Let's Talk About the Hashtag Comedy Show

Wherein I discuss Royal and Doodall Day 2012, The Hashtag Comedy Show, Tiny Odd Conversations, and the importance of supporting your favorite podcasts.

Let's Talk About The Savage Land and the Savage Times

Wherein Guest Editor Ed Wallick discusses the savage times in the savage land, the human parable, and the seeming disintegration of society.

Let's Talk About Anna Karina

Wherein Robert Patrick becomes our first Guest Editor and discusses women, including Anna Karina, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and why some of these are better than the others.

Let's Talk About the Death of Jimmy Callaway

Wherein we discuss the life and times of Jimmy Callaway, whether or not he's really dead, Attention: Children, and the Criminal Complex.

Let's Talk About Lovely Molly

Wherein we discuss Eduardo Sanchez, his new film Lovely Molly, found footage, and The Blair Witch Project.

Monday, November 19, 2012

We've Moved! Visit Our New Site

www.destasph.com


We've upgraded our shit and moved on from this place.  Stop by our new, official site for new episodes of Destination: Asphyxiation podcast, new articles, contributions from new guest editors, and more.  Only at destasph.com.

Thanks,
Tom B & Site Crew

www.destasph.com

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Let's Talk About The Savage Land and Savage Times




Memo From The National Affairs Desk

DATE: August something or other 2012 (it's kind of foggy let it go)
FROM: Edward R. Wallick, MCSE, MCNGP, A+, D.D.S.

Subject: Savage Times in a Savage Land Call for Extreme Measures & Liquor

When the Managing Editor of this site first asked me to write him an article I was somewhat taken
aback. To be honest, he still owes me money and seems to have a talent for disappearing from
any given room that happens to have the poor luck of containing both of us at the same time, it's
a gravitational mass thing. We think heavy. But then I recalled, through my hazy thoughts of that
morning, that his bedeviled text messages (yes, plural! messages!) had dragged me laboriously
from a lovely dream where I was once again being worshiped by several thousand Polynesian vestal
goddesses. This bastard would have to pay for that if nothing else in a just and fair world. Also, I
remembered that in addition to the several thousand in cash, he owed me a ballad with which I wanted
to try and seduce the first real island bred goddess that happens to cross my path. But still, none of this
is unusual for me on any given Tuesday morning.

But then this Tuesday actually was a special Tuesday and by special I don't mean it was 'Taco
Tuesday', which though a great value is diversionary from our topic here. This morning, I found upon
reading the papers, was the day one of my favorite GOP ring wraiths had decided to allow his state
to kill a mental deficient, a disabled person, a special needs person, a dummy, a moron, you know, a
retard!

Don't misunderstand, I have no problems with a good public stoning of your whores of Beersheba or
even a lippy divorcee. I like to hang the occasional itinerant wandering carpenter up on some of the
larger Redwoods here in NorCal myself, not for any moral reason I just like to keep busy on Sunday
mornings. But even I have never killed a mental deficient, which is tough for me. That personal choice
in victim selection takes most active members of the GOP and local Tea Party off my 'active roster'.

I do however have a problem with a man whose IQ was tested at 61 being put down like a dog when
he most likely was railroaded. Even if he wasn't, the issue here is his mental culpability, the guy really
believed as they were killing him he was going home to Jesus. What more proof could be required of
his delusion and naivete? A written record of him voting for a Bush?

The victim in this case was an undercover 'drug informant'. Meaning, someone the cops in Texas had
busted for a drug offense and intimidated into becoming their informant in order to reduce or overturn
entirely his own charges brought about by drug activity. This guy was already a dead man because he
broke the first rule, never open your fucking mouth. Don't get mad at me, it's not my rule it's a 'criminal
seedy underbelly types' rule, so take it up with their local subcommittee in your region. In fact if
anything I'd suspect this poor mentally deficient man was instructed to kill that rat by someone smart
enough to know he'd take the fall. Unfortunately for our victim he took that fall and an additional 6 feet
in the end.

I don't understand how we can allow a 'Born Again Christian' to let a mentally retarded person be
clinically killed by a state? It's not ok to abort them but it is ok to kill them with a chemical? Why?
Because a bullshit piece of fiction written by multiple authors who never knew the truth about the
universe all worked independently and then had their works thrown together like some ancient fucking
Barnes & Nobles Classical Stories Collection?

I know an itinerant carpenter who travels all over America we'll call him 'Steve', he is real and he walks
this earth today. I love him! He's a friend of mine! But none the less I wouldn't follow him, or any of
his philosophies, if he died tomorrow because he got hung on a tree by a bunch of whacky citizens
from Oregon (they are literally the closest thing to the Romans in the world today) who were on a tear
for some reason.

There are several reasons for this: First, just like with Jesus we don't know what Steve was doing from
the ages of 12 to 32. It's a literal fucking mystery that hasn't been solved to this day! I'm not even
certain that Steve knows himself actually, he claims he was in schools and working at various jobs but
there is no verifiable proof! We know he used massive amounts of drugs and alcohol during this period
as well as fathered up to 3 children out of wedlock whom he has trouble supporting to this day. Second,
and this is actually the most important reason, following people on blind faith is for children, people
with special needs who can't understand logic or reasoning and stupid ignorant little brained people.

What can we learn from this parable? Obviously, Jesus fathered many, many children whom he
abandoned all over Judeah. Mostly with drunken women he'd met in bars based upon Steves parallel
period 'wandering the lands and ministering to the less fortunate' in North America during the late 80's
and early 90's. Basically Jesus was a whore monger, a drunkard and a meth abuser. And Gov. Rick
Perry is a stupid slack jawed pig killer of cognitively disabled people who follows his 'laws'.

This country was founded on a lot of really great ideals that were great as long as you were white and
wealthy when it was founded. If you weren't white, if you didn't own land or if you weren't pretty
enough to marry up and out of your class restrictions by polishing a good 'knob' then you knew (even
then) that evil is part of America's core. It reared it's head the minute we set foot on the shore and
started killing the natives. It was so full of evil that once we'd killed off the local natives we should
have enslaved we imported exotic natives to do the same work doubling our initial costs. Oh, if only
we'd left more Native Americans alive we'd have turned a bigger profit while we stole the West and
completed our God given quest of manifest destiny.

Today is just another day in America. Just another evil, vile, disgusting little day. We all let a retard get
killed in Texas last week. Because we're either too lazy to fight for someone we don't know or we're
all just too frightened to really stand up and say what we believe when we see something wrong going
down.

Because it's a scary thing when you're seeing the death of the American Dream on a 1080p HD LCD
screen in your living room. Especially when you can't find your ammo.

--ERW

Let’s Talk About the Hashtag Comedy Show


Donate to the #hashtagcomedyshow here!
Podcasts are fun.

Half of the fun is sorting through all the sludge to find something reasonably passable.  Some podcasts have balls-to-the-wall production value, with studio-grade microphones and top-tier recording software and hosts that could easily be situated anywhere on the radio or television.  Some podcasts are recorded by four or five high school nerds all huddled around a Blue Snowball microphone in their mother’s garage.  Some are even worse – some are Destination:Asphyxiation with Tom Bevis.  Just like the best part about Minecraft is spending hours digging around in dirt and the best part of riding a bike is the peddling, the best part of listening to these things is tossing out your net and sorting through what you pull out of the massive, unfiltered ocean that is the world wide web.

But, man, Jesus Christ, holy moly, gee whiz and other such phrases – nothing beats the feeling you get when you find one that’s worth your time, one that justifies all the wasted hours and hard drive space you spent milling around iTunes, Podomatic, Podbean, Libsyn, etc, etc ,etc, pulling out cover after cover.  It’s that spark of gold while you’re panning in California, it’s the shine off that toy you lost and discover under your bed, it’s the fucking groan you feel when Indiana Jones escapes that temple at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark with the monkey head idol intact. 
It's a lot easier to subscribe on iTunes.
I used to listen to podcasts.  And, I tell you, that search can be relentlessly cruel.  But I was lucky enough to be adopted by the podcasting family through a few sarcastically warm-hearted connections who took me in for no reason other than I wouldn’t go away (c’mon, it wasn’t my award-winning personality), and this made my search a lot easier.  And since then, I’ve heard more podcasts that I can count, and many of them are good.  Well above the international average curve – that is to say, better than those pimply-faced loners locked up in their basements talking about Dr Who (I’m one of those self-hating podcasters). 

And as wonderful and entertaining as podcasts are, sometimes, they take on a life of their own.  A notable exception is 1 August’s Royal and Doodall day.  Now, I came in half-way through this adventure and all the facts I have are secondhand, so if I get anything skewed, write me a letter about how stupid and lame you think I am, send it to tomfromda (at) gmail (dot) com, and I’ll read it, chuckle, then delete it promptly.  As I understand it, though, Royal and Doodall day was proposed by yet another podcast, The Dhead Factor, in an attempt to boost the ratings of the well-deserving Royal and Doodall podcast. 
BFF's are fucking boring, listen to these guys instead. @Royal_n_Doodall
The idea was on 1 August, 2012, all the podcasting and twitter community between these two shows and all their respective tributaries would subscribe, rate, download, etc The Royal and Doodall show to up the numbers on Stitcher and iTunes and all that.   The guys at Dhead Factor had something similar for The Gee and Jay Show – something of an internet sensation themselves now – previously, but Royal and Doodall decided to up the ante and do a full-blown live extravaganza that nearly became an international phenomenon (we’re not talking Beatles big, but close enough).  People connected to the show from most reaches of the world.  Not all of them, mind you, even God’s arms aren’t that big, and believe it or not, some places still don’t have internet. 

The result was a six-or-eight hour long affair between Twitter, Skype, Ustream, Google Hangout, and etc.  Yours truly was even involved briefly.  In fact, if it weren’t for RnD Day 2012, I probably never would have gotten into podcasting myself.  That sense of community, of camaraderie, showed me that there will never be a shortage of people willing to beat up on me and say they’re my pals (just like growing up!) and that I could call someone a goddamn dickweed without them unfollowing me on the Twitter machine.  Now that’s friendship, man!
We all owe a debt of gratitude. @thedheadfactor
And that was great.  That was fun.  People are still talking about it (fifty percent of those people are me, but who’s counting?).  Well, the next big thing to grow out of a podcast and become its own thing is the Hashtag Comedy Show, sprouting from a seed planted by Travis and Brandi Clark in their podcast, TinyOdd Conversations.

Tiny Odd Conversations is one of those aforementioned good podcasts.  In my opinion – which, honestly, is the Law of the Land in this stream of HTML coding and RSS feeds – Tiny Odd Conversations is one of the best podcasts out there.  In their most recent offering, Episode #62, titled Martian Sandal Tops, Travis declares that if the duo raises $20 through the donate button on their website, they will produce a solo comedy album by Brandi, titled the Hashtag Comedy Album.  The $20 was easily achieved, and Travis was egged on by one Angus Doodall (one half of the Royal and Doodall podcast) to up the ante himself.
Seriously, don't make me yell.  Listen to this show. @TOCpod
And by George, Travis didn’t back down.  Hell, this is a guy who boiled and ate seeds from a fucking alien pod that a tree in his yard dropped on him for no reason other than the internet machine demanded it.  It’s been established that he’s fearless.  So, in response to these chimes, Travis let it be known that he would strongarm Brandi into performing a full-on comedy show, to be streamed across the internet, distributing video copies to donators and inviting “gold level” designated contributors to attend. 

This, my friends, is where magic happens.  For every 2-Girls-1-Cups and OMGTHISCATSISWEARINGGLASSES that pops up on the internet, there are people willing to go to extraordinary lengths, break their backs and vocal chords, and embarrass the hell out of their wives (“You’re making me do things I don’t want to do,” Travis tweets, relaying a conversation with his wife, “It nervouses (sic) me.”) for the very sake of your entertainment.
No one has ever seen the real Travis Clark. @thatguytravis
But, my friends, these things aren’t free.  All the goodwill and honest-hearted entertainment in the world can’t exist without the help of the people who enjoy it.  The Clark’s invitation is simple: you can enjoy this feat of internet-based entertainment organized by a pair of people who honestly love to entertain at the very small cost of a generous donation.

Travis has set up a donate button on the Tiny OddConversations website with no minimum (and, by God, no maximum) donation.  In short: if you want this to happen, and I’m sure you do, or you wouldn’t still be reading, toss them a few dollars to front the bill.  It’s that easy.  And in return, you’re guaranteed at least thirty minutes of solid entertainment.
Presenting: your star! @serialnerd
And even if that isn’t your speed, keep in mind that unless you’re Marc Maron or, eventually, Weird Al Yankovic (you goddamn know that fucker will be podcastin’ with the best of them one day), podcasting is a labor of love.  That is to say, the hosts and producers of these shows don’t get paid for their work.  Even Podfather Marc Hershon of the SuccotashShow doesn’t bring in money for all the stellar work he does.  Much like television and radio in the past, the podcast is in its infancy and has yet to be significantly monetized.  This means two things, the first is it’s still a free medium, still a forum where anyone (even those high school kids I keep talking about) can participate.  It also means that there is no bread being made from all the work, and a guy’s really gotta eat.

What I’m trying to say is – if you have no interest in hearing or seeing Brandi Clark attempt stand-up for the first time (although you should), donate to Tiny Odd Conversations anyway.  If you don’t listen to Tiny Odd Conversations (again, you really fucking ought to – here’s that link again), then donate to your favorite podcast.  And if you don’t listen to podcasts at all, why the fuck are you still reading this?

So, just to sweeten the already ample pot, I’m tossing in a Destination: Asphyxiation t-shirt to anyone donating to Tiny Odd Conversations for the Hashtag Comedy Show.  It’ll be guaranteed not to fit so you never have to wear it, so it’s a win-win.  Consider it a Christmas present to yourself
Seriously! Donate to the #hashtagcomedyshow right HERE!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Episode Two: Let's Talk With Bonnobo

So, I tried to rebrand it!  In an attempt to protect the credibility and integrity of my guest hosts, I'd tried to launch the podcast with a different label so my writers' names wouldn't be dragged through the mud because of anything I may or may not say.
Too bad for all parties involved, Destination: Asphyxiation stuck, and we're moving forward with that just fine.  Now available is episode two, wherein I talked with the wonderfully pleasant Bonnobo of the Bonn and Obo Show about guitars, the UK, why America is big, and, of course, his brilliant podcast.
Special segments include:
The Adventures of Casey Delaware
Weekend Movie Forecast
and Levi Thomas' punishment for being my friend.
Special thanks to Bonnobo (@Bonnobo) of The Bonn and Obo Show (@BonnAndObo) for calling in as guest cohost
Additional voiced by Michael Cornog and Levi Thomas

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Let's Talk With Ed Wallick

The first episode of 20 Miles Past Weird, the Destination: Asphyxiation podcast edition has launched in a stellar flame of mediocrity.  Hear it now!
Let''s Talk With special guest cohost Ed Wallick about Cash Cab, The Dark Knight Rises, good script writing, and appropriate Twitter grammar.
Special segments include:
The Adventures of Casey Delaware
Weekend Movie Forecast
and the unveiling of secret weapon Strike Plan Operation Alpha, codenamed: STROPHA
Special thanks to Ed Wallick (@EdWallick) of Don't Quit Your Day Cast (@DontQuitYourDay, www.dontquityourdaycast.com) for calling in as guest cohost. Huge ode of gratitude to "An English Gentleman" for his contributions, as well.
Additional voiced by Michael Cornog and Levi Thomas

Friday, August 10, 2012

Let’s Talk About Writing Fiction


You know all about me and know about my background in fiction and all that stuff.  The truth is, I love writing fiction because I love reading fiction, but one thing I don’t like is posting my own fiction to websites.  So when I decided that I wanted to launch a fiction section here in addition to the many other new sections I’m launching to match the overall newness of the site, I realized there’s only one thing better than posting my fiction here for free – and that’s posting yours for free!

Requirements:
The requirements for the fiction section are pretty much the same as the requirements for the rest of the site in that there are none.  Or very little, anyway.  Here are some general guidelines:
  • Submitted fiction must be written as fiction and in English.  That is to say, no nonfiction narrative essays about why you think [insert substance here] should be legalized, written in Portuguese. 
  • The fiction in question must be written originally by you.  Not because I’m against anyone who isn’t you, but because I’ve gone twenty-four years without getting sued and I’d like to keep my record. 
  • General length guidelines should fall around 750-10,000 words.  This isn’t concrete.  If you send me a 400 word story and it’s the best story I’ve ever read in 400 words, I’ll probably put it up and send a beer and rolled tacos to you via USPS.  Similarly, if you send me a 20,000 page manuscript and it’s fucking worth the length, I’ll put that up, too.  But really, if it’s good enough for me, get that shit published for real.
As far as genre/subject/tone/etc, I could give you a bunch of flowery, pretty adjectives or gritty and mean words to try and seduce you into sending me something in the hopes that your writing will forever be associated with aforementioned nice and/or mean adjectives, but I don’t have time to make up any lists like that.  I have a full-time job, a rock-and-roll band, and the rest of this website.  So let’s just say if you can write fiction and find a way to be a smartass, jackass, lameass, or whore’s ass about it, I’d probably love to read it.  And of course, if I’d love to read it, my narcissism will instruct me that others, too, would love to read it.

Please e-mail all submissions to tomfromda (at) gmail (dot)com either as in-body text or as a Word or richtext format.  Put something catchy and hilarious in the subject line, too, so I know who you are and what the email is regarding.  Then just sit back, have a drink, and watch the spectacularly unspectacular magic happen.

A Word About Rights:
We're not a real magazine.  It goes without saying, but at no point will we ever reserve any rights to any piece of fiction.  Honestly, no non-subscription based website should.  If we plug your shit in to the site here, you're free to send it to other sites/magazines/publishers as you wish.  Similarly, if at any point you believe that your stuff being up here for free will jeopardize your opportunities to ever get paid for it, I'll gladly remove it and wish for the best for you on your side.  That being said, send me some fucking emails.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Let's Talk About Starting a Podcast


These are general truths about your character:
  • You’ve never wanted to host a radio show, but you’ve always wanted to be on a podcast.
  • You desperately want to be my best friend/cohort/faithful life-partner.
  • You’re ready to get moving on a new project.
  • You can bake like a fucking pro, but you’re very modest.
As it just so happens, I have the remedy for three of those above-listed characteristics (the modesty is your own problem to solve – try walking down the street in the buff, that might work).  Within the following weeks, as I finish the final modifications to site and finalize domain registry, I’ll be focusing on developing 20 Miles Past Weird, the first-ever and officially official Destination: Asphyxiation podcast.

But I can’t do it alone, people.

I’m now accepting applications for the coveted Cohost position on 20 Miles Past Weird.  To apply, please send your credentials (or lack thereof, I won’t judge) to TomfromDA (at)gmail (dot) com for immediate consideration.

Required skills and qualifications:
  • Seriously?
  • Take a look around this site and you’ll quickly realize there’s little skill to be found.
So, no required skills and qualifications.  However, to be a part of the show, you either have to own your essential recording and/or broadcasting equipment (microphone, home computer, etc etc) or be located in the San Diego area so we can team up in brilliant Technicolor and use my rig together.

If you’ve never listened to a podcast, that’s alright – we’ll consider your position here at Destination: Asphyxiation a learning experience.  During recording, we’ll talk about everything and nothing at all (the same subjects we cover in text on the site), play two games exactly, and prank call those boys from Royal andDoodall.  If I haven’t driven you away yet, go ahead and send that email telling me I have no other choice but you.

Let's Talk About Anna Karina


Marilyn Monroe is Clown Shoes: Stop It
By Robert Patrick

Anna Karina is a touchstone of French New Wave (Nouvelle Vague, for those of you who are brooding elitists and clerical mavens). The slight, doe-eyed symbol of Jean-Luc Godard’s affection is forever branded in monochrome stills as a foxy chain-smoker with the lettuce of Clara Bow. Karina’s flippant mane was later worn by the foot herself, Uma Thurman, in Quentin Tarantino’s jazzy, sardonic Pulp Fiction. That maintained mop of hair Karina sported on her proud dome ensnared viewers into a celluloid bear trap.

Karina was a music box ballerina with a smoking gun and the heart of a maimed lioness. Marlene Dietrich was steely, cool and aloof. Audrey Hepburn was wiry, frail and steamrolled with mascara. Marilyn Monroe was an hourglass smeared with lipstick. Karina, though, balanced her cigarette like a baton and dusted her fingertips over sticky coffee tables.
You decide who wore it better.
She was an existentialist’s muse. A woman who padded her lungs with cigarette smoke and wore frumpy sweaters with fuzz balls. A woman who single handedly out smoked an entire circuit of New York cocktail lounges in the 1960s.

So why the deal with that cooing, salacious Marilyn Monroe?

Why is her porcelain mug branded onto stamps and lacquered onto walls? Because she pursed her lips and mewed, slunk around with serpentine abandon, and struck walls with the wingspan of her eyelashes. Maybe for her time, if you were a hammered Charlie who used his drunken hips to play pinball with bar stools, you would be smitten over the curled locks belonging to MM. Today, I have no idea why teenage girls fawn over the star’s hushed whispers and flighty, staccato speech.

Unless every seventeen year-old girl is a reincarnated JFK.

And the fact that the infinitely talented Michelle Williams had to dumb herself down to play the vodka inundated, lolling star has me rolling my eyes like a struck cue ball. If teenagers and twenty-somethings want to use their short bones to claw at an actress, why not pick Myrna Loy?

Norma Shearer, who was smug and sexual rather than na├»ve and crestfallen, is even a better choice. The Cliff’s Notes say that if you’re a girl, 15-30, and like the carbonated, fuzzy-brained Marilyn Monroe, you likely suck. You’re not a 1950s businessman with a perversely agape maw, so there is no reason you should be pining over Norma Jean – that means you, too, Elton John. Get your shit together.
Old school is foxy as fuck.
 At least the posthumous popularity of Audrey Hepburn is generating interest in someone other than the boggle-eyed Norma Jean. I don’t really mind when I see girls dotting their speech with compliments for the fair-browed Hepburn (though I mentioned her before in a semi-negative light). Sheathed in gloves, each one of Hepburn’s hands, as if a skewed liberty scale, weighed a cigarette and a cocktail glass. But she was still smart as a whip (ever see a blind Marilyn Monroe antagonize Alan Arkin in a dark room? I didn’t think so).

So, my advice to you is to go meet cute with Anna Karina in a smoke plumed 1960’s France. Go waltz with a coy Audrey in a Cary Grant misadventure. Watch Norma Shearer clink her teeth together in searing manipulation. Adhere to Myrna Loy’s slicked back buoyancy. Just shut the fuck up with this Marilyn Monroe garbage.

Go fourth, young person, and understand life!





Robert Patrick has worked for The East County Herald and Alpine Sun newspapers. He has contributed to The San Diego Reader and is currently the food reviewer at The East County Californian. He is part of the San Diego Film Critics Society and runs a website, far less active than the one you're on, called cinemaspartan.com. He is also a popular sports expert (Boston University women's ice hockey). Robert failed to make it into the fencing portion of the Olympics this year. He instead earned gold in forcing Tom to publish his work on this site.

Let’s Talk About the Death of Jimmy Callaway


I met Jimmy during my first year of college (if you can call it that – it was a community college, so let’s say, my first year of half college, keep it up, champ).  I’ve always been the impatient type, so my first year of college began the summer of my high school graduation.  So, I think I graduated in 2006, so let’s say I met him somewhere along the summer of ’06.

Christ, that means I’ve known him for six years?  Something has to be wrong with my fucking math.  Don’t take any of this for fact, gents.

So, I met him in the hypothetical summer of ’06.  I was in an introduction to creative writing class.  C’mon, get off my back.  Everyone told me it was a pre-requisite to take the Masters of [INSERT LITERARY GENRE HERE] courses where I really belonged.  Turns out it was all a bluff and I probably coulda done whatever I wanted.  He came in, on behest of the instructor of the class, I imagine, and told us how to make our characters talk.

To this day, the first thing I remember when I think of Jimmy Callaway is him telling me that people can’t hiss a sentence – literally.  “Try it yourself,” he said.  “You’ll just sound stupid.”  Or something like that.  And it’s true.  People can’t hiss a sentence unless it’s made up entirely of “hi-“ and “-ss” sounds. 

He gave a short lecture, and when he left, our instructor told us he wanted to be a teacher.  Knowing him as I do now, I don’t think that was really true.  I mean, he was an English tutor at the school there, and he knows a bunch of stuff about some things, but I can’t imagine him having that special spark that teachers have, that patience, that utter lack of faith in the degeneracy of human beings. 

Still, what he taught us that day made more sense to me than anything I learned that entire summer.  Hell, it made more sense to me than anything I’d learned my entire time in college.  Later on, maybe the next semester, maybe the semester after that, he and I wound up – entirely by chance, I wasn’t stalking him or anything – taking a fiction-writing workshop together.  Our friendship was planted in the soil of a poorly written zombie yarn by yours truly.
Jimmy's private affair.
To win his affection, I remember I bought him a second-hand copy of Stephen King’s “Cell.”  Really, I thought, as a fan of the whole zombie thing, he’d appreciate it.  From there, we’d talk about comic books, why his band always played in bars (y’see, at the time, I hadn’t broken twenty-one yet and couldn’t legally go into those establishments), and he was a frequent consultant to my own writing.  But now I’m rambling.

I’d go on to briefly emulate Jimmy’s don’t-give-a-fuck overtly informal prose and shotgun crime fiction style.  I wasn’t as cool as him, so it didn’t work out well and I turned, instead, to cutting out words from everything I’d write and calling it poetry.  After his college graduation and my dropping-out, Jimmy would go on to become a figurehead in a small school of internet-based writers all sharing that same flare for crime – writers that you probably haven’t heard of yet, but most definitely will at some point in the future.  Writers like Keith Rawson, Cameron Ashley, Matthew Funk, and Josh Converse.  Seriously, if you want to read some good shit, google any number of those guys.

Jimmy’s first assault on the internet centered on machine-gun submissions to various online crime magazines – Flash FictionOffensive, Plots With Guns, and A Twist of Noir, to name a few.  Not to say I read them all, but I read many of them.  Nearly every one of them was better than the next.  It’s around this time that I read Jimmy Callaway’s novel, the name of which I forgot, and fucking loved it.  I then read a novella he penned called His Father’s Instruction.  Both very publishable, very marketable, very easy to read, enticing, et cetera, yet, for reasons unknown, Jimmy made little effort to get them published (from what he told me, anyhow). 

At that point, I decided it was my destiny to somehow be linked to Jimmy’s name.  So I did what any logical-minded individual would do: I adapted his novella to a screen play and shortened the title to Instruction.  It went equally distant into the plains of nowhere, so if anyone out there is looking to make a movie, shoot me an email and we’ll get it on track.
Original art by Callaway, I would assume.
Jimmy then shifted his focus to a number of online critic forums.  He’d long been maintaining  his personal blog about his one true love: comics.  The blog, Attention Children:Sequential Art was a monthly staple in my reading regimen.  A deep and thoughtful contribution to the discussions on the funny books in the stark language only Jimmy could provide helped pull things into focus around the industry and served as an invaluable tool to decide which comics were worth focusing on.

Then, he took it one step further and started yet another blog called Let’s Kill Everybody!. an examination of the slasher genre and its social implications.  It grew into as critical an analysis as there is out there for the genre and spawned the spin-offs Let’s Fight Everybody!, Let’s Fuck Everybody!, and Let’s DrinkEverybody!.  I mean it when I say this blog really took on a life of its own, as it grew and morphed into something bigger than a blog, with new writers coming in to help Jimmy out.  That was the beginning of Jimmy Callaway: Editor-in-Chief. 
Your one-stop shop for all things criminal.
Having a taste of editorial blood, I suppose Jimmy decided to keep on pushing, trying to get into the sweet tight-pants of the internet machine with the sole purpose of penetrating our eyeballs.  I don’t know the exact story behind the Criminal Complex or how Jimmy became attached to it, but it happened, and he did, and if you want to know more about it, then cruise over there. 

What I’m trying to say is that Jimmy Callaway is one of the most influential and daring writers you’ll never read.  Of course, now that you’ve read this, you’ll surely look up anything Callaway’s ever touched and read it for yourself.

No one knows for sure when Jimmy was born, but we all know that it happened sometime in the past.  Of course, he died doing what he loved the most: reading comics and being a smart-ass.  It was the ghost of Lee Marvin who finally did Jimmy in.  He didn’t appreciate his cameo in the aforementioned novella and came back for a bit of payback.
Life.  It imitates art, y'know?
Jimmy loved two things: crime and comic books.  And the Big Lebowski.  And I think he said he had a sister, so maybe he loved her, too.  As far as I know, he wasn’t married, so we don’t have to worry about accidentally cuckolding him in the grave.  And although I saw a guy who looked a lot like him once, this guy was old and ugly enough to be Jimmy’s brother, so it probably wasn’t his son.  So, no orphans, I hope.  I’ll always remember what you taught me: you can’t hiss a sentence.   Jimmy, old boy, you’ll be missed.

Happy Birthday, Calloway.  

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Let's Talk About Lovely Molly


Have you heard of Lovely Molly?

No, you’re not going to get any horror movie cinephile elitism from me if you haven’t, because I didn’t either until a few nights ago while sitting alone watching television when a DVD trailer happened across the screen.

The movie hasn’t made much of an impact.  It started its rounds in the film festival circuit last September and floundered for a theatrical release for several months before Image Entertainment confirmed its limited release for May 18.  No question why I’d never heard of it.  The film had a tiny advertising budget which, I assume, was mainly spent on six teaser films (I’ll talk about those later), and I haven’t stepped foot in a movie theater in months, opting instead for a local two-screen drive-in.  So, if it’s not there and it’s not on the television or being thrown at me from the internet, I probably won’t see it.  If you’re much like me, you won’t see it either.  But, just for fun, go check it out.

Now that you’ve googled it, let me start with the Eduardo Sanchez thing.  Sanchez is one of the co-directors of The Blair Witch Project.  I’d like to say he’s the one that matters, but I don’t think either of them do, and I can’t remember the other guy’s name, so I won’t discuss their differences.   If you’ve ever talked to me for any period of time, you know I have an unfailing and prideful love for The Blair Witch Project.  There are a few reasons around this, ranging from the film’s brilliant advertising campaign to the fact that this group of resourceful young people produced one of the greatest hoaxes in American history.  Yeah, you’re reading this thinking, man, Blair Witch Project sucked, and I’m certain that you’re thinking that for two reasons:
  1. You’ve never really seen it, but judging it according to the worldwide disdain for the film, or;
  2. You’re still butthurt that you were fooled, just like the rest of the country.
But the biggest reason I still love the movie to this day is that it’s the vehicle that introduced me to the Found Footage mode of filmmaking.  In fact, I’ve seen countless news sources and print media citing Sanchez and The Blair Witch Project as the creator of this format.  The truth is, it stretches as far back as 1980 with the widely banned Cannibal Holocaust, which many viewers had originally conceived to be actual footage.  The format has sense been adapted for numerous pictures, from the Spanish zombie flick [REC] and its American counterpart, Quarantine, Paranormal Activity, and my personal favorite, Cloverfield.  Hell, the format existed in literature long before the advent of the motion picture – Bram Stoker’s Dracula being a key entry – but that’s a different story.
"Having trouble finding a  usable image from The Blair Witch Project?  Me too."
And people like to complain about this format being overused and overplayed now, but take a second to count how many mainstream horror movies hit the theaters.  Now, how many of those use the found footage style?  Don’t ask me, I already know it’s a lower percent than horror movies with bare tits.  I don’t know why people are so fed up with this format, other than the modern consumer of American cinema wanting the narrative to be spoon-fed to them with as little resistance as possible.  I do know, though, why the format works so well for horror and not so much for anything else.

That reason is psychological. 

Seeing these films told from the first person has two startling effects on the entertaining viewer.  The first and most obvious is that it puts the audience in the front seat.  In these films, you are no longer watching the events from afar, tucked safe under a fluffy blanket in your mom’s basement, chewing on stale bubblegum.  In these pictures, you’re thrown into the action, becoming a forced participant.  You are now seeing the images in the first hand, as they unfold.  When everyone’s dead and there’s no one left to reset the camera, then dead, too, are your chances of ever escaping.  [REC] and its American remake Quarantine are a shining example of this, as we watch the events from beginning to end, nearly uncut.  The fear is palpable, the struggle for survival and the realization of unquestionable doom so thick that it weighs you down.

The second reason the format works well for horror movies, and logically the more compelling of the two, is because it draws the attention away from the cause or the scenario and instead forces the focus onto the human victims.  This is never more apparent than 2008’s Cloverfield.  If Cloverfield had been shot in a standard format, it would have been easily dismissed as just another Godzilla clone.  Instead, the format kept the action with the drama of the daring young cast as they fought for survival.  By limiting the view of the monster to strictly what the characters on screen see, we are able to embody their curiosity, their fear, and their panic.  The beauty of the film is we don’t know any more about what’s happening than they do.  Cloverfield audiences were outraged by the film’s presentation because they walked in expecting a monster-filled extravaganza and were given, instead, and emotional and turbulent story that was entirely human.
"Found footage?  Let's give it another go.  Hair o' the dog, they say."
This next part will take it all back to The Blair Witch Project.  From a creators’ standpoint, the found footage format is an intriguing concept because it allows for greater suspension of disbelief.  Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in the form of collected articles to lend it credibility and to, in a way, recreate the tradition or oral story telling.  These events are easier to swallow when we allow ourselves to believe we’re watching actual events rather than a collection of orchestrated and edited sound and video.

The same goes for The Blair Witch Project.

And for the most part, this creative deception worked – from websites advertising the search for the missing trio of student filmmakers, to hoards of street teamers hanging fliers around their towns, to television documentaries in the months leading up to the film’s release, the creative minds behind its creation wanted us to believe those tapes were real.  Eduardo Sanchez will be paying for his tremendous success until the day he dies as he tries to become anything other than “That Guy Who Made The Blair Witch Project.”

Well, when he starts making movies worth a damn, maybe he’ll have a better shot.  He was the head behind the reflective ornaments Altered and Seventh Moon, and the word on the street is he’s now working on a film called Exists, which – no shit – is about a group of Texan teenagers being stalked by none other than Bigfoot himself (I actually hope, for Sanchez’s sake, that there was an error in translation somewhere on that one and I’ve got my facts horribly wrong).  But when I saw the trailer for Lovely Molly, I’d thought for a moment that maybe, just maybe, this would be the movie where he got his legs back.

Sadly, I was wrong. 

Lovely Molly is the story of the young, all-American newlywed couple, the titular Molly, and her husband, Timmy.  Like so many other young American couples, the two find themselves in financial strain, and, to save money, they move into Molly’s childhood home, which has stood abandoned since the death of her father when she was just a child.  Everything goes alright until she opens a closet and offers her hand to – well, we don’t know.  This is the beginning of Sanchez’s deception.

The scene opens with the same kind of pleading confession as The Blair Witch Project.  As I settled down with a pair of gasping pugs to watch the movie, I thought, this again, okay.  I’d hate to see Sanchez get typecast, but if it meant he’d be making quality movies, it might be worth it.  Moments later, the camera format shifts to a more standard presentation.  This is always tricky.  It’s never a good idea to bounce between the first-person and the third person with no excuse, seemingly at random (I’m talking to you, District 9), but I decided to give Lovely Molly a chance.

I’m glad I didn’t overlook it for that reason, because Sanchez actually utilized the found footage format in a smart and rather unique way.  During key sequences interlaced throughout the overall narrative, Molly begins taking evening treks into the woods behind her house.  Her motives aren’t immediately apparent, but instead of filming it from her perspective ala 1978’s Halloween, Sanchez opts to instead use the footage from the video camera she carries on her nightly stalking adventures.  Now that this potential meltdown is diverted, let’s move on to the mess surrounding the rest of the movie.

Once, I thought it would be cool to toss all of my unused electronic cables into a bin so I’d always know where they are.  Brilliant, right?  Yeah, until I lost my old Gameboy adapter and had to pull out my spare and realized I never wound up any of those old cords.  The result was a massive knot made up of loose ends unfulfilled hopes.  Yeah, that’s Lovely Molly, alright.

It’s worth noting right off that bat that much of the acting was top-notch, especially from newcomer Gretchen Lodge in her lead debut.  She hands down owns the picture, performing much of it alone, and spending much of that time in the buff.  She’s fearless, dedicated, and convincing in her portrayal of a young woman with a troubled past that’s caught up to her.  Or, maybe she’s possessed?  No, the house is haunted, right?
Sorry, Gretchen, you're not getting paid more for all the weird sex stuff.
Hell, even if you haven’t seen the movie, you may know just as much about it as I do.  For the entire length of the film, Sanchez is trying to dupe us into believing any one of the three possibilities, any number of which may be wrong.  His greatest success in The Blair Witch Project was tricking so many people into believing such a silly story, sure, but what’s the point here?  Looking back at movies like this – The Amityville Horror, for example – this lack of clarity is typically the kind of thing that infuriates viewers, so why would he intentionally toss it at the people paying to see his movie?

This actually began long before the film’s release.  Remember those six teaser short’s I mentioned?  These short films were released on the world wide web in the weeks leading up to the film, two for each theory, between demonic possession, abusive history, and haunting.  They are presented in the same pseudo-documentary format as much of the Blair Witch Project propaganda was, utilizing a ridiculous narration that seems that it would be more at home as a queue narration at Disneyland than a promotion for a horror film.

In the movie itself, scenes are tossed together with stacking evidence for either scenario – from episodic tantrums, creepy moaning closets, a bunch of weird rapey stuff, second-handed conversations, we can’t tell if Molly is facing ghosts, demons, or a history of repressed sexual and physical abuse finally taking their toll.  What we do know is that Molly has a history with drugs, her father was likely to be an abusive man after the death of her mother, and he died in the house she is now residing in.  But no matter how much evidence Sanchez throws into the mix, it’s all for waste by the film’s conclusion.  Don’t rush me, though, I’ll get to it.

Now, I started to get hopeful.  For much of the film, we’re never shown any monsters or ghouls or devil babies.  We hear sounds, sure, and we watch, despairingly, as Molly descends into a deep, traumatic madness.  Everything can point back to mental illness, to a psyche being shattered by the painful remembrance of her past as she continues to live in her childhood home.  We’re talking about an abusive father, molestation, and isolation, the same stuff that drove poor Molly to drug use.  We watch her return to that state of mind, and we watch her pain as she tries to confront it.

What a beautiful device that would have been, a story about trauma and bad memories – our metaphorical ghosts made literal by an unstable mind in danger of collapsing.  We could only be so lucky.  Here’s where I ought to warn you, as you’re new to my style and I’m new to yours.  I’m gonna talk about the end of the movie here, so if you wanna split, do it now.  Like I said, all of this mounting evidence means very little by the conclusion of the film. 
Fresh from the Gwar concert.
We find Molly at the bottom of the well – she is now a murderer, a stalker, she’s shunned her sister, lost her husband, she’s trapped in a house full of bad memories, a possible devil infestation, and maybe ghosts.  What a drag, right?  Well, it gets worse.  With nothing left to cling to, she finally succumbs.  In a scene that’s disturbingly and obscenely sexual in the worst kind of ways, she accepts her demons, whether they’re the scars of her past, a ghost in the closet, or, well, actual demons.

And, as it turns out, demons were exactly what it was. 

After she’s finished giving up the rest of her innocence in her old childhood bedroom, she morosely marches down the stairs, and out the front door.  Waiting in the yard for her, arms outstretched, is some kind of devil with the face of a horse.  No, not Sarah Jessica Parker, I mean, a literal horse.  But it doesn’t look scary.  I mean, I’d be willing to give this thing a hug, regardless of whatever kind of ordeal happened in the upstairs bedroom.  It looked like something from the goddamn Muppets.

In a short epilogue, Molly’s sister (whose name I can’t remember, but is played by Alexandra Holden) walks through the house, investigating the empty rooms and eerie doorways.  In her upstairs bedroom, she discovers the family photo album, where Molly had replaced her father’s face with the heads of horses.  Then, she looks up to the closet, opens it in a manner identical to that of Molly, and BAM, she, too, is introduced to the evil forces of the closet, same as her sister.
Sanchez is the rapey-looking one in the back.
Providing those two ending scenes, it’s unlikely that any psychological ties can be made.  To me, that seems an awful shame.  The idea seemed crisp and oddly romantic to me as I watched and hoped for something original or marginally inspiring from the genre and Sanchez.  That very small twist would have made the picture a heartbreaking segue into the deterioration of the human mind in the face of a true human horror instead of bleeding into the background with all the other haunted and/or demonic house movies.

If you’re still interested in seeing it (you must be, or else you wouldn’t have gotten this far into the article), then you can find it on DVD wherever bad horror movies are sold on August 28.