Monday, February 26, 2007

Jet Boy Jet Girl

Lost (& Found ) In Translation

Watching the Oscars Sunday night, I heard the Pepsi commercial that features The Presidents of the United States of America covering Plastic Bertrand's "Ca Plane Pour Moi" (which roughly translates as "It's Alright With Me" or "This Life's For Me") and it immediately made me think of the Belgian-based New Wave band Elton Motello's "Jet Boy Jet Girl," a 1978 cult single that recently became available to the masses via John Waters' Valentine's Day-timed CD release A Date With John Waters. Both versions are the same exact song but with different lyrics, Plastic Bertrand's version being sung in French while Elton Motello's is sung in very graphic English, with lyrics referencing oral sex ("He gave me head!") and penetrative intercourse ("Jet Boy Jet Girl/I'm gonna make you penetrate/I'm gonna make you be a girl"). I don't know about you, but watching people drink Pepsi while listening to a song associated with oral sex, well, it leaves a strange taste in my mouth, so to speak.

Here's the Pepsi ad of which I speak:

At work the next day a 20something co-worker mentioned that he thought Plastic Bertrand's version was a cover of The Damned, who did "Jet Boy Jet Girl" as the B-side of their 1982 "Wait for the Blackout" single (technically the B-side was credited to Damned bassist Captain Sensible's side-band, Captain Sensible and the Softies) and he asked me who this guy Elton Motello was, so I set about researching the song and its confusing chicken-and-the-egg-who-came-first history. Turns out Elton Motello was not a guy but a band formed by singer Alan Ward (nee Alan Timms) who in 1974-1975 was in a band called Bastard with future Damned guitarist Bryan James (no doubt where James learned the song that would later turn up in the Damned's repetoire). Here's The Damned doing a live version of "Jet Boy Jet Girl" from YouTube:

According to the "Elton Motello" page on the great British website, Alan Ward took his Bastard band to Belgium when he got a gig there as a recording engineer at Morgan Studios. Bastards came and went (as they usually do in rock bands!), with James going back to the UK to join Joe Strummer & company in the pre-Clash group The London SS and ex-Pink Fairies drummer Twink joining on the skins for a spell. When Twink left, his replacement was one Roger Jouret who promptly changed his name to Nobby Goff. The Bastards also changed their name at this point to Elton Motello. Guess who Roger Jouret/Nobby Goff became next? Yup: Plastic Bertrand!

But wait, let's backtrack. In 1978, Elton Motello released their frisky punk single "Jet Boy Jet Girl" b/w "Pogo Pogo" on Lightning Records. In the words of the Punk77 website, "From here it all goes a little strange." I'll let them pick it up at this point:
...a French version of the song is created by Lacomblez. Lou De Pryk and Lacomblez were producer and lyricist at RKM publishing at the time and with lyrics too controversial to be adapted Lacomblez created the meaningless stew of words that became 'Ca Plane' Pour Moi' to the tune of 'Jet Boy Jet Girl.'

Interestingly the front person and name for the artist performing this version is Plastic Bertrand. Plastic Bertrand is Roger Jouret, Elton Motello's drummer (that's him on the far left opposite). Even more interestingly it's claimed that Plastic Bertrand was just a front person and did not even sing on any of his records up until 1980 and that the producer of said single called Lou De Pryk again with RKM was responsible for the vocals. A court case in 2006 settled that Plastic was indeed the singer.

So where did that leave Elton Motello and Alan Ward? He seems remarkably sanguine about the whole thing and I think tongue in cheek.
Alan Ward: We have all been ripped off at some point in our lives but judging by the emails I receive my lyric has touched many more people and seems to ring a chord in many more hearts than the French one will ever do. That's why I wrote it. If I was meant to be rich it would have happened. But I am rich in the knowledge that my thoughts will never disappear.

All of this is fishier than a tin of pilchards. Such a blatant steal would have led to a court case. Even more so as the flipside, 'Pogo Pogo', is also done by both artists. Interesting that the Bertrand connection doesn't end at 'Jet Boy' as the second Bertrand single was 'Sha La La La Lee' featured on the Motello album Victim Of Time. Lastly who is the producer of Bertrand's second album, J'ete Fais Un Plan? You guessed it. Alan Ward.

Judging by the amount of foreign sleeves for the single it had a fair crack at the European market not least because they wouldn't understand the true meaning of the words.

Elton Motello went out to record two albums, 1979's Ramonesy Victim of Time (a collection of singles and other items recorded during 1977 and 1978, including a 7-minute version of "Jet Boy Jet Girl", "Teen Pimp" and covers of "Pipeline" and the Small Faces' "Sha La La La Lee") and 1980's Pop Art. According to Ira Robbins' Trouser Press review, "Pop Art is a wholly different affair — synth-pop that aspires to be weird for weird's sake, but with occasional success. The best track is a totally syncopated version of the Who's 'I Can't Explain'; other numbers work New Musik/M dance-pop terrain to good effect." Jet Boy Jet Girl, an 18-track compilation CD of the two Elton Motello albums put out by the Belgian label AMC Records is available stateside from Portland, Oregon's CD Baby Records and as an import CD from and But unless you have the original Victim of Time LP, the only other place to find the 7-minute "club version" of "Jet Boy Jet Girl" is on Hardest Hits Volume 5, a New Wave compilation CD from Toronto's SPG Music Productions Ltd. label.

According to Wikipedia, Plastic Bertrand's "Ca Plane Pour Moi" has also been covered by Thee Headcoatees, Leila K, and Sonic Youth. There is also a German version entitled "Bin wieder frei" performed by Benny. In addition to The Damned's version, Elton Motello's "Jet Boy Jet Girl" has been also been covered by the late '70s Brit punk band Chron Gen.

Plastic Bertrand on YouTube:

"Ça Plane Pour Moi" lyrics:
mon chat "Splash" gît sur mon lit a bouffé
Sa langue en buvant trop mon whysky
Quand a moi peu dormi
J'ai du dormir dans la goutière
Où j'ai eu un flash
En 4 couleurs
Allez hop!
un matin
Une louloute est v'nue chez moi
Poupée de cellophane
cheveux chinois

Un sparadrap
une gueule de bois
A bu ma bière dans un grand verre en caoutchouc
ouh) comme un indien dans son igloo

Ça plane pour moi
Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi
ouh) Ça plane pour moi

Allez hop!
la nana
quel panard
quelle vibration
De s'envoyer sur l' paillasson
You are the king of the divan
qu'elle me dit en passant
Quh) I'm the king of the divan

Ça plane pour moi
Ça plane gour moi
. . .

Allez hop!
touches pas ma planete
It's not today que le ciel me tombera sur la tête
Et que la colle me manquera
Ouh) Ça plane pour moi

Ça plane pour moi
Ça plane pour moi
. . .

Allez hop!
ma nana s'est tirée
s'est barrée
Enfin c'est marre
a tout cassé
le bar
Me laissant seul ,comme un grand connard
Ouh) le pied dans l' plat

Ça plane pour moi
Ça plane pour moi

"Jet Boy Jet Girl" lyrics:
Can you tell what's on my mind
She's with him it's driving me wild
I'd like to hit him on the head until he's dead
The sight of blood is such a high
He gives me head

We made it on a Ballroom Blitz
I took his arms and kissed his lips
He looked at me with such a smile my face turned red
We booked a room into the Ritz
He gives me head

Jet boy jet girl
I'm gonna take you 'round the world
Jet boy I'm gonna make you penetrate
I'm gonna make you be a girl
Jet boy jet girl

I know I'm only just fifteen
I like to kick I like to scream
And even if I had a kink or two in bed with him
You know it's just a dream
He gives me head

Jet boy jet girl
I'm gonna take you 'round the world
Jet boy I'm gonna make you penetrate
I'm gonna make you be a girl
Jet boy jet girl

The other day what a surprise
I saw him with some other guys
God he was dressed up with a girl around his neck
I could have cried with both my eyes
He gives me head

And if and when I make it though
Or if my brain is stuck on glue
And when the world tries to forget all that I said
You know I'll still remember you
You gave me head

Jet boy jet girl
I'm gonna take you 'round the world
Jet boy I'm gonna make you penetrate
I'm gonna make you be a girl
Jet boy jet girl

Elton Motello on YouTube:

Related Links:
Elton Motello (
Elton Motello (Wikipedia)
Plastic Bertrand (Wikipedia)
Plastic Bertrand (David Gibbs website)

Plastic Bertrand (Official Website)
A Date With John Waters (
Elton Motello CD
The Presidents of the United States of America (MySpace)

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Smoke on the Waters

I ran across John Waters' famous "No Smoking" short on YouTube and am glad somebody finally posted this. For years it was only available as an extra on the 1995 laserdisc version of Polyester (1981). (This laserdisc also included a "Get To Know Baltimore" tour narrated by Waters; clips from a couple of television entertainment program profiles of the filmmaker and his associates; and Robert Maier's 1975 documentary short Love Letter to Edie. The 2004 release of the John Waters' DVD box set Very Crudely Yours, may have restored many of the extra features from the Polyester laserdisc - hope springs eternal! - but I don't have the $90 needed to find out). Anyway, the "No Smoking" clip has long been familiar to audiences at Baltimore's Charles Theater where it frequently preceded feature film screenings and was a guaranteed laugh-getter.

YouTube description:
"In this short clip, John Waters announces that "no smoking is allowed in this theatre" and goes on to encourage people to smoke anyway, as it keeps the ushers busy."

Waters appeared in the "No Smoking" promo for Santa Monica's Nuart Theater in appreciation for showing Pink Flamingos for many years. It's a common misconception that Waters himself filmed the trailer. In fact it was filmed and produced by music video director Douglas Brian Martin. Martin clears the matter up in this posting to the Cinema Treasures website about the Nuart Theater:
John Waters did not create the now renowned NO SMOKING trailer - he starred in it, as he is a star. I produced and directed three trailers in a New York City loft in support of the SHOCK VALUE FILM FESTIVAL that was marketed nationwide through Landmark Theatre Corporation in the early 1980's to assist in marketing John's book SHOCK VALUE. The SHOCK VALUE trailer was kicked back by the Texas censors with an orange obscenity band due to the use of the words masturbation and coprophagy. (John wanted to change the script to use more common terms for anatomy and excretions but I insisted on sticking to the script - little good it did) The THANK YOU NUART FOR MAKING DIVINE THE FILTH GODDESS and the NO SMOKING TRAILER were filmed at the same time. All were filmed as written. I carried the latent image reels back to LA in my carry-on luggage and transferred the 16mm original negative up to 35mm for theatrical use. The Film Festival, with the NUART Theatre as base, was a runaway success, and the NO SMOKING trailer, created as an added attraction to give Nuart patrons even more reasons to love the NUART, has gone on to become an icon. Nice.

According to, Douglas Brian Martin directed the following music videos - so the next time you see these songs on VH1 or MTV Classic, remember they were made by the guy responsible for John Waters' "No Smoking" trailer!:
"Murder, Mystery & Mayhem" (1981) for Peter Ivers; "I Predict (1982)" for Sparks; "Get Up And Go (1982)" for The Go-Go's; "Gone Daddy Gone (1983)" for Violent Femmes; "Barefoot Rock (1983)" for The Blasters; "One Red Rose (1983)" for The Blasters; "The Cutting Edge" (1983) for MTV; "Christian Girls Problems" (1983) for The Gleaming Spires; "Head Over Heels" (1983) for The Go-Go's; "Sound Of The Rain" (1984) for Rank & File; "Livin' A Little, Laughin' A Little" (1985) for John Hiatt/Elvis Costello; "When Angels Kiss" (1985) for Gary Myrick; "Stick Around" (1985) for Julian Lennon; "Lips To Find You" (1986) for Teena Marie; and "Situation #9" (1986) for Club Nouveau.

Related Links:
Douglas Brian Martin's Website (
Doug Pratt's Laserdisc Review of Polyester

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Macumba Love

That Old Black Magic Has Me In Its Spell

My new obsession is finding the neglected and out-of-print exploitation classic Macumba Love (1960), which has been called "an early 60s voodoo flick that runs pretty much like a filmed version of the cartoons found in men's magazines of the time". It starred big tit Brit actress June Wilkinson (pictured right), an erstwhile topless teen fan dancer who was putting the swing in Swingin' London when she was discovered by Hugh Hefner; Hef promptly dubbed her "The Bosom" and thrust her into worldwide fame when he featured her in the September 1958 ish of Playboy. Despite her pneumatic prowess, her attempts at parlaying a film career fell "flat". She appeared as an uncredited topless "Torso" in Russ Meyer's 1959 nudie cutie The Immoral Mr. Teas (Wilkinson claims she was uncredited and her face unseen because she was under contract to another studio at the time, and that it was a moot point anyway because "...Breasts are like two are alike. Everyone knew they were my breasts immediately") and failed to bust out of her top-heavy typecast roles with stereotypical fare like The Private Lives of Adam and Eve (1960), The Continental Twist (1961) and Macumba Love. June Wilksinson later appeared as villainess Nora Clavicle (Barbara Rush)'s henchwoman Evilina on an 1966 episode ("Nora Clavicle and the Ladies' Crime Club") of the ABC-TV series Batman.

The awesome trailer for Macumba Love can be seen at VCI's Trailer Park; click here to see it.

The Macumba Love trailer is also included on Something Weird Video's double feature DVD The Naked Witch/Crypt of Secrets.

And here's a nice review by Keith at Teleport City.

1960, United States. Starring June Wilkinson, Walter Reed, Ziva Rodann, Ruth de Souza, Cléa Simões, Pedro Paulo Hatheyer.

It's no secret that we here at Teleport City feel the seventies were a golden age of American filmmaking. That's hardly going out on a limb, as most cinema students consider the seventies the high water mark of American cinema. However, while most people throw out titles like Taxi Driver, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, they seem to forget landmark films like Dolemite, White Lightning and The Warriors.

The seventies were the beginning of the end of the exploitation flick. Although like-minded films would soldier on for another decade or so, the advent of VCRs and cable TV helped put an end to the good old fashioned first run exploitation film. No longer would advertisements taunt ticket buyers with the line, "Not for sissies!" Conmen and hustlers could no longer retitle the same movie two or three times (well, except for Xenon's kungfu videos). The drive-in, once a heaven of good ol' boys blowing up outhouses, bikers terrorizing towns, and red paint soaked butcher scraps substituting for human viscera would transform into flea markets and parking lots.

But while the seventies might have been the apex of exploitation movies, the art form had a long history. I would hazard to guess that soon after it was established that audiences would pay to see moving pictures, someone was probably putting up handbills advertising gore, boobs and horse-cart chases for viewing inside the nickelodeon. Just about every "Oldde Townne" type of tourist trap has one of those hand-cranked machines where you can drop a quarter in and watch some old movie footage of a hanging.

So every once in a while it's nice to go beyond the seventies, to see what sort of trash manipulated dad or granddad into shelling his hard-earned cash (and for the most part, these films were targeted towards males). One such example is Macumba Love, an early 60s voodoo flick that runs pretty much like a filmed version of the cartoons found in men's magazines of the time.

Man of science J. Peter Weils (Reed) is living in Brazil and is annoyed that the natives still practice voodoo. He decides to write a book that will blow the lid off this whole voodoo scam once and for all. Now I'm all for people using the scientific method to eradicate superstition and fear, but you don't have to be a prick about it. Weils is prone to making statements like "These native people don't have any education. Their mind is like a child." Grammar aside, it's not wise to say things like that around the household help who believe in voodoo and also prepare your food.

Weils' crusade against voodoo begins when he finds a corpse with a hatpin stuck in his eye. Instead of ignoring it and going about his business romancing local rich playgirl Venus Devisio, he decides to visit high voodoo priestess Mama Rata-loi and inform her he's putting her out of business. Me, I would have just hung out on the beach with Venus. I mean, yeah, I consider myself fairly skeptical, but when I heard the voodoo drums beating, I'd shut my damn mouth. It's good manners, and I wouldn't run the risk of offending someone important and ending up a zombie slaving away on some plantation on the off chance there is something to all that voodoo stuff.

Just as Weils is getting started on his research, his shapely daughter Sarah (Wilkinson) shows up with her dopey husband Warren on their honeymoon. Because of dad's poking around, the newlyweds can't go out at night, which is probably just as well. There's trouble in paradise, however, as Warren gets the seven year itch about seven years too early and finds himself attracted to Venus, who may or not be Don Bella, the Spirit of Serpents who appears every decade to destroy a nonbeliever.

It's always refreshing when a film is able to transcend genre or budget limitations, and writer Norman Graham and director Douglas Fowley were able to craft a fairly suspenseful, ambitious little exploitation flick in Macumba Love. The viewer is constantly off guard, unsure if voodoo priestess Mama Rataloi actually has the power to change shape or if she's just messing with the locals. Do Venus' blackouts and nightmares mean she really is the reincarnation of the snake goddess? Did June Wilkinson really lose her bikini top in that beach scene? About the only thing the audience is certain of is that Weils is a smug condescending asshole who deserves all the voodoo he gets.

If you were a heterosexual young man in 1960, this movie would have just about everything you'd ever want to see. Macumba Love was the embodiment of men's magazines of the period, featuring exotic lands, a little danger, skulls, voodoo rites, and oh yeah, buxom Brit June Wilkinson. Why the hell Warren, her sap of a husband, would even consider cheating on her during the first week of marriage is a mystery. Must be that voodoo magic. Wilkinson is likeable in her first speaking role, projecting an innocence and playfulness in her role as Sarah.

But that probably didn't matter to most of the audience. Nicknamed "the Bosom" by Hugh Hefner (who knew a thing or two about bosoms), Wilkinson's 43 inch breasts are used like a Chinese yo-yo in a 3D movie. The highlight is the previously mentioned beach scene when she 'accidentally' loses her top for a brief second.

No matter what movie admission was in 1960, Macumba Love was a bargain. Rather than taking a straightforward approach to the story, the writer and director took chances and made it more than a formula exercise. The film's ambiguity is fairly respectful to voodoo, and the cinematography makes the jungles and beaches look exotic and magical, like a place where anything is possible, even a woman transforming into a snake. Today's 'straight to video or Sci-Fi channel' filmmakers could pick up a few pointers on how to shoot an interesting exploitation movie from Macumba Love. Oh yeah, and having June Wilkinson losing her top didn't hurt, either.
- Posted by Keith

Related Links:
Teleport City Review
Macumba Love (
Macumba Love (
June Wilkinson Bio (
June Wilkinson Bio(
Geocities Pix of June Wilkinson
June Wilkinson as Evilina

Friday, February 23, 2007

Triple Threat

I used to have Comcast's high-speed Internet access and Basic Cable TV. One week after Comcast installed Digital Cable TV at my house, I now have no Internet access and no TV, period.

But I now know that Comcast's highly-touted "Triple Play" package (supposedly for Voice, Internet, and TV service) really stands for Inept Customer Service, Error-ridden Billing, and Botched Cable Installations. And I also learned that you don't get what you pay for - even when you triple pay for it.

It's Comcastic!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Much Ado About Nothing

Every night that I watch the news about the Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial I think: "We all know what happened and what will happen. To wit:

1 ) Cheney and Karl Rove, if not George Dubya himself, leaked Valerie Plame's name to Robert Novak, and

2) Libby gets off with a pardon on George Dubya's last day in office (which according to my Backwards Bush Countdown Clock, as I write this, is 700 days, 3 hours and 42 minutes away).

It's as good as a done deal. If anyone had any doubts, think back to Bush's press conference last week when he answered a question about a Presidential Pardon by saying, "I'm not gonna comment on that."

Case closed.

A guilty verdict at this point is irrelevant and they might as well start making the Backwards Libby Pardon Countdown Clocks. It's like Cheney said when asked about Congress' non-binding resolution against the Administration's troop surge in Iraq: "It won't stop us from what we're going to do." Yup, when you have Power, the laws are nothing more than a moot point.

Fade To Black

African Cinema: By the People, for the People

If you're interested in African cinema like I am, be sure to check out the February issue of the British Film Institute's magazine Sights & Sounds. A number of recent films have looked at Africa through white eyes (Hotel Rwanda, The Last King of Scotland, Blood Diamond, Catch a Fire, The Constant Gardener, Sometimes in April) but to get the big picture you have to go native and see it through African eyes. That's why Mark Cousins' article "Africa Cinema: Invisible Classics" is such a good read and an excellent resource for further viewing. As Egyptian director Youssef Chahine once quipped about African cinema's Third World status, "I'm the First World. I've been here here 7,000 years."

By the way, Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library has an excellent collection of African films at its Central Library in the form of California Newsreel's Library of African Cinema series. The library recently screened one of the films in this collection, Mapantsula (Oliver Schmitz, South Africa, 1988), as part of its Black History Month events. This film, which follows the social and political awakening of a petty thief when confronted with his country's struggles, was the first anti-apartheid film made by and for South Africans and was banned by South African authorities upon its initial release.


Chinese Propaganda Posters

As anybody who's gotten Chinese carry-out lately knows, it's Chinese New Year time (Gung Hay Fat Choy!), which officially started February 18 and which, according to their "stem-branch" system of naming years in 60-year cycles, makes this the eight year of the current cycle, or Year 4074 in the Chinese calendar. 2007 is the Year of the Pig, or DingHai, by the way. As I was looking up info about it, I came across this great site dedicated to Chinese Propaganda Posters which, along with Soviet Propaganda Posters, represent two of my favorite art styles.

The site is Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Posters Pages. I especially like the New Year's prints with their chubby-faced children expressing hopes for a bright and well-fed future.

Soviet Propaganda Posters
See also some vintage Soviet propaganda posters and Russian e-cards at Soviet Posters. I particularly like this one that shows all the evils of capitalism and racism in America. Who needs to read Russian when the pictures are so clear-cut?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Comcastic, Rhymes with Bombastic


Fuck Comcast Cablevision, those greedy capitalistic corporate whore-mongers who put the COM in imCOMpetent.

"I'm a Big Boy, Johnny!"
Apparently all the obscene profits Comcast makes by overcharging subscribers for poor reception and execrable service go into feeding spielsperson Cal Ripken, Jr., who is starting to look more and more like Swedish wrestler/cult movie star Tor Johnson (Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Beast of Yucca Flats); no wonder Cal didn't miss playing ball for 2,131 games - it kept him in shape! Cal hawks the Comcast "Triple Play" of cable TV, Internet access and phone service; meanwhile, Comcast can't even get one thing right, like basic cable service, while it beats its chest boasting of its ambitious Triple Play prowess. I think "Triple Play" stands for - in the words blogger Ben Popken - "rude customer service, error-ridden billing, and botched cable installations."

Cal and Tor: Separated At Girth?

I made the mistake of upgrading to Digital Cable with the Sports Pack simply to get the Fox Soccer Channel (with BBC America and the Tennis Channel thrown in for good measure, which sounded good to me). The upgrade was only $12 more a month, so I bit the bait.

I should have known better and realized that less is more. After all, I only watched two of the plethora of channels on Basic Cable anyway - MSNBC for Countdown with Keith Olbermann and Turner Classic Movies for all those great (and sometimes rare) commercial-free movies.

But now, 48 hours later, I still have no Digital Cable channels and, what's more, actually lost at least a dozen Basic Cable channels, including my beloved MSNBC! I should have seen it coming. To install my digital box, Comcast sent two subcontractors who talked like hosers Bob and Doug MacKenzie of The Great White North. Nice guys who worked their asses off to accommodate me, for sure, but Comcast put them through some unnecessary hoops.

First, Comcast had me signed up for HBO, necessitating the McKenzie brothers to climb the telephone pole and disconnect that scheduling snafu. Then, when my Digital Channels weren't coming through, the home office had them rewire my entire cable connection, laying down new cable. They were there for almost three hours and now 48 hours later, still nada on the Digital Cable Front. I'm through with these ninCOMpoops.

When not feeding Cal Jr., Comcast spends the remainder of its dough on all those "It's Comcastic" TV commercials. Well I have a great new commercial for Satellite TV - just film Comcast technicians trying to install digital service!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Smack My Bond Up

Here's a mash-up of the greatest music video ever, Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up," by Ricardo Medina:


What is it about this song that so inspires mashers?





From the fine folks at Laptoppunk.

And here's the original Prodigy music video that was banned from MTV, the one that I like to call "Having a Wild Weekend!" (as Dave Cawley once quipped, "Has anyone ever had a better night out on the town than in this video?" What's not to like?):


It's only rock & roll but I like it, love it, yes I do! Although it was banned on MTV, Baltimoreans were able to see it on Atomic TV's "Artscape 1998" episode.

What I'm Watching Now

Japanese Idols

Current Mood: Happy (thanks to these videos).

My favorite YouTube viddies of the moment (call it a snowed-in Valentine's Day treat to myself!).


The heck with American Idol. I'll take these Japanese Idols any day.


What a body of work!


She's half Japanese, half Canadian, all woman!

RACK IT UP (1:10)



Got milk? OK, but do you got choco milk?


It's hard to out-sexy a Duram Duran video, but the Japanese manage!



At least this hentai viddy uses Pizzicato Five's "Groovy"!I think this should be the next Lenscrafters ad.


I'm sure this is instructional and if so, learning never looked like so much fun! Who knew dipthongs could be so sexy?

Hot Toddies

Todd Graham is a subversive genius.

A decade before YouTube, I can remember seeing an ad for this clever Canadian filmmaker's Apocalypse Pooh - arguably the first ever video mash-up (as well as the first Anime Music Video) - in the back pages of a Dan Clowes' Eightball comic and ordering it, along with Blue Peanuts and God Save the Archies. It may seem rather passe in these mashed-up digital editing software times, but in its day it was the shit! I can remember trading tapes of this to Chris X at Reptilian Records and others like it was solid gold. Today it's one of the most heavily duped and traded bootlegs of all time; amazingly, it's even earned a listing in imdb's database! It's also listed on Subterranean Cinema's "Apocalypse Now" page, where it sits alongside other spoofs like Porklips Now (1980) and the porno parody Apocalypse Climax. (And speaking of spoofs, see also Apocalypse Now Recut: Fart of Darkness on YouTube.) Todd's clips also found their way into various episodes of Baltimore's public access TV show Atomic TV.


You'll never listen to The Doors' "The End" again without thinking of Winnie the Pooh. This brilliant mash-up of Coppola's Apocalypse Now and Disney's Winnie the Pooh & The Blustery Day supposedly dates from 1987 and features Pooh as Martin Sheen's Willard, Piglet as Dennis Hopper's manic photo journalist and Eeyore as Marlon Brando's Colonel Kurtz. This clip also aired on the "Appropriated Image Is Everything" episode of Atomic TV in 1997.


Snoopy's PBR-fueled, profanity-laced bark is worse than his bite in this unholy union of Charles Schulze and David Lynch. Also aired on the "Jim Rose Sideshow Circus" episode of Atomic TV.


I can remember seeing then-Baltimore Sun pop music critic J. D. Considine present a special screening of The Great Rock and Roll Swindle (or was it The Filth and the Fury?) at the Charles Theatre that was preceded by this short. (I suspect Skizz Cyzyk was responsible for supplying it, as he had shown it at one of his Mansion Theatre film screenings as early as 1994 and later at the first MicroCineFest in 1997, along with other Todd Graham films). It also was included on the "Appropriated Image Is Everything" episode of Atomic TV circa 1997.

Related Links:
"The Bootleg Files: Apocalypse Pooh" (Film Threat review)
Apocalypse Pooh (

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Nobody Bothers Me

A while back I blogged about bygone local TV commercials ("Memory Jostling Jingles") and this 1978 DC-area ad for Jhoon Rhee's Karate School (sent to me by Scott Huffines) is one of the greatest. Nobody at YouTube mentioned it, but if the singer sounds a lot like local guitar hero Nils Lofgren, it's is! And I'm not telling "White Lies". It's even listed under "TV Work" on Nils' official discography. (Check this site out - I learned that Nils also did a promotional single for the Washington Bullets basketball team, 1978's "Bullets Fever" on A&M Records.) (BTW, Nils was an avowed hoops fanatic - anybody remember the 5-3 rocker's infamous 30-point one-on-one drubbing of the 6-5 Howard Stern on the April 27, 1991 "NBT&A" episode of Stern's old WWOR-TV show?)


A Remembrance of Formats Past

I'm All Wound Up

Tonight I watched Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), the first Johnny Weismuller jungle man film for MGM - the one whose plot centered around the search for the Elephant's Graveyard, a legendary ivory-strewn final resting place where old pachederms went to pack it in. It set the mood for a remembrance of things old and in decline.

Soon after, I read a Sasha Frere-Jones music review in The New Yorker referencing the birth of "indie rock" back in the late '80s and early '90s, which the writer recalled was the time when bands released "singles on vinyl and albums on cassette."

Consensual Tape

And then, as I was getting ready for bed, I skimmed through The Encyclopaedia of Classic 80s Pop (an essential bedside reader by Daniel Blythe) and came across the entry for the world's most Chromium Oxide-friendly band, Bow Wow Wow. This was the band whose first single, "C30, C60, C90 Go!" (composed by former Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren), celebrated the joys of home audio cassette taping and was released only on cassette in the U.K. in July 1980, making it the world's first-ever "cassette single". Bow Wow Wow followed up the tape theme with their 1980 Christmas cassette-EP release "Cassette Pet."

Coming Unspooled

But as author Blythe points out, try asking anyone under 25 today what C30 means and you'll likely get a blank stare. But I remember a time when cassette singles (and 12-inch vinyl singles) ruled the day, though nowadays they most often turn up at yard sales and flea markets (though DJs still traffic in 12-inch records). (Good luck finding that Bow Wow Wow single now!)

Phillips introduced the compact audio cassette at the 1963 Berlin Radio Show and by the '70s it had revolutionized the way people listened and distributed music (we wouldn't have all those warehouses of Grateful Dead bootlegs without it!) and by the '80s became THE primary format for selling music.

Mix It Up

And while iTunes-friendly mix CDs (and downloadable podcasts) have taken over the role for today's computer-savvy technocrats, there still was a certain beauty to the art of making the "Mix Tape," that homemade mix of pop songs that enabled casual music fans to become DJs by virtue of the audio cassette medium. Remember how much making a good mix tape one meant to record junkie Rob Gordon in Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity (and to John Cusack in the film adaptation)?

I can remember romantic relationships that began, blossomed or ended via this musical delivery system. Everyone of my generation first showed interest in a girl by making her a mix tape, and I can recall many Valentine's Day mixes, as well as the bittersweet "Breakup Mix" tape of wrist-slitting downers. And if you were on the fence about a potential partner, all you had to do was see what songs she put on a mix tape. Right there was your lithmus test guide to how your relation would go, what shows you'd be reluctantly dragged to, and what musical bliss you could share and bond over. (I distinctly remember making a Beatles mix for a potential dating partner and seeing the handwriting on the wall when she said she didn't care for it; this is what I call "irreconciliable differences".)

Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore even went so far as to publish a book on the subject, Mix Tape. As the Mix Tape book described it: "Durable, inexpensive, and portable, the new format was an instant success. By the 1970s, we were voraciously recording music onto blank cassettes. It allowed us to listen to, and, in effect, curate music in a new way. Privately. Mix tapes let us become our own DJs, creating mixes for friends, lovers, and family, for parties and road trips."

Or as Tangents writer John Carney mused in C30 C60 C90 Go:
Okay, the concept may seem oddly dated for those up with their technology, but there can be no denying why a mix tape can be so special, and a labour of love. Like many people, I have my shoeboxes full of old mix tapes special people have put together for me, and which I would be loathe to lose. I have been listening to Bow Wow Wow a lot lately, and naturally their early premise was to celebrate the subversiveness of the cassette tape and the effect this would have on the music industry. Of course the debate has moved on hugely, but as far as I know no one has yet come up with a slice of pop as wonderful as C30 C60 C90 Go to celebrate the possibilities of digital downloads.

Ok then, that's my rumination on this home-from-work snow day. I'd be glad to hear your feedback, tapeheads!

Rewind/Playback (2/18/07):
Thanks to "Anonymous," who sent me a great article from called "The Final Take: John Cusack, Fake Love & the Mix Tape Test".

Rewind/Playback (2/28/07):
Thanks to my friend Ernesto for telling me about this new book by Rob Sheffield, Love is a Mix Tape. Reviewers say it compares well with Nick Hornby's Hi Fidelity.

Related Links:
Bow Wow Wow on MySpace
The Final Take (


Sunday, February 11, 2007

One True Moment

There once was a note, pure and easy, playing so free like a breath rippling by. - Pete Townshend, "Pure and Easy"

I tuned in to the 49th Annual Grammy Awards last night in time to catch the reunited Police open the ceremonies. That was nice (Sting and Stewart Copeland looked good and Andy Summer wasn't too hefty), but after that the shouting Divas - Beyonce, Mary J. Blige (who gave an acceptance speech approaching the length of a mini-series), and Christina Aquillera(performing an embarassingly lame tribute to James Brown) - came on to show off their pipes, once again subverting The Song to The Technique as they ran up and down the scales in a soul-less exercise in technical skill devoid of meaning or passion. Gawd I hate that It's the Singer Not the Song school of music, a style pioneered by vocal gymnist Whitney Houston! (As a character on the TV show Scrubs put it, they were like School in July: i.e., no class.)

Anyway, before I switched off I caught the night's one true moment of musical magic. It was a performance that teamed Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend and John Mayer (a Stevie Winwood-throated blues rocker who looks a little like a very stoned Matt Dillon). Each performer sang one of their own songs while the other two sang or played backup in support. It worked and it was truly moving and worth taping. After that, it was back to the hype machine and, though I like the fact that the Dixie Chicks won multiple awards (which seems like icing on the cake of the November 2006 anti-Bush Congressional election results), I just couldn't get excited staying up to watch Justin Timberlake do his latest white boy Michael Jackson impersonation or wait to not-be-shocked by those aging California vulgarians (whose tattoos are starting to get wrinkled), the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But I did get on the computer to order the Corinne Bailey Rae CD. This chick is class all the way, kind of like a mix of Sade, Macy Gray, Melanie and Nora Jones. Unlike so many look-at-me divas of her generation, she subverts herself to the melody, and sings it pure and easy. Lest we forget, it's all about the music - not the volume, the politics, the fashion, the Benjamins, the bling, or the units sold.

Here are a few viddies:



Related Links:

Good Grammy review by Rashod Ollison (Baltimore Sun)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bergman: The Bard of Malmo


Today I went to the Charles Theatre to watch Smiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens Leende, 1955), the second screening in the Ingmar Bergman Revival series there. This was the film Bergman made right before what most critics consider to be his masterpiece, The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde Inseglet, 1957), and is notable for being a romantic "comedy" by a director renowned for his brooding seriousness (and it doesn't get any more serious than playing chess with Death for one's life, as in The Seventh Seal). It was also the film that inspired Woody Allen's 1982 homage A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (fittingly, like Bergman there was always a serious side to Allen's comedies and, likewise, a comedic side to Bergman's dramas - note the importance of Jof the happy-go-lucky actor and his clownish acting troupe in The Seventh Seal) and Steven Sondheim's stage musical A Little Night Music (1978).

And, sitting in the crowded Charles Theatre watching this sex farce, the simple truth of Bergman's art hit me over the head: Bergman is the modern Shakespeare. And not simply because Smiles of a Summer Evening is based ever so loosely on the Bard of Avon's A Midsummer Night's Dream and shows the same ability to move easily back and forth between comedy and drama as in so many of Shakespeare's greatest plays. For as masterful as his direction is, as exquisite as his lighting and cinematography (by Academy Award-winning lenser Sven Nykvist) is, as wonderful his casting and direction of actors is, it's the words that make Bergman films stand the test of time. What wonderful dialogues his films have, subtitled words ripe with meaning filling the screen like economically precise couplets from Shakespearian sonnets, telling texts that encapsulate the gist of human foibles, emotional frailty and existential angst in plain language deceivingly as simple as Fortune Cookie aphorisms yet as heavy as a Taco Bell Chalupa.

For example, here are some notable quotables from Smiles of a Summer Night, courtsey of imdb:
Mrs. Armfeldt: Why is youth so terribly unmerciful? And who has given it permission to be that way?

[Carl Magnus' wife has just told him that his mistress may be involved with someone else - he says to his wife]
Carl Magnus: I can tolerate my wife's infidelity, but if anyone touches my mistress, I become a tiger.

[Later, his mistress tells him that his wife may be unfaithful - he says to his mistress]
Carl Magnus: I can tolerate someone dallying with my mistress, but if anyone touches my wife, I become a tiger.

Charlotte: Men are horrible, vain and conceited. And they have hair all over their bodies.

Petra the Maid: And then the summer night smiled for the third time.
Frid the Groom: [to the audience] For the sad, the depressed, the sleepless, the confused, the frightened, the lonely.

Mrs. Armfeldt: Who are we inviting? If they are actors, they will have to eat in the stables.

Carl Magnus: I shall remain faithful until the great yawn do us part.

Desiree Armfeldt: For once, I was truly innocent.
Mrs. Armfeldt: It must have been early in the evening.

Desiree Armfeldt: I hit him on the head with the poker.
Mrs. Armfeldt: What did the Count say then?
Desiree Armfeldt: We elected to part amicably.

Desiree Armfeldt: Why don't you write your memoirs?
Mrs. Armfeldt: My dear daughter, I was given this estate for promising not to write my memoirs.

Mrs. Armfeldt: Beware of good deeds. They cost far too much and leave a nasty smell.

Mrs. Armfeldt: Your children are very beautiful, especially the young girl.
Fredrik Egerman: The young girl is my wife, Mrs Armfeldt.
Mrs. Armfeldt: I believe you lead a very strenuous life, Mr Egerman.

Bergman's extensive experience working in theatre in Malmo, Sweden is on full display here, for Smiles of a Summer Evening is basically a play recorded on film, hence its relatively easy transition to Sondheim's Tony- and Oscar-winning A Little Night Music.

The film assembles the usual bevy of beautiful Bergman babes (Ulla Jacobsen, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Anderson, Margit Carlqvist, and even a young Bibi Anderson in a cameo) and their male actor foils to act out a plot that, as in so many Bergman films, shows how the supposedly enlightened Upper Classes let reason, pretense and morality get in the way of life's (sexual and romantic) pleasures and are miserable as a result, whereas the simple Lower Classes (Petra the maid and Frid the stable groom) frolic and make merry since they are footloose and fancy-free from the constraints of book-bound intellectualism. If it feels good, they do it.

The narrative, in short is this: Rogue lawyer Fredrik Egerman (Gunnar Bjornstrand) has an unconsummated marriage with young virgin bride Anne (Ulla Jacobsen), who is in love with her stepson Henrik (Bjorn Bjelveenstam), a would-be theology student who, though trying to fight temptations of the flesh, still messes around with the maid Petra (Harriet Anderson), who messes around with everybody. Fredrik Egerman still carries the torch for his old flame, the actress Desiree Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck), who loves Fredrik in turn but is also the mistress of Count Carl Magnus Malcolm (Jarl Kulle). Desiree has a son named named Fredrik, who may or may not be their love child. To further complicate matters, the Count's wife Countess Charlotte (Margit Carlqvist) is friends with Anne Egerman and both young women detest Desiree because their men are diddling with the old gal. Only Frid, a groom employed by Desiree's mother, Mrs. Armfeldt, and Petra, the Egerman's maid, have clear consciences, because they are simple and carefree and don't try to fight their natural instincts. "Natural" is the key word here, for it is left to the working class groom Frid to explain the three phases of the titular Summer Night's "smile" - the first, from Midnight to dawn, is the smile of lust, when one follows the biological dictates of their aroused loins; the second "smile" is the post-coital contentment of intimacy that expresses it self in some form of commitment (being a couple, being betrothed, etc.); and the third "smile" of the night is more of a smirk, one reserved, in Frid's words, "For the sad, the depressed, the sleepless, the confused, the frightened, the lonely." In other words, it's Nature's smirk for those not getting any.

After watching Smiles of a Summer Night, I realized that not only is Bergman the modern Shakespeare, but no one ever presented sex and relations between the sexes with more honesty. Forget all the other European (especially French) art film attempts at depicting intimacy and lovers. Bergman doesn't need gratuitous sexual depictions to get his point across. His actors speak dialogue that could have been written by Homer, Virgil or Jean Cocteau, steeped as the words are with truths and insights on an almost mythological level. This is Adult filmmaking at its best, not Adult "dirty" but Adult in the sense of bearing the maturity that only comes with experiencing life to its fullest - its ups and downs, triumphs and failures, follies and ephiphanies.

When all is said and done, Smiles of a Summer Evening is the film that put Bergman on the international critics' map - even before The Seventh Seal (and another 1957 film, Wild Strawberries) sealed his place in cinematical history for good. The rest of the revival series look good, as well. I only wish they could have found a 35mm print of my favorite, The Magician.
A Short Aside: By the way, it's a shame the revival series didn't include a screening of the humorous short film De Duva (The Dove) (1968); though hard to find, there is a 16mm print of this 15-minute film available for loan at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library. Nominated for an Oscar in 1969, this riotous spoof parodies three of Ingmar Bergman's films - Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, and The Silence. It also marked the first film role of Madeline Kahn. Speaking in mock Swedish, with English subtitles, a retired physicist with a hernia recalls, while sitting in an outhouse, a garden party he attended as a youth. In a game of badminton rather than chess, Death loses his intended victim because of a hilarious obstacle ... a dirty pigeon that poops on him! Director George Coe was one of the original cast members on the first three episodes of Saturday Night Live. And script writer Sid Davis, who also plays the role of Death, is perhaps best known as a director/producer of educational scare films notorious for giving school children nightmares (such as traffic safety films containing actual accident footage and films warning of child molesters). De Duva is extremely hard to find outside of Pratt's 16mm film print. It was once available in VHS format on Classic Foreign Shorts, Vol 1, but currently is out of print. Check Buy Indies at or Facets Multimedia at for updates on its availability status.(George Coe and Anthony Lover, 1968, 15 minutes, b&w, 16mm)

Related Links

Ingmar Bergman Revival Series (Charles Theatre)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The French Connection

I've been watching nothing but '60s French film and pop stars this week. On my birthday, my Francophile (and Francophone) friend Scott Wallace Brown graced me with a wonderful 1966 Francoise Hardy French TV special (merci Scottie!) that also featured appearances by the Yeh-Yeh chanteuse's madcap husband Jacques Dutronc, an insanely good-looking (like a cross between Jean-Claude Belmondo and Ray Davies) and charming French pop singer in his own right. Francoise is best known for her somber Yeh-Yeh ballad "Tous les Garcons et les Filles" but her best tunes appear near the end of the hour-long program as she belts out "Je Changerais d'Avis" and "Ce Petite Coeur." Francoise was at her peak of popularity in 1966, when every American or English rock star (Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, etc.) visiting France tried to get an audience with her as if she was the Pope of Pop. And her boyfriend - and later husband - Jacques Dutronc was tres cool as well. As Scott Wallace Brown observed, he not only looked a little like Kinks frontman Ray Davies, his music sounded like Davies' as well, alternating between hard guitar-propelled rockers and light-hearted music hall whimsy.

Then today my film buff friend Bill friend gave me an English-dub copy of a 1969 French gangster film called The Sicilian Clan (Les Clan des Siciliens). The film stars two tough guy icons of French cinema from two very different generations, Jean Gabin and Alain Delon, and is currently out of print. When I looked up the director, Henri Verneuil, on imdb, I realized that I had another great French crime heist movie by him, 1963's Melodie en Sous-Sol (aka Any Number Can Win and The Big Grab), which is also out of print (Porquoi?). The 1963 film also paired Gabin with Delon and had a similar theme in that Gabin's character is also an aging crook who is just one caper away from retirement - and who really doesn't need to go through with the risk , yet is still drawn to the thrill of crime like an Enron accountant to cooked books. Or, as Gabin says to his wife in The Sicilian Clan when she asks why he isn't ready to retire and sit back in the rocking chair in their Sicilian crib, "Are you in such a hurry to die?"

I actually preferred Melodie en Sous-Sol (which I think translates literally as "Basement Melody"), as it's a great casino heist film similar in theme to Lewis Milestone's 1960 Rat Pack outing Ocean's Eleven, but with a more noir style and a French Riviera setting in place of Las Vegas. But I will add that The Sicilian Clan boasts another great Spaghetti Western soundtrack by Ennio Morricone (even reprising the mouth-harp used so effectively in Sergio Leone's 1968 masterpiece Once Upon A Time in the West).

While enjoyable, Verneuil's gangster films are not in the same class as Jean-Pierre Melville's gallic gangster "crime procedural" masterpieces like Le Samourai, Bob Le Flambeur and Le Cercle Rouge, though the latter certainly has a lot in common with The Sicilian Clan - both films open with a convict's dramatic escape from police custody and involve an elaborate jewel heist (though Melville would be hard-pressed to top the excitement of The Sicilian Clan's post-heist getaway in which a hijacked airplane lands on a highway!) Verneuil sets himself apart from Melville in that there's always room in Verneil's crime films for women (such as Carla Marlier, who plays the Swedish dancer seduced by Delon in Melodie en Sous-Sol's "romantic" subplot) whereas Melville's is mostly an all-garcons affair with women merely another obstacle (and potential entanglement) in the way of Men At Work. Still, both directors seem to enjoy the mechanics of crime, spending a lot of screen time on the process of planning and carrying out their Perp Procedurals, and both share an existential worldview in which we know the bad guys will at best be busted and at worst lose their lives. Their characters seem to sense this as well, yet are resigned to the fact that the thrill of life is in the living-on-the-edge carpe diem moments like this rather than the dull monotony of daily existence in the normal, law-abiding world. "The play's the thing," according to Shakespeare. For Verneuil and Melville, "The crime's the thing." We are but players strutting on life's stage - or criminals crafting a tragic caper on it.

It's unfortunate that so many great Alain Delon French crime films are no longer available on video or DVD. Besides The Sicilian Clan and Melodie en Sous-Sol, another Delon title currently unavailable is Rene Clement's 1964 sexy thriller Les Felins (Joy House), which co-starred a young 26-year-old Jane Fonda (I love this period in Fonda's career, highlighted by roles like this and her debut as a husband-hunting co-ed in 1960's Tall Story and as a White Trash southern goodtime gal in 1962's Walk On the Wild Side), had a great soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin, and once again placed Delon on the French Riviera - this time as a playboy hustler on the run from American thugs who want to murder him for messing around with an associate’s wife. He takes shelter from the thugs in a church in Nice. There he meets the beautiful widow, Barbara (Lola Albright) and her seemingly innocent young cousin, Melinda (Fonda). The testosterone-teasing twosome invite Delon back to their villa to work as their chauffeur ("Baby You Can Drive My Car" had not been written yet but would have been a great addition to the soundtrack) and as the third point in an emerging love triangle - one that has a very clever twist ending. Delon is quite effective as a cad, a role that matched his real-life persona (cavalierly abandoning the child he had with the similarly irresponsible Velvet Underground singer Nico - the child eventually being raised by Delon's mother, as documented in the 1995 documentary film Nico Icon).

Oh well. Let's hope that all these titles become available sometime soon on DVD. In the meantime, I'll content myself with watching some more Francoise Hardy.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Martha My Dear

It's no small secret that I love Martha Colburn and her films. (And I'm not alone; my co-worker John says of her, "God I love art chicks! I want to marry her!") Today I received an e-mail from her containing her "Snapshot Diary", an HP promotional piece to help announce her installation and short film premiere at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival (Martha's 5th appearance at Sundance). Martha describes her HP piece as "a dorky corporate diary," adding "i got a free camera from it!" The films Martha premiered were "Destiny Manifesto" and "Meet Me In Wichita" (click here and here to see reviews). Here's the clip, which can also be found on YouTube (what can't be found there?).


While I'm at it, here are some Martha Colburn music videos I found on YouTube:




This video was produced by Asterisk ( and directed by Martha Colburn for the They Might Be Giants "Venue Songs" DVD.

Related Links:

Martha Colburn's Website (
Martha Colburn @
Martha Colburn @ IMDB
Baltimore City Paper Review (Adele Marley)
Martha Colburn @ Women Make Movies
The Films of Martha Colburn (VHS compilation)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Assisted Swinging

The Sad Plight of the Aging Man-Whore

Reading today's Times, I came across this great quote in a review of the new CBS "sex vs. marriage" sitcom The Rules of Engagement, which - as anyone who watched the countless ads on last night's Super Bowl telecast knows - stars my ultra-glib celebrity lookalike David Spade (SNL, Just Shoot Me) as a self-centered womanizer whose mantra is "I do what I want, I date who I want and I sleep with whoever will let me" (making Spade more or less a blond version of Two and a Half Men's bad boy Charlie Sheen). Um, stop me if you've seen this stereotype before.

Anyway, here's the great verbiage from Alessandra Stanley's Times review:
Mr. Spade, who is no longer boyishly wisely set up as more of a cautionary tale than a role model...As men get older, their efforts to seduce sexy young women look seedy and sad - prompted less by an elan vital than Viagra.

Marriage may seem like just another form of assisted living, but there is even less to be said for assisted swinging.

So word up to all you cocktail cowboys out there. There comes a time when yesterday's charming cad becomes just another liver-spotted lech embarrassing himself at the bar. Don't get me wrong. Though I just turned 50 myself (and am on the verge of, like Mr. Spade, losing my boyishly slim physique to the vestiges of beer, chips and dip), I still am enslaved to the hormonal-biological imperatives that make me obey my Genetic Code and notice young nubiles (it's hard-wired into men's DNA to always seek out mating partners, dating back billions of years to the pre-Geico Cavemen). It's OK to acknowledge our primal urges. It's just that as you age, you should try to age gracefully and not succumb to acting on these uncontrollable urges. Unless you have money, like Donald Trump, or are Benny Hill, chasing the ego-affirming trophy tramps comes off not so much as "seedy and sad" as pathetic and perverse.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sunday Primal Sunday

Social Darwinism: Why Fight It?

Superbowl Sunday for me began with an unsettling discovery. Me - Mr. Anti-Jock, Mr. I Only Play for the Fun of it, Mr. It's Only a Game - actually got in touch with my competitive nature (my own repressed Dark Side) during my Winter tennis league match on Sunday morning. Here I was playing against a gentle, retired Catholic school teacher and her mild-mannered Hopkins professor partner. On my side of the net I was paired with an amiable 89-year-old retired Goucher College administrator just glad to be alive much less able to still play tennis. And it came out.

Long used to losing on this USTA adult mixed doubles circuit, usually playing on the third and lowest ranked of the three matches played at each contest, I suddenly released that inner beast, awakening my long dormant Competive Nature early inthe first set. Yes, I got miffed and started sulking like John McEnroe when we got down 0-4 in the first match. I had a (Johnny) Mac attack - I wanted to win. And I've never had that feeling. It scared me.

Usually I would just laugh it off, making a wise-crack about how it didn't matter and all that. But now I was tense and my breath quickened and I ran all over the court tracking down every ball that came my way like it was the most important point in the match, even if it meant scraping my knee on the court or running into the net. Clawing our way back to 3-4, we were a point away from evening it up, but my partner lost her serve after a tight eight game and then Team Teach rallied and served it out at 6-3 after we were one point away from breaking back to 4-5.

"We have to get this second set and force a tie-breaker," I said dejectedly to my partner as we switched sides during the crossover. And we came out like Gangbusters. The balls we hit too deep in the first set now painted the lines; the lobs that didn't lob now found room on the baseline for winners; the drop shots that dropped on our side of the net now dropped on theirs; and the backhand slices that didn't slice now slid away from our frustrated opponents. And I actually got nasty and hit a few aces on my serve, something I always feel uneasy about, usually being apologetic at any semblance of showing someone up with a big serve and preferring just to keep the ball in play. "What's gotten into you?" my partner asked. "I'm desperate," I replied. I told her I just didn't want to go away gently into that good night. I think she could relate. And she came alive, too. 89 may sound ancient, but in terms of tennis it translates into several decades of playing experience. All of a sudden, the games added up and we won the second set 6-1.

In a too-tight tiebreaker, we see-sawed back on forth, contesting every point (verbally and physically - both sides wanted to win) until, after we blew several chances to put it away, my partner served it out at 13-11. Just prior to the end, the retired school teacher really wanted it, too, even trying to psychologically unhinge us by dramatically slowing down between points, like an NFL coach trying to unnerve a kicker before a game-ending field goal attempt by calling out a timeout. Alas, to no avail.

I was spent. Two bottles of Gatorade, two bottles of water and a banana helped stave off the dehydration, but I was still sore, having left everything on the court for that one. And for why? My metrosexual cover was blown; I had become a jocko homo!

My descent into primate behavior continued that night when I not only tuned in to watch the testesterone-charged Super Bowl, but also managed to view two Tarzan movies. Is my next step chest thumping?

It's a most unusual feeling and I'm not sure I like it. I may have to go to the Ingmar Bergman film series at the Charles Theatre tonight to get back in touch with my more familiar Inner Metrosexual.