Saturday, December 30, 2017


Yesterday, all six episodes of the Fourth Season of BLACK MIRROR finally reached Netflix, and as a huge fan of that show (and Charlie Brooker's work in general), I couldn't be more pleased. And so, I have decided to review each episode in order, as I watch them, and share my thoughts with all of you here on the Mediavore. Enjoy! - Jerky

With “USS Callister”, the first episode of Black Mirror’s fourth season—if you’re watching the episodes in their semi-official, “suggested” order—Charlie Brooker and Co. have decided to kick things off with a bit of a dud.

Not that it’s bad. If this were an episode of any other anthology series, it would rightly be considered high grade entertainment. The actors all acquit themselves nicely, and the production values are great, with some truly excellent special effects. It’s just that… well, it doesn’t have that Black Mirror feeling.

Which is odd, because at first glance, this episode appears to build directly on concepts introduced in two previous Black Mirror episodes: “San Junipero” and “White Christmas”. And it certainly isn’t lacking in Brooker’s trademark misanthropic cynicism, what with videogame developer Daly, an apparently mild-mannered doormat who secretly harbours a serious sadistic streak, being the most unambiguously nasty lead character in series history.

Maybe therein lies the problem. Because there’s been far more to Black Mirror than just eyeballs hazing over and intermittent stabs of nihilistic ugliness. Perhaps one of the most powerful weapons in Brooker’s arsenal up until now has been precisely the kind of ambiguity that is sorely lacking in “USS Callister”, with its stark, binary set of good guys and bad guys.

The above could probably be forgiven if the speculative, “hard science” elements of the story were exceptional. Unfortunately, this episode more than any other in the series stretches the viewer’s willing suspension of disbelief to the breaking point and beyond.

The worst example is the mechanism by which Daly acquires, then inserts, his victims into the game world of Infinity, the episode’s stand-in game for No Man’s Sky… or, at least a stand-in for the game that No Man’s Sky was hyped to be, before reality came crashing down around it like so many Tetris blocks. It feels lazy and rushed, particularly when compared to how the same issue was handled in the magnificent “White Christmas” episode.

It should go without saying, but the idea that our DNA contains an up to the minute model of our identity and memories is farcical, and even sci-fi writers of the 1960’s wouldn’t have taken such laughable liberties with technology.

Actually, there’s a lot about the technology in “USS Callister” that seems poorly conceptualized. Seeing as it was created by a former videogame critic (Brooker), it’s actually quite puzzling to me that the game seems so boring and uninvolved. I don’t think I know anybody who would want to play Infinity, no matter how big a Star Trek—I mean “Space Fleet” fan they might be.

Another issue is the lack of consistency. At one point in the episode, it’s made quite clear that the victims have no real power in the game world. The buttons on the consoles are meaningless. Randomly punching any button will perform whatever task it is that Daly has most recently asked his underlings to perform. But later on, Walton manages a heroic, self-sacrificing “fix” of the ship’s engines.

And then there's the problem of the unrealistic level of time compression necessary in order for the crew's big plan to have any chance of working. The idea that they could put into motion a plan to blackmail the real-world Nanette with some racy photos, have Nanatte run around gathering all the necessary equipment, then make her way to Daly's apartment, where they have her break in and snoop around while he's still in there, then have her order a pizza, and have the pizza be delivered, all while their AI versions are listlessly frolicking in alien waters... that borders on Game of Thrones Season Seven levels of not giving a fuck about timelines just as long as it makes for "cool TV bro".

That said, the episode is not without its charms. As previously mentioned, the actors are game. And the episode looks fantastic, both in game and in the real world. There are also a bunch of in jokes and Easter eggs that fans of science fiction will have fun picking out, including an episode ending coda involving an upgrade that references a certain contemporary auteur's love of lens flare. And yes, some of the ideas about the ways in which highly advanced AIs might one day be able to interact with (and wreak havoc upon?) the “real world” from inside a simulation are very much worth developing further. 

Unfortunately, “USS Callister” doesn’t do that. It takes the easy way out, again and again, all in the service of advancing what is otherwise a pretty standard Matrix-style Twilight Zone episode, and to deliver a lesson—that nerdy White tech guys often harbor reprehensible notions—that isn’t likely to be blowing anyone’s mind at this point, here on the eve of the year 2018.

To sum up, “USS Callister” instantly ties the second season’s “The Waldo Moment” for my least favorite Black Mirror episode. I hope the creators’ suggestion that it be the first watch of the new season has something to do with them recognizing its shortcomings, and that the season only gets better from hereon out.

Friday, December 22, 2017


If you're like me, all you know about Joe Don Baker's filmography are his two appearances in films that were given the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, where Joe, Mike and the Bots take turns savaging him over everything from his weight issue to his limited acting range. Perhaps that's why I found this footage of Baker being a genuine cinematic bad-ass in the 1975 film Framed so jarring. Also contains one of the most brain-scramblingly dangerous stunts ever caught on camera. It's enough to make you wonder whether the stuntman was able to walk away afterwards.

Monday, December 4, 2017


Monoglots, rejoice! You don't have to be able to read Spanish to enjoy Joan Cornella's beautifully painted, multi-panel, single page comic strips. That's because this Spanish artist has chosen to leave her work wordless, a decision that ends up making just as much artistic sense as it does from a marketing standpoint. 

Mute as they are, Cornella's little stories practically scream for attention. Paradoxical in every conceivable way, these delicately savage non-allegories often achieve a near transcendent level of surrealism, displaying a paradoxically violent beauty via Cornella's delicately simple representation.

The gags don't always land, but they certainly do often enough to warrant giving each and every one of them the benefit of the doubt. And even the pages that fall flat often still contain something that makes them worthwhile... a strikingly beautiful design element, for instance, or a never-before-seen juxtaposition that stays with you, like an odd passing glance from a stranger on the street.

The book itself is also a thing of beauty. Bibliophiles will marvel at the design work that Cornella's North American publishers, Fantagraphics, have put into this product. Producing adult-oriented content with the colorful sturdiness and rugged durability of the best in children's publishing is a brilliant idea, and it's one that I hope more publishers will consider copying.

Ultimately, what we have here is a traditional European style "funny book" that can also easily be considered a collection of postmodernist sequential paintings that builds on the surrealist traditions of Dali and Bunuel. Fantagraphics is to be commended for helping to spread this artist's work beyond her home continent of Europe, and for making MOX NOX such a ridiculously low-priced bargain.
If you're thinking about purchasing MOX NOX via, please consider doing so through the links provided here. Much obliged!

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Noted "ideas man" and branding expert Douglas Rushkoff, perhaps best known for writing multiple bestsellers in which he coined the terms "viral media" and "social capital", is a man of many interests and talents. Among his interests are the Western esoteric tradition, and among his talents, storytelling.

Rushkoff's latest graphic novel is Aleister & Adolf, and it is competently rendered in occasionally impressive chiaroscuro by Michael Avon Oeming. It synthesizes the author's interests in a brief and breezy time-and-globe-hopping neo-noir mystery that centers on the secret symbolism of a venerable corporate logo. This is territory Rushkoff knows well.

By the time all is revealed, our reluctant investigator (and his mid-century counterpart) will have stumbled across the existence of World War II's forgotten battlefield, where Astral war was waged by crazy old men in esoteric brotherhoods wielding their ceremonially amplified wills like magickal WMD.

All in all, this book makes for fun stuff, particularly if you're intrigued by the Third Reich's obsession with occult artifacts and other such Theosophical nonsense. The fact that much of this story is based on historical fact makes it all the more compelling.

Aleister & Adolf is published by Dark Horse, and is available both in a sweet-looking hardcover edition or as an e-book over at If you're gonna buy the thing, use the link I just provided, please!

Friday, November 24, 2017


Fantagraphics has debuted NOW, their new comics anthology in which they showcase new work for mature audiences from their broad stable of established and up-and-coming artists... and it's a triumph. From the explosive cover art by Rebecca Morgan, to the innovative formatting (the table of contents is on the back cover?!), NOW feels fresh and essential in a way that I haven't experienced since... damn. I might have to go all the way back to my late-70's love affair with Heavy Metal to find a magazine I've been this excited about. 

Here's how the product is described over at the Fantagraphics website:
We live in a golden age of quality comic art and stories. Graphic novels have never been more popular. But where to start? Now aspires to be an affordable and ongoing anthology of new comics that appeals both to the comics-curious as well as the serious aficionado. In the age of long form graphic novels, Now also intends to provide a platform for short fiction, experimentation, and for showcasing diversity in the comics field. The only common denominator to each piece is an exemplary use of the comics form. 
Fantagraphics is proud to launch this showcase of all-new short comics fiction with a lineup of established and up-and-coming talent from around the globe. The first issue includes new work from acclaimed creators such as Eleanor Davis (How To Be Happy), Noah Van Sciver (Fante Bukowski), Gabrielle Bell (Lucky), Dash Shaw (Cosplayers), Sammy Harkham (Crickets), and Malachi Ward (Ancestor), as well as international stars such as J.C. Menu, Conxita Herrerro, Tobias Schalken, and Antoine Cossé. Plus strips from rising stars Tommi Parrish, Sara Corbett, Daria Tessler, and newcomer Kaela Graham, as well as a gorgeous painted cover by artist Rebecca Morgan. With a frequency of three times a year, Now is the brainchild of Fantagraphics Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds, who previously edited 22 volumes of the fondly remembered anthology Momefrom 2005-2011. 


Friday, November 17, 2017


I don't know if it's the MOST intense, but it sure is intense, and as a fan of progressive rock and jazz fusion, I have to say, this definitely makes me interested in digging up more material from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a band I've long known about and have often had recommended to me based on my tastes.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


NOBODY SPEAK ~ Brian Knappenberger's documentary will prove a chilling corrective to anyone who thinks the lawsuit that destroyed Gawker had anything to do with them providing a showcase for Hulk Hogan's sex tape (something they barely even did, as they only ran brief excerpts). The real story here is that quasi-fascist Silicon Valley billionaire vampire Peter Thiel (easily one of the worst people in the world today) used the trial as a stalking horse via which he was able to deal a lethal blow to a journalistic outlet that he despised for having previously published stories that pissed him off, that pesky first amendment be damned.


11/8/16 ~ A mesmerizing, meditative, wide angle exploration of election day, USA, 2016. Eighteen directors from coast to coast follow a vast array of citizens, families, organizers and volunteers of every political stripe as the contest evolves from a relatively boring foregone conclusion to a cause for shocked panic and genuine distress in some quarters, while others are overcome with joy at having apparently beaten impossible odds. There is no voice-over narration to guide your thoughts as you follow the film's subjects from home to work to the voting booth to back home again, which makes it a Rorschach test of sorts. How you react to this film will definitely depend on your politics. To me, and I suspect a great many of you, 11/8/16 comes close to being a horror film.


GLOW: THE STORY OF THE GORGEOUS LADIES OF WRESTLING ~ You've seen the entertaining, highly fictionalized version of the story of the first all female professional wrestling league, now find out the inspiring true story behind it all! Seriously though, if you enjoyed GLOW as much as I did, I think you'll get a lot out of this doc. It's fun and moving and more than a little bit inspiring.


BEST OF ENEMIES ~ Speaking of cat-fights, it's unfortunate that the makers of Best of Enemies--a documentary about the long-running feud between arch-liberal Gore Vidal and ultra-conservative William F. Buckley--chose to focus on the tawdry and salacious particulars of the enmity between these two men, rather than using them as examples to help illuminate one of the 20th century's most important and still-raging philosophical struggles. For those interested, Michael Lind's review is essential reading. 


AMERICAN ANARCHIST ~ As a history lesson in how The Anarchist's Cookbook, a poorly written collection of dubious and dangerous recipes for poisons and explosives, became a perennial international publishing phenomenon that's been found at or near pretty much every single significant act of terrorism in the last five decades, Charlie Siskel's American Anarchist is a worthy documentary. As a character study of the book's author, William Powell, it is frustrating and unsatisfying. But perhaps that couldn't be helped, because despite his occasional declarations about how the book haunts him, Powell seems to have given precious little thought to the consequences of producing his book, and is singularly uninformed about its ubiquity among those who have engaged in atrocities. This flaw is magnified by the fact that all of Powell's comments come from a single interview. Perhaps a follow-up meeting would have helped clear a few things up?

Friday, November 10, 2017


I first heard about Big Mouth, Netflix’ latest animated comedy series, while patrolling an ideologically diseased sector of the Internet where I was gathering material for a project that I’ve been working on for a while now. It was at one of the Chan boards, where some concerned patriots were trying to figure out how best to deal with the immanent release of a sinister new cartoon show that they described as being an obvious example of how Far Left Jews and their Illuminati Satanist partners were using their strangle-hold on the entertainment industry to “normalize” pedophilia, because Cultural Marxism.

It turns out that series was Big Mouth, and after watching all ten episodes in a single binge, I am pleased to report that it is nothing less than a triumph, and that only the most religiously indoctrinated, sexually dysfunctional, and/or psychologically damaged among us will be able to find anything objectionable about it. There’s nothing more explicit here than what can be found in old classroom sex-education videos. The target audience is clearly older teens and young adults, and the vast majority of viewers will be too distracted roaring in laughter as they re-live their own junior high experiences to fret over the fact that they’re being shown a (cartoon) 13-year-old (cartoon) girl’s (cartoon) talking vagina.

Okay, so let’s get a few nit-picks out of the way. Big Mouth starts out slow, with the first episode being one of the series’ weakest entries. Fortunately, everything lines up nicely by the second episode, after which there’s a good stretch without a single stinker in the bunch.

Visually, Big Mouth fits snugly in the Family Guy, American Family tradition. In other words, it’s on the decent side of adequate, but it’s no masterpiece. I do find it somewhat ironic, however, that many of the same folks who accuse the show of trying to make kids seem sexy also accuse the character design as being “really fucking ugly”.

There are two areas where Big Mouth truly shines.

First, the writing. The jokes come at you thick and fast, and they have an enviable hit/miss ratio. With few exceptions, the fourth wall breaks and fantasy sequences feel earned and organic, especially when compared to those found in the aforementioned Family Guy.

Second, the performances. Having already explored the comedic potential of late middle-age with their phenomenally popular Broadway smash (and subsequent Netflix special) Oh, Hello!, the dynamic duo of series co-creator/co-writer Nick Kroll and John Mulaney portray best buddies Nick and Andrew, two junior high kids in the clutches of pubertal chaos, each in their own special way. For Andrew, the struggle is all too primal, as evinced by his near constant state of sexual arousal. Nick, on the other hand, is navigating the tricky waters of being a late bloomer surrounded by peers who are for all intents and purposes exploding into adulthood, with occasionally bloody consequences.

While Nick and Andrew provide the series with a focal point, Big Mouth is very much an ensemble showcase. The voice actors portraying the circle of friends are uniformly excellent, with Jenny Slate’s precocious nerd Missy being a particularly endearing stand-out. Series co-creator/co-writer Jessi Klein’s Jessi is meant to be the character that female viewers identify with, so she’s a bit of a cypher, but it works in context, and she makes the most of her many chances to shine. Jason Mantzoukas’ wannabe magician Jay rounds out the main gang, and is a fine example of the self-aware fifth wheel.

The rest of the Big Mouth universe is populated by three specific types of character.

First, there are the other kids, like the catty gay stereotype Matthew, the young interracial couple who go by the joint name “the Devins”, and Jay’s terrifying older brothers.

Next, we have the adults, who range from the incompetent (and incontinent) Coach Steve, to Andrew’s fraught father and anxiety-ridden mother, to Nick’s exaggeratedly enlightened, loving and supportive parents.

Finally, we come to the supernatural characters. For instance, Andrew is being stalked by the Hormone Monster, here rendered as a shaggy, degenerate Pan figure on a quest to get Andrew to spend every waking moment masturbating. Jessi, meanwhile, is visited by the Hormone Monstress, beautifully voiced by Maya Rudolph. In fact, Rudolph and the writers make the Monstress so distinct from her male counterpart, you’d think they could have come up with a better name. And finally, seeing as he has yet to reach puberty, Nick’s otherworldly connection comes in the form of the ghost of Duke Ellington, who haunts the attic of his house. It’s a silly contrivance, but it’s an excuse to have Jordan Peele on the cast, so I’m not complaining.

Ultimately, Big Mouth pulls off a pretty impressive high-wire act, embodying multiple paradoxes at once. It is simultaneously edgy yet empathetic, graphic yet gentle, surreal yet truthful, hilarious yet educational, vulgar yet sweet... all in all, it is perfectly imperfect, and thus so very human... despite being a cartoon. If you have teenagers, you might want to consider torturing them by forcing them to watch it with you. Be sure to pepper them with questions for the duration!

Oh, I almost forgot... if you're considering watching the show but you're on the brink, and still need just one more reason to push you into checking it out... the theme song is the recently deceased Charles Bradley’s heavy soul version of Black Sabbath’s mournful ballad “Changes”, and it is a revelation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


David Butterfield's Spectator UK article "How Brass Eye skewered our hysterical media age" is an excellent look back at one of the most iconic projects by the single most original satirist of the 20th century (and beyond): Chris Morris.  It begins:
It took less than three hours – but in six late-night, high-octane blows the self-assurance of the British media was irredeemably shaken. The attack was long coming and much deserved. Since the attack’s medium, like its target, was televisual, the show was predictably passed from pillar to post and held back for more than a year. But two decades ago, in 1997, Brass Eye finally aired on Channel 4. Its impact and legacy remain unparalleled in the annals of British comedy. 
For those too young or too cloistered to have seen the show, its character resists description. Think of a bewildering cocktail of Newsnight and the Book of Revelations, liberally spiked with MDMA. Its presenter, Chris Morris (playing himself, among a host of other tortuously-named characters), steered the show like an end-of-days prophet, a captain standing unruffled at the helm of HMS Universe as it sinks into the mire. Despite the parodic, pyrotechnic graphics, the hysterical headlines and the absurdity of its stories, the format had the cocksure swagger of a slick, high-budget news revue. Unsuspecting viewers could be forgiven if they were roped into believing its twaddle-ridden dystopia. 
Turbo-charged with sharp suits and messianic zeal, this apocalyptic take on Britain under last-gasp-Major had the disturbing ring of truth. 
It neither was, nor is, easy viewing. At every turn, Brass Eye grasped the nettles few would or could: AIDS, animal rights, pornography, drug abuse, race. Yet its approach was not moral grand-standing or strawman napalming. Instead, it played out these infinitely complex issues – partly through actors, partly through earnest but unassuming talking heads – to reveal the infirm and often hypocritical positions of the commentariat. 
While Brass Eye made fools of the politicians and celebrities who fell for its hoaxes, its one continual target was itself: the no-nonsense, black-and-white, world-resolving tribunal of current affairs. 
The episodes’ subjects suggested an innocuous survey of contemporary society, providing the springboard for urgent, if bizarre, campaigns. A decade before the term ‘virtue-signalling’ was coined by Joseph Bulbulia, Brass Eye showed the great and good of British society climbing over one another to exhibit their support of a cause – any cause – from the woes of Karla the Elephant (whose depression had caused her head to become lodged in her rectum) to the wrongs of Heavy Electricity (which can fall from the sky like an ‘invisible lead soup’, reducing its victims to eight inches in height). At all turns, Morris deployed the shrill language of the supercilious reporter, albeit fed through a mangle and tumble dryer: ‘themoralmometer’, ‘braintanglia’ and ‘roboplegic wrongcock’ give a sense of his inimitable neologisms. 
Morris threw himself wholly into the fray. In the ‘Drugs’ episode, he wandered the streets of Notting Hill asking an increasingly bemused dealer for ‘Yellow bentines’, ‘Triple-sod’ and ‘Clarky Cat’. Despite the obvious nonsense of the context, many keenly flaunted their anti-drug credentials. David Amess MP was so shocked by reports of the synthetic Czechoslovakian drug ‘Cake’ that he questioned the Home Office minister about this dangerous ‘made-up drug’. (Hansard of 24 July 1996 enshrines the moment.) Other eager campaigners – Noel Edmonds, Sir Bernard Ingham, Bernard Manning and Rolf Harris – seemed unperturbed by the fact they were holding (literally) cake-sized pills throughout their soliloquies. 
The response of the press – an indirect casualty of the assault – was universally negative: rather than reconsider their histrionic over-simplification, they found fresh fuel for that fire. Halfway through the series the Daily Mail asked of Morris, ‘Is this the most hated man in Britain?’ At the Baftas, Brass Eye was, paradoxically, a booed nominee. 
Despite the show’s seismic shock, it seemed that after the series aired Brass Eye had disappeared from the world entirely. And it had – except for one of the most challenging half-hours in televisual history, and then the most complained about. In 2001, Channel 4 boldly aired a Brass Eye special dubbed Paedogeddon, a Crimewatch-esque rally against anything that could contain a scintilla of paedophilic fear. The programme emerged against the backdrop of the News of the World’s name-and-shame campaign, when panic ran wild – and even paediatricians came under attack. Amid the frenzy, DJ Neil ‘Doctor’ Fox was only too happy to assert, on national television, that ‘paedophiles have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me… Now that is scientific fact – there’s no real evidence for it – but it is scientific fact.’ Gary Lineker helped unravel surreal text-message slang attributed to paedophiles, Richard Blackwood warned of noxious and predatory keyboards, Phil Collins sang the praises of Nonce Sense, and Lord Coe held up before-and-after photographs of an offender, unaware that he held stills of Hall and Oates. The episode was complex and obscure in its satire: it caused outrage among press and politicians, and still leaves many scratching their heads. But as a distillation of the excited hysteria of the media pursuing stories of this nature, it’s right on the money.
There's lots of great stuff left in the article, as the above excerpts less than a third of it, so do keep reading to learn more about what history will surely regard as a canonical offering.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Time for another Guest Post from our old pal ACD! This time, Ace dives deep into the Netflix pool in order to seek out the precious pearls of horror movie goodness with which to liven up your Halloween night, be it a hang-out with friends, a full-blown party, or all by your lonesome! Enjoy! - YOPJ
Our old pal Jerky asked me for my take on what’s available on Netflix Streaming for Halloween week. I shall not pay much attention to the worst. The horror genre is so particularly well-acclimated to absolutely terrible film-making that to pick the lousy ones is like shooting fish in a barrel. Netflix has beefed up their streaming library of horror from about 15 films to 75 over the past week and a half, and a quick scroll through the dreck will readily support this proposition.

Throw a rubber dart at your TV screen if you want a really bad horror movie on Netflix. As for really good ones, there are no timeless horror classics available. There is no Exorcist or Omen or House On Haunted Hill or Silence Of The Lambs or The Shining or Wait Until Dark, nor even cheesy genre standards such as The Hills Have Eyes or Last House On The Left or either Evil Dead (I prefer the second, wittier one) or Nosferatu or Village Of The Damned. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night Of The Living Dead were there a few weeks ago, and maybe still are.

I’d rather do a Top 10 list in the order of 10 through 1, but let’s get the three good ones out of the way at the outset, which most of you have seen, probably more than once, and for the rest of you, you must see immediately, for they represent a glaring lacuna in your cinematic lexicon. Then we can plumb the fun-but-not-necessary ones.

1. JAWS ~ It isn't classic horror, but it’s one of the reasons Spielberg has more films in the AFI Top 100 than Kubrick or Hitchcock or Ford or Wilder. My ex won’t let her daughter watch it, and I understand why – it spoilt me for deep-water swimming also. Its special effects, ground-breaking at the time, have aged worse than 2001 or The Day The Earth Stood Still. The shark is almost an object of derision now, and most people under 40 who watch the film just sort of chortle at how improbable the shark looks to the modern eye.

But let’s remember whom the young Spielberg had to direct: Robert Shaw, just a few years after Academy Award nominated performances in A Man For All Seasons and The Sting, and shortly before his untimely death; Roy Scheider in his prime, between The French Connection and All That Jazz; and Richard Dreyfuss in his equivalent prime, between American Graffiti and Close Encounters.

Also let us not forget that this was a very good film indeed. It won three Oscars, it was nominated for Best Picture, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. Would I let my kid watch it? Probably not. But maybe so. It’s not my call to make. And I’m in Denver right now, where there are no sharks in the water.

2. Young Frankenstein ~ Seriously? If you haven’t seen this of course you must watch it. I first saw it before marijuana entered my behavioral repertoire, and it was just as funny then. Whereas try watching Superbad or Harold & Kumar without getting high (warning, not nearly as funny). It is also fantastic for younger children. It’s not particularly scary, nor is it meant to be. The two sexual innuendos – Roll Roll Roll In The Hay, and the final scene, inquiring which anatomical part the monster had traded for the brain – go straight over the heads of any kid younger than 12. And it’s just so damn funny.

One of the perennially under-appreciated contributions to comedic genius is The Set-Up Guy. Tommy Smothers to Dickie Smothers, Laurel to Hardy, Gracie to George. Dan Ackroyd is wonderful, and neither Belushi, Murray, Martin nor Chase would have been half as funny without his nerdly softball pitches for them to swing at. But among the best ever have been women. Audrey Meadows, Mary Tyler Moore, Kate Hudson, Rosalind Russell, Claudette Colbert, even Salma Hayek. And one thing that surprises me every time I watch Young Frankenstein is that among its stellar cast of over-the-top goofballs – Gene Wilder, Cloris Leachman, Peter Boyle, Madeline Kahn, and Marty Feldman – the one who consistently sets them up, with pitch-perfect timing, is the lovely young Terri Garr. She should be required watching in Comedy 101 classes in drama school.

I saw this movie in 6th or 7th grade. I’ve watched it with kids as young as 5 or 6. You actually can’t watch Blazing Saddles with them. You’ll need to be explaining ethical issues the whole time, regarding the N-word and the status of women and the fact that there weren’t any women and so men needed to dress up as women and take it up the ass… ad nauseum, until you turn it off 19 minutes in and say “hey, ya know, we’ll watch this when you’re in 8th grade.” But Young Frankenstein works from ages 5 to 90.

Even if you can anticipate every fucking joke. Put, the candle, back.

3. The Sixth Sense ~ This is a tricky film. I’m pretty good at anticipating where some non-linear narratives are heading, and I had Mulholland Drive and Irreversible and The Salton Sea and Memento sussed out pretty early – in fact, with a couple of them I actually guessed that they would take it a step farther than they did. My extra twists would have made them better, ahem. But I was genuinely surprised at the end of The Sixth Sense. So if you’ve never seen it, you really ought to. It’s not a horror film in the standard definition, but it’s scary, and fun, and well-acted, and well-scripted.

But here’s the real problem – if you HAVE seen it before, it just doesn’t work nearly as well. Because all of your brain that processes sub-rosa context will be telling you: “dude, you know what’s really going on”, and it becomes anti-climactic. When a horror movie pretty much depends on one surprise punchline to pull it together, and you already know the punchline, it really undermines the sense of wonder that you enjoyed the first time ‘round. I’ve found that watching The Sixth Sense after the first time is an annoying exercise in spotting which scenes must be imaginary and which ones are actually plot flaws, because backtracking from the surprise, they couldn’t have happened that way.

So, while avoiding too much spoiler discussion, my recommendation is schizophrenic:
  1. If you’ve never seen it, watch it. It’s quite good.
  2. If you’ve seen it, wait another decade, when you won’t have forgotten the punchline, but you won’t be as nit-picky about how they got to the punchline.
OK, so there are the three very fine films available in the Horror category of Netflix over Halloween week. Let’s now count down #10 through #4.

10. Cult Of Chucky ~ I may or may not have seen the original Child’s Play. I remember a movie about toys attacking their owners or the children in the house. Not the wonderful ABC Movie Of The Week, around 1974 or so, Trilogy Of Terror, where the last of three vignettes has a Polynesian tiki doll chasing Karen Black around her apartment. But something about evil toys or dolls with knives. Or do I mean leprechauns? Whatever. But I watched this Chucky, and it’s stupid fun. There are plot flaws you could drive a 34-wheel Mexican doble-semi-remolque through. There are all too many times you are shouting at the screen or the screenwriters “what the fucking fuck, you stupid fucks, that makes no fucking sense, you motherfucking morons. Fuck!” Which is true of most horror movies. Spoiler alert: the two middle-aged semi-hot Chucky cult chicks suck face and grab each other’s titties all through the climactic scene, while a female Chucky doll chuckles maniacally. You know you want to watch this. Marijuana recommended.

9. Children Of The Corn ~ I’d give this a middle-of-the-King thumbs-up. Here I might as well piss off YOPJ (who, any of you devotees of his out there know, is a devotee of Kubrick) by saying that this film is not in the same league as Carrie, The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, or Stand By Me. Am I missing one? It is better than Cujo. Apt Pupil was a mess, so better than that too. OK, fine, Jerky, I’ll grant you, it’s not as good as The Shining either, which I thought went off the rails as soon as the boy saw the twins and the bleeding walls. Up until then, among the best suspense movies ever. For me, the climax came 45 minutes before the climax, when Olive Oil saw “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” on his typewriter. Children of the Corn is creepy, obviously derivative of the early 60s British classic, Village Of The Damned. But it’s a good horror movie.

8. The Legend Of Hell House ~ Speaking of derivative, this could have been an alternative screenplay for the wonderful House On Haunted Hill. Roddy McDowall is the star, so that should give you a measure of its class. He was probably the third-bill actor in the same year’s Planet Of The Apes. The trope is so hackneyed as to be yawn-inducing: you have to spend a night or a week in a haunted house. Maybe you have a few scientists and psychics among you who can perceive some insight before their grisly deaths. But this is solid Brit Goth, from the same era as Train of Horror, The Wicker Man, Straw Dogs, etc. Leave subtlety to Gielgud and Olivier, we’ve got screams to scream.

7. John Dies At The End ~ This is a silly satire, based on a modestly popular web serial, about two paranormal investigators, and starring Paul Giamatti. I enjoyed it, but would highly recommend marijuana beforehand and during. What I like best about it is being able to spoil it without a spoiler alert: John totally dies at the end.

6. Hostel ~ Oddly, when I first saw this film I had just been on a travel-writing assignment – a beer tour of German and Austrian and Czech towns along the Rhine and Danube. Yes I said beer tour – I was commissioned to sample beers en route (pity me, dear reader) from Amsterdam to Prague, and I believe my companion and I got to about 130 different beers over 15 days. 115 of those beers were downed after parking the car, I should add. We started in Amsterdam, where the hot female lures picked up the American dupes in the movie, and ended in Czesky Krumlov, where the torture brothel was clearly located. The plotline is creepy – international businessmen bid at auction for the right to torture to death victims of their chosen demographic. Sort of like how it works in real life at the El Paso-Juarez border. This film is graphic and unpleasant, but it does its job, and is a solid second-rate gore-fest.

5. Hellraiser ~ I saw this film in its theatrical debut, in Times Square, 1987. I can recommend no other venue, except for Harlem, Brooklyn, or The Bronx, for watching horror movies. Because you may be sure the audience will be shouting at the screen: “Don’t go into the cellar, you stupid bitch!” “Call the PO-lice, you fucking MO-ron!” The reviews upon its release were as schizophrenic as they get, ranging from Best British Horror Movie Ever to Execrable Piece Of Shit. A man buys a puzzle box, and then has the misfortune of un-puzzling it. Which leads to him being torn apart by fish-hooks from an alternate dimension. Hilarity ensues.

4. Donnie Darko ~ This is not standard horror genre fare. If you haven’t seen it, you must. If you have, then try and find the original rather than the Director’s Cut, which telegraphs some of the punches via its insipid chapter openings with tag lines that expose too many cards. What is there to say about the Gyllenhaal kids? They’ve both benefited immensely and simultaneously been smothered by their Hollywood Insider mommy and daddy. Until their legal age of majority they were only allowed to audition for parts, but never perform in anything not produced by their parents. But they were good, at a young age. Jake playing Billy Crystal’s kid in City Slickers might have been a McCauley Culkin/Haley Joel Osment sort of breakout role, but for his over-bearing parents. At the same time, he and his older sister Maggie got into Columbia, which, unlike Penn, Cornell, and Dartmouth, is a legitimate Ivy. So the parents’ being protective about childhood and studying is not the worst fate a child could suffer. Her big breakthrough was The Secretary, as Jim Spader’s S&M office slut. His was Brokeback Mountain, as Heath Ledger’s S&M office slut. Did they do it on set? Ledger’s dead, so I’m afraid we will never know. In any case, he is superb in this film, and Maggie, as a side-prop, more or less, is funny as hell, when not being poignant. A big rabbit tells him the world will end soon. Echo & The Bunnymen agree. So do Tears For Fears, the soundtrack is sublime. The rest is worthy of Wes Anderson. This is as good as B-movies get.

Editor’s Note: Netflix isn’t stupid, and the Horror section continues to expand, after the writing of this piece. A few other notable films have been added, so choose accordingly.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


GERALD'S GAME (Netflix) - I went through an incredibly passionate Stephen King phase during adolescence, during which time I read every single thing he ever wrote. Good Lord, could that man throw a scare into me. There are images and moments in Salem's Lot, The Shining, and Pet Sematary that still give me goosebumps, and I'll argue for The Dead Zone's status as a Great American Novel to this day.

Sometime during my first year of university, however, I read The Dark Half, then Four Past Midnight, and both left me cold, at which point I gave up on King... as a writer of fiction, at least. This means I never got around to reading Gerald's Game, which if I recall correctly came out in a year when something like six or seven other Stephen King novels were published, and the man's legendary literary fecundity went from being a wonder to being a bit of a running joke.

Watching shit-hot indie horror specialist Mike Flanagan's stylish, assured version of Gerald's Game, I was reminded of what I loved so much about reading King's novels as a teen: His knack for telling stories that make you greedy to read more, his uncanny ability to develop extraordinary horror out of ordinary, everyday life circumstances, and his ability to create solid, believable characters via grace notes that say so much with so little... which, I realize, is ironic when discussing a writer who is often justly accused of logorrhea.

These little bullet reviews of mine are not meant to serve as film analysis or serious criticism. If and when I do start publishing more serious criticism on this particular blog... trust me, you'll recognize it. Mostly though, considering how many people read this blog (a couple dozen people a day at most), these reviews mostly serve as a way to remind myself of which movies I've seen, and whether or not I liked them. And, to my few readers, to maybe give an indication as to why I did or didn't like a movie, so that they can guess as to whether or not they might like it.

So, bottom line, I liked Gerald's Game. I liked it a lot. In fact, it instantly enters the ranks of my favorite Stephen King adaptations ever, putting it up there with Cronenberg's The Dead Zone, Reiner's Misery, Darabont's The Mist, and DePalma's Carrie. The acting is great. Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood are both, as usual, amazing. It spooked me. It impressed me with its visuals. It made me squirm in empathetic agony. It made me deeply uncomfortable. Even with its somewhat clumsy and tacked on coda, and despite its occasionally cavalier approach to incredibly touchy subject matter, this is a B movie that earns an A+ from me.

THE VOID ~ This... this is a tough one. As a lifelong horror fan, I'm generally predisposed to liking (and rooting for) films like The Void. It's a low budget affair, everyone involved is clearly game, the story contains some original ideas and a shit-ton of homages to (rip-offs of?) past movie favorites both well known and obscure, and it features some truly arresting visuals and occasionally impressive practical (i.e. non-CGI) special effects.

It's also a freaking mess, with an impossible to follow plot, way too many convenient coincidences, occasionally painful performances and dialogue, no likable characters worth rooting for, the occasional SFX fail that takes you right out of the action, and a first act jam-packed with some of my most hated cliche's and unforgivable genre movie sins.

Weird thing is, the deeper I got into this movie and the less sense it was making in terms of traditional plot and storytelling... the more I found myself willing to forgive its sins. Because, for some bizarre reason, once the filmmakers decide to give up on the "siege movie" motif of the first two acts -- it's pretty obvious they never really had their hearts in it -- and just let their freak flags fly with the surrealistic Lovecraftian nightmare of the extended third act... I gave up trying to make sense of the plot, or keep track of the characters and their motivations, and just let the movie wash over me in all its trippy, disgusting glory.

And you know something? If you'd asked me halfway through the movie how I felt about it, I would have expressed my extreme displeasure at having been taken in by the slick "80's retro" vibe of the music and the advertising and the Stranger Things font used in all the promo material, causing me to waste my time with such a greasy slice of cinematic sleaze. But when the end credits started to roll, I couldn't say that I was disappointed by it.

None of it makes a lick of sense, and I can't in good conscience recommend this to any cohort other than rabid horror movie fanatics, H.P. Lovecraft aficionados, fans of practical special effects, and lovers of Italian gore-meister Lucio Fulci's somber late period films (The Beyond, for instance, which might be one of The Void's least obvious but most direct inspirations). However, if you don't mind when there's way more rough than diamond in your diamonds-in-the-rough, and you're okay with a movie where the whole is lesser than the sum of its best parts... then maybe give The Void a try.

You know what? Come to think of it, The Void might make for the perfect Halloween party background movie. Even if you pay attention, you won't really understand it any more than the people who don't, the first half is mostly silly and easy to ignore, and the all the best parts don't require that you understand what's going on in order to be fully enjoyed!

So, bottom line, The Void is a bad movie. But I really liked almost as many things as I really hated about it. Your mileage may vary, but I'd really love to know what other people think about this one. If you want, include your own bullet reviews in the comments section, below.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Wes Anderson is a singular talent, with each of his films being utterly unique and distinct from each other, and yet always stamped with his highly controlled aesthetic. It's been a couple years since his last, the triumphant Grand Budapest Hotel, and now we know that he's chosen to follow up that triumph with his second run at stop motion animation after 2009's underwhelming The Fantastic Mr Fox. Fortunately, if the trailer is anything to go by, Isle of Dogs seems like an altogether different beast; less Beatrix Potter meets Oceans 11 and more George Orwell getting the contemporary Anime treatment. It seems to be set in a near future dystopian Japan where all the dogs have been banished to a trash island, where they have apparently learned to speak English. It's definitely at the top of my Must See list for 2018!


Fans of gorgeously baroque, violent grindhouse/arthouse cinema, rejoice! Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani have a new film coming out. It's called Laissez Bronzer les Cadavres ("Let the Corpses Tan") and it looks like a real humdinger!

Friday, September 22, 2017


Although I can’t recall ever having been confrontational or evangelical about it, I have never been a fan of Pearl Jam... the early stuff in particular. In the main, I believe this lifelong beef was initially triggered by seven words: “Clearly I remember picking on the boy.”

Within the context of the song "Jeremy", it was a de facto declaration that Eddie Vedder--the band's lead singer, who also happens to have a perfect bully’s name--placed himself squarely on the side of the Normals, the Jocks, the Popular Kids, the In Crowd.

And the rest of the lyrics aren't much better. The song starts out with some dime-store psychoanalysis, chock-a-block with a teetering pile of hastily lashed-together cliches, to which the obviously expensive and equally embarrassing video adds a number that remain unsung.
At home
Drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
Dead lay in pools of maroon below

Daddy didn't give attention
To the fact that mommy didn't care
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world

Troubled kid draws disturbing shit, yes. Daddy is a big empty suit, uh-huh. Yeah. Running shirtless through the woods. Yes, yes. "An affluent suburb", yes. "It is very relevant in America today", yes, of course. And yes, big angry wolf devouring sad lonely boy. And all, or most of it, is Mommy's fault. And Eddie behind it all, rocking himself back and forth as his eyes roll back, up into his skull, every muscle in his face a-twitch with dynamic tension, his hands flashing obscure signs in the air... Deep, man.

WOW, does that video ever suck. I'm sure Vedder must find it excruciating to watch today. Hell, maybe this video is what made the band decide to never ever make videos ever again (a promise they've mostly kept). What possible artistic justification could there be for the way Vedder contorts his face like that? He goes through a series of grimacing expressions, equal parts painful and goofy, that would make Jim Carrey cringe.

Anyway, back to the song, where we're just getting to the good parts...
Clearly I remember picking on the boy
He seemed a harmless little fuck
But we unleashed a lion
Gnashed his teeth and bit the recess lady's breast
How could I forget?
And he hit me with a surprise left
My jaw left hurting, dropped wide open
Just like the day, oh, like the day I heard 

Vedder puts himself at the center of the action, having the unmitigated audacity to make himself the subject of a song that is supposed to be about a boy who commits a brutal, public suicide in the middle of a packed classroom. This, after essentially confessing to being one of the bullies who causes Jeremy’s suicidal hopelessness!

Consider the casual cruelty implicit in the lyrics above. If Jeremy was such a harmless little fuck, then what possible reason could Vedder (or whoever Vedder is meant to be voicing for the duration of this song) have for tormenting him into killing himself?

Furthermore, Vedder seems to relish reliving his "fight" with Jeremy. He sounds almost prideful as he recalls how he helped to "unleash a lion", and indulges in a muscle memory re-enactment of the fight, swinging his fists and pulling angry faces in a way that is bound to be familiar to anyone who's ever run afoul of an angry jock in high school.

And finally, adding one final insult to a long list of injuries--which ends, we are again wont to point out, with a young man killing himself--Vedder has the gall to link the surprise he felt at Jeremy fighting back (his jaw dropped) with the surprise he felt upon hearing that Jeremy had committed suicide in front of his classmates (his jaw dropped).

And then, the song ends with the following verbal flourish:
TRY to forget this! (TRY to forget this)
TRY to erase this! (TRY to erase this)
From the blackboard...
It's not "think about Jeremy, what happened to him, what he did"; it's "think about this awesome, kick-ass anecdote I just laid on you, dude... TRY to forget that shit!" It's the prideful boast of a bully using the tragedy of his victim's ultimate act of self-negation to make himself seem cooler, more dangerous, in the listener's mind.

The lyrics to "Jeremy" are the ultimate expression of the kind of solipsistic narcissism that leads some people to try and make themselves the central focus of whatever public tragedy is going down.

Think back a couple decades, back to heyday of schoolhouse massacres. In "Jeremy", Vedder is the equivalent of all those telegenic teens who either sought, or were sought out by, local TV news cameras, whereupon they would tearfully relate their gripping (and frequently exaggerated) tales about coming face to face with the killers in the hallway, only to be saved by a miraculous gun jam, or about how a passing bullet came so close it combed a new part in their hair, or about how they calmly tried to talk the killer down only to be rebuffed with a diabolical cackle and a command to “SAY YOU LOVE SATAN!”

All this, even as the bodies of actual victims, dead children, are being carried out of the building behind them on stretchers, literal collateral damage for what will eventually become the war stories around which they will assemble the pieces of their public self image; their life’s story... their personal "brand".

It’s all about me, even when it isn’t.

And what of Jeremy? The kid about whom this song would really be, if Vedder were any kind of poet? Well... Jeremy shares more than a little in common with Vedder’s Pacific North West Grunge Rock competition, Kurt Cobain, doesn’t he?

Consider, for example, the slim literary virtues of “Jeremy” in comparison to the stark perfection of Nirvana’s “Something in the Way”. Cobain manages to convey so much with so little. Even the chorus, which consists simply of the words “something in the way” repeated eight times with a kind of call-and-response emotional counterpoint, manages to convey a sort of narrative drive.

Of course, Cobain is dead now, and Pearl Jam continues to tour. They were even inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year, by none other than David Letterman, a last minute replacement for Neil Young.

Ah, what do I know, anyway... Maybe Eddie Vedder is really a very nice guy. The band sure stuck to their guns in their fight with Ticketmaster, that's for sure. You can't really get the full measure of a band that's been around, and productive, for almost 30 years from just one bad song. It's not Pearl Jam's fault that "Jeremy" struck a chord in the popular imagination...

But jeez oh man, is it EVER a garbage song.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


The latest offering from Montreal's legendary ambient multi-artist co-op (and long-time Jerky fave) Godspeed You! Black Emperor, evocatively titled Luciferian Towers, is a magnificent slice of drone-tastic aural majesty, and you can stream the entire project for free until the album's multi-format release on September 22, 2017.

Oh, and thanks to our pals at Noisey for the heads-up about this.


Thanks to Ultraculture for bringing this to our attention, as well as for their touching, brief remembrance of one of the last living Beat archetypes.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


The above video is excruciatingly short, but it's still exciting to see all the upcoming episode titles for the fourth season of Black Mirror, and little snippets from each. It's amazing how much information can be packed into such a compact bit of video, isn't it? I'd say there's even something a little bit "Black Mirror" about it!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017


We here at the Daily Dirt Diaspora family of websites are proud to bring you this illuminating Guest Post about some of the more obscure elements of the magnificent Lynch/Frost creation Twin Peaks by our brilliant friend Rocko Van Buren. Enjoy! - YOPJ

“Through the dark of futures past
The magician longs to see
One chance out between two worlds
Fire walk with me”
- Bob

In the first few moments of Part 12 of the ongoing Showtime television event, Twin Peaks: The Return, the audience finally learns definitively what “Blue Rose” means in the context of Dale Cooper, Gordon Cole and the rest of the FBI. This exposition comes in a scene with FBI deputy director Gordon Cole, Albert Rosenfield and agent Tammy Preston sipping fine wine while seated in a private room at a hotel in Buckhorn, South Dakota, surrounded by red curtains (reminiscent of the mysterious Red Room itself), Albert explains Blue Rose is a secret extension of the now-closed, real-world Project Blue Book conducted by the U.S. Air Force to investigate UFO phenomena.

As the Air Force describes in it's own documentation, some of which is now publicly available through the Freedom of Information Act and quoted here from Wikipedia:
Project Blue Book was one of a series of systematic studies of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) conducted by the United States Air Force. It started in 1952, and it was the third study of its kind (the first two were projects Sign (1947) and Grudge (1949)). A termination order was given for the study in December 1969, and all activity under its auspices ceased in January 1970.
Project Blue Book had two goals:
1 To determine if UFOs were a threat to national security, and
2 To scientifically analyze UFO-related data.”
Prior to this revelation in Part 12 of The Return, fan-favorite character Maj. Garland Briggs from Twin Peaks original two seasons was the show's clearest connection to Project Blue Book and how the classified Air Force investigation connects to the White and Black Lodges of Twin Peaks lore.

Following a mysterious disappearance in Season 2 in the original run, upon which we will touch in greater detail later on, Briggs tells Cooper that even though Project Blue Book was disbanded, “There are those of us who continue in an unofficial capacity, examining the heavens as before, or in the case of Twin Peaks, the earth below. We are searching for a place called the White Lodge.”

Back in The Return, Albert explains to Agent Preston that Blue Book was shut down in 1970 as part of a “cover-up” that concluded the UFO phenomenon was not credible, and there was no resulting threat to national security.

“A few years later, the military and FBI formed a top secret task force to explore the troubling abstractions raised by cases Blue Book failed to resolve,” Albert explains. “We call it, 'The Blue Rose,' after a phrase uttered by a woman involved in one of these cases just before she died., which suggested these hazards could not be reached except by an alternate path we have been traveling ever since.”

Albert goes on to name the agents involved in this secret task force created by Cole – himself, lead agent Phillip Jeffries, Chet Desmond and the original show's main character, Dale Cooper. All of the special agents involved in Blue Rose, excepting Albert and Cole, have since disappeared. All this exposition is by way of recruiting The Return's newest FBI agent, Preston, into the fold of the Blue Rose task force. And thus we have the first explicit delineation from Project Blue Book straight to Blue Rose and the strange, occult aspects that surround the FBI's investigation into the murder of Laura Palmer in the Washington town of Twin Peaks (in the original TV series) and the murder of Teresa Banks in nearby Dear Meadow (in the film Fire Walk With Me).

While the original Twin Peaks run of 1990-921 owes much of its nostalgic love to its soap-opera-style story-lines, Cooper's frequent references to “damn fine coffee,” “the best cherry pie in the tri-counties,” and scenes like Audrey Horne engaged in a strange and seductive dance to music composed by Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti, it is the lore and mystery of Twin Peaks that always attracted me most. And while this aspect of the story was certainly included in the original run of the series, it was never as prominent on ABC prime-time as it was later on in the show's darker, stranger cousin, Lynch's 1992 film Fire Walk With Me (which was my introduction to the world of Twin Peaks). Nothing in the Twin Peaks ecosphere compares to the dark strangeness of Fire Walk With Me (which was originally intended as a series of three films; however, part two and three were never filmed because of the poor critical and financial reception to its first installment). While the inability of Lynch to continue the story in the 1990s was certainly disappointing to hardcore fans, without that failure, we may not have ever been able to experience 2017's revival of Twin Peaks via The Return, in which Lynch and Frost have continued their legacy of breaking new ground in television entertainment.


Of the many oddities in Twin Peaks, the Black Lodge and its denizens, Bob, The One-Armed Man (aka Mike/Phillip Gerard) and The Man From Another Place (aka the arm) are it's most persistent and vexing. Where do they come from? What is their purpose? While there are many theories surrounding Twin Peaks culture about the meaning and origin of this place and its inhabitants, most of them ignore the connection to Project Blue Book, UFO phenomena and the possibility of alien life. My analysis will attempt to connect the line from Blue Book to Blue Rose, from the idea of UFO encounters and alien visitors to inhabiting spirits like Bob and his cohorts.

To understand this, we must first reconsider the popular conception of aliens – we are not speaking here about extraterrestrial beings in the sense depicted in Steven Spielberg's films E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. These are not little green men in flying saucers, nor necessarily “Greys,” “Reptilians,” “Nordics,” nor any of the other alien races promulgated by popular culture shows like Coast to Coast AM. (although some images in The Return do bear a striking resemblance to the alien “grey,” notably the being credited as “The Experiment/Mother” in Part Eight, the being in the black box in Part One, and the first scene in Andy's vision from Part Fourteen).

Instead, we are speaking of aliens as inter/extra-dimensional beings that inhabit our world and adjacent worlds unseen, the type of spirits discussed in dozens of Hindu and Buddhist legends, and, most eloquently in 'western' society, by well-known UFO researcher and PhD Jacques Vallée. Vallée, not coincidentally, was the inspiration for Spielberg's character Claude Lacombe, played in Spielberg's film Close Encounters by François Truffaut.

In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove on the public television program Thinking Allowed, Vallée discusses his 1979 book Messengers of Deception:

Saturday, August 19, 2017


It is always a pleasure to bring readers of the DDD family of blogs the wit, wisdom, and verve of one of our oldest, dearest pals, the venerable A.C. Doyle! In this enlightening and entertaining survey, Ace provides lovers of classic Hollywood a solid month's worth of programming choices, at least. Enjoy! - Jerky
There are a few on-screen pairings this past generation who have generated some heat and some laughs. Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Their oeuvres are largely somewhere between bad and forgettable–does anybody remember Joe Versus The Volcano or By The Sea or True Detective or Blended? Gere and Roberts have starred twice together, in pretty good films, Pretty Woman and Runaway Bride. And Brangelina became a pop culture term, but Mr. & Mrs. Smith–where they met on the set and she spirited him away from Ms. Aniston–and By The Sea, Ms. Jolie’s directorial debut, were fairly awful.

And most of these pairs have only starred in two or three films together. Compared to Loren and Mastroianni in 13, Taylor and Burton in 11, Hepburn and Tracy in 9, Astaire and Rogers in 10, Powell and Loy in 14, Farrow and Allen in 7 (plus he directed her in 6 more). Bogey and Bacall were only in four together, but what a four!

So it seems the Golden Era of paired actors and actresses across multiple films is largely behind us. Which is a pity, because there were some wonderful collaborations (on-screen and off, as often as not). Moreover, fine actors and actresses can develop a rapport and sense of timing, both comic and dramatic, that, like a fine wine, matures over time.

There’s also a modern conceit that showing a couple firing machine guns at bad guys then rolling around naked and sweaty in flagrante delicto is the only way to convey sexiness, desire, allure, magnetic attraction. Whereas Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert stringing up a line and draping a blanket over it in the fleabag motel so that they can’t see each other change into pyjamas and snuggle into separate beds (It Happened One Night, one of only three films to win the “Big Five” Oscars) is deliciously titillating and arousing.

So let’s take a walk down Memory Lane, and examine the great romantic/dramatic pairings. With the exception of a couple of Burton/Taylors when I was too young to see them, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, the Woody Allen films, and some Loren, most of these movies were produced well before I was born, and I’m in my mid-50s, so this nostalgic promenade will appeal to film buffs, but if you don’t watch anything before CGI and David Lynch, you might want to continue to the next article.

Let’s start with the flimsiest plots, and the least remembered movies nowadays, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Uh-oh! Looks like the sixth post-pilot episode of Twin Peaks begins with a pretty serious continuity error. The first thing we see in this episode is a clear and beautiful half moon hanging up in the sky. Unfortunately, the previous episode kicked off with a giant, up close image of a clearly FULL Moon, as seen through some pines! The events of the previous episode took place no more than two days previous to the beginning of this episode, and not the six or seven days it would have taken for such a drastic change in lunar phase. Oh well... I guess that's bound to happen when a series has directors hopping on and off willy-nilly, episode by episode. That's why I think having Lynch and Frost oversee the entirety of Season Three is such a brilliant move... and I can hardly wait to get started on it! The few sneak peaks I've had are driving me crazy with antici....pation.

"So do you want me to leave or what?"
Back at the Great Northwestern, Cooper is dealing with Audrey’s rather forward propositioning (he arrived to find her nude in his bed) by dealing out some pretty definitive rejection. In fact, his rejection of Audrey seems sort of forced, in a way... far more Boy Scout than necessary.

We don't suspect Cooper of being gay, but his odd, conflicting behavior with Audrey, particularly in this scene, is jarring.

I mean, he can barely stand to even look at her. I mean, I know Cooper is... "special", but how prudish can a worldly, Big City FBI man really be? And he's going to fetch them both some fries and a malted--traditional 50’s fare--over which, presumably, they will have a girly "dish" session? Come on.

Once again, this whole "everybody in this town has secrets" business is hammered home with all the subtlety of a truck driving through a plate glass window.

Andy and Lucy – what’s up with these two?

The show has been teasing their relationship problems, without ever really establishing that they're engaged in a relationship, for long enough now, it seems to me. And now Lucy's having a health crisis?


Cooper pops into the Sheriff's office with his hand-carved pipe again, piping a jolly tune.

Dr Hayward and Sheriff Truman are working with Waldo the Myna bird, studying the species and trying to nurse it back to health by hydrating it and feeding it some fruits (Dr Hayward calls for fresh apples, as "these grapes are right on the edge").

Why apples over grapes? Both are Old Testament fruit (Genesis for apples, Exodus for grapes). Probably no significance, though.

Speech being a form of play for the Myna bird, Waldo should start talking again as soon as he's in better health. Cooper doesn’t want to feed him. Doesn’t like birds for some reason. Really? To the point of saying so? What’s up with that? Seems out of character. Also, the Myna species' origins are in southeast Asia. Could this be significant?

Hawk enters the office with a bunch of forensic findings. It turns out Rennault’s cabin was recently party to three guests – Laura, Ronette and Leo.

The one and only exposed negative in the camera found at the scene contains an image of Waldo perched on Laura’s shoulder.

Cooper considers Waldo to be a witness, because it can talk. In order that the Sheriff's office can go and do field work, Cooper sets up a voice activated recorder, which will kick in when and if Waldo decides to start talking.

Forensics has also finally traced the "J" fragment found in Laura's stomach to the 1000$ chip from One Eyed Jack's. Hawk points out that Jacques Rennault is dealing blackjack there, so Cooper suggest they pay a visit to One Eyed Jacks. And seeing as it's out of their jurisdiction, over the border in Canada, Cooper enthusiastically suggests that this is a task tailor made for the Bookhouse Boys.

Meanwhile, on the sleazier side of town, Leo, whose left arm is wrapped in bloody bandages, is spying on Shelly.

Through a pair of binoculars, he watches as Bobby Briggs shows up to romance HIS woman.