Friday, March 30, 2007

I Feel Like Flex Mentallo*

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Productive day today: ran errands, went to the bank, paid for the car license and got some yard work done. Sprayed some weeds, pruned some stuff down that I'm going to try and kill in the next couple of weeks and pulled a tree out of the ground with my bare hands. I felt huge and manly. Huge and manly, I tell ya. Grrrr. I might have to go flex....

Going to plot out the new beds this weekend and try to be sensible and not just throw plants together. I like the whole cottage garden look but for now, until the plants are really established, I'm going to keep them separated and simple. I have plenty of time, according to the plant guides...seeing as to how I'm in the newly created Hardiness Zone 5A, I can wait until the end of April/beginning of May to sow seeds and set out plants. But that's going to be here before I know I might as well just bite the bullet and do it now.

I called around earlier in the afternoon, looking for places that sold Saltpetre (aka Potassium Nitrate, KNO3) this proved a little more difficult than I imagined. I called a chain pharmacy which told me to call a hardware store or an independent pharmacist depending on the quantity I needed. Since I'm going to use it to kill a couple dozen unwanted plum and cherry trees, I decided to call Lowe's. Bad idea. Well--not so bad in theory, but in execution.

I called, got patched to the right department and ended up having perhaps the worst customer service call of my life.
Lowe's Employee: "MumblemumblemumbleLowe'scanIhelpyou?"
Me: "Do you carry Potassium Nitrate or Saltpetre?"
Lowe's Employee: "Peter?"
Me: (slower and louder) "Potassium Nitrate or Saltpetre. To kill stumps?"
Lowe's Employee: "Peter?"
Me: (more slowly and loudly) "Pooo-taaass-iuuuum Niii-trate or Saltpetre. To kill stumps?"
Lowe's Employee: "Peter?
That was when I hung up the phone.

I'll just go tomorrow and see when I shop for a machete. They're supposed to have one in stock. I really really really need a machete. Like this one:

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*Flex Mentallo is some comic book geekery. But he's got those animal print trunks that I always thought were nifty.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This Monkey's Gone to Heaven

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From Emphases mine.

The head of a Plano school district facility that houses exotic animals said Monday he fears for his professional future there after saying he believed that a local pet owner was having sexual relations with his rhesus macaque monkey.

The Plano Star Courier in Saturday's edition quoted Plano ISD's Jim Dunlap as saying a man was having relations with the monkey seized last month by authorities. The head of PISD's Living Materials Center said the pet owner, Bobby Crawford Jr., sent a box of toys for Darwin the monkey to play with while he was kept there. In that box was an audiotape.

"After listening to the tape, Dunlap said Crawford made references to Darwin and himself engaging in mutual stimulation," the story read.


Mr. Crawford said he did send a tape for the monkey to listen to, but that he was probably crying when he recorded it and that it contains nothing but comforting baby talk. He said there was nothing sexually suggestive on the tape and called Mr. Dunlap's initial conclusion "ridiculous."

"I don't have sex with my monkey. That's absolute crap," Mr. Crawford said. "Why would I do that? I gave him an audiotape, but it didn't have anything like that on it. It said, 'I'm coming home, I'm coming to get you. Daddy's coming, he's coming to get you,' " Mr. Crawford said. can't make this shit up.

(Unused alternate titles: Shock the Monkey, If I Could ^%#@ with the Animals)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is She Activating Her Core?

I saw this and thought of Aaron's workout post.

the Dream Academy

I had this dream about a month ago, and besides a quick mention of it to Brian, I just put it out of my mind and went on with things. Until last night, when I had it again. The first time it happened I thought it odd; having it a second time is just bizarre.


I’m alone in a friend's house, though the furniture is upholstered differently, it is her house. In the real world it’s a small cottage like affair. In dream world there seem to be all of these ells branching off of it. I’m in bed when a person I used to know socially (I wouldn’t really call us friends) appears, naked at the bedside, yelling at me for sleeping with Tony. Over and over. “You slept with Tony.” (To the best of my knowledge, I never slept with anyone named Tony; though I admit, I was never a stickler for names.)


She goes running through the house to get away from me and I’m following her. I corner her in the living room and she’s still going on about Tony. The furniture seems to grow larger and larger and she seems to shrink. Then she begins back flipping through the living room, using the furniture to launch herself. She continues backflipping down the hall, growing smaller and smaller until she vanishes.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Eye Patches

I caught part of Kill Bill Vol. II on TNT last night--the throwdown between Uma and Darryl specifically--and it got me to thinking: Why aren't more women in pop culture wearing eye patches? They're definitely attention-grabbing. Which then got me to thinking about my favorite women with eye patches in pop culture.

Honorable (Androgynous) Mentions:

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Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The Women in Question

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Callisto from Marvel Comics' X-Men

Angelina Jolie, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Wendy Robie as Nadine Hurly from Twin Peaks

Stockard Channing as Ruby McNutt in Smoke Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Darryl Hannah as Elle Driver in Kill Bill Vol 1

Gayer Than an Easter Bonnet

Because they make me laugh.

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AFP/Jose Luis Rocav

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Language, Domesticity and the Power of Patience

I've been considering these newest poems of mine today in the middle of doing other things. It's been an ongoing concern really for a couple of months now, since I've noticed how they're different from earlier work; worried how they'll fit with other work; wondered in fact if I'm up to the task of writing them. Some things are becoming clearer and other considerations are presenting themselves.

Essentially, these are domestic poems--not just about how I spend my days and what happens to cross my mind in the midst of that; but also about friends in different stages of their lives--how they move about their rooms, spend their time, distract themselves and what they might see outside their doors and windows. On its face, relatively simple (perhaps a bit voyeuristic) stuff.

The challenge of this is simple: the poems are slower and longer than what I've been doing. How to do this in a way that is compelling is the primary concern, of course. Finding a balance between my own predilection for plain language and lyricism is tricky. It's coming I live with the poems and rethink them there's a nag at the back of my brain...something I've forgotten or not yet thought of is suggesting itself.

This is one of the reasons I want to get back into the yard--to dig in the dirt and perform repetitive tasks. Something gets freed up in those moments and problems resolve themselves. I'm anxious to be out there in the breeze and the warmth and birdsong. I want to look at nothing more than the spadeful of overturned dirt immediately before me. I want to know what the next step is.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tori, Tori, Tori

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May is going to be an amazing month for albums released by lunatic chicks. In addition to Bjork's Volta, there's also going to be Tori Amos' American Doll Posse. WOOHOO. I know she's one of those love her or hate her figures. I fall into the former category, but am by no means obsessive about her. Frankly, I didn't enjoy the last two at all. Brian sent me a copy of the first single from the album "Big Wheel." It's crazy. I love it. I hope that the rest of the album is as good and quirky (she repeatedly sings "I'm an M-I-L-F" in "Big Wheel" over a sort of blues/honky tonk shuffle piano line.) The conceit of the album is tied into multiple personae (see pic) each of whom has a name and a section of the album tied to it. I don't remember their names. But I do refer to "chicken holding Tori" as Pink Flamingos Tori or "Cookie Mueller" Tori. If you want to ask...feel free.

She's one of those performers that I like having on when I'm writing. I don't really pay attention to the lyrics, just the music and the vowel sounds (I do the same thing with Bjork and Radiohead.) Separating meaning from the sounds they're making inspires me. I'm not sure this is a compliment...but I mean it as one.

The Frogs and Other Things

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Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to Pseudacris crucifer, otherwise known as the Northern Spring Peeper. It is truly spring. These little buggers are out in force, calling and sounding and looking for love. Though allegedly nocturnal, they've been doing their thing most hours of the day this week. There must be thousands of them due to the sound. I've had the windows open because it's been balmy and breezy and their calls are inescapable. They seem to work as a chorus, so it's nearly impossible to single out when a specific call begins or ends, unlike larger frogs or toads. It's almost like when cicadas are out in force. Their sounding never really becomes white noise that you can best it becomes like a case of tinnitus. If you click the link above, Wiki has a sound file of hundreds of them. It gives a rough idea of it--but the scale is definitely off. Useless critter trivia: a group of frogs is referred to as an army or colony. More useless trivia: contrary to its poster, the 1972 animals amok flick, Frogs does not contain a scene where a large bullfrog eats a human hand. This one didn't make it into my recap of favorite killer critter movies because Joan Van Ark survives. I always hated Val.

Today is the last day of meds--huzzah! They've done the trick, although I'm now in that "feeling fine but have an energy deficit" zone. This is the hardest part of the whole illness/recovery cycle for me to navigate. It's a battle between stubborness and sensibility. I know I'm still not completely well, but dammit I feel fine. I wanted to work in the yard today, but am going to resist because I know I'll be clammy and coughing in about half an hour. I learned this on Friday when I went out to pick up some small branches and things that had blown out of the maples. I lasted twenty minutes and then ended up sacked out for a couple of hours. No need to repeat that. A few days of waiting isn't going to change much since the dead stems will still be there.

Daffodils are blooming like crazy, as are the tulips. In addition to the bargain packs of bulbs I'd nabbed at Lowe's, I had gone around last fall and dug up several large clumps of daffodils to transplant on the bank. What's astonishing is the amount of bulbs I must've missed. There are still sizeable clumps growing and blooming from areas I know I harvested. I might feed them heavily and then transplant more in the fall. Not sure how viable this plan is--I need to consult some books.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mmmmm, Fierce!

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I've been manic about hydration the past few days and moreso with starting the Z-pack. I picked up one of the big 32 oz jugs of Gatorade Fierce Grape. Usually I like the Riptide Rush, but there was none in stock. So I went with the Fierce.

This is some good stuff. It tastes like those big chewy grape Sweet-Tarts. It looks purplish in the bottle--due I think to the red/orange labeling--but once it's in a glass you realize it's this strange dark blue. A color not found in nature. It's heaven in a glass.

Sundries & Notions

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Hallelujah for prescription meds. They seem to be doing the trick. I can sit up for more than an hour without feeling like my chest is tightening and can talk for about 10 minutes without needing to cough. The taste of the inhalant however, leaves something to be desired.
Ever since I was treated for anxiety/panic attacks a few years ago I have been very careful and perhaps, overly cautious, about taking certain meds. One of the things I had to work out then were what exactly triggered the attacks so I could, whenever possible, avoid them. One of the ones that almost always set me off were decongestants or products containing diphenhydramine.

They seemed to work too well, completely drying out my sinuses, my mouth, reaching back to the throat where it felt as if it were constricting because of the dryness. This has made dealing with headcolds and the like a little difficult, because I'd rather deal with blowing my nose a dozen times an hour or a nasal drip problem than living through a panic. So when I read the included pamphlets for my meds, the list of side effects for the inhaler (accelerated heart rate, dry mouth) made me a little nervous, but I went ahead and did it. It does give me a whopping case of dry mouth for the first half hour and makes me a little hyper for a couple of hours after dosing but it does help with the shallow breathing.

'Til Death Do Us Part has potential. The second episode was better than the first, though the Mink Stole cameo and denoument of the first were funnier. I read a review somewhere that said the show wasn't quite over the top and broad enough. And I sort of agree--because of the needs to compress a narrative into a thirty minute block, certain scenes and beats feel a little too sketchy and short hand. The show feels more like an old Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode, especially with the John Waters character bookending the story, than anything. I'm disappointed that there's not more of him in the episodes--but understand the probable reasons for it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It's Official

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I'm sick. Bronchitis. I've not felt well since Monday but thought that it was just one of the bugs going around. Luckily it doesn't seem too severe. I've got my Z-pack and a nifty inhaler. Right now all I want is to sleep and not feel like a sack of hammered crap.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Comment vous dites?

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"But isn't that my betty?"

Are there any reliable online transliterating options aside from BabelFish? I'm looking for more idiomatic translations for something I'm working on. I don't want to be stuck with "la plume de ma tante" style stuff. Suggestions?


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'Til Death Do Us Part premieres tonight on CourtTV at 10 pm with another episode following.

I can't wait.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

When I Grow Up...

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I wanna be Patti Smith. I watched the 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame thing on VH-1 last night because I wanted to see her, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, REM and the Ronnettes. I hit mute during most of the speechifying and Van Halen. Even thought it was cool to see REM as a four-piece again, their set didn't move me too much (which was a little disappointing, cause I love a lot of their music.)

But Patti was solid. Her acceptance speech was pretty low-key--she made a point of saying that she'd promised to be a lady and not curse which she lived up to and dedicated her award/induction to her late husband Fred. Yea, she sang "Because the Night," but followed that up with "Rock-n-Roll N*****." A better choice, I suppose, than "Gloria" or "Summer Cannibals" or a rock poet reading of "Piss Factory."

The finale was suitably schizoid given the inductees: Smith, REM, Grandmaster Flash, Van Hagar, the Ronettes and Keith Richards doing Smith's "People Have the Power." Given the climate of the times, a better choice than "Right Now," "Hot for Teacher," or "Shiny Happy People." (Though "World Leader Pretend" might have been good.)

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Late winter and early spring are always wonky weatherwise...I know this. But the last few days here have been exemplary of that sort of meteorological crazy. Wednesday: 70ish degrees, warm and balmy. Wednesday night: thunder and lightning and a hail storm. Some of the biggest hail I've seen. No golf ball sized chunks...but at least 1/2". Thursday: Rain. Friday: More rain, some limited low level flooding and the ditches overflowing. Later in the day: snow. The water and weird weather interfered with phone service something crazy. Today: prolly 4-5" of snow. At least it's deep enough to cover the damage the hail did to the crocuses and plants. That depressed me. Tomorrow will bring...?

Friday, March 16, 2007

The New Stuff

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I went out Tuesday night with friends for cheap Tex-Mex and then drinks. It was nice, just being able to sit and laugh and stuff my face with people whose company I enjoy. It was a needed break because this looks to be one of my productive weeks and I had been living inside my own head too much. I won't complain because I feel awfully productive: three new poems in various stages and a couple of packets ready to go out into the world.

The new work is at that stage where I'm not sure--I love it intensely one day and think it's derivative hackery the next. This will pass. I'm letting them sit for a while until I can look at them with some remove.

That feeling nags at me though. Bits of our conversations over drinks about art and poetry and creativity in general have made me think about the danger of influence and the limits of vision. The way that developing style and voice can slip into mannerism--cf the first section of Philip Levine's Don't Ask--which is something I try to avoid. I don't want to write the same poems with the same tone over and over and over. There are stylistic tics that sometimes can't be easily undone or evaded. I don't want to be overly reliant on what I do well but fighting that and reforming that... is the exact sort of glorious uncertainty I'm at right now. The poems are different tonally. They're a little gentler, a little more lyric. But they still feel like me.

Ambition though, for what I want/expect/need from and for the new poems (maybe not these three exactly, but future poems), is growing.

Happy Birthday, Baby

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Today is Brian's birthday. So I just wanted to use up some bandwidth to celebrate the fact.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Forget the Rain--There's No Washin' These Boys Out

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Out of all these movies, Kingdom of the Spiders is the one that freaks my shit out. The rest of them tickle me because they're just patently bad. And I'm not saying this one is a winner by any means, but it makes me scratch for a good two hours after seeing it and has me checking inside my shoes for days.

Yea, it's got Shatner. Yea, it's a bad movie. Yea, there are way too many of the "characters behaving stupidly" bits. But this movie has lots and lots of spiders. Tarantulas, actually. And they're dumped on the actors. By the bucket-full. I can't imagine how badly these people needed the money to subject themselves to that--but you could not pay me enough to do it.

This movie gets closer to being effective than most of the others on my list. It doesn't toy with making them huge or by being a hybrid sort of movie. It takes something that legitimately creeps people out and pours it on. Granted they take some liberties (tarantulas are not social; these buggers are immune to DDT; they're hyper-poisonous; they spin webs [this becomes important later]) but for this genre of movie the film-makers show remarkable restraint. They know what's scary and they give it to you.

William Shatner plays a western veterinarian who goes by the name of Rack. He's called out to a farm to check on a dead calf. He takes samples to see what the cause of death is and sends some off to the big city. If it's due to some sort of virus or disease, the farmer might lose his herd and property. Later in the movie, when the hot big city entomologist arrives, it turns out it's spider venom. Five times more lethal than normal. No explanation is really given for this--but hey, just go with it. There's a lull for character development--we realize Shatner and the bug-chick are gonna hook up because they get off on the wrong foot; we meet Shatner's sister-in-law (his brother's dead) who's in love with him and has a kid; we meet some more of the locals. All just setting us up for the third act fun. The pacing is a little slow here--but sort of worth it just for the overwrought Shatner emoting.

Things pick up when they discover a huge hill crawling with tarantulas. More of these hell-condos appear later and of course that means more spiders. Shatner has a fight with sis-in-law and bags the bug girl. Another cow dies. And from this point on it's just carnage. The farmer and his wife both meet their ends due to the spiders. Pa is attacked in his truck and drives off a cliff. He's found dead and webbed (this is one of the creepiest effects in the movie to me.) Ma is assaulted by the tarantulas in the homestead and has them crawling up her arm--instead of shaking it off her, she SHOOTS her damned arm off. She, thankfully, also becomes arachno-chow. The mayor sends up a crop duster to poison the spiders. He's attacked mid-flight and crashes into a barn. The horny sister-in-law is next to go. And so it goes.

Shatner tries calling out for help, but you see the operator all webbed up with spiders crawling over her. There are also seens of webbed up victims looking dessicated with tarnatulas crawling on them. And then the town just goes bug shit. You see people running from spiders; cars driving over spiders; people succumbing to spiders. And people running around screaming covered in tarantulas. It's lunacy. And I just shuddered typing this paragraph.

People hole up at a lodge for the night after battling spiders. In the morning, Shatner looks out the window to see what daylight brings: a town covered in webs. Yep--spiders win.

Haiku Synopsis
Kingdom of the Spiders
Not even Shatner
can stop the killer spiders.
The spiders win, bitch.

Bow Wow Wow, Yippee Yo, Yippee Yay

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Today's first offering on the double feature is: Devil Dog: the Hound of Hell, a hybrid of the demonic kid and scary critter genres. One part Omen plus one part Old Yeller (the rabid frothing bits), this movie was a staple on WGN when I was in junior high and high school. They had to have shown it at least once a month; though it feels, in retrospect, like more. And I always watched it. It was just that bad.

The movie opens with satanic cultists in aviator shades going to a kennel in search of a demonic dog. And wouldn't ya know it--the puppy mill has a demonic German Shepherd (this must've been the period when we were supposed to be afraid of them; depending on when it was made it could've just as easily been a Rottweiler, Doberman, a Saint Bernard or a Pit Bull.) So they get their dog and take it to their sanctuary and have a ceremony with it--to imbue it with even more evil, I'm supposing.

Richard Crenna plays the dad and Yvette Mimieux is the mom in this horrid little flick. When we meet them, he's driving the family home where they find their dog dead in the street. In the midst of the kids' grief, a vegetable truck pulls up. Not only does this truck have farm fresh produce, it also carries the object of their doom--the devil dog. The kids take the plutonian pup inside where it's housed in a cardboard box.

The maid doesn't like the pup in a box. There are extreme close ups on the dog's eyes in the box staring at that maid, then her mumu bursts into flames. This to me is the most interesting bit of the movie. Take that you neo-marxists! The workers may control the means of production--but Satan controls the devil dog!

Ok--lets gloss over the mid-section of the movie which is perilously dull. Mom becomes a slut, banging Dad's friends and neighbors. Dad is convinced that this is all due to the dog. Why you ask? Good question. Dad was out working on his lawnmower one day, with the devil dog near by. Suddenly he gets this intense urge to plunge his hand into the whirring spinning mower blades. And the dog was staring at him. The urge to mutilate himself could have nothing to do with his leisure suits, bad hair, slut wife and hideous kids.

Then a few neighbors die and the kids become mouthy and uncontrollable. This is, of course, all the dog's fault. He goes to his doctor (?) about this. The doc gives him a scrip for tranquilizers and encourages him to take slutty slutty bang bang to Hawaii for a vacation. Dad opts out for this and decides to take the dog off some place and shoot it. He fires at it repeatedly and misses--because it's, ya know, satanic and can deflect bullets. He leaves the dog in the wilds and drives home. Only to find the devil dog waiting for him in the yard.

Okay--so modern medicine and Smith & Wesson can't help him. Who can? That's right--the crazy lady at the local bookstore. She tells him to go to South America, find some shaman guru guy who can help. He flies to South America and indeed does find the High Father of Devil Dog Knowledge who draws a pattern on his palm to aid his battle against the forces of canine evil. By the time Dad is back, dog is pissed. And they have their face-off in a nuclear power facility (don't ask me, I'm just recapping.) The dog reveals its true satanic form (which is like a full body suit that looks oddly like a jheri curl wig with a couple of lame-assed horns attached to its head.) Most of this "battle" is about Dad trying to flash his palm tattoo at the dog. He eventually does and the dog goes up in flames.

Ahhh it's over. The family is going on a vacation. They're getting into the car, when the son reveals that the devil dog is one of 10 puppies! Instead of going off and having old school throwdowns with the other devil dogs, Dad gets in the car and drives them off into the sunset.

Haiku Synopsis:

Devil Dog: Hound of Hell
Dogs are not good gifts.
Your life will go straight to hell.
Bad dog! Bad, bad dog!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Ultimate B-Movie

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Helicopter Pilot #2: Oh, my God! Bees! Bees! Millions of Bees!

The Swarm is an Irwin Allen spectacular. Africanized bees run amok, brought to you by the guy responsible for The Poseidon Adventure and Towering Inferno. So you know what that means: a busload of old movie and tv stars in peril. The cast includes: Michael Caine, Jose Ferer, Katherine Ross, Henry Fonda, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia DeHaviland, Patty Duke and Slim Pickens.

The Swarm is a B-movie that presents itself as A-list drama, playing out Allen's favorite movie theme: man vs. disaster while we meet lots of secondary characters and follow their subplots. Think of him as Robert Altman's schlocky step-cousin.

Thankfully, the menace we face is not giant-sized. Though the giant-critter run amok genre is fun, considering the limited production values and technologies at hand, there's more of a "you've gotta be kidding me factor" at work in those movies. Their failures are obvious in their execution. The Swarm gets it sort of right. Take something a little scary (after all the Africanized bee angle was worked and is still brought out in the tabloids and the legitimate news), tweak it just a little (these bees have stronger mouths and can sting more than once before dying), and just go balls out. Where The Swarm goes off the tracks is the dialogue.

Brad Crane (Michael Caine): We've been fighting a losing battle against the insects for fifteen years, but I never thought I'd see the final face-off in my lifetime. And I never dreamed, that it would turn out to be the bees. They've always been our friend.

Brad Crane: These bees, General, are of joint concern, and they are killing Americans, without reference as to whether or not they have a serial number and are expected to salute YOU! So there will be no air drops of any kind until I give the OK!
General Slater (Richard Widmark): You're OK, huh? Then just possible I can persuade you to attack this particular swarm, now that we know where it is! Attack and eliminate it!
Brad Crane: Possibly, if you can explain to me, how you air drop chemicals, without killing the native insect life! If your chemical will kill the African bee, it will also kill the American bee, right?
General Slater: Right! And better a few American bees than a lot of AMERICAN PEOPLE!
Brad Crane: That is the point, general! The honey bee is vital to the environment! Every year in america, they pollinate six billion dollars worth of crops! If you kill the bee, you're gonna kill the crop! If you kill the plants, you'll kill the people! No! No, general! There will be no air drop, until we know exactly, what we are dropping, and where, and how! Excuse me!

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Brad Crane: [while the giant bee is hovering next to him] There's no bee here. I promise you, there's no bee here.

More examples of the it's so bad it's goodness here.

OK so here's the quick (considering the movie runs about 2.5 hours depending on the version you see) breakdown. Africanized bees come over the border into Texas, invading a nuclear base (underground!) and killing everyone. Now let's just stop a minute and consider this...Africanized bees, coming into America from Mexico... no, never mind, let's move on. It gets worse from there. A family's picnic is ruined. People die. Old people are in a love triangle. Patty Duke doesn't do much. Houston is in flames. They lure the bees to an oil slick in the ocean using "sonics" (portable radios in little rafts dropped into the water). Once the swarm has been drawn to the oil slick missiles are launched setting the whole mess aflame. Finis.

Irwin Allen was noted as the "Master of Disaster." This film was a disaster. It was one of the final nails in his movie career. He pretty much stuck to television stuff for the rest of his life after When Time Ran Out also tanked.

Haiku Synopsis

The Swarm
Awful, awful film.
Urge friends to watch? They'll hate you.
Michael Caine is sexy?

Monday, March 12, 2007

How do you say "Bring out the gimp" in Spanish?

Ambassadors, bondage and sex toys. Get it here from the Guardian Unlimited. So apparently, the Israeli ambassador to El Salvador is a little bit kinky. "When San Salvador police discovered him in his official embassy residence yard in the capital San Salvador, however, smooth talk was not really an option. For starters there was the gag and the rubber ball in his mouth. There was also the matter of being drunk. And naked. And bound. And surrounded by sex toys."

It gets better: " Once he was untied and the gag and ball were removed Mr Raphael identified himself as the ambassador but for perhaps the first time in his diplomatic career, this was a crisis he could not explain away." The bolded selection has got be one of my favorite things ever written about a political figure. Ev-er--that's the sine qua non baby. Why can't we as Amurkans have such a scandal? Why is it always just blow jobs and hookers?

But what do the Israelis think of this, I hear you ask. "The ministry sees his behaviour as unbecoming of a diplomat," Zehavit Ben-Hillel, an Israeli foreign ministry spokeswoman, said yesterday. It was, she added, an unprecedented embarrassment. Mr Raphael was recalled home two weeks ago when the ministry first learned of the incident but the news became public only yesterday, when reports surfaced in the Israeli media. "He is going to remain in Israel," said the spokeswoman.

The Ants Are My Friends...

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Empire of the Ants is allegedly based on an HG Wells' story. Sort of like that execrable War of the Worlds was. They also share another quality--the solemn narrator (which luckily for EotA only serves as an introduction). Thankfully though, there is no parallel to the shrieking Dakota Fanning in EotAHere ya go:

This is the ant.Treat it with respect for it may very well be the next dominant life form of our planet. Sound incredible? Impossible? Have you ever taken a good close look at what the ant is all about? Like these... one of the 15,000 different species inhabiting our planet. This one cultivates crops of fungus for food. Others herd aphids, just as man herds cattle. And what about the warriors? The builders of bridges, roads, tunnels. Frightening, isn't it, that a creature as small as an ant is able to have a fair claim to rank next to Man on the scale of intelligence.

What's frightening is the bullshit narration. Essentially you get the movie plot
in suma. Cultivating crops? Check. Herding? Check. Warring? Check.

Like Night of the Lepus and unlike some of the other movies I'm showcasing, EotA is a fusion sci-fi/horror film. Part big "insert animal here." Part enivronmental panic parable. Part 70s morality play about the dangers of development. Ultimately, though what you get with EotA is a Them! rip-off, set in the Florida Everglades. Seriously. Shady guys dump shiny new barrels of toxic waste into the ocean. One barrel washes ashore and we later see it, washed up on the beach, corroded and icky. Toxic waste is apparently irresistible to ants. Toxic waste mutates ants to more-than human size. Sadly, the special effects in the movie show no sort of techincal advancement in the 20-odd years since Them! was released.

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Part green screen, part puppet--all schlock. The film does do this one thing which I love--the ant-compound vision-pov cam shot. This is brilliant. And hideous. All at the same time.

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The best thing about this movie is Joan Collins in a pantsuit and headscarf, working towards her ultimate cultural role of power bitch. It'd be another few years until she landed Dynasty, but the haughty coolness is at work. Let me take a minute to address lady miss Joan. She hates this movie. The dvd copy proclaims that she doesn't want you to see this movie. She says that it was the worst acting gig of her life. Considering her resume, this is something to consider. She has been in some bad shit. There's also this curious affectation of a southern accent that comes and goes. Sort of like Tina Turner in reverse, but less consistent.

The second best thing about this movie is that they actually try to use some sort of science admist the sci-fi/enviomental terror crap--the mutant queen ant emits a pheremone that not only controls ants but people as well. So people end up being sprayed with talcum powder and then turn all Stepford, seeking sugar and other fungible ant necessities. Good good stuff. Especially the footage of giant ants running a sugar factory. Superimposed ants --marvelous. Luckily there's a tanker truck marked "Flammable" outside the sugar factory. Eventually characters escape , they blow up the truck and ants. The end.

But what of Joan Collins? She gets eaten. By a monstrous puppet ant.

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Haiku Synopsis:

Empire of the Ants
Toxic waste mutates
Ants. They want to rule the world.
Boom! The ants are dead.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Animals Amok Week

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The Night of the Lepus post got me thinking about similar movies and just how much I love them. The "animal amok" horror movie is always something that can make me smile--usually because they're just so damned bad. I'll admit that actually I don't love them ironically. Even though I appreciate them as camp, it's sincere. I love almost every aspect of their badness. Part of my fondness might be driven by the fact that they were a staple; out of the 70s movies that could be replayed with minimal cuts and cheaply on network tv, these had to be a bargain for the networks. I remember seeing at least half of this week's choices on network telly as a kid. We didn't have cable (we lived too far in the stopped about a half mile from our house); satellite tv wasn't really an option until I was in junior high. There's another thing about these flicks-- each time I see one I think to myself: this is someone's favorite movie. So this week I'm going to do a rundown on my favorites. Each with a haiku synopsis. (A fun note about Night of the Lepus--it's as old as I am. But I think I've aged better...despite lacking DeForest Kelly's hair and Janet Leigh's cheekbones.)

Fun trivia--the movie can be seen in both Natural Born Killers and the Matrix.

Exquisitely bad dialogue: Ladies and gentleman, reports from headquarters confirm that the horde of killer rabbits is getting closer to town. High voltage has been turned on to a section of the railroad tracks, and it is your car lights that we hope will huddle the rabbits under them. There will be machine gun and rifle fire to both kill and divert these monsters. Do not panic.

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Greg the bunny knew he should've never taken that PCP from the Caddyshack gopher.

So now, the synopsis:

Night of the Lepus
Mutant bunnies kill.
Reservists stop their rampage.
The town is saved. Yay!

Because it's Sunday

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Did you know Jesus made the dinosaurs?

And that there are lines of thought pointing to the fact that man and dinosaurs coexisted?

That Kangaroos, like all modern animals originated in the Middle East and may have rafted to Australia? (Take THAT Thor Heyerdahl!)

Alas though, they have nothing to say (yet) about the duckbilled platypus.

It's not even St. Patrick's Day

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And I'm thinking about Easter. Specifically, thinking about how much I want to get my hands on Night of the Lepus and watch it for Easter. Maybe make a tradition of it. Forget The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told and all that rot. Give me mutant bunnies. And candy. Peeps and licorice jelly beans and malted milk eggs. That's Easter. I remember seeing this on television as a kid and loved it--especially when the bunnies go on a rampage through the town, destroying (hah) HO scale power lines and knocking over a Lionel train set. I dubbed a copy onto VHS while in college, but that's sadly gone the way of the dodo, so it's probably been 10 plus years since I've gotten my killer bunny fix. Plus it's got Janet Leigh and DeForest Kelly. Oh and once I'm at the height of my sugar mania I want to listen to the Pansy Division's Bunnies and dance around til I'm sick. That would be the perfect Easter.

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I gave in last night to my inner Betty (no...not that betty [shudder] this one) and baked a couple of pies. A Shoo Fly and a Fudge Pie. (For some reason I channeled Aaron for a second and giggled saying fudge pie out loud.) Both are over the top rich and very very satisfying. I think if I ate more than a small slice I'd go into shock. But they fit the bill.

I decided to get my Irish on early and do corned beef and cabbage for dinner. We'll see how it goes. I'm starting with a plain brisket and going into uncharted territory. Now if I only had a bottle of Jameson's or Powers' whiskey around the house...but alas, no booze.

Dreamed last night about a plane crash in the neighbor's field. Highly unpleasant. Later had a short dreamlet involving book cases and Jack Spicer's Collected Books volume.


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According to the most recent issue of Spin, CourtTV's 'Til Death Do Us Part will begin airing March 19. With Waters and the bridezilla herself as part of the CourtTV family I want to revamp my dream roundtable: Waters, Star and Nancy Grace. Mmmmmm...bitchlicious.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


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Went out today to get some deadheading and weeding done before the rains come. Breezy out, warm, lots of birdsong. The earth isn't quite so warm you can smell it yet...but it's close. I love those couple of weeks when even the grass and its tight little mats of leaf and root and sod can't contain that scent. I've been thinking of it a lot the last few days--what that scent is exactly; why it acts on me the way it does; how much longer it will be before it's here. Soon, I keep telling myself, in this and so many other things, soon.

Big crocuses have opened up since yesterday. They are alarming--rich violet and amazingly orange stamens and pistils. So hard to find just the right word to describe the intensity of that orange without being cliche. So let me just say: they're really damned orange.

Fletcher is the gift that keeps on giving. Returned from my labors to find a single dead shrew-like thing. Since the weather's improved the cats have been far happier. Like me they get cabin fever. So the more agreeable temps. and conditions have allowed them more time outside to climb and hunt and do what they do. It's drawn down their "running of the circuit"--during the coldest snowiest weather they were prone to making high-speed kidney shaped runs through the house beginning in the kitchen, into the living room and bath and back. They'd do this two or three times in a row then go off somewhere and collapse. It could be the warm weather and their free time outside or it could be the liberal doses of catnip I've been giving them. Either way, we all seem more content.

I'm in the mood to bake. I've been craving starch all week--potatoes particularly. I hate when I get these highly specialized cravings. It makes me feel out of whack. Maybe some pie or another batch of molasses cookies will help. (This recipe from epicurious is fabu. Delicious, spicy, and a perfect texture for dunking in coffee. M'm M'm good. I recommend giving the dough a thorough chill before working with it--very very sticky.)

Bummer SASE news--but that just means another round in the mail Monday.

Six Sentences

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My short prose poem "The Order of Things: Dispatching" is up at Six Sentences today.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Those Whacky Russians

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When they're not conducting shady arms deals, appointing warlords or assassinating dissidents, those guys in Russia sure do love readin' about sex. From the Pravda English site.

A sample of the headlines and their accompanying teaser text.

Women’s logic has been the subject of numerous articles bearing the negative connotation only. Men authors tend to have similar opinions about women's memory and mental talents. Some men may even say that a woman is men's best friend. If you try to listen to any conversation in a group of men, you will inevitably hear some of them saying that women cannot be taken seriously as many of them are stupid...

We still live in the good old patriarchal society no matter what we think of it or how civilized it may look to us. Ladies need to bear it in mind that sexual intercourse is something they cannot avert. Taking pleasure in sex is better than having sex without any pleasurable sensations...

Yes ladies bear in mind...sexual intercourse is something you cannot avert.

Male phobias: what are the bravest men afraid of?
Men are not afraid of anything. They are not afraid of mice, cellulite, or sexual harassment. However, men do have their secret fears, the ones they would rather keep to themselves. Women can only speculate about those phobias.

Young British woman Ellie Allen experiences an orgasm every 5 minutes. Any kind of vibration, even a small one, causes the most violent reaction in the British girl’s body. The poor girl doesn’t know where to turn anymore to get away from this misery, which is ruining her whole life.

18 most common mistakes women make in sex
Men hate women who talk too much in bed and are obsessed with their looks...Here they are, 18 most common mistakes women make in bed. Men want you to learn about them. You may notice that some of the points seem to have no relation to sex at all. However, this is what puts the men off and makes you less attractive. That is why these points are as important as sexual complaints

Tune in Tomorrow

For a very special posting of On The Cusp.
RJ doesn't learn a lesson--but something nifty's going to happen.

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris...

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I sewed a bunch of seeds earlier this week and am jazzed that some have already germinated. I've managed to do pretty well the past few years growing tomatoes and herbs from seeds so I decided to really try this year to do it with flowers and do it right. Just to be safe I made sure I kept some reserve seeds in the fridge to plant later. So far the amaranthus 'hot biscuit,' the bells of ireland, and a couple of four o'clocks are all sprouting. The cleome is being stubborn but it just might take a little longer. I don't mind planting annuals as long as they reseed--and from what I've read these varieties are all reliable reseeders. I'd love to get some nicotiana varieties, but despite my best efforts the last six or seven years, I've never been able to get them to thrive. In a couple of weeks I'm going to do the tomatoes because I honestly never plant them until the end of May or early June, so a later sewing should prevent them being leggy.

It's been lovely here today--warm with a light wind. So nice after the mud and rain and snow. If it's still nice tomorrow I'm determined to get out and deadhead, weed, and get things ready to go for late spring planting..

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Calling All Secular Progressives

Fox News has discovered our upcoming secular progressive war on Easter!

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John "Outbreed the Hispanics" Gibson has the up-to-date (ahem...five-years-old) skinny. Given that Gibson is also the author of The War on Christmas, I have to wonder why he wants to defend the "Easter Bunny," given the fact that it secularizes Easter and takes us away from thinking about Jeebus on that particular Sunday. So if your locality still has an Easter Bunny and hasn't yet fallen to the hordes of the secular progressives, be sure to thank this man for fighting the good fight, informing us of five year old news.

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When there's nothing else newsworthy going on this week.

Spring must be on its way

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Fletcher, the orange and white tabby, left me two dead mole heads on the welcome mat. He was sitting there yowling to be let in, looking up, waiting to be praised. I assured him he was a fine specimen of tom, got my gloves and disposed of the pressies. It could be worse, a friend has a cat known to bring in live snakes.

My Life with the Thrill Kill Cut

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I got my hair cut today--it's been about 3 months since I'd had one. I was a yeti. I'm not one of those people who are lucky enough to get length when their hair grows out--I get big poofy bulk. It's crazy. But I also realize that as I'm skidding into my mid-thirties that I'm remarkably lucky to have a full head of hair. Plus the fact that I'm relatively grey free. It's good--my cutter was fast and efficient: cutting in a little texture, removing some dead length, but most importantly, cutting out the bulk. I look human again. Huzzah. Brian will be pleased--tho he was kind enough not to tell me how much he hated it when I was there a couple of weeks ago.

While I was driving to the appointment I was thinking about a hair cut I had a couple of years ago. I needed a quick cut for a first-quarter meeting in a couple of days so I ran to a place that was near the office that could work me in right after I was leaving that day. So I get there and they tell me to have a seat. And then, Burke (let's call him Burke, shall we?) comes in and takes me to his chair.

Burke was probably in his mid-to-late-thirties. Tall, skinny, a little bronzed and dirty-blonde hair that had been "accented." The color match was good--but the highlight placement was just a little wonky, blocky and chunky. He was wearing a pair of eggplant colored slacks and a sort of hooker green shirt. He also had a wedding ring, a square gold nugget ring on his right hand and a thick herringbone chain around his right wrist. Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed by the combined effects. But I needed this cut and I sat down and got straight to it--spelling out exactly what I wanted. What guards I wanted for the clippers, no sideburns, etc etc. He stood behind me, working his hands through my hair nodding. He proceeded to cut.

About three minutes in he starts talking to me, asking me where I'm from, what do I do, etc etc. I go along--giving short answers. I don't go to talk. I go to get my hair cut. When he finds out where I'm from, he starts talking about how his brother-in-law has a fishing camp at a lake there. Asks me if I know the area, etc etc. Then he starts talking about how he likes to go with friends to the cabin and ice fish. Had I ever been ice fishing? No, no I hadn't. (I didn't think the ice got thick enough here to support one of those shacks, but whatever.) He proceeds to go into detail about it, lisping and clipping away, pressing his groin into my shoulder.

Then he starts talking about the superbowl. How he's looking forward to it--again he mentions his "friends" and his excitement at getting together with them. Did I have plans? No. And he repositions his crotch to press in between my chest and upper arm. The rest of the haircut is a blur after that. I just started looking straight ahead and my answers got shorter and shorter. I just wanted out of there. Finally the cut's done. He's behind me again, rubbing some sort of product through.

Sometime in my twenties I grew a soul patch. And I've just sort of kept it off and on since. At that time I had it. So, Burke's behind me working the product through "I really like your jazz patch." He reaches around with both hands and strokes it and the lower part of my face. I never made eye contact, just said something about how I was running late and really needed to go.

I've had bad haircuts. I've had men cut my hair and women cut my hair. I've had women pressing their boobs into me. I've never had a man do that.

It's a Secret

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Aaron is calling for confessions at his blog. Because mine is a little long, I decided to post here and not hog comment space.

When I was about 5, my uncle decided to build a hunting cabin on a corner of the farm he and my mom grew up on. We went out one weekend to see how they were progressing. I honestly can't remember how far along they were at this point but I do know they'd dug out a hole for the septic system. My second cousins who were a little younger (let's call them Mickey and Alfie) were there. I hated them. They were little blond monsters with bowlcuts who thought they were adorable but behaved like little thugs. Their parents and grandparents laughed about how ornery they were when they talked about how the boys broke a window or hit a person in the head with a rock. Anyway, the adults had gone off to look at something and we were wandering around.

I wanted to be with the grownups but was saddled with my cousins. We were wandering around the edges of the septic pit looking down into it. It had obviously been dug for a while: the bottom was a mucky, muddy, algae covered mess; and there was a noticeable odor rising up from it. I can't remember if Mickey (the older cousin) did anything particular to anger me, or if his very being was what forced my hand. He had gotten very close to the edge of the hole and his brother was a little ways away, looking at rocks or something. I looked around, didn't see any adults and pushed him into the pit. He hit the mud and came up, covered in scum and muck but didn't cry. I moved back from the pit and forced myself to cry. A huge, snotty, red-faced crying fit. Then I started yelling for my family. I went running in their direction screaming about "He got too close to the edge...I told him not to....but he didn't listen" or something like that. They came running and my dad and uncle got him out of the muddy mess and handed him over to my aunt who preceded to give him a world class spanking for not listening.