Friday, June 23, 2017

The electric guitar is dying, says Washington Post

Maybe I was wrong to attack guitar players. Here's something on the "slow secret death of the electric guitar". (The guy in I am not a Hipster played an acoustic guitar).

On the other hand, so what?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Schools and Trump

I was in high school when Reagan got shot. I don't remember any students being upset about it. I just remember them being pleased or at least amused. It's a little strange. He was elected president, supposedly by a landslide (voter turnout was so low that Richard Nixon got more votes in 1960 when he lost that Reagan got when he won). There must have been SOME Republicans in that school, but nobody cared that he was nearly murdered.

I couldn't stand Reagan, but I didn't see any big advantage to him being shot. Carter was barely to the left of Reagan. Bush, Sr, was vice president and he wouldn't have been much better.

There was an alternative grade school in town which had held a mock election. Barry Commoner of the Citizen's Party won, Jimmy Carter was a close second. Ronald Reagan might have gotten one or two votes. The Libertarian and Communist candidates each got one vote.

I was tutoring a kid at the school at the time. I'm pretty sure I knew which kids voted Communist and Libertarian. The kid whose mother was in the Communist Party went on to be a leader in the African-American Student Union in college and served on the city's Human Rights Commission. But I couldn't imagine any kid in that school voting for Reagan.

And now you have Trump. He won, yet, in schools, it's the kids who support him who are being isolated.

Here, the principals are posting messages urging kids to be tolerant of others even if they are Trump supporters.

A middle school boy in Alabama was paddled for writing Trump's name on the chalk board. You'd think it would be uncontroversial in Alabama, but the school banned the president's name from being uttered because it would be disruptive. You could only mention who the President of the United States is in history class, although I'm not sure how that would come up while they're studying the War of Northern Aggression.

A confused reader commenting on the article claimed that liberal teachers were paddling pro-Trump children. All those pro-corporal punishment Alabama progressives.

Imagine. Your candidate has almost zero chance of winning. Even he assumes he'll lose. You're plainly the underdog. Everyone anticipates your bitter disappointment. Then your guy wins a truly stunning victory no one thought possible, and YOU'RE the bad guy.

I don't want to give people the wrong idea. I hate Trump. I was afraid of Clinton because her only real campaign promise was to start World War Three, but Trump is moving in that direction anyway.

I don't know how far to the right Trump really is from the DNC. The only thing they're willing to attack him for is being a Russian spy. I think it's because they don't really object to anything else he's doing.

Every president turns out to be far worse than anyone dared imagine. I thought Trump would be an exception just because everyone thought he'd be another Hitler. Anything short of actual Nazism would be a relief. But he's getting worse and worse and impeaching him won't do any good. Look at his vice president. We're just going to have to sweat it out.

The Las Vegas Serial Killer, (1986)

Ray Dennis Steckler in an earlier film.

I sat up watching the late Ray Dennis Steckler's Las Vegas Serial Killer which he directed under the name Wolfgang Schmidt.

He did the editing and cinematography under the name Sven Christian and wrote the scenario using the name Christopher Edwards.

I'm all for fake names in credits, but he should have used them to create a backstory. He should have used fake names with the same national origin so viewers would picture it as a foreign production--- they'd imagine a crew of Greeks or Norwegians coming to Las Vegas to make their low budget movie. Let the audience see the place through their eyes, as an exotic locale.

I went to Las Vegas for a trade show one time and was surprised at how many Asian and European families were on the flight, apparently going to Las Vegas on vacation. I wasn't sure how I should have felt about that as an American. They weren't getting a very good impression of us.

The film had some dialog and narration but it was essentially a silent movie which I rather liked. Steckler was always the Alfred Hitchcock or the Sergei Eisenstein of the extreme end of low budget commercial film.

Had a lot more nudity than his earlier films, and way more strangling.

The plot was wildly implausible. A convicted, confessed serial killer is released from prison on parole after only five years in prison. He immediately goes back to serial killing. The subject matter was terribly grim but it wasn't that bad.

Available on Fandor along with some of Steckler's other films including Blood Shack, The Lemon Grove Kids, The Thrill Killers, Rat Fink A Boo Boo, and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017



"I've never seen more than 5 minutes of a Transformers movie yet I feel like I've seen all the Transformers movies."
--Josh Elvis Weinstein

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Another article about Tom Cruise in Variety

I really never liked Tom Cruise, but here's an article I found interesting by Owen Gleiberman who does like him. Below are excerpts. Read the whole thing here.

...But Cruise now seems to be throwing franchises against the wall to see which of them will stick. Another “M:I” film, another “Jack Reacher” mystery, now “The Mummy,” and what’s next? He’s all these characters, but in another way he’s none of them, because the characters (except for Ethan Hunt) aren’t sinking into moviegoers’ imaginations. They’re like suits of clothing he’s rotating through. He has just announced the sequel that no one was clamoring to see, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which sounds like a case of cannibalizing his greatest star hit by grinding it up into another franchise. What could be less of a maverick move?


...Cruise, as an actor, is like an image consultant, or a studio executive giving notes to himself (“I think there’s an opportunity here to make the character a little more likable…”). What’s insidious is that the reason he was drawn to playing Jack Reacher in the first place is that he obviously regarded it as an act of image management — a way to keep pace with the times by letting himself get down and dirty (but not too much). Is it any wonder that these films are tonally out of focus? With deadening calculation, they whipsaw Cruise’s image in two directions at once. That’s why they barely even feel like a franchise. They’re just two more middling Tom Cruise films.

...He now seems devoted to working with anonymously talented journeyman directors (Bryan Singer, Christopher McQuarrie, Joseph Kosinski, Alex Kurtzman). Is that his way of retaining the power? Let me say up front that I’ve always been a Tom Cruise believer (just check out my gallery of his 10 best films, in which my reverence for movies like “Top Gun” knows no shame), but the eerie thing about Cruise’s career in the last decade is that he has been churning out the cinematic equivalent of holograms. It walks like a Tom Cruise movie, it talks like a Tom Cruise movie (it’s got speed and “intensity,” even a soupçon of cleverness), but it’s a Tom Cruise movie that leaves no shadow. It’s a piece of virtual entertainment.

 Tom Cruise could still be a powerful actor, but the irony of his career, at least for now, is that at the very moment when he should be taking on more character roles, easing into a post-superstar creative freedom zone (as actors from Julia Roberts to Kevin Costner to Meryl Streep to Leonardo DiCaprio have done), he’s doubled down on one thing and one thing only: the awesome global transcendence of his image. He’s still choosing movies like he’s king of the world. He’s got it half right: He is Hollywood royalty. But proving that, each and every time, by making movies that exist for no organic reason but to win the box-office contest they’re not even winning anymore has become, for Cruise, a game of diminishing returns: for his fans, and for himself, too.

Hidden Driveway

You know what's a coincidence? That you have George McFarlane and Jacob Switzer starring in this and their names are almost like George "Spanky" McFarland and Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer.

Greaser's Palace, 1972

Allan Arbus (Diane Arbus's husband) blaspheming Christ.

"Didn't your father used to be a successful director? Whatever happened to him? Boy, he sure died, you know, he sure went to hell."
--Chevy Chase humiliating Robert Downey, Jr, on the set of Saturday Night Live, 1985.

Robert Downey, Sr, is still alive, by the way. I didn't know he was ever a "successful director". He's now 80. He's also Jewish, but in 1972, he made what was supposed to be a surreal Christian satire, Greaser's Palace, a western set in the 1800s. There's this place called Greaser's Palace owned by hilariously-named character, Seaweedhead Greaser.

Allan Arbus (who played Dr. Sidney Freedman, the psychiatrist on TV's M*A*S*H*) plays Jesus (called Jessy) who wears a zoot suit and says he's going to Jerusalem to be a singer-dancer-actor.

It was the sort of movie Luis Buñuel would have made if Luis Buñuel had been an idiot.

Greaser keeps murdering his homosexual son named Lamy "Homo" Greaser, but Jessy keeps bringing him back to life. And Greaser is constipated all the time. And he has a daughter named Cholera. The Holy Ghost is a guy with a sheet over his head. Jessy parachutes into the movie.

It was all crap. Not one funny, clever or interesting thing.

With Robert Downey, Jr, as a seven-year-old who gets his throat slashed. A year earlier, when he was six, his father gave him marijuana for the first time.

I happened to come across an article about Deluxe. You know in movies when they say in the credits, "Color by Deluxe"?  Deluxe has thousands of negatives to thousands of movies lying around and is trying to return them to their rightful owners. They're hoping the owners will pay them to make a digital print. They're having some difficulty doing this. In some cases the owners have died, some belonged to companies that are out of business or to businesses that don't want them or to individual filmmakers who don't want to be reminded of the film that financially ruined them. And one movie they have stinking up the place is Greaser's Palace

Maybe Robert Downey, Jr, now an elderly Republican millionaire, will put up the money.

I found it on Roku. You can see it for free on Amazon if you have Amazon Prime. I have no memory of getting Amazon Prime or paying for it, but apparently I have it.