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Saturday, May 18, 2024


Autographed photo of Marc Singer, aka Dar the Beastmaster. He was one of the nicest and mostpersonable of the many celebrities I met over the years. A solid dude.

Last night I watched THE BEAST MASTER (1982) for the first time since seeing it in the theater when it came out. Back in '82 I found it to be merely passable, with a hero who came across as a tad softer than testosterone-fueled beef slabs like Ah-nuld or Dolph Lundgren, and I found that a welcome change of pace. The story was a by-the-number sword 'n' sorcery yarn that offered little or nothing out of the ordinary, save for the protagonist's ability to communicate with and command animals, but it was a decent enough way to kill a needlessly overlong two hours. (The story could have been told more briskly if edited down to 90 minutes.)
Unlike most folks who know of this movie, I never watched it during its years of ubiquity on HBO — that cable network ran the film so often, its initials were snarkily referred to as "Hey, Beastmaster's On!" — and other platforms, but over the decades I discovered that it has a massive cult following among those who watched it over and over again starting from childhood. I was seventeen when it came out and I had already seen far superior sword 'n' sorcery flicks, plus a few really bad ones that I love for their hilarious cheapjack awfulness (I'm looking at you, SORCERESS), so for me experiencing that one time in the theater and not being all that impressed by it was all that I needed. Nonetheless, THE BEASTMASTER endured in the hearts and minds of its fans, and nine years later it spawned a sequel, BEASTMASTER 2: THROUGH THE PORTAL OF TIME, which I saw on opening night during the dying days of Times Square's plethora of grindhouse movie theaters, and I recall enjoying that followup considerably more than the original. A made-for-TV third film, BEASTMASTER III: THE EYE OF BRAXUS, followed, and after that a syndicated series. Such is the power of post-theatrical cable-driven cult afterlife.
And now, after sitting through it again over forty years later, I still think THE BEASTMASTER is middling at best, but this time around I also noted that save for a few shots of exposed tiddies and a couple of scary moments, It's pretty much a barbarian movie for kids, which goes a long way in explaining why it's held with such fondness by those who grew up with it in the same way that I cherish ULTRAMAN. It's not bad, but kids are famously forgiving of a film's shortcomings if it's giving them a genre or concepts that they'd never previously encountered, so there you go.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024


While sorting though my stacks, I unearthed a classic. 

Back in the period when I was buying untranslated tapes of FIST OF THE NORTH STAR from Tokyo Video as it was airing new episodes in Japan, I edited together a VHS tape of highlights from the show's second year — arguably when the show really began firing on all cylinders and earned its reputation — and that tape was screened countless times between my final year of college and when I left Connecticut to start working in the Marvel Bullpen. The usual suspects would gather in my college domicile or my mother's TV room in the basement, and we would watch the anime's post-apocalyptic kung fu mayhem splatter across the screen while we swilled adult beverages and smoked roughly a Borg cube's mass worth of kind buds. It was untranslated but we did not care, as it was colorful, lively, and completely out of its mind. A real revelation for American viewers at the time. If you were there for any of those screenings, please stand up and be counted and give a shout out in the comments section.

Anyway, at some point in the '90's I took that beloved tape to a Manhattan camera store that transferred VHS tapes to crude DVD's, and when I handed it to the clerk, he watched a little of it, asked "What the fuck is this?" and "I'm not duping anything illegal, am I?' I assured him that it fell into the vague parameters of the international "gray market," and he soon handed me a DVD transfer. The tape had by that point been through nearly a decade of serial of repeated viewings, so its race was pretty much run, and the new format would allow it to go out with cherished dignity. Then, sometime in the mid-2000's the entire TV series got a proper subtitled translation and was released to the US market in four big boxed sets, thus rendering the old VHS tapes superfluous (though the tapes off of the Japanese airwaves did contain tons of entertaining and baffling commercials). Nonetheless, this self-made highlight package shall always have a place of honor among my video distractions.

Monday, May 06, 2024


Posted at 3:48am

Well, this week is getting off to an auspicious start.

Over the past ten days or so, my right big toe and its joint have been painful in a familiar arthritic/gout way, so I asked the center's doctor to prescribe me Colchisine to alleviate the pain. It brought the pain down by a good margin but it continued to be painful, so I assumed the Colchisine needed more time to really do its job.

But tonight I could not sleep, so I got up, did some tidying around the apartment, and went outside to dump a bag of trash for morning pickup. When I came back inside I again readied for bed, and for some reason I gave my toe a once-over. The skin on its underside was swollen and it gave like a balloon when pinched between two fingers, and what at first looked to be dirt was in actuality the pad of the toe being dark from what appeared to be a large blood blister. (I had showered an hour earlier, so my feet were squeaky clean.) Upon close examination, it did indeed appear to be an infected blood blister, so my mind shifted into "taking care of medical business" calm mode, and I gathered the implements of pro-level care that I have here at home, items provided by my podiatrist for just such situations.

I cleaned the swollen area with alcohol and a surgical towel, then I hit the surface with Betadine solution (the brown fluid that's applied to sterilize skin ahead of surgery). I then opened a fresh Number 10 surgical blade, pinched a section of the stretched skin, and made the tiniest of nicks, barely a pin prick. Even that slight opening caused a thick, pressurized spurt of dark, thick, likely infected blood, which continued for a bit as I applied pressure all around the area, and along with the blood a semi-solid chunk of what looked to be infected material was expressed from the incision. Once that was cleaned away and the the toe fully drained, I opened the incision further, freeing the loose balloon-like section of skin and trimming it away to reveal healthy pink toe flesh beneath, swabbing it with sterilizing fluid the whole while. Once that area was opened up and no more blood/crud flowed, I did a bit more cosmetic trimming of dead skin, some of which was connected to a now-useless hardened callus, so in a few minutes the toe, though raw, was clean and healthy-looking, so I again applied Betadine, swabbed the area again with a surgical gauze square, and then applied a layer of medi-honey, as I had been instructed to do when battling the issues I'd had with the toe in previous months. Once the hoey was packed firmly into the raw area, I covered it with a gauze square and tightly wrapped the toe with a stretchable surgical bandage that tightly takes on the form of whatever it's wrapped around and holds the shape until whenever I change the dressing.

All of that took perhaps fifteen minutes for cleanliness and precision care. My podiatrist taught me well.

I get picked up for dialysis in around five hours, so I will now attempt a few hours of sleep. Once I arrive at the center I will call my podiatrist's office and see if he is available to see me later this afternoon, post-dialysis. His usual hours at the office near me are on Thursdays, but he's a resident at Presbyterian-Methodist, which is also close by, so I hope to catch him. If he's not available, I will hightail it to the urgent care, just nine blocks down 5th Avenue, between 7th and 8th Streets, and let them check me out and give me a professional cleaning and dressing. I will also request a prescription for a strong antibiotic and I will follow whatever care instructions they give me. After that, we shall see what transpires next.

I'm concerned about this because I would prefer not to lose my remaining big toe but, to my admittedly untrained eye, it looks like I spotted and dealt with the current issue before it got too far along and went out of hand. That said, I await the word of a qualified medical professional before I fully relax. But having already been through the amputation of one great toe, I am not fearful if it should come to that again. I certainly hope not, but I am ready to do whatever it takes to keep the remaining big piggy.

Very much in "medical taking care of business" mode right now, and I will maintain that state of mind and focus until I see a professional this afternoon. I hope to be attended to in a little less than 12 hours.