Isolation Powered Cinematic Surprises

istockphoto-108222661-612x612

iStock

Sure, holed-up as we are during these plague weeks, there is the understandable urge to pleasure-binge beloved favorites. Color me guilty! I spun through the entire first season of Space:1999. Also watched Bride of Frankenstein, The Exorcist, The Omega Man (heh), a few others. But my current available library and online resources are actually quite limited; a lot stuff remains in storage, and I don’t have access to streaming services like Netflix. If I want to watch TV, I do so on my phone which supplies me with a  fistful of basic-cable channels. Ah, the sordid pleasures of ID! But while my conscience might not be troubled by the often repellent nature of the material, the frequency of the commercials annihilate what’s left of my grey matter. So, thank Satan for TCM, man. All movies, all the time, no commercials.

But like everybody else, I have my prejudices. I would not describe myself as an effusive fan of dance-driven musicals, westerns, romantic comedies; there’s no love lost for films featuring Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Steve McQueen, John Wayne. And there are an abundance of such films in regular rotation on TCM, movies that reek of “americana” and “grand old Hollywood,” and worse.

Boredom can work wonders, however, and force one to at least explore if not embrace heretofore undesirable genres. Take westerns, for example. Despite being blown away by Once Upon a Time in the West and certain films by Clint Eastwood, I still have a knee-jerk negative reaction when presented with the opportunity to scope flicks of the ‘ole dusty West. So I was fairly amazed the other night when, out of sheer desperation, I settled down to watch John Ford’s My Darling Clementine.

And I was damn glad I did, because it was awesome. No shit.

I8Z5Bln46SVpTSdqJB4E1ChE1CutI2_large

John Ford takes on the legend of the O.K. Corral shoot-out in this multilayered, exceptionally well-constructed western, one of the director’s very best films. Henry Fonda cuts an iconic figure as Wyatt Earp, the sturdy lawman who sets about the task of shaping up the disorderly Arizona town of Tombstone, and Victor Mature gives the performance of his career as the boozy, tubercular gambler and gunman Doc Holliday. Though initially at cross-purposes, the pair ultimately team up to confront the violent Clanton gang. Affecting and stunningly photographed, My Darling Clementine is a story of the triumph of civilization over the Wild West from American cinema’s consummate mythmaker. — Cribbed from the Criterion site

It was indeed stunningly photographed in glorious black and white, and Fonda and Mature were so good in their respective roles. I am so grateful that I managed to defeat my inner snob and surprisingly embraced this wonderful film.

So maybe westerns aren’t THAT much of a stretch: good guys, bad guys, etc. Ah, but how about the 1950s era dance-driven musical a-burstin’ in technicolor? UghghGhng, the inner snob immediately responds. But wait, says the new voice of temperance, There are several musicals you adore: The Wizard of Oz, Hair, Camelot, Rocky Horror, Jesus Christ Superstar. Hell’s Bells, Jesus Christ Superstar is one of my favorite things, period. So… give one of those big garish musicals a try!

Well, I did.

lf

Gah. The poster alone makes me want run screaming. Look at that type-treatment! I watched it though, start to finish. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t h-h-h-HATE it, either. It was charming enough, in its own way. Even an uptight fuckwad like me had to to be grudgingly impressed by Gene Kelly tap-dancing in roller skates. Though it’s safe to say I remain untempted to seek out other such garish feel-good spectacles.

† † †

Earlier I said that my physical AV library was at the moment quite limited; it’s true. But I had one disc on hand that I had never watched.

IMG_0912

There’s a bodega in New London that sells absolutely top-notch high-quality bootlegs. Alas, the copy I purchased of The Force Awakens was not of that caliber. It was shot directly off-screen, with the subsequent audio and video impairment; plus there were super-imposed ads for gambling websites in several languages. When first purchased, I watched the first five minutes then quietly, firmly said “No.”

Flash forward to the Plague Weeks. I gave the bootleg copy another shot. Yes, the defects were detrimental, but not lethal. After all, in the 80s I was very grateful for my very low-grade anime bootlegs. And I’m happy to report that the strength of The Force Awakens as a film far outshines the video clutter; I was happily surprised by how good it was. Easily the strongest of the last three entries. The Force Awakens is far from perfect, a little too heavy on the sentimentality and nostalgia, but that’s to be expected. It’s a Star Wars movie, for goodness sake.

† † †

So what have you been watching during these lonely weeks in isolation? At any rate, stay safe, stay sane.

Ω

Apocalypse Mix (March 2020)

Ω

Johnny Sokko VS Will Robinson!!!

IMG-2203

Photo montage by @malcojojo!

Ω

My Son’s Self Portrait

IMG_2190

IMG_2191

Cool, yeah? Well, let me share something.

When I was sixteen I turned in a self portrait that was easily as “strange” as this one. My teacher went berserk. She went out of her mind. My self-portrait wasn’t “realistic.” I didn’t accurately capture the mirror, I wasn’t “mature” enough to draw myself.

“But I feel distorted,” I told her. “I feel like a cyborg.”

(I implanted cybernetic elements to my face, WAY before TNG and the Borg.)

My art teacher wouldn’t have it. My self portrait was rejected from the art show.

Decades later, I am glad my son’s work is appreciated and shown to others. It’s better than mine! Far better. My former art teacher is somewhere… old and decrepit, no doubt, and I doubt she would even remember me.

But my son is only 16. He will produce marvels in the years to come.

\m/

Ω

 

MAX VON SYDOW

exor2

If ever an actor faced evil, death, oblivion— it was Max Von Sydow.

7th seal cropped

He played chess with Death, he was the Warrior Priest the demon feared.

merrin

MV5BMGM1YWQzZmMtMDk2OS00YTNlLWIyODctMWNlOWM4MTRiZjk4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzI5NDcxNzI@._V1_

He knew evil well enough to play it. Even for laughter.

unnamed

I started a story about Max. It’s called…

MaxVonSydX3_new comp

I wanted those three characters, Block, Merrin, and Ming, as played by Max, to offer their thoughts on the apocalypse. Note the small “a.” As I write this, the world is currently going mad because of a virus, Corvid-19, or The Coronavirus.

I am not going mad.

Because though Max Von Sydow is no longer with us, I will relay on his examples of strength. His path through darkness, his wisdom and his fortitude. Yeah, I’m sorry Max passed this day— but I am grateful for what he has left me. So mote it be.

Ω

 

IT IS CLEARLY THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD

Because The Sisters of Mercy released a new song.

 

End times?

“Not yet.” — Gloriana Blitz, Doomtroopers

Ω

 

 

Whither Now, Oh Muse… (OR: What’s left on The Desktop)

So, four major unfinished pieces remain on the desktop.

MaxVonSydX3_new comp

MaxVonSydX3 is a short story about Father Merrin from The Exorcist, Antonius Block from The Seventh Seal, and Ming The Merciless from Flash Gordon sitting down to an Ultimate Last Supper with a curious bystander at the end of the world… two curious bystanders, if one counts the story’s AI, and I do. Hilarity ensues!

What’s the hold-up? This damn story! Goddammit, I had 20-odd pages —some would say very odd—of notes and sketches that were destroyed in THE EXTREMELY UNFORTUNATE ANNIHILATION OF DRAX SHIT IN THE BLACK FALL OF 2018… I don’t want to even glancingly reflect on what was lost. It was bad. “Catastrophic” doesn’t come close. Anyway, those 20-odd pages were among those items lost forever. And I was so bent, man; some of those pages were hot. So I didn’t want to think about this story for a long time. But hey—it wouldn’t leave me alone. So I am thinking about it, and writing it. We’ll see.

WORLD WITHOUT BOWIE COVER

WORLD WITHOUT BOWIE is… weird. (There’s a shocker.) But seriously. It’s about a failed writer on the last day of his life and a tied-up girl. There’s also a spooky messenger in a cemetery, malevolent gravediggers, and a race of all-powerful aliens. And a tied-up girl. Who’s always tied up. For the entire story.

What’s the hold-up? Man, for the longest time I didn’t know what the flying fuck this story was. [Spoiler: a completed short story version of it is currently under consideration for a forthcoming anthology. We’ll see! Whoo-hoo!] But I really didn’t know what the fuck World Without Bowie was, what it was supposed to do or be. Another spoiler: I started it the day after Bowie died. Yes my gears grind slow.

I can tell you this much: when completed it will be a long short story / novella / short novel. And while some of the details mention above might sound like very familiar territory, it will be unlike anything I’ve ever written. ’nuff said.

HEAVY cover

Ah, HEAVY. Formerly GRAVITY. But too many movies and books claimed that title for my liking, hence the change. Which suits me just fine. What’s it about? See above. The cover says it all. Crashing planes and rock and roll.

What’s the hold-up? It can be summed in one word: FEAR. Of pulling the trigger, of completion, of final form. I think I am inching closer to that final form, however, which will be a short novel.

DARK AUGUST_Cover 2020

 

And my great unfinished “great American novel,” DARK AUGUST. This project suffers the same disease as HEAVY. But it’s on the desktop, and I poke it regularly. It will be a full-length novel. Edited to add: DA‘s now a widget in the “forthcoming” category. So it’s out of the drawer.

And, while this book is not currently on the desktop…

Doomtroopers_Typewriter

Yeah, it will continue. Once I’ve got the hook.

Any questions?

Ω

 

Well, Look at What Has a Brand New Cover…

AlwaysApoc (resized)_REVISED

Smashing, no? I’ve adored this painting, Ahasuerus at the End of the World by Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl, for what seems like centuries, and it’s been on the back of my mind—for various reasons—to revise the cover of my book of poems. This morning, BOOM! Posted on twitter by Joan Pope aka @sexdeathrebirth. Many thanks. Truly an “Ah-ha” and epiphanic* moment. We are very pleased here on Planet Drax. Available now—though the old cover will still be online for a day or so, I promise the new cover (above) is what you’ll receive.

* new word alert

Ω

Okay, NOW I Can Hawk Copies of the DOOMTROOPERS Paperback with a Clear Conscience, as the Interiors No Longer Look Like Ka-Ka

Doom final_cover-_2020_shadowRe-paginated for your reading pleasure! 287 pages of literal Earth-shattering fun, fun, fun! The interiors look… decent. The art falls where it should and the text is much more pleasing to the eye. Functional/appropriate gutters, too. So, yes, constant reader; I urge you to go forth and purchase DOOMTROOPERS.

Clive _1Art by Christina Chen

Ω

 

 

My Daughter Made the Dean’s List

Molly Big Witch Energy Hi (resized)

Ye Gods! So proud of Drax Childe Prime! Now if I could just convince her to change her major. Social work. Jesus. But I am hardly in a position to complain! I am rightly chuffed by my precious witch-powered charge. Onward!

Ω

  • Calendar

    March 2020
    M T W T F S S
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    3031  
  • Archives

  • Categories

  • THE DRAX BOOKSHELF

  • Now in Paperback & Kindle!

  • Now in Paperback! New Cover!

  • Revised Edition!

  • Now in Paperback!

  • Available in Kindle!

  • Forthcoming