Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sync to the Top: LA Coincidental


Why, hello there. Nice of you to stop by, seeing how quiet things have been 'round these parts over the summer. Can't be helped, I'm afraid. I've had my hands quite full with other matters. But we're all here now and that's what counts, right?

So, pull up a beach chair, pour yourself a nice cold drink and listen up to my latest fusillade of nonsense and humbug.

Couple things to cover before we get started. First off is the whole Epstein business. And... yeah.

Way things are going this country is going to have a few hundred million folks so ragingly conspiranoid they'll make Alex Jones and Louise Mensch look like the voice of sweet reason and moderation. Twitter's pretty much there already. Which is why I spend most of my time retweeting cute animal videos. 

See, I figure we have enough potential future mall shooters in this country as it is. Maybe some heartwarming puppy rescues and baby elephant videos will bring their temperature down a bit, bring folks back to their senses. It's a long shot, but hey; you gotta try. 



The other thing a lot of folks have been asking me about over the past month or so is Tracy Twyman's untimely passing. Unfortunately, I don't know anything more about it than what's already out there. I heard about the issues with Greg and so on but that's the Internet circa 2019 for you. A CRISPR-CAS9 combination of a septic tank, an insane asylum and Hell.

But I can tell you this: having had the pleasure of having known Tracy for many years, I can say that she was a brilliant yet very troubled woman. She had a view of reality probably best described as moderately paranoid schizophrenic, as far back as I can remember. As sad as I was to hear she'd left us, I can't really say I was shocked. 

You know how it goes; when you stare too long into the Abyss, the Abyss starts to stare back. I wish it were otherwise.

Now, Tracy and I had a very lively conversation a few months back on the topics she played no small part in introducing to the mainstream in Dagobert's Revenge, which she started when she was in high school. Mithraism, the Knights Templar and the rest of it. 

She seemed in very good spirits, happy to getting back to her bread and butter. It's a final memory I'll treasure. As with the late, great Acharya S, I'll certainly miss Tracy but I'll value the incredible conversations we had forever.  


I was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago so it was a hoot to see Quentin Tarantino's new opus, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, even if it could have easily been trimmed by an hour with not a lick of harm done.

In case you've been living under a rock-- or wisely avoiding the Internet-- Once is about a fading TV star and his stunt double, trying to survive in a changing cultural landscape.

Word on the street is that Leonardo DeCaprio's character is loosely (or not so loosely) based on Burt Reynolds and Brad Pitt's character is based on his longtime stunt double Hal Needham

The Manson Family play a major role in the story, as you probably heard. A bunch of well-known actresses pretty well melt into their Charlie's angels (or "Charlie's Nine Angles") roles pretty well, as does the kid who plays Tex Watson. Not so sure about the guy they got to play Manson but no worries. Margot Robbie wouldn't be my first choice for Sharon Tate, but she acquits herself well enough.

But it's not really meant to be a biopic or history lesson, it's an elegy to a murdered America and an epitaph for the alpha male. Not so much DeCaprio's character-- who truth be told, is a bit emo-- but Pitt's character, a war hero who may or may not done away with his harpy of a wife and took everything that came his way in his laconic, good-natured stride. I'd say his particular genus is extinct in Southern California these days. 

But hordes of Millennials in manbuns, girl jeans and ZZ Top beards are still around, if that's your jam.


As you might expect from a Tarantino picture, Once is packed to the rafters with vintage needle drops, cultural ephemera, tributes and Easter eggs. There's an interesting scene where Bruce Lee talks about fighting Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) that makes me wonder if Quint hasn't been watching the same "kung fail" kind of YouTube videos I have lately.

And even though it could been easily trimmed an hour or so, it's definitely my favorite film of his since Jackie Brown (which remains my favorite, seeing as how I'm a big Elmore Leonard fan who loved Blaxpoitation movies as a kid).

The problem is that I hate going to the movies anymore. I hate the ticket prices, I hate the dead-eyed, unhelpful help, I hate the stale popcorn and I really, really hate the eye-pokingly horrid trailers we were subjected to. The whole experience is just a drag, and no longer feels like a trip to an otherworldly temple of dreams the way it once was.



And seeing how this is America circa 2019, some asshole pulled the fire alarm and sent everyone out into the parking lot, wondering if some dumb fuck with an AR15 had opened fire during Toy Story 4 or something.

But you need to ask me exactly when some nimrod pulled the alarm, because the timing was rather... don't make me say it.



The alarms starting going off while Leonardo DeCaprio's character met this young acting prodigy, named Trudy. I'm guess she's supposed to be a stand-in for Jodie Foster, given the timeline. 

It's a sweet scene, in which the young Trudy comforts the older actor as the grim reality of his has-been status sinks in. A couple commenters mentioned this previously, so I won't keep you in suspense at the surname of this young screen hellion who set off alarums and warning lights in meatspace. 

Because I'm sure even if you haven't seen the picture or read the comments, you've already guessed...


....it's Fraser. Trudy's onscreen character is Maribel, the diminutive for Mary Elizabeth.

So, yeah. "Elizabeth Fraser," basically.

The alarms started going off in the theater when we meet Elizabeth Fraser.

And DeCaprio's onscreen character is DeCoteau. Which I'd bet real money is where "Cocteau" is originally derived from.

So "Elizabeth Fraser" and "Cocteau." 

I did mention the alarms going off, right? IRL? 

OK.


And Brad Pitt plays DeCoteau's double. Or if you prefer, his Twin

And as we learned about a year back, Burt Reynolds' first major starring role was in Riverboat, playing...Ben Frazer. 

And that Reynolds died the same day as British film legend, Liz Fraser. 



And apparently "Trudy Fraser" is based on Jody Foster, who...you know.


Yep. 

I told you. Don't go saying I didn't tell you now, because I did.


THE SHIMMER OUT OF SPACE 



Hot on the heels of last year's Annihilation comes an adaption of The Color Out of Space, that I know I'm looking forward to. It stars Nic Cage and is directed by cult legend Richard Stanley, who I'm willing to bet has a few 4AD albums in his collection. Don't know yet if Asenath Waite will show up in it. 

Maybe Elspeth Wade will.

Anyway, remember that time a while back when I told you that Annihilation is basically about an alien virus that crashes to Earth and turns the world into a Cocteau Twins video? 

And you all shook your heads and said, "What a shame, he was so interesting before this idée fixe got lodged in his head?"

Granted, that's true. But so is this...



...when the five armed pixies enter the Shimmer, the exteriors were not actually filmed in the Florida Panhandle...


....but in the VERY SAME EXACT FUCKING LOCATION that the exteriors for the "Pearly Dewdrops' Drop" video were filmed 33 years earlier, in Windsor Great Park.

I mean...come on. Stop it.


So, in other words, when I made the wild, baseless, swivel-eyed observation that Annihilation is about a space virus that turns the world into a Cocteau Twins video, I WAS LITERALLY RIGHT. That's basically what you're watching.

Listen, one of these days I'm going to stroke out with this shit, OK? And then you'll be sorry.



So, now what do you think about my wild, baseless, swivel-eyed speculation that "Pearly Dewdrops' Drop" is really about cosmic rays and/or particles from a supernova changing human DNA in an albeit less-dramatic fashion than we see in Annihilation?

Before you answer, remember again who the adjective "shimmering" was very often referring to. Look it up if you don't remember.

Plus, y'know, the eyes.

Plus, Alex Garland.

Plus, Bentwaters.

Remember: The Secret Sun is always right. Especially when it's wrong.



BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY LAKE

A movie I liked even better than Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is Under the Silver Lake, starring Andrew Garfield. It's very much a companion piece to the Tarantino picture, in a very strange way. The writer-director whose name I'm too tired to look up at the moment was definitely going for that late 60s Hollywood Noir vibe, and does so with an absolutely brilliant score by...someone whose name I can't figure out from the iMDb page. 

Either way, it's a great soundtrack and made me feel like I was watching a Quinn Martin production, back when everyone dressed great and had great haircuts and drove great-looking cars. Like in The Invaders. 

Before the 70s came and everyone started looking like a sleazy asshole on their way to a key party.

Under the Silver Lake is not a film I can exactly describe, but it's a film I think everyone who reads this blog will grok mightily. It reminded me more than a bit of something David Lynch might make if he were younger, hornier and more pop-savvy. It's got at least one face Lynchies will recognize and it's filled to the brim with ciphers, sigils and symbols, not to mention some scantily-clad starlets that are quite easy on the eyes. 

Plus, water and swimming and secret languages. 

I don't know if anyone's seen Die, Mommy Die!, but it kind of reminds me of that. Plus, Ritual of Evil. Don't ask me why.

I'd go into all the symbols and this and that, but I don't want to spoil anything. Plus, symbols and codes and secret societies and all of the rest of it aren't novel or mysterious anymore, they're everywhere these days. They're the New Normal. 

Your grannie is probably an expert at spotting sigils at this point. Probably better than me.













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