Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Firecracker and I went to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's Rally this weekend in D.C. Neither of us are very political except for the basic American concept of leave me alone and I'll leave you alone, but that seems long forgotten these days. I used to collect coins when I was a kid, and one of the first, known as the Fugio Cent, designed by Ben Franklin, read "Mind Your Business" instead of "In God We Trust." That motto got on the currency after the not-so Civil War. But we don't mind our business much anymore.

The show had a long warm-up by The Roots, John Legend, and the Mythbusters guys who had us do the wave all the way down the National Mall. It took almost a minute! The park service planned for 150,000 people to be there, and everyone seemed well behaved. There were a few political extremists and wackos on the fringes, but the center where we were consisted of fans and people tired of the hyperbole and news focusing on the fringe wackos. They had many, many guests. The Mall was shoulder to shoulder until a block from the Lincoln Memorial. Sanity defeats wackos, easily.

Yusuf "Cat Stevens" Islam and Ozzy Osbourne played dueling versions of "Peace Train" and "Crazy Train" until the O'Jays came out to play "Love Train" instead. Sam Waterston read a poem meant to inspire fear by Stephen Colbert which was hilarious. Tim Meadows did his P.K. Winsome act, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow did a duet, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar showed up to show us that we've cheered and loved a Muslim, who's just like any other sports star. New estimates count 215,000 at the rally vs. Glenn Beck's 96,000... mission accomplished.

Here are my photos from the rally.

Hitler is Hitler... one is enough

Adam Savage of Mythbusters

I love bacon

You're entitled to your opinion but not your own spelling.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Friday, October 29, 2010

crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women

We are your overlords.
Happy Halloween!

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tom Selleck vs. the Daughters of Satan!

A friend of mine asked me to find this movie. His wife is Filipino, and because this was filmed in the Philippines and stars Tom Selleck- who he has a man crush on- he wanted to see it. Let me tell you, James, this is no Jesse Stone movie. It's pretty bad, but in a good, witch-sploitation way. They get the titillation out of the way in shot one, frame one, as we see a Filipino witch suspended topless over bamboo stakes by her evil coven, who demand she renew her vows with El Diablo. She is whipped by a witch with crazy eyes, who we later learn is named Kitty Duarte, and finally gives in... we see a rogue's gallery of obvious baddies, including a guy with a witch's peak doing down to the bridge of his nose, and a skeletal cackling fellow... we'll see them all again.

We immediately cut to Tom Selleck, resplendent in a perfectly trimmed porn 'stache, as he goes into a creepy little antique shop run by Mr. Widow's Peak, who is selling a clueless tourist a witch's knife. It's a huge dagger with a serpentine handle, and the tourist is buying it "for luck." I'm a knife nut and even I don't have a Lucky Sacrificial Dagger... maybe I should get one? If I go to the Philippines, I'll look for one. Maybe I'll be attacked by titwitches. That would be awesome, except for the sacrificing me to the devil part. At the shop, Selleck sees a painting of witches being burned at the stake, where the lead witch is a dead ringer for his wife. Horror movie rule #43: Never buy a painting of a dead person that resembles you or your loved ones. It is haunted, you dumbass.
Even Tom's hairy chest cannot protect him from what is to come. He looks like he rolled around on a barber shop floor, doesn't he? (Thanks to Milky for that one.) His wife is played by Barra Grant, a hottie best known for being Miss America Bess Myerson's daughter, and starring in the Bill Cosby flick MOTHER, JUGS & SPEED before giving up on film. She is immediately freaked out by the painting, and who wouldn't be? There are two witches, a black dog, and a mustached Spaniard in conquistador gear in the painting, who looks like Selleck, of course. Even though she's playing the Typical 70's Housewife, who jumps on chairs when mice attack, and still faints at the sound of a dog fart, it's pretty creepy for your husband to come home and say "Hey, I bought this painting of a woman being burned alive because SHE LOOKS LIKE YOU!"
Lies. He never fights Satan.
I mean, if Firecracker came home with a photo of a guy being hanged who looked like me, I'd hide all the damn rope. And her instincts are correct. Not long after the painting comes home, than weird things start happening. A black Rottweiler appears in the yard, and he loves Barra but snarls at Selleck. We see the dog run off, and fade into the grass. Wouldn't you know it, the dog in the painting has faded away? Hmm, wonder what that means. Soon, one of the women in the background fades, just as their new housekeeper shows up for work. And guess who she looks like? Cue the theremin! Creepy shit be afoot!! Really, I hope the horror movie association gave Dr. Theremin some posthumous award for all he's done for these films. The soundtrack here is relentless, and it does help, because it's all rather silly.
Soon Barra falls under her housekeeper's spell, and investigators are brought in, and die suspicious deaths! Tom gets knocked out, put in his Triumph roadster on the edge of a cliff, with blocks of ice chocking the tires.  Will he survive? This is a rare case of a film giving away plot twists with its lobby cards, as you can see below. Wifey gets witchy, and shows off her jugs at the one hour mark as she too is suspended over the bamboo spikes, forced to say the devil's prayer. It's all rather predictable and over the top, and can be a lot of fun if you know what you're getting into. I was surprised that Turner Classic Movies showed it uncut, because the topless scenes aren't quick shots. This is pure '70s exploitation. I liked the ending, but wish there were a lot more witchy goings on, and that Tom Selleck battled Satan, like the poster promises.

I love a good '70s occult flick, and this one delivers. I also love cheesy films from the Philippines, like the Weng Weng James Bond spoofs. So this is a win-win for cheesy horror, perfect for this witchy time of year. If you can track it down, it's worth seeing, if only to see early Tom Selleck battle a coven of sexy witches.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

so long, Rocky. so long, Bullwinkle.

Alex Anderson, creator of Rocky & Bullwinkle, passed away yesterday. Jay Ward was more influential to the show itself, but Anderson drew them up and created them, before Ward took off with them on their wacky, absurd adventures that were so ahead of their time. Cartoons got dumbed down for my generation in the '70s, and by the '80s they were really just toy commercials. The first cartoon I remember watching was Courageous Cat & Minute Mouse, one of many retreads of Batman done by creator Bob Kane. Memorable for its percussive theme song and the villain "The Frog," who talked like Edward G. Robinson, it peers back at me through the misty clouds of nostalgia. Barely recognizable.

My true celluloid loves were the Looney Tunes, Popeye, Woody Woodpecker, and Tom & Jerry before Chuck Jones got a hold of them. Mr. Jones was very talented, but I found him the most milquetoast of the directors at Warner Brothers, even if he invented my favorite character: Pepe le Pew. Tex Avery and Bob Clampett were truly insane originals who used animation as their bizarre palette for satirizing the world through caricature. Jones did this in his greatest moments, but I always felt he was the Bob Hope of the bunch, while his betters were the Marx Brothers. Insane genius, versus likable wit. Bugs Bunny, the Looney Tunes most enduring character, came to life under Avery. Jones perfected him. Tex is best known these days for Red Hot Riding Hood being so risqué, but he was a true original. Take Screwy Squirrel, a character so annoying that he actually killed him off! People hated him so much that Tex finished him off by pairing him with a big oaf modeled on Lenny from Of Mice and Men, who crushes him in his pocket. This was the original "I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George," that Jones and others used over and over, to lesser effect.
I didn't discover Rocky & Bullwinkle until later, thanks to my friend Peter. It's a good thing, because my sense of sarcasm developed late, and you needed it for that show. So here endeth an era. I remember some cartoons like Dexter's Lab and Freakazoid being genuinely original and amusing, but what's out there now, that is actually for kids?

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cape and Battle Axe, how I have missed thee

Who thought it was a good idea to get kids used to lie detectors? That's damn creepy, isn't it? What's next, the Fisher Price My First FBI Wiretap Kit? Makes me want to wear a tin foil hat. But kids today got it good. I've already whined that in the '70s, when we wanted to have a make believe lightsaber battle, we had to use these things called "sticks," or if we were lucky, cardboard tubes. After a few blows, they'd unravel into twirled ribbons of flaccid impotence. Now they have Force FX lightsabers with sound effects, that do everything like the ones in the movies except sever people's limbs.

On "Modern Family" last week, the kid Luke was swinging a Nerf Battle Axe around. Firecracker was laughing at the joke, but I was apoplectic. "Why didn't someone tell me they had those things!?" I went to Target today, and got one. Why? Because when I was a kid, if you wanted to whack your friends in the head, you had to use a throw pillow. (Actually I knew someone who used a cinder block, but hopefully he is in jail now, since he was nuttier than squirrel turds.) I got a Nerf longsword too. I can't wait to pull it from behind the couch and bellow, "By the power of Greyskull!!" next time Milky is over. So now I'm torn over what to dress up as for the Halloween party Saturday. I can go as Paul Rudd from Role Models now, if I get KISS makeup and some fake armor. Or I can get a black cape, and go as MYSELF from high school, when I showed up for my first game of Dungeons & Dragons at a friend's house, with my Renaissance Faire cape (made from $3 worth of velvet) and the sheet metal battle axe I paid $50 for there. It bent as soon as I chopped the lawn with it.
My original plan was to wear a Mardi Gras mask and get a black cloak, and go as one of the partygoers from EYES WIDE SHUT, but I doubt Firecracker wants to go naked in high heels as one of the escort girls from the movie. Besides, it will probably be cold. I can go as both, and remove my mask to reveal KISS makeup when there are no Kubrick fans around, and put it back on to be the urbane elitist if no one at the party stooped to seeing ROLE MODELS. So, win-win.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Monday, October 25, 2010


What was the deal with putting A*S*T*E*R*I*S*K*S in movie titles? M*A*S*H may have started it in the movies. It was short for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, and is Robert Altman's most well-known film. The movie was just called MASH and they stuck asterisks in between the letters of the poster so you didn't think it was about potatoes.

A few years later came the espionage spoof S*P*Y*S starring Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland, which bombed. Probably because of the stupid name. Why not just Spies? I haven't seen it, but I imagine it's a goofy acronym, like Secret Person Yankee Surveillance. Both of these movies star Elliot Gould, so maybe he is a secret asterisk supporter, or S*A*P.

The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N was a Broadway play based on the stories of Leo Rosten, and was written that way because it's about a Yiddish speaking immigrant learning English in a night class, and he signs his name like that, in crayon. It came first in 1968, so perhaps this was the start? I've read Leo Rosten's The Joys of Yiddish, and he's a fantastic writer. Thanks to @mercurie80 and his blog A Shroud of Thoughts for mentioning that one, and inspiring this post.

W*A*L*T*E*R was a failed M*A*S*H spinoff in 1984, and we didn't see stars again until the '90s, when  B*A*P*S came around- standing for Black American Princesses. Should've been B*A*Ps, but that just looks silly, doesn't it? I've never seen it, despite it starring Martin Landau. It got awful reviews, but much of its humor has been internalized in how white boys imitate black women. It's rather a shame that comedian Robert Townsend was involved, as his movies are usually pretty funny.

In the '80s we got *batteries not included which mocks those print ads for toys that we drooled over, bought the thing for $5.95 and found out it required 12 D cell batteries that cost $20. But that wasn't the same. I still didn't see it, because the title felt so gimmicky. 

The father of all asterisks movies is **** by Andy Warhol, which is probably meant to mean "fuck." But that's not a commercial project, so it really shouldn't count. There is a power in the use of punctuation, or lack thereof. Look at e.e cummings, who we still won't capitalize, and the archy & mehitabel stories, which aren't capitalized or punctuated because they are supposed to be written by a New York city cockroach jumping on the keys of a typewriter. 

I took punctuation very seriously as a child, and when I was in the shower, I would think up movie ideas. They usually involved me as a cross between James Bond and the Terminator, tasked with saving the world, with Sheena Easton and Nastassia Kinski hanging from each bicep. But some were spoofs, and my masterpiece of spy spoofs, dedicated to Mel Brooks, was entitled:

Yes, a question mark. Probably due to seeing the Get Smart movie THE NUDE BOMB (full review), my genius project was to have a global super-villain threaten the population by putting chemicals in the drinking water that made our farts lethal. Years before The Spleen from MYSTERY MEN, I'd come up with the concept of deadly flatulence. Our hero finds the antidote, which saves you by making your farts safe and super-powerful, and he'd use it to propel himself on a little broken-down moped. This is before Howard Stern's "Fartman," mind you. And because I thought this was just so damn weird, I was gonna name it "?" IMDb tells me that no one else did this until 2005. The problem being, how do you pronounce the damn title? My solution was to use the wonky question sound that "The Electric Company" played whenever Spiderman was puzzled. Of course, now that I look back, I should have just called it SILENT BUT DEADLY. I'd be a millionaire, if I'd only followed through with that script.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hank Hill and the Number of the Beast

I promised if I got 666 followers, I'd record Hank Hill singing Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast." I do a passable impression of the King of the Hill, so here he is finding Bobby's Satanic record collection.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Friday, October 22, 2010

so metal

Glenn Danzig buying kitty litter. For his fucking metal kitty cats.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Captain Purple vs. the Guido Bullies of Nutley

Yesterday people wore purple to support LGBT teens, and fight bullying. I don't have a lot of purple since when I was really fat it made me look like Grimace, so I wore my LSU rugby shirt- their colors are purple and gold. I look like the purple Michelin Man instead. Let's go back in time to the '70s, and let me lay a story on ya. We like to think that things are constantly getting more progressive or morally bankrupt, depending on what TV news you watch. But we've gotten consistently more conservative, easily offended, and prudish if you ask me. Sure, we didn't see "wardrobe malfunctions" on TV back then... it was called streaking, and people laughed about it. We didn't freak out.

When I was a kid we watched the Osmonds. Things were so permissive back then that we let Mormons on television. The Osmonds are about as boring as you can imagine, and the only thing I liked was when Donny would do wear a ridiculous sparkling superhero costume and pompadour, and declare that he was "Captain Purple." Somewhere between the period when I wanted to be The Hulk (documented here) and when I wanted to be B.J. and the Bear (mentioned last week) I decided that I wanted to be Captain Purple. Thankfully this was not near Halloween, so I don't have any photos of my little round-bellied self in sparkly purple tights. If I did, I'd share them. Why? Because I dressed in a lot more embarrassing Halloween costumes as a kid, and I never got bullied over them. The country was simply not as religious, conservative or homophobic back in the '70s as it is post-Reagan and post-W. We were not innocent. No one in their right mind can look at The Village People and tell me that we did not know they were gayer than a bouquet of dicks.
When I was a kid, it was funny to dress as a girl. One kid went to school with two Nerf footballs for boobs under a t-shirt, with a big white wig, as Dolly Parton. He was later asked to remove the boobs, but slipped them back in when we filed out for the Halloween parade. That year I was dressed as Agatha Crumm, an old grouch from the comic strips that I used to think was funny for some reason. It also helped that I lived with near my grandmother, and could grab a bunch of her old clothes instead of buying a costume. Later costumes included a ghost that looked way too much like a Klansman now that I think about it, and the Grim Reaper. Walking home from the high school Halloween party dressed as the Reaper, and using a payphone, almost caused a car accident as the teens burst into laughter. "Death is calling!!"
I wanted to grow up to be a Hulk.
So yeah, I dressed as an old lady for Halloween. No one called me a fag or beat me up. I remember the first time I heard the word "gay" was probably in 3rd grade, as we waited to file in for home room. An older kid was trying to trick me into saying "I'm gay." I could tell he was being cruel, so I said "I'm happy, but I'm not gay." This was when "gay" was still used as a synonym for that. Then I asked my mom what he meant and she probably made up some shit, because I didn't learn what it meant until middle school, where the real bullying begins. I grew up with a friend or two who were most certainly gay, and I remember one older kid throwing his hat in the creek. But he was never called a faggot, or anything like it, when anyone else was around. I'm sure he was bullied- we all were- by the shit heads of Nutley high school, Guido capital of the eastern seaboard.
Luckily I didn't grow up to be a prison inmate.
I was mostly safe because by the time high school came around I was wearing shredded Army fatigues, Dead Kennedys t-shirts, sporting a humongous Italian afro and carrying a Nepalese kukri in my bookbag. I slowly lost the punk look as college approached and switched to a trench coat, Pre-Columbine, waiting to happen. There was a little guido midget who kept wanting to fight on "Church Hill" but he never showed. But then, one day I was unarmed and three coked up guido douchebags jumped me outside my house- apparently because I didn't get their basketball as it bounced past me one day in gym class. It was utterly idiotic, but this is how wars are started. They jumped me outside my house, sucker punched me in the nose and ganged up as I strangled the living shit out the first one who hit me, flying into my patented Hulk rage. I went to the cops, but nothing came of it. Later, one died of a heroin overdose, another one stole his mother's car to sell for drugs, and the main jerk-off flipped his Monte Carle and cracked his skull, but survived. Later he apologized to me, years later. I can't even remember his name anymore. Now that I do mixed martial arts, I'd love to tell him that his jab sucked.
If I met High School Me today, I'd probably beat him up too...
What spurred this post was an article about parents freaking out because their sons want to dress as a princess, or their daughters are tomboys. Kids do stupid shit as we try to figure out what we want to be. I wanted to be a garbage man, and sometimes I still yearn for the simplicity of crushing stuff in a garbage truck. I think it is monumentally more important that you worry about raising your kid to be an asshole more than if your kid wants to wear a tutu and pretend to be Princess Headbutt or if Daddy's little girl wants to wear combat boots and watch monster trucks. Getting bullied doesn't build character- if you think it does, you have no character- but choosing to be yourself, despite the booger-flings and spitballs of outrageous douchebags, does build character. Don't be the rock that crushes the spirit of your children. That's the job of school and the workplace.
The fallen caryatid carrying her stone, by Rodin.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

15 Directors

Inspired by Cinema du Meep and Radiator Heaven, two of my favorite movie blogs, here are the fifteen directors who changed how I think about the movies. Some are better, but these are the ones who affected me most and made me the movie molester I am today. Just off the top of my head. Don't spend too much time on it.

John Waters and some creepy guy.
Martin Scorsese

Tex Avery

Alfred Hitchcock
Stanley Kubrick

Mel Brooks
John Landis
Charles Laughton
John Carpenter

Errol Morris
Savage Steve Holland
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Michael Haneke
Buster Keaton

© 2010 Tommy Salami

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