|A surrealist portrait of Andy Kaufman by Joe Blevins|
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
|The Torrance Family Portrait by smalltownhero (source)|
The highly enjoyable new documentary Room 237 has brought renewed attention and scrutiny to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining (1980). The film, a loose adaptation of Stephen King's bestselling 1977 novel, has inspired an inordinate amount of speculation among viewers and critics, and the documentary seeks to provide several possible readings or interpretations of the film. Among the theories floated by interviewees: it's about the Holocaust, it's about the genocide of Native Americans, it's about the faking of the Apollo 11 moon landing, etc. Like most of Kubrick's works, The Shining is chock-full of odd and arcane details which may or may not be clues to the film's true meaning or intent. Room 237 helpfully points out many of these, and the interview subjects use these tidbits to support their respective cases, almost like lawyers submitting pieces of evidence in a trial. This makes the viewer the judge and jury, I suppose.
One theme which emerges again and again in Room 237 is that new details are liable to pop out at you every time you watch The Shining. Freeze the frame at any given moment, say the interviewees, and study the image. There's bound to be something out of the ordinary there. And, sure enough, I found this to be true when I revisited my favorite scene in the film: the one in which a terrified Wendy Torrance (Shelley Duvall) defends herself with a baseball bat as her husband, Jack (Jack Nicholson), now completely psychotic, follows her up a flight of stairs at the far end of the hotel's vast, airy Colorado Lounge:
Thursday, May 9, 2013
|Enjoy this picture of Joaquin Phoenix, the nicest man in Hollywood.|
Where the hell have I been lately?
Sorry that I haven't posted anything lately. This is the time of year when we're busiest at work, and since the weather has been so nice lately I've spent most of my free time enjoying the outdoors. Shamefully, I have about four articles in "draft" stage that I can't seem to complete. They sit there in my Blogger page, mocking me. In the meantime, please enjoy this really cool, obscure single by the Modern Folk Quartet from 1966. It's called "This Could Be the Night," and it was written by two of music's all-time greats, Harry Nilsson and Phil Spector. Of course, Harry died of alcoholism in the 1980s, and Phil's in prison for murder, so neither is a great role model. But what a song! Just listen. It's a great example of Spector's patented Wall of Sound. Spector greatly influenced the Beach Boys, and here you can tell that the Beach Boys have started to influence Spector right back. This could practically be an outtake from Pet Sounds. I love the hell out of this.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
In case you missed Time #1, it's here. The first one was based on a series of vacation photos taken by a group of friends. The second one, I think you can guess. I don't know why, but I've always been interested in how faces change over time. That used to be something I drew over and over again as a kid. I'd draw a character, then show him ten years, twenty years, fifty years later, etc. I suppose these little collages are my way of returning to that.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
|The obsolete yet still gorgeous original logo for this blog designed by Scott Cole.|
Perhaps you've noticed some changes on this blog lately. You'll soon notice more. Dead 2 Rights was originally set up as the official blog of Wayne Kotke, a fictional character I created and portrayed for almost five years on the Mail Order Zombie podcast. In the beginning, I made an attempt to write the blog "in character" as Wayne and include as much zombie-related content as I could. Over the years, though, I strayed further and further away from the original premise and just started writing about whatever interested me. The zombie references became less frequent and more perfunctory with each passing year. And now... well, they've come to a stop altogether. Wayne Kotke was a character created especially for Mail Order Zombie, and I have decided that he should expire along with that show. MOZ airs its final episode on Thursday, April 25, and that's the last you'll be hearing from Wayne. From here on out, Dead 2 Rights is my personal blog and will be written under my own name. All the old content is still here, so if you want to look for Zomby cartoons, you'll still be able to find them. Who knows? I may even create more cartoons with that character in the future. But for the most part, D2R will be about my own life, opinions, and interests. I hope you will join me as the blog enters the next stage of its evolution.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
|Goofus and Gallant outside the small Maine chapel where they made their relationship official.|
Opposites really do attract after all, as it turns out.
Goofus and Gallant, the famous cartoon pair who have demonstrated the "dos and don'ts" of etiquette and safety in the pages of Highlights for Children magazine for over 60 years, have married in a small ceremony in Maine. The wedding, which they announced to the media through their publicist, ends decades of rumors and innuendo about the renowned twosome.
"What can I say? He completes me," says Gallant, while sipping a latte in the small condo shared by the duo. "I guess I've always been attracted to the 'bad boy' aspect of his personality. I think it's the side of myself that I've never been able to express. I sometimes wish I could be as free and uninhibited as he is. He's introduced me to so many new things. I'd say Goofus has definitely widened my horizons."
"Yeah, among other things," says Goofus, snickering like a naughty schoolboy.
"Oh, you," replies Gallant, blushing a little.
|Goofus and Gallant in their earlier days.|
"I had a lousy upbringing," Goofus says in one of his more reflective moments. "My parents ignored me, so I acted out to get their attention. There was very little structure or discipline in our household. So when I met [Gallant], I thought, 'Finally, here's a guy who has his life together.' I don't know. Maybe at first he was like a surrogate father to me, since my real dad was a drunk who was gone half the time. I mean, of course, we had to play up our differences in the cartoons. But after work, I'd find myself thinking up excuses to spend more time with him. And, well, things kind of developed from there."
When asked whether the announcement of their same-sex marriage would ignite any sort of controversy or possibly harm their careers, Gallant is idealistic. "The reason we decided to go public with this is that we felt it would be wrong to keep it a secret. We didn't want to live a lie, because that would send the wrong message to the very audience we're trying to reach. Whatever the fallout from this may be, we'll know that we've done the right thing. This is our little statement about the importance of marriage equality."
Goofus, typically, is more blunt. "The Highlights people have known about us for decades. I mean, how could they not? It's not like we've tried to hide it around the office. If they fired us now over this, they'd be revealing themselves as complete freakin' hypocrites. And you can quote me on that! Let the chips fall where they may. Besides, print is a dying medium. If they don't want us after this, who needs 'em?"
The Goofy Gophers, meanwhile, are also considering a same-sex union but are apparently stalemated over who should carry whom over the threshold. At press time, neither Mac nor Tosh appeared willing to budge on this issue.
Monday, April 8, 2013
|Annette: The all-American girl who ushered many boys into manhood.|
"Annette Funny Jello" they called her in MAD magazine.
|Puberty was kind to Annette Funicello.|
In 1960, the same year as "Tall Paul," satirist Stan Freberg wrote and recorded a satirical comedy sketch called "The Old Payola Roll Blues (Parts 1 and 2)" about a sleazy record producer (played by Jesse White) who tries to turn a tone-deaf, frog-voiced teenage imbecile named Clyde Ankle (played by Freberg) into a teen idol by bribing disc jockeys to play Clyde's moronic song, "High School Ooh-Ooh." Freberg's character seems dubious of the whole arrangement but still wants to get as much as he can out of this producer. They start negotiating specifics:
FREBERG: Well, maybe now I can have my adenoids taken out.
WHITE: What, and ruin your amateur standing?!
FREBERG: Well, could you at least get me a date with that Mouseketeer that grew up?
WHITE: All right, we'll see.
FREBERG: (excited) Oh boy!
Listeners of the time would have had no trouble identifying that particular Mouseketeer. Of course, by the time I was born, Annette's career was pretty much over. The hit songs and movies had dried up years earlier, and she settled into the life of perfect domestic tranquility as a wife and mother. Her most prominent public role after that was as the celebrity spokeswoman for Skippy peanut butter. Her career ended, then, as it began: with Annette as a paragon of chastity and modesty, utterly sexless and harmless. But this does not diminish her importance in the sexual awakening of a generation. Incidentally, that song I mentioned earlier, "Tall Paul," played a small yet significant part in my own childhood. I have written before about how my introduction to popular music came through a stack of hand-me-down 45 rpm records I received from my mother and which I repeatedly and obsessively played on my trusty Fisher-Price record player. Naturally, Annette's hit platter was an important part of the mix. It's an odd-sounding record even today, as fast and choppy as a punk song with very prominent percussion. Give it a listen, won't you?