Saturday, January 30, 2010

No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn...

...or Queens as it were. Alison's son was in the hospital for a few days this week, gave us all a bit of a scare when he couldn't really move his neck and stopped eating. Turns out he had a bacterial abcess in his throat and a few days in bed on an IV drip full of top quality drugs more or less cleared it up. He got out this morning and while hardly on top of the world, he's doing much better.

That made for a stressful week in a few ways. Obviously seeing a kid you care about in a hospital bed is tough in any way, but there are other layers that spring from a situation like this. Alison wound up missing three days of work this week and while her employers were gracious and understanding enough that's still always a source of stress in the back of your mind. She spent the nights at the hospital, which lead to your's truly going into bachelor mode for a while, and coming to the realization that sleeping alone when you're happily married and used to having someone there with you is... weird. I don't consider myself the co-dependent type, but this was the first time I'd ever been alone overnight in the apartment in the two plus years I've lived here and it was odd. I didn't sleep very soundly and kind of went into an odd funk because of it. Nothing serious or really all that harsh, just kind of odd, I wasn't my normal chipper self. Thankfully things are back to normal now. The late night phone calls, text messages and alarm clocks lead to some really restless nights and a rough work week (having nothing to do with my position or performance) was really taking its toll on me come Friday night where I more or less hit my grumpy peak.

Escapism is good then, right? Distractions and all that? A Swingin' Utters tribute CD comes out mid-Feb featuring new tracks the Teenage Bottlerocket, The Street Dogs (very fitting) and The Cobra Skulls. This makes me happy. As does a box that arrived from the other day containing Blu-ray's of Suspiria (amazing sound, screwy contrast that mars an otherwise excellent presentation), Von Trier's Antichrist, and Martyrs - none of which are available domestically or in region free imprt versions making me happy with the Momitsu region free player we invested in last year. We also really enjoyed Pontypool recently, a fantastic exercise in atmosphere over style and gore by Bruce McDonald, the director best known in America for Hardcore Logo but who will always be near and dear to my heart for Highway 61, Roadkill and the short lived CBC television series, Twitch City. Those who dig their horror on the smart side and who don't require jump scares or buckets of entrails ought to enjoy this really and truly original work (go Canada go!).

Last weekend before her son took ill, Alison and I went to Chinatown to buy Shaw Brothers stuff. We grabbed Intimate Confessions of A Chinese Courtesan and Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, the later to satisfy her current but well deserved Gordon Liu obsession. I also grabbed Johnnie To's latest, Vengeance, on BD. Haven't watch it yet, but I plan on getting to it soon. Some day I'll have spare time. I keep telling myself this. Now that things are a bit calmer than they were, I think she and I are going to go out for steaks. Just as soon as she wakes up from a well earned nap.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stuff I've watched, seen and listened to.

So last night I watched I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell , based on Tucker Max's book of the same. Rare is the film that makes me want to punch my screen, particularly when it's got beer, nudity and potty humor galore in it, but this one did it. The more I thought about it, the more annoyed I got and while I think I did a pretty good job of explaining why this movie was a waste of film on my DVD Talk review, a day later I'm still annoyed that I wasted an hour and forty minutes on it. It wasn't offensive (well I'm sure a lot of people would disagree, but I don't really get offended, per se), it was just stupid. I can deal with offensive if it entertains me, and I can deal with stupid if it entertains me, but this film, after the 'wow did he really just say that?' factor wears off is actually really dull. On top of that, the requisite redemption that the central character seemingly has to find at the end of movies like these is about as subtle and natural as a kick to the nuts.

I hated that movie.

Thankfully, I'm still reeling from the BLISS that is Boogie Nights in full HD quality thanks to the new Blu-ray release. Alison and I watched it together (how romantic!) a week or so ago and it's a picture that holds up well. Knowing more about John Holmes rise and fall now than I did the first (and until last week only) time I'd seen it about ten years ago added to the experience, even if it's not a bio-pic rather than a loosely connected of events that may or may not have ever happened in the adult film industry of the late seventies. Seeing it in HD really brings home how well photographed it is and the sound mix in uncompressed DTS-HD really is a thing of beauty if you've got a receiver that can decode it properly. The film is still an odd mix of celebrating the sexual liberation movement, expose of the perils of the porno industry and heady character piece all rolled into one and there's not a bad performance anywhere to be found. Burt Reynolds should have won an Oscar for this one.

So what else have we done aside from watching movies? I bought some CDs. The new Agnostic Front Victim In Pain remaster is great because it's got the previously very hard to find United Blood EP on it, available for the first time since the vinyle went out of print over twenty years ago. What else did I grab... the remastered Cro-Mags Age Of Quarrel CD is really good and a couple of older Forced Reality CDs look good on my shelf. I also wound up with a few Iggy Pop 'BONK' releases, odd obscure Stooges era material that never wound up getting officially released in its day. Raw, rough and sleazy as sleazy can be its pretty good stuff.

We saw the Street Dogs in late December do a Christmas show with Stigma and Miret & The Disasters opening. We saw the Street Dogs a year or so ago in Long Island but as good as that show was, this one trumped it. We watched most of the show from the balcony, I'm too old for moshpits, especially when there are oodles of skinheads flailing around, but I did go up front a couple of times. When the Street Dogs did their encore I was on the floor and as I helped some poor drunken fool try to find something he'd dropped after getting clocked by some jackass I happened to look up just as Mike McColgan was jumping off the stage into the crowd. He more or less landed on my head. All's well that ends well, however, and it was cool to shake his hand and thank him after the show. He was out hugging everyone and hanging out with anyone who wanted to talk after the show, which was nice to see. The band is starting to get pretty big, at least by the standards of the genre, and it'd be easy for success to go to his head. It doesn't seem to have, he still seems down to earth and approachable and just a nice, normal guy. They played a few new tracks at the show and it sounds like they're going back to the faster, harder sound of the earlier first two albums, which isn't a bad thing even if I personally really like the more Pogues-ish and Clash influences that have popped up in the newer stuff.

Christmas and New Years were pretty mellow and uneventful and I'm glad the Holiday related chaos if over, even if we did have a really good trip to Canada this time around. Alison was a trooper and didn't complain as we trudged through Toronto on a cold day to take Patrick & Brenden record shopping. They had a blast and it was a good day for all of us. Seeing Mom, Doug, Dad and G&G Jane was great as well. As usual, it was too short, but being with driving distance has been a good thing and ensured more frequent (and affordable!) visits will be a constant.

Aside from that, there's a neat little documentary project in the fetal stages of development. It won't make me any money, but it'll be interesting to work on if it happens. I should know more in the next three weeks. I'll be shooting it, editing it, and directing it. I'm not entirely sure if it'll be a short or closer to feature length but the beauty of doing it all digitally and all myself is that even if it'll be rough around the edges, it won't cost me much, aside from time and maybe a few tanks of gas. If it comes to fruition, it could wind up being a real treat for exploitation and trash movie fans, particularly those with an affection for the Times Square scene of the late sixties through the early eighties - the pre-Disnification of NYC's sleazy soul. More details as I can make them available. For now, it's a very, very likely project but it's not firm. Until it is, I will say no more.