Soundtrack: Hole — Live Through This

I scored a (great) pumpkin at the Atwater Market today, which we’ll carve on Thursday night (actually, Christine will take charge of that activity, beacause I’m reasonably certain that, if I were judged solely upon my ‘handicraft’ skills, I would not qualify as a primate). I managed to get Friday night off, so we’re gonna hand out some cheap candies and watch the greatest of the Hallowe’en specials, which Christine owns. (I don’t mean Garfield’s Hallowe’en, Schulzophiles!!!)

I have to work at eleven tomorrow morning, which is a frightening prospect. In fact, I’ve had to get up before noon an awful lot lately, and my skin’s not as green as I like it to be–must work on that… But save your pity for Christine–they’re making her work six days this week, at all kinds of times that she’s not used to (the price of promotion, I suppose)…

Anyway, I thought it would be fun tonight to run down some of the reasons why it’s so much fun to switch on the computer these days:

1–Sean Collins is creeping up on the greatest horror movie of all time, in his estimation. It’s all part of his Where the Monsters Go: The Thirteen Days of Halloween series, and it’s very much worth anyone’s time, even if they (like me) don’t really go in for horror. The big unveiling will be on Friday. The list includes some of the usual suspects, like Night of the Living Dead and Wicker Man, some brave deviations (like picking The Birds over Psycho) and some just plain inspired juxtapositions from outside of the traditional parameters of the genre, most notably Barton Fink.

The works he discusses are unified by what he terms their ability to generate a sense of “awful certainty”, and it’s an extremely well-thought-out enterprise. It’s so well-thought-out, in fact, that I just can’t resist tossing my own (insufficient) funds into Sean’s fount of horror. The two films that horrify me the most are: Scorsese’s After Hours and David Salle’s Search And Destroy. The two movies are linked, in a lot of ways: Scorsese’s involvement (he produced S & D, and played a great part in it, as an evil tax auditor), Griffin Dunne plays manic characters in both, Rosanna Arquette’s presence, etc. But, mainly, what unites them is the way that they take an aesthetic that I live (and create) by–namely, that the sheer opacity of the world is the only reason for us to go on groping in the dark as we do–and turn it into a paralyzing force, rather than, as it is for me, a perpetually energizing sense of uncertainty. Both movies expose ideas of mine that threaten to become platitudes, if not carefully watched, stuff like “everything in the world is more important than the subject that experiences it” and “the beauty of other people is that they are unknowable and their actions cannot be scripted”. This is all well and good, but if you find yourself, as Griffin Dunne does, actually on the run from these people (crazy Greenwhich-Villagers who might as well have pitchforks!!), due to a complete inability to communicate even something as basic as “I come in peace” to them, you’re going to start wishing that there was some way to achieve perfect communion with another soul in a hurry–not that these movies ever offer up that possibility… After Hours is probably the better film, but S & D is more quotable. Dennis Hopper, as a Tony-Robbins-like guru named Dr. Waxling, gives out constantly with his “four rules for success” (1.the past is pointless; 2. just because it happened to you, doesn’t make it interesting; 3. the things we apologize for, are the things we want; 4. strength needs no excuse); Walken, as a bored businessman-on-a-crime-spree, says “You can’t have an adventure without a gun”; Turturro has a crazy rant about smashing people at a Met game with a baseball bat; when Walken gets up at a karaoke bar to perform a song-and-dance tour-de-force, Dunne turns to Illeana Douglas, with a goofy grin, and says, “that’s my friend”; earlier, when Dunne has burst into the television studio, in a desperate attempt to contact Dr. Waxling about getting the rights to film his book (Daniel Strong), he finds himself handcuffed in a chair–Ethan Hawke, playing a weaselly aide named Roger, emerges from darkness to gloat over the would-be entrepreneur. Dunne says: “Is this (the handcuffing) really necessary?” Some extra in a rent-a-cop uniform tells him: “Your behaviour made it necessary.” That’s amazing stuff. And to top it all off, in the middle of all of this hipper-than-hip mile-a-minute banter, Illeana Douglas has a heart-breaking moment (when she is “untimely ripped” away from her birthday celebration, and ushered toward an inevitable bloodbath) where she looks back, to a site where a dream of conviviality had still seemed possible, and says, quaveringly: “my…my…coat…my, uh, cake.” Now that’s my idea of horror!

2.Moving right along, we find Eve Tushnet, praising Carnival of Souls, which I just taped, and am planning to watch tonight; and defending Grosse Pointe Blank against the aforementioned Mr. Collins’ assault. I agree with you Eve. It’s a pretty good film, and pretty damned wholesome, in the final analysis…

3.Johnny Bacardi has posted a short tribute to Elsa Lanchester, a big favourite of mine–mainly because of her her work in Rembrandt(1936), which is one of the best movies about an artist that I’ve ever seen…

4.Bill Sherman has contributed a beautiful Hallowe’en post on EC Horror in general, and the brief adventures of Hartley Quimb

5.J.W. Hastings has taken a break from his Miller vs. Moore showdown to consider the matter of comics blogging vs. message-board scuffling. (This discussion too, was launched by the worthy Sean at All too Flat.) And still, the world (or, at least, I) awaits J.W.’s thoughts on the matter of Gruewnwald’s Squadron Supreme + the resolution of the battle for the hearts and minds of “adult” super-hero readers (my money’s on Moore).

6.Franklin Harris links to a brief article on “Ol’ Hickory”–Andrew Jackson. And this always gets me excited! If you think we’ve had some wingnut presidents in our lifetimes, my friends, then you don’t know Andrew. This is a man who, while in office, actually said–for the record–“the Bank is trying to kill me, but I will kill it!!!” Sure, whatever dude…Also, the people in the Democratic party that tried to carry his legacy into the 1840s were popularly known as “Locofocos”–never mind about why!!!

7.Darren Madigan states, in no uncertain terms, his reasons for disagreeing so strongly with my take on Marvel in general, and my take on Englehart in particular. Not all of it is fair (and he admits that), but it’s very forcefully expressed, and, well, it’s his opinion, and the guy is worth listening to–although we are never going to come to terms on this issue, and I will match his passion for Marvel’s Silver Age against mine any time…(how many points for tie?) There’s also an amusing four-panel cartoon in the header–which is worth a look.

8.And Neilalien has a link to the best chicken game in the world!!

I could go on (singing), but I’ll stop for now. Madcap tomorrow!!!

Good Night friends


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