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Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Since I began blogging a few years ago, many of you with similar filmic tastes have written in with occasional nostalgic mentions of Channel 7's late, lamented THE 4:30 MOVIE. From the heartfelt musings you’ve sent in I’ve come to realize that the five-day weekly movie festival was beloved by armchair film fans of all stripes and not just by a dyed-in-the-wool freak like Yer Bunche, so I think it's high time we all took a stroll down memory lane, back to the pre -Oprah days when the NYC afternoon airwaves were ruled by giant monsters, superheroes, Roman warriors, societies of talking apes, journeys into unknown realms of sci-fi and horror, beach parties presided over by cute Italian chicks in one-piece bathing suits, and the eerie doings of Vincent Price.

And just to state it right up front, there's already an excellent article on THE 4:30 MOVIE by Joe Cascio elsewhere online — from which I cribbed most of the pics, so I owe Mr. Cascio a debt of acknowledgement and gratitude for having clipped those ads from TV GUIDE — so rather than detail the show's history I will instead concentrate on its meaning to those of us fortunate enough to have had it as part of our fondly-recalled childhood-to-adolescence experiences.

I first discovered THE 4:30 MOVIE upon moving to Connecticut in the summer of 1972, and it was the prefect salve for a movie-loving new kid in town who had no friends. Having spent my formative years in California, I was used to a steady infusion of all manner of crazy television, a cornucopia that spewed forth Japanese cartoons and monster shows, horror and sci-fi movies on CREATURE FEATURES with host Bob Wilkins (R.I.P.), the adventures of the Thunderbirds and their futuristic marionette brethren, and reruns of the original THE OUTER LIMITS, but the TV programming in the Tri-State area at the time was a wasteland that was a mortal enemy to stuff that kids enjoyed. WPIX, Channel 11 out of New York, was particularly heinous, its afternoon schedule consisting of little other than the gameshow BEAT THE CLOCK — more like BEAT ME WITH A CLOCK, because it was so fucking boring — and the Hanna-Barbera chestnut MAGILLA GORILLA, another of their triumphs of character name over character content, while Channel 5 was still abut a year or two away from any decent cartoon reruns other than assorted DC Comics-based cartoons like AQUAMAN that wore out their welcome very swiftly, or the much-enjoyed daily airing of LOST IN SPACE.

But one thing New York TV did have was movies. Lots and lots of movies of all stripes, and all of the local channels had their own small-screen showcases for big screen fare, ranging from classics to B-movies to cult items, an across the board smorgasbord for the young and bored, and fitting the bill of that last description, I was drawn to THE 4:30 MOVIE like a moth to a flame.

Simplicity itself and a master stroke of programming, THE 4:30 MOVIE would regularly air a week of random flicks from disparate genres, but when they went all-out with the genre-themed weeks the viewers flocked and the ratings shot through the roof. For years kids in theTri-State area sat enthralled during Monster Week — usually a parade of giant Toho rubber suit leviathans like Godzilla and Mothra, or a string of competitor Daei’s Gamera cycle — Superhero Week, Edgar Allen Poe Week — a selection of Vincent Price's AIP Gothics — Jerry Lewis Week (never one of my favorites), Animation Week, Epic Week — which would break down films like BEN-HUR and CLEOPATRA into installments that would fill out a whole week with one movie, which in the case of CLEOPATRA was not only agonizing, but also verging on criminal — Ray Harryhausen Week, Beach Party Week — I'd tune in just to watch Annette Funicello breathe, a wondrous sight that gave me my appreciation of the dark-haired Italian ladies and their hypnotic curves — and, of course, PLANET OF THE APES Week, each movie throwing more gasoline onto the fire of our hungry imaginations. And for once the station honchos paid attention and kept the good stuff coming, adopting an attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” that served them well for about fifteen years.

I discovered many of my favorite films through THE 4:30 MOVIE, including FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966), PLANET OF THE APES (1968), and other Hollywood goodies, but I most value the experience for inundating me with monsters, monsters, and yet more monsters, inadvertently fostering a lifelong addiction to such oft-derided cinema. It was there that I was schooled in tales of Godzilla and his behemoth brethren, the mostly-forgotten stone warrior Majin, and also of the lesser (read "cheap and idiotic") Gamera, Japanese giants whose movies were the latest expression of a myth base rife with ogres and other such big-assed, badassed, city-stompin' motherfuckers. And when the show gave us a week's worth of Ray Harryhausen it was practically guaranteed that the streets would clear of children, no matter how intense the day's game of "Viet Nam Terrorist" or "Ghost" would get. All that needed to happen was for an older brother or sister (or the occasional film-geek parent) to stick their head out of the front door and scream, "Hey! JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS is on! Move it!!!" and move it we did. In fucking droves, dude.

This afternoon wonderland of special effects miracles, alien invasions, and sometimes outright horrors was where I encountered THE FLY (1958), the first film to have an ending that fucked me up for life.

This scene still horrifies me, even though I always knew it made no sense, and every time I see it I'm suddenly eight years old again, staring open-mouthed at the TV in our old house on Ellery Lane.

But it's a far more obscure film that stands at the top of my list of 4:30 MOVIE memories and that's VOYAGE INTO SPACE (1970), a feature cobbled together from several episodes of the Japanese kiddie show JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT (1967). It's a combination sci-fi /secret agent/giant monster flick and, even considering some rather stiff competition, it may just be the most balls-out insane Japanese monster from the pre-1975 period thanks to its patchwork construction.

Very loosely based on Mitsuteru Yokoyama's GIANT ROBO manga, the movie unleashes Emperor Guillotine (from the planet Gargoyle)

and his attempts to conquer the world with the aid of the Nazi-esque Gargoyle Gang

and an endless supply of giant (and fake-looking) critters, among which can be found sea monsters, plant monsters and a whatchamawhoozits that appears to be a bunch of traffic cones hot-glued together and painted silver called "the Nucleon."

Exactly what the fuck is this thing?

Opposing this inter-planetary evil is Unicorn, a secret agency equipped with jet packs and a weird salute that makes a "dweep" noise that isn't remotely possible for a human to generate, and among their number is Johnny Sokko,

an incredibly annoying kid of the type too often found in Japanese monster flicks, who controls a towering death-machine imaginatively named Giant Robot who kicks much hand-to-tentacle ass, fires seemingly limitless missiles from his fingers, and for no adequately explained reason looks like an Egyptian pharaoh.

The film has virtually no plot and is just one monster vs. robot fight after another, and as such it's highly entertaining (if exhausting); the dialogue is ridiculous, the monsters wouldn't scare a four-year-old, and the film is packed with more irresponsible violence than any other children's film you can name, so what's not to love? This one left such an impact on those who saw it as kids that there's even a kickass metal version of the Giant Robot theme tune performed by Buckethead!

But, like all things, it was only inevitable that THE 4:30 MOVIE would pass into our memories, one of the early casualties of lousy 1980's televison. In an era that would see the dawn of infomercials and the blight of MTV, THE 4:30 MOVIE was inexplicably replaced by THE PEOPLE'S COURT, which was in turn unseated by OPRAH, a show that's still dominating weekday afternoons just before EYEWITNESS NEWS on New York's Channel 7 to this very day. In short order all of the local channels followed suit and the great movie shows of yore went the way of the dinosaurs; no more MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE, FRIGHT NIGHT, SCIENCE FICTION THEATER, or the show with the most unforgettable of local TV opening sequences, Channel 11's CHILLER.

So the more I remember those bygone days of movie bliss I realise that even with the eleventy-gajillion channels available on cable, today's Tri-State Area kids are missing out not only on having their imaginations expanded, they're also being deprived of a steady dose of genre film history. And that, dear readers, is truly tragic. I mourn not for THE 4:30 MOVIE, but for those who will never get to know its like.

Monday, July 30, 2007


During my travails as a graphic novel reviewer for Publisher's Weekly magazine I'm usually buried beneath mountains of shit that I wouldn't use to wrap fish, but every now and then my efforts are rewarded by having a truly fun book I would otherwise never have heard of fall into my lap. Such a book is Oni Press' BLACK METAL VOLUME 1.

Heavy Metal is a rock ’n’ roll genre known for its guitar-worship/masturbation (yeah, I'm talkin' about YOU, Yngwie Malmsteen; "I Am A Viking?" Nigga, please...), bombast and pomposity serving to fuel young men’s fantasies of heroism and machismo, sometimes involving elder gods, their amoral mythologies, and their inevitable return. In other words a subject ripe for lampooning, and this graphic novel just may be the funniest take on the clichés of the genre to come along since THIS IS SPINAL TAP.

Upon playing a Frost Axe LP backwards, black-clad metalhead twins Shawn and Sam — who look like the bastard tweener sons of King Diamond — discover their true arcane heritage, obtain the mythic Sword of Atoll and embark on a mission to conquer Hell itself.

Demons, dark lords, Norse deities (accurately portrayed for a change), a black metal band that goes out of their way to practice what they preach, armies of the damned and even Satan himself all turn up and provide fodder for hilarity that wouldn’t stand a chance in Hell of being endorsed by the Church. Cartoon mayhem of the most entertaining order, BLACK METAL comes highly recommended and ends much too soon, leaving the reader foaming at the mouth, hands upright and flashing “the horns,” anxiously awaiting the next installment. Creators Rick Spears and Chuck BB obviously get this shit and their understanding of the whole Metal ethos lends the skewering an informed brilliance, instead of what could have been a lazy stab made by a couple of know-nothing douchebags. Great work, dudes.

No bullshit, this is the perfect book to read while listening to Mercyful Fate's DON'T BREAK THE OATH, and a higher compliment I would be hard pressed to give. And it's even appropriate for the 10-and-ups, so become the bad influence your kids/nieces/nephews/younger siblings need and get them a copy. It's in stores on August 8th, so TRUST YER BUNCHE!!!



Mister Spock, the coolest space-hero of all time. Fuck Han Solo in the ass!

God DAMN, am I excited!!!

(pausing to calm down)

It's a good day for geeks. I just heard from a friend who attended the STAR TREK PANEL at the big San Diego convention last Thursday, and it's official: Zachary Quinto, best known as the uber-creepy Sylar on HEROES, will be playing the role of a young Spock in the upcoming TREK FILM.

Zachary Quinto, a no-brainer for the role of Spock.

And as if that weren't enough to have me masturbating like a coked-up circus monkey, Leonard motherfucking Nimoy is returning as the older Spock as well!!!

The meeting of the Spocks. And the world of geekdom did shake.

That makes me happier than...holy shit, I'm actually at a loss for words!

And while some of you may think I'm crazy, I hope they take this opportunity to finally give us the death of Spock — for real this time — in a way that hope is quiet and dignified, just like the man himself. Spock was never a man of action by choice, and he earned a peaceful demise many times over, so let's see it happen. I just need that kind of closure for a character I've loved my whole life.

Anyway, read the fucking transcript already!!!
(Yer Bunche stops typing and runs off to raise a celebratory shot to the total excellence that is Mister Spock)

Sunday, July 29, 2007


In a scenario nearly identical to the last time I wrote about my habit of befouling innocent oldies, yesterday I had the TV on and there was another one of those half-hour Time-Warner oldies compilation ads, only this time under the title FLOWER POWER, featuring a compendium of — you guessed it! — songs encompassing the hippie era (which the packagers see as having occurred betwen 1967 and roughly 1973) as hosted by a Jurassic Peter Fonda and some unknown blonde who was swimming around in her daddy's balls when EASY RIDER came out.

As the songs began to stream into the air, complete with accompanying footage of mud-covered hippies with beards a-flyin' and no bras — that was just the guys — and the groups on various shows like OLD GRAY WHISTLE TEST, my evil urges took hold of me and in no time "San Francisco" ended up as "Are you blowin' in San Francisco?," "Turn, Turn, Turn" became "O'er everything sperm, sperm, sperm," the New Seekers' treacly "I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)" degenerated to "I'd like to teach the world to fuck, and make pornography," and even Lobo's innocuous — and stupid — "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" found new filthiness as "Me and You Fucked a Dog Named Boo," a song vastly improved by the substitution a one single word.

And Steppenwolf's epochal "Born To Be wild" felt the wrath in a shortened version created by myself, with assists from John Bligh and Keith Karchner, a few years back. For your edification, here's the long version:

Getcher colon runnin'/Sittin' on the toilet
Gonna make a doody/And ain't nothin' gonna spoil it
Ex-Lax is gonna make it happen
Turn the bowl to a bombed-out space
Fire volleys of fecal schrapnel
All over the place!

Like a true coprophile
I was born, born to defile
Make a pile so high
It's gonna
Touch the sky!
Born to defiiiiile!!!

I dunno why, but that stuff just makes me smile. Aah, maturity...


This may just be the shortest review I’ll ever write.

After about a decade’s worth of discussion, THE SIMPSONS MOVIE has finally made it to the big screen and it’s pretty much exactly what I expected it to be. It’s not merely a glorified two-part episode of the TV show, but is instead THE SIMPSONS writ large enough to warrant the big screen treatment in terms of a feature film being the best way to convey the semi-epic scope of its story.

I’m not going to discuss the plot so as not to give anything away, but I will say this: the biggest obstacle THE SIMPSONS MOVIE faced was coming up with a fresh story after some 400-plus episodes over almost twenty years, and in many ways it failed to meet that challenge. But how the fuck do you come up with something totally new after such a track record? That would require a miracle and those are in short supply these days, so the plot is cobbled together from elements that those of us who have regularly watched the television series will no doubt recognize, so it’s best to just ignore the perfunctory story and instead focus on the familiar legion of characters being allowed more freedom to do their thing without the interference of the FCC and Fox Network censors. THE SIMPSONS was never a children’s cartoon and was at one time quite controversial, a fact long forgotten once the show and its characters worked their way into pop culture immortality and Americana, so the creators have managed to cut loose on the big screen with content and theatrical-quality animation that they would never have been afforded in primetime.

The simplest way to give you the skinny on the flick is to say that if you already like THE SIMPSONS, then you’ll most likely enjoy the film, your familiarity with the characters and situations found in Springfield saving the writers the effort of having to explain two decades of backstory to the newcomer. But if you’re a newcomer you may get overwhelmed with stuff you’re expected to already know about going in, so bring an expert along to walk you through any questions you may have.

And a few points of note:
  • Thanks to the movie having fewer restrictions than the TV series, the implicit becomes the explicit and we finally — FINALLY!!! — get to witness Otto doing bonghits.
  • There’s a great stab at the Fox Network that actually reduced the audience to hysterics after we remembered that we weren’t sitting in front of the world’s biggest plasma screen TV.
  • Homer and Marge have long been depicted as a pair very much in love despite their flaws (or more accurately Homer’s), and the physical side of their relationship has been handled with more believability than any other couple on TV. In the film we get a bedroom scene that takes a hilarious swipe at saccharine Disney cartoons and toward the end we get a beautifully animated sequence of Homer and Marge on a motorcycle, both locked in a passionate kiss that's more human and emotionally resonant than most of what passes for romance in films specifically designed to be romantic.
  • Yes, we do get to see Bart’s junk, but it’s done in a way that allowed them to get away with it and not receive an R rating.
So, yeah, I’d recommend THE SIMPSONS MOVIE, but you won’t miss anything if you wait to see it on DVD. Trust yer Bunche!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007


Special thanks to Daniel S. for alerting me to this.

THE WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, long one of my favorite publications, is giving up the ghost next week after twenty years of chronicling real, hard news stories such as Abraham Lincoln's leatherboy frolics in the White House, mad scientists on the loose, interviews with close friends of Superman — yes, dumbass, he's real — miracle diets in which mayonnaise causes you to lose weight and gain eighty IQ points, space aliens getting up to all kinds of shit, the never-ending antics of good ol' Bigfoot (SEE ABOVE), and my personal favorite: an article sporting the headline "I WAS RAPED BY SNOWMAN," one woman's true account of her horrifying violation at the hands (sticks?) of a rapist cobbled together from frozen precipitation, accompanied by a photo of the victim/survivor looking like she'd just beeen sucking on a lemon.

And no elegy for this sterling journalistic organ would be complete without mention of the ubiquitous and always fascinating Bat Boy, a subterranean mutant whose thrilling — and 100% true — exploits kept us on the edge of our seats and sold millions of papers.

Bat Boy's story so moved a generation that it was translated to Off-Broadway and London's West End as BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL in 1997, a rousing night of theater that I am deeply saddened to have missed.

The paper's columnists were crafters of hard-hitting op-ed pieces that focused on the myriad of issues plaguing our great nation; arch-conservative Ed Anger's MY AMERICA showed no mercy to the limp-wristed pinkos, whiny anti-war crybabies and rap music-listeners who piss all over homespun values on a daily basis, while DEAR DOTTIE offered a more vitriolic and honest dose of bracing advice for all brave enough to seek it. And what other publication would have had the insight to grant a Q & A forum to a quadruped, namely Lester the Typing Horse?

I will greatly miss THE WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, as it was not only a firebrand of investigative journalism, but also the one publication I would purchase on a whim while in line at the Key Food express aisle, waiting to purchase a box of Chicken In A Biskit snack crackers and its required accessory, a can of bacon-and-onion-flavored aerosol "cheez."

Well, that and SOAP OPERA DIGEST. So until the ass-draggers over at THE NEW YORK TIMES get their shit together and start covering Bigfoot's bid for the Oval Office, the light of American journalism will burn just a tad dimmer.

Here's the tragic lowdon from Reuters-

Weekly World News to close (aliens not blamed!)
Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:53PM EDT
By Jane Sutton

MIAMI (Reuters) - Publisher American Media Inc. said on Tuesday it will stop printing the Weekly World News, which for 28 years gleefully chronicled the exploits of alien babies, animal-human hybrids and dead celebrities.

The company said in a brief statement it would end the print version of the tabloid newspaper next month but would maintain the online version (

"Due to the challenges in the retail and wholesale magazine marketplace that have impacted the newsstand, American Media, Inc. today announced it will close the print version of the Weekly World News, effective with the August 27 issue. Weekly World News was AMI's smallest weekly publication," the company said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

Spokesman Richard Valvo declined further comment.

American Media is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, and is best known as the publisher of the National Enquirer. The company announced last month it was exploring the sale of five of its 16 magazines as part of a strategy to focus on celebrity weeklies and lifestyle magazines.

The Weekly World News, which boasted it was "The World's Only Reliable Newspaper," reveled in shocking and almost always exclusive reports about extra-terrestrials, ghosts, scoundrels and scientific discoveries, such as the cure for lovesickness found on the walls of an ancient Mexican monument.

Bat Boy, the half-bat, half-human child found in a cave, was a regular feature. After the September 11 attacks, the tabloid reported he had been enlisted in the hunt for Osama bin Laden because of his special cave-dwelling skills.

The current online version reports that Mother Nature has endorsed Al Gore for president and other recent headlines include: "Man bothered by alien telemarketers" and "Dentist uses UFO metal in patient's tooth"

AMI reported a $160 million net loss for 2006 and is struggling with $1 billion of debt and plummeting circulation. It said in an SEC filing in March that sales of the Weekly World News dropped to 83,000 in 2006 from 153,000 in 2004, while circulation of the National Enquirer fell to 802,000 in 2006 from 1.2 million in 2004.

The company has no publicly traded stock but its bonds are publicly traded.

Death may have been cured, but not in the case of "the World's Only Reliable Newspaper." Yer Bunche weeps.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I don't normally bother with quickie news items about the "heartwarming" antics of doggies and litties, but I had to steer you to the rather creepy story of Oscar the cat.

When I read this all I could think of was that shot at the end of CAT'S EYE (1985), where the house cat is perched next to a slumbering child (a ten-year-old Drew barrymore), sucking away the vapors of her life-energy...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


The ever-vigilant Mark G alerted me to one of the dumbest musical feuds ever, namely a set-to between my beloved Devo and those Masters of Suckness, Korn. I was thoroughly outraged, and hope the Spudboys sue the living shit out of those Bakersfield douchebags.

Go get 'em, Gerry!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Time-Life has packaged many fine — though pricey — collections of music honoring many genres over the years, and the television spots for those collections backs in the days used to offer just enough of a snippet of a song to ring the bells of memory. These days we get half hour infomercials that usually haul out some now-forgotten hitmaker of yore, such as Fabian or Gary Puckett, and dump them on some "nostalgic" set representing a malt shop or "lover's lane," the kind of location that was pretty much rendered extinct by Viet Nam, LSD, the Women's Movement, the Pill, and disco. The former star would then cloyingly spew on and on, yes-manned by some co-host that you've never heard of, about "the good old days"and the songs that were the soundtrack to a more innocent time, his comments punctuated by ancient footage of pop artists and teen idols lip-synching their hits on shows like AMERICAN BANDSTAND, SHINDIG, and HULLABALOO.

My formative years came during the ass-end of that fading era, and the first wave of rock 'n' roll nostalgia hit the mass media with a vengeance, bombarding the airwaves with ads for "golden greats," ads played with such heavy rotation that even now people my age can recite them at will, complete with the song clips sung in fair approximation. It was during those years that I developed my love for pre-Beatles rock, appreciating its simplicity and semi-primitivism (or full-blown primitivism in the case of stuff like "Surfin' Bird" or "The Crusher"), and loving it for the ease with which it could be warped into outright filth. People have dirtied-up popular songs since the second that humans began to sing, and there's just something about the cheeriness of pop that makes many folk, such as yours truly, find great pleasure in ruining the innocence of such tunes, forever robbing them of any decency when heard again. Knowing that, it's no surprise that two of my all-time favorite recording artists are masters of the form, namely Blowfly and John "Dr. Dirty" Valby, a two-man Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse whose musical stylings lay smoking waste to the songs they wrap their dirty little minds around. Blowfly even got his nom du filth back in the early 1960's for turning Chubby Checker's innocent "Come on, baby! Let's do the Twist!" into "Come on baby! And suck my dick!" after which a relative told him, "Boy, you nastier than a blowfly!"

I am certainly guilty of this peurile habit, a behavior that has become so ingrained within me that I almost cannot listen to any Top 100 song recorded between 1954 and 1995 without coming up with a dirty version almost instantaneously. My dear friend Wendy is a self-professed "pop queen" whose musical tastes run toward mainstream and popular songs, and when she lived close by and we hung out all the time I couldn't help but to mangle her favorite songs with gleeful gusto. I did this so often during our day-to-day association that the habit began to rub off on her to a small degree, her memories of the real lyrics now suffused with gratuitous usages of "dick," fuck," "pussy," and "shit," a state that I can assure you resulted in me getting yelled at.

This wretched affliction also hobbles the maturity of my pals John, Keith, and most especially Hughes, a Bronx-born Irish lunatic who besmirches his people's gift of song and poetry with a lightning-swift and utterly hilarious knack for extemporized filthy lyrics. During the two decades that I've known these idiots, we've cracked each other up with many a soiled version of familiar favorites, but Hughes still claims the prize with his desecration of the chorus to "Jack and Diane," which posits:

Oh, Yeah/Cream comes out
Out of my dick/Like a water spout

Most pop music isn't meant to be great art; it's meant to be a catchy little ditty that sticks with you for a while, maybe even becoming a favorite, but in terms of true merit much of it is aural junk food. You can enjoy pork rinds, but it sure as hell ain't prime rib, so I say why not have fun with the junk food that you ingest and retool it to be even more fun? I'm certain that Hughes would concur.

That point was driven home over this past weekend when I watched a half-hour informercial for MALT SHOP MEMORIES, a compendium of 150 classic radio hits from roughly 1957-1966, and as I puttered around the Vault I left the ad on for noise, enjoying the oldies and after a while succumbing to the siren-call of smut. I swear I didn't do it intentionally, but I must have been spewing forth filth for about three or four songs when I realized I had added new lyrics to The Tokens' "The Lion Sleeps Tonight;" as the grainy footage of the singer performing that number flickered on my TV screen I let fly with "In the jungle, the mighty jungle, your mother sucks my cock!!!" all the while imagining the guy actually performing it as such on live 1950's television. With that realization I stopped washing the dishes, sat down in front of the tube, and awaited each oldie so I could have fun with my little game.

The Angels' "My Boyfriend's Back" became "My boyfriend's Black, and he's got a monster penis! Hey-La, Hey-La! My boyfriend's Black!" Mark Dinning's sappy death-rock classic "Teen Angel" was corrupted into "Porn Angel, can you fuck me?" The Righteous Brothers' classic "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" blurted forth as "Your Pussy's Got No Feeling." "Goin' Out of My Head" turned into "Jerkin' off in my bed/Over you!!!" And so it went, my juvenile juices firing on all cylinders.

When the informercial was over I decided to eventually purchase the collection and re-sharpen my MAD magazine by way of GG Allin talents with gusto, all in anticipation of someday passing on my tasteless hobby to my yet-to-be-born progeny. One of my favorite childhood memories is from when I was about seven years old and my dad recited a version of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" that must have been handed down to him via an oral tradition, and that version of that epic tale of vigilance and patriotism was rewritten to feature Revere's urgent need to take a shit, culminating in "the fifty-yard dash to the toilet seat." That shared moment of naughtiness, okay under certain family circumstances, was wonderful and I can't wait to encourage my own little ones to the nadir of immature bad taste.

Now all I have to do is come up with a nasty version of "Freebird." Perhaps "Free Turd," an anthem about feeling as free as a freshly-deposited, size of a "kid's day" souvenir baseball bat doody... Let's see:

Well, I'm free as a turd now
And this turd is smellin' strange

Yep, I'm on the right track.

And have any of you out there in the internet ether ever felt the call of the Ribald Songbird? Please write in with any such offerings you may recall, especially those passed on by irresponsible parental units and other risque relatives.


There is a select handful of people about whom it is impossible to adequately convey how glad I am to know them, how when they enter the room I actually say to myself, "Hooray! So-and-So is here! Just knowing they exist in this otherwise miserable world makes me glad to be alive!" One of this select few is Amanda Conner, close pal for just under thirty (!!!) years, and one of the most talented people currently working in the comics biz.

Professional reprobate with a pencil, Amanda Conner.

Amanda and I met when we were 13 but didn't really get to know each other until our sophomore year of high school, in which we were seated next to each other in the most boring math class in the universe. Our only hope of staying awake was to draw whatever flowed from our evil fifteen-year-old minds, and having discovered kindred souls in one another we bonded and have remained close ever since.

Hands-down the hottest girl in our school (in my opinion, anyway), Amanda's crazy cheerleader cuteness disguised a limitless imagination and tireless drive to illustrate, an urge so strong that I would not be at all shocked to hear that her hand kept drawing even while she slept. Possessing some small drawing talent myself, I was one of those kids who was asked throughout school to draw pictures for other students — often it was girls begging, "Can you draw me and my boyfriend?" — and Amanda was also inundated with such requests, but I'm the first to admit that her free-flowing natural talent made my Crumb-influenced doodles look like a wet fart, and she was more or less oblivious to just how good her stuff was. (I mean her drawing, not her "stuff.") Everyone who knew her had no doubt that she had a future in the world of comics, and she certainly proved all of us right.

And even in those days her forte was drawing hot chicks with luscious curves, a skill that has served her well during her professional career in comics. It's a no-brainer to state that sex sells and she could do well to merely churn out endless scribblings of Wonder Woman's pendulous Amazonian jugs spilling out of her armored breastplate — which many hacks do ad infinitum, and bore the shit out of me in the process — but A.C.'s ever-growing back catalog of lushly-delineated 2-D cuties intermingles the cheesecake angle with a clean, solid style that brings to mind what famed animator Preston Blair (of RED HOT RIDING HOOD infamy) would have done if he could have gotten away with his most filthy-minded imaginings. Don't let her bright-eyed sweetness fool you: Amanda is truly a "dirty blonde," unleashing scatological, prurient madness upon the page with a sense of visual absurdity that simply cracks me the hell up. Even when depicting superheroes and their spandex histrionics, A.C. presents such material with a playfulness and fun absent in most comics, and it's evident that she hasn't forgotten that that's what comics are supposed to be: FUN. Witness her cover for the GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY WEDDING SPECIAL to see what I mean.

The Green Arrow and the Black Canary are one of the premiere couples among the superhero glitterati and their tumultuous history has been marked by frequent fights, infidelity and bastard children (the Arrow's; the Canary's sterile thanks to years of crime-fighting injuries), separation, and even the Green Arrow's actual death (don't ask), yet Amanda's cover is both funny and charming, perfectly nailing the couple's romantic dynamic while infusing it with her own trademark silliness. I hope they issue the damned thing as poster, but for now I'll have to settle for it as the magazine-sized cover of PREVIEWS magazine.

When not working in the comics biz mainstream and left to her own devices, A.C.'s imagination can wander into some pretty twisted areas, most notably evidenced in her collaboration with the laddish juvenalia of Garth (PREACHER) Ennis in THE PRO (2004), a graphic novel — and I do mean graphic — about a worn-out prostitute who gains superpowers and joins the spandex legion. It's a foul-mouthed and vile effort that brings out the best (?) in both creators, and should be immediately given to every twelve-year-old you can foist it upon (hey, I discovered Robert Crumb when I was twelve and look how I turned out...aah, fuck you).

Two excerpts from THE PRO, marvelous examples of squalor and filthiness from the same class act who later drew the ever-wholesome Supergirl.

A.C.'s cover for SUPERGIRL #12

Which brings me to Power Girl.

Power Girl was the Earth-2 (again, don't ask) counterpart to the Supergirl we know and love, thereby making her the cousin of the Earth-2 Superman, only this time possessed of major 'tude. In a nutshell, she's basically the only other survivor of the late planet Krypton, but over the ensuing decades her origin has been fucked with to a point of confusion equalled only by those of Hawkman and Donna (Wonder Girl) Troy, so I won't even go into that whole mess.

Power Girl's first appearance, bodacious titties already prominently depicted.

Her first appearance (ALL-STAR COMICS #58, Jan/Feb 1976) was drawn by Ric Estrada but, more significantly, inked by Wally Wood, one of the all-time greatest comic book artists (considered by some to be second only to Jack Kirby, an assessment I heartily agree with). Why is this fact significant, you may ask? Well, Wally Wood was legendary not only for his boundless talent and ability to mix the absurd with the heroic — two of A.C.'s gifts — but also for his ability to draw smokin'-hot babes with curves that made many a schoolboy anticipate the next issue of the just-born MAD. He clearly enjoyed illustrating buxom chicks and in the later days of his career that penchant was fully unleashed in straight-up porn comics like BANG!, work he did while still employed in the mainstream.

As you can see from the moment of her first appearance, Power Girl bore all the earmarks of a Wood female, and as the months passed Wood allegedly kept inking her breasts larger and larger, just to see if his editor was paying attention. That signature figure became Power Girl's now-infamous trademark, so if you ever intend to draw Power Girl, here's all you need to know:

1. Get reference for her costume. It's pretty easy to draw.
2. Unlike many other super-chix she wears her blonde hair in a short bob.
3. She has really, REALLY big tits.

That last trait cannot possibly be overstressed when accounting for the character's appeal, and much mileage, both dramatic and comedic, has been gotten out of it. Power Girl is only too aware of the size of her luscious Kryptonian dairies and has frequenty espoused an "if you got it, flaunt it" point of view that both empowers her as the avatar of the strong femaleness which she seeks to represent, but she's also aware of how her twins can serve as an all-too-hypnotic distraction to most men who cross her path, a fact of life that she regards with both annoyed weariness and a knowing sense of humor. Many artists have had fun with this over the years, perhaps none more so than that god of one-handed cartoonists, Adam Hughes. His rendition of P.G. has been popular with the fans for obvious reasons, and he strikes the perfect Woodian balance between the awesome spectacle of the superhero female and the cartoony absurdity of her zaftig look.

A textbook example of the Adam Hughes approach.

Then, about two years ago Amanda was chosen for the drawing chores on a Power Girl mini-series that would (supposedly) straighten out the character's muddled origins and give her a solid, defined place within the DC Comics universe. The choice of A.C. to work on P.G. was a no-brainer as far as I was concerned, the perfect marriage of Amanda's ribaldry, love of superheroes, and uncontested skill at rendering mouth-watering women.

Many years ago I asked her how come so many women, be they cartoonists or illustrators like Olivia de Berardinis, can draw beautiful females with such seeming ease while their male counterparts struggle just to draw a pretty face, and Amanda responded, "It's simple, really. Every day when I wake up and stare into the mirror, I see a woman. Obviously, I AM a woman, and I understand how that works, both physically and mentally. And that's what I put on the page." (NOTE: that's easy for her to say since she's lucky enough to be a real cutie, and she's in no way conceited about her looks.) That attitude suited her well, and she turned in a mini-epic that dripped with visual charm to spare.

A.C.'s Power Girl prepares to kick ass now and take names later.

The whole shebang has been collected into a trade paperback, so go out and pick the fucker up.

And now Amanda is headed to Comic-Con International: San Diego with her lucky man, inker, writer and all-around comics biz workhorse, Jimmy Palmiotti, in tow, so go up and say "hi" as she mans her space in Artist's Alley. She's come up with a brand new Power Girl print that she'll have for signing at the con, and here's a sneak peek at the soon-to-be collector's item in question:

The actual piece is in lush color, but I couldn't post it here since the goddamned file was 10 megabytes, but don't let that stop you. Get out there and show Amanda some love!




I just received this from a friend who attended the Fox Studios screening of THE SIMPSONS MOVIE last night (yes, this person was really there, of that I can assure you with 100& certainty) and figured I'd share the news with you. Thank you for the review, Early Attendee!

Hiya Bunche,

Simpsons movie: It's funny, there are some good laugh out moments, even a couple of touching tear jerky bits, but I was left feeling like it should have been bigger. The design was gorgeous, some great cgi like you'd see in Futurama, big scale but the plot didn't seem to match (yes, Homer does something really bad but I think he's done a lot worse really). It took a while getting used to the pacing which is a straight forward plot line as opposed to the show's complete 180's by the second act. Plus with everything going on you're left wanting to see what's happening to other characters instead of just sticking with the Simpsons' family.

It's a solid B. Fun to see and I'll definitely want to see the deleted scenes which I hear there are a lot.

And yep, you get to see Bart's steak and veg, Homer flips the bird and Marge swears... well for Marge it's swearing.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Let's set the Wayback Machine for 1995 and the bachelor party of my brother from the Marvel Comics Bullpen, Darren Auck.

Darren lived in the New Jersey 'burb known as Manville — which he affectionately referred to as "Squirrelville" — the kind of not-quite-hillbilly area in the north where flicks like MOTHER'S DAY and LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH take place, remote in location and secluded enough for really bad things to happen to wayward passers-through and have no one be any the wiser. And there I was, a six-foot black Manhattanite, stepping off the train into an area where I was likely to find myself as the main ingredient in an award-winning batch of homemade chili.

I waited at the train station for Darren's pal Gary to pick me up and reflected upon the vast green fields and decaying, abandoned farm houses I observed through the train's window while on my way in from the Rotten Apple, and noticed how little traffic there was on the main road. I half expected to see a horse-drawn carriage pull up and its driver attempt to trade me some hand-crafted bee-garters, possum-flensers, Chippewah trout marmalade or some other such rustic gewgaws, but the place was too devoid of life for even that.

Eventually Gary arrived and we began our drive to Darren's abode, a domicile located yet further into the backwoods of Squirrelville, past drooping overhangs of dying ivy and the rotting facades of barns and long-deserted homes that had finally succumbed to the rigors of age and disrepair, giving up the ghost and collapsing in upon themselves. As we journeyed on I noticed the locals all seemed to walk the streets in a state of dazed stupefaction, sort of like Mayberry by way of George Romero, some equipped for a day's fly fishing and stopping off at the lone, aged gas station to purchase live bait from a rusting, refrigerator-sized monolith that looked like one of those old, barely-functioning coffee and hot soup dispensers once so common at roadside rest stops as found during hellish family road trips.

Taking in the Twilight Zone-ish ambiance I looked at Gary and asked, "Are there any black people in this place?" to which he responded, "There are now."

When we got to Darren's place we waited for the rest of the bachelor party brigade to arrive, passing the time with a few beers and a couple of hits off of some questionable hand-rolled "party favors." After about an hour we were ready to depart, so the motley crew of Darren's old friends, assorted drunks and comics-biz compatriots piled into a van captained by Michael Kraiger, our designated driver and tall, handsome type known around the Marvel Bullpen by the horny staffer females who'd drop by to check him out as "the Lumberjack." (And for the record, Darren was "the Cowboy," thanks to his lanky build, laid-back manner, and southern accent. Plus, he kinda looked like the guy from the Village People.)

The van took off and headed down the highway toward our final destination of Allentown, PA and a nudie bar called "Erv's," but before we got there we had to stop off and stock up on enough liquor to make a longship full of Vikings hesitate to join us; Erv's was one of those places that only served really crappy beer, Heineken being the best you could hope for, so you had to bring your own hard stuff. (Liquor, that is.) The guys in the crew were all hardcore party juggernauts after my own heart, so the inevitable gallons of tequila were acquired, along with a goodly helping of assorted vodkas, bourbons, and a couple of bottles of Jaegermeister for good (bad?) measure. Only one errand then remained and that was to wisely fortify our gullets with food before the ancient-Rome-style imbibing commenced.

Our merry little vehicle drove into a Burger King parking lot in some nameless no-man's land, and we scarfed down the flame-broiled goodness with gusto, our cannibis-activated appetites thankful for surcease of the hunger that inflamed our hive-consciousness. The two bacon double-cheeseburgers sat in my belly like cement, but I was glad of their presence in anticipation of them helping to offset the imminent effects of the debauchery to come.

Once finished with my meal, I went outside for some fresh air and ended up standing not far from the van, right next to the entrance to the drive-through window. A car pulled up to the speaker and as soon as the father finished ordering food for the slavering pack of children that filled the station wagon, all of their eyes turned toward me and they stared like I'd just grown an extra head. Puzzled, I tried to figure out what I had done to cause them such interest; did I have a foot-long booger trailing from my nostril? In my stoned state had I taken the pickles from my burgers and affixed them to my nipples like sour, vegetable matter pasties? Did I have on a t-shirt emblazoned with "Never Trust Anything That Bleeds for Seven Days and Doesn't Die?" Was my cock hanging out of my jeans?

And then it hit me.

I wandered up to car, smiled, and amiably and said, "Hi! I'm a Negro!" at which point the family drew back as if I'd thrown an open bag full of rattlesnakes through the driver's side window, swiftly rolled up their own windows and hauled ass out of sight to grab their sack of food. I laughed my ass off, and so did Gary who had seen the whole incident. As Daffy Duck so wisely said, "What the hey? I gotta have some fun!" And after that the van took off once more, Man...Or Astro-Man's "Reverb 10,000" blasting out of the speakers and lending just the perfect skewed soundtrack to our odyssey.

It was nighttime when we finally made it to Erv's and its sleazy vibe reminded me of the title strip joint in the teen sex-comedy "classic" PORKY'S, what with the garish exterior lighting and loud, greasy bump-and-grind tunes issuing from within. After hauling our coffin-sized cache of booze into the place, we situated ourselves about the bar and began drinking in earnest, all the while ogling the pretty sorry herd of wobbly, gyrating go-go gals. Several of these chicks looked exhausted, wasted on horse, or both, and I kicked down shots of Jose Quervo in rapid succession to adjust my mood to a place where I wouldn't care how fucked up the performers were. But, to be fair, this wasn't exactly the farm team for the Bolshoi, so I pretty much had no choice but to let it go.

After about forty-five minutes I began to feel a part of the drunken, fleshly excesses happening all around me, the Cuervo and multiple beers finally working their magic. I was actually rather bored by the whole thing, but I was there to represent on what would supposedly be Darren's last night out with the boys — little did I realise that his blushing bride, Danielle, was just as much of a reprobate as Darren, so future nights like this were in no way out of the question — so I soldiered on, trying to garner some kind of titillation from the girls, an effort that utterly failed thanks to me not finding heroin addicts attractive, even if they did take the stage in huge, nerdy glasses and a Catholic schoolgirl's uniform which were both soon to be gone like a ball gown on prom night.

As previously stated, Irv's was not a titty bar, but a full-frontal, "you can see her kidneys" sort of establishment, and the well-marinaded crowd of crusty, senior citizen regulars were happier about it than pigs in shit, their eyes filled with visions of not-so-tastefully-splayed pink "luncheon meat," a humid tableau of what would have been otherwise mouth-watering labial bits pulled open in what looked to be a painful display of gynecological odds and ends, bringing to my mind the results of a med school autopsy where you see the organs in close, explicit detail and don't connect them at all with the individual whom they were attached to. Just glistening, steamy, disassociated parts.

I've never been very comfortable in titty/nudie bar or bachelor party situations for a few reasons:

1. I find such places to be degrading for the most part, their audience of leering men fueling an industry predicated upon despair and an easy way for the girls to make fast wads of cash since they don't really need any sort of training — we men are not necessarily all that discerning when presented with cute nekkid chicks — and they're (usually) born with all the equipment they'll ever need to do the job.

2. I enjoy seeing real dancers really dance, and while there are certainly women in the bump & grind biz who have that ability, they are few and far between thanks to an audience that doesn't give a fuck whether a "peeler" can actually move, just so long as they can stare at her juddering boobies.

3. Many of the men who frequent such establishment come from the most depressing level of the mating game's food chain and are not comfortable with interacting with women outside of a titty/nudie bar setting, an effort that requires cleaning up their acts a bit — both in terms of appearance and personal hygiene — and having the confidence to take the risk of being rejected. In the strip joint environment they get what they want, no questions asked, and delude themselves into thinking that they have the power. Try talking to one of those girls when you've run out of fivers to stuff into their G-strings, and lets see how far you get...

4. And speaking of money, I find it a flagrant waste of moolah to hand dancers untold amounts of cash and not even get any pussy out of the deal. I have taken women out for dinner, a show, and after-show drinks for less than half of what I've seen some guys shell out at go-go joints on a nightly basis, and the women I took out were not only great conversationalists and lots of fun to go out with, they also quite willingly shared their bodies with me and, in some cases, stuck around for a few days for more tender bedtime fun (and my famous morning-after breakfast skills). I'll take that over blowing cash for no results any day!

5. The thing that bothers me most about go-go joints in general and the ones in NYC in particular is an atmosphere that sometimes sets off my most primal of danger signals; I was at one bachelor shindig where the entertainment rather graphically performed a catalog of non-simulated sex acts upon each other and then proceeded to take on any guys who were willing to pay for play, all of which was presided over by their graying, fifty-something "manager" from the most marinara-steeped depths of Bensonhurst. I knew several of the attendees, but those I didn't know had the vibe of wolves that had survived a very hard winter and were in need of prey. Any prey. And some of them even took up the entertainment on their offer, undeterred by the girls' obvious state of heroin-induced euphoria. That sordid display was the last time I attended a bachelor party, and I have scrupulously avoided them ever since.

So taking all of that into mind, you can imagine that I was not exactly having a good time.

Just as I was about to regret not having brought a book to read, my eye was caught by an athletic blonde who hit the bar's central runway looking far more alive and full of vigour than her co-workers, her every movement commanding the dance floor with a cheerful and ballsy exuberance. She strutted down the catwalk with the attitude of one who was in on the joke, channeling the spirit of Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood cartoon character — no easy feat considering that the sound system blared out Foreigner's "Cold As Ice," a tune not exactly conducive to sexy dancing — and flashing dazzling smiles accentuated by her crystal blue eyes.

Tex Avery's indelible Red Hot Riding Hood.

She paraded around the bar for a couple of circuits, slowing only to allow the coffin-dodgers access for bills to be stuffed into her garter belt, and when her appointed rounds were done she lay down upon the bar, legs spread at nine and three in an impressive display of limberness, touched the tips of her thumbs together and pointed her index fingers toward the ceiling, framing her dolphin-smooth pubic mound with her hands in a gesture that simulated a sports arena goal. Responding to what must have been a familiar signal at Irv's, the grody old patrons fumbled with their foldable currency, shaping their bills into paper footballs of the type seen while waiting for time to pass during after-school detention, and in no time the pretty blonde's cooter was showered with the most impressive display of raining artillery since the bombing of Dresden. None of the grubby green missiles arrived with enough force to penetrate her most private of regions, but she did get to keep every bit of cash that accumulated, and she kept the oldsters smiling and entertained. During all of this she laughed her ass off and smiled at the codgers, each of whom looked so loyal to her that I'd bet they would have shoved their canes and walkers straight through the sternum of anyone foolhardy enough to try to do her harm.

That thought did much to relax me — along with the steady stream of tequila and Piel's — and as I was kicking back my latest beer, the sweaty performer stepped down from the bartop, pulled up a stool right next to me and began to towel off without a trace of modesty. She turned toward me and asked, "Could you hold on to this for me?" as she thrust her damp towel toward me and began to comb out the sweaty tangles in her hay-hued tresses (don't ask me where she got the comb from).

By this point I was drunk enough to find nothing odd about some random, blonde naked woman talking to me as if I'd known her bare-assed self my whole life, so I politely draped her towel over my leg and asked if she could use a beer. "Oh, God, Yeah!" she enthusiastically responded. "I'm fucking parched! Thanks a lot!" I paid for her beer and handed it to her, at which point I introduced myself, and when she shook my hand she almost identified herself by her real name but caught herself in time, instead saying, "Pleastameetcha! My name's Arizona. 'S where I'm from." I nodded, and we resumed drinking.

Arizona then regaled me with tales of her misadventures while working at Erv's to fund her college education — "Screw student loan payments!" she cried — and if she was to be taken at her word the scurvy assortment of geriatrics that drooled all over her (and themselves) were a harmless lot, described by her as "kind of like your dirty old grandpa," and they really didn't bother her in the least. She admitted that the nudie gig was nothing more than a means to an end, something that she would move past once she was done with school, and then on to bigger and better things. The conversation then got truly animated as she started rattling off books she'd enjoyed between her sets, and she revealed herself to be quite well-read. After that we chatted about art, movies, music, and a whole bunch of other shit, and I finally began to enjoy myself. I didn't even notice that Arizona was naked after about three more beers, so that either says a lot about how wrecked I was, or how much I should start investing in boxed sets of the complete recordings of Liza Minelli and Barbara Streisand.

Arizona kept her shit together, but the effects of the beers began to creep up on her, as became apparent when she began loudly heckling her fellow dancers. One dancer in particular staggered out onto the runway in an obvious state of narcotic submission, barely able to stand on her stiletto heels, and attempted to boogie down to the highly inappropriate strains of Tavares' "More Than A Woman." This pathetic sight struck both myself and Arizona as hysterical and we soon had our arms about one another, singing along with the falsetto voices in the most irreverent of tones, earning us nasty looks from the dancer and a hurled tinfoil ashtray from one of the old coots.

Suddenly I heard a loud, burbly rumble, audible over the general din and emanating from my stomach. Yes, my bacon double-cheeseburgers had decided to fight back in protest against the other abuses I'd put into my body over the course of the last few hours, so I excused myself and headed for the men's room, leaving Arizona to continue the mockery by her lonesome. Squeezing my asscheeks together with Herculean strength, I pigeon-toed it to the can and launched myself toward the nearest stall.

Upon entering the bathroom — a stenching, dilapidated pestilence factory that could easily have been transported from the Black Hole of Calcutta — I noted a six-foot long trough filled with ice, a measure that in no way cut the harsh, ammonia stench of old man piss. I turned away from that reeking trench and spotted the lone stall, which was, to my abject horror, missing a door — presumably to deter any Onanistic fun — meaning I would have to drop trou and let my ass do its Vesuvius impression with no hope of privacy as I hung onto the well-worn seat for dear life while the tremors had their way with me. Nonetheless, the bomb had to drop.

As I sat and agonized, discovering religion that I didn't know I had as I prayed to any and all benevolent deities for mercy, the main door burst open and a wobbly old geezer meandered in, staring straight into the stall and directly at my tortured mug. "Vzzzasgcvkxdrblmnd!" he said while fumbling with his belt and fly. Then it dawned on me: Grandpa was getting ready to whip out his gnarled old piss-pipe and relieve himself.

All. Over. Me.

In blind panic I began to scream and howl, "NOOOOO!! NOOOOO, YOU DRUNK OLD FUCK!!! THE TROUGH IS BEHIND YOU! JESUS CHRIST, IT'S BEHIND YOOOOOU!!!" all while impotently kicking at him with my black jeans and boxers down around my ankles, and a huge turd hanging out of my ass like I was a goddamned angel fish. Grandpa cocked his head, stopped whipping out his tadger and exclaimed, "Whuffukkayadooninair?!!? Fuggnjergoff..." before turning around and melting patches of ice with his foamy, golden bounty.

My body then went limp and my upper half fell to one side, supported by a rickety, graffiti-festooned wall.

I soon finished my bombing mission, tidied up, and rejoined Arizona at the bar, flattered that she was concerned when I took off like a shot. We then drank away the rest of the night while Darren and the rest of the party began to wind things down, but before we left, Arizona treated me to a freebie photo of the two of us so I would have a souvenir of our weird-assed evening.

Looking back at it now, I wish I'd thought to get Grandpa to pose with us.

The ride back to Squirrelville went by in a blur, the tequila and beer having long erased my understanding of linear time progression, and I forget how it happened but I ended up actually getting a lift back to my apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side, safe and sound and able to collapse in my own bed, soon to face a monster hangover the next afternoon.

Every once in a while I wonder whatever happened to Arizona. I hope she's doing okay and has left the flesh palace behind in her memory, discarded with other jobs from youth such as Burger King hostess, veterinary cage-mucker, and paper route deliverer of GRIT.


One of my readers just wrote in and asked what happened to the review I promised for BOSS NIGGER, and I have to say that I'm just as annoyed by the delay as he is. Here's the skinny:

I received the DVD off of eBay from a reputable seller, but my heart sank when I saw that it was put out by a company that bills itself as "Blax" Film or some such alias and the two previous times I've purchased films put out by them, specifically THE LEGEND OF NIGGER CHARLEY and an allegedly letterboxed print of MANDINGO, both films were shoddily transferred from what appeared to be seriously-worn VHS tapes, probably rented from some neighborhood mom-and-pop video dump that was on its way out of business thanks to the encroachment of Blockbuster and Hollywod Video outlets.

The copy of MANDINGO was definitely duped from the pan-and-scan VHS release, something I'd had in my collection for years so I know what I'm talking about, and NIGGER CHARLEY was not only obviously from a tape, it was also from an edited-for-televison tape of extremely crappy quality, and both discs bore the imprint of Blax Film. I had won the copy of MANDINGO from eBay and when it turned up as I described, I wrote the seller to complain and was swiftly sent the letterboxed upgrade with a lengthy apology, and the NIGGER CHARLEY disc was purchased at a kung-fu movie kiosk in Brooklyn's Fulton Mall — several square blocks that cater to Blacks and Hispanics, offering up a huge variety of unhealthy fast food, cheap and tasteless clothes, gawdy bling-bling, bootleg CDs and vinyl, and knockoff Black exploitation and martial arts movies — where the proprietors are a family of off-the-boat Nigerians who barely understand English and certainly don't understand the concept of "refund." It didn't piss me off too much because the discs were each ten bucks, and when shopping at that store one definitely takes one's chances. I once picked up a beautiful, fully-uncut print of COONSKIN with its original title intact at this store, so I guess they're as in the dark about potential ripoffs as the customer, but I guess that's the risk you run when selling products that skirt the boundaries of copyright laws.

So when I opened up my copy of the rare BOSS NIGGER and saw not only the untrusted company name but also their trademark barely-literate back-cover copy, I readied myself for the worst.

The packaging for an utter ripoff of a DVD.

I loaded the DVD into my all-regions player, a unit that can handle just about anything thrown into it, and the monitor lit up with what may just be the most amateurishly-composed menu I've ever seen. I selected "Play" and the disc jumped to a grainy bit of footage that lead into the obviously-edited opening titles which not only truncated the title to a briefly-flashed "BOSS," the infamous theme song had likewise been pruned of the N-word. Well, let me tell you that this N-word was outraged by that unwelcome and unasked for bit of censorship; how likely is it that someone who would buy a movie called BOSS NIGGER in the first place be offended by use of the word "nigger" in a film from a time and genre where such profanity was not only commonplace but downright expected?

Disgusted, I went back to the menu and found that I could access the "controversial opening credits," so I went for that and got a much better, widescreen print with a completely different opening sequence and the titles and song uncut, but about nine minutes in, the film abruptly stopped and jumped back to the menu.

What the fuck???

I tried a bit of jiggery-pokery with the remote and ended up with exactly the same result, after which I attempted to watch it again, only this time in fast forward mode, a trick that revealed the entire film to be encoded onto the disc, but when I tried to play it at normal viewing speed after the first nine minutes the whole think went back to the menu again.

Then I tried to see if all of the other "features" were fucked up as well, and found that the gallery of trailers could not be accessed in anything resembling an order, but rather randomly jumping from trailer to trailer, no matter which one I selected, often repeating the same one over and over. And on top of that the trailers were all culled from VHS tapes and weren't even for films that jibed with the company's theme, instead being tired previews for Hong Kong period pieces starring Jet Li. With that I realized I'd been had, and immediately contacted the eBay seller with all of the info you've just read, adding that I knew it wasn't his fault, he was just the seller of what was a sealed copy of an apparently legit DVD, and that in future he should avoid Blax Films or whatever the fuck they called themselves. In closing I told him that if the company's name had been included in the item listing I would not have bought the disc.

I heard from the guy a couple of hours later and he was all too happy to send me a replacement in case the defect was unique to the individual disc I had received, and I'm now awaiting the replacement in the mail. But, while thinking about it for this post, I decided to check the internet to find the name of the ripoff-artist company that foisted such bullshit upon innocent trash film addicts, and unexpectedly found the following customer review on

Whats up with this DVD?! May 16, 2007
By T. Geoghegan (Montana)

I give this DVD one star. If I could give it 0, I would. It has nothing to do with the film itself. This is based purely on the quality of the disc.

I recently purchased this DVD after seeing the trailer on Synapse Films' 42nd Street Forever, Vol. 1, and was saddened to see that the disc returns to the menu at 9 minutes and 16 seconds into the film. There is no way around this, as the disc has no chapter selections and - on the back of the case - lists the running time as "Uncut". That should have been a red flag.

The film looks extremely entertaining from its preview. I hope a complete version of the film is released on DVD some day, as well as being digitally remastered. This version looks like it was taken from a copy of a copy of a copy of an old VHS tape. Had it lasted past the 10 minute mark, I might have started getting a headache.

I wish there was a way to contact Blax Film, who released this DVD, but I see they are no where to be found online. No wonder, if they release ripoffs like this! Whatever you do, grindhouse fans - don't buy this disc!

Needless to say, that guy hit the nail right on the head and I sent the link to his review to the eBay seller so he'd see the problem was not just isolated to the disc I purchased. I also asked what else he had that I could take in exchange, but I have not heard back from him yet.

So, the way things look for now, I doubt I will see the long-awaited BOSS NIGGER anytime soon.