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Friday, December 31, 2004


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


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


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!"


(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:


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


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


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


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


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.

Friday, December 10, 2004


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.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


Dear readers-
what follows are the liner notes to the CD I compiled while weathering the agony of being at home this Thanksgiving. If you have any suggestions for songs that I need to add to my collection please write in! And now, the notes:

Let’s get one thing straight: I hate the Christmas season. People being so fucking cheerful all the time, society painfully separated into the haves and have-nots, rampant commercialism, ludicrous television holiday specials like the one where the Flintstones celebrate the birth of Christ about a million years before he was born (yes, that actually exists), my mother dragging me off to midnight mass when I could have been getting laid or drunk, people utterly forgetting the point of the whole thing (which really bugs me, and I’m not even the least bit religious) and any number of other seasonal irritants. Yet, number one on my list of holiday dread is the endless, all-pervasive Christmas music. It first starts to wend its insidious way into my brain right around Halloween, and keeps on going until mid-January. Worst of all, my mother is probably the number one fan of Christmas music, so I’m even subjected to it when I go home for the holidays.

As you know, I refuse to bow in the face of oppression, so I began a campaign to save my seasonal sanity by finding pleasing (to me at least) alternatives to the vomitous dreck that I have to hear each year back in 1984. That was the year that I got my hands on the Feederz’s infamous vinyl sacrilege “Jesus Entering From The Rear,” a song that equates Christianity with a homosexual rape with a two thousand year duration. Nearly everyone who has ever heard this record finds it incredibly offensive, but it is such a catchy little punker that it is virtually impossible to get out of your head. From that point on, I have collected oddball Christmas records, and each year I treat myself to the latest in such items.

Here’s a compilation of questionable Yuletide classics culled from Brooklyn’s most infamous record collection, the Vault of El Buncho (over 1000 records and CDs, and still growing). Enjoy (or possibly be offended), and remember the cardinal rule:


Nothing goes together like peace on Earth and rampaging ethnic/religious intolerance. “South Park’s” Mr. Garrison gives us his heartfelt sentiments on nations and people who have the unmitigated gall to not celebrate Christmas.

This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, twisted or not. This is genuinely fun, and you should check out the lead singer, April March’s first solo album, “Paris In April.” This one has to do with drunkenness and Santa’s elves happily manufacturing “Christmas cigarettes.”

Easily the dirtiest recording artist in any musical genre in America, I have held this guy in the highest of low estimation for over twenty years, and my opinion has not changed one iota. Here’s a fantastic simultaneous ruination of a yuletide favorite and an offensive gag at the expense of the facially disfigured.

The legendary Los Angeles punkers’ contribution to the Yuletide ouvre. I don’t know how well-known these guys are on your side of the pond, but they are best known for such classics as “Have A Beer With Fear,” “Beef Bologna,” “Mengele,” and that undisputed classic “New York’s Alright (If You Like Saxophones).” The vocalist, Lee Ving, doesn’t sing so much as scream like a drunken hockey fan. He was last seen somewhere around 1987 in an episode of the nauseating “Fame” TV series as a sensitive mob enforcer who belts out “The Impossible Dream.” A sad coda to a great crash-and-burn career.

FROSTY - John Valby
Did you ever see that shitty cartoon about Frosty the snowman coming to life, and being pursued by an evil stage magician (with character designs by Mad magazine legend Paul Coker Jr)? I first saw it around 1970, and it has polluted the American airwaves yearly ever since. This is the version of the song that needs a half-hour cartoon! Listen for yourself and see what I mean.

SANTA CAME HOME DRUNK - Clyde Lasley & The Cadillac Baby Specials
An early 1960’s R&B gem in which a black guy in a Santa suit decides to get seriously fucked up on Christmas Eve. Truly amazing.

Another one about getting shafted, gifts-wise. From the long-defunct band that gave the world the classic ode to imbibing household toxins, “Strychnine.”

I was always a bit creeped-out by the idea of Santa seeing everything that you do, all year ‘round and grading you on it via what you get, gifts-wise. Theoretically, the fat bastard watched you while you were taking a dump or beating off, or stealing money from grandma’s purse, or whatever it is that kids get up to. From the genius who gave the world “The Streak,” this ode to Yuletide paranoia will always warm my heart because of the little kids’ hysterical cries of “He’s everywhere! He’s everywhere!” Sort of like a junior Kevin McCarthy at the end of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The bottom line: if he sees you fucking up, forget about prezzies.

A brief bit of back story is required on this one: this is a rockin’ cover to the theme song from “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” a film that turns up perennially on lists of the worst movies ever made. Made in the early 1960’s on a budget of less cash than you have in your pockets when you’re naked, it truly must be seen to be believed. The basic plot: Martian children are miserable and lethargic, so the Martian elders decide to kidnap Santa Claus to make them happy. “Mystery Science Theater 3000” had a field day with it about ten years ago, and I run their version of it every Christmas Eve, along with the equally-awful Mexican “Santa Claus” movie (which features allegedly-African children in Tarzan getups with bones in their hair), that instant classic of Yuletide bad taste “Bad Santa,” and the splatter “classic” double-feature of “Silent Night, Deadly Night” and “Christmas Evil.” “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (and “Santa Claus”) was re-released yearly for nearly two decades, and made a boatload of money over those years. Even at age six, I knew it was staggeringly bad. If you have never seen it, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is a film that I could not recommend more as a drunken party film. And it features the screen debut of seven-year-old Pia Zadora, who would later go on to bare all in such masterworks as “Butterfly” (in which her character fucks her father!!!) and “The Lonely Lady” (wherein her character is raped with a garden-hose nozzle by Ray “Goodfellas” Liotta. No, really).

HOMO CHRISTMAS - Pansy Division
The second-greatest gay Christmas song of all time. What’s number one? We’ll get to that…

IT’S CHRISTMAS - Bouquet of Veal
This song comes very close to nailing all of the details of my Christmases from 1985-1990. And, yes, I actually did once have sex with a girlfriend in the snow. I don’t recommend it (the snow part, not the girlfriend. Well, actually…).

BLUE XMAS – Bob Dorough
Bob Dorough is better known to most of us as the southern-accented guy behind the old “Schoolhouse Rock” TV segments such as “Three Is A Magic Number” and “Little Twelvetoes,” and here he demonstrates an incredible, soft-spoken seasonally driven cynicism that I wish I had written. Easily the most intelligent, erudite and musically sound entry on this disc.

A MERRY JINGLE – The Greedies
Thick-accented British punkers from back in the days get into the spirit.

DECK THE HALLS - Metal Mike, Alison & Julia
Why is it that heavy metal and Christmas go together so well?

The Master strikes again, this time combining stolid church music and ass-fucking.

This is the number one gay-themed Christmas recording. When Santa returns from his round-the-world gift-giving jaunt, Mrs. Claus takes a hike and Santa and the elves have a cross-dressing, bestiality-laden homosexual orgy to blow off some steam. I would love to see Ron Howard direct a feature film of this!

Self-explanatory and very funny.

RUN, RUN RUDOLPH – The Humpers
Nothing naughty or strange here, just a kickass version of the Chuck Berry chestnut.

What’s the first thing that you do when learning a foreign language? Learn all of the curse words, of course! Here’s what happens when a bunch of Japanese punk rockers get their hands on a translation book and decide to cut a Christmas record.

A great surf version of a tune that has been covered in a million different styles.

Good girl-groups are hard to find these days, but the Muffs give me hope. A great, bitter little tune about getting shafted, gifts-wise.

- Mark Mothersbaugh
Ah, Markie… The front man for my all time favorite band, namely Devo, contributes this ultra-disturbing blend of hip-hop, psychedelia and nativity-related cannibalism. Don’t know what “Soylent” is? Rent the movie “Soylent Green” and find out for yourself.

The long-needed upraised middle finger to the odious “Chipmunk Song” from one of contemporary music’s most unashamedly offensive and puerile performers. Almost as funny as his immortal “Take It Out At The Ballgame,” this features Red’s vulgar adventures with a bunch of foul-mouthed hamsters who serve as vile stand-ins for Alvin and his douchey brothers. If the FCC would allow this to be played on the radio it would sell as well as the old Singing Dogs version of “Jingle Bells.”

This was the anthem of myself and many a college student in the 1980’s during the holidays.

I don’t know what was up when this guy recorded this one, but he sure as hell sounds drunk to me! Easily the most entertaining version of this song ever recorded. And it’s live, too!

Hands down, this is the funniest Christmas song I have ever heard since it is cheerfully ghoulish and flagrantly disrespects both sappy holiday songs and the incalculably overrated talents of Frank Sinatra (I’m a Bing Crosby man). In a nutshell, this is the corpse of old blue eyes singing about the Christmas experience once he joined the choir invisible. Gains extra points for sending my very religious mother into a state of total apoplexy.

Here’s what happens when the Devil himself gets into the Christmas spirit.

What the…!!? A Christmas song from the Dark Lord of Nordic Satanic metal? Hey, stranger things have been known to happen.

CHRISTMAS IN JAIL - The Youngsters
A warning about drunk driving.

Nothing naughty here, just some fun from the geniuses behind what may be the most famous surf instrumental, namely “Wipeout.”

KANSAS CITY – John Valby
The perfect coda to all of this seasonal bad taste, here’s one of Santa’s elves desecrating the 1960’s classic about going to Kansas City in search of chicks by turning it into a heartfelt ode to the fine art of titty-fucking.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Thanks to the snowballing of Christmas commercials, music and decorations, I have chosen to whip out this timeless classic from the 1970's run of national Lampoon magazine, one of the seminal influences (for better or worse) on my sense of humor. When reading the following, think of it as a parody of John Lennon's early solo vitriol. And to think, two nice Catholic boys came up with this one!


Away in a manger,
No crib for his bed,
His mother blew her lunch
All over baby Jesus' head!

Madonna Vomit!
Madonna Vomit!
Madonna Vomit!

Jesus came from heaven
To save the human race,
But even Virgin Mary
Shot her cookies in his face!


The seraphim are gathered
And the whole angelic squad
To see the Blessed Virgin
Flash the hash all over God!


A tender little tableau
The star shines down upon:
The Virgin treating Jesus
To a Technicolor yawn!


The boss
On the cross

Friday, November 19, 2004


There is no shame in self-awareness and I am painfully aware of the fact that I am a geek. Film, music, comics and television all have me venting my geekish spleen on a daily basis to all who are within earshot, and so here I go again. One of my geek faves is back in new animated installments, namely the pioneering classic in Japanese animated post-apocalyptic carnage FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, and being the hardcore that I am I wanted to bring you the skinny right away.

ADV Films has obtained the American rights to the new made-for-DVD series NEW FIST OF THE NORTH STAR and has begun releasing the chapters of this would-be series relaunch. However, as many of you are no doubt aware, if one knows where to look the intrepid hardcore geek can obtain the native language DVDs with fan-provided subtitles months — sometimes years — before a domestic release. I have seen the the entire trilogy in said form, and I will shortly tell all.

A while back I wrote a piece for the Pulse that would serve as an introduction to FIST OF THE NORTH STAR (being reprinted in the US at the time by the now-defunct Raijin Comics), and if you were a novice to the series while reading that I urge you to stop reading right here. The following review is for long-term fans who've read the whole long-assed saga, know it inside and out and are waiting for new developments in the adventures of Kenshiro, the post-apocalyptic successor to the unspeakably deadly martial art of Hokuto Shinken, so those who want to start fresh have been warned. Ready? Here we go:

Following the finale of his manga adventures, NEW FIST OF THE NORTH STAR finds Kenshiro continuing his wanderings and handing out ass-whuppings to those in need of serious killing in order to foster the after-the-bomb rebuilding of human civilization. Having ditched his holy robes and beads with no explanation, our hero encounters a group of villagers being wiped out by the requisite biker scum who populate the series. After swiftly dispatching the bad guys (in extra-gory fashion that — unlike the animated feature — is not blurred out), he takes the lone survivor to "Miracle Village" for treatment by a beautiful healer named Sara. She can heal even the most dire of wounds using a technique similar to the healing techniques of Kenshiro's discipline, and this leads to her kidnapping by the villains from "Lastland". The ruler of Lastland, Sanga, claims that a god lives there, and the god can create uncontaminated water with a mere gesture, so having a healer of Sara's ability only puts icing on the proverbial cake. Sadly, if you want any of the holy water, you have to willing to utterly subjugate yourself to a lifetime of slavery. Needless to say, Ken decides to rescue Sara and the alleged god (a kid who is more than he seems), and more ass-whuppin' ensues. So much for volume one.

As for volume two, after a brief recap of chapter one, Kenshiro must obtain medical supplies to save the young water-maker from death within two days, but he must take on the deadly dwellers of a forbidden mountain to get what is needed. The cliffdwellers fight with a style similar to Ken's, and they prove to be guardians of a grave secret... Meanwhile, back at the city of Lastland the vanquished dictator Sanga is replaced by the bitter Seiji, a man whose evil is rooted in his tragic childhood. Sara the healer looks to be the target of rape by Seiji; will she escape his lustful clutches? And what will happen to the people of Lastland when Seiji orders his army to kill all who oppose him, in other words the entire population?

Volume three is nothing more than an interminable festival of talking heads and the final confrontation between Ken and Seiji is a total snoozer.

FIST OF THE NORTH STAR has been justly famous for twenty years for its action-first, plot-second approach, but the new DVD adventures reverse the formula and as a result the new series falls flat on its ass. The whole appeal depends on the tenuous soap opera logic common to kung fu films; you know, just enough plot to get you to care about the heroes and villains and make you scream like someone dropped two cups of live tadpoles down your undies when the ass-whuppin' commenced. I'm all for plot but no one — repeat, NO ONE — wants that with this series. The fun lay in the idea of guys with Superman-level powers (and beyond in some cases) throwing down with hard-earned martial skills that veered into godlike territory, and in the current DVD series the viewer is utterly screwed out of that. If you ever saw the TV series from the 1980's you know that one fight could last for as long as four or five episodes with body-counts literally well into the hundreds, and the new version is barely tepid at best.

Another major point that sinks this effort from the get-go is the fact that Kenshiro righteously exterminated all possible worthy foes during the original manga. He has faced and killed the gargantuan last exponent of a style used by the Hindu gods, a warlord who could change his skin to impenatrable steel, a child-enslaving megalomaniac who derived his powers from a direct link to a phoenix, for fuck's sake, and even a guy who channeled what amounted to the Japanese answer to the Devil himself; what the hell else could possibly be left for him to conquer? The answer: nothing worthy of his skills. At the end of the manga he had resigned himself to perpetual wandering and quelling the pissant warlords who still remained. Unless telekinetic martial artists from the planet Zagron XVII show up, it's over, folks.

Oh, and the character designs are downright ugly as well, so this horseshit isn't even fun to look at.

Bottom line: the new DVD series is a major disappointment and since the final installment is not a non-stop avalanche of carnage that might have made up for stealing three hours from your life you would do better staying at home and mine your own butt-crack instead of wasting your time on this feeble dud. TRUST YOUR BUNCHE!!!


I cannot believe that I neglected to post until now, but better late than never...

When it comes to entertainment that absolutely turns me on there are three creators who I revere with a love most people reserve for their chosen deities: Jack Kirby — key architect of what would become the Marvel Universe, Frank Zappa — a brilliant, irreverent trickster-god-as-musical-genius, and Ray Harryhausen. Ray Mother-Fuckin’ Harryhausen.

In case you just stepped out of the mothership, Ray Harryhausen is the man whose obsessive stop-motion animation skills breathed life into such unforgettable cinematic creations as the terrifying Medusa in CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981), the stunning cyclops and fire-breathing dragon of THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1957), and the show-stopping gang of warrior skeletons in the wonders-laden JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963). The man is the very model of patience and professionalism but, most important for the world, he is the wise and loving grandpa who took our youthful minds on journeys into all manner of fantastic worlds filled with adventure, heroism and romance. The effects that he crafted were extremely personal, each one a glimpse into one man’s unique imaginative vision, a vision that in turn fired the imaginations of generations of children, many of whom would follow in his footsteps to create the next level of visualization of the impossible. His work has touched me in a very deep way and I truly feel for the audiences today who, having been weaned on a diet of CGI-realized spectacle, find the painstaking work of Harryhausen and his patient brethren…quaint. Well, fuck those people in the ear! I love the guy’s work — even in sub-par offerings like THE THREE WORLDS OF GULLIVER (1960) and SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER (1977).

On May 6th, while most of the country was glued to their in-house cathode-ray teat watching the final episode of the interminable monument to mediocrity that was FRIENDS, at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade theater there unspooled a cornucopia of fantasy and sheer movie magic that drew a sold out crowd of the faithful. I don’t know where they found them, but the Walter Reade film society unearthed cherry archival prints of both JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS and THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD and the icing on this film-geek’s cake was the presence of Ray Harryhausen himself — who sat through the 6:15 show of JASON — who kindly did a Q & A session with the fans and also sat down for a signing of his autobiography, "Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life" (co-written with Tony Dalton and published by Billboard books).

The Q & A session was highlighted by the presence of an original model of one of the aforementioned sword fighting skeletons, and a bit later on the actress who played the princess in SEVENTH VOYAGE, namely Kathryn Crosby (formerly billed as Kathryn Grant in her pre-Der Bingle days), showed up to greet the fans. This event was the second time that I met Harryhausen; I met him some five years ago in Atlanta at a convention, spent about forty-five minutes talking with him one-on-one since the comics geeks in attendance didn't give a shit about some old fossil and did not turn up at his signing table, and I also tried to get him a book deal with a guy I know at Del Rey books, but that went nowhere. I'm assuming that the current book is the result of him finally getting a publisher interested in what is a no-brainer of a book that should have been published from the get-go.

UBER-GEEK SIDE NOTE: having secured my autographed copy of the autobiography I returned to my seat and waited for the second feature to start. I promptly saw Miss Crosby leave the auditorium in search of the concession stand and thought to myself “Am I that much of a fanboy?…Hell yeah!” and ran off in pursuit of the princess’ autograph. I humbly asked her to sign my book and she was flattered that anyone even wanted her autograph. She was utterly nice, gracious to the nth degree and a real old school lady. I will get rid of that book only under pain of death.

As for the book, if you are a Harryhausen fan this tome is tantamount to being handed the Holy Grail. The hefty 303-page hardcover mamma-jamma is loaded with exhaustive photos, design sketches, movie posters and everything a fan would want to read, all told in the words of the master himself. I have already read the book cover-to-cover four times and was enthralled by each page. Folks, if you accept no other recommendation from me, run to your local bookstore or comic shop and plunk down the $50 bucks for this gorgeous edition. If you give even the slightest bit of a damn about this stuff, it isn’t even like spending money.


Never one to shy away from unequivocally stating my opinion, I would like to officially nominate Pixar’s THE INCREDIBLES as the best super-hero movie ever made. Period.

Admittedly, such a statement is debatable, not only because of the number of films in this particular genre — a rather narrow field in which to find works containing any sort of excellence whatsoever — but also because of the difficulty of pinning down exactly what constitutes a super-hero flick. My own personal definition of what comprises a super-hero movie boils down to two criteria:
  1. The film in question must have as it source material a work in which the main character or characters are considered to be in some way “super,” whether they possess powers as part of their own physical abilities or not. Or:
  2. The film in question must have characters who are in some way “super” regardless of whether they come from a pre-existing source or not.
That’s rather simplistic, but it works for me. By allowing any “super” stuff to count, I open the category to include stories that have nothing to do with comic books, such as certain martial arts movies that go beyond the people-on-wires flying about that is pretty common to the genre (for example classics such as FIVE DEADLY VENOMS, THE STORY OF RICKY and MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE), tales of costumed adventurers and thieves (SUPERARGO AND THE FACELESS GIANTS, DANGER: DIABOLIK!, THE HEROIC TRIO) and intriguing explorations of the overall nature of the super-hero (UNBREAKABLE). By my definition THE INCREDIBLES falls squarely into the second category, since despite obvious tips of the hat to certain archetypes and specific characters, it is created from the ground up and not from any established source.

“So what makes THE INCREDIBLES so fucking good?” I hear you sneer. Let me break it down for ya:

All good movies begin with a solid story, a vital ingredient overlooked by the majority of super-hero movies. The Spider-Man movies and the first Superman films were winners because they took the time to let you get to know their heroes and that’s very important for engendering viewer interest. THE INCREDIBLES establishes a world in which super-heroes exist — or rather existed prior to being censured and banned by the government — and we are expected to take that as a given. The characters have the quality that made so much of Marvel’s work from 1961 on so much fun, namely they are written as normal, feeling individuals who just happen to have cool powers and a relatable quotient of everyday dysfunction. In the case of the Parr family, we are presented with a married couple of “supers” who have been together for fifteen years, had three kids (two of whom engage in the usual sibling warfare only with super-human skills thrown into the mix), cope with the inevitable signs of aging such as increasing girth, hair loss and sagging asses, life in a cookie-cutter suburban home, and, saddest of all, having no choice but to hide their fantastic abilities or else face prosecution. You really feel for Bob “Mr. Incredible” Parr as you witness the crushing mundanity of his job at an insurance firm and share in his frustration and impotence when confronted with his pint-sized asshole of a boss and company policies that care nothing for the people that they purport to help; gone are his days of fighting the good fight and making a difference in a world which needs him and those of his crime-fighting ilk, and now his only excitement is had by covertly listening to police radio bulletins with fellow unwilling super-retiree Lucius (aka Frozone) in hope that they can secretly once again aid society at large. He deeply loves his wife Helen (aka Elastigirl), who has been relegated to the role of stay-at-home mother to painfully shy tweener daughter Violet (whose power of invisibility is a physical complement to her insecurities), rambunctious super-speedster Dashiel ((Dash for short), and infant Jack-Jack. Bob and Helen argue about Bob’s projecting his need for recognition of superness onto Dash’s desire to compete in sports, an endeavor that would be unfair for obvious reasons, and it is plain that this is an argument that they have had many times before. Helen also fears that her husband is involved in an extramarital affair and her suspicions are only bolstered by a mounting batch of evidence that leads her down a path of sadness and eventual anger at the assumed betrayal. Super-powers or not, we know these people from our own experiences and we cannot help but be drawn in when they are all forced into action by the machinations of Syndrome, once a brilliant boy who idolized Mr. Incredible and whose irritating fanboy attentions lead to a long-ago snubbing by his hero, a snubbing that festered into sociopathic madness, a spree of mass murder against “supers” and insecurity-fueled megalomania.

One of the major failures of many super-hero flicks is that fact they simply are not exciting in even the most minute of ways. Name me even one truly thrilling moment in any of the Batman movies…You can’t, can you? Well, rest assured that THE INCREDIBLES kicks the audience in the ass once things start happening, and the plot leading up to the action is compelling in the first place so the cool stuff is all gravy! We have displays of super-powers from the second the films starts, but the truly adrenaline-pumping bits start with Elastigirl’s plane journey to Syndrome’s James-Bond-villainesque island lair in search of her husband, her two eldest kids having stowed away on board, and the missile attack that drops mom and the kids squarely into a situation that means life or death for the entire family. Upon reaching the island, Elastigirl informs her children in no uncertain terms that the bad guys they are about to face will not hesitate to kill them and they should take the spot that they are in as seriously as a heart attack; if threatened they are to look after each other and use their super-powers without hesitation. So with parental approval the kids can finally cut loose with what they can do, and that’s a damned good thing too, since their mother was absolutely right and these bad guys are out to exterminate them with extreme prejudice. We can actually feel Dash’s joy and exhilaration at being able to run at fantastic speeds, even as he’s being chased by heavily armed hovering pursuit vehicles; it’s what he was born to do, and it’s glorious to see him revel in his own specialness. Violet also shines when she discovers strengths and levels of her own powers that she didn’t even know she possessed, and we are right there with her, sharing in her triumph. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl kick much ass as well, and when the action swiftly migrates back to the big city we are treated to a downright spectacular display of teamwork, sheer bravery and just plain damned cool visuals of super-people doing super things. And Frozone’s style makes the dyed-in-the-wool comics fan scream, “Eat your heart out, Bobby Drake!” NOTE: for the non-geeks reading this, Bobby Drake is better known as Iceman, one of the original five X-Men.

Comics have always been a buttload of fun for many reasons, but the colorful images are one of the linchpins of the medium. No super-hero movie before now has really gotten across that particular aspect of the genre’s appeal, and the digital wizards at Pixar have pulled out all of the stops, unleashing a palette of vibrant colors, flawlessly animated movement, appealing character designs and intelligently-thought-out depictions of super-powers. When the Fantastic Four movie comes out I guarantee you that Reed Richards’ stretching powers will be little more than a pitiful, wet fart when compared to the work done in THE INCREDIBLES on Elastigirl; the animators really put a lot of thought into how her powers would look, and if she were a professional stretching hero like she is, she’d have her malleable skills down to an art, with a quick-witted reaction time to go with it, and Elastigirl has that in spades.

Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee…’Nuff said, although special mention should be made of writer/director Brad (THE IRON GIANT) Bird’s turn as the tiny cross between James Bond’s Q and legendary Hollywood wardrobe designer Edith Head, Edna Mode; Edna steals every scene she’s in and is a comedic masterpiece. If there were an Oscar category for best supporting animated actress, Edna would be going home with a little gold nekkid guy in March.

No bullshit, folks, THE INCREDIBLES could only be better if it handed you a six-pack, a righteous blunt of Maui Wowie, a Beef Wellington prepared by Wolfgang Puck, and a night of bedframe-destroying, fluids-a-flyin' fucking with the fantasy celebrity of your choice, complete with the willingly-agreed-upon option to get it on videotape to prove that it actually happened. Do yourself the favor and make sure that you see it on the big screen so you can be awash in the spectacle as it is truly meant to be seen. There is movie magic aplenty to be had in THE INCREDIBLES and in these days of soulless films-by-committee, that’s a precious commodity indeed.

And that’s my argument for THE INCREDIBLES, so please write in with your own nominee for the best super-hero movie ever made, along with a decent argument to prove your point. And I don’t give a damn what any of you say: all of the live-action Batman movies sucked ass. They are visually murky, boring, void of anything resembling action and scripted by talent-free hacks (Akiva Goldsman, anyone?). The only good Bat-flick is the animated MASK OF THE PHANTASM and I thank the gods of cinema that I got to see that one on the big screen during the fifteen minutes when it was in theatrical release! So there!


Lemme set you straight on something right now: I have seen a shitload of movies in my mere 39 years on this planet. No, really. I'm such a fiend for films that I will sit through virtually anything, including GIGLI, which by the way was bad, but not as bad as you've been lead to believe. Anyway, from the thousands of movies that I have enjoyed (and in many cases subjected myself to) I have managed to glean many gems of wisdom that the filmmakers most likely did not intend to include in the finished productions. Truth can be found in the unlikeliest of places, even in the smoking ruins of an Ed Wood movie. What follows are just some of the many things that the world of cinema has taught me over the years. Read on, geek-boy, and ya just might learn something.

1. Women in prison are the cleanest people on the planet because they seem to shower every fifteen minutes or so.

2. Musical numbers can and will break out at any time or place for no adequately explained reason.

3. Criminal Masterminds bent on world domination always tell the hero about the intricacies of their plans in graphic detail, thereby fucking their own schemes in the ass.

NOTABLE EXCEPTION: Auric Goldfinger was smart enough not to do this;

instead he went straight for the option of killing James Bond outright, by cutting him in half, nuts-first, with an industrial laser beam, but let him live for possible interrogation. Bond then escapes and just happens to overhear the details of "Operation Grand Slam" while in hiding.

4. All Asians will totally kick your ass. Run for your life if the person in question suddenly removes his shirt, or if he/she's really old with long white hair. Trust me on this one.

5. The number one place not to live in, for any reason, is Tokyo. Homeowner's insurance rates must be astronomical! Transylvania comes in a distant second.

6. If Jennifer Jason Leigh is in a movie, she will, at some point, be naked.

7. Giant monsters never shit. NOTABLE EXCEPTION: Gyaos (in GAMERA-GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE).

8. Most extraterrestrials speak fluent English or Japanese.

9. If you are a parent character in a Disney film, you probably won't survive until the end of the movie.

10. People in Foreign films are either very boring/pretentious, or exceedingly violent/nude.

11. Elvis mastered every profession known to man and used all of the as an excuse to sing, fight, and bang hot chicks.

12. James Bond must be sterile and is apparently immune to all forms of venereal disease.

13. If the house that you and your family just moved into was once the site of any event with the words "Massacre," "Terror," "Horror," or "The (FILL IN THE BLANK)ing" in it, move out immediately.

14. Satan is everywhere, employing myriad forms and names, and he will get you. Period.

15. Never have premarital sex anywhere, especially not at a summer camp.

16. Monolithic (and mono-syllabic) Teutonic guys played by Arnold Schwarzennegger always have names like "John Matrix," which seems perfectly normal to everyone who knows him.

17. All Black people can dance, speak the hip lingo of the day, and are expert marksmen with the majority of extant firearms.

18. Pam Grier is the most perfect woman ever to walk this earth. She still looks terrific, and she survived dating Richard Pryor!!! Runner-up: Ursula Andress, c. 1962.

19. Guys, if you're going to whip it out on camera, at least have something worth whipping out; formerly known as "Richard Gere's Law," this has re-designated in recent years as "Ewan MacGregor's Law, in honor of his mighty flesh-truncheon.

20. The Three Stooges were the greatest martial artists in screen history. They would have offed Bruce Lee in about a minute.

21. Women die of mysterious "women's diseases," and get more beautiful as they get closer to the final curtain (as in LOVE STORY and countless others).

22. In the world of action heroes, firearms have little or no recoil whatsoever.

23. Charleton Heston is simply incapable of playing "Joe Average."

24. Contrary to popular belief, Marlene Deitrich was not a man.

25. Cigarette smoking makes you manly (see Humphrey Bogart).

26. Alcoholism is not only zany, but hardcore alcoholicscan function as though virtully unimpaired (see any of the THIN MAN flcks).

27. People can make friends with dangerous animals with little or no effort, and the animals in question will obey their every whim without hesitation.

28. Any guy, no matter how butch, can make a convincing female impersonator (see SOME LIKE IT HOT, TOOTSIE, TANGO AND CASH, I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE, and most especially David Carradine in SONNY BOY).

29. In the 1950's most alien worlds were inhabited by stunningly nubile young women longed to be taught the Earth "art" of kissing.

30. If a meteorite crash lands near you, do not examine it or its contents.

31. In war, your comedic sidekick — usually named "Brooklyn" — will inevitably die tragically, spurring you on to a feat of near-suicidal heroism.

32. In the 1950's, women's breasts were shaped more like rocketry than mammalia.

33. White people in blackface are completely believable as Negroes.

34. Surfers' hair stays perfectly dry and styled, no matter what kind of waves they've been battling ("Avalon's Law").

35. Despite living in the jungle with apes for over twenty years, Tarzan does not smell bad or fling his feces at those he does not like.

36. There must have been a plague that at some point wiped out most black people, since we seldom show up in the future.

37. Cavemen/women existed at the same time as the dinosaurs, and had hairstylists and beauticians available at all times.

38. Cars that engage in high-speed chases are nearly indestructible and have the shock absorbers of the gods.

39. When he wasn't killing people, the Frankenstein Monster was a pretty cool guy.

40. In WWII, all elite Nazis wore monocles.

41. Despite his flamboyant outfits, Flash Gordon was not gay.

42. If the films of Woody Allen are to be believed, black people do not exist and New York City is an urban wonderland full of witty intellectuals. I live in the Five Boroughs, and I can tell you without a doubt that that is bullshit.

43. There is a very good chance that your parents may be crazy/cannibals/space-aliens/intergalactic despots.

44. Anthropomorphic cartoon animals are the most dangerous creatures on the planet. Plus, they are indestructible.

45. Glass makers in Hong Kong must be the wealthiest guys on the planet, due to the inordinate amount of people shooting/being thrown through window panes and glass sculptures.

46. Nothing signifies cool like a slow-motion closeup (see James Woods in JOHN CARPENTER'S VAMPIRES).

47. Absolutely anyone can learn any form of elaborate/improbable style of martial arts in virtually no time at all, as evidenced in MY KUNG FU 12 KICKS, DRUNKEN MASTER, CHALLENGE OF THE LADY NINJA, THE CRIPPLED MASTERS, and countless others.

48. Death does not neccessarily mean that your social life is over.

49. It must be illegal to be anything less than stunningly beautiful in Italy, Spain, Brazil, and France since there are apparently no ordinary looking people in any of these countries...except Gerard Depardieu and Roberto Benigni.

50. Even a whiny geek can defend the galaxy. Yeah, I'm talkin' about you, Luke Skywalker!