Friday, April 28, 2006


I wanted to post a new Who entry today, but I'm forgoing it and any other blogging for the rest of the weekend.

Matt Zoller Seitz's wife Jennifer passed away suddenly yesterday at the age of 35. Matt posts here occasionally and runs The House Next Door blog and you can find details of the situation posted there.

I'm feeling numb today. Please keep Matt and his family in your thoughts.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Get Your Freak On

Many years ago, when I held court as S.A.'s King of Laserdiscs at Bjorn’s, a flick trickled in that looked more twisted than a Rock Hudson/Doris Day double feature (turned out not to be, but it came damn close). Me being one in search of all manner of weirdness at the time, I promptly took it home and partook. And then I viewed it again. I then started showing it to friends. And then they showed two friends, and then they showed two friends and so on and so on and so on…

If, in San Antonio, there was ever a cult surrounding Alex Winter & Tom Stern’s Freaked, I take full credit for jump-starting the revolution.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Freaked, mainly because its imagery and gag-work have been so thoroughly burned onto my gray matter. I no longer have to watch it in order to view it. Like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it’s become a curiously parasitic part of my brain. If one dissected my DNA, they would no doubt find traces of Coogin & Skuggs grafted into the framework. Thank you Messrs. Winter, Stern & Burns - I am the Roy Batty to your collective Tyrells, and you owe me more life, fuckers.

A few years back, when Alex Winter came to S.A. for a screening of his film Fever, I knew I must get in touch and interview him. What started as a modest piece for the S.A. Current ballooned into a full-on, verbatim transcript of our conversation on Dark Horizons (which can be read by clicking here).

When I submitted the piece to the Current, the editor was torn because A) it was too long and 2) he thought it was so good he had no idea what to cut. I also wrote a review of Fever for the same issue, which I was again told was too long. They wanted a one-paragraph review; I had no idea how to construct such a thing. Irritation set in over the issue (from both sides) and I haven’t written for the Current since.

Sidetracked. Back to Freaked

If you haven’t seen Freaked, you really should. Since it clocks in at 80 minutes, it’s a small investment for potentially great rewards.

Pompous, sleazy actor Ricky Coogin (Winter) as a child starred on a popular TV show called “The Baker’s Dozen”. These days he doesn’t do much except try to pick up babes and bask in the fuzzy glow of his lame entourage. He’s hired by an Enron-esque company called EES to promote a chemical called Zygrot-24 and heads to South America.

Upon arrival, Coogin and his two cohorts, Ernie (Michael Stoyanov) and Julie (Megan Ward), take a detour to the middle of nowhere. They stumble across Elijah C. Skuggs (Randy Quaid), the proud proprietor of “Skuggs’ Fabulous Freek Land and Mutant Emporium”. Skuggs is also a mad scientist – he doesn’t just exhibit freaks, he creates them out of unwary travelers. And from there, you might guess what happens to the trio (but you can’t…not really). Coogin’s transformation is quite possibly the worst thing that could befall a has-been actor relying solely on his looks and past fame.

I have not yet mentioned that Freaked is a comedy, nor do I know if it was even obvious from the above.

Imagine the Zucker Brothers (of Airplane! & The Naked Gun fame) dosing on the strongest LSD created and chasing it with a couple days and nights worth of speed & cocaine. Soon after, one of them gets the bright idea to split the bag of shrooms that’s been in the freezer for the past month. Then they attempt to come down by ingesting a few bottles of the most potent Mexican tequila known to man. Somewhere in the middle of the second bottle, they envision, plot, write and storyboard the greatest film of their career. Had this scenario occurred, the Zuckers might have created Freaked.

But they did not. These other bent mammy riders (thank you, Odie) did, and what most disturbs is I doubt these men ingested chemicals at all. The warped degeneracy just came naturally to them.

Aside from the leads, the cast is rounded out by the most spectacular assortment of bizarro talent ever assembled under a single banner: Brooke Shields, Mr. T, Morgan Fairchild, Bobcat Goldthwait, [the uber-rockin] Bill Sadler, Calvert DeForest (Larry ‘Bud’ Melman of “Letterman” fame), Gibby Haynes, Deep Roy (the latest Oompa-Loompa), and an uncredited Keanu Reeves as Ortiz the Dog Boy.

If you’ve yet to wet your panties, I am profoundly bothered.

Quaid’s performance in particular is a thing of beauty. A delight to behold. Maybe even the defining comedic role of his career – and I’m a big Randy Quaid fan, so if I say that, it’s golden. Cousin Eddie can be great fun, but Elijah is easily Quaid’s quintessential dumbshit old redneck. So intense is my adoration for the film that I still long for the day where I see Winter play the entirety of Richard III in full Beast Boy regalia.

The reasons to admire Freaked are many, but I’ll close with one of my faves. It’s one of those films that somehow, in some way, managed to sneak in and get made with studio money, under a major studio banner (in this case Fox – you can read the details in the interview I linked to above). I go apeshit with glee over such serendipity. Sometimes they are car wrecks, but frequently they aren’t, and a concept like Freaked is all the more exciting for the sheer amount of moolah that was pumped into it.

Another one like this that I embrace [oddly also a Fox flick] is Ravenous. A period black comedy western about cannibalism in which the main character has no dialogue for the first 20 minutes? Greenlight that fucker!

These are the types of movies we’re seeing less and less of these days, because the studio’s balls shrink to smaller sizes with each passing year. There’s almost no greater viewing experience than big-budget studio-produced fare that sends the masses scrambling for the exit door. It’s the ultimate subversive entertainment and I get a hard-on when it happens.

It finally hit DVD last year in the form of a two-disc, exhaustive Anchor Bay edition, so what are you waiting for? Go get Freaked.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

If You Don't Vote, You Can't Complain!

Time is running out to vote for the "Best" Best Picture Winners at Edward Copeland on Film! Click here for all the not-so-gory details!!

You've got until midnight on Saturday to submit your ballot.

This is so freakin' easy, folks! There's a list. You pick the ten you like the most. You e-mail it to Ed.

Then we collectively make Blogger history.


(And you win my eternal scorn if you don't.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Art Minus Commerce = This Entry

Who is this painting supposed to be? Take a guess. It’s not Grampa Munster, as a friend of mine once supposed.

It’s not important who it’s supposed to be.

What’s important is that my dad painted it in either his late teens or early twenties and that I grew up with the painting lurking about in various areas throughout my childhood.

When my dad was young, he had artistic aspirations, but gave them up entirely to pursue a life of business. The desk job is what was important to him – the art was expendable. You may view the painting and think he made the correct choice, and for all I know, he probably did.

For most of my life, what my dad didn't know is that the painting meant a lot to me. It haunted me. Creeped me out. Stuck in my brain. In its own peculiar way, it was the Mona Lisa of my childhood.

A few years back I was on the phone with him. I asked about the piece and wondered whatever happened to it.

He responded, “That ugly thing!?!? It was probably thrown away…or hopefully burned.”

I became indignant. “Why? It was something you created. Who would do something like that? If you’ve still got it, I’d like to have it.”

“Why?!” He was incredulous in his reply.

“Because it was always there”, I replied.

He laughed, inwardly I believe.

A few days later a package showed up on my doorstep and inside was the painting.

His assertion about it being trashed was nonsense and humble deception. It’s a far cry from Da Vinci, but to me – and likely only to me – the piece holds more importance than The Last Supper.

The painting is a personal, constant reminder of the power of art. Art needn’t affect everyone and much art created often affects no one. But if a piece of art affects just one person (even, perhaps, if that person is its creator), its job is done.

I am not the wild success I’d prefer or hope to be. I continue working with the vain hope that I will create something that will affect many.

Will these aspirations ever be realized? Maybe I shouldn’t lose sleep over it. (For whatever it’s worth, I don’t.) But I made a movie, which I know worked for more than a few people. I wrote a play two years ago, which while not financially successful or critically acclaimed (same as the movie), managed to entertain quite a few crowds. I have this blog. Ahem...

Somehow my “art” (and oh boy do I hate the implications of that word) has affected some people...and that’s gotta be worth gold in this emotionally bankrupt world. People strike me as being either afraid of feeling or they’re deeply hung up on wanting to feel. They’re often ruined by either extreme.

I hope I’m somewhere in between the two. Maybe - hopefully - I’ve misjudged, and so is everyone else.

When I look at that dodgy painting my dad made – when he was far younger than I am now – I feel something. Something deep and truthful. He made it at a time when I gather he was a person of hope and ideals. I will not judge my father, and say that he isn’t today, but what would it be like for him to embrace the part of himself that he likely doesn’t think about anymore or even admit ever existed?

I believe it would be so cool for him to make another painting.

And if it showed up on my doorstep - and even if I was the only person ever to see it - it would affect me more than anything I’d ever see for the rest of my life.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Long Game

“The Long Game” is the kind of Doctor Who episode you’d almost, maybe-sort-of come to expect from the middle of a season of a TV series. Or maybe not. Maybe since it’s episode #7 of a 13-episode season, you would expect some sort of heavy hitting here’s-where-we-shift-gears affair. Well, that honor largely goes to last week’s episode, “Dalek”.

What “The Long Game” really does is set up some character development for next week’s episode and even more importantly, sets the stage for some serious plotting further on down the road. Don’t try and guess, because you’re unlikely to figure it out.

Many fans consider it the weak point of the season. I didn’t see it as such, but it didn’t blow me away either. Subsequent viewings revealed it a very watchable piece of TV. There is nothing in it to bore and yet little to excite. The episode is squarely placed where it belongs: Smack in the middle.

Russell T. Davies’ scripts are often lambasted by many fans as the “weak” ones. While I won’t say his are always the cream of the crop, it seems harsh to point fingers at the guy in charge of overseeing the entire revival, and claim he doesn’t know how to write for or understand Doctor Who. He lays the groundwork for everyone else and I believe challenges the other writers to go in directions that he is unable to script. The man is the master of the parody and parable and seems more interested than the show’s other writers in skewering current, topical issues through the kaleidoscope of sci-fi exploration and good old-fashioned fun.

Now it’s possible (or perhaps even probable) that some of Davies’ scripts won’t stand the test of time as well many of the others. They may date themselves sooner than the rest, but maybe not. He does tend to choose topics that are pretty broad. In the case of “The Long Game” he stabs at news and journalism and the delivery of both to the masses.

What I liked best about the episode is it seems to be the first in which the Doctor and Rose are working as total equals, as opposed to mentor/student. Things have gelled. They’re shooting from the same hip. By this point, Eccleston and Piper have developed ideal chemistry, and it shows in every moment they’re onscreen together.

Which is the best reason to keep viewing, and it’s exactly why I’ve seen all the Doctor Who ever made. I’ve always been taken by the various leads of the series, in every era of the show (well, except for one, maybe), and when the Doctor/companion relationship is ticking, the show can serve up the crummiest scripts and you simply don’t care.

Now next week’s installment, “Father’s Day”, is another case altogether; it’s the one where I broke down...

Faint Praise

Allow me to share for a moment.

Something happened to me yesterday, and it's now the second time in about as many years this has occurred.

I blacked out. Or passed out. "Fainted" possibly?

On both occasions (and as I said, the last time was maybe two years ago), it happened exactly the same way.

I was, um, how shall I say it?..."Relieving myself" in the #1 sense of the term. (Sorry to be so upfront, but it's important to the story.)

And then everything started caving in around me, like I was travelling through space or falling backwards into a hole. I woke up, within likely 30 seconds, in the bathtub, very much unaware of precisely what occurred until I was able to logically assess the situation. See, our bathroom is pretty small, and there are really only two places for a person to end up in such a predicament: either on the floor, if one were to fall sideways or in the bathtub if one (such as me, on both occasions) falls backwards.

I wasn't drunk or even drinking or intoxicated in any other fashion. The humidity in the city was pretty intense yesterday, and I don't do well with humidity. I don't recall the external specifics of the last time it happened, so now I'm taking notes.

After yesterday's incident, I just went into the bedroom and laid down and slept for a few hours. Felt pretty decent by the time I awoke and that was about it. I'm still amazed I didn't hurt my head on the plaster soapdish that's a part of the bathtub wall.

Anyway, I just thought I'd toss it out there and see what people have to say, if anything. Thanks for entering the Morgue and reading these ghoulish tales.

Set Phasers On...Shake & Bake!

(Apologies upfront for the picture...but Google Image Search is such a handy tool.)

Daily Variety reports that J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias & the soon-to-be unveiled Mission: Impossible III) will write and direct a Star Trek movie concerning the exploits of young Kirk & Spock:

Fri., Apr. 21, 2006

J.J. Abrams is becoming the next Gene Roddenberry.

Paramount is breathing life into its "Star Trek" franchise by setting "Mission: Impossible III" helmer J.J. Abrams to produce and direct the 11th "Trek" feature, aiming for a 2008 release.

Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk, Abrams' producing team from "Lost," also will produce the yet-to-be-titled feature. Project, to be penned by Abrams and "MI3" scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci will center on the early days of seminal "Trek" characters James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock, including their first meeting at Starfleet Academy and first outer space mission.

Deal reflects Par[amount]'s bullishness on "MI3," which launches worldwide next weekend, and underlines the goal of Paramount chief Brad Grey and prexy Gail Berman to re-energize the pipeline via high-profile tentpoles while revitalizing the Par brand with top-tier talent such as Abrams.

"MI3" is the first pic to be released that's been greenlit by Grey. "Star Trek" has been Hollywood's most durable performer other than James Bond, spawning 10 features that have grossed more than $1 billion and 726 TV episodes from six series.

Decision to relaunch "Star Trek" comes less than a year after UPN pulled the plug on "Star Trek: Enterprise" amid dismal ratings following a four-season run and four years after "Star Trek: Nemesis" turned in the worst performance of the 10 films with $43 million domestic.

Original series created by Roddenberry launched in 1966 on NBC and ended in 1969. During the following decade, the original 78 episodes of "Trek" became staples in syndication and helped mobilize the fan base along with conventions, books and merchandise. Paramount released "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" in 1979 and saw domestic grosses hit $82 million. The next three films grossed a combined $263 million domestically, so Paramount started the second TV series, "The Next Generation," in 1987, with Rick Berman and Roddenberry co-exec producing.

Under Sherry Lansing's tenure, Rick Berman had been teamed several years ago with Jordan Kerner and Kerry McCluggage to develop an 11th feature set in the early days of Starfleet Academy.


I'll try to get a short piece up on tonight's DW ep, "The Long Game", later today so we can discuss it a bit over the next week.

Also, I saw V for Vendetta today and would be eager to chat about that as well. - The Curator

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pottered Out

Finally watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire a couple nights ago, and after all the build-up, I was just slightly disappointed.


The last hour or so of the film grabbed me and didn’t let go, but up until that point (the second competition – the underwater one) I was viewing with something of an “Eh…” attitude.

The first two Potter flicks bored the bejeezus out of me. They were both so lacking in amazement, wonder, life and spark, and what was most tragic was you could see the potential for all those traits beneath their digital surfaces.

Then Prisoner of Azkaban came along and changed everything I thought I knew about the series. I loved Azkaban in a big, expansive way. It was the movie I’d hoped the first two might be. Suddenly the series was about something more than just spells, talking paintings and pointy hats. The movie was so damn mesmerizing that it even proved David Thewlis still had something left in him as an actor, which I’d long since given up on seeing.

I’d heard great things about Goblet, but I knew - despite all the praise - the odds were against me grooving on it like I did the previous installment. And I was somewhat correct, but hopefully that wasn’t simply due to me thinking I would be. The first hour/hour and a half hummed along in a largely inoffensive, unengaging way. Make no mistake, it was scads superior to anything in either of the first two installments, but still a step down from the movie I felt raised the bar.

All the teen angst stuff fell sort of flat for me. I get why it’s there and I see that, in the ongoing story, it serves an important function, but I hope we don’t get too much more of it in subsequent movies.

But then that underwater sequence came along and freaked me the fuck out. Would Ron, Hermione and the other two kids who’d been tied to the lake floor really have died if they hadn’t been discovered and saved? How did they get there in the first place? What the hell was that all about!?!?[1] Craziness. The Tri-Wizard Tournament really was as dangerous as Dumbledore implied early on; I just didn’t expect innocent bystanders to get swept up in the competition.

And by the time “he who must not be named” showed up, I was pretty enthralled. Ralph Fiennes' acting beneath the makeup and digital artistry is stunning. I’ve always liked him as an actor, and he’s one of those guys whose talent seems to often go overlooked. I'm one of the few people who even kinda likes his John Steed.

Lastly, there’s a matter of a certain actor who these days is busy playing Doctor Who #10. I knew David Tennant didn’t have a large role in the film, and I sure wished he’d been given more to do. But what he did accomplish with limited screentime was as far away from the Doctor as anything I’ve seen him do (and I have seen him in a couple other things - still waiting to see his take on Casanova, however). That tongue darting back and forth was pure sliminess. Noteworthy tidbit: Roger Lloyd-Pack (Barty Crouch, Sr.) will make an appearance in an upcoming two-parter in the second Who season/series.

Potter Movie Watching Tip of the Day: Wikipedia is an outstanding resource for someone like me who’s never read the books and needs a little help filling in occasional gaps in the movies. You can click your way into oblivion and find out pretty much anything you need to know about the characters, the spells, the plots, and so forth by simply typing in Harry Potter (or indeed any character or concept you're wondering about). Then click any given blue link that looks as if it will enlighten. After a while, you start to feel like you’re in that maze from the end of Goblet of Fire.

[1] I should probably look this up on Wikipedia.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Fetish Factor

You probably lost sleep last night pondering this issue: How does a heathen blasphemer like Ruediger spend Easter weekend?

By going to a fetish show, of course! I must admit that it’s not “my scene”. I’ve always found leather and whips and whatnot to be on the sillier side of sexuality. Which is not to imply that people can’t or shouldn’t enjoy it - whatever snaps your nipple clamp, that’s what I always say. (Actually, I’ve never said that before.)

But it’s a wacky little slice of counter-culture to observe for a couple hours. What's most fascinating is how freely people will exhibit their not so perfect bodies. Oh sure, there was plenty of exposed perfect skin, but there was also a surplus of wrinkled and overweight flesh on display that I could have gone my whole life without seeing. More power to ‘em though. Comparatively speaking, I was Studs McMuffin, and I certainly don’t have the courage to dress up in such garb and parade my goodies about for all to ogle. That kind of outrageousness is admirable, if for no other reason than I wish I possessed it.

What was perhaps even more noteworthy was the sheer number of people I ran into that I knew, but had no idea that they were into that sort of thing.

“Hey Blankety-Blank! Long time, no see. I didn’t know you owned a ball-gag!”

Silence...due to their inability to respond.

Yes, I’ve got new perspectives on a few folks from my past and present, but that, in the grand scale of the ongoing human comedy, can only be a big plus. If you are one of them and you are reading this, you needn't worry. Your secrets are safe with me...bitch!

Speaking of running into old friends, I ran into someone whom I hadn’t seen in ages. He was not wearing a ball gag, nor was he into the fetish scene – he was there for reasons similar to my own, such as imbibing in the spectacle.

This guy quite literally used to be my very closest friend. We roomed with each other for seven or eight years, spent incalculable amounts of time together and had countless, crazy adventures throughout those years (some call them “the ‘90s”). Great, memorable stuff I’ll carry with me to the grave. In many ways this person is largely responsible – for better and worse – for a big part of who I am today.

But friendships sometimes sour, people sometimes change and while the phrase “nothing lasts forever” doesn’t apply to Styrofoam or cockroaches, it can easily apply to friendship. He and I became different people and that’s a good thing. I’m not so sure the people who we were back then were particularly responsible or likable individuals. We liked one another, though, and that was some of the basis for the friendship.

Friendships are often tricky beasts. They are usually based on two people meeting on common ground and finding a certain way of dealing with each other. Attempting, at some point in the friendship, to change that way of dealing can be borderline impossible. It’s at this point that the friendship begins going bad and if you're very close to the person, keeping it together is an insurmountable task. The film Withnail and I is an excellent exploration of these ideas, and it's possible that my experiences with this person are a big reason why the movie resonates with me.

I’m at a point in my life where I don’t think we’d be any good for each other and our presences in one another’s lives would be to the detriment of us both. Do I know this for certain? Nope. But I’ve come too far and worked too hard on myself to take that chance.

He is a dog person, and I've become a cat lover. Maybe that's all there is to it? I am content to think of him fondly, through a haze of bittersweet nostalgia. I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m forced to realize that I still, after all this time, cannot fucking stand being around him in even the most ideal of circumstances.

That would hurt more than us not being friends at all.

Yet seeing him Saturday night was really nice, and in a rather benign sort of way, somewhat cathartic. We were friendly and amiable to one another. To his credit, he hugged me not once but twice, which I think made him the bigger man that night.

So, my friend - if you are out there reading - we may never have had Paris, but we’ll always have Little China.

And maybe someday we will once again share some of the finest wines available to humanity.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I never really cared for the Daleks, which I suppose makes my giddiness over this week's SciFi Doctor Who broadcast (Friday at 8PM [CST]) all the stranger.

The Daleks made their first appearance on the series in late December of 1963 and Doctor Who never looked back. Had they never appeared, I highly doubt I'd be sitting here writing about the Doctor today. The Daleks made Doctor Who far more than Doctor Who made the Daleks. The series initially was to feature no "bug-eyed monsters" and was intended as more of a romp through history. Good thing somebody altered that edict.

It was always assumed that when Doctor Who returned to TV, the Daleks would be given some sort of massive overhaul, especially to their appearance. There's no reason that goofy design should still work 43 years down the road and yet the new series' production team have somehow managed to make it work better than ever.

Daleks were originally intended to be an allegorical spin on the Nazis; a race of beings all about racial purity and the utter annihilation of the "not we". That formula works so well that it's still more or less what the episode "Dalek" is based around, although writer Rob Shearman gives it a number of intense twists and turns.

The Dalek creature in the episode, while on the outside looking basically the same, has had his ante upped and been given a number of special surprises (well, they're special to anyone familiar with Daleks, anyway). My personal favorite? Some good use finally being made out of that damn plunger.

I'm still not a huge fan of the Daleks, but like the series itself, they're in better shape now than they've ever been. The episode itself is where the new series really takes off and begins to soar. It's also the first episode where Christopher Eccleston finally outshines and outacts his co-star, Billie Piper which, upon originally viewing the episodes, I was beginning to wonder would ever happen.

The Doctor is finally front and center when he's forced to deal with a creature whose race has caused him more misery and heartbreak than any other. The idea of him brandishing a weapon with glee isn't the most comforting to a long-term fan, but Eccleston sold me in two heartbeats. Suddenly the Doctor is transformed into a one-Time Lord killing machine, and you can't blame the guy.

But his mortal enemy one-ups the Doctor in a pivotal moment by proclaiming, "YOU-WOULD-MAKE-A-GOOD-DA-LEK!"

Pure Doctor Who brilliance.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Beauty & the Beauty & the Beast

Being and living with a professional entertainment columnist sometimes has its getting to meet Beth Ostrosky last Thursday night. Beth who, you may ask?

Ostrosky is a model, an advice columnist for FHM magazine, the co-host of Casino Cinema on SpikeTV and she’s also Not-Mrs. Howard Stern, but she may as well be, since they’ve been together now for 6 years.

When Jeanne told me she was going downtown to interview her, about three or fours springs popped out of the back of my hardwired head.

"Please, please, please can I come along!?!?!?"

Pathetic. I’m not generally into models and all that jazz, but you gotta admire the girl who can pin down the King of All Media and keep him pinned down.

Read Jeanne’s professional account of the interview by clicking here.

My reminiscence, as you may expect, is somewhat different.

I first became aware of Ostrosky due to a small role she had in one of the greatest comedies ever made, Flirting with Disaster. If you’ve seen the film, she’s one of the two volleyball twins that Ben Stiller believes are his half-sisters about 30 or so minutes in. Not a big role, but a memorable one, or at least it is if, like me, you’ve seen the movie about 20 times and can mouth the dialogue with the characters as you’re watching it.

"You don’t think it’ll be a problem!? Really!?!? I can go!?!?!?"

So we went and met up with her at the bar in the Emily Morgan hotel. When we arrived, Jeanne wanted to stay in the car to apply a bit of makeup – women do these sorts of things when they’re about to meet someone for the first time. And so do men; my hair looked pretty decent that day and I wanted it to stay looking swank until we got to the hotel, hence my request that we keep the top up on Jeanne's convertible for the drive downtown.

Jeanne rocks. She was insanely indulgent about my mouth frothing over the prospect of meeting a model. But Jeanne is also a sharp lady. She knew that Beth O. wasn’t about to leave Howard Stern just because she happened to meet the second coolest guy in the universe.

Confession: I’d have basked in the glow of telling Beth O., “Alas, I am not only taken, but I am also in love with that woman, right over there. I know Beth - after meeting me, it’ll be tough getting on that plane and going back to Howard, but I’m confident you’ll manage.”

So I went in to get some change for parking and to call up to her room to tell her Jeanne had arrived. I was like some hipster incarnation of Jeeves, but I didn’t mind. So I did both of those things and then I stood there at the elevator waiting for her to come down. 30 seconds go by. Where is Jeanne? The elevator dings to my right at the exact same moment that Jeanne walks in through the door to my left.

I look at Beth O. I look at Jeanne. And I swear to you, I point at both of them, wagging my hands back and forth in some sort of “” ham fisted fashion, saying:

"Uh, uh, um, ahhhhhh..."

And that was it. That was what I said upon meeting Beth O. Frickin’ genius. Luckily I still needed to pay for parking.

"Parking. Gotta…pay for it. I’ll be…back."

Like the Governator, only minus the intensity. I bet when Howard Stern met Beth O. he knew exactly what to say, unlike me, who by this point was failing to even impress the girl I came with.

By the time I got back into the bar, Beth and Jeanne were having a good time and a great interview, though I’m pretty sure my hair didn’t look so swank at this point. I kept having to stifle my uber-gubernocity so Jeanne could get done what she needed to get done.

As things closed up, I asked Beth to sign an FHM I had brought with. She gladly did so and even posed for a photo with yours truly. I look like – I don’t know what I look like, but it isn’t comfortable. You can easily tell who’s the model and who’s, um, not. I loathe posing for pictures, but this one was worth suffering for.

She even “approved” this pic, which was pretty nice for a model who wasn’t “doing a shoot”. I mean, people could see this picture and believe she was somehow involved in Shrek 3.

Truth be told, by the end of the interview, we’d all had a great time. Beth O. was a sweet, smart, straight-up, genuine individual. She looked me in the eye a lot. That’s big. That counts for so much. She had absolutely no problem talking about Howard and how much they meant to each other.

Not only are she and Howard unmarried, but also they’ve been together for about the same amount of time as Jeanne and me, and there’s also the age difference we had in common with them. There were some noteworthy parallels that in the grand scheme of the universe meant nothing, but at the time meant something to me. I got over my flustration, as she’s the kind of person who appears to bring out the best in a person, which in Stern’s case, has gotta be imperative for a girl he dates.

I kid there. I’m a Stern fanatic. Have been for years. One thing I’ve always “known” about the guy is that it’s all an act. I bet he’s the quietest, most gentle, down to earth joe on the planet. And, being a showman of sorts myself, that’s a big part of what I like about him. If I genuinely thought he was his radio persona, I wouldn’t be interested in him.

But I might still be interested in his girl.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Diary of a Mad Black Sheep

So unless you were paying close attention between around 9:55 and 10:15 (CST) or so last night, you probably didn’t know the Morgue received its first anonymous troll!

Being the fragile creature that I am, this upset me, not the least reason being due to the various conversations that we’ve had around here in the past couple days.

I’m still allowing the ability for people to post anonymously, because I’m not letting one asshole spoil it for others who may not want to log in or have a Blogger account or the host of other reasons a person may have to post without showing identity. If it becomes a bigger problem, who knows?

The site had an unusually high amount of traffic last night, due mostly to the fact that I sent out e-mails to about a hundred different people as well as posted on a couple different boards that the site’s name and URL had changed.

Why this would motivate someone to be a dick, I do not know. But this ties in nicely to the ‘net anonymity discussion found in the Naughty America talkback. If you’ve got something nasty to say, feel free to say it, but post it to the board in such a way that there can be discourse on the subject, without hiding behind a thin veil of weaseliness. (I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve made my fair share of inflammatory statements on various message boards and the like, but you can bet everyone always knew exactly who was saying it.)

Or e-mail me and chew me out (I’d prefer that actually). But don’t prank on everyone else’s good time just because you’re not very good at constructing a sentence and have to resort to using words like “faggot”. Wow. How original. USENET beckons you – I urge you to check it out.

Or better yet, set up your own blog, and tell me about it so I can come by and heckle you and your readers. At least then we’ll be on the same playing field.

Many years ago my friend John Navarro told me he enjoyed hanging around me because controversy seemed to follow everywhere I went. Just like this blog, the more things change, eh?

Anyway, back to bizness...


I'd like to point people in the direction of this review for 9 to 5: The Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot Edition which just came out on DVD.

Oddly, the one thing the review doesn't seem to mention is what I consider the disc's major selling point: A commentary track featuring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton. It's unfortunate they didn't nab Dabney Coleman for the madness, as he's the cherry on the cake of the film's casting coup, and especially given the subtitle of the edition, it seems a huge shame to not include Franklin Hart himself. It matters not - the chance to hear those three women talk about this film has gotta be worth the disc's price of admission alone.

9 to 5 is one of my very favorite '80s comedies and it’s co-written and directed by the criminally non-prolific Colin Higgins, who was also responsible for writing one of the greatest flicks of all time, Harold and Maude, as well as Foul Play and Silver Streak.

The film holds up pretty well, especially given that it's 25(!) years old, moving along from one great gag to another...and then just when you think it can't get any better, Sterling Fucking Hayden shows up as the Chairman of the Board. Beautiful.


One last tidbit. Here's a little something sent to me by my good friend Mike Brown (not the FEMA dude) that you bloggers may get a kick out of:

From Wired Magazine, mr. know-it-all, by Clive Thompson, Jan 06.

Q: A friend of mine is on my blog roll, but his blog has become really lame. How do I drop him from my list without pissing him off?

A: Very, very carefully. A blog roll is a public declaration of affinity; to axe someone is the ultimate digital diss. So the trick, says Jason DeFillippo, founder of, is to take down your entire blog roll. Then, slowly repopulate it over the next few days, making it look like you're starting from scratch and rethinking the whole thing. Put in a bunch of new sites to help preserve this illusion. It'll be less obvious that you've removed only your pal's sucky site.

Monday, April 10, 2006

"Slap Pals" Regenerates!

It was always just a matter of time, faithful readers.

"Slap Pals in the Alps", while vaguely amusing has its new, official name:

The Rued Morgue

...which, I dare say, is far more appropriate, and yes, clever.

Sorry for the inconvenience, but it had to be done. Thanks to those of you've hung in there so far, and keep on hanging on.

Friday, April 07, 2006

An Online Game for Me

Now I'm not usually on top of the latest trends (as faithful readers know, I had to be shamed into getting a MySpace account), but here's a little something that's caught my attention: Naughty America: The Game.

Finally, a virtual experience I can get behind: A game dedicated to good old-fashioned filthy fuckin'. It's a place where I don't have to be an elf or a wizard - I can be a stud or a playa'. Screw buying armor and knives! Condoms and dildos are where it's at. Naughty America, where have you been all my life? (Or more importantly, where were you when I was single?)

What kind of character will I create? Will it be a he or a she? Will crossdressing be allowed? Say goodbye to penis-resizing enhancers - now I can create an enormous hunk of meat to my own specifications, with a few mere clicks of my keyboard!

I shall rule the land of Naughty America. All will fall for my online sexual spell. I will be elected king and queen. Characters of all sexes, shapes and sizes will come to worship at the online altar of my boudoir. They will gaze up into the virtual mirror I program above my bed. I will host kinky swinger parties and orgies involving people named FreddiexXx37 and Maude_The_Whore. Clothes will not even exist in my Naughty America. Who needs Viagra when you can design your own hard-on?! In order to IM me, women will first be required to give me 10-minute blowjobs, and men will stand idly by, cuckolded by the sight of my massive, manly manhood penetrating their virtual wives.

As a great man once proclaimed, "I'll fuck anything that moves!!!"

The future is now. The past is yesterday. The present is my shaved cartoon scrotum.

The WGA Makes List

Is that title funny or what? Ahem...

The WGA has created a list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays.

Casablanca takes the #1 spot, whilst Notorious has the dubious distinction of nabbing #101.

Find out if Ingrid Bergman also stars in any of the 99 screenplays in between by clicking here.

Also, check out McAllister's slick new studio version of Android Men.

And then there's The Notorious Bettie Page, which is a movie I've been waiting half my life for someone to make. Near as I can tell, I won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The 20 "Best" Best Picture Winners

Edward Copeland has begun working on the sequel. Click here for more info.

You've got until the end of the month to vote for the "Best" Best Pictures. I'd like to see Ed get no less than 500 submissions on this go 'round (when he reads that, he'll probably drop in and bitchslap me for suggesting as much). As enlightening as the results of the first poll were, I'm more excited to see what comes of this one.

Vote now - but don't vote often.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Write? Riiiiight…

This is a selfish entry, but I don’t imagine anyone comes here thinking they’re not in for a heaping helping of my narcissism. Maintaining the Morgue is a huge distraction for me. It’s better than not for me as a writer to keep doing it, but often it’s just too damn easy.

A screenplay that I’ve been working on for some time now should take precedence. It’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever conceived and yet just keeping on top of it is a task in itself.

The blog is me. Self-delusional though I may be, I feel I put forth an accurate facsimile of myself here, which allows me to throw down with a fair amount of ease. If only the screenplay came as easy, I wouldn’t even make time for the Morgue.

Writing a screenplay requires getting inside the heads of my characters, and while no character I’ve ever written doesn’t have a little bit of me somewhere inside, in order for a script to work, they’ve got to be their own dogs...and that’s tough. I write with the constant fear that I’m taking them into territory that isn’t true to what I’ve set up. I’ve never not second-guessed a single line of dialogue at some stage of the process or wondered whether the latest scenario devised was less convincing than something out of Hogan’s Heroes.

When I read about screenwriters who “wrote it in about three weeks”, all I can ask myself is “Do they just shit it out?” How does a person write an original screenplay in three weeks? Is it a good screenplay? Is the best screenwriting the kind to which no second thoughts are given? (People working within the Hollywood system are exempt from this line of reasoning – were I being paid several hundred thousand upfront, you can bet I’d shit it out, and quickly, too...which kind of explains the quality of so many Hollywood scripts.)

I read something about Whit Stillman recently, and how it took him four years to write Metropolitan[1]. Sigh of relief. But I could tell within the subtext of the interview that he wasn’t happy about taking so long to write scripts. I’ve never met a writer serious about his craft who enjoyed not being able to just string together magnificent word after glorious idea. It’s frustrating on so many levels, so what do I turn to?

Alcohol. Yep, you betcha’. Vodka works best for me, but gin will do in a pinch - you gotta be real careful with gin, though, or else you’ll just slump over the keyboard, in glazed stupor. Rum doesn’t work for anything except sleep. Has any literary work ever been written under the influence of rum? (It’s all about body chemistry I gather.) Beer? I think not, although I'm sure many a college a term paper was written by beer. Wine in general doesn’t agree with me on any level and I’m not about to taint the process by diddling with what I know will lead to failure or sickness (suckness?). One of my all-time favorite liqueurs, Ouzo, can lead to inspired madness, which directly ties in to “the balance”.

There’s a delicate balance that must be maintained when writing under the influence. One drink is ideal, but it must be timed with precision. Begin sipping about ten minutes before beginning work. Usually this leads to a good couple pages…but then comes the dreaded crash, where you hit a point when you contemplate the second drink.

The second drink may lead to the paradise of two more pages, but usually not. Usually the second drink leads to a half a page of absolute gibberish: Crap that couldn’t possibly be conceived of by even the most inept group of one-armed monkeys, using a typewriter that’s missing half the keys on the machine.

It’s when contemplating the second drink that a writer must rationalize to themselves that two pages was better than no pages – the second drink is the crapshoot: I may go somewhere glorious, but the odds are always stacked against it. At least the DVD player is only a room away, and a late night viewing awaits my drunken gaze. Oh yeah - I always write late at night when the rest of the house has gone to sleep; you didn’t think I got up in the mornings and started drinking, did you?

The stuff I write here is largely written sober. I don’t need alcohol to write a movie review or talk about British sci-fi or bitch about The Passion. That’s all on the surface and easy to get to. The screenplay, however, is buried and I’ve got to get in touch with my inner pirate in order to dig up the bootie. (Strange then that rum is so useless to me.)

So I said upfront this was a selfish entry and it was written as more of a piece of honesty than anything else. But I also hoped that other writers who check in here might like reading something about my own difficulties, hurdles and roadblocks. Like I said about Whit Stillman (and I’m not equating myself with the genius of Whit), if it’s tough for him, then it’s tough for all of us, and I live with the hope of writing something as good as Metropolitan someday: the key word there being hope.

Hope and vodka. Shake vigorously and blend. What a mix.

[1] Metropolitan was recently given a spiffy Criterion DVD release, for those of you who care about such things.

UPDATE! Over at The Church of Rick, the incredible Rick Reynolds wrote a short piece on writing yesterday that I just found. If you've got some time, and you've never hammered around his site, there are some wonderful bits of wisdom to be found at The Church.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The 20 Worst Best Picture "Losers"

Head over to Edward Copeland on Film and find out the 20 Worst Best Picture Winners (or as Edward refers to them - the "losers"). He conducted a poll and managed to snag 107 ballots - there was quite a bit of blogger buzz surrounding this thing. Congrats Ed!