Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Everything I Like/Love Is Fucking Horrible

By that, I'm NOT talking about something like THE ROOM (I hate that shit)... or things like action movies, 'charmingly bad' media or anything along those lines.

I was gifted with a Blu-ray set of JOHNNY QUEST for Christmastime, a show I loved watching on Saturday mornings growing up; a true Boy's Show with adventure & action in foreign lands, lots of cool science stuff and a body count. Also noticeable watching it as a somewhat aware adult is the casual racism/sexism, which made for a darkly amusing drinking game and a LOT of alcohol.

I'm a genre fan, and I'm Black (or P.O.C. if you like a mouthful of terms), and what becomes very apparent after a short amount of time is that, just as in Real Life, a good majority of things that are produced are NOT produced with any thought that someone like me might actually enjoy or find any worth in it. So, any criticism is met with quite a bit of mob-swarm and butt-hurt, and any variation that doesn't immediately pander to that core (White, Male) audience will be seen as an abject failure if it doesn't perform at the boxoffice or in ratings.

You find quite a bit of this in fandom - science-fiction (rather ironic, in a way), horror, fantasy; even in some rather niche strata like film music fans. And yes, NOT EVERYBODY, of course, but even if it is a minority, it's a pretty fucking loud one.

I wasn't looking for a Grand Metaphor here, but as recent events have taken place and watching how it all unfolds - again, and reporters & pundits trying to make sense of it all - again, it appears that it sums up Our Particular Problem in a graspable manner:

Everything I Like/Love Is Fucking Horrible.

How do I reconcile that? Can you even do so? A lot of that stuff is baked-in, so as much as some can attempt to mitigate it (like recent adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs "Tarzan" and the Lovecraft Cultural Explosion), there's always a certain core remnant that's there and it can't be excised.

You can, however, use it to comment on how things were and how certain behavior and beliefs are no longer appropriate/in vogue from a contemporary viewpoint. But that original is always around in some form. You can hide it, ignore it, pretend it has no effect or value - but the forbidden has its allure, especially when it goes underground.

You can also put it out for all to see, in all its ugliness - and also the context for it. "Yes, it was Wrong, but for quite a while, Most didn't think so."

You can also attempt to just get rid of it all, Start from Zero. That's a bit drastic and makes a lot of assumptions and has no guarantee at all of success, unless you take seriously the concept of ZERO.

There are no pat answers... I don't have any. But I can say this - whenever we get to these moments of Wrestling With The Soul, we always choose the Lazy Way, the Path of Least Resistance, and you're seeing the result of what happens when things get kicked down the road and aren't confronted.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Idiot(s) In The Room

Before I get to the Official Kickoff, I think it's best that we get certain things out of the way while we can. As this is written, (5/13), we're near the end of Phase I of this pandemic and already people are behaving like this has already been Worst Staycation Ever, or at least that's how most of the major media is presenting it. Here in Topeka, although Covid-19 has reached the city & county, there's not a sense of approaching dread - although there's a certain number of people out & about without masks, there's a substantial amount that are wearing masks... fortunately, there's not a lot of overt racism on display - yet. Then again, I'm not out everyday trying to assess that.

We're seeing System Failure In Real Time, and it appears to be too much for most to handle. It's not the slow erosion that allowed people to adjust over the last three years, this is immediate 'shock and awe' as the adage that most Americans were a paycheck or two away from disaster gets proven large scale.

I'm a 'glass half-full' person in the best of times and the one consistent conclusion to be gleaned from the past couple of months to the present, what I've seen is this:

NOBODY KNOWS SHIT.

True, there is info available, which if one is a person who's able to do some critical thinking and able to weigh the merits/concerns of fact vs. fiction, you can tentatively navigate your way through. Judging from what one sees however, there's not even half of the country's population who seems to be capable of that. Which is not that surprising - when you demonize & politicize factual science and expertise because it helps in convincing people that climate change doesn't exist, then it's even harder to convince people that there is a pandemic, until the hospitals fill up and bodies start stacking.

The response to this has been a complete clusterfuck, with the current Federal Government not taking the lead on this, since the President is doing anything he can to try to avoid any responsibility (and thus, any blame). But not just him - across the board, very few are really wanting to confront the Cold, Hard Facts of what needs to be done to get the country through this. Mainly due to the ever increasing realization that the whole perception of  'Normal' is really not going to work as before - not that it worked all that well, but it made people money and that seems to be the Main Concern over everything.

To me, this is the natural end of the path we started down, eyes wide open, three years ago when the schizophrenic patient U.S.A. decided that it was okay, really... and stopped taking its meds.

There's really only one way out of this, and no one's gonna like it, since it means letting politics/ideology duke it out against science/nature, and I suspect that most of you who'll be reading this blog know who ends up the winner of these battles.

So, I'm not gonna get all up in arms about a lot of this type of stuff here - more than likely, that'll end up on FB, although there's only so much outrage that remains, after so much - and we're nowhere near Rock Bottom yet, though it feels that way. There's always a sub-basement to find...

Instead, I'm gonna hunker down and try to get through this - and make no mistake, I'm completely scared shitless. It's not so much a question of "if we get it" - considering the circumstances, a better mindset for me is "when we get it". That enables me, at this point, to be able to make decisions and function on a daily basis. Maybe by late Summer/early Fall, I'll be able to get into a "if we get it" frame of mind, since by then, things will have played out to an extent where there'll be some reliable information to be able to make that assumption, and prepare for the second wave.

What I'm NOT scared of are idiots who decide to take the Ultimate Lottery/I.Q. Test, because as science consistently shows, THEY LOSE. And I'm quite OK with that.

All of this 'Corona Concern' from corporations & businesses that didn't give a fuck about you unless you had a dollar or two in your pocket that they could get from you, all this 'Get back to work, you lazy MF'ers', all this desperate dancing hoping that things Will Go Back Like They Were - all of that will get shredded when the actual reality comes to people's homes, which is how most have handled Empathy in the U.S.A. - "We don't have to give a Fuck about Anything or Anyone - until it directly affects me in a way that's inescapable".

Let All These Motherfuckers Die.

If you have a problem with that, then I suggest that this blog may not be for you - because, there WILL be Things Said.

"Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here."  You Are Warned.

Now, that's out of the way - on to what's spurred this Sense of Purpose...

Next Time - "Everything I Like Is Fucking Horrible"








Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Up to speed...

So... what's new with YOU?

Yeah.

So the blogging thing sort of became not so much of a thing, which is understandable - so much has gone the way of the buffalo within the past 10 years - well, even 5 as people get older, lives change and the burning obsession to share minutia of one's life has migrated towards creating a persona on FB &/or Twitter. In my particular case, it was a combination of various things - helping to take care of my grandmother until we were able to get her into a facility that could handle her needs and take the immediate burden off of us so we could go on with our lives... brutal, yes, but true. I'm the youngest in my immediate family and I'm in my mid-50's as of this writing. The film work - PAID work, that is - started getting less & less every year, and even though I've been through long stretches before, this may well be it (although I've said THAT before several times also) as far as trying to aggressively pursue it further - it never got close to a point where I could solely survive on it in any case. And underlying all of that is my intrinsic laziness - to not want to do ANYTHING after taking care of other pressing things.

So, 2019 - my mother came to live w/us, which was not unexpected, due to medical reasons. What was not expected was that we would lose her sister later in the year, due to cancer, which she'd been fighting since 2005; November 2019 - January 2020 was spent with handling that situation, which within a month she went from home to being in the hospital for surgery to hospice to her death right before Christmas... then setting up a sale of their belongings, clearing out the apartment and having to deal with her idiot son who denied the entire situation for the last few years and his bullshit.

Finally ready to get back into the job market, then Covid-19 started its American Tour.

Personally, there's no big change in Daily Life B/A (Before/After) Covid-19 - most of whom I'd term as close friends I keep in touch with mainly online and that's been the case for quite awhile; there's no longer the burning need to travel an hour for some 'exciting' thing, since there's quite enough in a personal collection to keep me occupied (it helps saves on gas, too). And as far as going outside, we're fortunate enough to have enough yardspace to be able to go outside when we need to (well, when I need to; I do the yardwork), so overall, we're pretty fortunate. All of us in the home are high-risk, but since I'm the one most likely to bring it into the home, due to the occasional grocery errand, I'm very careful as to venturing out into CovidLand.

So, I have a lot of time on my hands - again - but in this instance, there's not quite the ticking time bomb of needing to 'go back to normal'. That ended in March and nobody - repeat, NOBODY - knows exactly what's ahead.

Slowly, the urge to write again kept getting stronger, but there was always something to push it into "I'll get to that later," territory. Well, it seems that Now is Indeed The Time to Get To It. So - Hi! It's been awhile, I know... I'm honest enough to say that this may not be a Daily thing - there's still so much else to do. But some of that 'else' will go into fueling more content, so it will be more regular than it has been for sometime. As to what led me back to it... that's on its way. First, a reintroduction for those who followed & might be interested in following again - considering the current situation, it seemed the thing to do.

There's one more thing to get out of the way before things get running again - Next Time...

Monday, December 18, 2017

Holy Grail Found - DAMNATION ALLEY OST

Yes indeed, blog Not Dead Yet... more cultural ephemera to come down the pike, perhaps now with a bit more regularity than previously. The following probably belongs more on the music blog, but that's taking a bit longer to resurrect.




'Holy Grail' is a term frequently tossed around by soundtrack enthusiasts & collectors. Prior to the digital age, wherein it's commonplace to be able to land your hands on something that doesn't have a legitimate release, it was truly something to have a label issue a score that you loved, but had no hope of ever being released commercially.

In the case of DAMNATION ALLEY specifically, I actually saw it 4 times in theatrical release, just for the music alone. It certainly wasn't the action onscreen drawing me in - it came out in the fall after the summer release of a little film called STAR WARS, which 20th Century Fox wasn't expecting to do huge business. DAMNATION ALLEY (originally shot under the title SURVIVAL RUN) was expected to be the big science-fiction film for that year.

Yeah. Hard to believe now, I know. But DA comes from a studio formula/template of big-budget sci-fi that did business, although artistically & aesthetically it comes up short. It had a good cast, competent director, a script by two noted screenwriters based on good source material - which was practically ignored in the adaptation. And yet, looking at it now compared to STAR WARS, DA looks cheap and hackneyed, despite costing more than STAR WARS (DA's budget was $17 million compared to the relatively 'low-budget' of $10 million of STAR WARS - and that's 1970's money, kids). If you're up for some blackly-tinged humor, check out the DVD, wherein the surviving screenwriter, Alan Sharp, throws the other credited writer, Lukas Heller, under the bus blaming him for 'the bad stuff'; and producer Paul Manslansky's commentary wherein he states upfront that he never has read the novel the film is based on, which explains a LOT.

There's a precedent here - and the name of that precedent is LOGAN'S RUN.

It's held in higher regard than DA now, but it shares the same features and flaws that hamstrung DA - the biggest flaw being that they threw out a good part of what made the source material work and ended up with films with good aspects, but overall turned out mediocre. LOGAN'S RUN fares a bit better, mainly in production value

One of those good aspects was the hiring of Jerry Goldsmith, who was hitting his stride in the late 70's - he might not be as name recognizable to the general public as John Williams is, but you're guaranteed to have heard his work in something broadcast over the last 50 - 60 years - from episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE and themes for shows like THE WALTONS and STAR TREK:VOYAGER, and many, many films.

 Most notable of Goldsmith's many great gifts is composing music that's far better than the film he's working with - when he's got a good film, he can make it GREAT; if the film is less than good, he can at least make it watchable - LOGAN'S RUN, THE SWARM, THE MUMMY, and definitely DAMNATION ALLEY. If you end up tooling around the post-apocalyptic USA in a tricked out RV dodging through massive scorpions, killer cockroaches, and depraved hillbilly survivors intent on raping your woman - but oddly, no radiation from the nuclear strikes - this is exactly the type of music to do it to. 

Aside from cassette tape dubs taped from television broadcasts, the main way to hear this was to sit through the film - no LP was released at the time and although a suite was released in a box set in the early '00's, the synth overdubs were not found, which meant that a full release of the score wouldn't be possible - until now, when the tech has evolved enough to remaster the orchestral tracks and a person hired to recreate the electronic portions of the score. 

I - and others - have waited 40 years for this to actually exist. Kudos to Intrada Records for once again, bringing the goods.





Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SOMETHING LIKE SUMMER Midwest Premiere, Out Here Now Film Festival, June 24

The film I went to Portland, OR to work on in the Fall of 2015 is now hitting the festival circuit - and I finally get the chance to see the fruit of our labors when the adaptation of a popular LGBT YA series gets its "Hometown Premiere" at the Out Here Now Film Festival in KC, MO on June 24.
Called the 'Hometown Premiere' because the author of the book series, Jay Bell, is from Olathe - and graduated from KU. There'll be several literary events going on involving Jay during the week, as well. It's featured as the 'Centerpiece Screening'.

More news as it comes in.


Something Like Summer – Official Trailer from Blue Seraph Productions on Vimeo.