I Have Questions for "Prometheus"

Because I dislike sitting near people at the multibarn, I'm often a bit behind on the summer blockbusters.  But I did finally catch up with Prometheus (2012), the new Ridley Scott film that is either a prequel or a remake of Alien (I guess it was both, actually).  A lot of people had really been dumping on this one, but the lure of Imax and a fear of Adam Sandler proved too strong, so I finally checked it out.

I'm not sure what everyone is complaining about.  If you can accept the basic premise of all horror that everything related to sex and reproduction is hilariously disgusting, then I don't know why anyone would be massively disappointed by Prometheus.  Perhaps some were actually expecting a real answer to the question of human origin?

That said, however, I do have some Prometheus questions: 

1. I'm not the first to notice this, but truly, why must every robot, even those in multi-zillion dollar movies with ambitions of "quality," insist on giving an exact accounting of time in years, months, days, minutes, and seconds?  They should just turn to the camera and say, "Hey, guess what, I'm an android." 

2.  Until we know how cryonic stasis really works, must we always assume everyone wakes up dizzy and puking their guts out?  

3.  Why are so many robots English?

4.  Is Peter O'Toole a robot?

5.  Wouldn't it have been great if Android David had been watching Wall-E instead of Lawrence of Arabia?  

6.  ....or failing that, if he based his human persona on two years of watching Jerry Lewis in The Ladies Man? 

7.  If your mission is to find, not just extraterrestrial life, but the species that engineered all of humanity, do you just blow off an apparent "life form reading" as a glitch?

8.  In the future, does geology for some reason become a particularly attractive field for surly assholes? 

9.  Is this movie pro-life or pro-choice?

10.  Would Rick Santorum demand that all freakish human-squid babies be brought to term?

11.  Are we supposed to think, for a moment at least, that Charlize Theron might be a dude because the surgery pod thing is programmed for males only?  

12.  And was that, in turn, a political statement about women's access to health care?

13.  Does that pod do "tummy tucks?"  

14.  Just why are girls so icky and gross on the inside?

15.  Does Ridley Scott really believe having Noomi Rapace staggering around bleeding from a C-section is an equivalent substitute for Sigorney Weaver in her panties petting her pussycat?  

16.  Did the biology guy actually have any qualifications, or was he more like a futuristic version of Tracy Morgan's "Brian Fellows" character? 

17.  If you've seen a crew member horribly dead in a horrible way, do you simply "open the door" when he suddenly shows up in the ship's back yard?

18.  How much do you think I'd have to pay to get Charlize Theron to show up in a body-stocking and ignite objects of my choosing with a flamethrower?  

19.  After this movie, am I still supposed to believe in evolution, or am I to believe we are all the direct descendants of huge, white, waxy, bald dudes, in which case, am I supposed to believe in Adolph Hitler?

20.  In the future, will all of humanity always be scrambling to shut various doors "just in time?"

21.  Vangelis is still around, right?  Why didn't they just get Vangelis?  

22.  Did the Captain ever find out if Charlize Theron was really a robot?  Or maybe I just misheard a vibrator joke of some kind? 

23. Why didn't Charlize Theron blast-off in her Four Seasons suite much, much earlier?

People of earth...I salute you!
24. Why is the alien that comes out of the big waxy white dude full-grown and hideous, but the one that comes out of Harry Dean Stanton is little and kind of adorable?

25. Birds and bees check: So this installment confirms that the female "aliens" are the ones that walk up-right with the big eggplant heads, and the male aliens are the hideous squid beasts that bust their squid nuts in our stomachs, correct?

26.  Just how does this species manage to reproduce when we're not around to offer up our sexy, sexy esophagi for impregnation? 

27.  Why exactly does that first huge, white, waxy, bald dude drink that DNA-scrambling motor oil? And in a related question, is that planet supposed to be Scotland? 

28. If someone doesn't come along to open the door for them, do those red mapping orbs simply hover in place for all eternity? 

29.  Is the alien we see at the end the same one that traveled back in time, at the behest of David Wolper, to greet earthlings at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles?

Ann/otations 4

One of the hazards of reading Ann Coulter's column each week is that you start to receive Ann Coulter spam.  In the interests of annotating the full range of Coulter's work, below is a recent message subjected to analysis.  Here Ms. Coulter implores us to sign up for Guns and Patriots, a new website affiliated with her main employer Human Events.  And this one ends up being a real jaw-dropper, I promise.

The world in which they live.
Dear Fellow Conservative,

Dear Fellow Paranoid Psychotics and fans of The Turner Diaries,

I hope you've been enjoying my columns. From time to time, I also like to alert you to other trustworthy Internet sources I rely on.

My employer, Human Events, is starting a new website targeting yahoos who believe the government is plotting to take away their guns.  If you enjoy the weekly screeds I phone-in each week to pay my mortgage in Manhattan, then you're probably just such a target yahoo. 

Guns & Patriots is one of the best. (And it's FREE, to boot!)

Don't worry, reading this site won't cut into your bullet or beef jerky budget.  We'll get the money back when we convince you to buy Identity Theft protection and GOLD! GOLD! GOLD!

Let's just blurt the truth out — liberals are stark, raving bonkers on the subject of guns!

Yes, let's: liberals are "stark, raving bonkers on the subject of guns!"  That's why liberals spend all their time thinking about guns, reading magazines and websites about guns, worrying about their guns, polishing their guns, counting their bullets, fantasizing about intruders (or better yet, Feds) breaking into the house that they might shoot with impunity, and so on.

According to the Left, besides killing people, guns cause global warming, acid reflux and toenail fungus.

Coulter employs hyperbole here, although it may not be seen as such by her target audience.  "Why I hear tell now them libtards have taken to blamin' toenail fungus on guns!"  For the record, "liberals" are generally more concerned about how the child pictured on the book cover above is infinitely more likely to shoot himself or a friend than Scaredy McHousewife is to plug whatever menace she perceives may or may not be lurking outside her window.

 So let's make America one-big "Gun-Free Zone" — like the campus of Virginia Tech on the day a sex-starved loser massacred 32 people.

Ann goes for the "Texas strategy" here, the oft repeated logic among legislators in that state that arming everyone would prevent spree killers and mass murderers from ever getting out of the gate because, you know, John Wayne will be right there to plug 'em between the eyes--just like George Zimmerman did to that skittle-addled psychopath running loose where he clearly had no business running loose. 

I don't care if you own a gun or not, you've got to thank God for the 2nd Amendment.

The Christian God you presumably believe in wants nothing more than to protect your right and opportunity to fire projectiles at high speeds into your fellow human beings.  I believe it was Jesus who said, "Kill them all and let Dad sort them out."

Without it, we'd lose all our other rights.

They're after you. They really are. All of them.  All the time.  I bet the postman has a gun in his satchel, authorized directly by Obama himself.  Why does the postman get to have a gun and I don't?  Goddamn liberal hypocrisy!  Maybe if I put some buckshot in the postman's ass, that will teach Obummer to use postal workers as his own private army of federal enforcers.  Ma!  Ma!  My head hurts again...

Guns & Patriots keeps me up to speed on breaking developments in the struggle to stop our own government from turning us all into defenseless wimps at the mercy of crazy people who shoot up the local McDonald's.

Coulter reveals the age of her target audience here by making an oblique reference to James Huberty, who in July of 1984 shot and killed 22 people at a McDonalds in San Ysidro, California (and injuring 19).  But let's review the profile of "crazy" Mr. Huberty, shall we (courtesy wiki): 

James Huberty: Tea Party Poster Boy
Huberty, a survivalist, saw signs of what he thought was growing trouble in America, taking on the belief that government regulations was the cause of business failures, including his own. He believed that international bankers were purposefully manipulating the Federal Reserve System and bankrupting the nation. Convinced that Soviet aggression was everywhere, he believed that the breakdown of society was near, perhaps through economic collapse or nuclear war. He committed himself to prepare to survive this coming collapse and while in Canton, provisioned his house with thousands of dollars of non-perishable food and six guns that he intended to use to defend his home during what he believed was the coming chaos. When he moved from Ohio, he left the food behind but brought the guns with him.

In other words, James Huberty was by 2012 standards a model "Tea Party" Republican and the ideal reader for Guns and F@#king  Patriots magazine. 

And this is why Ann Coulter is a horrible, horrible person. She's old enough and smart enough to know this about Huberty, but has no qualms whatsoever making money by gleefully stoking the paranoia of our nations' current crop of unbalanced survivalist, anti-Fed, anti-regulation loons.  

Join the growing community of patriots and 2nd Amendment activists who cherish and defend the freedoms most Americans take for granted.

There are no words, AC. 

Below, more evidence of my theory about Coulter's erotic appeal to middle-aged conservative men who wish their wives had more "gumption." 

Lindsay Lohan: A Year in Huffpo Tags

, Lindsay Lohan Alive, Lindsay Lohan Hospital, Lindsay Lohan Hospitalized, Lindsay Lohan Non Responsive, Lindsay Lohan Not Dead, Lindsay Lohan Unconscious, Curse Of Lindsay Lohan, Lindsay Lohan Romantic Interest, Lindsay Lohan Car Crash, Lindsay Lohan Crash, Lindsay Lohan No Blood Test,
Lindsay Lohan Porsche Crash, Lindsay Lohan Misses Community Service, Lindsay Lohan Morgue, Lindsay Lohan Necklace , Lindsay Lohan Stolen Necklace , Lindsay Lohan Court, Lindsay Lohan Felony, Lindsay Lohan Police Report, Lindsay Lohan Theft , Lindsay Lohan Cops, Lindsay Lohan Lied, Lindsay Lohan Lied To Cops, Lindsay Lohan Hit And Run, Lindsay Lohan Hits Person, Lindsay Lohan In Hospital, Lindsay Lohan Totals Car, Lindsay Lohan Late, Lindsay Lohan Nightmare On Glee, Lindsay Lohan Problems, Lindsay Lohan Bribery, Lindsay Lohan Wardrobe Malfunction, Lindsay Lohan Nude, Lindsay Lohan Playboy, Lindsay Lohan Concerned Nudity The Canyons, Lindsay Lohan Legal Drama, Lindsay Lohan Skipping Court Ordered Therapy, Lindsay Lohan Limo Lawsuit, Lindsay Lohan Teeth Rotting, Lindsay Lohan's Rotting Teeth, Lindsay Lohan Assault And Battery, Lindsay Lohan Ankle Monitor, Lindsay Lohan Back To Jail, Lindsay Lohan Failed Sobriety Test, Lindsay Lohan Jail, Lindsay Lohan Probation, Lindsay Lohan Sobriety Test, Lindsay Lohan Drug Test, Lindsay Lohan Drunk, Lindsay Lohan House Arrest.

Deathtrip Cannibal Mini-Redux

It's been a grisly few weeks on the North American continent.  First, Miami police shot and killed a man who---hopped up on the newest terror drug ("bath salts?"---Calgon, fuck me up!)---stripped down nude, tackled a homeless man on the side of a freeway, and ate his face.  "Ate his face" is not a euphemism, and I implore you not to google this event as some yahoo has in fact leaked the ER photos and they will destroy you (although a Miami TV station has reported, in a form of obsessive fact-checking or maybe demented consolation that no "human flesh" was actually found in the attacker's stomach--I guess that means Rudy Eugene, the now dead assailant, was merely a bulimic face-chewer and not an actual cannibal, so there's that).
Magnotta                                                     Kinyua                                                          Eugene
In Baltimore, meanwhile, Alexander Kinyua allegedly killed his roommate and then "gorged" on the heart and brain, leading to the inevitable paper and pixel-trail at his university where individuals expressed amazement that Kinyua hadn't been institutionalized months ago. Apparently he beat someone half-blind with a baseball bat within the last two months and yet continued to walk the streets a free man (wearing face paint and extolling the virtues of "human sacrifice," no less).

And finally, last week in Berlin, police arrested Luka Rocca Magnotta, the self-described "gay porn star" from Montreal who murdered and dismembered his former lover, posted the video on-line, and then mailed one of the severed feet to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (mark my words, as this case proceeds we are likely to find that Dennis Cooper's Frisk will become Ozzy's "Suicide Solution" in this mess).  Magnotta was found in a Berlin Internet cafe, apparently because all the flights to Bangkok were full, surfing the web for porn and news coverage of his notoriety.

All of this is horrible, of course, even as it is hilarious.  And by "hilarious," I mean these various atrocities--arriving in a media-friendly packet of three--have led to a great deal of gallows humor on radio and late-night television (and presumably, daily conversation).  And who could resist?  Personally, I feel especially bad for the story editor at the just cancelled CSI: Miami.   How sad for the writers that they won't get to run lines for Caruso's patented sunglasses routine in what would have been the inevitable "face-eating" episode's cold open.

It's time we faced the facts....there's a new killer on the streets of Miami

We need our own face-off...with the bath-salt zombies threatening to destroy this city.

Defacing our city's property is one thing...but defacing its citizens will not stand.  

If we accept Freud's contention that all jokes are about either sex or violence, it is understandable that such atrocities would generate a fair amount of queasy humor.  Here are three horror stories that need to be dissipated through a type of masscult bravado.  The U.S. (and now Canada!) is one screwed up place, but that's okay, I can take it.  Whaddya gonna do?  Some days you get the face-eating zombie, some days the face-eating zombie gets you.  And, like all other momentarily shocking news in this century, this trio of atrocities will no doubt soon fade from consciousness.   Eating a fellow human being's face is now roughly equivalent, in news value, to an errant drone strike or a successful celebrity insemination. Speaking of which, isn't Jennifer Aniston due soon? 

Much of this is linked to the rather giddy untethering of reality that, while not caused by the "media," certainly benefits from the relentless quest to turn an act of unspeakable horror into a timely Facebook post or a clever tweet.  Even the otherwise sober Center for Disease Control got into the act by issuing a press release in the wake of Eugene's "zombie-like" attack.  On June 4th, the  CDC announced it  "does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead (or one that would present zombie-like symptoms).”  More evidence that the west secretly yearns for the zombie apocalypse to set us all free.  Alas, it is not to be....yet. 

How different from the atrocities of old!  Time was when America produced weighty psychopaths worthy of true dread and respect.  Consider the incredible run of gold-standard deviancy from 1969 to 1991: Manson, Bundy, the Zodiac, Lucas, Rodriquez, Son of Sam, Gacy, Dahmer--individuals so thoroughly dedicated to their craft that each has achieved the highest of popcult honors: single-name status.  On the crazy religion front, meanwhile, Jim Jones was so completely absorbed in an evil world of his own design that he actually convinced over 800 people to relocate in Guyana and then commit mass suicide. 

The feeble uptick in cannibalistic activity over the past couple of weeks actually evokes an interesting sociological mystery: why have there been so few spectacularly deviant criminals over the past twenty years or so?  Eugene, Magnotta, and Kinyua are in some ways a mini-return of the major repressed, evoking this earlier era of storied insanity even as their crimes are of a different order, more fleeting and ultimately forgettable. 

A few theories come to mind: (1). law enforcement has gotten much better at catching serial killers early in their "careers"; (2). serial killers and other fabled psychopaths still exist, but the structure of fascination that once herded them to the cultural center has for the most part disappeared; (3). the unique sociological cocktail that produced so many prolific maniacs in the 70s and 80s has changed. Perhaps the current dearth of committed psychopaths is the product of all three of these conditions.

One thing's for sure--this new breed of cannibalistic psychopath just isn't up to the standards set by Manson, Gacy, Dahmer and their peers  (once again the millennials fail their boomer overlords).  Rudy Eugene ate a face, to be sure, but consider this: Dahmer ate multiple body parts and kept spare organs in the refrigerator.  Plus, Eugene had to ingest a psychosis-inducing PCP-accelerant in order to commit his "zombie" attack.  Dahmer, on the other hand, actually experimented with various chemicals injected into the trepanned skull of a half-dead victim in an attempt to create his own personal zombie--a companion/sex slave that would remain under his total control.  And he did so, apparently, with little help beyond some pot, beer, and his own strain of bad brain chemistry.

Then there is Magnotta, the Canadian Internet snuff killer.  His glam shots, on-line torture video, and postal theatrics suggest, not a true psychopath, but a misguided reality show contestant posing as a psychopath.  This is in stark contrast to someone like Gacy who, true to his Polish working-class roots, murdered and buried over thirty victims in his suburban Chicago basement without wanting or attracting any god damned attention at all, driven solely by a psychosexual depravity so pure that it simply would not be denied.  Magnotta, on the other hand, seems to have taken a wrong turn in "branding" his career as a media icon.  Again, he was apprehended in Berlin "googling" his own videos, images, and news updates.  Classic.  In another world, he'd be Puck on The Real World: Montreal, the little fame-whore.

If you have ever owned a record by Big Black or Throbbing Gristle, or if you can identify the artist of the painting to the left, you may well remember that odd off-shoot of alternative-underground-post-punk culture in the 80s/90s that engaged in a prolonged and allegedly tasteless "celebration" of America's most notorious psychopaths--what might be called, for lack of a better term, the "Deathtrip" scene (after "transgressive cinema" Richard Kern's "production company").  Oil paintings by Gacy, circulating after his arrest, skyrocketed in value during his time on death row and continue to appreciate in value even today.  Gacy's portraits of clowns, Disney characters, and random celebrities remain the ne plus ultra of this art brutal movement in their unnerving ability to evoke the distinctly American profile of the deranged serial killer (yes, Jack the Ripper invented the form at the dawn of modernity--if we exclude the unknowable sex/death economy of the Gilles de Rais--but only in America could someone become so functionally sick as to supervise a thriving construction business, operate a teen abbatoir in the basement, and still find time to put brush to canvas and render some truly stunning clown-kitsch. 

Around the same time, an enterprising comic company began a series of "Psycho Killer" titles, debuting with Big Daddy Manson himself, a figure who, though low in "body count," nevertheless remains America's favorite face of evil incarnate (and still responsible for a good 10% of MSNBC's "doc-block" revenue stream).  Manson has remained a presence in American life for many reasons, but much of his allure no doubt stems from his own ability to play the I'll be your mirror card so effectively.  Consider the following gems of Manson wisdom:

“No sense makes sense”

"I can't dislike you, but I will say this to you: you haven't got long before you are all going to kill yourselves, because you are all crazy. And you can project it back at me, but I am only what lives inside each and every one of you."

“You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays everybody's crazy.”  

Cult leaders are said to be very good at getting inside their disciples' heads--clearly Manson has endured in his ability to serve as a dirt-scrabbled sage of psychosis, a kind of witchy Will Rogers.  Manson's identity as the coffin-nail in hippiedom didn't hurt either, especially in aligning him with the sixties backlash in early 80s deathtrip culture (Kern's video for "Death Valley '69," in which members of Sonic Youth re-enact the "Family's" desert depravity and horrorshow slaughter is a benchmark of the Deathtrip scene).

Perhaps the most sickly ironic and ironically sick item of this era was a set of "Death Cult" trading cards commissioned to document the Jonestown Massacre.  Like the Psycho Killer comics, the Death Cult cards married psycho-depravity with a cherished icon of American childhood--the bubblegum card.  What better way to signal the fundamentally American sickness of messianic violence than to equate Manson's powers with Superman, or to approach the mass suicide in Guyana as a crucially meaningful event worthy of recounting as a type of perverse passion play?

Gacy paintings, psychokiller comics, and Jonestown trading cards are all dripping with dark irony, of course, and while the "deathtrip" scene has for the most part vanished, it was undoubtedly a central pillar in the great irony panic of the nineties.   It is easy to dismiss this particular constellation of pop nihilism as a form of glib, amoral posturing--ungrounded irony at its worst.  But there was a certain political project in these artifacts, a sympathetic echo of George Bataille's fascination earlier in the century in exploring the threshold of the "human" through moments of psychotic violence, "irrational" behaviors, and most famously, Aztec blood sacrifices.  Deathtrip scene-sters probably did not have such lofty philosophical ambitions--but figures like Manson, Gacy, and Jones were certainly "esteemed" inasmuch as they seemed to define the abject threshold of the American experience, each a "symptom" erupting so spectacularly that he could not be re-repressed.

And this power continues even today.  Who could forget Republican Presidential candidate Michelle Bachman's classic blunder of displacement last fall when she confused John Wayne Gacy with John Wayne (believing Waterloo, Iowa to be the Duke's hometown, when in fact it is where Gacy grew up and eventually opened a KFC)?  Quite frankly, it made me a little nostalgic, ready to put on my old black combat boots and crank up some Nurse with Wound.  And I think it had a similar impact on artist Dan Lacey, who commemorated the gaffe in his recent painting, "The Spirit of Waterloo." 

Yes, compared to the mythic import of Manson, Gacy, Jones, Dahmer, etc., this recent outbreak of would-be cannibal provocateurs is fairly insignificant and no doubt will soon be forgotten.

But Deathtrippers should not lose hope--inexplicable psychopathology is still out there if you're willing to seek it out.  For example, just last week, presumptive Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney attended a fund-raiser at the home of Dallas billionaire Harlan Crow.  Romney and several mega-rich supporters of the GOP ate dinner in a room filled with Crow's personal collection of paintings by Adolf Hitler.   And there was no irony involved whatsoever.

Now that is truly twisted.  

Dream Squirrels

A short film about dream squirrels, Freud, and obsolescent technologies--in other words, an early front-runner for movie of the century (my thanks to Lawson Fletcher for pointing out this masterpiece).


The video itself is from a team in Helsinki called fellowland.

The Stereo Uncanny

The two photos below were discovered inside the sleeve of Here Come the Hits, a 1974 record by Ronnie Aldrich and His Two Pianos, recently purchased at a Chicago thrift store.  Aldrich recorded for London records during the 1960s and 70s on their Phase4 Stereo Imprint.  Sound geeks will recall that Phase4 records were promoted as the most advanced "stereo" recordings of the era.  The records were done at a special studio outfitted with a "10-Channel console mixer, which permitted a sense of motion and an uncanny illusion of spatial realism unapproached by conventional disc methods" (sayeth the liner notes).  Ronnie Aldrich was an ideal artist for Phase 4 because he had not one, but TWO pianos, instruments that could be pitted against one another in a pan-pot orgy of left-right counterpoint. 

Given this context, I believe the fundamental uncanniness of these images speaks for itself.