Category Archives: Reviews

Transylvania 6-5000

WANTED: Two thrill-seeking reporters, brains optional, looking to dig up the story of the century

In 1985 the movie Transylvania 6-5000 came out. I’m not even sure it came out in theatres in Phoenix, but I do remember it coming out on VHS. My dad was a big fan of Michael Richards because of the weekly live skit show FRIDAYS that he starred on. I’m pretty sure that’s why my parents rented the movie and also rented the VCR, either from Circle K or Basha’s. The rental VCRs were encased in black plastic, and look more like rugged luggage. They were the best!

It’s about the head of a sleazy newspaper named Mac (Norman Fell) whose just watched a videotape that maybe shows the existence of Frankenstein’s monster (referred to as Frankenstein in the movie). Mac sends Jack (Jeff Goldblum) and Gil (Ed Begley, Jr), who is Mac’s son, to Transylvania to get the story behind the Frankenstein sighting. The movie plays like a modern day Abbott & Costello movie, or a Bing Crosby and Bob Hope “road” movie. Goldblum and Begley have great chemistry, and it’s a real shame that they didn’t star in another movie together.

This movie is jam packed with stars like Jeffrey Jones as the mayor, Michael Richards as the butler, Joseph Bologna as the mad scientist (also star of the Big Bus), and unforgettably, Geena Davis as a nymphomaniac vampire. She is one of the sexiest vampires ever in an American movie. This movie puts her in the Movie Cutie Hall of Fame. She has crazy sex appeal as the shy nympho vampire.

Michael Richards is also really good in this movie, showcasing the physical humor that made him a star later on. Some of his scenes are still super funny to me. Check out the scene with the puppet!

This movie also had an awesome box for it, it really made it seem like a scary movie, which there are no scary moments. I bet this movie was placed in the horror section and a few mom and pop video stores based on the box alone.  It would look totally perfect sitting next to Evil Dead and Visiting Hours.

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I also had no idea that the movie title was a pun on the Glenn Miller song Pennsylvania 6-5000 until I heard it in in a thrift store. I was in my twenties and had a crazy flashback to this movie.

If you are trying to build up a collection of VHS movies, this movie is worth it!

It might be rated PG, but I doubt anyone under 21 would really enjoy the movie. Its not slapstick enough for the younger kids, there are not real scary moments, and the humor is not vulgar ever. It’s the opposite of typical comedies these days.

It not great, but it really has some funny moments, a lot of charm with its great cast, and it’s good to watch when your’e feeling down.

See it!
Geena Davis is so hot and adorable in this movie!!
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Blue Chips

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Pete Bell: You took the purest thing in your life and corrupted it, for what? For what?

The movie BLUE CHIPS came out in 1994, during the height of basketball popularity. It came out the year after Michael Jordan abruptly retired from the NBA, just after winning his third straight championship. Mens college basketball was also huge, especially the rivalry between Duke and North Carolina. The coaches themselves were some of the most iconic and recognizable faces in basketball during this time. Several of these real life coaches and players appear in this film.

BLUE CHIPS is about Pete Bell (NICK NOLTE), coach of the Western University mens basketball team, nicknamed the Dolphins. The Dolphins were once a winning, successful team, but have fallen on hard times. A losing streak and inability to bring in top recruits has made the Dolphins mediocre. The pressure is on for coach Bell to bring in talented players and get the basketball program back on track. The problem is that the other colleges are illegally luring in recruits with gifts and money.

Happy (JT WALSH) is a booster that already has a shady past, and offers to help illegally bring in recruits to make his old school a winner again. Ed (ED ONEIL) is the sports writer who thinks something funny is going on with coach Bell and his recent recruits. Jenny Bell (MARY MCDONNELL) is Pete’s ex-wife, who is still close to Pete, and they probably still love each other. She helps him by tutoring one new recruit, Butch McRae (AFERNEE “PENNY” HARDAWAY), who is academically ineligible to play, and has only agrees to play if his mother is found a job and bought a house.

Neon (SHAQUILLE ONEAL) is the other high profile character we meet. He has raw talent, but doesn’t want to put in the hard work. This is seems to echo his real life NBA career, as he never really achieves the level of greatness that he seemed capable of.

In the movie, you can’t help but feel sorry for the position that coach Bell is in, and although you don’t want him to choose the dark path of bribery, it does seem like the only way to keep up with the other crooked colleges. NOLTE is great as coach Bell. His stern, gruff demeanor are in line of what a basketball coaches seems like. The fact that NOLTE shadowed Indiana Hoosiers coach BOBBY KNIGHT, makes sense, as they both seem to be a bit aggressive and hot-headed. NOLTE even kicks a basketball into the crowd when arguing with a referee.

The reason this film works is in great cast, and great directing by legendary WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (The Exorcist, The French Connection, Cruising). He wouldn’t seem to come to mind to direct a sports film, but consider that the movie is not really a sports movie, but a movie about conscious and consequences, which path to choose. There is no “big game” scene, such as in Teen Wolf, but the outcome is about all about the cost of winning.

Ironic that this movie is about corruption and gambling when it speculated that Michael “Air” Jordan’s retirement was partially due to his gambling addiction, and the murder of his father. These themes of gambling and fathers play into Blue Chips. The movie would be a great double feature with the 1974 movie THE GAMBLER, starring JAMES CAAN. If you’ve seen the movie, you will understand why.

Sports corruption has always been around, from boxing to golf. This movie works because corruption of college players, basketball and football especially, has always been alleged. News will occasionally tell us about a former college player who was connected to bribes and such corruption as this movie portrays.

The movie’s only failing is in casting real NBA players as the college recruits. They are completely flat, and are not convincing at all. They are on the same level as when Joe Montana hosted Saturday Night Live. I can’t help but think it was the movie studio that pushed for the use of real players. They almost make the movie unbearable when they are on screen. This does cannot be said of ex-Celtic star, BOB COUSY who is really good as the school’s athletic director.

Obviously SHAQUILLE ONEAL starred in a few other films after this, with the same level of acting. Something that will haunt him, and seems to overshadow his basketball accomplishments. Anyone still have a copy of SHAQ FU for the Super Nintendo?

See BLUE CHIPS, and enjoy the real drama of the characters as wonderfully portrayed (not the modern day NBA players though). It’s a excellent depiction of the real corruption that is still prevalent in todays modern sports. It’s a shame that NOLTE’s performance seems to have been completely forgotten as this movie was marketed as a sports movie “starring” SHAQ and PENNY HARDAWAY, real life teammates on the Orlando Magic. Revisit this movie, now that the horrible NBA hype doesn’t overshadow the real stars, NICK NOLTE and WILLIAM FRIEDKIN.

Blue Chips
1994
108 minutes
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Ron Shelton

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It’s Not Just A Job, It’s an Adventure

Army Navy, one the finest bands to come out of Los Angeles in probably the last 10 years, has put out a new video, directed by veteran young writer/director Mark Schoenecker and featuring Martin Starr(Freaks and Geeks.) The well respected group has enjoyed steadily increasing popularity since they burst onto the scene several years ago. Their latest video, for the song titled “World’s End,” is a refreshingly unassuming masterpiece. In this era of illiterate Ke$ha softcore, and perplexingly popular yet total cheeseball songs like “I Wanna Be A Billionaire,” director Schoenecker refreshingly manages to capture the golden age of Sunset Strip innocence and combine it with 21st century, contemporary appeal. Stylistically, “World’s End” is seemingly modeled after the old music variety shows like Shindig, which once dominated television airwaves and introduced many famous musical acts. Yet, this is not really a “retro” video. Rather it represents a return to lost fundamental standards of taste, and attention to long abandoned qualities like color usage, ambiance, and subtlety. In other words, it is the future we now live in, the way we’ve always hoped it would be.

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Running The Gauntlet

Just last week l was reading this article. lt talked about flying. Said we’d all become just like cattle. Trusting our lives to people we don’t even know. Like pilots. Said we do it all the time. Then we get our heads bashed in. . . . . .like cattle, for being so trusting.

A couple months ago, I picked up a DVD of Clint Eastwood’s 1977 movie, “The Gauntlet,” which was shot mostly in Phoenix. I hadn’t seen it since it was on UPN one afternoon in the summer 1996, just a few weeks after I moved here. I remember at the time being excited and feeling a sense of pride that Phoenix was my home, and that the film was set in what was now essentially my hometown. Indeed upon re-watching it, I noticed various downtown Phoenix landmarks are visible in the background. Hanny’s can actually be seen in a skyview during one driving sequence. “The Gauntlet” is a pretty solid film up until the last couple of minutes, with it’s hyperdramatic, highly implausible ending( I find it hard to believe that hundreds of cops would just stand there silently, idly watching while the police commissioner and a supposed fugitive argue and shoot each other at point blank range. The remark about air travel made by the waitress in Las Vegas reminded me of the nature of my own reservations about flying. It’s the fact that while it’s statistically safer, you have absolutely zero control over the outcome of the situation. It’s like buying a reverse lottery ticket with the jackpot of a horrifying death. While you’re much more likely to die behind the wheel, to some extent you can trust your own instincts and defensive driving skills, to give yourself at least some small amount of leverage to tip the balance. I’ve always felt a similar, slightly less ambivalence toward mass transit. Though you may be in a heavy traffic, or construction environment when driving a car, you have control over the ambiance of your immediate environment(volume of the radio, level of peace and quiet, whom or what is sitting next to you.) I’ve ridden the bus several thousand times in my life, and besides the fact that it doubles or triples the travel time to any destination, the worst part about it is always the plethora of irritating and ill-mannered people you have to share it with. I sit in silence trying to avoid unsolicited talking as well as block out all of the loud and obnoxious banter from oblivious people who don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the riding experience of anyone else. Once on a bus ride from Los Angeles, two ghetto teenage girls sat behind me discussing their multiple miscarriages the entire length of the trip. “I told my man he needs to start wearin’ cause I don’t wanna be gettin’ pregnant again.” One time on a West Hollywood city bus, the driver pulled over while a muscular Russian guy fought a drunken homeless black guy that had been harassing the other passengers. People who always talk of the great train systems in Japan and Hong Kong, don’t seem to realize that when attempting to duplicate it here, we would not have the luxury of riding it with courteous and intelligent Asian people(not even taking into account the “groping” incidents women frequently endure in these countries’ rail cars.) I had a good experience the one or two times I used the Los Angeles subway to get to the San Fernando Valley(it was fast, and there was almost nobody on it) though one might question the wisdom of building an underground railway system in an area that is built on a famous faultline and therefore highly susceptible to potentially massive earthquakes. Personally I would rather that cities incorporate strategies to limit or reduce the overall amount of people, rather than working to attract and accommodate large increases in uneducated people, herding everyone into cattle cars and virtually eliminating individuals’ control over their own personal space and travel experience. In theory, I’m not really opposed to the idea of public transportation. I enjoyed the monorail at Disneyland as much as the next kid, and would gladly set aside my idiosyncratic reservations and fears if I were able to ride something remotely 1960′s/70′s futuristic to work everyday. Riding the contemporary city bus or light rail feels more like Soylent Green than 2001 A Space Odyssey, though. The Phoenix of 1977 as depicted in The Gauntlet has been thoroughly transformed, yet like the film, it still retains much of it’s charm. As with most change, something’s gained and something’s lost.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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A Continual Interest In the Sun and Sea

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“I was a gull once
way back then
way back when
and if I hadn’t
much to do now
I’d be that again.”

-Keith Gunderson from “A Continual Interest in the Sun and Sea”

Looking around at all the neat stuff today that goes
unappreciated, while the most uninteresting and uninspiring
works get hailed as genius and trumpeted from every orifice of society….I often seek out obscure older books, records and films curious as to what classics may have unjustly went largely unnoticed in another time.

While at Bard’s Books with Ace one day, a book caught my eye called “A Continual Interest in the Sun and Sea” by Keith Gunderson, 1971. It’s a collection of untitled poems(the author hints it is really just one long poem) which as you might ascertain from the title, all relate to the experience of the sea in some way. They aren’t all about being on a boat in the ocean of course. Some relate to romantic beach adventures, the cheap amusement park atmosphere on the Santa Monica Pier, taking baths, gazing out at the stars, or merely the sea as somewhat abstract idea.

The author manages to capture the ambiance of the sea perfectly. I read this book in the bathtub in Phoenix, summer 2011… but I might as well have been sailing out of Marina Del Rey in 1965. If you have the slightest bit of imagination at your disposal, and harbor an escapist’s longing for the wonders of the sea, this book can really take you there.

25 cent photos while you wait.

I’m pleased to say also, that the author, Keith Gunderson is still alive and well teaching philosophy at the University of Minnesota, and more importantly still writing. His bio on the back of the book says that he taught philosophy at UCLA from 1964-67. With his young family he spent a good deal of time exploring the oceanic environs of southern California, picnicking by Zuma Beach or wandering around the Santa Monica Pier absorbing its circus variety of sights and sounds. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! He also apparently wrote a follow up called “Inland Missing the Sea” which appeared together with it in a later version.

[Edit: Since this review was published in 2011, Keith Gunderson passed away in 2013 at the age of 78. RIP]

http://philosophy.umn.edu/people/FacultyProfile.php?UID=gunde002


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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We Called Him Tortoise Because He Taught Us

At the used book store in the Milwaukee Airport in 1988, I made my mom buy me a book called “Winning Through Intimidation” mainly because, as a little kid, I liked the illustrations and was drawn to the cool looking turtle on the front cover.

I kept this book under my pillow(along with about 8 other books) and used to read it before falling asleep. I have no idea how much I was able to actually comprehend. Despite it’s title, this book is actually about how to avoid being intimidated, not just by people, but by life itself. With it’s cynical world view, and humorous anecdotes, the principles are timeless and can be applied to almost any situation. I revisited this book recently while in the bathtub and found that I had unknowingly(subconsciously) adopted many of the methods and attitudes promoted in this book(page 7 for example:)

Theory of Sustenance of a Positive Attitude Through the Assumption of a Negative Result

a. Prepare yourself for long-term success by being prepared for short-term failure
b. A person shouldn’t enter a sales situation feeling he can’t make the sale, but he should realistically assume that he won’t make the sale. If you’re prepared, then you’re able to feel confident that you are capable of making the sale if it is possible to be made. Hope for the best, but realistically assume the worst.
c. No matter how well prepared you are, only a small percentage of deals actually close, because there are an endless number of factors beyond your control.
d. Each negative result is an educational experience from which you can extract lessons learned, and then forget about the negative result.

How many times have I gone into a romantic situation enthusiastically while at the same time knowing it was likely to be a complete fucking disaster?(see the entry below this one.) I’m pretty sure it’s been every time, for a long time.

“Winning Through Intimidation” came out in 1973, and was remarkably a self-published book which became a #1 best seller. The Author, Robert Ringer, is still around, http://www.robertringer.com. I’ve always been obsessed with both rabbits and turtles. Indeed, my moniker on the internet was “rabbit” in the early days of the internet(after the main character in John Updike’s novel Rabbit, Run which has always been a personal favorite.) The white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland was my favorite character as well. Yet, truth be told I identify more with the tortoise. In fact one of my ex girlfriends used to refer to me as a turtle, mainly due to how slow I was to commit and allow the relationship to progress. Though I might also argue that my incredible patience with her and protective shell to deflect her blows were the real turtle-like qualities. Friends I have had in the music and art world have never understood why I released things so cheaply and never followed the so called natural steps to achieve fame, fortune and notoriety. “How will you ever become popular if you don’t play live.” “Don’t you want to tour and get a record deal?” You have to do this. You have to do that to make it, Brandon.” All they thought about was the short term, concerned with doing whatever they could to get ahead quickly. When I started recording music in the late 90′s, I may have lived under some of those illusions, but I was looking 20 or 30 years ahead. My goal was to release as many works and small projects as I could, with an eye on what their cumulative effect would be as opposed to their individual immediate impact(which I had no illusions about.) Just put something out, any way you can, don’t push it too hard or give a rats ass what anyone thinks, and move on to the next project. Each is just a piece of some gigantic narcissistic puzzle of my life. Is it the best way to create things and live? I can’t really say I know for sure. It is this tortoise’s way though.

Robert Ringer adopted The Tortoise as his alter ego in his first book, because so many of the anecdotes in that autobiographical work were reminiscent of the legendary tortoise-and-hare tale. The Tortoise is the unglamorous plodder who always seems to find a way to come out ahead, no matter how harshly life treats him along the way. He isn’t flashy or impressive; his strengths are consistency, perseverance, resiliency, and resourcefulness. He’s the kind of reptile who, upon being told that he can’t play in someone’s game, simply goes out and starts his own league.

The Tortoise is the quintessential antihero, reflected in such characters as Ben Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman), the shy, stuttering boyfriend in The Graduate; or Colombo, the fumbling, stumbling detective played by Peter Falk in the old TV series of the same name, slow when it came to figuring things out, but always catching the villain in the end; or Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in the Rocky film series, the late starter who overcame all odds to become world heavyweight champion.

The Tortoise is the ultimate icon of perseverance, the reptile who demonstrates that the outcome of most situations in life are decided over the long term. His motto succinctly sums up his view of the world:

Quickly getting out of the starting blocks may get people’s attention, but all that counts is where you are when the race is over.

“Maybe I’ll be seeing you around the jungle sometime.”

As a side note, given that this book came out in 1973, there are some hilarious parts in “boy-girl theory and “better deal theory” sections relating to how a woman can sell herself as a potential wife to a man(and vice versa.) Now after all these years I finally recognize where my views on relationships as business partnerships originated. It was as a prepubescent boy at the airport in 1988, picking up a copy of “Winning Through Intimidation.” The butterfly effect, anyone?


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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Where have you gone Stanley H Brasloff? (sung to the tune of Mrs. Robinson)

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I picked up the Something Weird DVD of the film “Toys Are Not For Children”(1972). I think it’s an underrated film and was kind of surprised that almost nobody associated with this film ever did anything else… with the exception of Harlan Cary Poe, the Luke Skywalker stand in who went on to act in a bunch more movies, including some bit parts in major films like Taxi Driver(1976.)

The story is centered upon a young girl who has just gotten married. She would rather play with dolls and toys her abandoning father gave her than “pay attention” to her husband. She actually seems to have very little interest at all in her boyfriend/husband, her mind completely detached from their relationship. Rather she seems to be with him just for the sake of it. I can definitely identify with the male, as his new wife “Jamie” acts in a way some girls I have dated behaved towards me in some of my distant dysfunctional relationships. Basically he wants to know what the hell her problem is, and she doesn’t know. Anyhow, after losing her virginity to an aggressive, slimy, pimp, (who actually is the only character who seems to understand her
and is not oblivious to her motivations) she becomes a prostitute. She eventually gets set up with her own father by someone trying to teach her a lesson and… well things get weird.

Marcia Forbes, the main character, is really cute(especially after she gets her mod styled haircut) and her acting is quite good. Others may disagree but whatever. She could have been a big star. I can’t believe she never did a single other movie(at least according to IMDB)

It’s kind of a bummer that most people will see this and think it’s a bad joke of a movie. It’s true that it doesn’t all come together perfectly, and is fairly lacking in some key areas(some of the dialog between supporting characters seems forced and fake.) Somewhat noteworthy was the naming of the protagonist girl as “Jamie Godard” which serves as evidence the film makers intended to make a serious art film. Also, the trailer itself is quite captivating and unique…one of the best movie trailers I’ve ever seen actually

I wouldn’t recommend viewing the movie right after taking a shower. I felt super uncomfortable watching this, somewhat dirty even. The flashback scenes with the dad and daughter in particular were painful to watch. I kept thinking wow “that’s an actual little girl. Are they really going to go there?” They didn’t of course. The strangely watchable “Toys Are Not For Children” is just plain creepy from beginning to end. Be careful if you watch this movie, as unpleasant sequences of it may linger in your mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_we3fYNXfGw

Enjoyed the opening song as well, “Lonely Am I.”


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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Blank To The Future

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“Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first” was a saying that my late grandfather frequently used, mainly to deflate the unrealistic, cartoon-like, magical balloons that would float out of the dreamy heads of his young children. Such a phrase comes to mind (or goes hand in hand if you prefer) when thinking about John Derbyshire’s terrific new(now a year old) book, “We Are Doomed, Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism.”

Like many other young contraricons, I first became acquainted with the writings of John Derbyshire sometime around 2002-2003 via Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Andrew Sullivan achieved fame as an HIV positive, gay, conservative (who is still to this day HIV positive and gay, but no longer seems reliably conservative.) Sullivan used to have a “John Derbyshire Award” on his site for “egregious and outlandish comments on gays, women and minorities.” This award ironically had the effect of propelling Derb further into the limelight… and I’ve often wondered just how many others discovered John Derbyshire through Sullivan’s cheapjack attacks on him and subsequently went on to admire Derb and ditch Sully. It’s really a testament to Derbyshire’s writing that he can emerge through the negatively tinted prism he’s almost always presented through and make you think “Gee, I actually think I like this guy more than I care for the people who are talking trash about him.”

I had the unique experience of reading “We Are Doomed” while recovering from scrotum surgery last year. I was high on vicodin and my wound was draining at the time, yet I found the book somewhat comforting. I’m not going to give a complete rehash of every chapter, but Derb’s basic premise is that the prospects for any kind of meaningful conservatism are bleak, and things will only get much worse in our lifetimes. The idea being that only through a stoic acceptance of this and other inescapable truths can conservatives begin to muster the intellectual honesty required to face the issues of our time(but we’re still likely to lose anyway.) Probably the standout chapter of the book is “Culture: Pooped Out” which chronicles the deterioration of pop culture in Western Civilization. As a prime example, he revisits the film “Saturday Night Fever” which he hails as “one of the dozen or so best movies of all time.”
His original review of the film can be found here.

Can we really have gone downhill from disco? Downhill? From disco? I would add something here about pop music, except that I haven’t voluntarily listened to any for a couple decades. The main story seems to be one of fragmentation. The last time I really paid much attention, there was rock, R&B, soft rock, folk, jazz, and lounge singers. Nowadays, well…What are “Techno,” “Electro,” “Chillout,” and “House”? What’s the difference between “Emo” and “Screamo”? I remember Reggae, but what’s “Ragga”? How do “Nu Metal,” “Black Metal,” “Alternative Metal,” and “Death Metal” differ? Does anybody know? Would having a degree in metallurgy help? Is this like having forty-five different kinds of breakfast cereal that all taste the same?

I can certainly identify with this. I haven’t watched much television since about the early 2000′s, and even then I restricted myself to reruns of shows like “M*A*S*H*”(which seemed to air at least 10 times a day.) My TV is not even rigged to be able to watch basic channels(rabbit ear antennas don’t even work anymore…it’s all digital now.) Occasionally I get roped into watching television for a few minutes at a friends house waiting for them to get ready…or at the insistence of someone that I’m dating(I sat through an entire season of Project Runway on Bravo with my ex-girlfriend.) To me, most modern tv shows resemble the television programs depicted in dystopian future films like “The Running Man.” Remember “Climbing for Dollars?” It doesn’t seem too far removed from programs like “Fear Factor” or UFC and MMA fighting. In any case, Derb’s “Downhill from Disco?” ponderings are similar to my own recent assertion that there’s nothing on tv today that even rises to the level of campy late 70′s shows like “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”(one of my favorites.) “The Rockford Files” and “Charlie’s Angels” are far superior than anything that’s on tv today…and these are the cheesy 70′s we’re talking about, which speaks nothing of even much greater shows of the 60′s like the highly imaginative “Twilight Zone” and “The Fugitive.” Indeed, one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, “The 7th is Made up of Phantoms” would cause an uproar if it aired in today’s world of pc revisionism.

As a response to this, critics I’m sure would predictably point to modern shows like “The Wire” or “Arrested Development” as examples of so called high quality contemporary television. Indeed, the “The American Conservative” mentioned “The Wire” in it’s mildly critical review of Derb’s book. I don’t think “The Wire” is such a great show personally. In fact I would go as far as to say that I hate it. It’s typically phony sense of social high mindedness along with the repackaging of long ago discredited ideas, and the fact that it features ebonics and other aspects of modern ghetto and political culture that I go through great pains to avoid in my daily life…all make it unwatchably depressing for me. In particular it brings back annoying memories of what it’s like to ride the city bus, or of when I had to take driver’s ed at an urban public high school. Steve Sailer wrote an excellent review of “The Wire” last year, titled “It’s SO Authentic!”. Indeed, the touted authentic situational subject matter itself is what makes these shows so horrible. Plots related to sexual harassment, school shootings, outsourcing all serve as a reminder of everything one doesn’t like about contemporary culture and society. So how can you enjoy shows that prominently feature those “realities” of today’s world that you would prefer to see rolled back, or at the very least might be content to ignore?… as they are presented as part of permanent everyday life and entertainment, no less.

Downhill from disco? Downhill from “Buck Rogers?” I thought all cultural change and technological advancement was supposed to be progress! The 12th frame of R Crumb’s “Short History of America” (where he poses the question ‘What Next!?”) comes to mind.

The only complaint I have over “We Are Doomed” is that at around 300 some odd pages…it almost seems too short. A book with such a foreboding title, could have easily contained twice that many pages and stretched into the size one of Ayn Rand’s epic volumes. I certainly would have kept reading.


Brandon Adamson is the author of “Beatnik Fascism

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The Most Depressing Show In The World – Andrew W.K.

So, out of nowhere a friend(Director Steven Christopher Wallace) showed up at my house randomly and wanted me to go with him to Venue of Scottsdale to see some “magic show” or something. He had an extra ticket, and it was free so I went. Turned out it was Andrew W.K. someone whom I had never heard of(I am out of the loop as far as modern music, I listen to as little of it as I can get away with) but is apparently super famous. It was billed somewhat outrageously as “The Most Interesting Show in the World” (which brought to mind some of Nietzsche’s presumptuous titles like “Why I am So Wise,””Why I Write Such Good Books” etc) but in actuality was only interesting in that there was free beer. Not to mention everyone knows the most interesting show in the world was The Twilight Zone. When we got there, there was an illusionist called “The Great Merlini” who was in an underwater tank supposedly holding his breath for 20 minutes. I don’t quite know how he did it exactly, but I’m guessing it wasn’t the old fashioned way. This episode was followed by Andrew WK and his band complete with skanky looking dancing girls. Andrew WK has one of those annoying Michigan accents, similar to ICP, or one of those WWF wrestlers. The show is tacky, but not good tacky like old Las Vegas style or 70′s game shows. It was very entertaining in spite of it being completely nuked. The real stars of the show were the dancers, who performed some fairly dangerous maneuvers without much clothing and probably for not much money.

The highlight of the evening for me was when we were walking up toward the Venue there was a guy outside talking on the phone, and he was like “yeah there’s a lot of hipsters here. I see a couple of them walking in now.” My friend turned to me and said “Ha! Isn’t it funny how dudes can be balding
and in their 30′s and still be considered hipster?” Yep.

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Chariots of the Gods

chariots

When I was in about 5th grade I got really into Greek Mythology…so much so that I began to tell people it was my religion, and it became sort of a “problem.” This intense phase was brought on by 3 distinct things: the cool looking artwork in D’aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, fond memories of the original “Clash of the Titans” and a fascination with the Nintendo game “Kid Icarus.” But let all this talk of bizarre childhood obsessions stop there (for this entry anyway!)  While I was going through my Greek myths era, my mother informed me of a book called “Chariots of the Gods” by Erich Von Daniken which claimed that ancient gods and goddesses were actually space aliens whose advanced technology was interpreted as supernatural power by primitive peoples. “This is heresy!” I thought to myself, and I remember actually not liking the idea of my gods not really being true gods, but merely creepy aliens.

Fast forward  to a couple years ago, and as a dude who has seen a lot of Twilight Zone episodes, I began to get interested in the Ancient Astronaut Theory for all its imagination.So I finally picked up a copy of “Chariots of the Gods” to examine the “evidence” for myself.The crux of Von Daniken’s argument seems to be that many ancient civilizations had produced artifacts and monuments which were uniquely more advanced than the era from which they were were constructed, and therefore may have originated with the assistance of visitors from outer space. The obvious problem with this theory, is that in order for long-distance interplanetary space travel to occur, the aliens would have to be thousands if not millions of years more advanced than we are today. Thus, finding an artifact that appears a few hundred or thousand years ahead of it’s time in say 5000 BC, would not be sufficient. We would have to find artifacts that are well in advance of anything even in today’s current technology. Perhaps such objects do exist, and we are as yet still too dumb to recognize them (think of the monolith in 2001 A Space Odyssey.) But I doubt it. All of this would of course be highly insulting to the wisemen of the primitive civilizations who busted their (and their slaves’) asses to build and figure out these early breakthroughs in scientific achievement.

The book offers all sorts of other superficial and subjective “proof” such as ancient drawings which may or may not depict astronauts and vague biblical and mythological references to spacecrafts…all of which are obscure and open to interpretation. It’s somewhat telling when the most “compelling” evidence is all the least tangible stuff. To me, the only eerily curious thing in the book is how some ancient peoples seemed to have knowledge of how the Earth looked from an aerial view when no form of flight existed.

And here is where “Chariots of The Gods” finally shines. Whereas it flunks the evidence test badly, it does not fail to set the wheels of curiosity and imagination in motion. When Lowell claimed to have observed canals on Mars through his telescope (I have been to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff a few times now) he turned out to be completely wrong. But such claims sparked wild interest in Mars, and among those who became interested spawned many other theories about Mars, which led to their scientific investigation and subsequently a deeper understanding of the red planet.

Such is exactly what Von Daniken achieves with his imaginative pseudoscientific ramblings. Based on the scant evidence he provides, it’s highly unlikely that we’ve ever been visited by beings from other planets. But it begs a deeper question, which is this: If small insects and micro organisms have little or no capacity to comprehend the world of higher intelligence lifeforms like humans, then what advanced lifeforms and fantastic realities out there do we as humans lack the capacity to understand, with our relatively primitive minds?

In other words, ants are to humans as humans are to ?

One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes is called “5 Characters in Search of an Exit,” which tells the story of a group of people trapped in a giant room. They don’t know how they got there, who they are, or even what they are. And they spend their time trying trying to find a way out, in order to understand what they are. I won’t give away the ending, but one of them manages to climb out at the end, and it’s revealed who and what they are. They are a microcosm for us though. Perhaps if someday we travel far enough into space, and climb high enough into scientific understanding we may find ourselves on the tip of the tiny spoon of some gargantuan creature the size of which is larger than anything we can fathom at the present time, with our universe being but a mere morsel.  Until then, I shall remain skeptically curious.

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