Saturday, November 29, 2008


Today, for the first time, two of Zebina and Zebadiah's chicks emerged from the nest to try their wings.
First came a plump chick who I discovered amidst a great commotion and flapping of wings. It sat on the floor of the cage for quite some time (an hour or so) before attempting to fly, which it did, but not without quite some effort.
Not long after, I noticed the almost all white chick had joined its sibling. Both of them spent the better part of the day flapping about and testing their flying skills. Occasionally, one or two of the remaining chicks would poke its head out and look around, as though thinking about joinging the others but eventually all of them returned to the nest for the night.
I imagine that over the next few days I will see all six testing their wings. Zebina is still feeding them (their tiny beaks are still quite black and I imagine not ready to crack open the nutritious seeds and millet I supply until they have turned orange and red like their parents').
I'm quite enjoying this experience, but I suppose I have start calling around soon to see who will buy them, though I am tempted to keep at least the white one... I'll probably name it something corny like Znowball. Any suggestions? We shall see what we shall see, I suppose.
More of this, anon.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Favorite Cult Movies

I've always sought out bizarre and unusual films. Sometimes they are wonderful and brilliant and sometimes they are just trashy and weird for the sake of being weird. Some of them are visionary works of indie genius and some of them are... well, not. Whatever the reasons, the movies below have captured my fancy and I love them as much as I love any of the great Hollywood films. A caveat: not all of the clips I've gathered here are for everyone, and some contain a bit of nudity (not much, but a bit - bare breasts, mostly). Still, if you have the time (and can find them - some of them are particulary obscure), I recommend them all. Here then, is the list of my favorite cult movies, in no particular order:
Liquid Sky (1982)
Russian director Slava Tsukerman and writer/star Anne Carlisle created this 1982 sci-fi musical about aliens who land on a rooftop across the street from a model/singer (Carlisle) who also happens to deal heroin. The aliens live off the endorphins produced by both heroin and orgasms, and soon everyone Carlisle sleeps with ends up dead. Surreal, punk-infused mayhem, Liquid Sky was the first movie I actually drove into Center City Philadelphia to see at an art-house cinema (The Ritz 5). I saw it with my art-major friend, Deb and we both loved it, though I'm not sure how well it holds up today. It's certainly a fascinating look at the times. "Delicious, delicious. Oh, how boring."
Freaks (1932)
Best known for the 1931 Bela Lugosi version of Dracula, Director Tod Browning's Freaks was banned for decades because it was deemed too disturbing. It tells the story of a beautiful trapeze artist who marries a circus midget. When it is discovered that she only did so because he has money, the midget's friends band together to take revenge on the gold-digger and turn her into one of their own. The film featured actual sideshow performers which include several micro-cephalics and an appearance by the Hilton Sisters, conjoined twins who would eventually become teh subject of the underrated but truly brilliant stage musical "Sideshow."
Director John Waters has long since gone mainstream (Hairspray; Serial Mom), though his most outrageous and depraved movie set the benchmark for outsider filmmaking. Featuring Waters' personal muse, Divine as Babs Johnson, Pink Flamingos tells the story of the search for the "Filthiest Person in America." Incest; egg fetishes; a singing asshole and a grown woman in a playpen (the incomparable Edith Massey) are just a few of the many bizarre sights to be seen - not to mention the infamous dog-poop eating at the end. Singer Cyndi Lauper even managed to reference it on her first solo album ("Oh, Eggman, I love you!"). Not for the weak-stomached, I watched this movie on VHS at home, while a college student. My sister (in high school at the time) was making cookies and I begged her to stay in the kitchen several times.
Based on the H.P. Lovecraft short story 'Herbert West: Re-Animator,' this horror film was notoriously released without an MPAA rating. West (Jeffrey Combs of The 4400) plays a medical student who invents a formula that brings the dead back to life, with disasterous results. It features a scene that gives new meaning to the phrase 'giving head' and cemented Combs' career as an indy-Horror icon.
Often considered "The Worst Movie Ever Made" (though Lord knows, I've seen worse), Plan Nine is the Holy Grail of bad movies. Cult hero Ed Wood, Jr. made this movie based on 5 minutes of footage he'd managed to capture before the death of his friend and film hero, Bela Lugosi. It's about aliens using ressurected corpses to take over the world and features TV Horror Hostess Vampira, wrestler Tor Johnson and Wood's usual cadre of talentless bozos. Cardboard sets, wooden acting and hilariously bad dialog are just the beginnning of this awful and hilarious sci-fi flop. "Because all of you of Earth are idiots!"
Brazil (1985)
Visionary director and former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits; The Brothers Grimm) has said that Brazil is part of a trilogy which starts with Time Bandits and ends with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, in which he depicts the world as he thinks it should be. Grim, weird and obsessed with ductwork, it features Robert DeNiro as a terrorist plumber with a plan, Katherine Helmond as a plastic-surgery addicted mum and Jonathan Pryce as a beauraucrat caught up in the machinations of a dsytopian government. If you see this film , make you sure see the Director's Cut and not the sanitized studio version. Simply devastating.
1985 was a big year for cult movies, and director Tim Burton (Batman; Big Fish; Sweeney Todd) made his feature film debut with this tale about a boy and his bike. Paul Reubens' Pee Wee character went on to his own CBS Saturday morning show (itself a cult phenom, until Reubens was caught - literally - with his pants down in a Florida adult theatre). Wrtten by Reubens and the and the late, great Phil Hartman, Pee Wee's Big Adventure is still one of the funniest and most quotable movies to come out of the 1980's. Watch for appearances from Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson, Dee Snyder, James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild. "I know you are, but what am I?"
Perhaps the best known and most beloved cult movie of all time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a commercial disaster when it was originally released. Based on the stage musical by Richard O'Brien, Rocky Horror became a phenomenom in the late '70's at midnight shows across the country. I was introduced to it while working my first professional theatre gig as a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. Tim Curry reprised his stage roll as Frank N. Furter, a transvestite mad scientist from the planet Transylvania, who wants to create a perfect man to be his lover. O'Brien is Riff-Raff; Oscar winner Susan Sarandon is Janet Wiess and Barry Bostwick (an original cast member of Grease) is Brad Majors in this musical send-up of horror and sci-fi movies and so much more. "Don't dream it - be it."
Richard Elfman (husband to Jenna and brother to Danny) made this quirky little fantasy film starring Herve Villechaize ('Fantasy Island') and Susan Tyrell (Crybaby). In the basement of the Hercules' family home, lies a door to a giant intestine which leads to the Sixth Dimension. Forbidden Zone tells the tale of the Hercules family's attempt to rescue their daughter from the Sixth Dimension's evil King (Villechaize). Frequent Tim Burton collaborator Danny Elfman (then leader of the band The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo - later just known as Oingo Boingo) wrote the music and appears as Satan in the above clip. Oingo Boingo are probably best known for their theme song to another '80's cult classic, Weird Science. Forbidden Zone gives new meaning to the word "bizarre" and is probably best viewed while under the influence (not that I'm advocating that, but it certainly can't hurt).
They Live (1988)
Horror icon John Carpenter (Halloween; The Fog) wrote and directed this sci-fi parable about aliens who have sublty and subversively taken control of the planet, using subliminal messages to enslave the human race. Former wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper stars as Nada, a down-on-his-luck jerk who discovers the plot with the help of a pair of filtering sunglasses. Keith David (The Thing; There's Something About Mary; Coraline) is on hand as a doubting Thomas and Meg Foster (she of the exceptionally pale blue eyes) is the reporter who claims not to believe. Funny, oddly sexy and oh-so-weird, They Live isn't exactly a good movie, but I find myself watching it every time it shows up on TV. "I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass. And I am all out of bubble gum!"
The most recent film on this list, John Cameron Mitchell's transsexual fantasy punk-rock Off-Broadway musical translates brilliantly to film. Mitchell plays the titular Hedwig, whose botched sexual reassignment surgery left her with an 'angry inch' and a need to express herself through music. When the rock star Tommy Gnosis (Michael Pitt) steals her songs (they were lovers, once-upon-a-time), Hedwig and her band The Angry Inch start following his tour, playing to fans in a series of seafood restaurant chains called 'Bilgewaters.' Through songs and diatribes, Hedwig relays her story of love, rejection and redemption. The clip above is of my favorite number from the movie, "The Origin of Love," composer Stephen Trask's take on Plato's creation myth.
There are probaly a dozen or more cult movies I love, but these are my favorites. Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know.
More of this, anon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quickie tonight. I'd like to wish all of my readers (all three of them, hah!) a very happy, safe and delicious Thanksgiving. I count all of you among the many things for which I am thankful , this year.

More of this, anon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day Without Gays

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 has been designated as the "Day Without Gays." Members of the LGBT community are encouraged to 'Call In Gay' and stay home from work as part of a protest against recent legislation in CA, FL and AZ which ban same-sex marriage on civil level.
When I was in 7th or 8th grade, we were shown the movie version of Alvin Toffler's "Future Shock." I don't remember much about the movie, except that my classmates and I all laughed nervously at the scene portraying gay marriage. And although I suppose that at even at that age (12 or 13) I knew I was gay, I giggled along at the apparent absurdity of the scene. It's not so funny, now
Personally, I'm sick to death of being told who I can or cannot love and who I can or cannot marry. Especially being told so by the Catholic and Mormon churches. Church rules about marriage and reproduction were put in place for one reason only - to insure an ever-lasting supply of people who were so terrified of "hell," they would continue to make babies who would all grow up and make more babies who would be forever subjugated by (and give money to) the church. This rouse worked for thousands of years, until superstition started to give way to science and people started waking up to lies they'd been fed by the Vatican (and Salt Lake and Mecca and any number of religious headquarters).
But this isn't an anti-religious diatribe. Marriage is a civil rights issue. Don't believe in gay marriage because of your religious affiliation? Fine. But don't tell me that I am less of a person with less rights than you, because I don't believe in your God. Believe I am going to hell because I'm gay? Fine. But don't tell me I am not equally protected under the law because of it. I don't want to get married in your church, anyway. the U.S. Constitution says that all men are created equal. Not some. Not Christians. Not Jews. Not Mormons, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses or Wiccans; not Whites, Blacks, Asians, Latinos or any combination thereof. All. Plain and simple. ALL. Why is this so hard to understand?
I urge all of my readers (no matter how many or few of you there are) to take part in the Day Without Gays. Maybe once the rest of country realizes how vital we are to the workforce and the economy in general, they will also realize how wrong they are in denying us basic human rights. So call in 'gay' on December 10th.
Okay - I really promise; no more politics (for a while, at least).
More of this, anon.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I honestly don't know how the "professional' bloggers do it. I barely have time for a single post each day.
I'm tired and plan on taking a few days off for the up-coming holiday. I'll probably pop in once or twice before the week is over.
Thanks for reading and keep commenting. I really do love hearing from you.

More of this, anon.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Forgetten Gems: "The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T."

It sounds like a horror movie, doesn't it? And to be honest, that's probably what made me watch this 1953 musical fantasy in the first place. Seeing "Seussical" last night brought it all back, and I was embarassed to admit that I'd left it off several previous lists.
The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T is a live-action dream fantasy from non-other than Dr. Seuss, himself. It tells the story of young Bart Collins, forced by his mother to take piano lessons from Dr. Terwilliger, whom Bart is convinced is an evil genius, bent on taking over the world (and stealing his mom). Bart's only hope is the handsome plumber, August Zabladowski, who may or may not be sweet on Bart's mom, Heloise. The action takes place when Bart falls asleep while playing Dr. T's own composition "10 Little Happy Fingers" (part of 'The Terwilliger Method').

Directed by Roy Rowland with production design by Rudolph Sternad and Art Direction by Cary Odell, Dr. T is the epitome of Seussian humor and design, from the curvy wobbly architecture to the zany, colorful costumes and so silly (but perfect) rhyming lyrics. It screams "Seuss," though he reportedly had his name removed from the initial prints (IMDb credits him for both story and screenplay - I'll have to pop in my old VHS copy to see the credits, there).
The title role is played by versatile character actor, Hans Conried, who that same year voiced Captain Hook in Disney's classic Peter Pan. The part is perfect for Conried, who is clearly having a marvelous time, as evidenced by this clip of the number "Do-Mi-Do Duds" (which is also a pretty good example of the lyrics and costumes I was just talking about):

I just love the way Conried's costume is put together like a puzzle. And while the song's lyrics are exceptionally silly, Conried attacks the song with gusto, practically relishing in its ridiculousness.
Top billing went to Mary Healy (who?) as Heloise and the incredibly generic Peter Lind Hayes (who?) as the plumber. Both are fine and have nice voices (and I can imagine SNL's Will Forte as Zabladowski in the unneccesary Tim Burton remake). Tommy Rettig plays Bart, part Dennis Mitchell and part Beaver Cleaver; a typical 1950's kid with a big imagination.
And while I could find no credit for choreography, I can't help but mention the movie's best dance number, 'The Dungeon of Screechy Violins,' in which dozens of half-naked prisoners play outrageous musical instruments in the movie's most homo-erotic scene. The music is practically Gershwinesque (Gershwinian?), but the dancing is so very gay. Watch closely and you may catch a glimpse of young George Chakiris (West Side Story):

Wow! And I'll bet you thought xylophone players were gay before you even saw that!
The movie features a chase by twins (conjoined by the their beards - I kid you not) on roller skates; hypnotism; pickle juice; uniformed thugs; a piano big enough to seat 500 imprisoned boys and a possibly nuclear weapon created with an air-freshener, the contents of Bart's pockets and and a hearing aid.
Delightful family fun, The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T is bizarre and hilarious, and deserves to be seen. If you've never seen it, I urge you to seek it out. I promise you'll have fun.
More of this, anon.

"Seussical the Musical"

As much as I love my many theatre friends, I don't get to see nearly of enough their productions in which I am not already involved. I should see more local theatre, and I try to see the things that interest me. Sadly, much local theatre is not good theatre. Not to say that local theatre isn't good. There are loads of very talented people producing tons of great stuff everywhere. And even bad theatre is better than no theatre at all, I suppose (though I am desperately withholding a Leonard Pinth Garnell joke, for those of you old enough to remember SNL in it's true heydays).
So it is even less often that I see local educational theatre. But, my strong theatrical connection to my Alma Mater (I've probably done more theatre there - both as a student and an alum - than almost anywhere else) and my recent experience directing on the main stage there, made me curious about what other kinds of productions were going on. So tonight, I joined my three best friends (all with similar connections and backgrounds) and saw "Seussical the Musical."
I'm not going to comment on the production itself, other to say it was exceptionally energetic and lovely to look at. There were some fine performances (especially from "Horton," "JoJo" and "Gertrude.") The unit set was functional and appropriate; the costumes brightly colorful and often hilarious. The lighting design was often quite gorgeous and the audience certainly enjoyed themselves.
This rather, is a comment on the show itself. With book, music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (and the apparent involvement of Eric Idle), Seussical is little more than a bastardization of Theodor Geisel's witty and wonderful rhyming children's books. The Cat in the Hat is our guide on a tale that mostly follows the elephant Horton, who both Hears a Who and Hatches an Egg in the show. The songs, while pleasant Broadway pop, are fairly generic. A few, like "Alone in the Universe," "How Lucky You Are," and "Notice Me, Horton," stand out.
My biggest issue with the show, I think, is its very existence. JoJo makes a poor substitute for Cindy Lou Who in convincing the animals of Nool that Who does exist, and beloved characters like Yertle the Turtle and the Lorax are barley mentioned. Shallow, silly and bereft of any of Geisel's wit, I think everyone's time would have been better spent on a stage version of the bizarre, underrated and not-very-well-known Seuss musical from the 50's The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. If you haven't seen this amazing and weird film you should. And how it missed My Favorite Fantasy Films is a complete mystery, because I just love this film. I'll make it up by doing a whole post just about it. In the meantime, enjoy this:
More of this, anon.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Asian Influences & Sci-Fi Movies

First, I want to talk about the newest London stage sensation, "Monkey: Journey to the West." The show's creators took an ancient Chinese folk tale, infused it with a bit of Opera, a bit of Circus and a bit of multi-media to create what is undoubtedly a unique performance experience. As you can see from teh video below, the show looks absolutely dazzling. And if you are the kind of Cirque du Soleil fan that I am, you're going nuts watching it:
You can also see a CNN report on the show, here. Boy, I hope it plays in the U.S. I'll be first in line for tickets.
As child in the late 60's and early 70's, one of my favorite cartoon shows was the Japanese Sci-Fi Anime, "Astro Boy," the story of a flying robot boy who fought danger and saved Tokyo from all sorts of monsters. The show was apparently revived in the '80's, though I never saw that version. Now a CGI movie version is due for next year, featuring Britain's version of Haley Joel Osment, Freddy Highmore, voicing the title role. I can't say I'm exactly excited for this movie, especially after the disastrous Wachowski Brothers version of another iconic childhood Anime show, Speed Racer, though it certainly has the potential to be as much fun as I remember. As long they include Doctor Elephant...
As a last thought....
"Michael Rennie was ill, the Day the Earth Stood Still..." Or so goes the song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (I have to a cult movie entry, soon). The original 1951 version of the Sci-Fi classic was a cold-war anti-nuclear warning movie about the dangers of the then escalating nuclear weapons race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. It starred the aforementioned Rennie as Klaatu, an alien sent to earth withh is robot Gort, in an attempt to warn against teh evils of war, and Patricia Neil as scientist who got to utter the now classic line "Klaatu, barada nikto." The new version stars (God help us) Keanu Reeves, Kathy Bates, John Cleese and (thank God) Jennifer Connelly in the Neil role. Apparently, this version takes on global warming and the ecology. I'll cheerfully withhold judgment until I see it for myself. meanwhile, here's the latest trailer:
As always, more of this, anon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Favorite Novels Adapted to Screen

One of my favorite modern Fantasy authors is Neil Gaiman. Noted as the creator of the Sandman graphic novel series, Gaiman's novels American Gods and Anastasi Boys are practically relavatory works of Fantasy Fiction. The magic in Gaiman's stories is rarely of the usual kind (much like that of fellow Brit author, Clive Barker) and his imaginative prose sets a tone unlike any other modern fantacist can. Neverwhere was my first Gaiman novel, and I loved it, but was disappointed by the poorly produced BBC miniseries of it. I read Stardust on the train bewteen Trenton and New York while working for the NYC Ballet and adored it. And loved the movie even more (more on that, later). Now, the brilliant stop-motion animation director Henry Selig (A Nightmare Before Christmas; James and the Giant Peach) is bringing one of Gaiman's many children's books to the big screen in 3D, no less.

Coraline tells the story of a girl who discovers a door to an alternate universe, and from what I have seen, Selig has gotten it just right. Which got me to thinking about what other movies got it just right when adapting a novel for the screen. For the record, here are my choices for the other movies that were translated to the screen correctly.



I read The Silence of the Lambs when it came out in paperback, without realizing I'd already seen the first adaptation of a Hannibal Lecter novel, Red Dragon, adapted by Michael Mann, creator of "Miami Vice." "C.S.I" star William Peterson is Will Graham, the FBI agent responsible for capturing the notorious Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter. Now on the trail of the Red Dragon, Graham must turn to teh mad genius for help in solving the case. Brian Cox created the role long before Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for his turn at the part, and for my money, Cox's is the creepier interpretation. Mann's classic "MTV" editing style is well used in this adaptation of Thomas Harris' novel.


Charlie and The Chocolate Factory

I may be in the minority here (in fact, I know I am), but I far prefer Tim Burton's adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl novel to the 1971 version, starring the brilliant Gene Wilder. Yes, Deep Roy was all the Oompa-Loompas. But in the original illustrations, all of them looked exactly alike (and sang the words to the songs adapted by Danny Elfman). Yes, Veruca Salt is assaulted by squirrels instead golden-egg laying geese. But that's what happens to her in the book. Darker, weirder and so much closer to Dahl's original, Charlie... ranks among my top 5 Burton films.



Steven Spielberg's first big-screen hit literally invented the summer blockbuster. Over due and over-budget, plagued by mechanical effects problems, Jaws could have been just another B horror movie. But Peter Benchley's novel about a resort town terrorized by a great white shark was already a best-seller, and people flocked to theaters in droves and staying away from seaside resorts in record numbers. It's not just the monster that's terrific here. Iconic performances by Roy Schieder, Richard Dreyfus and Robert Shaw drive this story of Man Vs. Nature in on of the tautest thrillers, ever.



Rob Reiner also adapted the film version of Stephen King's short novel, The Body into the excellent coming-of-age film Stand by Me. In Misery, King's novel about an obsessive fan, Reiner is at the top of his game. James Caan plays romance author Paul Sheldon, whose character Misery Chastain has seen him through a best-selling, if not critically accalimed career.

After an auto accident in the mountains, Sheldon is rescued by his "Number One Fan," Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates in a Oscar-winning performance), a former nurse suspected of being an "Angel of Death" killer. Trapped in Annie's remote farmhouse, Paul has no choice but to write himself out of captivity. And did I mention the infamous "hobbling" scene?


Interview with the Vampire

Though author Anne Rice at first decried the casting of Tom Cruise as her forever 17 year-old vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, she relented once she saw Neil Jordan's lush adaptation of her homerotic first entry in what would become known as 'The Vampure Chronicles." Ultimately, teh film belongs to an ethereal Brad Pitt as the tortured Louis and young Kirsten Dunst as child vampire, Claudia. Brooding, dark and oh-do-sexy, Jordan's vision of Rice's world is completely defiled in the inept follow-up film, Queen of the Damned.


The Haunting

I've already discussed Julie Harris' astonishing performance here, but I must cite Robert Wise's 1961 adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hill House not only because it may well be the scariest movie ever made, but because it captures the mood and feel of Jackson's prose so brilliantly.


The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs is the first Thomas Harris novel I ever read. Jonathan Demme's 1991 adaptation won Oscars for Best Picture; Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins); Best Actress (Jody Foster); Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally) and Best Director. When I first saw this movie, I was astounded not only by the performnaces, but how closely Demme had come to re-creating the world I had imagined when I read the book.


Gone with the Wind

Director Victor Fleming (credited for The Wizard of Oz) had quite a year in 1939. Taking over for George Cukor, Fleming rendered novelist Margaret Mitchell's novel about the American Civil War and a spunky Southern belle into a cinema legend. Mitchell's sprawling tale was one of teh most anticpated films, ever, and if adjusted for inflation, is still one of the all-time top-grossers in movie history.


The Shawshank Redemption/The Green Mile/The Mist

Director Frank Darabount is one of three or so directors who has succesfully managed to translate novels by Stephen King to the big screen. All three of the above-mentioned films are remarkably faithful to the source material... with one exception. King's novella The Mist ends on a most ambiguous note - Darabount's adaptation ends on a truly devastating one (and the only possibly satisfying filmic ending)



I've already discussed the many merits of Stardust here, but I must also mention Matthew vaughn's 2007 adaptation Neil Gaiman's adult fairy tale as the archetypically perfect fairy tale. With fellow writer Jane Goldman, Vaughn manages to capture Gaiman's fanciful tale in all its glory, while managing to avoid some the novel' sslower parts. Pure cinematic joy.



George Seton's film version of Arthur Hailey's best-seller is inarguably the Grand-Daddy of '70's All Star disaster movies. It features a host of then A-listers (including Helen Hayes, Dean Martin and Sonny Bono) in a story of intrigue, affairs and mid-air exploisions. Thrilling stuff for the average beach-novel reader in 1970.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marriage Equality

It seems to me that not since the mid-to-late 80's AIDS protests, has the community come together as strongly as it has after the passing of California's Proposition 8. I read somewhere (and if you recognize the quote, please let me know where it came from) that the CLS doesn't understand why they're being targeted by the protests. Someone said "If the American Cattle Growers Association had spent so much money on passing the measure, we'd be protesting them."
This past Saturday, huge rallies were held in New York, Philadelphia and other major cities.
I was unable to attend, but my favorite Weekly World News character of all time, Batboy, managed to make it. I'm so glad the little beastie finally came out.
Many are calling Prop 8 the New Stonewall; a catalyst for change and a turning point in the LGBT civil rights movement. Some are making loud statements, as seen in the above video. Others, are making subtler, though no less powerful statements. hopes to make their knotted white ribbon as ubiquitous as the red AIDS ribbon. I know I'll be wearing one along with my red ribbon at this year's JTMF event.
Finally, not just because I love it so much, I'm posting the trailer for Were the World Mine again, because never has it seemed more appropriate. Yes, we do have families and we do have values, thank you!
More of this, anon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


A brief post tonight. I had a sinus headache all day and am just now starting to feel a lot better.

I finally had visual confirmation of the chicks, this afternoon. For the first time since the first egg hatched, the Z's both came out of the nest long enough to allow me a glimpse at the chicks. The babies are sure tiny, though they appear to be a full fifty-percent head! They were asleep when I looked in and could only make out that they were breathing, but I think all six eggs were fertile. They chirp pretty strongly now, though when they are awake, one or both of the parents are on top of them. I imagine that as the chicks get bigger, Mom and Dad will need to spend less time in there with them and I'll get a better look. I have to start calling pet stores to see what they pay for chicks. Maybe I can do better on CraigsList.

Anybody want a finch? Free to friends*, family and other readers.

*I have to be honest and tell you that I first typed "fiends" here. Once I realized my typo, also realized how it changed the offer and my intentions in a hilariously twisted way. So, just to be clear: fiends will have to pay for them; friends will not.

More of this, anon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Geek Post

Listen closely, boys and girls, and I will tell you the story of how movie geeks and fanboys never grow up. Oh, we may mature and our tastes may broaden, but inside, we will always be 16 year-olds waiting breathlessly for Return of the Jedi or X-Men or The Dark Knight. This is the second time in as many weeks that I am salivating over trailers. Via JustJared, here is the trailer for J.J. Abrams' Star Trek:

You knew exactly who was driving that car in the desert, didn't you? Between this and Watchmen, 2009 looks to be a good year for movie geeks.
My friend says Chris Pine is "generic," though I think he's not bad to look at and could very well embody an impetuous and passionate Starfleet Cadet. And while Zachary Quinto certainly seems perfectly cast as a young Vulcan scientist, I don't quite get the sex-appeal hype that surrounds the "Heroes" star. As for the rest of the cast (who are curiously absent from this trailer), the only one I am really familiar with is Simon Pegg as the ship's Chief Engineer. If he's as good a serious actor as he is a comdeian, he could make the phrase "I got no power, Captain!" all his own.
By the way - you'll notice I deliberately mentioned no character names. I did this because I think most of you reading this are geeky enough to know who they are. And if you don't... find another blog to read. You don't belong here.
More of this, anon.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Favorite Cheesy Horror Movies

I was the kid who spent Saturday afternoons (and sometimes nights) watching the local Horror Host (in Philadelphia it was Dr. Shock) as he lampooned cheap B-horror movies from the 30's, 40's, and 50's and 60's. It was during those shows that I got to see trailers for lurid 70's horror pictures that always promised more terror than the viewer could imagine. Now, here's the thing about horror movies - the only thing ever really changes is the special effects technology. The films are still still just as lurid (if not, more so) as ever; the acting rarely better than mediocre (with exceptions, of course) and production values are considerably less than that of the average summer tentpole movie. Still, there are many films that manage to be surprisingly entertaining, despite what might seem overwhelming odds. Here then are my choices, in no particular order) for my Favorite Cheesy Horror Movies of All Time:


The Abominable Dr. Phibes/Dr. Phibes Rises Again

These Vincent Price classics were part of my life-long love affair with horror movies as a kid, and I distinctly remember seeing both of these films at the drive-in. They had everything! Inventive murders; a disfigured madman; resurrection; eternal life; scorpions; locusts; bats; a body in a bottle; a golden unicorn and (my personal favorite) a frog mask with a mechanical clasp which slowly gets tighter and tighter, eventually crushing the poor victim’s head. Add a silent, but intensely fashionable assistant with the unlikely name of Vulnavia (Virginia North in the original; Valli Kemp in the sequel), and host of character actors including Robert Quarry, Joseph Cotton, Hugh Griffith and Terry Thomas (both of whom appear in both films, as different characters). I recently caught both films as part of some channel or other’s Halloween movie festival, and was happy to learn that they still help up, almost 40 years later.


It's Alive

Low budget genius Larry Cohen (The Stuff: Q; Phone Booth) made this badly acted and cheaply produced little horror movie about a mutant baby who goes on a murderous rampage. Pollution and pharmaceuticals are blamed in this very ‘70’s eco-activist movie. Outrageous and hilarious, the best thing about It’s Alive may have been its tagline: “There’s only one thing wrong with Davis baby… It’s alive!” And don’t you love how the trailer never, EVER let’s you forget the title of this movie?


Blood Feast/2000 Maniacs!/The Wizard of Gore

In the late sixties and early seventies, writer/director/cinematographer Herschel Gordon Lewis invented the Torture Porn genre. Long before Eli Roth was a twinkle in his father’s eye, Lewis was churning out drive-in horror that pushed the envelope of graphic violence and gore. Poorly written, directed and acted with production values that rival those of Ed Wood’s, Lewis’ movies paved the way for directors like Romero, Craven, Hooper and all those who came after. The VHS explosion of the ‘80’s allowed me to finally see the HGL movies I’d only read about… man, are they crap! My sister watched The Wizard of Gore with me and literally turned to me and said “What the hell…?” Pure, unadulterated trash, Lewis’ films still hold a certain fascinating charm unlike any others in the genre.



I couldn’t find a clip for this 1982 monster flick. Larry Cohen again, this time with an update of the 1946 cheesefest The Flying Serpent. A descendant of the Aztecs has resurrected the god Quetzelcoatl (ket-sul-co-ot-ul), a winged serpent with a taste for human flesh. C-Listers Michael Moriarity, Candy Clark, David Carradine and Richard Roundtree star in one of the last stop-motion monster movies ever made.



Produced by the LGBT premium cable channel Here!, 2004’s Hellbent was promoted as the first gay slasher movie ever made (unless you count 1980’s Cruising­ – a film still widely derided by the LGBT community). This ridiculous film is mostly an excuse to show attractive young men in as little clothing as possible, and features a slew of stereotypical characters and one of the most preposterous plot elements in any horror movie, gay or straight. But it’s still fun to watch Andrew Levitas (Psycho Beach Party) play gay again.



Writer James Gunn (Dawn of the Dead) wrote and directed this hilarious send-up of sci-fiction/horror/zombie movies that combines elements of Night of the Creeps; Night of the Living Dead; The Blob and any number of episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits.” Starring the adorable and underrated Nathan Fillion (Serenity; Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog); current box-office hottie Elizabeth Banks (Zack and Miri…) and host of veteran character actors, Slither is the funniest horror movie since Shaun of the Dead.


House on Haunted Hill (1999)

This movie really gets short shrift from critics and fans alike. The first movie from Dark Castle (the horror division of Rob Reiner’s Castle Rock, itself name for Stephen King’s fictional Maine town), House on Haunted Hill is spooky and fun ride, despite the presence of Chris Kattan and the very lame ending. This 1999 film is an update of the 1959 William “King of the Gimmicks” Castle shocker starring Vincent Price, its cast includes Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush, X-Men’s Famke Janssen, Peter Gallagher, horror-icon Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) and young stars-in-the-making Ali Larter (NBC’s “Heroes”) and Taye Diggs (ABC’s “Private Practice”). Dark Castle has purchased the entire William Castle catalog and promises a remake of The Tingler, despite the epic failure of the 13 Ghosts remake in 2001.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nom, nom, nom!

I just had an amazing dinner with a group of my oldest friends (most of us met in college). We try to get together once or twice a year for a themed dinner party. We all agree on a theme and everyone makes something fitting. Over the 18 years or so we've been doing this, some of them have been terrific. Breakfast for Dinner was a big hit and Appetizers and Desserts was another. Less successful were Vegetarian and Everything Garlic. We aren't gourmands, but we try to be adventurous; we did an entire brunch of soups (some of which were OK) and have explored lots of ethnic foods to varying degrees of yumminess. We've never had a complete failure (or if we have, I've blocked it from my memory).
Tonight's dinner was, quite honestly, a symphony of deliciousness.
The theme was Black and White and everything had to have either chocolate or vanilla or both. Cocktails were chocolate martinis (I passed - that's NOT a martini). Then there was an intensely yummy steak rumaki appetizer in a bourbon and vanilla sauce that was the epitome of the Japanese word "umami," the so-called fifth taste. There was a ton of 'em, and nine of us sucked 'em up in less than fifteen minutes. I can't wait to make these myself.
Then came the actual meal. Endive and walnut salad with vanilla-pear vinaigrette; roast pork tenderloin with vanilla-poached pears; asparagus with a white-chocolate sauce and the piece-de-resistance: pan-seared scallops over vanilla risotto with baby zucchini. I made dessert; Hot Apple Crisp with Chocolate and Butterscotch chips and vanilla ice cream.
You might be thinking, 'Ugh! What a sweet meal!' but, except for dessert, you'd be wrong. It was in fact quite savory and the seemingly heavy use of vanilla was actually very delicate in it's application and super subtle in the end products. The pork was moist and the pears were tender without being too sweet at all. The endive and white wine vinegar off-set the pears in the dressing. The scallops and risotto (a definite group effort) were simply a remarkable combination of textures and flavors which sung in your mouth. On the other hand, dessert was a hot, gooey, crunchy, super-yummy orgy of everything bad for you (except the apples). A killer end to a killer meal. Hats off to my friends and fellow cooks. Love you all!
There is nothing better than an evening of great food and great friends.
More of this, anon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Again with the HTML

I must be as stupid as the people I talk to at work all day, because these really huge posts with lots of embedded videos just ain't cuttin' it. I'm deteremined to lick this problem. Maybe I'll start combining stills with video and see if that helps? Any suggestions out there in cyber-land?

More of this, anon.

Best Performances in a Fantasy Film

Fantasy, as previously discussed, can encompass a wide range of characters, worlds, powers and superpowers. They can be light and funny, or dark and deadly serious. The best Fantasy films are the ones tha take us away from the real world, even if only for a few hours, and make us believe in their universes' rules. And the best of those feature all kinds of wonderful performances from some pretty terrific actors. I have to warn you that there are no clear winners here. So, in no particular order, my choices for Best Performances in a Fantasy Film:

object width="425" height="344">Arguably Tim Burton’s second best film (Ed Wood retains that title), Edward Scissorhands is the ultimate outsider movie. When peppy suburban Avon lady Peg (the always delightful Dianne Weist) finds Edward (Depp) living alone in the ruins of a creepy mansion, she brings him home and sets about introducing him to society. Edward soon becomes a neighborhood celebrity, designing garden topiaries and cutting custom coiffures. Along the way, he falls in love with Peg's daughter, Kim (Winona Ryder). Through a series of misadventures, na├»ve Edward is turned upon by the very folks who embraced him and he retreats back where he started, living alone with his art. Depp barely says 20 words in this movie, but his eyes say it all, and we can’t help but fall in love with sad, soulful Edward.
Michelle Pfieffer for Batman Returns:
Talk about sex appeal! Putting an entirely new spin on the role, Pfieffer is simply electrifying as Catwoman in Tim Burton’s 1992 sequel to Batman. Sporting an S&M-inspired pleather suit complete with steel claws and whip, Pfieffer imbues Selina Kyle/Catwoman with the same conflicted qualities of her lover/nemesis, Bruce Wayne/Batman, making her one o fthe most fscinating characters in the franchise. Plus, ya gotta love all that duality! Sexy, funny and over-the-top, Pfieffer’s take on the iconic villainess manages to make us all forget about Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt.
Christian Bale for The Prestige:
The always amazing Christopher Nolan directed this period piece about rival magicians who will go to almost any lengths to create the world’s greatest illusion. It’s a fascinating tale of revenge and jealousy and real magic and features a terrific little cameo by David Bowie as “mad scientist” Nikolai Tesla. But it’s the performances of it’s two leading men that really make this picture. Hugh Jackman (X-Men) is the man obsessed with learning his rival’s trick, and Christian Bale (The Dark Knight) is the rival with a secret he’ll never reveal, even if it means losing his life. The first time I saw this film, my sympathies went to Jackman’s character. But a second viewing found me changing my mind (not something I do often, when it comes to movies). Bale has been known to piss me off (American Psycho) but his performance here is so subtly nuanced, one can’t help but admire his skill as one of modern film’s best actors.
Judy Garland for The Wizard of Oz:
Bizarrely, that clip was the best quality I could find, despite the somewhat distracting subtitles (which I believe may be Portuguese – please correct me if you know better). Who today didn’t grow up with The Wizard of Oz? When I was a kid, it was on CBS once a year, usually around Easter, and it was a huge treat to which my sister and I both looked forward every year (yeah, yeah… get the “Friend of Dorothy” jokes out of the way, now). This film is iconic across cultures and nearly every American child has seen it dozens, if not hundreds, of times. Garland was really too old for the part, and a second choice at that (can you imagine Shirley Temple? Yeuch!), but she made the role her own. Watching The Wizard of Oz is seeing Garland before all the bad stuff happened and her personal optimism shines through to Dorothy Gale, the little girl from Kansas who is whisked away to a magical world so unlike her own. Certainly an apt allegory for the life of Frances Gumm, herself.
Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight:

Too much has been said, already. The performance speaks for itself.
Michelle Pfieffer for Stardust:
Pfieffer makes this list again because of her hilarious performance as the witch Lamia in the big screen version of Neil Gaimon’s fairy tale for grown-ups. Once beautiful, the vain Lamia and her sisters have become whithered hags, subsisting on the last bits of the heart of a long-ago fallen star. When another star (Clare Danes) falls, Lamia takes the last of the heart and restores herself in an effort to catch her. The catch is, every time Lamia uses her magic, she ages a little bit. And Pfieffer is clearly enjoying herself here, reacting to every liver spot and sagging boob to hilarious effect. A terrific comedic performance that deserves recognition.
Michael Clarke Duncan for The Green Mile:
Frank Darabount (The Shawshank Redemption; The Mist) is one of the few directors who (along with DePalma and Reiner) has actually managed to successfully translate the works of Stephen King to the screen. The Green Mile is one of the few movies that makes me cry every single time I see it, and that’s because of the amazing performance of Mr. Duncan as John Coffey; the gigantic, gentle and child-like miracle worker wrongly convicted of murder. Surrounded by some top notch talent such as Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Michael Morse, Michael Jeter, Patricia Clarkson and Sam Rockwell (that’s quite a pedigreed cast, folks) Duncan more than holds his own. The scene where he watches Fred and Ginger dancing gets me every time and I can't ever watch (SPOILER ALERT) the execution scene without sobbing like a little girl.
Amy Adams for Enchanted:
Disney finally got around to poking fun at themselves with this delightful 2007 romp about a cartoon princess banished to the real world by an evil witch. The concept is cute, but it wouldn’t have worked at all without Ms Adams pitch-perfect performance as the ultimate Disney Princess, Giselle. She gets cockroaches and sewer rats to help her clean a dirty apartment and breaks into song at the drop of a hat, much to Patrick Dempsey’s consternation. Delightful stuff made all the more so thanks to the delightful Amy Adams. I dare you to watch this movie and not smile.
Gene Wilder for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:
Author Roald Dahl despised the 1971 version of his novel, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, least of all because it was financed by a candy company looking for a new way to market chocolates. Directed by Mel Stuart (his only “hit”), the movie changed the title, added weird, early 70’s pop-culture references and, as dark as some folks think it was, wasn’t nearly as dark in tone as the book. The one thing it had going for it was a balls-out go-for-broke performance by a true comedic genius. If for no other roles (and there are so many), Gene Wilder will be remembered for his neurotic mad-scientist in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein and the pan-polar chocolatier Willy Wonka. Tim Burton’s 2005 version certainly came closer in tone and story to the book and Johnny Depp’s performance is, without a doubt, weirder. But Wilder’s iconic portrayal in the original is the reason this film holds up 37 years after it was made.
Honorable Mentions:

Sean Astin in The Lord of the Rings. We all know Frodo never would have made it to Mordor without Sam. Their ‘bromance’ is thoroughly believable thanks to Astin’s performance .

Christopher Reeve in Superman: The Movie. We believed a man could fly (and steal our hearts) when Reeve smiled that amazing smile as saved the world (and his lady love). Sigh…

Tim Curry in Legend. Curry, nearly unrecognizable beneath what must be fifty pounds or more of latex and fiberglass, is the embodiment of evil as Darkness, who plans to kill the last unicorn and banish light from the world forever. I have yet to see the Director’s Cut with the original Jerry Goldsmith score, but Curry (even with his voice electronically enhanced) easily gives this Ridley Scott oddity its most memorable performance.

Susan Sarandon in Enchanted. Clearly having the time of her life, Sarandon plays both the animated and real-world versions of the evil queen Narissa in hilariously full scene-chomping mode.
Andy Serkis in The Lord of the Rings and King Kong. Serkis redefines physical acting with his astonishing stop-motion performances in Peter Jackson's fantasy epics.


The new Watchmen trailer is on Yahoo, but I had to post it here. The first trailer, released with The Dark Knight was awesome, but this is just astounding. I may actually be starting to buy into the hype and am salivating for the whole thing, now. Fanboys everywhere are creamin' their jeans. I give you, The Watchmen:

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Italian horror master Dario Argento practically invented the giallo (Italian for "yellow") genre. Bloody, freaky and weird, giallo movies are the equivalent of American slasher films with a Euro twist. Films like Argento's seminal Suspiria, paved the way for graphic gore and violence in horror films like Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th.
Argento's most recent is simply called Giallo.

More of this, anon.

The Best Superhero Movie that Never Was

I gave up on HBO after Six Feet Under was finished. But I understand that Entourage is quite funny. A while back, the show's main character was pitching a film version of the comic-book hero, "Aquaman." They even went so far as to make a trailer. I don't know about you, but it's a shame this isn't a real trailer for a real movie. I know I'd probably go see it.
I'll be back tomorrow with my picks for Best Performances in a Fantasy Film.
More of this, anon.

New Content, Soon

Sometimes, researching clips to support my posts is just damned exhausting. Tomorrow should find my list of the Best Performances in a Fantasy Film. Until then...

More of this, anon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Movies, Like I Promised

Just a quick post now about movies.

First, I am so sick to death of hearing and reading about the upcoming vampire movie Twilight, I am ready to vomit. Teen and 'Tween girls who grew up on "Harry Potter" have made Stephanie Myers dark romances into publishing sensation. The movie is being promoted ad nauseum and if I see one more picture of its star's filthy hair I'm going to stab someone. So I was thrilled to find this on Cracked:
And there's other news:
From Variety comes the story of a new CGI version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, helmed by Excalibur and Deliverance director, John Boorman.
Whatever the public reaction to a new version of this beloved classic is, I hope that like the previously discussed Return to Oz, Boorman's vision is closer to the L. Frank Baum original stories. Good to see the property is hot again, though
More of this, anon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm a Grandpa!

First, a warning: This entry has become a sentimental essay on the nature of pet parenting and not like my usual stuff, so you may want to jump ahead to my next entry which is about movies.
The first of Zebina's eggs has hatched! I caught a glimpse of the chick tonight, almost two weeks after first sighting the eggs. The chick is super tiny and looks more like a Sci-Fi alien than a bird; almost like a teeny worm with a wee beak. It's hard to see with all the nesting and down in the nest, but I saw it move twice so I know it's there.
And Zebina herself has doubled in size in just two days! I have filled their feed cup twice this week, added a millet spray and chopped fruit, and she just keeps on eating. She's actually twice Zebadiah's size. As for him, he is now pulling feather's from her back and taking them into the nest, though twice I saw her give him hell for it.
As a kid (and into recent adulthood), I had all sorts of pets: turtles; gerbils; anoles; tropical fish; hermit crabs; Sea Monkeys; 3 dogs and 3 cats. And I am told that I had parakeets (my maternal Grandmother's pet of choice) as a toddler. Many of these pets (the dogs and cats, mostly, if truth be told) hold many fond memories for me. Said Grandmother (a true character who will no doubt figure in a work of mine, one day) bought me a rabbit (Thumper - how creative...not!) one Easter and later bought me my first dog, an AKC registered Schnauzer which we later bred with a neighbor's Schnauzer, twice. We kept one of those pups. Not long after they were both gone, my mother brought home a gorgeous grey-tipped Persian cat named Samantha, who was rescued from a home overrun with pets and children. Samantha was a great cat and well-aware of her beauty, but she bonded with my sister more than anyone. Samantha lived to be eighteen - a very long time for a cat of any breed. My sister was devastated when Samantha died.
A rash of neighborhood burglaries prompted the purchase of my beloved Brandy, a Golden Retriever/Cocker Spaniel mix who was beautiful, hilarious, loyal and a bitch in every sense of the word. Samantha was still alive when Brandy came to live with us, and after so many years of being Queen of the Castle, abused and cowed the puppy into complete submission. Of course, all Brandy ever wanted was to be friends, but haughty Samantha would have none of it. After Samantha passed, Brandy was Queen Bee for quite a while.
Then my little buddy Kirby came into my life; Mom showing up at the door late one night with this adorable young kitty who walked into my house like he had always been there and within ten minutes stole my heart. Kirby's favorite trick was the "slow lap-leap." As I sat on my end of the sofa, watching TV, he would jump up onto the opposite end of the back of the sofa and very slowly make his way toward me. Soon, a little paw would land itself on my shoulder. A few minutes later, the paw was joined by its mate. Suddenly I would find myself with a lap full of purring cat, grabbing at my wrists for attention. If I completely ignored him, he would jump back up onto the sofa back and bite my hair. And he loved everyone - I never saw a more affectionate cat in my life. But if it came down to being petted by anyone else or me, it was always me he chose. It was devastating to learn that at just age 7, he was suffering from both liver disease and diabetes. Putting Kirby down was made a little easier by my dear friend "K" (if you've been reading, you have met her before) coming with me that awful day, even if she had to leave the room when it came time for the actual injection. And to be honest, my biggest solace was that my vet cried right along with me, telling me that no matter how many of these procedures she did, they never got easier.
And Miss Brandy once again ruled the roost. But, as all things must come to pass, Brandy's age caught up with her. She was about 16 when she passed, a good age for a medium/large dog. She was well-loved and when I knew it was time, I called a vet who would come to the house to put her down. The night before the vet came, I wrapped Brandy in a blanket and laid her in front of a small heater in the living room. When I woke up the next morning, I found her with her paw on the bottom stair to my room, as though she had been trying to say "goodbye."
"That's it. No more pets!"
Until three years later when a friend was about to move her boyfriend into her home. BF had a cat, to which my friend was allergic. Said cat, needed a new home. And so came Miss Pepper into my life. BF had rescued her 10 years ago, from a man who could no longer keep her. BF had no idea how old she was when he got her, because she was just a tiny little thing - 3 lbs, at most (the groomers at PetSmart always thought I was bringing my kitten to have her claws trimmed). Pepper was the neediest, most neurotic cat I have ever owned. She had an incessant need to lick literally everything (though she preferred my face and hands). And I mean everything: plastic bags; the drapes; the tub walls after a shower; the fridge; boots; people... Pepper was sweet and weird (one of about twenty nicknames I had for her was "Weirdo") but just a few years later, she was gone as well. I suspect she was older than BF had led me to believe.
Again, I said "That's it! No more pets" (though to be honest, I am almost desperate for a Boxer).
Then came The Skin of Our Teeth and Zebina. The rest, as they (whoever "they" are) say, is history (however non-Earth-shattering that history may be). This is fun, new and exciting for me. I hope they all hatch and survive. Maybe I can even make some money out of it.
This did not turn out to be the post I thought it would be when I started. But I suppose, if nothing else, it's a tiny bit of insight for you (I know there are at least four of you, now) into me.
OK - movies, next! Promise.
More of this, anon.