Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Be Kind

I guess we can blame Stranger Things for this—well, what I’m talking about below plus a hundred thousand memes about Barb.

Back in July, I wrote here about how much I liked Stranger Things because it re-created a lot of the entertainment I liked so much when I was a kid, save for one key thing. The show’s reconstituted Spielbergian wonder looked too good. It was missing the TV static and VHS distortion that came with all that culture, at least for me way back when. See, I grew up beyond city limits, beyond where the cable TV cable could reach, and as a result, most of what I watched came to me hissing and fuzzy, but not in the cat way. As an experiment, I tried to add these elements back in, and for reasons I can’t explain, I kept doing it—for most of the summer, in fact. You might have noticed clips popping up here and there on my social media.

The result is what you see below, a project I’m just calling “Rewind.” It’s kind of a music mix, kind of a montage, kind of a string of music video-like things but punctuated with vintage commercials. I think I was trying to create a little pocket universe of culture from the ’80s and thereabouts. It never all quite existed this way, but it’s fun to pretend it did.

Or at least I thought so. Maybe you will think so too.



Yeah, I realize it’s two hours long. That was kind of the point, to make something that you could just lose yourself in—maybe keep on in the background and listen to and periodically check into and see something colorful and weirdly familiar, even if you’d ever actually seen it before. Or you could just pick a random point on the timeline and click and not know what nostalgic thing you’d end up seeing.

Again, I don't know why I felt compelled to make it, but I hope at the very least that you walk away with a song you like or some weird bit of pop culture that had somehow bypassed you before—maybe even see how some of the pairings of video chunks and old songs weren’t entirely random.

If nothing else, I hope the image of Grace Jones, eyes glowing with a demonic energy as she tries to sell you wine coolers, is forever burned into your memory. You’re welcome in advance!


Hit the jump to see a list of video and audio sources, plus most of the music video-like clips posted solo.

Friday, September 02, 2016

I Stole a Rock

As I get older, I occasionally find myself doing something unexpected and then thinking, “Oh, I have apparently grown up to be the kind of person who does this.” It’s never revelatory, but it’s at least a tidbit—another bullet point on my resume, if my resume were to include things like joining a gym or sanding a wooden deck or paying slightly more for organic bananas or coming home to my dog and hugging him and saying out loud, “You are the softest teddy bear” when my windows open and I’m pretty sure my neighbors heard me.

These are things I do, apparently.

Another thing I do is steal rocks.

Here is a rock that I stole.


Since I moved into my house, I’ve been working on getting the garden looking good, but this is a hopeless task because nature seems intent on keeping my outdoor space ridden with weeds, cobwebs and general disorder. On top of that, I’m trying to keep a garden that doesn’t use that much water, and I guess I’m technically succeeding in the sense that a dusty, yellowed garden slowly dying of thirst is, in fact, a garden that doesn’t use much water. Perhaps the most drought-considerate thing you can do for your garden, however, is to put a decorative rock in it, as rocks need very little water and also no care of any kind whatsoever, save for removing bird shit from them. (Hint: White rocks hide bird shit well.) This is a happy thing for me because the soil on which my house sits is mostly rocks—smoothish river rocks from back when the L.A. River used to flood, because my house is in a flood plain, I can never forget—and I can just dig a hole whenever and produce a bountiful harvest of rocks.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Revenge of the Ragman

Today I’d like to share with you something that’s terrified me for twenty-five years. You’re welcome in advance.


Many times when I was a kid, I’d end up watching a strange movie on Channel 36, the local indie station that aired pretty much nothing but strange movies in addition to reruns of Mama’s Family and Matlock. This is the same station that allowed me to watch a slasher movie re-telling of The Phantom of the Opera in which Molly Shannon played Meg Giry and also The Horror at 37,000 Feet, a TV movie that had William Shatner battling a poltergeist on a luxury jet. Neither of these scary movies is the one that lingered the most, however; that honor goes to The Nutcracker Fantasy, a Sanrio-produced, stop motion-animated version of The Nutcracker from 1979.

I’ve written about it before on this blog, and I explained how stop motion is always unsettling to me, but this movie in particular got to me as a result of the Ragman, a demonic boogeyman who appears at the beginning of the film for the single purpose of terrifying any children plunked in front of this film by well-meaning adults who thought a Nutcracker adaptation would be family-friendly. The Ragman is a crooked old ghost straight of Luigi’s Mansion who stands several stories tall as he shambles down the moonlit city streets, peering in windows to check for young children who have stayed up past their bedtime. Should he spot any, he teleports into their home and transforms them into mice.

There’s a lot more that’s weird about The Nutcracker Fantasy, but this one scene always stood out to me as something that seemed needlessly horrifying in what is ostensibly a film for children. And based on the Google hits I still get on the old post, I’m not the only one who thinks so—nor am I the only one who has been looking for a high-quality version of this scene. But just last year, Sanrio produced a new transfer of the film, along with a new Japanese dub. So I stumbled through Amazon.com’s Japanese site to ordered one, ripped it and uploaded the scene, just so you all could see how beautifully scary it is.

Enjoy!



I’ve paired it with the audio track from the American version, from a YouTube clip that had previously been the best available version of the scene online. No longer! The American voice cast featured Melissa Gilbert, Christopher Lee, Jo Anne Worley, and Eva Gabor, BTW, but you can’t hear any of them in this clip.

I’ve yet to decide what I’m going to do with the rest of the ripped film, but don’t be surprised if you see it surface on this blog sooner or later.

Nostalgic nightmare fuel, previously:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Donner

Yesterday, Madonna turned 58 years old. She was born in 1958, and it’s been 58 years since that day. People posted about it on Facebook and Twitter, and it reminded me that I have no attachment to Madonna, especially not in the way a lot of gay dudes do. So I wrote the below little nothing on Facebook about that particular thing. I’ve decided I liked it enough to post here, just in case there’s another gay guy out there who feels weird that he doesn’t feel whatever magic most guys seem to, and who maybe needs to verbalize a reason for why not having memorized her entire catalogue doesn’t necessarily make you a hater.

— What do you think about [specific Madonna reference]?
— It’s, uh, good.
— Well then what do you think about [more obscure Madonna reference]?
— I… don’t know. I’m actually not the biggest Madonna fan in the world.
— [gay gasp]
— It’s not like I actively dislike her or anything. She just hasn’t played the big role in my life that she’s played in a lot of other guys’ lives, you know?
— [gay inhale]
— Ask me about Cyndi Lauper, and we’re good to go.
— [gay sputtering]
— But it’s not like I don’t think she’s important. I mean, Madonna played a huge role in changing music and pop culture in general, and even if you’re not into her music, you can’t deny that she’s made a bigger impact than most other people ever have, and that includes helping bring about music that I do like.
— [gay grimace]
— Also, I know she did a lot for gay visibility back in the day, so that’s a huge deal too.
— [gay finger-waving]
— And given that she did that, I thinks it’s weird how some people who have her whole catalogue memorized are also the first to drag her through the mud about her appearance and her age and all that, especially given that she looks pretty good for a 58-year-old. That always seemed like a paradox to me, or at least a weird situation where her appearance takes precedence over everything else she’s done.
— [gay gagging]
— Also I don’t like awards shows.
— [gay fainting]
— [sprouts eagle wings and flies into the sunset]

Monday, August 15, 2016

Why I Grew a Mustache

Last weekend I went to a barber for the first time in six years, not to attend to anything on the top of my head (as I’ve been seeing to that myself) but to allow a professional to tidy up my mustache. For a relatively small sum of money, my mustache got twenty minutes’ worth of snipping and shaping, and I got some tips on how I can keep it looking good until the next time I make an appointment. I highly recommend it.


While sitting the the chair, the barber asked me why I chose to grow this thing in the first place, and I actually didn’t know how to answer. Here, then, is every possible reason I can think of.
  • Because the fact that I’ve had a buzzed head for the last six years has limited what I can do to change my appearance, and growing a mustache seemed like a shorter-term investment than a face tattoo
  • Because manliness?
  • But similarly and separately to connect with my heritage as a gay homosexual
  • To repulse women
  • More specifically to make a woman in front of me in line at the grocery store glance back, glance back again and then none-too-discreetly slip into another line, presumably because she thought I looked like a creep
  • To look like a creep, maybe
  • To provoke female acquaintances who have never otherwise commented on my physical appearance to tell me that they hate my mustache and that I should remove it
  • Apparently to make twentysomethings on various apps begin conversations with “Hey, daddy” or something thereabouts
  • So that when I take an Instagram selfie and have it show up on my Tumblr my photo then gets reblogged on various fetish sites of varying levels of NSFW-ness
  • To give myself a single distinguishing physical characteristic (finally)
  • To draw attention away from my unpleasant personality
  • Because I’d grown accustomed to the various asymmetricalities of my body and needed a new one to obsess over
  • If I’m being really honest, I may have grown it to punk my friend, who’d invited me to be a groomsmen in his wedding but whose bride did not include facial hair stylings on her PDFed guide to appropriate groomsmen looks
  • And to continue that honestly, I’ve kept it maybe because I think his bride suspects that this was the case and I’m scared she will beat me up if she knew that I’d made an effort to become “that random guy with a mustache” in her wedding photos
  • Because the groom himself cannot grow one
  • Because neither my brother nor my father can grow one, now that I think about it
  • Because I knew I’d be getting a dog who had his own killer facial hair game and we needed to match
  • Because I felt I’d mastered the art of eating and sneezing and needed to complicate both those actions in order to challenge myself
  • Because years of playing Nintendo games have led to me realize that I’m more of a Luigi than a Mario
  • Sex stuff
  • And finally because Stupid Sexy Flanders is too good of a Halloween costume to pass up



Friday, August 12, 2016

“Why Don't You Tell Us How Your Really Feel?”

There’s a sort of person who, upon hearing someone else speak passionately about a given subject, will respond with a certain stock phrase: “Why don’t you tell us how you really feel?” And when they do, they hit the “really” Chandler Bing-style to emphasize their point. They might smile. They might feel very satisfied for having said this.

Here is some information about that person.

That person is the worst. That person thinks it’s okay to use a cliched, straight-from-a-bad-sitcom phrase to tell you (or maybe sometimes me) not to speak your mind—or at least not to speak it in such a decisive manner. That person wants you to hedge your statements in softeners like “maybe” and “it’s possible” and may even want you to apologize before you offer your opinion, as if you didn’t get the proper permission before you talk.

It may be that you have overstepped in talking. Sometimes you get heated and your words take a tone that is inappropriate for a given situation. You may need a reminder to check yourself. That’s entirely fair. But with respect to that, here is the worst quality of the person who speaks the phrase “Why don’t you tell us how you really feel?” or some variant: They don’t actually want you to realize you’re violating some conversational rule. They want to make you feel bad, to be embarrassed for having participated. They’re trying to make you stop talking. And they’re not attempting to go about this directly or even by inventing their own turn of phrase. Instead, they pick this garbage saying—a chunk of words that verges on “Smooth move, Ex-Lax” in terms of datedness and triteness, a phrase that approaches sarcasm but somehow even falls short of even that. It’s this cowardly form of indirect communication in which this person conveys a message but hides behind words that superficially would seem to mean the opposite. It’s a reprimand form of “Gosh, it’s really hot in here” when you actually mean “Would you mind opening the windows?” but you’re not willing to actually make that request.

This is a person you should make an effort to avoid talking to them in the future.

In closing, here is a picture of a baby duck sitting in a ladle.


Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Falling Eggplants and Gay Pixels

For all but the deepest subset of the Venn diagram overlap of nerds and homosexuals, this may well be your introduction to the bizarre gayness that is Cho Aniki. I’m honored to extend the opportunity.


I’m still on my kick about being from the generation of pixels and VHS static, and I’m still mucking around with weird video clips and lesser-known pop songs from the era as part of a larger project. I’m not quite sure yet what, exactly, that project will turn out to be, but at the very least it will be interesting to look at.

Yesterday, I finished one chunk of it that may just merit a post on its own. Here, please enjoy inasmuch as it can be enjoyed.



If your response to all this is “Wait, what the fuck?” then you are correct! This is footage from Cho Aniki, a Japanese video game series whose name translates as “Super Big Brother” and whose chief contribution to the world is a lot of nonsensical homoerotic imagery. The games have largely not been released outside Japan, and consequently a lot of people in the U.S. don’t know that it even exists, despite it being one of the stranger assemblages of pixels ever. This particular clip comes from a playthrough of the second game in the series, 1995’s Ai Cho Aniki. (The original video has been edited, truncated and manipulated. The song I synced to it is “Happy Station” by Fun Fun. Also also, what is the deal with Japan and eggplants?)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why So Many Gay Guys Like Barb From Stranger Things

Heads up: This will spoil the first season of Stranger Things. If you haven’t finished it and don’t want it spoiled, don’t read this yet. Also, what are you waiting for? It’s only eight episodes. Call in sick today and finish it.

I’d been stoked for Stranger Things, and I felt gratified once it went live on Netflix that other people seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. However, all the social media posts about the show seemed to be echoing back to me one observation in particular that I didn’t expect: that Barb was awesome. I liked her a lot, despite her scant screen time, but I’m a weirdo who always roots for the underdog girl. In this instance, I was not alone in pulling for Barb. It also happens that most of the people posting about Stranger Things in my various feeds happened to be gay nerds of one stripe or another. So what is it about this mom-jeaned wonder that made gay dudes dig her? (You know, aside from her on-point-for-the-era fashion sense.)


After all, Barb (Shannon Purser) vanishes before the opening credits of episode three, when the shambling horror that is the show’s big bad pulls her into the swimming pool of doom, never to be seen again… save for a particularly nasty shot of her in the penultimate episode, when the viewer learns that yes, she’s completely dunzo—a corpse in the Upside-Down with a hell leech squiggling around in her mouth. It’s brutal to learn, especially if you, like me, had been hoping that she’d be rescued.

We gay nerds like our genre heroines, but Stranger Things actually offers four other female characters who get to do a lot more than Barb does. There’s Joyce (Winona Ryder), a small-time Sarah Connor who’s just the latest in a long line of fearless, strong moms in sci-fi works. There’s Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), the telekinetic marvel who actually takes down the bad guys. There’s Nancy (Natalie Dyer), the Lisa Simpson-level goody two-shoes who finds an inner courage to become a hero in her own right. And there’s even Nancy’s mom (Cara Buono, a.k.a. Dr. Faye from Mad Men) who gets more to do than Barb does just by virtue of the fact that she survives through all eight episodes.

So why the hell would we like Barb so much? My theory is that for gay guys—and maybe also non-gay guys who had similarly difficult high school experiences—Barb reminds us of the selves we left behind back in the day, the not-yet-fully-realized versions that we want to go back and help or save or maybe just hug.