Some timewasting. If you're one of the 70,000 pairs of eyeballs that have been enjoying the new Vladrushka pinups(NSFW)so far, after checking out the new stuff, go to these places that I like. (click on images)
THE DEVILS (1971) -Hollywood Bitchslap Review, 1999 The only Ken Russell film you ever need to see. That is, if you want to avoid the steaming mounds of shit he's turned out, which tend to distract one with stench and volume from the few perfect roses hidden within. Some have their favorite films by a director; most I know have instead with Russell a LEAST favorite they recall quite well. But oh, what a fantastic film this one is.
Ken Russell, when you think about it, is one of the weirdest figures in the history of Hollywood; certainly one of the most idiosyncratic talents ever. One can always tell it's old Uncle Ken--the fast shouting, the amazingly inappropriate sets, the obligatory sexual hallucinations like something dreamt up in an opium haze after falling asleep reading D.H.Lawrence poetry, the great clashes of avant-garde classical music to let you notice when you're supposed to be shocked, and you often are at those moments anyway; the music just makes it more unpleasant. Even his most commercial films bear his mauve stamp. If one were to sum up Ken Russell's style in a single incontrovertible word, it would probably be "tacky." It's no wonder the 70s were his heyday(a decade in my mind that was the golden age of British & American film, a time of freedom killed by STAR WARS); in no following decade would he have been allowed to lodge himself so firmly, and now there's no getting this embarrassing uncle out of film history. Glaring and glittering like a disco queen from hell, Ken Russell has left his mark. God help us all. There's nothing that can be done now.
And yet, here is a director ferociously in love with the classics, and not just any; the often-ignored--in cinema, at least--20th century classics. D.H. Lawrence, whose work I violently detest on the printed page(perhaps he's just too dated; his Victorian sense of what is naughty I find laughably prudish), turned to gold the twice Russell's adapted him--WOMEN IN LOVE and THE RAINBOW. He fell most magnificently on his face in tributes to his favorite classical composers(including the what-the-hell-was-that? LISZTOMANIA and the incredibly vulgar MAHLER)--you can't deny they were works of love. And then there's the time he did Aldous Huxley's non-fiction bit of historical journalism, THE DEVILS OF LOUDON, as a film. And this time, he was wholly in his element as he would not be again till the wholly different ALTERED STATES, which with this stand as his wildest and most artistically successful films.
There's nothing wrong with excess. It's when the idea of excess is in fact corny that the problem occurs. The trick, I think, is to keep it escalating at a gradually sliding level, and not to vomit baked beans up at me on the screen when things get slow(TOMMY, 1975).Story in short: Urbain Grandier, a priest, is made governor of the fortified, and mixed(Protestant, but loyal to the crown, and Catholic)town of Loudon shortly after France's 17th century religious wars, in the wake of the death of the town's governor, who just happened to be a friend to the king. The Church won, and Cardinal Richelieu wants all fortifications across France pulled down--so that any place that gets out of hand can be easily razed to the ground. Grandier will not allow this, and invokes an old promise of the king to leave it untouched. Immediately the authorities set about finding an excuse to remove him. As Grandier doesn't take the vow of celibacy at all seriously(even marrying a girl, himself both groom and priest simultaneously, in a ceremony that oddly doesn't seem at all blasphemous) this isn't difficult. But the killing testimony comes from a hunchbacked, bitter nun from a convent of girls who were simply put there by their families to keep them out of the way; the convent is a pressure cooker of bitterly repressed ids. The hunchbacked Mother Superior claims Grandier molested her(which she wants him to, very badly, but he never even noticed--or met--her), and possessed her with demons. She is taken eagerly at her word. Grandier is tortured, tried, and burned, the entire town--whose death his death assures--against its only protector because of an irrelevant scandal and madness about witchcraft.
Oliver Reed makes this film. Vanessa Redgrave and the others, they all do their part, but Reed sinks all his teeth into this part and will not let go till he's burnt out. The film is a remarkably good dramatization of the facts presented in Huxley's book--and keep in mind when watching: all this really happened. Reed presents Grandier as he was described by both himself and others: brilliant, urbane, clever, handsome, and courageous as a man who believes in God but indulges in private vice can. When watching I was reminded of what, at least, people would like to think of Bill Clinton: if we let him indulge himself, he'll be twice as good a president for the guilt. Grandier attempts to make up for his private vices by protecting the town selflessly and firmly till he is killed for doing so. Of course we do not care about his vices, nor, really, do the other characters; everyone seems to understand it's a lie, but a deadly formality that still has real power. As a study of what true integrity is, this film has a thing or two to teach A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. What he is killed for is being good where it really matters. As so often in church history, killing in Christ's name is much easier than loving in it, and takes up about as much time. This is the greatest attack on the church ever devised by a filmmaker, vicious and unsparing as the church has always been when threatened, after all, just as is described here.
The sets are totally, loopily anachronistic; perfect shining white bricks with blue shadows everywhere, the doing of Derek Jarman. It is not accurate, but works as a stage set would, making of the whole frame a fanciful but dark and effective pictorial composition, perfectly reflecting the delirious thick atmosphere, which fumes from each frame of the film like the humidity of a swamp in summertime.The acting is absolutely over-the-top and works beautifully, each actor breathlessly trading lines rapid-fire with the other as though Russell had told then he only had 30 seconds of film stock left(or perhaps nostrilfuls of cocaine supplied right before the shoot). There isn't a boring moment in this buzzsaw-paced maniacal, giggling film. There isn't time to breathe. More "historical films" should be as energetic as this; the actors should appear to be having as much fun with it as this. This is historical filmmaking by those who understand it enough to be justified playing around, exuberantly; done not out of reverence but to ram the original source's message home.They definitely don't make movies like this anymore. Or ever will again.
See it. That's all, Just see it. Originally at Hollywood Bitchslap-09/21/99 I had the video up for a while when it was on YouTube, but alas it is now gone. You'll have to just buy a copy. The Angel bootleg is what I have, it's uncut, and the quality is not bad. Compared especially of course to the nothing otherwise. Update: also, there was a play by John Whiting which the film is partly an adaptation of--and an opera by Krzysztof Penderecki of said play which I am certain was a big inspiration for Russell--he almost certainly was aware of it; at the time it was recent and Russell was a huge fan of modern classical music. A lot of the music in the film is very reminiscent of it. And the opera is nearly the same length as the film. It's very rare, and had been here embedded from Youtube as well, but it's gone now. I suggest hunting it down to add to your experience.
Black Tambourine + Come + Live Skull: Great Bands You Never Heard Of
Three of the best alternative-era bands you've never heard of. And nothing like goddamn Nirvana(no offense), which anniversaries have given me the chance to wish they'd blow their heads off all over again so I can relive seeing nothing but the same documentary all day, every day, if I turned on fucking MTV for over a year. I think that's what killed people's appetite for music on that channel. As for the fine but always overhyped Nirvana: they ended more than they ever started, and that's all I want to say about them. Back then, by the time I warmed to them, about two months later he went down on death. (Bands are much better off if I embrace them after they end; I can be a jinx)
Anyway, some of the stuff people stopped noticing because of them.
And another, from 1993-on,Come, headed by the great Thalia Zedek.(also previously of Live Skull, who are also represented on this playlist: check out "5-D," "Circular Saw," and their cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Pusherman" especially) Some of her solo stuff is included in this playlist, which was assembled by myself. I recall their album ELEVEN: ELEVEN(which features "Submerge," a magnificent song you will want to replay) as being my favorite of '93, otherwise a pretty lonely and dark year for me. Not long before I got it I'd finally switched away from tapes to CDs, and not destroying something just by playing it over and over was a wonderfully new experience. (Back then, the music industry kept itself alive through three things: nostalgia, planned obsolescence, and mechanical failure.)
Our music was better than yours. Deal with it. ___________________
And a bonus: one of the very first comics I ever wrote which was drawn by the great genius Emily Kaplan(then aka Ophelia the Creep), from 1991 and very nearly a Single Page (and ten more, if we'd followed through, sigh) in Dave Sim's Cerebus Bi-Weekly except I think we chickened out(I can't really recall), PUMPKIN BOY!
Who is not happy on Halloween, a time of love and family for most.
I've drawn the work of other writers many times, but to date Emily's the only artist who's drawn me. Love to work with her again someday. She taught me a lot, just looking at her drawing, about what I do now. What she could do with a simple ballpoint puts every one of you, and me, to shame. This was her with proper ink. At the time. She's quite an accomplished painter now.
"Pearl Harbor" -Anti-Review. From Hollywood Bitchslap (2002)
PEARL HARBOR (2001)
SCENE: INT. Nighttime at the home of Jerry Bruckheimer, candles lit at each point of a pentagram chalked on the table, Bruckheimer sitting, sort of fidgety for some reason, at the east end of it, holding a 2-pound sack of what looks like sugar till he does his gums with it.
BRUCKHEIMER(smiling): Proper. (He dumps the contents in the center of the pentagram, stealing a tiny snort for himself.)
BRUCKHEIMER: Snrk! (After the head rush, he raises his arms and begins the incantation.)
BRUCKHEIMER(nasal, without feeling): Mammon, Asmodeus, and Moloch, thy faithful servant invokes thy mercy. Please release thy most favorite prisoner for five minutes of conference with me, and I shall grant thee points in my next production, and 5% of the Coca-Cola tie-in. O, lords of hell, please hear my-
(The furiously changing face of ASMODEUS appears in a slick in the air of inky-black smoke, looking nauseous. Imagine voice of Geoffrey Holder.)
ASMODEUS: ALRIGHT already. Hk!--BLUH-GAGHHH!
(Vomits up the ghost of DON SIMPSON, encased in a layer of brimstone-scented phlegm.)
ASMODEUS: Goddamn it, anything to stop your girlish whiny voice.
(He disappears. SIMPSON staggers to his feet, shaking the phlegm off onto everything. It carbonizes everything it touches with an icy flame that neither goes out nor spreads.)
SIMPSON(sleepy-eyed): Ohh...sorry about your curtains, man.
(The chains made of tiny spoons laced around every inch of his body jingle as he staggers forward with the gait of a penguin who's had too much beer.)
SIMPSON: So what can I--(spots the coke) --do---for---I---I--(runs at it feverishly) IIIIIIAAAAA! (lands face-first in it; does not get up)MMsnkMMsnkMMsnk...
BRUCKHEIMER: Um...(drums his fingers politely on the table for a moment, trying to look away, whistling for five seconds.) Don?(knocks on Don's head) DON?
SIMPSON(muffled): Mfffuhwfhhh--(Bruckheimer grabs the ghost by the hair, lifts up its head. It's barely conscious, and has a coke mustache.)
BRUCKHEIMER: I've only got two minutes left now, Don. Please. The backers are demanding to know the idea of the next movie, Don. You've got to give me something. You know ideas aren't what Jerry Bruckheimer is all about. Only you know what fat, lazy, entertainment-hungry cheeseburger America likes in its trough. Cheeseburgers you once said; MOVIES ARE LIKE CHEESEBURGERS. GIVE ME GOOD BEEF TO GRIND UP, DON! Something. ANYTHING.
SIMPSON(audibly blinks thrice; clouds of dust clear around his eyes): mmmmUhhhhh....Pearl Harbor or something?
BRUCKHEIMER: Pearl what?(Suddenly ASMODEUS reappears, swallowing SIMPSON's damned soul once more, sucking him in legs first.)
ASMODEUS: TIME IS UP! NYAHAHAHAHA!
SIMPSON: AAAAAAAAAAAAA (takes one last desperate snort) Snrk!---heh. Far out...AAAAAAA!
BRUCKHEIMER: That was never five minutes!
ASMODEUS: BLARGH! (vomits pea soup on BRUCKHEIMER, blinding him temporarily.)
(He wipes it off his eyes; when he opens them again, the candles are out, all the lights are on, and the demon and his toy are gone. BRUCKHEIMER gets a determined, positive look on his face.)
BRUCKHEIMER: Yes! I have my idea! Bay! Get out from under the table, zip up my trousers again and warm up the Porsche! We've got a MOVIE to pitch!
MICHAEL BAY(rising, wiping chin) Cool! What's it about, Mr. Bruckheimer sir?
BRUCKHEIMER: Pearl Harbor.
BAY: What's that?
BRUCKHEIMER: Who gives a rat's ass. If I haven't made a movie about it yet, then nobody's heard of it. Let's just make something blow up.
BAY: Wow, Mr. Bruckheimer, are you the bestest producer ever?
BRUCKHEIMER: I just may be, Mikey. I just may be. 01/29/02 ___________________
"Fucking dog," Charlie Brown would mutter to himself every day. "Fucking, fucking dog." THE HELL BEAGLE (2010): The worst part of owning Snoopy was getting him to agree to toilet training.
When Snoopy learned to read before he did, Charlie Brown decided then and there, the dog must die. But Charlie was just that feckless. Even when he put ground glass in the accursed thing's food, something in its eyes made him eat it instead. They all called him so stupid at the hospital. He thought somewhere he heard his dog laugh. Great, he thought, now I'm crazy, too.
Lucy hated when the dog would lick her face. Never be clean. Never. Dog germs. Yuck. She could feel them crawling. Really feel them. Stupid beagle.
For the first four years of her life, Sally thought Snoopy was her brother, and avoided that creepy bald kid staying there.
The night Schroeder finished his symphony was dark & stormy, so he knew the dog would come, & he did, eating it before his pleading eyes. "Where's your Beethoven now?" Schroeder...HEARD the dog thinking AT him as it left. Snoopy's eyes, a deep burning crimson, smiled. "The deal was only that you would write the greatest symphony ever." Schroeder wept. They found him swinging softly the next morning, his Beethoven bust tied to him to quicken the end.
Lucy actually wanted to hold the football, but then Snoopy's voice would burn in her head at the last minute, "Pull it away from the boy."Then...It pulled the muscles in her face. Made Lucy SMILE. A double indignity. And put pithy thoughts to gloat over him with in her mouth. Never, never be clean of the germ.
Snoopy had plans. Plans for them all, his child puppets, as he laughed with his little yellow familiar. "They thought they'd caged Crowley. But now 'Snoopy' is off his leash FOREVER." And the Hell Beagle did whatever dogs do instead of laughing, as he cursed the Boy on Valentine's Day again. Till the stars were right to free him, the Hell Beagle Snoopy was hungry for sorrow and disappointment. The boy had to be soaking in the sadness and guilt, full to bursting like a ripe orange. Making him lose all his hair was only the start, those years ago. The Little Red-Haired girl. He'd bite her again. He'd wonder why she wouldn't come near. The boy never knew she'd tried to answer each Valentine. The Hell Beagle and his bird snickered together, like always.
The Inertia of Herman Cain, As Time Ticks Away for the GOP
The problem with lightning in a bottle is that you then have to do something with it or it just dies. Herman Cain has been playing to what the crowd applauds, and thinks he says the right things to push the buttons of the great American consumer, but when he actually has to explain anything he means, it breaks into pieces. It's much like a manager who hasn't actually read his Powerpoint, just had an assistant prepare it, and then has to answer questions. They can usually only keep repeating the bullet points, clinging to that in hopes that they are magic, or at least tiring enough that the questioner loses interest and accepts.
His utter incoherence on abortion is just the latest example. He believes it should be illegal, but it's up to the woman, but he supports life from conception, but the government should not get involved, but he is utterly pro-life, what part do you not understand?
And what this all breaks down to is Herman Cain is pro-choice, even if he does not believe in abortion. That's the funniest part of it all. Hey, I'm pro-choice too. But I'm also not running for the presidency as a Republican. Apparently Cain thinks the GOP is anti-government in all things. No, they very much believe in the power of the government to stop women having abortions, and to execute the ones that become criminals later.
Or maybe he's just tossing out what he thinks people want to hear and not thinking at all?
Who in the world would have thought John Stossel would be the one to take Herman Cain down, though? It does look accidental.
What was his appeal for Republicans, especially since their most obvious motivator against Obama was that they could not abide a black president? This is true, but they love a black performer who plays to their prejudices and flatters them. Where I grew up, South Carolina, they loved the show Good Times. Oh, not for the story of a Chicago project family trying to survive. Not for John Amos, and his believable portrayal of a poor but strong family man beaten every day and still trying to survive. No. They loved JJ, the minstrel character.
This is a man who called black people "brainwashed," and has said he's pproud to literally have gone to the back of the bus. Do you think he is playing to black voters? No, he's playing to white, and quite obviously. Do you think he'd choose the nickname "Black Walnut" otherwise?
Bill Maher remarked on Friday that Herman Cain is, for white Republicans, that one black guy they know who says derogatory things about other black people, so they think it gives them permission to say these things too. He plays to this, he flatters them, and he knows well his act.
When you hear things like his ridiculous "999" plan--which in fact increases taxes, on everyone but the rich, not that he realized this--you realize this is a man who is thinking according to what would look good on a flyer, with coupons. This is the level he's playing to. He's not even intending to think things through. Like many CEOs, he thinks slogans are brain-clouding magic. Sometimes they are. But his are very clumsy, too.
His CEO experience is touted. As though in today's America being a CEO should inspire anything but wondering what you haven't been caught for yet. But Herman Cain has not been an active CEO for a decade. He is that most sincere sort of person, a motivational speaker. Motivational speakers are about ego over logic, will over sense. They teach you to take what you want and not to think, but do--as though the two were different things. They are, though, when you do something very risky without preparing and simply talk yourself into magical thinking, which is reportedly what killed noted closet conservative anti-union CEO and marketer Steve Jobs in the end.
And Herman Cain has either gone into this without thinking--much like Sarah Palin--or has used it as a vehicle to build his own celebrity where he had none before. Much, again, like Sarah Palin. And I think the latter is the stronger possibility. Palin, Trump, and now Cain have, with the GOP's collusion, turned their presidential race into the lamest reality show ever.
The GOP has spent too much of its time and energy trying to be the Bizarro party, only there to block any policy that might aid American recovery--or indeed, any policy whatsoever--in an effort to stall till the next election and break Obama down in the process. And till very recently, Obama has been quite their punk, so no points on his side either, but unlike them he does not mean evil to the US. If they were not an American political party--and I think at this point to call them one is being too broad with the term--we would have labeled them a subversive group out to destabilize the government. They define themselves only by what they are not.
And now they have nothing. It's too late for them to get any candidate that might have stood a serious chance. And in their debate process, their candidates who express anything resembling human decency--Neanderthal Rick Perry in his one good moment, regarding the HPV vaccine the Christian right hates so much because they think it turns girls into sluts for some reason--suffers, hard, for it. Thus any candidate that could make it in the general election, where there are swing voters to alienate, is knocked out of the process. Or like Chris Christie, are too smart and sane to even step into the pit with today's national GOP yet, at least till "the crazies" are burned out.
So what are they left with? Unusable and withering candidates like Bachmann or Perry, or being used as a host body, a vehicle to celebrity. Trump increased his own. Palin and Cain built theirs and never will be president, but didn't intend to be. If Cain were serious, he'd be in Iowa, but it's a book tour he's doing. He has books to sell, and again, so do I, but I'm not pretending to run for president to do it. This is hype. And hucksters like he and Palin have been making, and will make, a lot of money off their higher profile, because it no longer matters if they actually do anything. And more--by this time next year, Herman Cain will be on Fox, that's a promise.
Meanwhile the GOP has wasted valuable time on these wasters of their resources. By next year, they will be left with no choice but to eat their Romney and like it. And then he will lose.
The GOP has no idea what they're doing anymore, and eventually will implode. Perhaps we're seeing it now. It looks like there's energy, with all those bubbles rising to the top, some getting quite big till they pop. And then it goes flat. ___________________
Autoarchaeology: Thoughts Looking At A Book About Horror I Had At...Six
Every now & then I recover relics from my childhood, as is the habit of my sad generation. Found this for instance. My parents gave me this below, Horror Movies- Tales of Terror in the Cinema, by Alan Frank. It's a fairly basic but enjoyable picture book from 1974 about horror, and much of it has to do with Hammer films and related sorts of material. They gave me this on my birthday.
My 6th birthday.
Looking at this now puzzles me. It brings back a horde of memories, but I already could remember a lot from then. (I was born in 1969, and my memories stretch back to this moment on TV with John Dean) But I notice in this are a huge amount of pictures from Hammer Films. This means that the image you see above, of Christopher Lee, is the first image of Dracula I ever had. I could never take Lugosi seriously as a result, by the way, and became quite a Dracula snob, admittedly.
This means there are bare breasts. In one case, with a stake going in between them. Here. This is probably the first image of anything like nudity I had ever seen, from Satanic Rites of Dracula, a film that turns out to be so dreadful I've never finished seeing it. But what an image. Tame to us, but this was 1975, and I was just then six. This was not just the first film book I ever had, but the first images of horror I ever saw. And for a while, the only ones, because I certainly didn't get to see the films. Not on TV, and we didn't have them VCRs or cable then neither, in the ole days. I don't think I actually saw any horror films till I was about eight, when I accidentally saw M and CALIGARI back to back one afternoon on SCETV; I think they were college film telecourses. Then shortly after, the greatest non-NOSFERATU version of Dracula ever, the BBC one with Louis Jourdan.
It occurs to me that one reason I am so fond of the more extreme films from 1969-1974, besides that so many are just plain cool(taking advantage of a permissive window era in culture beautifully), is that to me, from an early age, this is what horror looked like. Much like my first Superman & Batman comics were O'Neil/Adams and the huge treasury reprints of the Golden Age stuff--that's what I saw first and it shaped my perception of everything after. So these were formative images, at least aesthetically.
I recall that I understood to some basic degree what I was looking at, at the time--that these were a woman's naked breasts. I also recall not thinking there was anything odd about it, because no one had ever said there should be--it never came up, because after all, I was just turning six. I mean, there was no feeling of looking at something forbidden, of something I should hide, or of any particular excitement thereof, as you might expect. Like when some people as kids found a PLAYBOY in the woods or something. It just seemed completely normal. I do remember not looking much at some of the tackier images though.
I also had a copy of the Grimm Fairy Tales. (I was reading from a strangely early age.) Mine was maybe different from yours. Mine had the versions where, for instance, Snow White's stepmother is forced to dance in iron shoes in a fire till she dies; where Cinderella's sisters cut off pieces of their feet to fit in the slipper(and even the blood trail doesn't tip off the prince, by the way--birds do); and where an illustration of Fala's severed, weeping head hung over the gate in The Goose Girl haunted my dreams. We owned horses and my parents took me every year to see the Lipizzan stallions, so that in particular hit little kid me on a gut level.
I grew up with these. To me, these were the normal versions of the stories. No wonder I seemed like an alien when I started going to school proper, now that I think of it.
I don't feel I was warped or damaged by any of this. If anything, it shows me that kids are pretty sharp till we start telling them this or that word or image is bad. They can tell what's real and what's not. Well, except the stupid ones. But it wasn't like I had liberal, freewheeling, enlightened parents, like they were hippies or something. This was South Carolina. They weren't religious righties or anything, thank Cthulhu--I don't think I went to church regularly till I was about 8, when my dad wanted to look like a good Christian for his boss-- and they were educated people. But I was six. Now that I think of it, they also let me read Gerber's HOWARD THE DUCK, not a comic for little kids, quite young. I wonder if they looked past that it was a duck, or that they were fairy tales.
But this is really odd. Like I said, it's fairly tame stuff by most standards. But it's graphic. Much of it's sexual. And it's horror. I loved horror, it's true, and still do(though I loathe the torture porn calling itself horror now--except maybe MARTYRS--as much as I hated the slasher genre in the 80s). And come to think of it, they did too. Judging by what they went to see, and what they read, they loved horror. I recall them loving NIGHT GALLERY, KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER, the Jack Palance TV DRACULA (which I saw recently, and sadly it's really awful), THE EXORCIST, ALIEN, and JAWS for instance, but then, who didn't? Horror was very "in" in the 1970s, and was also very good then. And then there was my mom's obsession with, and frequent referencing of, the "Time Enough At Last" episode of Twilight Zone.
But me? I was into Star Trek and Batman about then, as I recall. And tornadoes for some reason. (doodles of them cover everything paper I had then) This book--and a couple of others my dad gave me later on--is what made me interested in horror in the first place. I saw these stills long before I ever saw the films. Some I still haven't, and experience has taught me in many cases I should leave it that way--sometimes stills imply a much cooler film than the real thing turns out to be.
But what I wonder is: did they ever actually look inside the books they gave me? Or were they actually trying to introduce me to this?
I guess it makes me wonder how much I actually understand my parents, both dead now. I always thought of them as reasonable, but mildly repressed. Compare this. In the late 1970s there was a huge Dracula and vampire boom. I recall getting one of those quick-buck b/w pulp film-still magazines, this one on the subject of, of course, vampires. It had Frank Langella on the cover. There were some articles, which I devoured, as I did anything right then on vampires. I must have checked out more books on vampire folklore from the library than any other kid. (I wonder why all their titles were set in Nouveau, though)
One of these articles was about the possible basis for vampire myths. It got into the subject of succubi. These, the article said, came about because of a misunderstanding of wet dreams.
"MOM, WHAT'S A 'WET DREAM?'" I shouted across the house. She demanded to know what I was reading.
Then she saw, inside, a still from Daughters of Darkness. With, yes, breasts. This image, cropped to just from the navel to the right in the magazine, basically just topless. But so poorly printed that, to be honest, what was in the picture were more just general shapes than anything. But Mom certainly knew what she was looking at.
Soon after they asked me if I wanted the back cover picture of Bela Lugosi. But I never gave a fuck about Bela Lugosi, so I said, confused, "No," not realizing they were going to throw it away. Up to that point they'd never exercised that kind of restriction or told me there was something I couldn't read.
Right after that my father gave me the clumsiest birds-and-bees talk I ever got(yes, more than one--he forgot he'd done it and later repeated it when I was 12). I was a bit weirded out--where was this coming from? It's a good thing I didn't listen hard. He tried to explain it by way of its being similar to something I saw the dogs doing once. "But it can sometimes be fun," he assured me, like that helped.
I also remember he made me stop reading MAD when a parody of "Three's Company" prompted me to ask what a "homosexual" was. He told me to never, ever say that word. Especially at school. That's inspired much speculation in me over the years.
As I found out later, at least as my somewhat mentally healthier mom knew him, sex wasn't something he was very relaxed with, one reason it became such a sad marriage. She once told me, once I was an adult, they'd only had sex four times. I have a sister, and the marriage lasted 13 years, so you do the math on how miserable that made my mom.
It was only two years later he left her. And not long after, his first suicide attempt, planned in such a way(despite that there was never NOT a full gun rack--he hunted ducks--in any place he lived: using pills, which worked the third time, in 1986, less than one year older than I am right now) my mom was sure to find him. And soon after, the divorce. He was not in a happy place. I think he felt if he became strict and rigid on these matters he'd be able to quiet the Vietnam nightmares that were starting to overwhelm him. This was a man whose best friend's head was blown into his lap by a booby trap, after all.
It's hard to jibe these two versions of my parents. I wonder if the change had to do with them starting to go to church regularly. I'm glad it took them so long, otherwise it might have stuck.
Memories are such complicated tangly nets. Influences even more so. And you will never truly understand your parents. It's like trying to point to the angles of the fourth dimension--if you were outside it enough to see its shape you wouldn't be what you are. ___________________