Friday, May 23, 2008

Concert, up too late

I went to see Scythian at The Haunt in Ithaca last night. The guys put on a great show -- initially, they'd planned on playing a quick set and hitting the road, since so few people had shown up. But by the time they'd gotten about 40 minutes in, a good-size crowd had gathered, and the band played on, shutting the place down at 1 a.m.

Afterwards, Joey, Dan and Nathan came back to my folks' house in Cortland, and we spent a while watching Darkness videos on YouTube, eating hummus, and telling animal jokes.

Around 4 a.m., Joe told me, "I'm dark and excessive. You're excessively dark."

It's amazing how every so often someone can sum things up with incredible accuracy and economy of words.

Which reminds me, I have some 40 pages of Scythian-related interviews and narrative that I need to boil down into something meaningful at some point. It's been sitting in my computer and weighing on my conscience for at least six months now.

Fortunately, we reigned it in last night and were responsible citizens. The bad news is that I only got about two hours of sleep before I had to head out for police beat, so I'm feeling a bit punchy this morning.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Burn it

Despite his nearly insurmountable delegate lead in the race for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is trailing Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) by about 40 percentage points in that bastion of free thought known as West Virginia, where residents will cast their votes Tuesday in the state's democratic primary.

Why? Some quotes from some of Mingo County's itinerant scholars:

“I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife’s an atheist,” said Mr Simpson, drawing on a cigarette outside the fire station in Williamson, a coalmining town of 3,400 people surrounded by lush wooded hillsides.


Most people questioned said they mistrusted Mr Obama because of doubts about his patriotism and “values”, stemming from his cosmopolitan background, his exotic name and the controversy surrounding “anti-American” sermons by Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor. Several people said they believed he was a Muslim – an unfounded rumour that has circulated on the internet for months – despite the contradiction with his 20-year membership of Mr Wright’s church in Chicago. Others mentioned his refusal to wear a Stars and Stripes badge and controversial remarks by his wife, Mich­elle, who des­cribed America as “mean” and implied that she had never been proud of the US until her husband ran for president.


Josh Fry, a 24-year-old ambulance driver from Williamson, insisted he was not racist but said he would feel more comfortable with Mr McCain, the 71-year-old Vietnam war hero, in the White House. “I want someone who is a full-blooded American as president,” he said.

We all know that "full-blooded American" is West Virginian for "white person," right? And I wonder who Mr. Simpson "heard" the rumor that Obama was Muslim from -- maybe it was from the state's senior democratic senator, Robert Byrd, who got his start in politics in the Ku Klux Klan?

The good news, I suppose, is that the nomination isn't going to be decided by any kind of "democracy" at all, but by mysterious people known as "superdelegates" who nobody knew anything about before January this year. While that's somewhat disenfranchising, it's a bit of a relief given that it'll keep the dolts in that intersection of the Rust Belt and the Bible Belt from having anything to say about who's running the country a year from now.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Eureka -- I've found it!

It's been a long, hard journey, but I have found it: the worst movie ever made.

Throughout the years, various critics have compiled lists of what they consider the worst movies ever. I've seen many of these pictures, which are indeed bad, but all have paled in comparison to the steaming pile of dogshit that is Cannibal Holocaust 2.

Before you point this out, I'll acknowledge that you're right -- anything called Cannibal Holocaust 2 really wasn't shooting for the Academy Awards in the first place. But this movie moves beyond the fun, party-atmosphere badness provided by sheer camp and exploitation and elevates awfulness to an entirely new plane of existence. I'm unsure if I even have the vocabulary necessary to explain how truly god-awful this film is.

Okay, some background information. First, I only recently became aware of what is now known as the "Cannibal Boom" of the late 1970s, during which directors (almost exclusively Italian) churned out a surprising number of cannibal-themed movies to grindhouses and drive-ins across the U.S. Cannibal Holocaust, which made its way to theaters in 1979, was considered the grisly pinnacle of the short-lived trend -- and it also was the first movie (at least that I know of) to use the faux-documentary style (a la The Blair Witch Project and, more recently, Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead) to lend the film an air of realism.

It inspired a host of knock-offs, including the thoroughly unpleasant Cannibal Ferox and, naturally, Cannibal Holocaust 2.

The original Cannibal Holocaust is gruesome almost all the way through, and I'm not proud of having seen it when all is said and done. But it's Bridge on the River Kwai compared to the sequel, which begins in a Brazilian courtroom where a young woman is on trial for murder. The majority of the action takes the form of flashbacks as she provides testimony detailing the murder (and decapitation) of her parents and her subsequent abduction by a tribe of "headhunters." As the story -- such as it is -- unfolds, she eventually falls in love with one of the tribesmen and exacts revenge on her parents' real murderers (who aren't the natives at all... that's a spoiler, but I'm not ruining this for anyone, because hopefully you will never, ever waste the hour and a half watching this piece of celluloid garbage).

There's not much else to it, really. Being one in the long line of Italian horror exports, it's horribly dubbed and the acting makes your local elementary school's last Christmas pageant seem like something fit for Carnegie Hall. The heroine narrates some of the scenes and provides the kind of commentary you'd expect from the explanatory boxes in Archie comics. The whole thing is remarkably boring, and winds up being something of a fake documentary on a tribe of people who do not exist. The film also has an almost childlike racism to it.

In short, this is a film that has absolutely no redeeming characteristics. It's awful from start to finish and from top to bottom. And it's so boring that you can't even laugh at the hideousness of it.

I'm not sure what it is, but I have a certain love for truly horrible movies -- I got kicks out of obscure camp horror movies like Slugs and Blood Beach, and the Friday the 13th movies are a hoot. For whatever reason, a movie can at some point move beyond bad and into this weird "good" category, where you enjoy it for its hilarious awfulness. However, Cannibal Holocaust 2 moves beyond bad, skips over that weird "good" category, and dives headfirst into a whole new level of horrid.

I had read that it is considered the last of the cannibal movies, and now I understand -- Cannibal Holocaust 2 was actually bad enough to destroy an entire subgenre of film. That sounds like exaggeration, but trust me, it isn't.