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Friday, December 31, 2004

A JAW-DROPPING TIME WARP BACK TO THE SEVENTIES: THE 1976 ABC PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL


Yesterday I got my hands on what amounts to a wrenching time warp gene-spliced with a memory-jogging roundhouse kick in the skull, and that item is a DVD of the 1976 Paul Lynde Halloween Special.

Holy fuckin’ Jesus…

If you are of an age that recalls the truly out-of-control excesses of the 1970’s occurring right around the time that you were either waging battles with rudely autonomous public hardons or your crotch hemorrhaging on a monthly basis while your nascent jubblies were first making themselves known, then you no doubt remember the loopy television of that era, television that reflected the “who gives a fuck?” vitality of that cocaine-fueled decade; TV fluff that literally was an opiate for the masses, granting us adolescents refuge from the steadily escalating rigmarole of leaving childhood behind. It seemed that after the cookie cutter, antiseptic fare of the 1950’s and the increasingly bizarre offerings of the 1960’s — to say nothing of the social upheavals that shook the US in both of those decades — network execs had an anything-goes attitude and approach to programming, no doubt spawned by massive consumption of booze and illicit recreational pharmaceuticals, and a veritable avalanche of cheese cornucopiaed its way out of our cathode ray altars.

The networks latched on to whatever was the current fad — disco (original flavor and the roller variety), CB radios and truckers, the kung fu boom, nostalgia for “the good old days,” sci-fi that was more action-oriented than cerebral, hot chicks with feathered hair and nipples as hard as your thumb — and quickly spewed it forth in a diluted fashion onto the airwaves. And then there were the “celebrities” who appeared on virtually every show under the sun, stars like Charo, Dick Gautier (remember him?), Charles Nelson Reilly, Ruth Buzzi, Joey Heatherton, Rich Little, John Byner, and the cultural criminals responsible for subjecting us to mime in primetime, Shields and Yarnell. The list is just as endless as it is riddled with mediocrity.

And the grand poobah of showing up on TV specials and guest starring all over the whole of creation was everyone’s favorite vicious alcoholic queen, the incomparable Paul Lynde.

Legendary throughout Hollywood for his downright sadistic wit and rampaging homosexuality (that was not, technically speaking, public knowledge but was as obvious as the dick on a bull elephant), Lynde gained a name for himself first as a stage actor and standup comedian, achieved TV immortality as the irrepressible and flaming Uncle Arthur on “Bewitched,” and reigned supreme as the resident snarkmeister on “The Hollywood Squares,” a show that he would tape after sucking down copious amounts of booze. It was widely agreed upon that Lynde was already a sharp-tongued S.O.B., but when he had a few drinks in him he became Josef Mengele (according to latter day raging Hollywood queen and bear, Bruce Villanch, who incidentally co-wrote the Halloween special), and nowhere was that more apparent than on “Squares,” a long-running gig that made Lynde rich and introduced us impressionable youngsters to rude, raunchy and hilarious gay humor that went as far as Lynde could get away with for the time; even today some of his quips would never have gotten past the watchdogs at Network Standards and Practices, especially after Janet Jackson so kindly treated us to an unwanted glimpse of her right dairy during an annual festival of man-on-man brutality and ads for Viagra and beer and the networks went into an Islamic-jihad-like frenzy of shielding the public from “indecent” material.

Needless to say, Lynde was extremely popular, and never too slow on the uptake when it came to potential ratings the networks milked his catty groove for all it was worth and shoehorned him into any available showcase, no matter how ill suited to his unique brand of bitchery. He appeared in an avalanche of absolute garbage that would have amounted to career seppuku for anyone else, but since he was savvy — and drunk — enough to be aware of just how lousy much of the TV gigs he got were, he rose (or sank) to the level of what he had to work with and became the shining yellow nugget of corn at the precipice of a mountain of shit; no line was too corny and no bit was too shameless for Paul Lynde, and he camped it up to such a degree that one had no conscious choice but to sit in front of the tube and stare like a drooling mongoloid.

Lynde’s 1976 Halloween special is nothing less than a spectacle of cosmic awfulness, something so mind-warping that you could no sooner turn away from it than you would turn away from witnessing the president holding a press conference and suddenly seeing him whip out his turkey neck of a pecker and actually piss out a surf board-riding Jesus Christ who was not only on fire but wearing assless leather chaps while screaming “Hey, kids! It’s the Second Coming!,” at which point Condaleeza Rice begins savagely masturbating on camera with a gravy-smothered leg of Kentucky Fried Chicken and singing “Old Man River.” It’s on a level with the infamous “Star Wars Holiday Special” but unlike that dead-in-the-water Hiroshima of the small screen, Lynde’s show at least has the decency of being mesmerizingly, entertainingly bad.

So just what is contained in the special that makes it so Christfuckingly bad? Here’s a play-by-play breakdown:

SCENE ONE- Paul Lynde is gaily mincing around his home in full Santa Claus drag and singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and decorating a Christmas tree when his housekeeper (Margaret Hamilton, best known as the Wicked Witch of the West in THE WIZARD OF OZ, and later Cora the Coffee Lady in Maxwell House adverts) shows up and lets him know that it ain’t Christmas. Lynde snippily dismisses her with a disdainfully sneered “Why don’t you go dust?” and the camera zooms in on his face as we see that he has just had a clever idea. Cut to Lynde starting the scene over again in an horrendous Easter Bunny outfit, singing “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” (by this point during the original broadcast I would imagine that thousands of closets across the nation flung open with a sonic boom as many “sensitive and artistic” young men burst forth and said “fuck you” to a country that hates fags yet gobbles up entertainment created by gays like it was a really good batch of General Tso’s chicken, this particular special being a case in point), only to be clued in on the fact that it ain’t Easter. Lynde again gets an idea and suddenly we are treated to him in a Hugh Hefner-style red smoking jacket holding a huge heart-shaped box of chocolates while mangling “My Funny Valentine” and sitting on one of the ugliest couches in the entire history of furniture, even by the questionable standards of the mid-1970’s. Again, Hamilton shows upon and finally clues him in to the fact that it’s Halloween amidst much allegedly witty dialogue. Then we get the announcer stating:

“It’s the Paul Lynde Halloween Special! Starring Paul Lynde! With Paul’s special guests Tim Conway! Roz “Pinky Tuscadero” Kelly! Margaret Hamilton! Billie Hayes! (NOTE: she is best known as Witchie-Poo from “H.R. Pufnstuff”) Billy Barty! (the legendary dwarf actor) And special guest star Florence Henderson! A special appearance by Betty White (before she was two-hundred)! And a rock ‘n’ roll explosion, Kiss! And now, The Paul Lynde Halloween Special!”

SCENE TWO- Lynde launches into a staggeringly stale introductory monologue, followed by a re-written for Halloween version of “Kids,” his signature number from his role in the Broadway show “Bye Bye, Birdie.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, the stage is suddenly infested with poorly choreographed dancers in cheesy devil outfits — accessorized with dime store plastic pitchforks — who antagonize Lynde, but don’t have the decency to kill him, thereby preventing this atrocity from continuing. After being tied up and forced to dance in a satanic chorus line while lyrically bitching about how “there’s too much Alice Cooper, not enough Alice Faye,” Lynde is unceremoniously dumped into a garbage can by celebrated Mormon icons of ‘70’s TV schlock Donny and Marie Osmond (who happen to be dressed in devil suits). The garbage can then explodes for no adequately explained reason.

SCENE THREE- Lynde’s housekeeper drives him to her sister’s house in order to keep him away from the horrible kids of the previous scene, and we immediately discover that the housekeeper and her sister are actually card-carrying witches, specifically the Wicked Witch of the West and Witchie-Poo, both in their famous costumes and totally in character. They let him know that they want him to help them soften the worldwide image of witches despite centuries of evidence which they both deny, with the exception of the torments that Dorothy went through, which were justified because “she had it coming.” Then, Miss Halloween 1976 shows up, courtesy of a terrible video special defect, and it’s Betty White. She totally disses Paul Lynde, disappointed that he’s not Paul Newman (who was supposed to be her prize for winning the coveted title), and she bitches out the two witches as to why they couldn’t have gotten another famous Paul, such as Paul Williams, Paul McCartney, Les Paul, Saint Paul or even Pall Mall. She then disappears after pronouncing Lynde “a nobody.” Anyway, the witches promise him three wishes if he helps them in their cause, and his first wish is to be — now get this — a trucker. He is immediately transformed into what appears to be a Village People reject in a silver, rhinestone-studded jumpsuit with “Big Red” inexplicably emblazoned across the back, and a Tom of Finland-style matching cap. He also sings the indescribably trite “Rhinestone Trucker” jingle and hops into the cab of an eighteen-wheeler. We are then “treated” to the romantic rivalry between the Rhinestone Trucker and another rig jockey (Tim Conway, proving just how unfunny he was when not on “The Carol Burnett Show,” a trend that would continue in his later efforts as the vertically-challenged Dorf) over the attentions of Kinky Pinky (Roz Kelly). This sketch goes on for a short eternity and is replete with gags that were old when dirt was invented. The whole car wreck culminates in an overwrought square dance/disco number that will make you want to eat your own buttocks while jamming a rusty screwdriver into your eardrums. The unhappy ending features the Rhinestone Trucker marrying a woman.

SCENE FOUR- after the previous idiotic scenario plays itself out, Lynde returns to the witches’ place and is offered some soothing chamber music by Kiss. They lip synch through “Detroit Rock City” with all the convincingness of Ashlee Simpson on “Saturday Night Live” while a smoke machine is truly put to the test (or maybe it was the runoff from all of the joints that surely blazed on set during this fiasco). And not that we didn’t already know they looked like idiots, but Kiss’ makeup gimmick has seldom looked more stupid than it did here.

SCENE FIVE- Lynde then goes for wish number two, namely being turned into a Valentino-esque desert sheik, complete with enormous hoop earring, who is vastly wealthy and a master seducer who goes by the name “Florence of Arabia.” He then attempts to force his lusty will upon captive Englishwoman Florence Henderson… Their lip lock will make you cringe, I swear to God. Tim Conway shows up again as a member of the French Foreign Legion who attempts to save Florence Henderson from the swishy sheik. Sheer torture, folks.

SCENE SIX- The Wicked Witch of the West engages in painfully unfunny banter with her diminutive butler (Billy Barty) until Lynde pops back to the scary house. Paul selflessly sacrifices his last wish to the witches, who want nothing more than to go to a Hollywood disco; at this point, the show becomes truly impossible to turn away from since it is a cavalcade of bad TV-friendly discotheque antics such as Lynde spewing forth wretched one-liners (one of which involves bestiality between Tim Conway and an unwilling monkey), Florence Henderson performing a “disco” version of “That Old Black Magic,” and Peter Chris subjecting us to that wimpiest of Kiss tunes, “Beth” (in which the endless close-ups prove that Chris was bloated even then and that though his makeup is allegedly supposed to represent a cat, he looks like a “kitty”), as the band nods in approval as if to say “Yo, man. That shit is deep.” Then Lynde trades ultra-pitiful quips with Kiss until they take pity on the audience and lip synch “King of the Nighttime World.” Then, in a sequence that nearly caused me to have a seizure, Paul asks Roz Kelly to teach him some happenin’ disco moves and she launches into a version of “Disco lady” that somehow manages to be more noxious than the actual hit version. Then, incredibly, Lynde trumps that by singing the song himself; you have not lived until you witness all of the guest stars awkwardly shaking their groove thangs as the queerest man in the universe utters the lines “Move it in, move it out, move it in, and about, disco baby! I like that funky stuff!” Yes, you read that right.

EPILOGUE- Paul Lynde takes time to thank all of his guests and then commits the ultimate Halloween prank by ending the show on a freeze-frame of himself kissing the Wicked Witch of the West full on the mouth as his voice-over exclaims “Happy Halloween, everybody!”

I now have a perennial to run each Halloween, a confection more horrifying than THE EXORCIST, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and FACES OF DEATH combined. Fuck, I miss Paul Lynde…

Thursday, December 30, 2004

2005: SOME NEW YEAR'S REZZIES

So in two days it will be the new year, the year 2005 to be exact. In the upcoming June I will celebrate my fortieth year of running around on this insignificant speck in the firmament and I think it's time to get some of my shit together. We all make sweeping New year's resolutions that we almost invariably break, but here is my game plan for the year and I will do my damnedest to adhere to my intentions.

LOSE SOME FUCKING WEIGHT- I weigh on average between about two-hundred-and-thirty to two-hundred-and-forty pounds, and I am six feet tall. Sure, my frame is structurally built large and strong for working — the legacy of selective breeding enforced by the owners of my ancestors — but my weight could easily stand to be reduced by about forty to fifty pounds. I am also diabetic (a family trait passed down through my moother's side which, fortuneately didn't manifest in me until just a few years ago), and significant weight loss will help to combat the disease immeasurably. I am a bit of a foodie, so this will be a hard battle, but I must discipline myself and that is that.

SERIOUSLY CURTAIL OR TOTALLY ELIMINATE MY DRINKING- I have already begun making strides on this one since due to being diabetic I really shouldn't drink at all, but it's a tough one since I have been a steady drinker for nearly twenty years. A friend who is a doctor says that I do not fit the actual definition of an alcoholic, and I frequently go for quite a while without imbibing, but when I do drink it tend s to be solely for the purpose of getting drunk rather than pleasantly buzzed during a social situation. When I look back at my behavior during the 1990's especially, it really is amazing that I am still alive and not an alcohol poisoning casualty thanks to the infamous nights at Twenty-Third street's Bar X (better known to us in the Marvel Bullpen as "X-Bar"), what with all of the many beers and countless shots of tequila, Jaegermeister and other such devils in a bottle, and for the sake of both my liver and my blood sugar I think it is best to grow the hell up and move on.

GET MORE VIGILANT REGARDING MY DIABETES- I'm already pretty good about this but I could do better. I plan to get a checkup soon and act upon its findings, plus I want to meet with a nutritionist and put myself on the right track when it comes to what I should or should not be eating to prevent an overabundance of sugar in my system. Thank god I nevver had a sweet tooth...

GET MORE AGGRESSIVE IN MY JOB SEARCH- I have gotten lazy on the job front since Thanksgiving, but that's okay since no one is hiring during the holidays. I have the translation gig going with Tokyopop, but I need more to make ends meet so I just have to get on the stick after the New Year.

BUCKLE DOWN ON MY WRITING- During my nearly two years of unemployment I have constantly honed my writing chops on a variety of projects and I am now ready to work on stuff of my own. I have a head full of ideas for comics, novels, and a screenplay or two, so now is the time to unleash the Krakken.

EMBRACE THE GODDESS WHEN SHE WANTS SOME LOVIN'- My misplaced chivalrous nature has at times denied me opportunities for flaming osh-osh with many awesome ladies over the years (oh, Mistress Lily, why didn't I go for it when you threw your red lingerie-clad self at me those many moons ago? You made my dick so hard that I could have used it to cut diamonds! Why did I give a damn that you had just broken up with your douchey boyfriend? You were some top notch totty, with a great figure, beautiful brown eyes and hair, and the most deliciously juicy titties I have ever laid eyes on and I was concerned about your possibly fragile feelings... AAAAAAAAAAARRRRGGGH!), and so I have to put such outdated and unneccessary behavior on the shelf, using it only when it is really important, and deal with the fact that the women who put the good stuff on the plate are grownups and are making conscious decisions. If I learned one thing from the storied Sukihoshi this summer it is that if the vibe is clearly there I should act upon it. There are currently four potential situations a-brewin' and I want to enjoy whichever way they pan out. So lock up your daughters, world!

START TRAVELING AGAIN!- During my career in comics I was a notorious workaholic and during my thirteen years in the biz I took exactly one real vacation. Now I intend to get away every now and then, and I want to start by going to England for this year's Bristol Convention and hanging out with my pal Chris Weston in Eastbourne. I can hardly wait!

And with all of that in mind, I say bring on 2005!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

CHRISTMAS ALBUM OF THE YEAR AND A LITTLE STORY ABOUT THE FIRST THANKSGIVING


Yes, there is a holiday album that actually managed to beat A JOHN WATERS CHRISTMAS as the season's most jaw-droppingly outrageous offering. My vote for Christmas album of the year goes to A VERY LARRY CHRISTMAS, an hilarious and offensive masterpiece by one of those usually awful redneck comedians seen on BLUE COLLAR TV and the redneck comedy tours. It's not a live performance, it's Larry in the studio telling Christmas stories and singing holiday related songs that are so tasteless — and distinctly Southern in approach — that this album may just edge out the reigning champ of vile Christmas albums for the past twenty years, John Valby's infamous JINGLE BALLS, which included the mind-roasting "Leroy the Big-Lipped Nigger" (think the tune of Rudolph applied to a piano bar ditty about the title character's neighborhood ethnic cleansing via shotgun of a bunch of "guineas" who are randomly "beating up Polacks, stompin' on niggers, spreadin' grease all around"). Hearing this after seeing the guy on TV was like seeing Liz Berkely in SHOWGIRLS after SAVED BY THE BELL. A sample of Larry's genius:

(to the tune of "Frosty the Snowman, but done without benefit of musical accompaniment)
Donny the retard/ had an eight-pound water-head
He was five-foot-three and he said to me "I like biscuits!"

or

(to the tune of "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year," also sans music)
She has the most wonderful ass
That I've seen
It's round and it's firm and it's
lean and it's mean
Too bad she's fourteen...
But we've all been to the mall
So ya know what I mean

And if those bits don't sell you on this, check out the following; I can relate to it since it's the kind of thing I often heard as a lad from my uncle Clady or my granddaddy Ozane:

GRANDPA’S THANKSGIVING STORY

This here’s more geared toward Thanksgivin’, but still a nice holiday.
This is the story of the first Thanksgiving, once again by my drunk grandpa:

Many years ago Christopher Columbus and his pilgrim buddies come to America on a boat called the Mayflower to live ‘cause the English king wouldn’t let the Jewish people go. So Moses, who was a friend of Christopher Columbus, rented three boats, the Mayflower, the Santa Maria and the U.S.S. Enterprise.

When they landed on America an Indian squaw named Sack-A-Jew-Ee-Uh met them and traded them pelts for beer and then showed ‘em how to de-gut a rabbit. That night her friends danced around with their boobs hangin’ out and balanced clay pots on their heads. The head pilgrim then baptized all the Indians to be Christians and they shot turkeys and played horseshoes. It was General Custer’s birthday and three Oriental kings showed up with presents of myrrh and other crap.

Many pilgrims didn’t survive the first winter ‘cause they didn’t have heat ‘cause Jimmy Carter, who was president of the pilgrims, had an oil embargo. Sack-A-Jew-Ee-Uh and her Indian friend burned buffalo turds and heated the camp. The pilgrims was thankful. However, it smelled so bad animals came outta the woods two by two. The Lord then made a rainbow appear, to let the people know that he would never make turds burn again and cause a horrible smell.

Sack-A-Jew-Ee-Uh fell in love with Kemo-Sabe, and they were married on that first Thanksgiving and lived in a tent with wheels. That’s right!

All the pilgrims were happy they were away from the king and safe in a new land, and to beat that they all landed right on Thanksgiving day. Charlton Heston was then elected president.

My grandpa was really drunk.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

A MOVEABLE FEAST

It's the day after Christmas and the sky is dark, a sure portent of snow to come. Thanks to not being able to sleep much last night, my mother is hibernating on the family room couch while I watch a marathon of MAD TV episodes and gaze out the huge sliding window/door onto the backyard. The back yard of this house has always been a bit of an unintentional nature preserve, what with its recurring parade of deer, woodchucks, pheasants, hummingbirds, racoons, opossums, coyotes, snakes and you name it, but just now I have witnessed an unprecedented display of wildlife on the march.

In recent years there has been an upsurge in the local turkey population, and when I say turkey I'm talking about the big-ass gobblers usually found residing on one's table amongst cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy on Thanksgiving day, and they are so stupid that they have little or no fear of man whatsoever. I have even seen one of my neighbors standing in his driveway with a huge sack of birdseed, doling out a free meal to a small flock of the gloriously ugly bastards, but while that was pretty impressive it doesn't come close to what just trudged through my field of vision.

I saw what I first thought was just a couple of Butterball refugees pecking about in search of eats, but when I got up and went to the window to check them out I saw a fucking HUGE army of feathered interlopers making their way out of the brush. I took a head count and came up with a tally of nineteen, when one last straggler hopped out and looked around in total confusion, bringing the final count to twenty. TWENTY FUCKING TURKEYS marching through the Valley of Buncheness.

I stayed glued to the window as their poultry procession promenaded toward the main road and was both amused and awed at the jerky yet graceful chorus line of butt-ugly birds who strutted about as if to say "Good thing it's the day after Christmas and your fat asses are too bloated from yuletide feasting to even think about getting up to give chase, kill us and fill our asses with seasoned bread crumbs, so go fuck yourselves!" Presently they were gone, off in search of sustenance amid the first light dusting of Connecticut snow (NOTE: not the kind of snow usually found up the nasal cavities of the affluent fuckheads who comprise most of my hometown's population).

Ah, nature...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

THE CHRISTMAS THAT DIDN'T SUCK

My intense dislike of both torturous excesses of the holiday season and being forced to spend time in Connecticut with my deranged materfamilias are no surprise to anyone who has read this blog, so imagine my surprise at being able to honestly say that my Christmas was pretty fucking good.

It's nearly midnight as I begin to write this and this day has passed without emotionally-scarring incident; the slowly winding, full-torque dread that I had harbored since the disastrous Thanksgiving auto de fe was defused by a variety of factors, including my mom apparently having been exorcised by Father Merrin in what must have been a battle that would have given Pazuzu a run for his money.

The good vibes began just over a week ago when I was in my pal Hughes' neighborhood and ran into my much-missed, former-across-the-hall neighbor Tim Holden, who now lives right around the corner from Carroll Gardens'favorite Mickalicious tag artist/rap fanatic. We chatted for a few minutes outside of one of the area's mobbed-up establishments and Tim offered me a ride to Wesport on the 23rd (aka Festivus). Now as anyone who has had to endure the Tartarus-in-a-can known as the Christmas exodus from Grand Central Station on the Metro North rail line will tell you, being offered any way to bypass that nightmare-on-rails is a major score. Not only was I able to avoid the crowded trip into the city from Brooklyn via subway while loaded down with bags of presents(and a bagfull of nearly a month's worth of neglected laundry), I was also rescued from the half-hour-before-departure arrival at the station so I could ensure not only a place to store my luggage, but also a seat. Tim Holden, you are now on my list of people who are owed a serious solid (that's negro for "a major favor").

Tim picked me up at my happenin' Park Slope bachelor penthouse (read "slum tenament of a messy single guy who occasionally gets lucky") at 7:15 PM on Festivus, and we journeyed from Brooklyn to Westport via the incredibly backed-up highways and byways (including the Hutchinson Parkway, a route that I drive back and forth on constantly for the five years I was in college and the one year after when some of my pals were still there and I went to cruise for booze, drugs and insane college pussy; sadly, I barely remember it these days and only recalled the exit to Westport upon actually seeing the sign for it) and finally arrived at my mom's house by 9:30 PM. Sure, a trip that should take only just over an hour during optimal traffic conditions was stretched out to two-and-a-quarter hours, but that was to be expected and Tim and I had our first chance to hang out and talk for the first time since he moved out some months back; at least that's one thing that can be said for the annual holiday traffic standstill.

When I arrived at home, Tim took a bathroom break and then headed back up to his family homestead in Westchester (another half-hour's drive back toward New York, meaning that selflessly dropping me off in Westport added an unneccesary hour to his travels, thereby earning Tim yet more points!), leaving me to enjoy one of my mom's signature home-cooked meals, my mother's non-irritating behaviour, and the company of my dear friend Tom Petrone, a guy who I met at the age of twelve on the very first day of junior high school. He even surprised me with the CD "A John Waters Christmas" as a thank you for helping him sell off a bunch of old comic books for what resulted in $325.00 worth of store credit at a Manhattan comic book shop! Score!

The day of Christmas Eve was spent eating like a fucking pig, watching good movies on TV - including a brand new widescreen print of one of my favorite flicks from the 1950's, namely BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE - and actually getting caught up in the first wave of good vibes to flow in this house in a long time. I busied myself around the house, doing dutiful home repair and heavy lifting that my mom in her frail dotage is not capable of any more, and assisted in creating an elaborate paella dish that featured shrimp, clams, mussels, chorizo and chicken. Then my buddy Chris came over and hung out until the wee hours, and we watched the DVD that he got me for Christmas, DEVO-LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN.

Then came Christmas morning and I steeled myself for the yearly opera of histrionics and dysfunction, but it never came. Instead I was treated to a haul of fun prezzies (although I could live without "The Tao of Bada-Bing," a book of Taoist lessons culled from SOPRANOS TV scripts; too cheesy-gimmicky/TV cash-in for my tastes, so it will probably get "re-gifted"), more good vibes, a terrific breakfast of succulent ham and delicately scrambled eggs, a viewing of GOODFELLAS and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (mom loved both of them; she's becoming a born-again mobster and martial arts movie fan in recent years) and a dinner of spectacular standing rib roast. I then spent a long time burning CDs for a number of people and myself, and now I end the day by chronicling this day that definitely counts on my list as being something of a Christmas miracle, my own non-Christian leanings notwithstanding.

Needless to say, I am very content and it's a strange feeling for a Christmas day in this house; I honestly don't quite know what to make of it. The only way this Christmas could have been better is if I had a ladyfriend to keep me company tonight in the dark and cozy confines of my old room and share some flaming osh-osh on the queen-size foldout bed... Well, 2005 is just around the corner and things are looking up, so who knows what my fortieth year will bring? I have a good feeling about things to come, but wish my beige ass luck anyway.

Merry Fucking Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

WORDS TO THE WISE: SUKIHOSHI ON PORNOGRAPHIC DISRESPECT AND PROPER COUPLES ETIQUETTE FOR VIEWING ADULT ENTERTAINMENT

Remember "Sukihoshi?" Well thanks to a situation that took place recently with her significant other, she felt compelled to pen the following words of advice for all who are willing to read them and gave her blessing for me to post it here. And now, the musings of Sukihoshi:

Yes, I am now a victim of pornographic disrespect. I, who was almost a porn “actress”—if my boyfriend had chosen to appear with me, I would’ve been in one of those “Dirty Debutantes” er, films. And now, here it is, ten years later, and my boyfriend, a new one (like I’m going to keep that other one around, right?) says “Your legs are long, baby, but those girls in the Andrew Blake movie, their legs were up to here—whew!”

“Camera angles,” I thought back at him. Everyone was shot at a low angle in that movie. But I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to seem “insecure.” I am a woman. Of course I am insecure. Even the most beautiful women in Hollywood movies look at their daily coverage—film shot that day—to make sure they look good. That’s the way it goes.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love dirty movies. First of all, they make the whole erotic experience last longer. I have met very few men who didn’t have the decency to wait until after the film was over to “finish.” Secondly, people are voyeurs by nature: why do you think we love to see people fall in love or beat each other up in movies or on television? A little smut can make an evening extra hot.

But it’s also a minefield: a lot of men won’t watch porn with their girlfriends for this very reason. They’re afraid that if they get too excited about some other woman on screen, their partner will throw a fit. They’re right, but there are some simple steps to watching porn with your loved one and keeping everyone happy.

Navigating the minefield:
1. Don’t be too vocal. If a performer onscreen excites you, don’t yell out “My god, she is so hot!” Your girl probably assumes everyone in the movie turns you on. Why rub it in?
2. If you are really that excited, take it out on your partner. You have to include that person anyway, or she’ll wonder why she’s even there. This way you’ll both be glad you’re watching.
3. Make fun of the people in the movie, and talk down any performer possible. It’s always a good laugh and massages all egos.
4. Remember that lighting and camera angles do a lot to add appeal to these lovely performers.
5. If you sense your partner is still feeling insecure, remind her that these people are seasoned professionals—like an athlete with a specialized um, body type and skill set. Comparing “real” people to them is like comparing office workers to football players.

Oh, yeah. Never compare your lover negatively with anyone in a dirty movie. Unless you want to spend your porno and beer money on flowers and candy for a week.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A NIGHTMARE: "TAMMY"

It is now 5:42 AM and I just awoke from the first real, truly terrifying nightmare that I’ve had in years and it went something like this:

I was staying with family friends in England in a multi-room flat, occupying the now empty room of their one-year-deceased daughter, a little girl who was obsessed by Barbie-type dolls. Also staying there was a pretty young twenty-something named Tammy; she had a platinum blonde bubble haircut and looked just like a woman who would be found in early-1960’s news footage of British girls freaking out to the sight of the Beatles, specifically the likeness of sex comedy film star Mary Millington as she looked before her career began, during her days in Mid Holmwood when she was just pretty young Mary Quilter.

With the crazy, distorted sense of time and logic inherent to dreams, it seemed like I had stayed at the flat for weeks, getting to know the charming Tammy quite well, but it was odd that none of the other residents seemed to see her or even know that she was there.

The whole dream was kind of eerie up to that point, with all of it taking place at night and illuminated by sometimes-faulty fluorescent light, but the whole thing turned utterly terrifying when I returned to the flat after being out for the day and settled in for the night. As I tucked myself in, Tammy’s voice came from out of a shadowed corner and told me how glad she was to have gotten to know her during the weeks that I had been there. She rather stiffly emerged from the shadows and sat on my bed. Running her hands through my hair and over my face, Tammy began to kiss me and caress me and I responded in kind.

Suddenly, her body became cold and rigid. Doll-like. She fell away from me and she melted into the shadows again, and when I looked to where she fell I could not see her. I got out of bed and groped for the ceiling cord, desperate for light. When light flooded the room, I saw that the floor was littered with many vintage doll collector’s magazines, “mod” doll’s clothes and old LPs featuring a doll that looked exactly like Tammy, all former treasures of the deceased little girl who had lived there. Then I felt a cold plastic hand upon my shoulder and turned to see Tammy’s face, only now she bore the frozen painted smile, unreal hair and staring eyes of a mass-produced fashion doll.

Her body began to shrink to toy-sized proportions as she clung to my neck, and she urgently explained that she had grown weary of the little girl’s daily attentions, such as an endless cycle of humiliation and terror involving being dragged everywhere by her hair, getting lost under furniture for days on end, and being allowed to be used as a chew toy for the family dog. She eventually could no longer bear such treatment, and one night Tammy killed the little girl. Knowing that the child’s grief stricken parents would maintain her room exactly as it was before their daughter’s death, Tammy merely bided her time until someone new came to occupy the room, someone whom she liked more than the little girl. That someone was me and she was determined that I join her forever in her lonely dollhouse.

Horrified, I flung her tiny, naked form from me and heard her break into her assorted pieces when she again landed in the shadows. Swiftly, her parts attacked me in a fit of rejected rage, Tammy’s high-pitched voice crying and shrieking out her resentment. The tiny limbs and other pieces clawed and bit at my face as I tumbled backwards out of the shrine to dead little girl, and while I fought furiously there was little that I could do since the disembodied components constantly changed location and were difficult to fend off.

As I screamed and thrashed about on the living room floor, the other residents of the flat ran out to witness the sight of me in mortal combat with what appeared to them as inanimate doll parts. In their eyes I had not only violated their daughter’s cherished memory, but I had also clearly gone barking mad. I finally gave up the fight and collapsed onto the floor, resigned to spending the rest of my existence in a home for the hopelessly insane, destined to have nightly visits from Tammy, who now had won herself a companion by any means neccessary.

I know all of this sounds rather silly, but try to filter it through your own dreamscape perception, complete with all of the skewed sounds, sights and slow creeping feeling of seasick horror found in the realm of nightmares, and you will see how I sat bolt upright at the dream’s conclusion.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

A FOND REMEMBRANCE OF SUMMER ROMANCE

I’ve been in a somewhat down mood lately and when I find myself in such a state of mind I let my thoughts run back over whatever situation qualifies as my most recent “fling.” Looking back on my admittedly checkered romantic past can either depress me even further or cheer me up mightily, but mulling over my summer romance has not only filled me with pleasing, lusty flashbacks, but also served to point out the real-life unintentional humor that often goes with how torrid encounters work when not found in hot books or big screen contrivances.

The co-player in my summer fling was a woman whom I first met about thirteen years ago when she was fresh out of college and I was working in the Marvel Comics bullpen. Marvel was just as short on females as one would expect from a company that caters to the arrested development of pathetic losers who still live in the parents’ basement and haven’t seen any part of pussy since they first slid out of one, and the presence of this vivacious young thing who gave off blatant “I’m horny, care to take a ride?” pheromones did not go unnoticed. Cute in an R. Crumbish way, with long hair, an earthy sensuality and a curvy figure that promised epic, sweaty pleasures, this ribald vision was around the bullpen for far too short a time for me to get a taste of her charms but we kept in touch over the years and periodically ran into each other at parties and barbecues. She eventually tied the knot with some unassuming nebbish and the last time I saw her prior to the story that I’m about to regale you with was about three years ago when she was pregnant with her son.

Fast forward to July of 2004: I was on my way into Manhattan to see two friends of mine when I heard my answering machine come to life and the slightly lispy voice of the vision from the bullpen filled the air. She left a message explaining that she was once again living in the city — she and her husband had moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut near Black Rock Turnpike — had walked out on her husband, and was looking to hook up with her remaining city-dwelling pals. She left her number and said that she’d be out that evening drowning her sorrows at a dive bar on the Lower East Side if I should care to join her and hear her tale of marital discord. I kept this info in mind, visited my friends and when our visit was over I hightailed it over to the dive bar with nothing on my mind other than seeing an old friend again.

I arrived at Otto’s Shrunken Head, a decaying latter-day tiki-themed watering hole that would be right at home as the location for an album cover photo shoot by the Cramps, and searched its dank confines for my friend. And there she was, huddled into the round, red leather confines of a corner booth, working her way through a very stiff rum concoction. She looked much as she always did, only with a bit of yet-to-be-shed post-baby weight further rounding out her already cuddly contours and her face was a picture of broken-hearted and fed-up misery. During her time at Marvel, she had gone by several names, but her nickname of choice is now “Sukihoshi,” bastardized Japanese for “porn star,” and that is how she will be identified from here on.

We shot the shit and caught up on the past three years in each other's histories, and I found out the reasons for her walking out on her husband, reasons that are not mine to relate so tough titty to you, but I also found out that her husband had not given her a proper seeing-to since the night that they conceived their son, so after I did the math I realized that this force of female nature had been lying fallow for nearly three years.

Now, those who know me will tell you that I am a very sweet guy, the very antithesis of stereotypical macho behavior when it comes to interacting with and pursuing women, and in many ways that sweetness is what prohibits me from absolutely rampaging on the battlefield of cocksmanship. However on this particular night I channeled my inner macho shithead, and emboldened by a relatively minor amount of liquid courage I looked at Sukihoshi and actually uttered the following words: “Honey, we’re both lonely and could use a little lovin’, so put down that drink, come back to my apartment, and I’ll remind you of why you’re a woman.” As those ludicrous words spewed forth, I heard a little voice in my head say, “Did you actually just say that?” She looked at me like I had just walked out the Mothership clad in silver and Bootsy Collins-style platform thigh boots, cocked her head in thought for a moment and said “C’mere and let me see something…” She then reached over, pulled my face to hers and kissed me long and deep. She pulled away, thought for another moment and said, “Let’s go.” You could have heard a sonic boom thanks to the speed with which we fled Otto’s Shrunken Head.

Much has been made of courtship rituals and the coy brinksmanship witnessed during the attempts of two people who are trying to connect, but when one looks at all of it from an objective standpoint it’s all pretty goofy to observe. When Sukihoshi and I hopped into a Brooklyn-bound yellow cab we engaged in a refreshingly adolescent arabesque of groping, sloppy kisses and hands questing into jeans the like of which I hadn’t experienced since my early, clandestine fumblings with girls during the nascent 1980’s. The driver kept his eyes more on our crazed weasel-like foreplay than on the road, and after a couple of near head-on collisions with streetlamps we finally made it back to Park Slope in Brooklyn.

As we neared my street I remembered that it had been a while since I had enjoyed the pleasures of female flesh and as a result I had no condoms back at my apartment, so we disembarked at a convenience store one block and an avenue away from my home. We must have looked quite the picture of the about-to-happen beast-with-two-backs since we were unable to keep our hands off of each other and the saucy banter that spiced our conversation left little to the imagination, to say nothing of my request for a box of Trojans serving as a guaranteed attention-getter. I actually felt awkward asking for the condoms, a first since my misspent youth, and I guess that was an issue due to the girl whom I was about to befoul being not only present but also flagrantly consumed with the need to have her knees pinned behind her ears.

As the indifferent counterman handed me the prophylactics, my lady friend and I caught the attention of one of the neighborhood winos. This erudite citizen did a double take at the sight of me, a six-foot light-skinned black guy, and a voluptuous five-foot four-inch strawberry blonde and announced, “OH, SHIT! SOMEBODY’S GETTING’ FUCKED TUH-NIGHT! I’M TALKIN’ ‘BOUT DA PUSS-SEH!!!” He then somehow managed to stagger outside and when Sukihoshi and I walked out we saw him supporting himself with one arm while he voided the toxic contents of his abused bladder onto the front of the bodega. With that mood-setting tableau to inspire us, we retired to my apartment for an evening of some of the most bed frame-destroying, noisy, sweaty, lewd and downright porno-movie-style sex I have ever had the pleasure to be a part of.

This went on for a few more weeks and ended amicably once Sukihoshi and I realized that us as a couple wouldn’t work for a few very good reasons, but I treasure the time we spent together and am thankful to her for restoring my belief in the fact that sex can still be a hell of a lot of fun. I really wish that things for both of us could be somewhat different, but I will always remember her fondly as one of the very brightest moments in my book of delectible, all-senses-involved blazing osh-osh.

Friday, December 10, 2004

THE SUBWAY AT RUSH HOUR AND THE UNWELCOME PROXIMITY OF HUMANITY

So I decided to venture into Manhattan and hit my favorite comic shop despite the cold, wet and generally foul weather. For those not residing within New York City's five boroughs, service on its infamous grafitti-bescrawled subways can be pretty bad and it only gets worse during rush hour and especially the weekend hours thanks to track maintainance and construction; today I had to put up with the inevitable delays spawned by the double whammy of both rush hour getting underway and the weekend schedule buttfuckery commencing at the same time.

After conducting my business at the comic shop I waited for quite some time to board a very late R train back to my little oasis in Brooklyn and finally secured a seat in the humid, puddle-ridden car. The PA squawked out an announcement that informed riders that the train would be making express stops from 34th Street through Canal Street, and while that announcement deterred those members of the sweaty throng who needed the local stops there were still more than enough willing riders and presently the car was packed tighter than the ass of a kid during a sleepover at Michael Jackson's house.

I found myself fortunate enough to obtain a seat right next to the door, but my good fortune quickly turned into a stiff-fingered "fuck you" from the subway gods when a huge, sweaty food giant wedged his three-and-a-half-foot wide asscheeks right next to my head. As his sandbag of a butt hung over the seat's sidewall and wobbled like a seizuring Jell-O mold mere centimeters from my face I became aware that this snacking gargantua was clearly ignorant of the most basic rule of human hygiene: YOU GOTS TA WASH YER ASS.

The flabby cheeks exuded a pungent bouquet of unscrubbed feces, sweat and old romano cheese, a stench so strong that I could have sworn that it was being blown directly into my face by a powerful gust of wind (which in fact it may have been), and though this ill zephyr tortured my nostrils I was not about to give up my seat; there was nowhere to move to and I would have ended up standing for god knows how long, and if you have ever been stuck in such a situation you know what a short-fused agony that can be. Sadly, I resolved to endure the unwelcome ass-fest in hope that the offender would eventually disembark in order to continue his perpetual search for the perfect bag of pork rinds.

All of the mind-clearing meditative aspects of the Eastern disciplines that I have dabbled in were summoned up in order to ensure my survival of this most hostile ass-ault, and the shambling mound of flesh stayed put all the way to DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn, bringing my nasal violation to a running time of twenty minutes.

And to add insult to injury, when the train reached the stop just before mine it was announced that in order to make up for the previous delays the train would once more be making express stops, skipping my station and continuing on for another forty blocks; if I wanted to make the local stops I would have to stay on until 36th Street and head back on a Manhattan bound train, thereby extending the trip by at least another half hour. I opted to get off and walk the ten blocks to my apartment, rain be damned. Well, after two violations I figured that I could handle the comparatively mild inconvenience of a bit of drizzle, and the fresh air certainly cleared the last fetid vestiges of sweaty buttcrack from my olfactory system, so I sort of won after all.