Get Off Your Swizzleskid and Call Today

8 07 2010

WARNING: This Will Throw Off the Master Schedule By Seven Minutes

Today is the third and final day of “The Great Harlan Ellison Book Purge #3″. There are first-edition Harlan Ellison books, a ton of comics, some screenplays and even some ephemera—all at very reasonable prices. You can also have anything you buy personalized. So act now. There’s only one phone line and one operator (it’s Ellison’s wife, Susan, on a pre-paid cell phone), and the lines are only open (i.e., the pre-paid cell phone is only turned on) for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. I know; awesome, right? Here’s the catalog. The telephone number and hours are listed on page 4.

It is with reserved glee that I can report my success (on my 201st try—for real) in procuring two items that have an insane amount of assigned meaning for me: a 1965 1st printing Pyramid Books paperback of the short story collection Paingod and Other Delusions (Catalog #98), and a “Repent, Harlequin!” poster from the 1986 Harlan Ellison roast, signed by the artist, Frank Miller (Catalog #283).

L: Paingod and Other Delusions (1965); R: Guesstimate of what Frank Miller’s “Repent, Harlequin!” poster (1986) looks like, based on the scant descriptions and single, small image I was able to find online.

Susan was totally cool, by the way.

So I got Paingod because it includes “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”. If you haven’t read it, then they obviously don’t have the 7th grade on your home planet (or else that was the day you were getting high with the bad-ass cheerleaders in that one lavatory on the third floor that no one ever checked). “Repent, Harlequin!” was the short story responsible for convincing me that the dystopia was the most important of all speculative fiction themes. In fact, this is pretty much my favorite future concept short story of all time, with the possible exception of Steven Vincent Benét’s post-apocalyptic “By the Waters of Babylon“—but they’re kinda apples and oranges, anyway.

Like any dystopian tale worth its stimcredits, Ellison’s has a rebellious protagonist who would rather perish than conform, an urban setting where the caste system has become quite literally vertical, and loads of neologisms. Throw in some candy beans, though, and we’re in seminal territory. Here’s an excerpt, which I hope doesn’t get me deleted:

Jelly beans! Millions and billions of purples and yellows and greens and licorice and grape and raspberry and mint and round and smooth and crunchy outside and soft-mealy inside and sugary and bouncing jouncing tumbling clittering clattering skittering fell on the heads and shoulders and hardhats and carapaces of the Timkin workers, tinkling on the slidewalk and bouncing away and rolling about underfoot and filling the sky on their way down with all the colors of joy and childhood and holidays, coming down in a steady rain, a solid wash, a torrent of color and sweetness out of the sky from above, and entering a universe of sanity and metronomic order with quite-mad coocoo newness. Jelly beans!

Yes, slidewalk (sic[k])! And only, what—five commas, is it? Not to mention the sublime assonance of his “solid wash” bigram, which is so painterly that I want to cry. The bookends are also nice—back in 1965, this device wasn’t cliche yet.

“Repent, Harlequin!” is one of those few short stories I could realistically end up rereading a thousand times before I die. Yeah. It’s a thing.


Speaking of Party Boys

23 06 2010

Somebody’s Learning to Dance the Twelve-Step

Chris Klein checked into Cirque Lodge the other day. He did what he had to do, I guess, having bagged himself a DUI arrest last week—which didn’t bode well in light of his 2005 DUI conviction. Apparently, he was swerving on the 101. I like to think that it looked something like this, only with his dog, who was reportedly in there somewhere, too:

Jonathan Cross (Chris Klein) after a night of partying in Rollerball (2002).

Yeah, that’s right. Rollerball. Oh, you didn’t know? You better call somebody. Because Rollerball was a better remake than most people allow themselves to admit. I don’t have anything else to say about Chris Klein’s 30-day stay, anyway. That was just a gateway to post screen grabs from something that nobody on the planet besides me was thinking about.

Why. What were you feeling in 2002? Shakira? 8 Mile? The Osbournes?

I’m not suggesting that the film is perfect, mind you. An extended chase sequence at the end of the second act, for example, is shot in night vision, which is so distracting and ugly that this fifteen minutes of the film is almost unwatchable. But as far as if-this-goes-on dystopian scenarios go, this bread-and-circus tale is fairly respectable. It’s got globalization and commodification galore.

“Label out.”

It’s also got loads of industrial grime and not a little violence.

There will be blood alcohol level.

If nothing else, it’s fun to look at five years ago as depicted by a creative team eight years ago.

G.I. Joe A Must-See for People (Such as Myself) Who Enjoy Watching Cars Get Tossed Around Like Toys

8 08 2009

Airborne Cars Galore For, Like, Fifteen Minutes Straight

Well, I saw G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra last night, and I am still high from it, so here’s a new post. I guess I should issue a spoiler alert just in case I give something away; consider yourself warned. Okay, so the action is straight-up non-stop, which is really rare, but the highlight for me was a protracted car chase scene situated squarely in the middle of the film. I actually believed it, even though it was centered around an outlandish plot for world domination. During this soon-to-be legendary Paris sequence, director Stephen Sommers pulverizes more sedans in fifteen minutes than Michael Bay has managed over the course of his entire filmography. And this is a fan of the highway chase scene from Bay’s The Island talking.

Anyway, the Baroness jumps into her getaway car, which is an utterly sick humvee (Storm Shadow gets shotgun), and “the Joes” (this term gets bandied about quite a bit, unfortunately) are in close pursuit. Almost at the onset of the chase, and long before she resorts to using the guided missiles and other weaponry with which the humvee is equipped (naturally),  the Baroness presses a button and a cowcatcher-like pilot sort of constructs itself (think CGI) at the front of the humvee.  As she literally plows through traffic at obscene speeds, you can only imagine the carnage. Well, no, wait, you don’t have to imagine it; look:


We’re talking from intersection to intersection. For blocks. Almost uninterrupted.

Now I’m not sure that I qualify as a nerd, so I can’t speak for the person going into this thing with Simpsons-comic-book-store-guy evaluation criteria, but I was a nerdy kid who played with the action figures (a.k.a. “my G.I. Joe guys”) and watched the cartoon—even though after a point this conflicted with my paper route. So I was psyched to see many of the bigger code names as well as some of the more soap opera-esque back-stories and origin stories. Also, remember how, even as a kid, the G.I. Joe cartoon was “so fake” because nobody ever died? Both sides had at their disposal state-of-the-art laser pistols, which were 100% accurate when it came to inanimate objects, yet both sides somehow always seemed to just miss human targets. Well, thanks to the miracle of the PG-13 rating category, in the live-action version of this saga I lost track of the body count by the fourth or fifth extended sequence. Actually, I didn’t lose track so much as lost interest in keeping track, since the Cobra “guys” were so awesomely interpreted that I was paying more attention to their evildoing. Suffice it to say, in the film people never miss their targets. Be it by hand-to-hand combat, exotic throwing weapon (yes, Storm Shadow has and uses his “Chinese star”, the one you lost within five minutes of unwrapping him at your birthday party), or ambiguous but punch-packing “pulse” ray, people drop like flies here–sometimes gruesomely and almost always lethally. So that was refreshing.

This blockbuster, coupled with District 9, should totally tide me over until 2012.

I guess in closing I have to “add a layer”, or connect all of this to something else, in order for it to be relevant to this blog. Here’s a drawing from David Macaulay’s 1978 collection Great Moments in Architecture that should make sense to you even if you’ve only seen the trailer for this film.

Nice and Neat

I also recommend Macaulay’s Motel of the Mysteries. It’s even weirder.

P.S.: Storm Shadow so totally could’ve survived that fall.

Frank Lloyd Wright Textile Block Classic Can Be Yours for $15M

24 06 2009

Voiceover Narration, Unicorn Origami Not Included

The Ennis House, built in Los Angeles in 1924, is for sale:

Look at that gate. That is some straight-up Olmec shit.

Wright did a bunch of these houses, but it was the textile block design of the Ennis House in particular that was recreated for Deckart’s apartment in Blade Runner. I was going to post a slick screen capture, but then I realized that my copy of that film is on VHS LOL.

There are some crazysexycool interior shots on the craigslist Christies Great Estates(R) listing for the property. And here’s one of the structure with its worst face forward (retaining wall + seismically active zone = ongoing Sisyphean struggle):

It’s too bad she won’t live. Then again, who does.

It would appear as though any link that’s at all relevant is included on the Ennis House Wikipedia page.

Postmodern Gods Combine Forces and Officially Blow My Mind

12 09 2008

If My Previous Two Posts Ever Got Together and Made Babies, One of Them Would Look a Lot Like This

As if “Good Morning” weren’t awesome enough, witness as heterochromic Dropout Bear navigates superflat and futuristic Universe City. Empathize as he gets beat down, and savor his defiance of the crapitalist myth of paper as panacaea. I’m about as huge a Murakami fan as can be imagined, but I still wasn’t prepared for this. It’s cooler than a Louis Vuitton purse.

Vandal eyes.

Universe City’s university has neon signage, and only Murakami could send the capital of a Neoclassic facade into cute overload. Oh, and I’m especially fond of the football-playing gorillas.

You got D’s.

Long live KanYe. It’s hard to find a high-quality version for which the embedding hasn’t been disabled; this one’s not bad, and with any luck it won’t be removed for at least a few hours. Behold: