Saturday, April 28, 2012

Scene Study: Pee-wee's descent into madness!

"Is this something you can share with the rest of us, Amazing Larry?"

Pinky Lee
One of the things which makes Tim Burton's 1985 film Pee-wee's Big Adventure such an enduring classic is its unexpected complexity. You read that correctly. On the surface, this is the featherweight story of a seemingly naive, innocent man-child -- comedian Paul Reubens as the self-described "loner" Pee-wee Herman -- and his quest to recover his beloved stolen bicycle, which has been taken from him by a jealous and spiteful neighbor. And, yes, Pee-wee is supposed to be a fun, happy, lovable character who will appeal to kids in the audience. But, admirably,  the film does not shy away from showing the dark side of both its title character and the world in which he lives. This is a whimsical movie, sure, but it also contains moments of unsettling surrealism and takes some of its visual cues from decidedly-not-for-kids crime and horror films of the past. At times, director Burton seems as influenced by German Expressionism and film noir as he does by the 1950s children's TV hosts (Soupy Sales, Pinky Lee, Buffalo Bob Smith) which spawned the Pee-wee character. Most surprisingly, Pee-wee's Big Adventure does not flinch when it comes to portraying the negative aspects of the title character's personality, particularly his paranoia and bad temper. It could be argued that what allowed Burton and Ruebens to move Pee-wee Herman from the world of sketch comedy where he was born (Ruebens was a member of LA's The Groundlings) into the world of feature films was making the character three-dimensional and complicated. A one-note Pee-wee couldn't sustain a whole movie. But a sometimes-nice, sometimes-not-so-nice Pee-wee can.

An unhinged Pee-wee
Nowhere is the dual nature of this film better reflected than in the justly-beloved "town meeting" scene. In this bizarre sequence, Pee-wee has invited the lovably odd folks of the community -- his completely innocent friends and neighbors -- to confront them with the "evidence" he has collected since the theft of his bike. The crime has brought out the worst in Pee-wee, and the scene is a portrait in extreme paranoia. In a very short span of time, he has ceased to be a harmless, free-spirited eccentric and has become a suspicious, angry, accusatory monster with a tendency toward megalomania. What is shocking is that it took so little to bring such a momentous personality shift. Burton uses lighting very effectively here, casting shadows on Ruebens' face to give him a threatening, unfriendly appearance. Quite often during this scene, Reubens is either partially or completely in shadow. Darkness frequently obscures his facial features, giving him an air of vague menace. And Danny Elfman's score for this scene seems more typical of a tense Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Even Pee-wee's charming, clutter-laden house, seen briefly at the beginning of the scene, looks a little ominous at night. Note, too, that everyone attending this meeting seems to have gotten there on a bicycle.



In this scene, Pee-wee Herman is allowed to act in a manner totally unbecoming the star of a children's film. He yells. He paces. He spouts completely nutty conspiracy theories and keeps his "guests" virtual captives for hours on end in a stuffy basement. Even Pee-wee's little dog, Speck, is afraid of him. Perhaps the most startling moment is when he lashes out verbally at Dottie (Elizabeth Daily), the adorable bike shop employee who is the closest thing the film has to a romantic interest. It took real guts on the part of Reubens and Burton to allow their hero to be portrayed so negatively at this early stage in the film. A more timid film might have worried about alienating the audience, but Pee-wee's Big Adventure gives us more credit than that. Besides, the filmmakers must have rightly figured that audiences would go along with this scene simply because it was so funny. The dialogue throughout this sequence is hilarious. Nearly every line is quotable, so I'll limit myself to excerpting this unhinged monologue, the best of its kind outside of Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs in Treasure of the Sierra Madre:
"When you've gone over something again and again and again and again like I have, certain questions get answered. Others spring up! The mind plays tricks on you. You play tricks back! It's like you're unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and kitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting!"
Oliver Stone, eat your heart out. This is the greatest "conspiracy monologue" of all time.

"Why? What's the significance? I DON'T KNOW!"

A tedious post containing nothing but quotes and one-liners

Satirical sculpture by Chinese artist Chen Wenling

The Internet is nothing if not a playground of guilty pleasures. And one of mine, I will admit, is browsing through those long lists of haphazardly-collected one-liners and (often incorrectly attributed) quotations from famous comedians, politicians, writers, etc. I think the beauty of these lists is that they allow you to feel profound and witty without actually having to do any real thinking yourself. They're thoughts ready to think! All the heavy lifting, so to speak, has been done for you. And so, dearest readers, that is what I am offering you today -- a smorgasbord of borrowed ideas and predigested notions, several of which have appeared on bumper stickers and t-shirts. I have at least tried to offer these quotes in an organized, readable fashion and have even corrected a few egregious spelling and attribution errors.

Ready? Good. Now let's begin.
Redd Foxx



Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing. - Redd Foxx 




Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter since nobody listens. 

Capital punishment turns the state into a murderer. But imprisonment turns the state into a gay dungeon-master. 

The web brings people together because no matter what kind of a twisted sexual mutant you happen to be, you've got millions of pals out there. Type in "Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire," and the computer will say, "Specify type of goat."
- Richard Jeni 

 RELIGIOUS WARS: People murdering each other over who has the real imaginary friend. 

There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted. 
Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior 

 If order = chaos, and chaos = order, then what the hell did I order? 

Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view. You sound reasonable... Time to up the medication. 

Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial. 

I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant. 

I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid. 

I can see your point, but I still think you're full of shit. 

How about never? Is never good for you? 

I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter. 

Ahhh...I see the fuck-up fairy has visited us again.

I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message. 

Get the facts first. You can distort them later. 
- Mark Twain

Jimi Hendrix



 I'm the one who's gonna have to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to. 
- Jimi Hendrix 




I do not take drugs. I am drugs.
 - Salvador Dali, Diary of a Genius, 1966 

 If the doors of perception were cleansed 
Everything would appear to man as it is... infinite
For man has closed himself up 
Till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern 
- William Blake 

 The difference between us and Helen Keller is that she knew she was deaf and blind.
 - Tom Robbins 

When I hear some sigh, "Life is hard," I am always tempted to ask, "Compared to what?"
-Sydney J. Harris 

Flappity, floppity, flip
The mouse on the mobius strip;
The strip revolved,
The mouse dissolved
In a chronodimensional skip. 

Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song? 
- Steven Wright 

Life is far too important a thing to ever talk seriously about.
- Oscar Wilde 

They say,"Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, But teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime."  What they failed to tell you was he'll only eat fish! 

I'm not under the alkafluence of inkahol that some thinkle peep I am. It's just the drunker I sit here the longer I get. 

The Dragon eats Fruit!
- Seth Lipton 

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear. 

 It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.
- Dr. E. Kersten 

Sleep is no substitute for coffee. 

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it starts avoiding you.
The Old Farmer's Almanac 

 The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well.
- Rodney Dangerfield 

Life is like a simile.

Jesus is coming! Look busy! 

Help put the "fun" back in dysfunctional! 

Will the deity who nailed the KOSMIC KARMIC KICK ME sign to my back kindly remove it? 

Some people live life in the fast lane. I live in oncoming traffic. 

If you're going to walk on thin ice, you may as well dance. 

A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms 

Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed for the same reason. 

That which does not kill you might just be... toying. 

The Goddess does not seek worship. She rejoices in being vividly imagined. 

If I promise to miss you, will you go away? 

Famous Last Words: "I think it's dead..." 

Paranoia is the delusion that your enemies are organized. 

Its a condescending thing, dear. You wouldn't understand. 

You're just jealous because the voices only talk to ME! 

Anything is possible if you don't know what you're talking about. 

A Priest, a Minister, a Rabbi, a Feminist, an Irishman, a Jew, an Elephant, and a Gorilla walked into a bar. The Bartender said, "What is this, some kind of joke?" 

Any book worth banning is a book worth reading! 

Why is the symbol for anarchy always written the same way? 

Hit any key. With what? 

The quality of a relationship is more important than the gender of the people in it.

Mae West




To err is human, but it feels divine.
- Mae West 






Ignorance killed the cat. Curiosity was framed. 

Red meat isn't bad for you. Fuzzy blue-green meat is bad for you. 

 I was here. Where were you? Back soon.
- Godot 

They aren't broken, they're...uh...modular. 

He who dies with the most toys is, nonetheless, still dead. 

It may look like I'm doing nothing but on a cellular level I'm really quite busy. 

Entropy requires no maintenance 

Klaatu Barada Nikto!

 Five days a week, my body is a Temple. The other two, it's an Amusement Park 

Normal? Normal is a setting on my dryer. 

We the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much with so little for so long that we are now capable of doing anything with nothing 

With friends like these, who needs hallucinations? 

No... killing is more of a hobby with me. 

SPOON!!! 

Those of you who think you know everything are very annoying to those of us who do. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone gave up violence forever? I could conquer the whole planet with a butter knife! 

 There are only two truly infinite things, the universe and stupidity. And I am unsure about the universe. 
- Albert Einstein 

 It's OK to laugh during sex. Just don't point. 

If you're going down in flames, you might as well hit something big! 

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book
- Groucho Marx 

 Evolution -- life's a niche, and then you die 

 The reality you have dialed is not in service. Please check the value of pi or consult your local deity.

 Reality? That's where the pizza delivery guy comes from. 

I'll get a life when someone convinces me that it would be better than what I have now! 

 I am very interested in the future because I plan to spend the rest of my life there. 

 Live Faust, Die Jung 

My mind isn't always in the gutter. Sometimes it comes out to feed. 

The gods love heroes. They also love a good laugh. Think about it. 

 A Freudian slip is when you say one thing but mean your mother. 

 Sex is only dirty if it's done right. 

You could be replaced by an infinite number of monkeys. 

555 --- The number of the wannabeast 

 Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.
- Mae West 

 Fantasy isn't our crutch. It's arcane. 

 Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.
- Fletcher Knebel 

I think sex is better than logic, but I can't prove it. 

If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before. 

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it. 

Always remember to pillage BEFORE you burn. 

Ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times!

Maxwell Smart


We wish you a Hare Krishna
We wish you a Hare Krishna
We wish you a Hare Krishna
And a Sun Myung Moon!
- Maxwell Smart 




For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like.
- Abraham Lincoln 

 Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play? 

Rehab is for quitters. 

A good pun is its own reword. 

I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder. 

I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it. 

Why is it that when a man talks dirty to a woman, it's sexual harassment, but when a woman talks dirty to a man, it's $3.95/minute? 

Sacred cows make the best burgers. 

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die. 

Sex is like air; it's not important unless you aren't getting any. 

Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change. 

I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol! 

Idiot, n.: A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil"s Dictionary

Whatever is not nailed down is mine. What I can pry loose is not nailed down.
- Collis P. Huntingdon 

The Anarchists' anthem is an international anthem that consists of 365 raspberries blown in very quick succession to the tune of "Camptown Races." Nobody has to stand up for it, nobody has to listen to it, and, even better, nobody has to play it.
- Mike Harding, The Armchair Anarchist"s Almanac 

Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.
- A. Lincoln 

I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by. 

Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid doing altogether. 

Indecision is the key to flexibility. 

Having an out of body experience. Back in five. 

Just because you're smart does not mean that the other guy is stupid. 

Young at Heart. Slightly Older in Other Places. 

Everyone has a right to be stupid. Some just abuse the privilege. 

I can please only one person per day. Today is not your day. And tomorrow isn't looking good either.


Q. What is the death rate around here?
A. One per person. 

All flesh is Grass. 
-The Book of Isiah

Smoke a friend today! 

All I ask is the chance to prove that money won't make me happy! 

All my life, I wanted to BE someone. I guess I should have been more specific.
- Jane Wagner 

Avoid Conflicting Drugs.

People often find it easier to be a result of the past than a cause of the future. 

The idea is to die young as late as possible.
- Ashley Montague 

 Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth. 

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese! 

The Incredible Frog-Boy is on the loose again!
- "Weird Al" Yankovic 

Just once, I wish we would encounter an alien menace that wasn't immune to bullets.
- The Brigadier, Dr. Who

Once at a social gathering, Gladstone said to Disraeli, "I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease." Disraeli replied, "That all depends upon whether I embrace your principals or your mistress." 

If I could drop dead right now, I'd be the happiest man alive!
- Samuel Goldwyn 

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I'm beginning to believe it.
- Clarence Darrow 

 Entropy takes no effort. 

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.
- Eric Hoffer 

 Paranoid schizophrenics outnumber their enemies at least two to one. 

Practical people would be more practical if they would take a little more time for dreaming.
- J. P. McEvoy 

 The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.
- Alan Ashley-Pitt 

 I often quote myself; it adds spice to my conversation.
- G. B. Shaw 

 Of course there's no reason for it, it's just our policy. 

Periodically submerge yourself in the grim realities of reality and crawl from the filth a bit wiser for the experience. Assure yourself sanctity is in the shower even if you never lose the dirt 

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!! 

23rd Law of Computing: Anything that can go wr Segmentation violation. Core dumped. 

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.
- Dean Martin 

 Blood is thicker than water. Tastier, too. 

ACHTUNG!!! 
Das machine is nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und corkenpoppen mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen hands in das pockets. Relaxen und vatch das blinkenlights!!! 

 I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.
- Mae West 

...And someday, they will have computers the size of houses, with millions of vacuum tubes, doing thousands of computations per minute!!! 

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.
- Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays, 1928 

Adlai Stevenson



 A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
- Adlai Stevenson 





 As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
- Albert Einstein 

Mohandas K. Gandhi often changed his mind publicly. An aide once asked him how he could so freely contradict this week what he had said just last week. The great man replied that it was because this week he knew better. 

 No violence, gentlemen -- no violence, I beg of you! Consider the furniture!
- Sherlock Holmes 

 Common sense is what tells us the earth is flat. 

I can't understand it. I can't even understand the people who can understand it.
Queen Juliana of the Netherlands

 Things are more like they are now than they ever were before!
- Dwight D. Eisenhower 

A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip. 

Love is a word that is constantly heard,
Hate is a word that is not.
Love, I am told, is more precious than gold.
Love, I have read, is hot.
But hate is the verb that to me is superb,
And Love but a drug on the mart.
Any kiddie in school can love like a fool,
But Hating, my boy, is an Art.
- Ogden Nash 

My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right. 

Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.
- John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy 1981-1987 

There is a theory that states: "If anyone finds out what the universe is for, it will disappear and be replaced by something more bizarrely inexplicable."
There is another theory that states: "This has already happened..."
Douglas Adams, Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy 

Everyone hates me because I'm paranoid. 

Give a monkey a brain and he'll swear he's the center of the universe. 

It's always best to have good manners, or at least fast reflexes. 

Time is a plaything for children and fools. 

Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three, and paradise is when you have none.
- Doug Larson 

Pain looks good on other people; that's what they're for. 

Love's as good as soma! 

Of course I still love you. Now stop whining and let me shoot you. 

Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it binds the universe together. 

I didn't claw my way to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables! 

Nice computers don't go down.

We are sorry, you have reached an imaginary number. Please rotate your phone ninety degrees and try again. 

The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and three hundred sixty-two admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision. 

When I die, I want to go peacefully in my sleep like my father did, not screaming in terror like his passengers. 

'Twas Brillig, and the slithey toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe; all mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe. 

I need someone real bad. Are you real bad? 

A good man has few enemies. A ruthless man has none. 

You mean you need drugs to hallucinate? 

Klein bottle for sale. Inquire within. 

Any given program, when running, needs debugging. Any debugged program is obsolete. 

"But we'll never survive!"
"Nonsense. You're only saying that because no one ever has."
-The Dread Pirate Wesley The Princess Bride 

Horniness is a quintessential example of hope. 

To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other. 
- Jack Handey

The optimist thinks this is the best of all possible worlds.
The pessimist is afraid that it is. 

Bad things come to those who wait, too. 

A little madness now and then is relished by the wisest men. 

Hey, you've got a third eye! Uh, never mind... it's just a spot of dirt in the middle of your forehead.

You will find that the State is the kind of organization which, while it does big things badly, does small things badly too. 

I just like to say quark. Quark, quark, quark, quark, quark... 

I intend to live forever or die trying. 

Despite the high cost of living, it remains a popular item. 

If you can't see the fnords, they can't eat you. 

Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you're an asshole. 

You're twisted, depraved, and rotten to the core... I like that in a person. 

Hail Eris!
All Hail Discordia! 

First I must sprinkle you with fairy dust... 

For further information, consult your pineal gland. 

Hellllllooooooooo, Nurse! 

If vegetarians eat vegetables, I guess that makes me a humanitarian. 

This, too, shall pass. 

Strike any user to continue. 

I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs and insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me.
- Hunter S. Thompson 

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. 

If Goddess had intended humans to smoke, She would have set them on fire. 

Profanity: the single language in which all programmers are expert.

Don't panic. 

Interfere? Of course we'll interfere! Always do what you're best at, I always say!
- Dr. Who Nightmare of Eden 

Confidence: a feeling peculiar to the stage just before full comprehension of the problem. 

There are trivial truths and there are great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true. 

Mate, this parrot wouldn't VOOM if you put four million volts through it!
- John Cleese 

If you hit a man over the head with a fish, he'll have a headache for a day.
But if you teach a man to hit himself over the head with a fish, he'll have headaches for the rest of his life. 

What a useless scroll, all it says is "Hastur Hastur Hastur" over and over again. 

Great Googly Moogly! 

You can't lick the system, but you can certainly give it a damn good fondling. 

If firefighters fight fires, and crime fighters fight crimes, what do freedom fighters do?

Groucho Marx



I'm here with you because you remind me of you! Your lips, your hair, your eyes, everything about you reminds me of you. Except you. How do you account for that? If she figures that one out, she's good!
- Groucho Marx, A Night at the Opera 



 But then again, the King was a putz. 

If you think you know what the Hell is going on, you are probably full of shit.
- R. A. Wilson (maybe) 

Reporter (to Mahatma Gandhi): Mr Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilization?
Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea. 

 Preventative maintainence is the key to any interstellar terrorist campaign!
- Skeletor 

If an infinite number of rednecks fired an infinite number of shotguns at an infinite number of road signs, they would eventually create all the great works of literature in braille. 

The following statement is true.
The preceding statement was false. 

Don't take life too seriously -- you'll never get out of it alive. 

Bullshit makes the flowers grow, and that's beautiful. 

Answer hazy. Try again later. 

I hate quotations.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson 

 Q: Why did the tachyon cross the road?
A: Because it was on the other side. 

 Love your enemies: they'll go crazy trying to figure out what you're up to. 

 The shortest distance between two puns is a straight line. 

It's bad luck to be superstitious. 

A limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical. 

 Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.
- Neil Armstrong 

 Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?
- Kelvin Throop III 

Infinty bottles of beer on the wall
Infinity bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around,
Infinity bottles of beer on the wall!
Repeat until dead 


This is a test, it is only a test. Had this been a real emergency, we would have fled in panic, and you would not have been informed. 


Dyslexics Untie! 

All generalizations are wrong. 

All fanatics must die!!! 

Lemon curry? 

The day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life. 

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny..."
- Isaac Asimov 

 I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?"
She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose. 

Where are we going? And what's with this handbasket? 

How do I set my laser printer on stun?

 If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting? 

If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done? 

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular? 

If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest have to drown too? 

Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them? 

Why do the drive-thru instant teller machines have braille instructions? 

 Remember: Silly is a state of mind. Stupid is a way of life.
- Dave Butler 

Be nice to other people:
They outnumber you five billion to one.

Rod Serling


It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.
- Rod Serling 



Honesty is the best policy, but insanity is a better defense. 

A Discordian is anyone who is willing to look at the windmills and concede that they might be giants. 

It is my firm belief that it is a mistake to hold firm beliefs. 

I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.



Friday, April 27, 2012

I Sing the Snot Atomic: A Short Story

"We've got the situation 75% under control..."


The Hubert J. Cromsby Institute for the Advancement of Quantum Botany
Las Calaveras, New Mexico 
April 21, 1975 - 8:04 a.m. 

And hello to you, Dr. Ackerman! Good to finally meetcha! Can I call you Jerry? Super. And please, do call me Dr. Mandelbrot. Haw, haw! Just pullin' your leg there, Jer. But all kidding aside, "Tom" will do just fine. We're all friends here at HJC. Let me show you around the place and introduce you to some of the boys you'll be working with. Right this way. How's Las Calaveras been treating you, by the by? Settling in to your new home all right? Oh? Well, I sure as heck am sorry to hear that, Jer. My wife was the same way when we first moved out here. But she got used to it, and I'm sure your wife will, too. What's her name, if I may ask? What a coincidence. My grandfather's name was Miriam. Haw, haw! But really, Jer, this place isn't too bad once you get used to the heat. Satan's Crawlspace, my wife Dolores calls it. There's not a whole heck of a lot to do in town... a few restaurants, coupla stores. Delores thought she'd go stir crazy. But I tell ya, Jer, at night Las Calaveras has a beauty all her own. It's the sky, Jer, that great big beautiful open sky fulla stars. Makes a person feel, I dunno, free I guess is the word. And here's the best part, Jer: no lawn to mow! Am I right? Haw, haw! The kids took to this place right away. Said it reminded 'em of those old Road Runner cartoons, which I guess it does at that. How you fixed in the offspring department there, Jer? Got two m'self. Randy's nine and Courtney's eleven. How 'bout you? No? Some particular reason? Well, I guess you're right, Jer. It's not my place to pry. But if it's a medical thing, Jer, I know a coupla doctors who would be glad to... Okay, Jer, I'll lay off. Guess I'm always tryin' to stick my nose in where it doesn't belong. But, heck, that's why we became scientists, huh? Delores says a scientist is just a busybody wrapped in a lab coat! A regular Nosy Joe, that's me. Haw, haw! 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

10 Nightmarish Images of Buster Brown, Terrifying Shoe Sprite

"I'm Buster Brown. I live in your shoe. Sleep well, children."

A live-action Buster
When you think of Buster Brown, you probably think of shoes which mothers think are cute but which no kid ever wanted to wear. Fair enough, but much like Skippy peanut butter, Buster Brown shoes were named for a now-long-forgotten, theoretically lovable cartoon tyke from the early decades of the Twentieth Century. Created by comics innovator Richard Outcault, the man often credited with inventing the comics form, young Buster and his canine companion Tige had their own newspaper strip from 1902 to 1921 and subsequently appeared in live-action short films, Broadway plays, radio shows, and even a television series. All of those trickled away by the time the 1960s rolled around, leaving the shoe business as Buster's only lasting legacy. He started endorsing shoes in 1904, nearly from the beginning of his career, and he's still at it over a century later. In case you're curious about the character behind the shoe commercials, Buster was a well-to-do but mischievous lad who had a taste for low-level chaos despite his rather prissy appearance. In each story he would get into some kind of comical shenanigans and would receive his comeuppance in the form of a spanking, yet would never learn his lesson or reform his ways for long. One of his trademark bits was to make a ridiculous pronouncement on some matter and then declare that matter to be "resolved." In fact, "Resolved!" became Buster's catchphrase.

So... all in good fun, right? A harmless piece of Americana, right? WRONG! As the following pictures will prove, Buster Brown is the most horrifying hellbeast ever devised by man. He has the piercing stare of a psychopath, a fact which contrasts hideously with his weirdly formal, effeminate appearance. His dog, Tige, is no better -- a snarling, gargoyle-like creature with the mouth of a shark and an eerie fixed gaze which matches that of his master.

Read on at your own peril, gentle traveler.

Wayne, for reasons of his own, is on Google Plus

A screenshot of my Google Plus profile, which exists for some reason.

What can I say, readers? My sympathies always go to the underdog, and that includes the field of social media. Maybe that's because, as a living-impaired American, I am the ultimate underdog... a six feet underdog, if you will. So instead of going the typical route and getting a Facebook account, I've decided to take the infamous road less traveled and put all my networking eggs in a Google Plus-shaped basket. That's right! Even though G+ seems to be the Washington Generals to Facebook's Harlem Globetrotters, I've been a semi-reliable presence on the fledgling site.

Check me out! Original content and every damned thing. Please! I need people in my circle(s) to feel worthwhile! Is that desperate? Since when have I not been desperate? Here's a link to get you started!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

(today's zomby) Smoother than a cold Colt .45


And what do you think of this cartoon, Fred "The Ogre" Palowakski?

 

 Quite. Very droll, sir. Very droll indeed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Three Stooges Vs. Zombies! (well.... a zombie)

Moe Howard and Dan Blocker in Outer Space Jitters (1957).
With The Three Stooges opening this weekend, I thought the time was right to explore a vintage Stooge short in which the hapless trio dealt with the living impaired. Yes, the Three Stooges did a zombie movie, though not until they were pretty much out of gas creatively. The boys made 190 shorts for Columbia Pictures between 1934 and 1959, and the film in question -- 1957's Outer Space Jitters -- is #182 of that series, which should give you an idea. By this point, they were already on their third "third Stooge." Curly and Shemp were both dead by then, so the role was filled by comedian Joe Besser. Stooge fans tend to be divided about Besser. Some loathe him, while others despise him. Me, I tend to be more forgiving because I grew up hearing Besser's voice on Hanna-Barbera cartoons like Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics. Maybe Joe's prissy, effete style of comedy does not mesh with the rough-and-tumble aesthetic of the group, but to me he's a livelier "third Stooge" than "Curly Joe" DeRita ever was.

Blocker and the Stooges.
None of which is to say that Outer Space Jitters is any kind of masterpiece. The boys were well past their prime here -- their average age in this short is 55 -- and the episode just kind of chugs along without generating much in the way of actual laughter. My favorite moment, in fact, comes early on when Larry turns to the camera to plug Colmubia's then-recent musical, Pal Joey. The plot has Larry, Moe, and Joe, along with their frequent co-star Emil Sitka, on a fact-finding trip to the planet Sunev to find out "what's cookin'" up there, only to discover that the Sunevians, who run on electricity rather than blood, are planning to conquer the Earth by raising an army of cavemen from the dead. Or something like that. The one caveman zombie we see is played by Dan Blocker, much better known for his role as Hoss Cartwright on the long-running Western series Bonanza. Like pretty much all monsters in the Stooge films, Blocker just kind of staggers around after them but never inflicts any damage. He doesn't need to. As always, the Stooges are quite adept at injuring themselves and each other.

Anyway, if the preceding article has piqued your interest, here is Outer Space Jitters for your perusal. Enjoy.

 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

(today's zomby) AND HOW DO YOU LIKE THE NEW DIGS?


Hey, folks! At long last, Zomby is returning from his "vision quest" overseas and is ready to star in more cartoons on this blog. Speaking of which, how do you like the redesign? Myself, I think it's pretty darned snazzy. I mean, you'd have to have iron willpower not to read it. It's begging to be read! Bettie certainly seems to approve.

 

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Management Kindly Requests: A Werewolf Story

The continental breakfast is a key plot device in this story! Watch for it!

Note to readers: As a change of pace, I thought I'd share with you a very brief piece of creative writing from the vast Kotke archives. This particular story arose from a challenge I received from another writer to compose a werewolf story which was told entirely in the second person. I do hope you will enjoy it. - JB

Ah, good, sir. You're awake.

No, no, Mr. Risling. You don't have to get out of bed. This won't take but a moment. You will forgive me for entering your room like this, sir, but you didn't answer your phone, and the management wanted me to pass along a few items of interest to you.

You gave us quite a scare last night, of course. What, sir? You don't remember? Certainly, you will remember some of it. Nothing, really? Hmm. You are Mr. Erik J. Risling, correct?

Eh? What's that? You don't even know where you are or how you got here? You are kidding, I trust. No? Well, you could start by looking around the room. That should jog some memories. You, sir, are in room 316 of the Applewood Motor Cove. You see that shattered window and those slashed drapes, sir? Yes, those. You did that, sir. And the bloody footprints on the carpet, too, which Rosa is now diligently attempting to remove. Of course, you will be paying for the replacement and cleaning of these items. Your credit card has already been billed, Mr. Risling. No need to fret.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Of death and baseball...


"Death is a part of baseball."
"Oh, yeah, it's the main part." 

-Two executives on The Simpsons

Today was Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs. (They lost.) But being a living impaired American, I could not help but meditate upon the connection between death and baseball. Here is a song by the late great singer-songwriter Steve Goodman which sums it all up:



Goodman's song is funny and sad and true at the same time, and it will probably not surprise you to learn that the man himself was terminally ill and near the end when this was filmed more than a quarter-century ago. I think the fact that the Cubs lost today only makes it more poignant.

Yes, Steve, they still play the blues in Chicago. And probably always will. RIP.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Thoughts on 'Blood For Dracula' and its brilliant title sequence

An assortment of foreign posters advertising Blood For Dracula.

By some accounts, there are more films about Dracula than about any other fictional character. The Guinness people say he's been portrayed in a staggering 272 films, even more than Sherlock Holmes (who's been portrayed a mere 254 times). Of all these cinematic incarnations of the famous bloodsucker, perhaps none have affected me as deeply as Paul Morrissey's 1974 horror-comedy opus, Blood For Dracula (a.k.a. Andy Warhol's Dracula, after its world-famous producer). In this bizarre and hilarious film, a companion piece to Morrissey's Flesh For Frankenstein, the famous vampire is portrayed by the eccentric and beloved German thespian Udo Kier as a frail, weak creature who barely has the strength to walk and who is bossed around by his own manservant, Anton (Arno Jeuring). In desperate need of virgin blood but scorned by the people of his own country, Dracula makes a last-ditch journey to Italy in search of fresh victims and winds up as a house guest in the crumbling home of the Di Fiores, a fading aristocratic family with four comely daughters. Morrissey deconstructs the Dracula legend and uses it as a platform to satirize morality, class warfare, and even politics. The film is set shortly after the Russian Revolution, and the Di Fiores' gardener (a never-better Joe Dallesandro) is a bolshevik who views the Count as a relic of a bygone era.

What really gives the film its kick, however, is Udo Kier's performance in the title role. This is a Dracula unlike any I've seen in motion picture history: frail and vulnerable, a shadow of his former self. Paul Morrissey introduces us to this unconventional Dracula with an astonishing opening sequence, all done in one take and set to the melancholy, nostalgic music of Claudio Gizzi. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to walk you through this sequence step by step. Keep in mind that the image directly below is the very first thing you see in the film.

The face of Dracula: pale, haunted, vulnerable.
He begins to add makeup, starting with greasepaint eyebrows.
He adds color to his lips. For the first time, we see his fangs.
Dracula paints on his famous black hair. In reality, it is white.
Though he has no reflection, he has been looking in a mirror.
The chair pulls back, seemingly of its own accord.
Dracula exits the room in shadow. All this has been one shot.

For a low-budget film shot quickly and written as it was being made, Blood For Dracula is remarkably accomplished and compelling, telling a story which is thought-provoking, disturbing, amusing, and arousing. The opening sequence perfectly encapsulates Morrissey's particular take on the familiar character, and it's all achieved with careful framing, evocative music, and a pitch-perfect performance by Kier, whose eyes and facial expression communicate so much without one word being spoken. The following clip will show you how all these elements came together in the finished film: