…That month (Aug. – Dec. 2011)

~ DECEMBER ~

Lindsay Lohan. …Have I already written too much?

Not quite a train wreck. Maybe a Tata Nano mishap.

Nevertheless, during this passing year she dominated headlines in bottom-feeder news outlets like TMZ and the sort. Lohan was in and out of courtrooms more often than a Sugar Hill pimp. Finally, she got herself together with community service in L.A. County’s morgue.

That would scare anyone straight.

DSK: Pays to know people

Other big legal stuff in 2011: Dr. Conrad Murray was convicted and Casey Anthony was not. First outrage over the Gulf Coast Medea walking free – then relief that at least the guy whose egregious carelessness killed the King of Pop got years in the slammer after his day in court.

But it was the smaller fry that really exposed not only Western approach to justice, but media’s approach to it, as well.

After serving several years for a crime she didn’t commit, Italian justice finally freed American student Amanda Knox from her prison cell last summer. Through it all, American and international media painted her alternately as innocent victim of circumstance, or sex-crazed murderess. She seemed to fulfill a bizarre Euro fixation with beautiful American women, and perception they are evil temptresses, scheming Lolitas under the surface. None of that mattered in the end. Overwhelming lack of proof did: There was simply not one shred of physical evidence she killed her roommate.

On the other side of the spectrum, arrest on rape charges of Dominque Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, was an ugly show of just how much heft is enjoyed by the wealthy and connected. His accuser, an African-immigrant hotel maid, was crucified in the press for circumstances that had nothing to do with the case. Her alleged character flaws finally were only citation for abandonment of the case by New York prosecutors.

What remains a stickler for those championing “DSK”, is the fact that at least one other woman is claiming he sexually assaulted her in the past. We can be sure little will be done about that, as well.

~ O ~

~ AMERICAN CARRION ~

Guess… he… couldn’t Cheetah death. Yuk, yuk…

He had banana breath and probably crapped where he ate, but he still tops that dead limey asshole…

About the only cast member to survive “Tarzan” castigation in the oh-so righteous ’60s was Cheetah, that lovable roustabout chimp who was the Ape Man’s sidekick and stole every scene he was in. Even as the films’ bad-whitey racism and unconscious imperialism were soundly trounced, nobody had the gall to run down the primate comic. He was just too… fun. Well, all fun must end: Cheetah’s dead at 80. I don’t know which scrap of information floors me more – that Cheetah was still alive up until Christmas Eve, or that chimps live to be 80.

Some doubt it.

“To say 80 is really pushing it. In this record, there has never been a chimp that has lived that long,” (chimp wrangler Steve) Ross says. “I’d paint myself as skeptical in this case.” The Washington Post already rained on this parade in 2008:

“The idea that this Cheetah could have appeared in these films, had this long career, and now had this wonderful retirement is ridiculous.”

Nevertheless, evidence that the dead monkey isn’t the original Cheetah is as sketchy and unconvincing that he is, so until we all join hands in the Big Jungle Gym in the sky, I say this is the guy.

~ O ~

~ AMERICAN CARRION ~

It’s either “American Carrion” or “Dead Limey Asshole”…

For much of the 20th Century, Britain’s upper clahhhsss maintained a very presentational, ultimately ridiculous love affair with Marxism. The veddy proper lapped up “An Inspector Calls” while vouching secret support for capers of the Guy Burgess/Anthony Blunt ring of drawing-room spies. Like their American counterparts in that cloyingly adored pursuit, it’s amazing so many champions of peace, freedom and civil rights were more than willing to turn the keys over to a monster like Joseph Stalin. But, then again, those years were beginning of a postmodern era that prizes emotional mesmerism over intellectual logic. It won’t be missed…

But a few out there probably will miss Christopher Hitchens, bush-league English writer, social critic and professional drunk. …At least remember him. He was the guy who tore a new one into Mother Theresa, of all people.

“[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor,” Hitchens said. “She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”

Hitchens himself never sacrificed anything for the poor, although he was charter member of that dying Brit caste of silver-spoon revolutionaries. His crusades against workers’ chains generally ran to tapping at his keyboard and tippling at the nearest open bottle; his campaigns against organized religion were more rant than brief. But it’s not impressive that a Jew would confine his blasts to the Catholic Church; easy to note motes in someone else’s eye, after all. And it’s telling that such a cosmopolitan Lefty would be such an early and earnest supporter of the Iraq invasion.

Sometimes motivations are more tribal than social, it seems…

Anyway, Hitchens keeled at 62 today (12/16). Somewhere a drunk tank is lonely.

~ O ~

A homegrown spring if ever…

Way back in the day with I was sorta young, National Lampoon published its trashing of a typical mid-American Sunday paper, complete with comics and shopper insert for gardening items that included “big bags of cow shit”. It was hilarious for anyone reading, but especially for those like me, who actually worked on small-town dailies back in the’70s and knew the geography painfully well.

One brilliant gag ribbed a major trait of these rags: Any local angle on any story is spotlighted over any  other aspect, no matter how newsworthy. “Local Woman Survives Japanese Storm” was bannered, and in the corner of the front page was small item, “Japan Destroyed by Earthquake”.

Al Salaam: Fairey on the cover

We’re awfully proud of our City of the Angels. So it was with some strutting, I’ll bet, when this appeared in the L.A. Times:

A steely eyed woman with a bandanna wrapped around her face stares out from the cover of Time magazine.

The magazine chose “The Protester” as its annual person of the year – a nod to political revolutionaries in Egypt, in Greece and on Wall Street – and the image is meant to evoke the throngs who took to the streets worldwide to call for change. But the origins of the image lie much closer to home. The woman pictured is Sarah Mason, a Highland Park resident and an active member of Occupy L.A.

Now, how do you like that, OWS? And another question: Who knew anyone still gives a shit about Time “Person of the Year”?

~ NOVEMBER ~

Drop the damn 4S or I’ll drop you…

It’s called Black Friday because that’s supposedly when retailers make their sales year a profitable one – “in the black”. There was some red this year’s day after Thanksgiving, though, with shopper excitement peppered with some shootings and… spray.

In Porter Ranch (CA), a woman pepper sprayed customers at a Wal-Mart in what authorities say was a deliberate attempt to get more “door buster” merchandise. In San Leandro, a Wal-Mart shopper walking to his car was shot and wounded in a suspected robbery early Friday. Another shooting was reported at a parking lot next to a Wal-Mart in South Carolina, also a suspected robbery attempt. Officials told WMBF-TV they believe the robbery was tied to Black Friday.

At Porter Ranch, 20 customers, including children, were hurt in the 10:10 p.m. incident, officials said. Shoppers complained of minor skin and eye irritation and sore throats. “This was customer-versus-customer ‘shopping rage,’” said Los Angeles Police Lt. Abel Parga. The woman used the spray in more than one area of the Wal-Mart “to gain preferred access to a variety of locations in the store,” said Los Angeles Fire Capt. James Carson. “She was competitive shopping,” he said.

 That’s gotta be one of 2011′s most-memorable understatements.

~ O ~

Cold case, damp death…

Just when we were convinced it was safe to go back in the water, along comes news that L.A. Sheriff’s Department is reopening the 1981 drowning death of Natalie Wood. Thirty years ago, almost to the day, she apparently fell off a boat near Santa Catalina Island; it was there she’d been partying with her husband, actor Robert Wagner.

The Los Angeles Times reported that detectives were prompted to look at the case again after comments by the ship’s captain, Dennis Davern. He was recently interviewed for a collaboration between the magazine Vanity Fair and the television series “48 Hours Mystery” that focuses on Wood’s death. [Huff Post]

Well, jeepers, if CBS and Vanity Fair sees smoke there must be fire.

Wood’s film career lasted 35 years, and she successfully transitioned from child star, to teen ingenue (her appearance with James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” became iconic for succeeding generations), to mature adult actress with real dramatic heft.

Frequently this season, she’ll be seen as most Americans first remember her: In “Miracle on 34th Street”, she was a charming child convinced her doubts about Santa’s existence are shaken by a Macy’s department-store incarnation.

Oddly, Woods was preceded in death earlier in November 1981 by William Holden. He was boyfriend of Stephanie Powers, Wagner’s co-star in then-running “Hart to Hart” on television. Hmm.

~ O ~

Just can’t help myself…

Either we’re product of our genetic inheritance or of our environment in first, crucial years of life. That’s the nature vs. nurture argument which for decades has clouded in politics genetic research. The Left argues for environment – that traits are stamped into us by what we enjoy or suffer in those determinant years. Research has always pointed to our genes, however – that “nature” scoops “nurture” in almost atomic-level within us.

Now, findings in a Stanford University project muddy waters considerably. Seems what we do in our life may leave a genetic “memory” passed on to succeeding generations. It may be our nurture – or lack of it – our children inherit, as well as nature of our DNA.

Anne Brunet, associate professor of genetics at Stanford, said: ‘Genetic traits from our parents may not be the only thing we inherit.’

“This is very important, as what we do can affect the next generation. “We do not know how yet but it could be diet, pollution, smoking, all sorts of medications, exposure to radiation and stress. “Our bodies could have a memory of the lifestyles of our ancestors.

“This shows that longevity can be inherited in a non-genetic way over several generations and that is very exciting.”

So… if you leave your damn cigarettes at the bar, you’re children may have a itch to smoke, drink and swear even before they pop out into the world.

 ~ OCTOBER ~

Wake me when it’s over…

Almost 22 years to the day after the devastating Loma Prieta Quake, and hours after the San Francisco Bay Area practiced quake safety in its annual “Great California Shake-Out”, Northern California was hit Thursday (10/20) by a couple of earthquakes that rattled nerves and had everyone jabbering about Mother Nature’s dark synchronicity. That last one I know occurred because I lived in SF a quarter-century and was jolted to my knees in the longest 15 seconds of my life – the 1989 Loma Prieta temblor. In SF, period after a quake is rare occasion  nobody thinks about the Niners or street people.

It takes a certain sense of fatality to live in Baghdad by the Bay. The City and surrounding territory were altered forever a couple of decades ago, and SF was leveled by quake and fire 105 years back. So, skittishness is understandable. And so, perhaps, sense that another Big One will happen at some point, and could happen any second… So why worry?

~ O ~

Nobody messes with The Claw…

Actress and busybody activist Susan Sarandon has been undergoing a baptism of hot water since she said the Pope is a Nazi at the Hamptons International Film Festival Saturday. One of the critics is none other than chief of the Anti-Defamation League. That’s right, that group always on the lookout for antisemitism – even declaring its presence on flimsiest of evidence – has come down hard on this occasion of Godwin’s Law.

No. The group isn’t defending Pope Benedict. Apples and oranges, you know. The ADL apparently is defending its virtual copyright of Nazi accusation.

Foxman scratches away

“Ms. Sarandon may have her differences with the Catholic Church, but that is no excuse for throwing around Nazi analogies,” ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman said Monday in a statement suggesting the actress apologize to the Catholic community. “Such words are hateful, vindictive and only serve to diminish the true history and meaning of the Holocaust.”

…A little overdone, don’t you think, Abe?

Foxman, who favors making the Sign of the Claw when photographed, also came down hard on Hank Williams Jr. several days ago, when the country-western and Monday Night Football star said President Obama sitting down with Speaker of the House John Boehner would be like “Hitler playing golf with (Israeli prime minister Benjamin) Netanyahu”. At least Sarandon showed admirable coherence – even if the twit did go too far. And I’m thinking about sensibilities of Catholics, not Foxman. A little consideration for others, Susan; otherwise, you deserve none yourself.

Why do we pay so much attention to this stuff, anyway? And who cares what a dimwit actress says about the Pope, Nazis or frozen pizza?

C’mon! The only reason I’m writing about it is… science…

And who the hell knew there’s a film festival in the Hamptons? What? High rents and pneumatically high-pressure egos aren’t enough?

~ O ~

Achtung, partiers…

America’s German immigrants and their healthy, tow-headed descendants are  scattered throughout the U.S. They gathered in their own settlements from Pennsylvania through the Rust Belt to the Upper Midwest, and even unlikely places like the midlands of Texas, which boasts Lone Star Beer – its state brew – for that very reason. (Much like Tsingtao, that gourmet Chinese beer, is brewed in China’s old German colony.)

K. Kardashian & suds

Everywhere they went, Germans brought their lager and pretzels, their weinerschitzl and bratwurst. Comprising what is probably the largest population of Deutschlanders free of collective guilt over that little mishap called the first half of the 20th century, they also brought their autumnal celebration, Oktoberfest.

On scattered weekend days throughout this month, L.A.’s annual Germanophile blowout will heft brews at several locations throughout the city of angels. …Just like everywhere else.

And just like everywhere else, L.A. has compulsion to jazz it up a little with a little music from the likes of Ray Bandini Revue and their all female singers, and Bavarian beer maids who look like their costumes came from a Fredericks of Hollywood garage sale. Yawoll!

~ O ~

~ AMERICAN CARRION ~

 A dream, a team, and some emotional punching bags

When I was working for a newspaper chain in Alameda County in the early ’80s, I’d drive to work each day passing headquarters of the Oakland Raiders, just west of the Nimitz Freeway and across what old New West Magazine called “the worst freeway in California” from Oakland Coliseum’s twin sports canisters, grey and forbidding, surrounded by a parking lot so big a 747 could emergency-land with room left over for an artillery range.

'Nation' of one: Big Al lets off steam

Self-regarded as brilliant and aware of my surroundings the way a cat burglar senses careless wealth, I noted the building was singularly ugly, mostly Raiders’ signature black – about four stories of crummy shoebox. I say “about” four stories because it was devoid of that signal feature denoting separation between floor and ceiling: windows. Running this feature past a sports writer, I was told the Raiders GM took out all the windows, saying, “I pay people to work, not stare at scenery.”

It’s impossible to say how that GM, Al Davis, will be remembered generally now that he’s gone through that big stadium vomitorium in the sky. But to Raiders fans, even knowing the guy was a bust-out asshole of assholes, he could do little wrong. He took the team from a coaching job in the early ’60s to the storied franchise it is today. If there are legends in the NFL, the Raiders certainly are among those. Five Super Bowls, three wins – with one of the losses at hands of Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers at SB II.

Because of their silver and black image as bad-boys of the game, most American male football fans have been Oaktown fans at least once in their lives – usually as overly dramatic, under-vetted teenagers. And there were some outlaws – John “Tooz” Matusek, who died still fighting a charge of busting up a male strip club one night; the much-fractured Jim Otto, the double ’0′ himself; Lyle Alzado, a Raider after being committed to mental institutions a couple of times. And, of course, Ken “Snake” Stabler, the team’s first winning Q, whom a reporter claimed set him up for a drug bust cause he didn’t like the way he wrote about him.

Every season, fans would grouse Raiders would be better without Davis “fooling with it”. But in their heart of hearts, they were in awe. Supposedly he never said, “Just win, baby.” But his team did often enough to build a diehard fan base – citizens of the colorful, profane “Raider Nation.”

Davis was its only prime minister, and in that capacity, one of kind.

~ O ~

The rubber guy is one bedtime bad-ass, that’s fer sure…

Watching “American Horror Story” last night got me thinking about how difficult it is to shock and surprise Americans right now. We’ve just about seen it all. I don’t even watch commercials all jacked up with computer generated imagery anymore; I’m too old for cartoons.

The beginning was inauspicious. Killing children is getting old, as is ironic use of childlike, innocent melodies to counterpoint growing tension, pre-bloodletting. The jarring, quick cuts seem to telegraph “aren’t I cutting-edge”? Yes, you are – in 1995. And no more old photos, spooky 19th-century dolls and shadowy figures moving furtively in darkened doorways – ever.

But acting is first rate, especially Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, Frances Conroy and Evan Peters as a young psych patient who may be a psycho or ghost – or both. The story of a very troubled family relocating to exactly the wrong ’20s-vintage McMansion in L.A. is hobbled at times by those cliche scares, but at its brightest creating unexpected fascination in ‘everyday’ of confrontational neighbors and marital malaise. And there are moments that conjure real-life horror – as in Joe Everyman’s family massacre and a young maniac stalking the halls of his high school, Columbine-style.

The “American Horror Story” pilot has aired on FX. And anyone who watched thinks it’s either the worst, most jumbled, depraved excuse for television ever, or a brilliantly audacious, twistedly compelling piece of work.

Either way, all parties can probably agree that the latest prime-time entry from “Glee” co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk makes the once-regarded-as-bizarre “Twin Peaks” look like “According to Jim.” [Washington Post]

My companion Jane also noted FX tips the show too heavily to 20-somethings. Amid loooong commercials of super-violent video games are weed-munchie ads for chub-a-tub tacos and swollen hotdogs as big as my torso. “They know the audience will get high to watch,” she said. Actually, looking at those fatdogs, I wished I was high.

By the way, the “rubber guy” may or may not be a ghost or star Dylan MacDermott in an S&M muff-diver body glove.

~ SEPTEMBER ~

Tidier approach? Divorce.

This could be one of those “sign of the times” things – like Duncan yo-yo’s and assassination of charismatic leaders, but I saw this as my AOL email creaked open:

Blood stains can be tricky. Once they’ve set they’re almost impossible to get out, so they need to be treated right away. Here, Eric Stromer shows you three easy methods on how to tackle blood on clothing, depending on how stubborn the stain is. After your clothes have been treated, they can go right in the wash and should look just like new.

The accompanying video can only be seen if I reload my Adobe Flash Player – which I dumped to save memory on my pre-Crimean War PC. I’m tempted – but that’s the key word. I don’t want a lot of pointers that assemble into any action becoming more and more irresistable.

~ O ~

Good to know someone’s on our side…

About 150,000 years ago, amid the last Ice Age, I was in a play with Jack Black at San Francisco’s venerable Magic Theatre. (The show was written by vastly under-appreciated David Barth.) Black and some other Actors’ Gang personnel had traveled north from Los Angeles to flesh out the production.

Jack has gone on to much bigger and better things. That was brought home for me, yet again, last night, when he reportedly attended a $17,000 a plate fund-raising dinner for President Obama in West Hollywood – and I munched reheated BBQ’d hamburger in the Valley.

Anyone who can find a way to reinvest leftover BBQ with that smoky zest it has just off the grill will undoubtedly be a millionaire overnight. …But I digress.

I couldn’t have afforded the rock-bottom $250 entrance fee to stand in the gallery at the House of Blues and cheer on each sound bite, much less the $35 grand-a-couple shot for the Fig and Olive dinner. Nevertheless, at both appearances, Obama talked about the economy and how “we’re all suffering”.

Here’s an idea, and I’m putting myself out there for this: Next time the campaign mentions the ongoing recession, give me a call to show up as physical example. My modest paycheck buys less and my future is brightened only by my immediate family – not diminished hope things will improve anytime soon.

I could just stand there, with my hands in my pockets. The president occasionally could refer to me – “Now, take this schlub… please! (laughter)” – and then I’d be available afterwards to answer questions from the Beautiful People, muttering in monosyllables about my busted car and that impromptu liquor still in the old garage out back.

How about it? Oh… and I get a free plate of chow for my trouble. …Never had $17,000 food before.

~ O ~

Sometimes even warlocks must check a calendar…

Obviously aware where their bread is buttered, The Stonehenge Tour Company site notes,

Each year on the 23rd September Druids and Pagans gather at Stonehenge early in the morning to mark the Spring Equinox and to see the sunrise above the stones.

Well, if the aging, chanting, candle-waving, dope-smoking hippies show up on that date next year, they’ll be a day late for the equinox. And they’ll be off by two seasons from the Spring Equinox. Beginning of fall is the 23rd this year, but it varies between that date and the 22nd. In fact, it can come as late as the 24th,  which it did most recently in 1931; it won’t hit that day again until 2303, so save the date! Can’t wait? Well, hang around until 2092, and the equinox will occur on Sept. 21 – about the earliest it comes.

Incidentally, that year is also the 600th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. It’s very trendy to despise Columbus these days, mostly because trendy folk also tend to be stupid folk. Look at it this way: If it wasn’t for Columbus, they’d be celebrating the equinox somewhere else. That’s not a bad idea.

People like to get all sanctimonious about history because a rather large proportion of white people have both guilt complex and need to feel morally superior to the next pale homo sapiens (under no conditions do they judge morality of other cultures). It’s easy to inveigh against history, and stupidly apply our hypocritical standards to it. It’s safe. History is dead.

I wish there was a way to send trendy folk to the dark side of the moon, so I could enjoy a guilt-free equinox Friday.

~ O ~

'Reeker': Arielle Kebbel

It’s Showtime!…

Believe it or not, this is not an advertisement for the cable channel. It’s just that now, in my dwindling-resources stage of life, I’ve trimmed all my cable pay-channels but one. Two actually, since Time-Warner customers in my neck of the woods also get The Movie Channel thrown in.

Not bad. Not for cable-series fans, anyway. You’ve got “Weeds”, with the great, blowsy Mary-Louise Parker as a middle-American soccer mom turned dope pusher. I saw its first season years ago, and have tuned back in for its seventh. Boy… things have changed for these Beaver-Cleaver pothead OGs. Mom was sent to prison, there have been mob shootouts and deaths in the family. All the while, joints are rolled, pipes are filled and that sweet, sweet bud gets (as they said in my day) toked.

Showtime series, in fact, make a habit of featuring characters walking the wild side or desperately living. “The Big C” has Laura Linney suffering just that - terminally ill and trying to come to terms with it. And it’s mostly comedy! “Dexter” is cop and serial killer all in one – and a damn fine hour-long drama. I like “United States of Tara” simply because Toni Collette (“The Sixth Sense”) is such a great actress. And what’s not to like about a character whose disassociative disorder embues her with multiple personalities?

Shortcomings of the networks? Showtime and TMC never change their download, Late Night hard-R, T&A cheapies. C’mon. How ’bout some more Misty Mundae? She’s the Grace Kelly of fake orgasms. Or maybe re-cut trip-X like the old Playboy Channel used to show in the long-ago ’80s. The classics! Harry Reems. John Leslie. Amber tittie-fuckin’ Lynn! C’mon!

And the featured movies are a little on the budgie side. Last weekend, big centerpiece was the gross-out remake of “Piranha” from last year. If you’ve seen one Jerry-O’Connell dick get munched, you’ve pretty much seen them all.

But hidden in among the crap-outs are a few hidden gems of horror:

  • REEKER (2005) – This is the usual “scared kids at the abandoned site”- this time a desert roadhouse – getting offed by some mysterious force of darkness. It’s nothing special, but a bright, attractive cast of unknowns and some sly direction by Dave Payne make it a watchable hour and a half. Title is from the stench that precedes each slice-and-dice. And before you say that sounds stupid – ’cause it does – remember that any B-movie which spawns a prequel must’ve raised a few profitable goosebumps; that was “No Man’s Land: Rise of Reeker” and, no, I haven’t seen it. There are chills and several laugh-out-loud moments. What more do you want?
  • NAKED FEAR” (2007) – David Mamet muse Joe Mantegna was flown in for about two hours to shoot his scenes as the most unbeliveable New Mexico sheriff this side of Steppenwolf Theatre, but this little variation on “Most Dangerous Game” has beautiful scenery and a few scares. In a set-up reminiscent also of “Naked Prey” (maybe intentional, given the title) a very resourceful young stripper is stripped naked and chased through the Sunshine State’s glorious outback by a serial killer and former big-game hunter. Danielle De Luca, alumus of several low-budget indies, does a great job in the principal role. The ending, which goes all “Death Wish” feminist, is lame, though.
  • WALLED IN (2009) – Strange beauty Deborah Kara Unger (“The Game”) could read cereal boxes and make it fascinating. She’s matriarch of a strange, scary building  - brainchild of a strange, scary architect - that’s set for demolition. Mischa Barton is the young structural expert sent to ready it for collapse. The last tenants don’t like the idea, and every one of them could populate an entirely different nightmare. It’s not a masterpiece, by any stretch, but in the same way the brooding Overlook Hotel dominated “The Shining”, the bizarre edifice here, in which unfortunates were buried alive to access some occult vitality, giveS this movie an unsettling perimeter. Oddly, though, this is the weakest entry in this list.
  • TRIANGLE (2009) – For imaginative sci-fi, you can’t do much better than this. Not one actor in the Australian cast is familiar, but all are first-rate, playing an American yachting party lost in the ghostly space and time of the Bermuda Triangle. There are nice little touches here and there – riffs on the nature of identity and our utter dependence on linear time as signpost – and nurturer. Recommended.

For bored diversion, try out 2009′s “The Dunwich Horror”. A made-for-download movie, this dodgy version of the horror classic by H.P. Lovecraft is interesting mostly for featuring Dean Stockwell in the “van Helsing” role of occult master/Greek chorus. Stockwell starred in the not-bad 1970 AIP version. If anything, comparing the two reminds us of how important sex is to horror. The new version is sterile; the older one eroticized Sandra Dee(!) Also, Stockwell could have easily sleepwalked this one – and doesn’t. He’s a pro – in fact, a classy pro -and always great to watch.

~ O ~

I gotta face the fact I’m just 9/11′d out…

A week from tomorrow is the dreaded 10th anniversary of the Millennium’s first Defining Moment and already you can’t fart in a bathtub with out that airborne terror attack bubbling up. Lately, I’ve noticed poll after poll indicate Americans are sick and tired of our overseas wars and want them to end, but I don’t get that feeling of dispassion from our media. Something there is about our War in Error that really captivates the Fifth Estate – to the point it threw off all its better instincts and went whole-hog into war promotion a decade ago.

One of the reasons the 10th anniversary isn’t get much zip from the country at large is that we go through a big phony-patriotism frenzy every year at this time, like a World War II bond sale without bonds – or a necessary war. Know what? I think the country at large has its fill of the date and resultant stupid policy that has committed us to generational war on Islam – but that’s just me.

As it is, I’ve put myself down as one of the people who just won’t watch, listen or read this year. It was an incident, not a condition. Let’s move on.

~ AUGUST ~

Earthquakes, hurricanes… Look for a Mayan in the haystack

How can I resist calling my brother as he and his family batten down hatches in North Salem and await Irene’s fury – to admonish him for iniquity he and all Sodomite New York have committed to bring this wrath of God upon their heads?

Yeah… he doesn’t think it’s funny, either.

The core of the storm is expected to make landfall late today (8/26) or early tomorrow in North Carolina, but its outer bands already are tearing up the Atlantic coast and two persons have died. New York is expecting some pretty furious outlying storms. In a worst-case scenario, they could flood transit systems in low-lying Manhattan’s south-central and possibly cause power outages – a New York serial crisis since the big blackout of 1965.

Not exactly doomsday, but when anything affects intricate metabolism that is the Atlantic “megalopolis”, it could be a red-letter date.

~ O ~

Not quite a Kennedy…

…So it’s a tossup whether you remember where you were when you heard Elvis Presley had died – dropped dead out of nowhere on a toilet in his Graceland Mansion. He was fat, alone and hopelessly addicted to a buffet-spread of pills. But he was the King of Rock ‘n Roll – what do you expect?

It was 34 years ago today, just in case you’re interested why I’m ruminating on this. He’s be a spry 76 if he’d made it out of the crapper, changed his diet and went cold-turkey on all those toxins. But he was the King of Rock ‘n Roll. Somehow, I don’t see him in AIRP, hocking reverse mortgages in deep cable.

~ O ~

~ AMERICAN CARRION ~

Relic of a time when our politics wasn’t infantile

For anyone who grew up in the 1960s, and came of age in the ’70s, Mark Hatfield was familiar as leading light among what was then called “moderate Republicans”. Don’t faint, kids: There was a time when an entire wing of the party felt compromise was an art, and there was no such thing as victory in any political fight unless all glory and attendant booty went to the country, not to infighters and bickering petty tyrants who’ll do just about anything to win.

They were derided by those farther Right as “Nixonians” or “Rockefeller Republicans”. Finally, they were stuck with diminution that survives today – RINO, Republicans in Name Only. Hatfield was joined MORs like Lowell Weicker, Everett Dirksen, Howard Baker and several others as faction many arch-conservatives hated worse than the Democrats. In the interim, they helped get ’60s landmark Civil Rights legislation approved after Southern Democrats deserted their party, kept the lid on the kettle during and after Watergate, and helped move the country out of the ragged tumult of those times. A radicalized Congress then, as we have now, would’ve been disastrous in a time that deperately needed safe and sane compromise and found little.

“He has voted according to his conscience, without regard to the politics of the matter. That by itself is unusual,” said former Oregon Gov. Victor Atiyeh, the state’s last Republican governor, an office Hatfield himself held from 1959 to 1967. “He harkens back to a period of time when people would say, “I didn’t agree with him on that, but I’m sure he had a reason for it.’ Instead of, ‘I didn’t agree with him, and I’m going to get him next time,’ which is what happens now.” [L.A. Times]

Hatfield, who died earlier this week, served as governor of Oregon before becoming Senator in 1967, and he stayed there 30 years. It’s looking like we won’t see the like of him again in our lifetimes, given strain of typical Capitol Hill Republicans today.

~ O ~

Let them eat cake.

Lotta birthdays this week. President Obama. Lucille Ball. The Worldwide Web.

Yep. That’s right. The Web, not the Interet, is 20 years old. Where did the time go? It just seems like yesterday we were getting accustomed to eight-track and now all this. Twenty years ago, no one expected the Web to be accessible by a phone that also took photos and told you where the hell you were. When I was in grade school, I never expected to sit at a keyboard and type something anyone in the world could see, although I don’t think I can hope to have a worldwide web of readers in this lifetime.

Wow. All that and www gets to share a birthday week with Obama and Ball. A dead star of the past and a dying political future.

THIS MONTH Jan.-July 2011 here