As a Raiders fan, I hate the Broncos with a fierce burning passion. This though, has nothing to do with the team, and everything to do with one of the players on the team.
[Broncos running back Travis] Henry, 28, has fathered nine children by nine women in at least four Southern states and has been ordered by various judges to provide child support for seven of them, according to court records involving one child living in DeKalb County.
Henry gets my vote as "Athlete Most in Need of Chemical Neutering". Michael Vick is being crucified for killing dogs, but that pales in comparison, because besides the lack of personal responsibility, Travis Henry is an asshole as well:
Although he signed a five-year, $22.5 million contract with the Broncos this off-season that guarantees him $12 million, Henry's lawyer says, "He doesn't have any money."
I hate to say it, but I half expect him to be playing for the Raiders at some point,
Since I occasionally post on it anyway, I may as well have the category, eh? Besides, the world should realize that the Japanese have contributed more to culture than eating raw fish and anime.
Over time, I'll go back through the archives and add old posts to the category.
WalMart is now selling the canned squirt-cheese in PepperJack flavor under its own brand name.
But well paid, so it evens out.
At work, I am what we used to call in the military, the "shitty little jobs guy". All of the crap tasks that nobody else wants to do get assigned to me. At first, it was because until I was up to speed on the office procedures, it was a way to keep me busy and to free up other people. Now, it's because management has realized that it doesn't matter how dull or thankless the job, I'm going to do the best with it that I can. It's a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I get attaboys for doing these important but excruciatingly mind-numbing tasks each and every day. On the other, I've done them so well that they can't imagine giving them to someone else who won't be as conscientious about it. I'm not bragging here. I've told my manager that I hate doing it with a passion, but as long as it's part of my job, I'll do my best.
So each and every morning, I spend anywhere from an hour to four hours doing mindless and repetitive (and critical) "chores", for lack of a better word. Lately, I've been listening to audio books while I work.
I linked to Podiobooks a while back (oops, I did it again), and most of what I've been enjoying has come from there.
Come, Let Me Whisper - excellent short horror stories. I recently finished Burt's novel, Revelations, and that was very good too. I'm now downloading further episodes of CLMW from his website.
(these others are all available at Podiobooks.com)
Crescent - Science Fiction. I've heard the first two episodes, and so far it's easily keeping my interest.
Shadow Falls - This one is like a cross between Twin Peaks and Rosemary's Baby. By far the best audio production I've heard... as in, excellent sound and effects. It's too soon to tell whether the story can keep up the momentum after an awesome start.
Brave Men Run - an alternate history fiction, with elements reminiscent of The Incredibles. Another excellent beginning.
You download these to your PC or mp3 player, just as you would a podcast. Highly recommended.
This week, amongst the usual great reviews over at Joe Horror, is my look at a classic, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, done a little differently, in the theatrical style.
Comma, comma, comma, comma, comma, chameleon...
America really believes in education. The average professor earns more money in a year than a professional athlete earns in a whole game.
Tonight was an experiment, not entirely successful, but close. I was inspired/challenged by Victor who sent me a link under the heading "Feel like cooking something bizarre?"
Here's an excerpt from his email:
There's a new food competition called They Go Really Well Together (TGRWT) and the fourth edition is coming up.
Here's a great explanation:
TGRWT is all about combining ingredients people might consider out of the ordinary. But the combinations are not just randomly chosen. The theory behind this is that ingredients with similar volatile aroma compounds should go really well together. But this is just theory. We want to test this by trying them out in dishes, and you can participate!
People have a month to try their recipes with the combination, and post the results on their own sites. It's not so much a competition as it is a challenge.
TGRWT #1 was coffee, chocolate and garlic.
TGRWT #2 was banana and parsley.
TGRWT #3 was strawberry and coriander.
TGRWT #4 was mint and mustard.
So anyways, I had a
science experiment idea for a recipe in mind using mint and mustard, but didn't have time last month to give it a whirl. Then my neighbor gifted me with a big bowl of garden fresh tomatoes, peppers and zucchini, and I knew that it was time to roll up the ol' sleeves and cook. I made one major change to my original idea though...
Vegetable-Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Orange Cream Sauce
1/2 cup zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, minced
2 boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1/8 cup orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter in a skillet while you chop the veggies.
Add the carrots and zucchini to the skillet and saute for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
Remove the veggies to a bowl and toss with the mint.
Put the chicken breasts in a heavy freezer bag (one at a time) and pound the hell out of them with a kitchen mallet or rolling pin until the chicken is about 1/4 inch thick.
Lay the chicken out flat on a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese.
Spoon half of the veggie mixture onto the chicken and then roll the breast up with the veggies inside. Secure with a toothpick if you want.
Place the breast, seam-side down, into an 8" square baking pan that's been sprayed with non-stick.
Do the second breast, then grate some fresh pepper over the top of them.
Toss the chicken into the oven for 20-30 minutes, until done.
Melt the second tablespoon of butter in the skillet, then add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add the wine to the skillet and turn up the heat. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any stuck bits on the bottom of the pan (deglase the pan).
Add the OJ, water and chicken stock. Mix well.
Turn the heat up and get it to simmering, stirring often. Keep cooking until it reduces by a third, and then add the heavy cream.
Bring back to a fast simmer and cook, stirring frequently until it reduces down by half and thickens.
When the chicken is done, put a breast on each plate, and ladle some sauce over each. This would go nicely with some good crusty bread and/or wild rice.
The above is the adjusted recipe from our first attempt. The original sauce was too sweet and the orange flavor was a bit too strong. Adding a quarter-teaspoon of dry mustard to the cream sauce as it cooks might draw down the sweetness too. Come to think of it, so would a bit of onion tossed in with the garlic.
Let me know if you try this. I'll probably be experimenting a bit more with the recipe.
We passed a "Day Spa for Pets" yesterday. It's enormous, and the smallest part are the outdoor runs, because everything your widdle wuvvie-duvvie needs is inside, where it's climate controlled, 'natch.
I mused about how you could set up elite service, when every animal in there is already pampered to an insane degree. After a while, it hit me.
Charge a premium (say fifty bucks a day) and your beloved pet will be fed the meat from an endangered species! You know damn well these snooty twits will spring for it.
"Our Fifi positively *thrives* on spotted owl."
From Galacticast, it's:
Thanks to Ghost of a flea for the pointer.
I myself got an Instalanche once. Way back when I first started blogging. The difference is that Joan has gotten her *first* Instalanche, whereas I peaked early.
It's been all downhill for me ever since. But then, you already knew that. ;)
Also, Mad William Flint fell off the ol' radar for awhile, but has made a reappearance in the comments. Another excellent read, and don't miss his take on the new Microsoft Vista.
Hold the Mayo has the pointer, along with these words:
You likely have some familiarity with the Broken Windows theory. It basically holds that a window left broken is an indication that the property is not valued and an invitation to further vandalism. That the effect of that broken window - if not countered - can lead to the eventual decay of the surrounding area.
If broken windows can be seen as an effective predictor of a neighborhood's future, then it must also portend good things - when there is New Glass.
Here's the original post, also well worth reading. Have a taste:
Today the boulevard is wide open and people are walking the streets. Women in abayah's, men in dishdasha, soccer attire, and a few in suits talking on their cell phones. Some people ignore our small convoy, some look suspiciously, and some wave.
There at the first corner, I see it. New glass. Someone has put new glass in a shop. Someone only installs new glass when they think it won't get broken. New glass is confidence.
As we roll though Ramadi I see more stores and small shops open. And more new glass.
Back in the day of real record albums, there was enough room on the jackets to really have fun *and* fit some real information on there. With the miniaturization of the media it's become a real challenge to create release artwork that is both catchy and detailed. Of course, not everyone used all that album jacket real estate to best advantage.
Uh, guys? How are you going to drink those with your helmet's on? I do like the bright pink brunette on the far left though. Rowwwr.
Subtle humor. I likee.
Not much subtlety here, although the thought of all that mist makes my bones ache. Cold and damp, oh yeah, that's romance!
But you know, if there's music for that, then why not music for other things?
I like this one, it's cute.
That girl certainly gets around though, doesn't she? Ah, the good ol' days, when it took a professional to photoshop something.
There's probably a reason.
Some things just naturally go together. Some things don't.
And of course, we can always just dance, dance, dance, because it's more fun if you say it three times.
And if all that was too modern, modern, modern for you, there were always the classics:
Full disclosure, I had a cassette of old roaring 20's honky-tonk that I played until it just flat wore out.
Now, *here's* a strategy to sell records! Put bored looking people on the cover! Woo hoo! It's not a good strategy, but it is a strategy.
Ragtime and Dixieland. Oh yeah.
Although soft, romantic interludes aren't what come to mind when I think dixieland. Or a parade... what the hell?
An interesting take on bondage. Immobilize her with a fishing net and then bring on the dixieland. The jackets add a visual aspect to the torture, which is why she's not blindfolded. Notice her smile? Kinky bitch.
Alternate caption for the above: One time, in band camp...
Hint: Wrong one.
Hope you enjoyed.
Coming soon to a bookstore near you:
Build the Models Your Parents Warned You Against
You know you want it. Follow the link to check out some cool video and then tell me you don't.
Once again, Texas Best Grok provides the pointer.
Update: Oh fer cryin' out loud, people! No, it's not porn! Sheesh. I said "bookstore", not "adult bookstore"...
Check out this awesome list of free ebook resources!
Umm... yeah, they're not audio.
Thanks to Texas Best Grok for the pointer.
I talked a while back about podiobooks.com, and how I've been listening to a few different audiobooks while at work. So far, so great.
One I especially wanted to mention is Great Moments in History. By packaging memorable events in a modern "breaking news" format, you hear analysis of the action from various viewpoints, on-the-scene interviews, and an unfolding of the story that is rich in details that dry history books discard as superfluous.
For instance, during the description of the British surrender at Yorktown, we learn that French Admiral de Grasse, who was blockading the British from the sea and preventing reinforcements from landing, suffered from asthma to such an extent that he sent a deputy to the formal surrender ceremony. Similar details are given in every episode, from the trial and death of Socrates to Thermopylae to Hastings to Salem for the witch trials, and more. Altogether an extraordinary experience.
Highly, highly recommended.
I love this part:
At midnight on Saturday, May 28, 1927, the city of Fresno was converting to dial telephones, so the phone company released this public service announcement to the local theaters, to teach people how to use that brand-new piece of equipment...the dial telephone.
He includes the link to an online archive video showing the PSA, which you can see by clicking the links above (and yes, I'm asking you to follow a link to a link just to drive more traffic to The Dangerous Blog. Neener neener). Well worth it.
You know the drill. Over at Joe Horror, the new movie reviews are up.
This week, I give the surprising lowdown on Gojira, also known (in it's bastardized and heavily edited American version) as Godzilla.
Bases loaded. Two out. Top of the ninth. Pinch hitter at bat. Wicked curve. Weak popup to first. Game over. *sigh*
You know that saying "Don't shoot the messenger"?
Today I was that messenger.
Shooting would've been a mercy.
There's a new Taser on the market. It's small enough to fit into your purse, powerful enough to drop a threatening fool in his tracks and as inexpensive as a decent handgun.
Plus, it's available in metallic pink, electric blue, titanium silver and black pearl, for those concerned about style.
"We wanted to make sure that it was something that people were comfortable carrying and didn't make it look like they were 'Dirty Harry,'" said Tom Smith, the company's co-founder and board chairman, referring to the Clint Eastwood movie.
But some of the nation's top police authorities are concerned that the gadgets could easily wind up in the wrong hands.
And that is a very strong reason why I don't think it's all that hot as a self-defense option. It's one-shot. Miss your target, and you're right back where you started, except the bad guy is now pissed off that you tried to Taser him.
There's a time and place for the personal Taser, just like there are situations where pepper spray or loud whistles are appropriate, but the bottom line is that having these things won't help a bit if you can't or won't instantly and agressively defend yourself.
Learn self-defense. Get a gun and learn how to use it. Be aware of your surroundings. By that last, I mean to get the damn phone outta your ear and pay attention! Same goes for the ipod, you might as well wear a giant blinking sign that says "Obliviot".
The quiz is here.
Answers in the extended entry.
Which one was made up?
1. Combination tanning parlor and video store.
Believe it or not, the midwest seems to be riddled with these things. Several years ago we went on vacation through Indiana and Ohio, and couldn't believe how many businesses with this odd combination there were.
2. Combination interior design and casket/urn sales.
This one is my own invention. My daughter Rachael has been talking about starting a fabric store in her college town, speciallizing in theatrical materials besides the usual sewing notions. The original store in town didn't go out of business, but the interior designing she was doing on the side became so successful that she shut down the retail store. While joking around about the name of our "new business" one day, I suggested "Exit, Stage Left" and to divide the store in half, one half selling fabrics and theatrical materials, and the other half selling caskets and urns.
I had a similar inspiration a few weeks ago. Rachael was working in Charlottesville, Virginia this summer (hometown of Dave Matthews, if you care) and while visiting one weekend we spied in the local paper an article that listed things that a town their size should have, but didn't. One item was a botanical gardens park, and another was a strip club. I immediately saw the synergy there and suggested that we combine the two and call it "Flowers and Bushes".
I am accepting investment capital if anyone wants to get in on the ground floor.
3. Combination daycare and martial arts academy.
I saw a sign for this one last week in our neighborhood. I first thought that it was a daycare that offered martial arts training after school or something, but nope, it's exactly what the description says. Odd.
One of these is made up:
1. Combination tanning parlor and video store.
2. Combination interior design and casket/urn sales.
3. Combination daycare and martial arts academy.
Leave your guess in the comments.
Update: Answer can be found here.
Over at Joe Horror, my review this week is of Onibaba. Classic Japanese horror, and one of the most powerful movies I've ever seen. Read the review, see the movie.
If Dr. Hook were singing this alone, it'd be one thing:
We could bring in the morning girl
If you want to go that far
And if tomorrow find us together
Right here the way we are would you mind
Sharing the night together
Oh-yeah, sharing the night together
Oh-yeah, sharing the night
Sharing the Night Together
Every time I hear this, it sounds like an invitation to a gangbang.
So the Chinese bigwig who's company had a million toys recalled because of lead paint has committed suicide.
It's all part of Karl Rove's plan to ruin the Chinese economy, one executive at a time.
Related observation: On the news page where I read about that (the suicide, not the global conspiracy conceived and controlled by the evil puppet master Rove), there were two targeted ads. One was warning me about the massive recall of Mattel toys, and the other was encouraging me to invest in China.
Now I'm wondering what I did to piss off Karl Rove.
Lazy Sunday morning, not even properly awake yet.
"Lets play Pearl Harbor," I said to Liz.
"While I lay here, you blow the hell out of me."
I heard an AllState Insurance radio spot this morning where they're offering "accident forgiveness" coverage. Pay a little more each month now, and they won't raise rates when you have an accident.
Smart move. Them, not the suckers who voluntarily raise their own insurance rates for the exact same coverage.
Ralph Bakshi animation is either hit or miss.
Photo courtesy of Inside Charm City.
Last night I met a former co-worker for a minor league baseball game. His son is about to enter college, and they're doing a tour of the "local" ballparks. By local I mean northern Virginia, Maryland, southern Pennsylvania and Delaware.
The weather really cooperated. After a couple of scorching, humid weeks yesterday was dry and a relatively comfortable upper-80's.
The game was exciting, with our Potomac Nationals pitcher, Justin Jones, taking a no hitter into the 9th inning. The first out in the 9th was easy, and then the next batter lined a clean single into center. Oh well. Big standing ovation for Jones. He struck out the next batter, then allowed another single to right. The PNats brought in a closer (another long standing ovation for Jones) and the final batter bounced it back to the mound for the game. PNats: 2-zip. They scored both runs in the first.
Excellent. As were the fireworks afterwards, as usual. The game time was less than two hours too.
This weekend is a treat for skywatchers and amateur astronomers. The annual Perseid meteor shower should be beautiful because it arrives while a new moon is in the sky. As many as 60 meteors per hour may be visible, with larger ones leaving a streak across the night sky as they burn up in our atmosphere.
As a bonus, the planet Mars will be visible as a bright red dot in the sky to the northeast.
Unlike most astronomical events, meteor watching is done best without telescope or binoculars. Get comfortable, pick out a patch of black sky away from light pollution, and watch patiently. The closer towards dawn, the more meteors you might see. The peak number should be Sunday night into Monday morning, but they'll be visible for several nights afterwards too.
Every August at this time the Perseid shower occurs. Named for the constellation Perseus - because that's where the meteors appear to come from - their real origin is the comet Swift-Tuttle. When Earth crosses the path of the comet, debris from the comet's passing enters our atmosphere and gives us a light show.
This was cross-posted at The Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls.
Peanut Butter flavored Jell-O.
I don't know what it is about the online community, but they seldom miss an opportunity to give something an odd name.
Podiobooks is a term combining the "pod" from podcasting and audio books. In other words, downloadable audio books, which in itself is nothing new. The twist here is that the books are generally free - ala podcasts - and often the author is the one reading the book. Some places solicit donations that get split between the website (to pay for bandwidth) and the author.
I've started listening to a few from Podiobooks.com, and so far I'm liking it. I use the free aggregator Juice to automatically download chapters as they become available, which is working out nicely. There are lots of aggregators out there to choose from and they make things easier but you don't have to use one if you'd rather not.
So, to give you an idea of what's going on here, I'm enjoyably working my way through Come, Let Me Whisper, which is a collection of horror short stories written by Russell Burt. I use the term "horror" as a catch-all, because the stories range from pure ghost stories to Lovecraftian horror. He's got a website too (at the link above), with plenty more beyond what's offered at Podiobooks.com.
I've also listened to the first chapter of Crescent, which is SciFi set on a space station. So far, so good, and I'm eagerly awaiting the next episode.
The third book I'm working through is called Forever Fifteen. In it, a girl who was involuntarily made a vampire to save her from the black plague is living and trying to cope in the modern day. She is, literally, forever fifteen years old. I almost didn't start after seeing it touted as a cross between V.C. Andrews and Stephen King. I'm not a fan of either author, but I'm giving it a chance. So far, I would prefer a little more King and a little less Andrews, but I'm still engaged enough to keep listening.
So there you go. If you're already listening to podcasts on your mp3 player, then these make a nice alternative. If you already listen to audio books - perhaps in your car during your commute - then these are another source for you to check out. I've selected a couple of horror and a SciFi to start, but there were many other genres to pick from and I'm sure a few minutes with google will turn up many other sources.
Folks, I'm proud to announce the launch of a new group blog: The Dangerous and Daring Blog for Boys and Girls (The Dangerous Blog for short).
We hope to fill it with the kind of wonderfulness that you can find in the bestseller "The Dangerous Book for Boys".
Visit, read, comment, bookmark, send email (DangerousBlog@gmail.com), tell your friends, mention us on your blog and/or post links. Whatever you do will be appreciated.
This week at Joe Horror, I review Black Magic. Hong Kong film fans might enjoy this 70's-era Shaw Brothers horror film that contains, astoundingly, *no* kung fu!
On August 10th, Turner Classic Movies will be showing Vincent Price movies all day long. I've already got the recorder set for classics like The Tingler, The Masque of Red Death, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes, amongst others. This is a grand opportunity to fill in some holes in my Vincent Price collection, and I'm taking full advantage.
It might be worthwhile to check out the rest of the month, as they're highlighting a star each day.
Japan ran a contest to select the new logo for their Ministry of Defense. You'd think there'd be samurai swords and ninjas, cherry blossoms and rising suns, right?
Nope. Instead, they selected some new-age tree-hugging-ish soda pop logo. Absolutely sickening.
Go check it out over at Who Sucks, along with twenty two other logos from countries around the world. See who gets it right and who gets it oh-so-wrong. Don't forget to log your vote for favorite in the poll at the bottom of the post.
Thanks to Tinkerty Tonk for the pointer.
The dogs have been needing a haircut. Of course, they don't like haircuts, so we put it off far longer than we should have. With the onset of hell-on-earth month, we went ahead and got it done because they're much more comfortable without all that hair, plus they dry off faster when I hose 'em down while we're out watering the garden (they act like they don't like that either, but they don't move out of the way).
Because they fight the scissors and clippers, they look kinda scraggly for a while. Liz is a perfectionist, whereas I'm like, "who cares, they're dogs". Today, I won that debate because it was just too hot to fight very hard when the dogs resisted. They mostly got shaved, more or less evenly.
Now comes the three day hump-fest as they get over the trauma of a haircut *and* a bath, all in the same day.
Last night was our annual trip to Ash Lawn, home of President Monroe and current venue of the Ash Lawn Opera Company. Once again, daughter Rachael is working there for the summer as assistant costumer.
The performance that we chose to see this year was Puccini's La Boheme, possibly the most famous opera of them all. Unfortunately, with the extreme heat and humidity, Liz decided she'd better not go, so I went with Rachael and the other assistant Brittney. Once there, I met several of the technical crew and walked around the grounds for a bit.
There was much concern about the weather because some rather ominous looking clouds were headed our way, and the rumble of thunder was getting louder and more frequent. Most of the audience headed for the indoor pavilion, assuming that the performance would be moved under cover, but many of us stayed put and waited for Mother Nature to make up her mind. The breeze picked up and cooled things off nicely, the humidity dropped noticeably, a few small drops sprinkled on us, and after a 40 minute delay the show started in the outdoor amphitheater. We were treated to a nice little lightning show going on in the background during the first act as the storm that just missed us receeded into the distance.
I spent that delay time having a nice conversation with the people around me. A lady had flown in from Austin, Texas to see the shows (The Sound of Music is the other performance that the company is doing this year). Her daughter was part of the chorus in La Boheme and played Lisle in The Sound of Music (...I am 16, going on 17...). Another nice couple were the Dean of Libraries at William and Mary college and her husband. For a Friday night, the crowd was very much on the older side, there weren't many there that were younger than I. I didn't relate the tale of how a few years ago, a snake fell out of one of the trees overhanging the stage and audience, although I was sorely tempted.
Among the "regulars" at Ash Lawn are three skunks, one of which is an albino, and a peacock with the most horrible ear-splitting screech. At random times during the performances, the peacock will let loose. You can always tell first-time guests because they jump when the feathered beastie screams. If you're not used to it or don't know what it is, it's positively blood-curdling.
So, I haven't much said anything about La Boheme, have I? I really enjoyed it. I did not cry at the end, but there were a couple of moments where the music really did move me, and I think I'll be searching out more opportunities to attend the opera.
Liz and I are headed to Charlottesville this morning to visit Mookie. Tonight we'll attend La Boheme. I'll be back tomorrow, in the meantime check out The Dangerous Blog (link on the post above this one).
Deep Red is the second half of the double feature with Silent Night, Bloody Night. It's also an Italian giallo by Dario Argento, who followed up with Susperia and Tenebre, two amazing flicks. Unlike many of his other movies though, this one has a reasonably coherent story to tell.
Oops! What's a giallo? From Wikipedia:
"Giallo" films are characterized by extended murder sequences featuring excessive bloodletting, stylish camerawork and unusual musical arrangements. The literary whodunit element is retained, but combined with modern slasher horror, while being filtered through Italy's longstanding tradition of opera and staged grand guignol drama. They also generally include liberal amounts of nudity and sex.
Gialli typically introduce strong psychological themes of madness, alienation, and paranoia.
This is a typical Dario Argento movie. Itís filled with lush colors, surreal moments, brutal murders, sudden shocks, an exceptional music score by Goblin and a storyline that is vague enough to not get in the way of the imagery that Argento is striving to project. Calling it ďtypicalĒ though doesnít make it ordinary, as if anything he did could be merely ordinary.
Marcus (David Hemmings Ė Blow Up) is a professional musician. Helga (Macha Meril) is a psychic who can read minds. What they have in common is that they live in the same apartment building in the city.
One evening, Helga is appearing on a panel discussing paranormal phenomenon when she detects the thoughts of a killer. Someone in the audience is radiating enough murderous hatred that Helga is quite overcome by the emotion. Itís powerful enough that she also learns who the murderer is, although she doesnít reveal that because thereís no proof beyond her psychic detection.
Later that night, the murderer goes to Helgaís apartment to permanently prevent her from revealing the truth. Marcus witnesses Helgaís brutal (understatement alert!) murder from the street below their apartments, and when he rushes upstairs he is too late to save her life. The killer has escaped, yet Marcus is certain that he saw something that positively identifies the murderer, if he can only remember what it is. Even though the police are handling the case, Marcus becomes obsessed with they mystery and starts to investigate himself, aided by pretty newspaper reporter Giana (Daria Nicolodi - Tenebre) and Helgaís fellow psychics.
The killer seems to anticipate his every move, and each time he makes progress towards solving the mystery another person who knows something important winds up dead in a savage and entertainingly gruesome way.
Itís not all murder and mystery though. Several humorous scenes involving the Gianna and Marcus are used to ease the tension, and the contrast heightens the impact of the darker moments.
Youíre kept guessing right up to the end. The butler didnít do it.
The city where this all takes place is never named, other than being in Italy. The direction offers frequent moments throughout the movie where a scene is framed as a static tableau, and it lingers there until movement intrudes upon the carefully crafted still-life. At other times, the cuts are frantic and almost subliminal as multiple viewpoints flash by onscreen. The storyline is more prominent than Argentoís next film, Susperia.
I was taken by surprise when the movie switched from English dubbing to Italian with English subtitles and back, sometimes within the same scene. What Iíve since learned is that quite a bit of the movie was edited out before the English dubbing was done. This version restores much of the original film, but itís only available with subtitles because it was never dubbed in English. Apparently several versions of the source material were used because in a few scenes you can tell that the Italian is dubbed! As quirky as that was, I was able to quickly get used to it and before long I hardly noticed it.
For the most part, the acting is excellent, although the scenes where the police were involved didnít match the tone of the rest of the movie. Perhaps it was intentional, but the various cops come across as knuckle-dragging dolts. Not just ineffective police officers, but as uncouth paint-chip-eating boors. Maybe that was to give Marcus a reason to continue his personal investigation.
Damn good movie. Highly recommended.
When weeding in your garden, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
I submitted a couple of reviews to Joe Horror a while back which weren't accepted due to editorial considerations. I thought we'd worked it out, but they still haven't been posted there, so I'll post 'em here. I put effort into these things, dammit, so somebody is going to get to read them!
I picked up a stack of horror/thriller double features at the flea market a few weeks ago. They're one step up from no-name releases, but I recognized enough of the titles to take a chance on four of 'em (for about ten bucks and change).
First up is Silent Night, Bloody Night. After watching this movie and putting down my initial impressions, I did a little research on it. I discovered that it was made a full two years before the seminal Black Christmas even though both movies were released in 1974. Black Christmas is considered by some to be the original slasher flick, but this movie was actually the first to introduce the main elements of the genre.
Silent Night, Bloody Night is a low budget effort that mostly works, right up until the surprise ending. Yes, it was a surprise (to me anyway), but it really stretched my capacity for suspending disbelief. Stretched it right beyond the breaking point. The plot itself is somewhat confused, but I had no problem following the main arc of the story.
The movie opens with a nifty little point-of-view scene (shades of Halloween!) where someone uses a monkey wrench to bludgeon their way to freedom as they escape from a mental hospital.
Next, in a narrated flashback we witness old man Butler burning to death in his front yard. He set himself on fire in one of those freak fireplace accidents you hear about all too often. You havenít? Me neither. In his will, the old man left his mansion to his grandson, with the proviso that the house be left empty. Over the years, the house gained a reputation for being haunted.
Thirty years later, the house is up for sale. Nobody has lived there in accordance with the wishes of old man Butler, but a caretaker has kept the property and house in good repair. A hotshot city lawyer is in town to handle the process, and he offers it to the town council for a fraction of what itís worth. The town council jumps at the offer for reasons that become clear later on. The lawyer and his girlfriend are staying at the house overnight, even though the council members offer to put them up in a motel. Ominously, the townís switchboard operator offers to re-connect the telephone service to the house ďjust in caseĒ.
Having that phone connected comes in handy, just not for the lawyer and his girlfriend. They get brutally hacked to death while having sex. Afterwards, the axe-wielding maniac uses the phone to place chilling calls to the members of the town council, inviting them out to the house.
The grandson himself makes an appearance and ends up accompanying the Mayorís daughter (Mary Woronov) through the rest of the movie. When asked why heís selling, he simply answers that he needs the money.
The rest of the plot is your now-standard fare, as victims are isolated and killed one by one. Itís only interesting here because the slasher genre that we now know so well hadnít evolved yet, at the time of this movie it was all brand new.
The acting was pretty good all around. Woronov as the Mayorís daughter has the best role in the flick. John Carradine plays one of the members of the town council and he communicates by ringing a desk clerk bell when he agrees with something that someone else said.
Ok, back to the ending that I hated so much. Itís memorable, because the whole background story about the house and the Butler family is told, accompanied by an extended flashback done in sepia-tone. The actors that appear in the flashback were all from Andy Warholís Factory. While the story told is chilling, the writers took it one step too far. Sharks are cool, sharks with frigginí laser beams on their heads is silly. You know what I mean?
The first axe murder in the movie is nicely gory, but after that most of the killing happens in darkness, making it impossible to see details. Part of the problem is the original camera work, which is strictly low-budget, but the video transfer on my copy was very poor. The movie has been released several times by different distributors and the picture quality varies among them.
The opening music to the movie was a creepy version of ďSilent NightĒ. Done in a minor key and using unexpected dissonant chords, the song was recognizable and yet the entire feel of the music went from reverential to sinister. Very nicely done.
Silent Night, Bloody Night is kind of a missing link between 60ís horror and how the genre evolved into the slasher craze, and for that reason alone I think itís worth seeing.