Monday, August 24, 2015

Classic Monsters - The Kirk Hammett Collection at SFO Museum

There's a lot going on here that you might have questions about. First of all, yes, SFO refers to the San Francisco International Airport, and yes, SFO does have an acclaimed museum, installed throughout the entire airport. Should you be lucky enough to be traveling to or from SFO, you will have a pleasing walk through its terminals, witnessing lovingly curated works of art and eclectic collections galore.

Classic Monsters in an international airport? Yes—the Hollywood heavy hitters from yesteryear: Frankenstein's monster, Wolf Man, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon—all those guys (in my rush to get to my gate, I didn't capture any Bride of Frankenstein, which is disappointing). There's some lesser-known monsters too: Great Garloo, Uncle Fester, Mole Man, and one of my favorites, The Crawling Eye. If you're hankerin' for some monster memorabilia, this is the exhibit to see.

Thirdly, you read that right—this is the collection of Kirk Hammett, Metallica guitarist and horror-movie fanatic. According to the SFO Museum exhibit guide, Hammett stumbled upon the 1931 Frankenstein on TV when he was six years old and never looked back, man. Hammett's so deeply committed to monsters, he even starred in a movie called Some Kind of Monster.

Check out his modus operandi:

Kirk Hammett knows his monster stuff and is a pure fan of the genre. Here's some quickly snapped photos from the SFO exhibit in terminal 2, post security. You can see the SFO Museum even if you're not traveling by getting in touch and scheduling a visit. The SFO Museum FAQ answers all other questions.

And now, Monsters.

Everyone calls him Frankenstein but let's be frank, he's simply the Monster

Creature From the Black Lagoon board game with cheerful pop-art spinner

You gotta admire the creative type who came up with The Crawling Eye

Fester puppet deserves a closeup

Great Garloo robot cost $17.98 in 1961 - probably higher today

I like to imagine Hammett relaxing after a grueling rehearsal by making some monster candles

Hammett used to bring his magazines to class - no doubt a popular fellow in the school yard

A very effective Mummy's Chariot model

I kind of want to befriend Hammett so we can play some board games

The Wolf Man paint-by-numbers kit comes with oils (classy)

Creeeeepy model kit for that creepy kid who lived down the block

Kind of dark

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

She Mob video - "Snow Smoked"

Another procrastination project wherein I create a wee slice of art instead of tending to my responsibilities. Which you don't even want to hear about—they're that mundane.

Here's Suki O'Kane singing lead on a composition she wrote in collaboration with Allen Whitman and Jonathan Segel, with lyrics by Erik Ehn. She Mob plays the tune and we enjoyed doing so. The Prelinger Archives supplied the footage. I placed the footage just so, and now—mundane duty calls.

Snow Smoked is available on She Mob's fourth album, "Right in the Head."

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Stan Brakhage Film Stills from the Underground

The other day I watched some beautiful experimental films by Stan Brakhage. Don't think I just popped a Criterion Collection disc in the DVD player and instantly felt cool by taking time out for silent, hand-painted experimental film (well, as cool as it's possible to feel, watching the ancient technology that is DVD).

My first thought was, JESUS, get ON with it! But I always think that when I watch art films. And I even have special training for them, having earned an MFA in Cinema in the 90s. You know who likes art films? MFA film departments, that's who. But after his very early 1960s and 70s work gave way to the 80s and 90s, I settled in and started randomly pushing "pause" just for fun—to see what would happen. The still frames that froze on my screen were stupendous.

Stan Brakhage was a sort of regular-guy mountain man who never could stop making films, however poor or struggling or parental he happened to be. He called himself a frustrated poet, but if you take the time to screen some of his work, I think the poetry comes through. He was the kind of obsessive artist who inspires by his very nature (endless obsession and hard work, against all odds). Whether his movies "click" for you or not, I hope you can take some of that kind of focus and put it into your passions.

Everyone should have passions in life, whether it's making a great Cobb Salad, or meticulously applying moth wings and plant remnants to raw stock and processing it to see what happens—as in Mothlight, Brakhage's 1963 exploration of a moth reaching the end of its lifespan. Of course, DVDs and Internet streaming can't replace the incredible painted-light qualities of actual film footage projected on a screen, but we do what we can.

Make it happen. See what happens. See.

The Garden of Earthly Delights 1981

The Dante Quartet 1987

The Dark Tower 1991

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2016 Republican Presidential Candidates Haiku

That's right! In honor of National Poetry Month (three months late)—GOP candidate haiku for 2016. After working on these 5-7-5 syllable poem-ets, I have to tell you—these are some scary mofos who hope to head the United States of America.

According to their almost universal policies, they would easily excel within any Taliban government. And given their druthers, teen-aged girls and full-grown women (including victims of rape and incest) should have babies—lots and lots of babies. That leaves these guys free to count their dirty, ill-gotten gun-lobby money while incarcerating as many poor addicts as possible, possibly murdering them with the death penalty whether they're guilty or not. Forget about healthcare, teeming masses—if you can't afford healthcare, that's just God's mandate. And are they pals with God! God is their great big buddy and right-hand man. I think that covers it.

Oh, and they'd really rather many of us not vote, so they can continue to power up their Fox News-generated political sideshow to stay in office as long as possible and feed off us like a bacterial infection.

Let's haiku:

Jeb Bush
No on abortion
Yes to the death penalty
Voting rights? Hah! lol

Chris Christie
Look into his eyes
The bullies from seventh grade
had more empathy

Ted Cruz
shuts down government
thinks climate change is a joke
morally bankrupt

Dr. Ben Carson
Believes health care law
is as bad as slavery
This man is confused

Donald Trump
Mr. pouty face
would-be supreme dictator
of major suckage

Carly Fiorina
My old HP boss!
a glorified P.R. hack
—so she qualifies

Mike Huckabee
Outlaw abortion
All human life is precious
Have a gun instead

Bobby Jindal
Paranoid zealot
drowning in a no-go-zone
of his withered mind

Rand Paul
fiscally conservative
tea party code words

Rick Perry
policy wanker
deep in the heart of Texas
a heart of darkness

Rick Santorum
Family values
don't include contraception
Google "Santorum"

Scott Walker
is lacking daughters
to undergo ultrasound
for their abortions

Monday, July 13, 2015

My idea-generator is as empty as...

Summer's here and my brain is shutting down. And my landlord is swapping out all my bathroom hardware, originally from 1978. And the only films I've watched lately are Inside Out and Life Itself—both popular and very worth seeing. Day after day I stare at this blank blogger rectangle, trying to think of things to type, but all that comes up is:

Trona Pinnacles

The tufa formations of my mind

Badwater Basin

The salt flat of my mind

This White Mountains slag heap

Yup, the slag heap of my mind

I'm hoping we go on a trip soon so I'll have something to write about. Otherwise, you're going to be seeing a post about my updated bathrooms. And we don't want that.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrate - See "Pride" (2014)

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET MARRIED. It's a great day for civil rights in the USA. I can honestly say I'm proud of my country.

If you can't make it to a Pride Parade this weekend, that's too bad—it's going to be fantastic—why not watch my new favorite feel-good movie of the century, Pride? Based on a true, better-than-fiction and little-known event, Pride is expertly written by Stephen Bereford and directed with much soul by Matthew Warchus. (Note: I watched with English subtitles to get all that accented British humor.) Its ensemble cast is just simply remarkable, including all manner of promising newcomers along with great performances by so many greats—Imelda Staunton, Bill Nighy, Paddy Considine, Dominic West.

I'm not a huge proponent of the "feel-good" film. I don't like being emotionally manipulated by the powerful medium of cinema. But this film earns its emotions, by giving us well-rounded characters (so difficult to pull off in a large ensemble story), with excellent acting and the perfect story-telling touches that are the essence of skill, effort and some collaborative magic. There's so much humor and humanity in this film. And it's just a great story.

It's 1984 in Margaret Thatcher's London. A small group of young activists decide at the behest of their impromptu leader, Mark, to collect funds for long-time striking miners in Northern England. The miners are running low on funds, food and hope. They're also getting arrested on a regular basis. Mark figures they're experiencing a lot of the same problems that he and his gay and lesbian friends have gone through in a conservative society. They form Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners—LGSM (although Steph, the lone woman, initially makes it The Lesbian and Gays who Support the Miners).

At first they can't even get the union to accept their money—do you see any parallels to our world today? So they call a random town in Wales and make some contact. This leads to further contact, and then full immersion in their respective worlds: gay/straight, small town/urban center, liberal/bigot, until the lines blur and, oh just see it! You'll feel good. You'll also feel sad. It's the cusp of the AIDS crisis. You're going to feel emotions—really feel them. That's worth experiencing.

Here's Mark, who walks tall and leads with his heart (played by Ben Schnetzer—an American, of all things), in his youthful abode with is life-sized cutout of Eartha Kitt and just barely noticeable Communist flag. Mark's political leaning is one of the true facts glossed over to appeal to a wider audience—a pity, since it explains Mark's initial supporting of the miners so well.

I think J.K. Rowling had Margaret Thatcher and her cronies in mind when she thought up Slytherin House.


Gay Pride, the film version.

It was not easy to be out in 1984. The film, a perfect period piece, reminds us without ever losing its sense of humor and honor along the way.

Paddy Considine, disappears (as usual), into his role as Dai, a miner. I would see pretty much anything that Paddy Considine works on—he's like a stamp of quality on a film project.

The LGSM, having lunch with their first miner.

Considine—an actor's actor.

Steph (Faye Marsay) is so 80s with her caustic wit, iconoclastic hair and smoker's stance.

The group shots not only support the theme of strength in unity—they're actually based on real video footage and photos of the time.

Gethin (Andrew Scott) washes his bookstore windows and his resolute body language tells us that he's done this perhaps many times before.

The fierce (and adorable) Jessica Gunning as Sian James—the Wales housewife who went on to big things in parliament.

The genuinely fabulous Dominic West as Jonathan, retired actor and disco appreciator.

Bill Nighy makes understatement a complete art form. Imelda Staunton continues to inspire by handling drama and comedy so deftly.

So many issues are beautifully covered in Pride. Beyond the historical record, there's the difficulties of coming out, finding a support network, fear of the unknown, knowledge and openness as a lifestyle, reaching out, making someone a pot of soup because that's the best course of action at the moment—so many important aspects of life. See it.

And Happy Pride. XO