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Thursday, January 27, 2022



Other than for absolute necessities like seeing my girlfriend, obtaining provisions, prescriptions, and going in for dialysis, I have been very diligent about staying in during the pandemic. Believe me, I get why one should stay in as much as possible while all of this is going on, especially when one has already a serious health issue like I do, but I miss having regular contact with my friends who are my chosen family.

I can't speak for you, but the lockdown has conditioned me for extended periods of existence minus human contact, so during the rare instances these days when I do manage to get some time with friends/family, it's like being in a dream, only to wake up too soon, once more in my apartment that at times feels like a cell with amenities. It just goes on and on and on, with no end in sight, and, coupled with my treatment while on the waiting list for a kidney transplant, its interminable nature is weighing heavily on my brain. There are days when I feel I am legitimately going nuts.

Any of you feeling the same way?

Friday, January 21, 2022


I went to be early after a day of not succumbing to my body's post-treatment recovery need to nap, in hope that I would sleep the night through, until 7:15am at the latest. My game plan was to get up that relatively early, shower and shave, eat a breakfast that will tide me over for the roughly eight hours until I arrive in Westport, and make sure everything was packed and in order to bring home for Mom's 89th birthday, as I can be a tad scatty after a given day's dialysis, so I ended up in bed and asleep before midnight.

I suppose it was inevitable, but in light of recent events, my processing of Oscar's demise made its way into my dreams. In the dreamscape, I was in a lavish, ethereal bed chamber, like the one Dave Bowman finds himself in at the end of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, observing an ancient, withered man in its large bed. Next to the bed was a Victrola that played classical music, soft and soothing, and the old man beckoned me over. He bore a strong resemblance to what I've seen of my father in recent photos; emaciated, frail, debilitated by poorly-managed diabetes and Alzheimer's, but unlike my dad's former chocolate-brown hue, he was a faded shade of Caucasian complexion.

With an infirm gesture he bade me sit on the bed beside him, and once I was seated he attempted to speak, but no coherent words came. Instead, his features contorted into a grimace of discomfort, and tears flowed down his sunken cheeks. For my part, I sat there unsure of what he was trying to express and, not being telepathic, no clarity came to me. He then closed his eyes and was gone.

When I awoke, it was to my chilly apartment, a space whose draftiness gave indication of it being 17° outside, and I found myself hanging upside down over the side of my futon's frame, amidst my three comforters and unzipped arctic sleeping bag, all of which were in a state of disarray, presumably from me thrashing about in my sleep.

There are a couple of ways to interpret the meaning of that dream, but I have no desire to get all maudlin, so I'll just leave it at that. That, and the realization that this year's celebration of Mom's birthday is likely to be all manner of weird, uncomfortable, and fraught with depressing emotion.

I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but one of the things that tends to happen when I go home for visits is my mother taking the opportunity of a captive audience and laying bare her agonized memories of the many awful incidents and situations that shaped her, often anecdotes about her time with my father, so his passing is likely to open a floodgate in her usual rigid reserve. If it helps her let loose some of the long-held poisons, then so be it. I will endure it with my mind and intent set on keeping things as pleasant as possible. I will make sure there is no anger or contentiousness on my part. I have no way of prognosticating how many more birthdays Mom will be around to mark, so now is a time for reserve and compassion.

Thursday, January 20, 2022



Two days ago my mother called to tell me she received a letter from Social Security alerting her to widow’s benefits. Such payment is awarded to the deceased’s first spouse, so my mom called up Social Security and asked what all of that was about. That's how she found out Oscar Anderson Bunche, her ex-husband and my dad, died on December 28th of 2021 at the age of 85.  
For my part of the equation, what should be a gut punch is instead a state of apathy at his demise. There was no love lost between us and we had not had anything resembling a positive relationship since I was six (fifty years ago), so I note his passing but that's about it. In fact, my mother and I both admitted to a state of utter apathy upon receiving the word of his passing. Quoth my mother, "I was married to that man for sixteen years, yet I felt nothing when I got the news that he died."
When my mom called, she expected me to have some sort of an emotional flip-out at the news, but my calm shocked her. I explained to her that I understood her always wanting to foster a relationship between him and me, but it was never there. She finally acknowledged that she knew that there was no relationship between us and that is was all on him. If anything I felt bad for her, because I know she considers his failure as a father to me is somehow partially her fault when it absolutely is not.

The one thing that does rankle me, though, is that the obituary I found for him online completely erases any mention of his first marriage (the one to my mother), and while his survivors are listed, I am not among them. I suppose I should not be in way surprised, as the man actively worked to erase all evidence of his existence prior to the divorce from my mother (save for his acknowledgement of my older half-sister who was born to another mother some seven years before I debuted), something I discovered when I had lunch with my my younger half-sister some fifteen years ago when she tracked me down via the internet after not having seen me since she was three. She told me because she was shocked to see the photo album that I brought with me during the lunch where we met up when she was an adult. She had never seen even one photo of him from before he married her mother, so my erasure is part and parcel for the life he re-imagined himself into. In short, my dad basically erased all evidence of his life prior to his second marriage, starting as far back as 1976, but my existence and presence remained an inconvenient  anchor to a relationship that he never wanted to be in in the first place. And I was a disappointment by not being the fantasy son that he wanted, and if he could have he would have started over while completely forgetting the child he sired in a relationship he felt forced into by parental pressure. He started over with his new wife and kids and reinvented himself as a sepia Caucasian, a case of denial and self-loathing the like of which I have never seen. 
My involvement with him would have ended there, had it not been for my mother's well-intentioned but utterly misguided efforts to make sure he remained in my life as my father figure, despite lack of any real interest from either myself or from Oscar. There were many awkward and uncomfortable visits with him during the years when he was re-establshing himself, years that coincided with my junior and senior high school years, a period in which I really needed a solid male parental figure, but at the time he was not in a place where he could have provided that, if indeed he ever was. From all reports, his parents never showed him much by way of love and nurture, favoring his younger brother, Leonard (now deceased), over him, so he never learned the tools with which to impart such on either my older half-sister or myself.
My parents, both born into the deep, rural American south of the pre-Civil Rights Jim Crow era,  only got married because their folks — both families being highly dysfunctional — thought it would be the answer to both of their problems. Oscar's parents wanted him to marry someone of color, noting that despite her Native American complexion, my mom was still "the darkest thing Oscar ever brought home" (according to my mother; she told me that ages ago, claiming it was said to her by dad's mother) during the late 1950's). On my mom's side of the equation, her iron-fisted southern matriarch of a mother wanted her to marry and have kids and then take over as the matriarch of the James family's twisted dynasty. My parents were together for a total of sixteen years, all of which was a misery for both parties. And I, as their only child, bore daily silent witness as their relationship worsened with each passing day and year.

My favorite story of my dad, if I can even call it that... No. It's more of an anecdote that perfectly outlined his character: According to my  mother, early in my parents' marriage, it was apparent that things were not working out, and my mom, being the old school southern gal that she is, suggested that they go back to the church and see if that would help them. (Mom was raised in a strict Episcopalian household, and her religious programming persists to this day.) Hearing this, dad reportedly responded with "You don't need church. I am your god." (Having lived with the man for the first ten years of my life, I absolutely believe he said that.) When mom told me that, I said "If I were you and he said that to me, I would have immediately bailed." Mom just looked at me with sad eyes and a weary expression and simply said "I wasn't that strong then."
There's more, a whole lot more, to Oscar's history, but now it's over and I choose to just let it go.

As for any deeper expression of feelings I may have on the matter of Oscar's passing, they may eventually come, but right now I am just numb. I came to terms with my inner demons regarding him, demons that I sought to drown with booze and drugs for far too long, and since then I have been at peace with all that went down. I survived is what matters, and if anything, his legacy to me was a carved in stone example of what NOT to be as a spouse and as an influence on children. That said, the man that his second wife and kids lived with and knew was a complete reinvention of the man that my mother and I knew, so perhaps he found some measure of happiness in a family of his own choosing.
Despite his academic and career achievements, he was a weak and damaged man and a failure as a human being, at least during his pre-rebooted existence. If anything, I no longer hold anger towards him. Only pity.  
Anyway, I mark his passing simply as footnote in the pages of my life. No condolences are necessary, as he's been dead to me for close to thirty years. I leave the mourning to his acknowledged survivors and I wish them well.
Oscar Anderson Bunche (1936-2021), originally Bunch. (He added the "e" to the surname in an effort to sound more posh, and to spark speculation that he might have been related to then-prominent politician and Nobel Prize winner Ralph Bunche.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2022


Seldom has the boredom of immortality been driven home so pointedly.
So, it took three staggered tries, but I finally made it though INTERMINABLES, er, ETERNALS. 
It was dull, overlong, the characters were mostly ciphers about whom it was impossible to care, and the tragic choice of favoring Neil Gaiman's latter day take on the characters — which I failed to make it all the way through — at the expense of removing about 99% of creator Jack Kirby's creative DNA proved its undoing, so much so that I won't even bother with a recap of its plot or its place in the overall MCU. The film ends with a setup for more, but considering its well-deserved audience apathy/dislike, I very much doubt we'll get another Eternals film, despite a blurb at the end promising "THE ETERNALS WILL RETURN."

As usual with MCU movies, we get stingers at the end, the first of which introduces Pip the Troll (voiced by Patton Oswalt and poorly rendered in CGI) and Starfox, then at the ass end if the credits, we get setup for the inclusion of the Black Knight, played by GAME OF THRONES' John Snow himself, Kit Harrington. The Black Knight has always been a nothing of a character, so I don;t see him progressing much further if another Eternals film does not happen.

Bottom line: This one is majorly skippable and, if you ask me, it edges out THOR: THE DARK WORLD as the MCU's biggest dud. It tragically squanders a vast canvas of concepts and visuals laid down by Jack Kirby, as well as wasting an impressive cast on a plot and dialog that I would not give to a two-by-four. Seriously, watch an old Cecil B. DeMille epic instead. You'll get far more enjoyment and entertainment.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022


An auditorium at the now-defunct Regal UA Court Street in Brooklyn's Cobble Hill. Once a cinema house of audience madness, now a lifeless tomb of movie memories, some good, some not so good.

The day has finally come when the Regal Court Street Stadium 12, more recently the Regal UA Court Street, dimmed its lights for the final time, and I cannot say I'm really all that shocked. The 12-screen multiplex in downtown Brooklyn was a management disaster and the audiences there were sometimes nightmarish. Seeing animated films there was the worst, because ghetto parents used it as an excuse to let their kids run around unsupervised while they sat back and got their drink on while devouring Popeye's (from the one a few doors up the street) and littering the floor with its bones and boxes. After my experience of seeing Ratatouille there, a cartoon that isn't a kid's movie at all, I swore off seeing animated films anywhere other than an arthouse like the Film Forum. 

Probably my most cherished memory of the place and its annoying audiences was when I saw STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES with my lover at the time. We were seated to the right of an overweight, bespectacled guy in his mid-thirties who kept his gaze locked on the screen while saying aloud to himself, but which all present could not help but hear, comments like "And why he is a MASTER...of THE DARK SIDE," and my favorite, when Yoda whipped out his lightsaber: "And NOW...You shall see why he is called...THE MASTER." He threw out comments like that from the start of the film to the end (when he stood up, thrust both fists into the air and whopped "WHOO-HOO!!!") and it was simultaneously annoying and hilarious. I don't know if the guy was just socially awkward or on the spectrum or what, but I swear to whatever gods there may be, I would give my left arm for his commentary to accompany the film's DVD as an extra.

SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME was my last movie there. I went by myself a couple of weeks back and found the place damned near deserted, so it was obvious that the end was approaching. That said, for my money, as a theater, it was pretty much the most palatable of the mainstream Joe Sixpack ones I've been to in Brooklyn during my 25 years living here. It was convenient to get to and, if you caught a movie with a civilized audience (a rare occurrence), it could be quite pleasant. 

Requiescat en pace, Court Street Stadium 12. If you ran more exploitation films, you would be remembered as a solid grindhouse.

Thursday, January 13, 2022


I'm gearing up for my mom's 89th birthday, which is next week, and along with some culinary goodies — four quality fillets of catfish (frozen for transport), an excellent Cajun fish breading, and the promise of a meal at the excellent Westfair Fish and Chips (provided they are open for dining and not just takeout — I happened upon this big doll of Plastic Man and had to get it for her. 

My mother is a first generation superhero fan, having been born five years before the debut of Superman (the OG superhero), and when she was a kid her favorites were Wonder Woman and Plastic Man. She has a sort of shrine to Wonder Woman in her entertainment media room, but she has no representation for Plas, largely because most of the figures of him suck. I mean, let's face it, his powers are among the most visual out there, and they do not translate as a solid toy, but I figured something of this scale would be a striking addition to her collection. It has a jaunty animated look, modeled as it is after how Plas looks on the JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION cartoon, and his neck elongates, which is better than nothing. 

 Anyway, the point is that now my mom will have Plastic Man. Even if she just displays him in the box, at least he will be present.


Ben Gazzara as crime boss Brad Wesley.

 Just thought of something: Considering how ROADHOUSE (1989) ends, the citizens of Jasper, Missouri could have simply murdered uber-asshole crime boss Brad Wesley at the get-go, instead of hiring Dalton as the Double Deuce's cooler. That simple act of singular homicide would have saved several lives and untold millions in property damage. But then I guess the movie would be only two minutes long, so there you go...


Hedorah, aka the Smog Monster, from GODZILLA VERSUS HEDORAH (1971). Basically, an anthropomorphic mass of the foulest diarrhea imaginable.

One of the many downsides of late stage kidney failure is being forced to go on phosphorus blockers, as phosphorus is detrimental to one's system (as one's kidneys are no longer able to process it) and the stuff is in damned near everything we consume. In my case, I have to take horse-choker Auryxia pills, two with every meal as prescribed, but for me it's four, because the prescribed dose is not effective on me. (The upped dose is doctor-approved.) It greatly reduces my body's phosphorus level, but the unfortunate side-effect is that it does bad things to one's...leavings. In short, it turns your doody black, and accompanies that with an unholy redolence the like of which would hold one of Lovecraft's Elder Gods at bay from our plane of reality. The foulness is truly diabolical, and it requires three simultaneous sticks of burning incense to exorcise it.

Ah, life's rich pageantry...

Tuesday, January 11, 2022


The other day I noted Jennifer Beals turning up on THE BOOK OF BOBA FETT, and in the wake of that  I was reminded of a poster of Beals that I bought during the height of her FLASHDANCE popularity. I liked it because it wasn't the same movie poster image of her that was inescapable during 1983, plus she was the rare Café au lait gorgeous chick to get the spotlight, so I snagged the poster for my collection. That said, I totally forgot about it until just now and I recalled that it's around here somewhere, rolled up in one of my many tubes of posters. Whenever I can finally afford a large living space in which I can put together my own museum/gallery, this might get framed as a monument to the era in which I came of age.

The poster in question.

Saturday, January 08, 2022


David Lynch, auteur screenwriter/director.

Last night I had a dream in which I was part of the throng that was admitted to a secret free sneak preview of a new movie. As we were admitted, we were told that part of the deal was that was had to sit through the entirety of the film, and the doors to the auditorium would be locked to ensure that we sat through the whole thing.  Along with a crowd that included several people that I know, I settled in with a tub of popcorn and waited for the lights to dim. After a number of arthouse trailers — nearly always a bad sign — the film finally started. The opening titles said it all:

Asymmetrical Productions Presents:

David Lynch's 


At the sight of this the audience began to murmur amongst itself, and some of us thought it was a joke along the lines of the phony credits at the beginning of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL. But no. In no time we realized that we were to be subjected to a three-and-a-half-hour experimental black-and-white live-action iteration of the Mike Judge cartoon series that was set on a sound stage featuring minimalist set dressing, with a soundtrack of loud industrial noises.

The plot made no coherent sense, nor was it at all funny, and periodically, without rhyme or reason, the action would shift to still photos of the cast juxtaposed with visuals of the printed script in lieu of dialog. And sometimes the non-action was punctuated with cartoon sound effects and a randomly-deployed slide whistle.

After about five minutes, the audience attempted to leave but, as previously stated, all exits were locked, so there was no escape. As the film dragged on, the audience became irate and began lobbing cups of soda, buckets of popcorn, hot dogs, candy, anything that wasn't nailed down at the screen, but those siege efforts were foiled by a cleverly-disguised shield that protected the screening's backdrop.

As the audience reached a fever pitch, I awoke from my dream, disappointed because I wanted to see how it all came out. That, and I wanted to see how Lynch would handle the Great Cornholio. Alas...

Thursday, January 06, 2022


So, I got my hands on a copy of this ultra-trashy work, simply because I wanted a straight-up Tarzan porn novel in my collection. Yes, Phillip Jose Farmer's A FEAST UNKNOWN certainly qualifies as such, but, despite it's incredibly explicit content, it was written by an author with a deep knowledge of the character and his lore, so it read like what might happen if Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan's creator and main scribe, had gone on a four-day Jaegermeister and Mexican cough syrup bender. 
Anyway, I expect nothing out of this other than prose along the quality of disposable novels that used to be sold to desperate travelers at bus stations, convenience stores, and airport booksellers. I'm just curious to see if the writer did enough research to include a scene where Jane gets it on with Mugambi. And at least the cover artist knew that Jane is canonically a blonde, unlike most movies would have us believe.