie chick who is basically his identical female clone, but she is somehow even more curmudgeonly and crazy than her brother ever was. She's short, overweight, has a mouth like a longshoreman, and chain-smokes as badly as her brother used to, which renders the air inside the place about on par with the atmosphere of the planet Venus. (Henceforth, I will refer to her as Aughra, after the wise woman character in THE DARK CRYSTAL.)

Upon entering, I found her seated behind the counter at her computer, accompanied by some scurvy-looking local skel and heartily chugging a can of beer. When she saw me she saluted me with her beer and noted that I had caught her on her day off. Her friend went outside to deal with an incoming phone call, which left me alone with Aughra, and whenever I'm in the shop alone with her, she becomes incredibly close-talker chatty and impossible to escape from without being rude.

She first cornered me with babble about how the entitled locals of Park Slope treat her like she was a slave (or lesser) and her subsequently throwing them out when she lost patience with them, but then veered onto several other subjects, including (but ot limited to) her interest in sampling the assorted religions of the world in order to better understand humanity, her distrust of American corporations, her vitriol toward the sons of George W. Bush, a perusal of a rare  pre-WWII hardcover copy of the collected works of Sholem Aleichem (creator of Tevye the milkman, which I pointed out to her, as she had never read the book; I would love to own that edition), and general grousing about how she frequently has to pay out of pocket for canceled goods and services. All of this took up about fifteen minutes of my time as she polished off two more beers while leaning in close to loudly talk at me, which put me right within the rage of her nasty beer /cigarette breath and horrifying B.O. (If I had to guess, she either had not showered for a few days, or she'd been wearing the same clothes for perhaps a full week, coupled with not bathing.)

As I futilely sought an opening in the one-sided conversation during which I could make a hasty escape, she suddenly shifted gears, moved in closer, and began a graphic account of how "sexually fucked-up" her ex-husband was, due to him having been raised in a puritanical Christian household. Quoted verbatim:

"My husband and I used to have pre-marital sex, which he was uncomfortable with, and there was this one time when I was on top, ya know, really grindin' on him, and I got offa him ta give him a blowjob. As I was down there about to get started, he went 'STOP!!! I gotta think about this...'" She then stepped away from me while fluttering her hands in the approximation of a bird taking wing, accenting the gestures with a whistled noise meat to sound like the lonely winds blowing across a barren wasteland. She resumed with "But I wasn't insulted. Like I said, he was sexually fucked-up. But we were together for a long time, so he eventually got used ta me."

I was at a loss for anything to say, as all of this had come from out of nowhere, but I found my opening to leave when she suddenly remembered she had to feed her cat, Ratty. I made my exit and went to pick up my prescription at the chemist's shop a few doors down, and when I went in I told Gary, the place's manager (with whom I am friendly; we always crack each other up) about what had just transpired. He laughed his ass off and noted that they regularly use Aughra's services when shipping or receiving items, and he said that I would not believe some of what she puts Angel, the chemist shop's good-looking male Latino employee, through whenever he goes in there. 

Yes, I would, Gary. Yes, I would.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

FUCK THE OSCARS

A feminist masterpiece, utterly subbed the the so-called "Academy."

My skipping of this year's Oscars show is in bitter memory of the shameful fact that Jack Hill's epochal SWITCHBLADE SISTERS wasn't even considered for the Best Picture award in 1975, which only serves to further point out just how meaningless the Oscars are.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

McBAIN (1991)

When the star looks like he wishes he were in a Golan-Globus movie instead.

Last night's lull-me-to-sleep movie was McBAIN (1991), featuring a zombified Christopher Walken as a Viet Nam vet who gets called in to honor a debt that requires him to lead ragtag revolutionaries in taking down a stereotypical Columbian dictator/drug trafficker. It was so by-the-numbers and stupid that I ended up watching the whole thing, marveling at a movie of its wannabe Golan-Globus ilk being released as late as 1991. It comes off exactly like a bunch of little boys (and the neighborhood's girl who got in on this sort of thing) playing soldier with toy weapons and a few pets thrown into the mix, only enacted by grownups, and the effect is unintentionally (?) hilarious.

The film opens in Viet Nam in 1973 on the day when the conflict is officially declared over, where we see our hero as a P.O.W. forced to fight to the death against a hulking enemy bruiser who's armed with a big-ass knife and low-budget martial arts skills. By comparison, Walken looks like a dried-up scarecrow and basically gets his ass mercilessly kicked. That is, until a bunch of hardcore U.S. soldiers show up in a Huey, blow the living shit out of the P.O.W. camp and liberate the prisoners, which is when McBain — whose first name is Bobby, so we get an action hero named Bobby — meets Santos, the Columbian-born U.S. soldier to whom he now owes a life debt. Eighteen years later,  Santos is killed during a botched coup attempt, so his sister (Maria Conchita Alonso — remember her?) rides out of her shot-in-the-Phillipines Columbian village on a donkey and somehow tracks McBain to NYC, where he works on the Brooklyn Bridge as an arc welder. McBain witnessed Santos' death on the news, so he's on board to help the man's sister but first he rounds up a group of U.S. vets to form an even cheesier variant on the A-Team and then we're off to endless firefights and shots of Columbian peasants screaming "Libertad!" while waving rifles in the air. 

Bobby McBain (Christopher Walken). Not since Sean Connery's 007 has a protagonist exuded such palpable alpha wolf energy.

Bear in mind that there was no prior setup whatsoever to lead us to believe McBain — excuse me..."Bobby" — was in any way a highly-skilled commando with the respect and unquestioning loyalty of equally-skilled former soldiers, one of whom (Michael Ironside) is now a multi-gazillionaire whose cash and apparent deep ties to the U.S. government are totally at Bobby's disposal, which is convenient since Bobby and his faux A-Team require a budget of $10 million for weapons and a light aircraft, plus air support from a U.S. fighter pilot acting as a military supply plane's escort in Columbia. (The guy basically ditches his own assignment because McBain mentions he knew the guy's father's division during 'Nam, and brings his fully-loaded fighter jet with him.) The relative ease with which this crew accomplishes the takeover is childlike in its narrative simplicity and grasp of the concept of "unsanctioned international incident" and it's a fucking hoot.

Much like the rest of the movie, the film's tag line of "It takes a killer to stop the killing" makes no sense whatsoever. When we meet him, Bobby's getting his ass handed to him by some Viet Cong thug and he requires the army to save his scrawny ass. Skip ahead by eighteen years and with no explanation whatsoever he's suddenly effortlessly badassed and connected. WAHAAAA??? Ludicrous, but very entertaining.

Oh, and according to the IMDB, the release of this movie led the writers of THE SIMPSONS to refer to their McBain character only as Rainier Wolfcastle for some time in order to avoid confusion with this film. When what they felt was enough time had passed, the name "McBain" returned.




Packaging image from the VHS release.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

SHOGUN ASSASSIN (1980) at the Alamo Drafthouse, Brooklyn

Saw the screening of SHOGUN ASSASSIN at the Alamo and, as I had been afraid might be the case, it was the same mangled veteran-of-grindhouses print that I saw over a decade ago during a Subway Cinema classic martial arts film festival. The print was scratched-up and random seconds were missing here and there, which haphazardly cut off parts of the dialogue and caused some of the important exposition to be lost. The hero's brief underwater battle with the female ninja was entirely missing and — most unforgivable of all — the legendary gout of blood that geysers from the slashed neck of the leader of the Masters of Death immediately after he delivers his poetic/hilarious dying speech about "how the sound of wailing winter winds" is heard when such a magnificent cut is administered? Completely missing due to it having been excised from the print during its long years of service in sleazy 24-hour theaters that once dominated areas like the Deuce.
When I saw the film at that Subway Cinema screening a decade back, the showrunners were aware of the print's horrendous quality, as it was allegedly the only extant 35mm print that could be found, so the show's host told the audience up front what they were in for. (The disappointed hew and cry of the packed-to-capacity audience when the aforementioned neck geyser was missing was one of the greatest displays of simultaneous audience sadness and ire that I have ever witnessed.) The showrunners for tonight's screening were apparently unaware of just how dilapidated this evening's print was, so I'm not going to hold their not informing the audience ahead of time against them.
The damaged print is introduced to an unsuspecting audience.
BOTTOM LINE: SHOGUN ASSASSIN is one of my all-time favorites and it's a hell of a lot of fun, but it's very much a visual piece that needs to be see in pristine condition in order to be properly experienced. Thus I suggest that you avoid 35mm screenings of it, should you see it listed, if there truly is only this one damaged print still available for projection. Criterion has issued it in a gorgeous edition on DVD and BluRay, so go with that instead. Or, better yet, just watch the unedited, full-length, subtitled Japanese originals that Criterion issued as a boxed set (which includes SHOGUN ASSASSIN while simultaneously rendering it superfluous).

Saturday, February 01, 2020

JUST ANOTHER FRIDAY NIGHT

Ah, just after 1am on a Friday night in Park Slope. There's a drunk outside my building screaming "I WANT TO FUCK YOU...IN THE BUTTHOLE!!! Look... I have been... TRAINING SCIENTIFICALLY!!!"

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

KAIJUMAX Season Four: SCALY IS THE NEW BLACK


I just finished reading the collected edition of KAIJUMAX SEASON FOUR: SCALY IS THE NEW BLACK, and all I have to say is WOW. 
For those unfamiliar with the series, it deploys pretty much every Japanese sci-fi/giant monster/giant robot/giant alien hero trope (along with other elements cherry-picked from international monster culture/lore) and reimagines Toho's Monster Island enclosure as a maximum-security prison policed by human corrections officers equipped with hi-tech mecha suits and extra-terrestrial Ultra-style size-changing and energy powers, and it follows the harrowing daily existence and intrigues of the colossal inmates ad the island's staff. In other words, it's a OZ-esque prison drama about giant monsters, ad it's every bit as harsh and compelling as the best of its more mundane precursors.
This volume shifts the focus to the female monsters, among whom is former staff doctor Zhang Xian, now is incarcerated for murdering her drug-dealing inmate boyfriend and stuck in her gigantic superhero form. We also get a look at the religious cult of the Queen Bee — the island's Mothra-like native deity — as it accepts "krakenhead" Goat — an analog for H.P. Lovecraft's Shub-Niggurath, "the goat with a thousand young" — into its fold, and a human guard's struggle with his conscience as he begins working with an imprisoned crime boss to earn extra cash to better provide for his pregnant wife (who happens to be a giant robot superhero).
A superb series from top to bottom and a hell of a lot of fun if one comes to it already well-versed in the territories it mines, KAIJUMAX gets my strongest recommendation. A+