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Tuesday, March 29, 2022


 As seen across the street from my friend and former roommate Patrick's home in Bedford Stuyvesant, the eastern edge where it meets Brownsville and Weeksville. Yes, they got the cash box.

When I was growing up, Bed Stuy was one of the most feared of all NYC neighborhoods, but over the past three decades gentrification has sanded away much of its once-savage edge. However, traces of its hardcore nature are sometimes clearly present.

Sunday, March 27, 2022


 May 1957 PLAYBOY Playmate Dawn Richard, forever burned into my memory as the high school girl who meets her horrifying fate at the hands of Michael Landon's adolescent wolfman in I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957). I saw that film when I was six, the first werewolf movie I ever saw, and her upside down POV of the slavering monster is one of my favorite shots in all of horror cinema.

Thursday, March 24, 2022


I was thinking back over my torturous years of dealing with the agonies of unchecked all-over atopic dermatitis, which rendered my skin looking like I had been using a chicken joint's deep-fryer as a hot tub, and I recall with horror the time that I was prescribed a cocktail of Gabapentin and Doxepin as a way to relieve the relentless itching and peeling of my skin. I'm no stranger to psychoactive chemicals, but I can say with authority that that combination gave me what I can only describe as an actual out of body experience, coupled with flesh-crawling imagined terrors. From

"Using doxepin together with gabapentin may increase side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and difficulty concentrating. Some people, especially the elderly, may also experience impairment in thinking, judgment, and motor coordination."

I took that combination for a total of three days, after which I took myself off of it and told the prescribing doctors that I refused to continue with that course of treatment. It's the closest thing to what I imagine the worst kind of demonic possession being.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


Bullock and Tatum, up Shit Creek without a paddle. (Actually, a South American jungle, but you get what I mean.)

While caught up in the activity of the past 60 hours, I forgot to mention that Michele and I saw THE LOST CITY the other night. It's as light and fluffy as the trailers portray it to be, but it's also aggressively silly and very, very funny. 

I'm a fan of both Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, and the two have an undeniable chemistry when working opposite one another. Daniel Radcliffe, completely shedding his Harry Potter image, strikes all of the right notes as an unhinged rich kid with major sibling jealous issues, and Brad Pitt steals the movie in an extended cameo as the kind of adventure hero that every guy wants to be, the kind of rugged dude whose mere presence women's panties into a swamp. 

The film knows exactly what it is and aims to be a crowd-pleasing want to spend a night out at the movies, with Channing Tatum being especially fun as a seemingly vapid bohunk romance cover model. He pokes fun at his own beefcake appeal, and for those who enjoy ogling quality man-flesh, you'll get what you want to see, but his masculine perfection is totally deployed for laughs. (The scene with the leeches being the go-to example...) 

Anyway, THE LOST CITY is the very definition of a "popcorn flick," a fun romp and a great date movie.

Poster for the theatrical release.

Monday, March 21, 2022


After today's treatment, I waited five hours until making something to eat, an amount of time that allowed my stomach to settle. There are some days when I come out of dialysis absolutely ravenous, and that's because I often do not eat breakfast before going, but this morning I ate before treatment, so that is probably what allowed me be able to eat a meal five hours after treatment rather then eight or nine hours later. (For those who do not know, after treatment I usually hurl my guts up several times before my stomach settles and I can eat something. It's highly unpleasant but I've gotten used it, and I kind of zone out when it happens.)
Tonight's meal could not have been simpler: I made slow-roasted chicken legs and thighs that fall off the bone, a roux from which I made a rich gravy that incorporated some chicken stock and the copious drippings from the legs, and a small pot of sticky rice. The star of this meal was the seasoning, specifically Caribbean Traditions Cock Flavored Seasoning. (You there! Stop that giggling!!!) The stuff lends the perfect flavor accent to fowl, and I cannot recommend it enough.


                                                       "It's the never-ending storeeeeeeee..."

Saturday, March 12, 2022


While getting a head start on refreshers for this year's upcoming run of essays for October's annual 31 DAYS OF HORROR run, last night I as through DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) for the first time in over four decades, and I have to ask this: 

If you were a British tourist in the Carpathian mountains in the late 19th Century and were vehemently warned by all of the locals to avoid the ominous castle in the distance, a place that does not exist on your map of the area but there it is nonetheless, would you still insist on going there? And when you got there and found the table set for dinner as though they were expecting you and your companions, and you were attended to by this savory-looking dude, would you stick around? 

Before the night is through, one of your number is stabbed in the back, hung upside down over the open grave of an arch-vampire, and his throat slashed so his showering blood could revivify said undead suckface's remains, followed by the vampire putting the bite on the guy's wife, thus transforming her into one of the legion of the damned. 

Seriously, even by horror movie standards, the hapless tourists in this story are among the all-time stupidest in cinema history. I was actually rooting for Dracula to get all of them and do the rest of the world a favor.

Thursday, March 10, 2022



As the last dialysis day of the week approaches, I once more feel the wind-up of anxiety on the night going into it. 
You all know how weary I am of this never-ending medical cycle that I am trapped in, and I fully accept why it is necessary, but every week I just break down mentally and emotionally at the prospect of facing another day of it, and the night before Friday is always the worst. It's the anticipation of it being the last day of treatment until it resumes on Monday, and it's at these times when I wonder if this was how Prometheus felt when that fucking eagle would swoop down every day to once more rip out and devour his regenerating immortal liver. I suppose that's a poor analogy, as Prometheus was an immortal, but I swear that the never-ending nature of my predicament feels like the worst kind of immortality. It's torturous rinse and repeat, ad infinitum.
I just want to be over. Please, let me get a kidney that's a match soon.


"Kirk Morris" as pseudo-Hercules Maciste. "Wha???"

Last night's dull movie-as-sleep-aid was COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTERS (1963), one of the seemingly endless number of Italian muscleman fantasy epics released during the 1950's and 1960's to cash in on the unexpected international box office success of HERCULES (1958) and HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959) starring legendary bodybuilder Steve Reeves.

This one stars Kirk Morris (born Adriano Bellini) in the fourth of his six films as shirtless, oiled-up Herculean strongman Maciste (he is never referred to as "Colossus"), as our hero rescues refugees from an island devastated by a volcanic explosion, only to immediately encounter a land in turmoil whose queen is being forced to marry the traitorous asshole who blinded her father and lusts for both her and the throne. Needless to say, our beefy protagonist lends his burly aid to the queen and her people, but the usurper asshole has aligned himself with the local tribe of bloodthirsty headhunters, so saving the day will put Maciste to the test. As dubbed Pastaland tits 'n' togas flicks go, this one's pretty tepid, and hero Maciste is as bland as dishwater, possessing no discernibly interesting traits such as drunkenness, an unbridled libido, or even much by way of personality. In short, he's a cookie cutter slab of beef with styled Frankie Avalon-style hair who runs around in a short skirt and a primitive pair of Ugg boots. 
This film is perhaps best known in the U.S. for the truncated version seen on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 back in 1994, and that version, while still dull, at least had the decency to be mercifully short. The full-length iteration moves like a Brontosaurus on a cocktail of Gabapentin and Doxepin — trust me on that one — and features only the thinnest of plots, punctuated by lots of aimless seafaring, sword-wielding combatants clashing and running around, women in super-tight and/or skimpy outfits, bad dubbing, and one of the worst dance sequences ever committed to film.
 Bob Fosse rolls over in his grave.
In a bid to add more "production values," aka tits and ass, nearly every movie in this genre at some point features a dance number that brings the proceedings to a screeching halt, and COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTERS subjects us to a truly dire example of the trope. I cannot believe that the actress who performs the film's dance sequence was an actual dancer, as her movements appear to have been made up on the spot, literally whatever she could think to do, and her terpsichorean skills are about on par with those of a six-year-old who just donned her first Danskin. We're talking hopping around on her tippy-toes — nothing resembling trained en pointe — falling to the floor and sticking a leg up in the air, gesturing with her shoulders as though trying to spontaneously sprout wings, and shaking like she's experiencing a seizure, all while maintaining the most un-emotive of facial expressions. It's an embarrassing display that will make you feel bad for her at first, but it overstays its welcome by being three minutes long and by its end you want to hurl an unopened can of corned beef hash at her skull. And, as previously stated, it stops the story dead.
In other words, this movie offers absolutely nothing not seen before elsewhere and done to more entertaining effect. If you're suffering a night of insomnia, as many of us do, COLOSSUS AND THE HEADHUNTER is available on YouTube in a grainy print. That print lends the film a snuff film aesthetic that only heightens its cheesiness, be ready to doze before the first half hour is over.
Poster for the U.S. theatrical release.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022


While digging through the stacks of stuff in my apartment, I found the manuscript to my mother's abandoned book on "firm but loving" parenting that she wrote sometime in the '90's or early 00s. It's 22 pages long and she gave me a printout of it for me to proofread and edit. I had completely forgotten about its existence, but I'm glad I still have it.

It's basically her manifesto on rearing an adolescent, with some examples culled from my teen years (only framing it as experiences related to her by a mother who was one of her patients during her family counseling years), coupled with the rigid, robotic emotionlessness of her own mother's horrid  parenting, a doctrine that damaged her early and the repercussions of which affect her to this day. It reads like an android writing a book on parenting based on an iron-clad philosophy that treats the child as a specimen rather than as a human being, and reading it again now, it's just sad. And I think she abandoned it because I told her straight up that it read like a book by and for robots.

I'm going to save that manuscript for posterity in my box of secret artifacts — old letters from long-ago girlfriends, "candid" photos that they gave me, rare porn, etc. — as it will serve as an actual written reminder of her ways after she's gone. It's a lesson book that bolsters my approach of doing the opposite of how she raised me when I deal with my friends' kids whom I love as my own.

The manuscript.

Looking over the manuscript again, I also note that it's clearly written by an individual who came of age over seven decades ago and who, even at the time she wrote the piece, had zero understanding of then-modern adolescence and could not relate to it as anything other than something to study, or as something she read about in textbooks and articles in magazines aimed at the mental health industry.

Also, bear in mind that once my father moved out, my mother began rebuilding herself as a stronger person, and her experiences with him left her with a deep hatred of men in general, so having her child growing her her doted-upon little boy into a young man was something she could not handle. She so did not understand male adolescence, genuinely thought I was mentally ill, and shipped me off to two psychiatrists starting when I was 10 and again during high school, when I knew there was nothing wrong with me. Coupled with her being a world-class gaslighter (something she only copped to as of the past few years, and she brought it up with no prompting from me), it all did a real number on me, and it took leaving home for college for me to truly be allowed the freedom to evolve into my own person and not her unrealistic fantasy of rigid perfection, and also to be happy for the first time since I was old enough to fully understand what was going on around me.

My mother's family deeply and irreversibly damaged her from early on. Just some of the stuff that shaped her includes being thrown into a sack in the middle of the night and kidnapped by her father when she was two or three, an incident that gave her severe claustrophobia for life (she still cannot sleep without a night light), and, because they were bored and had nothing better to in their rural Alabama isolation, some of her immediate family regularly tortured her with electricity because they thought it was funny. She only told me all of that — and worse — as of the past twenty years, which caused a lot to make start to make sense, and the contemplation thereof drove a stake through my brain. I had to leave the apartment earlier this afternoon and walk around Park Slope for an hour to calm my thoughts.

Anyway, this grimoire of maternal dysfunction is now relegated to the large ENTER THE DRAGON special edition VHS box on this shelf, where it shall forever be imprisoned.



Richard Widmark as Tommy Yudo, cinema's first version of the Joker (sort of).

Just found out that Richard Widmark's performance as his Tommy Udo character in the classic KISS OF DEATH (1947) was modeled after the 1940's original iteration of the Joker, and being familiar with the Joker of the comic's first couple of years, I totally see it. Widmark was reportedly a fan of Batman comics, so there you go. Even crazier, when Frank Gorshin essayed his legendary manic turn as the Riddler on the 1966-1968 BATMAN television series, borrowed (and exaggerated) his famous giggle from Widmark's Tommy Udo.

Sunday, March 06, 2022


Myself and Michele at THE BATMAN.

So, THE BATMAN. I won't go into the plot details, other than to say that it's basically a modern day noir for grownups that involves the mystery behind a string of connected murders, which intersects with a mob story, with both featuring a rookie Batman (he's only been at it for two years, and he's still sorting himself out) in a police/detective procedural.

Let's cut to the chase. This is hands down my favorite live-action Batman movie (I don't care for any of the previous ones; Adam West gets a pass because his was a comedy, and I'll grant you Heath Ledger's chilling Joker), as it's as serious as a heart attack, it's violent as hell, Batman actually does detective work, he's in the batsuit for 98% of his time onscreen, this version of the Batmobile would be right at home in a Mad Max movie, the Batcave makes sense, Catwoman steals the movie (though she is never once called Catwoman, but she does once refer to herself as "the Cat"), Jeffrey Wright is superb as JIm Gordon, Paul Dano does for the Riddler what Heath Ledger did for the Joker, an unrecognizable Colin Farrell works a miracle as the best Penguin ever (not at all what is expected of the character, and it works beautifully), its three hours just fly by, and it's totally for grownups. In short, this is the anti-BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. 
Oh, and don't bother staying for a stinger at the end. There's something brief, about three seconds long, and it is in no way worth putting off hitting the can for a long-held leak.

Friday, March 04, 2022


Tuesday, March 01, 2022



My arm, after taking off the bandages from a dialysis session. The center has some new trainees, and one of them, 6'8" Ifani, wraps the bandages painfully tight, along with a medical-grade plaster over each puncture wound, a thickly-folded piece of absorbent wadding is applied, and then the nurse comes in and tightly tapes it up. I then wear a compression sleeve over all of that, in order to keep pressure on the area and allow it to heal and seal before I go to bed for the night. That's all well and good, but Ifani, who's a really nice guy, applies the medical tape as tight as a tourniquet, and that is highly unpleasant after having two huge and very sharp needles jammed into your arm and taped into position for just shy of four hours three times per week. Also, with my history of skin issues, my skin does not like the adhesive on the tape, so when I take it off my arm resembles that of Imhotep (Boris Karloff version).