Archive for June, 2010

Girls of Summer: Teddi Smith, Miss July 1960

June 30, 2010


Photographed by William Graham and Edmond Leja.

Bill Graham and Ed Leja do an absolutely beautiful job with this spread. Check out especially the use of color and warm, ambient light in the exterior shots — just gorgeous and really striking. I wish the same could be said for the write-up, because Ms. Smith (not her real name but I will refer to her by it) is a fascinating, ambitious, creative and exciting woman, but it is not at all reflected in the text that accompanied her gatefold. It is one of those write-ups. The ones that make me resort to made-up epithets and food-item-substitutes for swearwords. Pop a dramamine and check it out:


I adore her expression in this picture. A lot of her shots from this spread feature an almost amused, frank and confident openness on her face. Almost catlike, almost equally curious about the lens as it is about her.

The delights of yachting are too well-known to require exhaustive comment here, but potential yachtsmen should be apprised that it’s possible to find a First Mate for a trim craft who is a trim craft herself.

(“Ship Shape.” Playboy, July 1960.)


Such a one is Miss July: Teddi Smith, a nubile native of Van Nuys, California. Weekdays she works as a receptionist, but every weekend, she undergoes a sea change and turns into the sweetest of sailors, manning a tiller with the best of them and showing the coast line’s shapeliest pair of sea legs in the process.

(Ibid.)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, what a pile of yam fries and appleslaw! Worse than usual, even — bleah. Can you believe that sassy molassy? It’s possible they did it because Ms. Smith’s birthdate was September of ’42 and, as this gatefold appeared in July of ’60, and experience tells us the spread was photographed well ahead of its publication and distribution, then, barring some fuzzy math, Ms. Smith was rather obviously at least six months under 18 at the time of this shoot.

If that makes you feel hinky, just scroll past this gal, but do remember that in plenty of states in the U.S.A. at that time, 17 (and, in some states, younger) was the age of consent, so call me old-fashioned or statutorily perverted but I’m kind of live-and-let-live ambivalent on this one.

I know, I know: the argument is, what I just said was wrong about justifying the pics via the ol’ “but that was legal consenting age back then” line because what if it was, I don’t know, horrific nudie pics from the 1800’s of a 12 year old Apache girl getting dp’d by evil cowboys or some shit, right? Sure, there was no consenting age then but holy jesus I would be as outraged as anyone to know of such a thing, absolutely. Dreadful, expository, predatory garbage like that, reflective of only darkness and pain and violent degradation, should of course not be disseminated no matter what. That would be awful, yes. Straight abhorrent child porn. I am not arguing that at all!

But I’d pray that those cases are hopefully rare (I couldn’t sleep if I thought they abounded, so please do not tell me if you know otherwise) and you do have to draw a line somewhere with pornography laws. Look at this spread: Miss July looks happy, openly participatory, and at her age was not exactly a novitiate to puberty.

I knew exactly what I was doing at 17, as I suspect most folks of either gender do now and always have at just that age. My feeling is this: 16 is pretty dang sketchy, headed proportionally toward screwed-up based on the further the wooer is from that age, 15 is sailing in to some deep “this is really wrong — you should seek help” waters and 14 and < is straight-up NOT COOL, go directly to jail and do not collect $200. But, really, 17-18? Meh.

Hot fricasse, am I going to get arrested for saying all that? This may get edited later when I got time to look up laws. Eek… So, back to Teddi Smith and this spread: what happened was two years earlier Hugh Hefner had landed in hella hot water for using an underage girl in the magazine, despite her mom’s permission — the mother ended up prosecuted, too, under contribution to minor delinquency laws.


Elizabeth [Ann Roberts]’s pictorial was a significant one in the history of Playboy because she was only 16 at the time her photos were taken. Her pictorial was titled “Schoolmate Playmate.”

She literally had a note from her mother giving her permission to pose, but both Hugh Hefner and Roberts’ mother were arrested and charged by Chicago authorities with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The charges were eventually dropped on the grounds of lack of evidence that Hefner had known her true age.

(the wiki)

My conjecture is that following that debacle, the understandably gun-shy editorial staff may have figured it was best to roll with a meaningless “nothing to see here, folks” line of purple prose that had nothing to do with Teddi, so no one would be too curious about her when the gatefold went to print. I’ll assume that is why the write-up blows when she is so cool a chick who deserves such better explanation.

Anyway: I’m trying to be in a good mood about humanity and “Ms. Smith” went on to do lots of really cool and interesting stuff, so let’s focus on that (and the eye-popping colors captured by Leja and Graham in this pictorial) and never speak of that awful, awful write-up again.

After this shoot, Teddi Smith went on to work as a bunny at the original Chicago Playboy Club, like so many of the rad gals we’ve highlighted over the months, and also posed for a number of Playboy covers throughout the 1960’s. Click on any cover below to see it large. They are beautiful and frequently clever, good examples of cover work from the magazine’s heyday.

After winding down her long and successful modeling career in the late 1960’s, Ms. Smith concurrently received her education and embarked on extensive and fascinating travels, including spending some very special time in Tanzania.

Inspired by the crafts of the native Tanzanian women with whom she lived, Teddi Smith became interested in the integration of tribal weaving with modern textile and organic decorative arts. This was while she was working in a research camp with scientists who were following and studying the habits of elephants. Totally awesome — but get this.

She also made and kept a candelabra that she fashioned out of a lion skull. Um, who’s a BAMF? Teddi Smith is a BAMF! Crazy-rad!

I know, right? Totally eleventy gajillion miles away from the hot fudge pickles about yachting and secretarial work suggested in her fluffy write-up! Today, “Teddi” is in the creative decorative professional field and was formerly headquartered in New York City. It appears she is semi-retired now, I’m sure well-earned. A woman who can make a candelabra out of a lion’s skull in Tanzania can I’m sure make a silk purse of the slummiest sow’s ear in a loft in Hell’s Kitchen — I’m sorry, “Clinton.” (Gentrification makes me laugh with a mouth full of blood.)

She now maintains offices in Texas and San Miguel Allende, Mexico. Teddi is on the right in the above picture, getting friendly at a B&B with Tootsie the parrot, a kitten named Harle, and a lovely German shep called Chespita. You can see she has not lost her sense of adventure or her frank, direct gaze at the camera. To the left of Ms. Smith in that picture is a Topanga, CA-based woman who is also active in textiles and decorating.

Edit: Scratch that, reverse it. Teddi’s on the left (our left) and Miss Carpets is on the right (our right). I am an adult and freely admit I still do not know my left from my right. I mix them up all the time.

If you like, and have ginger ale handy in case your stomach gets rocky, you can click above and below to read the carrotsticks and shenanigans of Teddi Smith’s original gatefold. The b&w shots are very good and the writing I guess is not that bad. It’s not “redundant-clumsily-worded-psychosexual-teenage-fantasies-by-a-crazy-virgin-cat-lady-from Utah” bad (subtle vampires-suck dig — booyakasha), just not up to very high par. Enjoy!

Daily Batman: I know who you really are

June 30, 2010


Publicity still: Adam West and Yvonne Craig read Detective Comics #359, “The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl.”

With her role as Batgirl, Yvonne Craig’s own place in pop culture is secure. “There was no stigma to my having been Batgirl,” she notes. “No typecasting whatsoever. People really like the character. I was in a supermarket once, and a little girl came up to me and said, ‘I know who you really are!’ Then she said, ‘Barbara Gordon!'”

(Jankiewicz, Pat. “Recalling Batgirl.” October 2002. Starlog 303: 38-41.)

William Blake Month: Brooding cares & anxious labors that prove but chaff

June 30, 2010

Quit your job and go on tour.


“Tracy,” Ryan McGinley, 2009.

You recoil back upon me in the blood
of the Lamb slain in his Children
Two bleeding Contraries, equally true,
are his Witnesses against me
We reared mighty Stones!
we danced naked around them:


“Hysteric Fireworks,” Ryan McGinley.
Thinking to bring Love into light of day,
to Jerusalem’s shame:
Displaying our Giant limbs
to all the winds of heaven! Sudden
Shame siezed us:
we could not look on one another for abhorrence.


“Fire Flip,” Ryan McGinley.

O what is Life & what is Man,
O what is Death? Wherefore
Are you my Children, natives in the Grave to where I go


“Hanna in wheatfield in American flag chair,” Nicole Lesser. 2009.
Or are you born
to feed the hungry ravenings of Destruction
To be the sport of Accident!
to waste in Wrath & Love, a weary
Life, in brooding cares & anxious labours,
that prove but chaff.

(William Blake, Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion.)

I do believe Mr. Blake is urging you to tune in, turn on, and drop out.


Paved paradise to etc.

Are you born “…to be the sport of accident and waste in wrath and love a weary life, in brooding cares and anxious labours, that prove but chaff”? No. I have said it before as a personal manifesto and I say again now despite my despondency this month and my dwelling over death and famine, that in the final analysis I do not believe we are born to feed the hungry ravenings of destruction, I cannot take the fatalistic, world-weary view that the average man is born cannon fodder in a long war between obscure forces richer and wider-reaching than we are.


Girl welder, 12, for the Australian Air Force, 1943. National Library of Congress collection on the flickr.

I can’t believe that is God’s plan for any single individual on this earth, no one can have been born for darkness and live only to push a wheel belowdecks to power someone else’s ship. I agree with this poem — shame and fear lead us to these empty lives of capitulation and lonely servitude to ideas forged by whatever money-hungry captain of industry’s self-serving philosophies are en vogue aided by the corrupt leaders of what could be beautiful religions. That is not the intent of our creation, I feel like that cannot be so, and if it keeps getting spread around that it is so, surely enough people are going to snap from their television-enhanced fast food comas and facebook opium haze and start a serious counterargument with words and deeds. I mean, they have to. If they don’t, then, my god, what is the point of existence even.

Oh, bother. It appears between this chain of thought and yesterday’s rants about Nazi propaganda that it is shaping up to be quite a week of Opinions. “I’m just a little black raiiinclouuuud …”

Daily Batman: Leave the past in ashes

June 29, 2010


Adam Hughes Catwoman cover via hellyescatwoman.

The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to him alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.

(Schopenhauer.)

William Blake Month: Gentle sleep the sleep of death

June 29, 2010



Like a reflection in a glass, like shadows in the water.
Like dreams of infants, like a smile upon an infant’s face.
Like the doves voice, like transient day, like music in the air:
Ah! gentle may I lay me down and gentle rest my head.
And gentle sleep the sleep of death.

(William Blake, excerpt from The Book of Thel.)

Take-two Tuesday — When art influences life: Sam Haskins Month, Day 2

June 29, 2010

This post orginally appeared in a less illustrated and much rant-freer form on December 2, 2009 at 9:46 am.

Today I am thinking about Sam, but still pretty upset to find out he was dead. So I thought I’d use this below shot of him and Leni Riefenstahl as a springboard to discussing a little bit about propaganda (obviously entire books and brilliant essays are devoted to this topic, I just want to think out loud a bit). So. Sam and Leni. They were not any type of friends, but they of course knew one another, because of the international stature both held as artists.


This picture with Leni was taken in Munich in the early 70’s. We were serving on the jury for a photographic competition organised by Der Spiegel. A friendly argument developed during a break in the judging activities. Postal sacks filled with the competition entries swamped the corridors leaving little room for chairs. (“Leni Riefenstahl,” Sam’s blog, entry dated 3/15/07)


Still from Leni’s Olympia, 1938. She was a brilliant, bold pioneering female photographer who had a keen instinct for shapes and the human body — and she was a National Socialist in Hitler’s Germany.

Leni Riefenstahl is a divisive and problematic figure for me to wrap my brain around: while her career has been largely brilliant, and I suppose each piece of art ought be considered an entity unto itself? — ought it? a debate for a different day maybe? — she is a photographer and cinematographer from whom for me it is difficult to separate the facts of her life and her art. See, her body of work is great, but besides such feats of human architecture as Olympia, that body of work also contains within it The Triumph of the Will, a handy piece of pure propaganda which launched her to forever-infamy and helped sway many to the National Socialist way of thinking.


Leni Riefenstahl with Heinrich Himmler at Nuremberg, 1934.

Yeah, that’s Heinrich Himmler and her at Nuremberg, 1934, setting up a cozy little scene for the camera. It’s significant and somewhat ironic to me and, you likely too, because, of course, she and Himmler and Joseph Goebbels, spinmeister, were busy here trying to launch some Nazi ships of popularity, and ultimately the career of many a Nazi ended there, eleven years later at the trials. Riefenstahl was arrested after World War II, but was not tried at Nuremberg, nor ever convicted of any crimes. Fair or unfair?

It has recently become popular to exonerate Leni Riefenstahl for her part in Goebbels’ games on either a) the strength of her large body of striking and unique work or b) the reasoning that she did what she must during a time when a lot of people swallowed their true opinion to avoid persecution by the National Socialist party.


Leni with some asshole.

I do not believe there is any way of ever knowing for certain about (b). I simply think people are shoehorning their own opinions in to those years of her life so that they can excuse loving her later work. In fact, I have got to say that fearfully holding one’s tongue to avoid losing a job as a bank teller when one’s boss rants against Jews, versus being an artist of international stature who can reasonably leave a country and travel to another with little fear of detention — and then maybe even announce her repatriation to a place where they do not abduct and murkily displace citizens based on religion, a course chosen by many artists and scientists during this time — but not doing that and instead turning around and shooting The Triumph of the frigging Will, thank you very much, are two totally different situations, pressure-and-force-wise.


l to r: Joseph Goebbels, Leni Riefenstahl, and Adolf Hitler.

So the lukewarmly advanced “oh, but she had to do it” part of the argument is fishsticks in my book, I’m sorry. Bull-fucking-shit. Until I see hardcore documents that Leni was told something like, I don’t know, that her mother was being held and she would be whipped and her teeth would be pulled from her head and force-fed back to her every day unless Leni continued churning out propaganda, oh, and that P.S., all the anti-Semitic things she said and did in the 1920s and early 30s before the Third Reich had seized power and employed her at her own request were just for funsies, because she is totally not a hater!, then I will not ever, ever support that specious (b) argument.


Leni and crew filming those all-important ’36 Olympics.

There’s keeping your frightened mouth shut and half-heartedly going along with a thing with a constant eye to getting away, and then there is willful participation in that same thing in order to benefit socially, artistically, and financially. Painting Leni with that brush of reluctance is shameful and disgraces the good people who were placed by circumstance and fear for their loved ones in that hellish and untenable position, which they no doubt regretted to the end of their days. I say again: it is shameful and disgraceful to humanity to claim Leni belongs in that camp. Period.


“Sielspringen.” Jumpropers. Leni Riefenstahl. Not sure of the date.

I tried to be neutral but I got worked up even attempting to sound nice about it. Whoops. Blarg, it’s all slipping away from me, I get so nuts about WWII. I’m sorry.

So … this was supposed to be about propaganda, both the first time and on this retread. I wanted to figure out what I think about art and propaganda, and it would seem that I think some pretty angry shit, but is that necessarily right or well-reasoned? Like, okay, Leni was arrested but not tried for her participation in the National Socialist campaign to conquer — you know … the globe. Leni won 50 cases of libel against her from people who said she had knowledge of war crimes like the concentration camps — which is weird, because if she was so innocent of this knowledge then I wonder why, when she was asked why she went along with the propaganda plans, she claimed it was out of her fear of being sent to a camp … a camp that she did not know existed. fascinating, yes? — and also claimed she would lament forever that people would associate her with Nazism. Can’t think why. But enough ranting, god, the main thing is: she was let go. So she never got a trial or did time. Ought she have?


via peternicholson, Leni was shooting establishing-shot footage for a rally documentary and was caught by a friendly cameraman on the ground beneath one of her striking set designs in front of which a horribly real not-a-play-at-all went on.

Question for discussion: is propaganda a crime? A con of the highest order, making it a physical and emotionally abusive crime of course, as any manipulative act must be, but also, and perhaps more strangely, a crime against art itself? A violation of its core function? If the purpose of art is to express yourself, and we see that for some being provocative is how they do it (I do not believe the work of shock artists violates or upheaves what I’ve just advanced as the core purpose of art; I believe their work still falls beneath the aegis of self-expression, whether they understand that or not), then is propaganda a gross perversion of the core purpose, forcing a perspective on the viewer rather than expressing one’s own, muscling and manipulating and violating the relationship between seer and seen?


Olympia series by Leni Riefenstahl, 1938, via bodypixel. Do check the piece out.

We talked about what happens when art imitates life, and when art imitates art, but what about when life imitates art because art influences life? What would Leni’s dear friend Goebbels, great-grandfather of the spin and the catchy slogan, answer, if he had not been killed himself rather than face trial (or death at the hands of Dönitz) in the liberated Germany? What are the implications of how art as propaganda was used politically, with our historical understanding, when we look now at modern instances of using art to increase the popularity of a product or idea, from advertising of food and beverages and clothing to much more volatile and animate subjects such as people and philosophies and lifestyles?


Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron for Christian Dior, “J’Adore” parfum.

Or am I all backward. Is the opposite so? Is all art propaganda of some kind? One of my favorite movies, The Cradle Will Rock, written and directed by Tim Robbins, which is set during the 1930’s, draws consistent symbolic parallels between artists and whores, and even has a line where William Randolph Hearst says, not sneeringly, but simply with a practical confidence, “And artists are whores — like the rest of us.” Has the relationship between art and advertising and commercialism and pop cultural consciousness come so far that there is no way to ever go back? And, fuck, what do I know, like is that so wrong?


“Tommy Hilfiger Celebrates Sam Haskins.”

“We have burnt our bridges. We cannot go back, but neither do we want to go back. We are forced to extremes and therefore resolved to proceed to extremes.” (Joseph Goebbels, 1943)

I do not have answers. I’m frustrated and bummed and totally confusing myself. I quit! I’ll regroup and come back to this a different day.

William Blake Month: “a Human fire fierce glowing”

June 25, 2010


“Leah bloodbath” by Nicole Lesser

America faints! enrag’d the Zenith grew.
As human blood shooting its veins all ’round the orbed heaven

Red rose the clouds from the Atlantic in vast wheels of blood
And in the red clouds rose a Wonder o’er the Atlantic sea;


Kate Moss by Ryan McGinley
Intense! Naked! a Human fire fierce glowing, as the wedge
Of iron heated in the furnace; his terrible limbs were fire
With myriads of cloudy terrors banners dark & towers
Surrounded; heat but not light went thro’ the murky atmosphere.

(William Blake, excerpt from “America: A Prophecy.”)

Damn. Sounds like America is in for it, yes? To be continued.

Daily Batman: Demi-chat, Demi-femme

June 25, 2010


Demi Moore photographed by Matthew Ralston.

Irena: Some nights there is another sound. The panther. It screams … like a woman. I hadn’t realized how dark it was getting. I like the dark — it is friendly.

(Cat People. Directed by Jacques Tourneur. Screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen. RKO Pictures, 1942.)

I rented this from the library when I was 14 and it rocked my world. Super-hot. Not in a “furry” way — in a just-before-the-censors went nuts way. Sexy dialogue, dark and mysterious clouds coming out of sewers, thick bangs, blondes and brunettes, light bdsm and love triangles. Like, wow! And it’s all at Your Local Library.


The truth about cats and dogs. Simone Simon with a statue of Anubis in a still from Cat People.

Simone Simon, and the picture itself, have developed something of a cult following over the years — this is a coy understatement; there are like just under sixteen hundred blogs I’m sure dedicated to how to most precisely masturbate to the technical prowess of Tourneur’s Cat People — and the popularity of her portrayal as Irena in the film has not left the character of Catwoman untinged. In the 1966 Batman movie, “the Catwoman” (not series regular Jul-Newms, who was washing her hair, but rather your Miss America 1955 Lee Meriwether) poses as a sexy woman from the USSR named Miss Kitka Karenska, employing vaguely the same hairstyle and Romany-rich Eastern European accent used by Simone Simon in Cat People.


I can has intense sexual cult following?

More importantly, after DC’s Infinite Crisis, which-kind-of-but-not-really restored a lot of the retconned into obsolescence storylines that were wiped out in Crisis on Infinite Earths, in One Year Later, Selina Kyle uses the name Irene Dubrovna when she must hide out in the underworld, having temporarily sort-of-retired from her Catwoman vigilante duties due to her pregnancy with Helena, her daughter. (This Helena is not the Helena Wayne of Earth-Two, nor the Helena Kyle of Earth-2, but a Helena in general, of whom what will become — eventually taking up the Huntress mask? tracking down her father for suresies? something else? — it remains to be seen.)

The Girls of Summer: Kelly Burke, Miss July 1966

June 25, 2010


Photographed by William Figge.

Kelly prefers making most of her natatorial plunges in the neighbors’ back-yard pool. “Besides the pool, they own two darling dogs,” she explains. “One’s a $700 pedigreed toy poodle named Suzie; the other’s a mongrel puppy that they rescued from the local dog pound for only five dollars. He’s named Toy Tiger and, needless to say, I’m in love with the mutt.”

(“Freckle-Face.” Playboy, June 1966.)

Good choice!

I’m an across-the-board mutt guy from Way Back: dogs, cats — men. Actually, I think I’m genuinely allergic to so-called “well-bred” dudes without debt. I’ve tried to date them and their leather car coats and confident wine-awareness makes my skin crawl. On the other hand, if you got a busted grill and drive a ’92 Honda Prelude with one broken headlight that won’t raise, know the difference between a single- and a double-wide, and front a ZZ Top cover band? I’m all yours.

Actual example: my friend J-Mys once tried to set me up on a double date with her and her boyfriend and a mortgage broker Senor R knew from Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Polly Wolly Doodle All Day. J-Mys and Senor R cut out early and I was stuck with the mortgage broker, who was clearly not in to me either but was still talking some kind of folklore about variable rates and baloney sauce that I was not at all listening to because I was watching Clue in my head due to my crushing boredom, when I got up to get another pint of beer.

At the bar, this guy in a very dated No Fear t-shirt and battered, unironic John Deere ballcap saw I had actual folding money and asked me for change for the jukebox. We picked out a couple songs — I believe we went with Tom Waits, the Beatles, and “Thriller,” for novelty shits and giggles — and I told the boring mortgage broker that I was planning on going to the bathroom and going home.

I insisted we split the bill because I felt a few compunctions of guilt for wasting the early part of his Friday evening, even if I had in no way lead him to think the night had any kind of sexytimes in its future. Then I made sure the broker actually left, slipped out of the bathroom, and bullshitted with the ballcap guy on the porch about Quantum Leap and camping ’til my beer was done. Went home much happier than I’d been an hour earlier. Sneaky I guess but so much better.

As for the rest of the purple prose in that excerpt, I got hung up on “natatorial.” Really? Natatorial? Come on. That is some rich fertilizer right there. Talk about a needless fifty dollar word.

natatorial: (adj.) of, characterized by, or adapted for swimming.

Aww. Seems that some low-paid Playboy scribbler had a crush on his thesaurus.

That shot is freaking awesome. Hats off to Mr. Figge. “Natatorial” photography at its best? The reflection, the symmetry, the attention to every tile of the composition (rule of thirds) having something interesting in it — awesome sauce. Bill Figge is the shit.


As a medical buyer for one of California’s largest pharmaceutical cooperatives, Miss June has spent the past three years helping to supervise the selection of drugs destined to become shelf stock in hospitals and pharmacies throughout the Greater Glendale area.

(Ibid.)


Another stunning composition. The light-play is brilliant.

“My job can be fairly cut and dried one minute,” says the 21-year-old brunette, “and then, in typical Ben Casey fashion, a nearby hospital phones in an emergency order and I’m suddenly off and running all over the place to find the required medicines.”

(Ibid.)

The Ben Casey to which Ms. Burke refers was a popular television series which ran from the early- to mid-1960’s. The Bing Crosby-produced medical drama was filmed at Desilu Studios and starred Vince Edwards (Space Raiders, Return to Horror High*) as the titular surgeon Dr. Benjamin Casey. The opening sequence is famous for its serious, ominous overtones: this deep voice says, “Man — woman — birth — death — infinity.” Heavy shit, right?

*Yes, I deliberately picked the cheesiest, schlockiest, campiest of Edwards’ many legitimate credits to use as his two paranthetical citations, like those obscure B flicks would somehow make you say, “Oh, him!” I wanted to be funny. Vince Edwards is actually a talented and well-recognized actor who was very popular in his time: I am just a goofy rake.


Kelly now sports her own 1965 Oldsmobile convertible, in which she commutes daily from her new bachelorette bungalow in suburban Sylmar.

(Ibid.)

Just five months after Ms. Burke’s gatefold appearance, the Loop Fire wiped out huge swaths of the boundary between her new hometown of Sylmar and the Angeles Forest. The fatally unpredictable Loop Fire is still covered in firefighting course textbooks today as an example of the necessity for developing strong communication strategy to contain a dry canyon fire affected by high winds.

The Loop Fire began on November 1, 1966, at 5:19 am, on the edge of the Angeles National Forest. The El Cariso Interregional Fire Crew, which consisted of city and county firefighters, along with the El Cariso “Hot Shots,” a USDA-Forest crew of firefighters, sprang in to action to contain the blaze.

Tragically, a flare-up jumped from the forest to a canyon at the outer edges of Sylmar and created a wall of flame around it. A group from the Hot Shots crew was trapped inside, cut off from the rest of the firemen in a narrow and dry canyon of steep rock walls which, despite having no natural accelerants to move the fire along, still increases the energy of the fire because it functions as a “natural chimney,” creating tremendous heat and pressure.

Ten firefighters burned to death on site within minutes, while twelve others were injured, one critically.

Helicopter Pilot Troy Cook began rescue operations within 10 minutes after the men were burned. The diamond shaped area was still surrounded by fire when Pilot Cook hovered and picked up the first survivor.

(THE LOOP FIRE DISASTER – ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST – CALIFORNIA REGION: “A BRIEF OF THE REPORT OF THE GROUP ASSIGNED TO ANALYZE THE LOOP FIRE ACCIDENT.” US. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1967: Washington, D.C.)


Pilot Roland Barton and his helicopter soon joined him and rescue operations continued with great courage and skill until all of the injured men were evacuated to the Los Angeles County Command Post on the Pacoima. From there the injured men were taken by auto to the hospital.

(Ibid.)

One of these injured men died at the LA County General Hospital November 6, but the rest survived thanks to the rescue efforts of the rest of the interregional team. A committee was formed by the Forest Service in conjunction with firefighting officials to use the tragic Loop Fire to improve fire prediction and containment methods, along with task force recommendations for the strengthening of safety and communication regulations.


The highly localized decisions and actions which resulted in the tragedy points to the need of:
  • (1) more specific direction on safe practices in similar topography; (2) specific control of helicopter attack; (3) scheduling of more complete inter- and intra-crew communication; and (4) adequate scouting to keep sector bosses currently informed when working in critical and possibly critical situations.

    (Ibid.)


  • [We need to] make crystal clear in firefighting training that a “chimney,” “narrow box canyon,” or similar topographic feature is a Hazard Area even if devoid of fuel.

    (Ibid.)

  • The El Cariso Regional Park on Hubbard in Sylmar is a memorial to the aforementioned El Cariso “Hot Shots,” the local United States Department of Agriculture – Forestry boys who were killed during their battle to keep the flames from entering the town.

    That was kind of bummer stuff, so sorry, but an interesting slice of history. Wildfires in California are far more devastating than the earthquakes with which the rest of the country generally associates the state, and as a result, fire science in California is often at the cutting edge of research and methods for saving lives in the future.

    But back to sunny Ms. Burke.


    “I’ve become a real flower bug,” she reports, “since Mom and Dad bought a retail nursery in Yucaipa last year. Each time I visit them, I load up the back seat of the Olds with so much greenery before heading home that it winds up looking just like some sort of window box on wheels.”

    (Ibid.)


    That’s cute.

    Weekends, June’s bantam (5′) beauty heads for the sun-drenched beaches of Santa Monica, equipped with an over-sized straw hat and nylon sailing parka. “My freckles still show no matter what I try!”

    a) Yay for little lookers! Rock on with your pocket rocket self.
    b) Why do freckled people always desire to hide them? Freckles are so unbelievably cute. I don’t get it.
    c) It looks like she is Thumbelina laying in an orange peel. What the what is that stuff?


    PEOPLE I ADMIRE: Albert Einstein, Dr. John Rock and Dr. Francis Kelsey, beause of their outstanding medical contributions.

    MY IDEAL EVENING: Have cocktails and dinner, take in a movie, and then have a pizza.

    (Playmate data sheet.)

    Right on to Einstein, pizza, mutts, and having a serious job while attending Cal Poly Pomona during her appearance as a Playmate. Ms. Burke is the exception and not the rule of pretentious brandy-snifter marlarkey we went over earlier this week. Fun final fact: her sister-in-law, Allison Parks, was the 1966 Playmate of the Year.

    Oh, and I guess a really fun final fact is that Ms. Burke was pregnant during this shoot. BOMBSHELL! Maybe that is why she is so adorably radiant. As you probably noticed, it’s another Cowboy Kate-influenced cover, I assume to reflect the “Girls of Texas” story. R.I.P., Sam Haskins.

    Flashback Friday: Antisocial flutterby

    June 25, 2010

    This entry was posted in its original form October 4, 2009 at 3:30 pm. This was less than a week before Paolo and Miss D’s wedding. They have a wonderful relationship and a good marriage, and I want to point that out because I feel I’ve come off as down on the marriage thing lately. It is my own shit and observations and nothing to do with the good people who make a beautiful thing work.

    Ah, then, I must have it all backward; do I, Anna Karina?

    This is how antisocial I am, and this is the price I pay: just a bit ago, I called Thai House on Tully (best. I am sorry, best. — no, stop talking. best.) to see if they were open, and when someone picked up the phone, I simply hung up, because I felt my question had been adequately answered by the mere fact of a voice on the other end. Are there people at Thai House working? Yes, I deduced. And did not bother to speak, just hit “end.” That’s right, I wordlessly disconnected a call with the business I was planning to patronize purely for the purpose of limiting my level of interaction with other people.

    I enjoy this restaurant and bear its employees nothing but good will, but did my actions remotely reflect this? No. I admit they did not.

    So then. THEN. I go to Thai House, my mind teeming with satay and moo yang daydreams, and, as I likely deserved, it wound up they are closed until 4:30. Whoever answered the phone would probably happily have told me that, had I not hung up to avoid talking to a fellow human being.

    I deserve the wait. To make up for what I’d done, when Gorgeous George hopped on to the yahoo chat and asked me to look over a recent draft of his toast for Paolo and Miss D’s wedding, I suggested that he join me at Thai House later. It is good to have a reason to comb your hair and act human. It’s important to do these things and not hole up in my cave. I’m sure of it. Otherwise I will fall out of practice at being talked to and I will lose whatever magic I might still have, and then how will I ever interact again, as I am striving to do because I have good reasons?

    Daily Batman: Formula for eternal youth

    June 24, 2010


    via

    “If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”

    (Tom Stoppard)

    Bookfoolery: If I never sleep again until the end of my days, at least I will die well-read

    June 24, 2010

    Maybe “well” is subjective …


    If anyone but my Asia Argento plays Lisbeth Salander in an English-speaking adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I will put my hand through a blender. I pictured her the entire time I was reading.

    Finished Girl With the Dragon Tattoo over a sleepless night that lead to one uneasy stretch of light snooze cut short by sudden bouts of vomiting. I found it very absorbing — the book, not the violent gut spasms from who-knows-what combination of stress and inattentively poor personal care — but it caromed briefly in to a few areas for which I was not wild. Still it all hung together in the end and I recommend it without reservation. Then I ended up reading a particularly pulpy and breezy Ross Macdonald mystery from the 70’s whose title I have already forgotten even though it kept me company for several hours.


    See? Lots of people have insomnia and go on to have perfectly normal Summers! The Shining (Kubrick, 1980).

    I only remember that I’d picked it up a few months back along with a couple 70’s editions of Zane Grey at my preferred comic store, which, besides selling comics and related games and accessories, also carries a small inventory of used, cheapo books and spotty collections of memorabilia depending on what luckless local nerds have either died or lost enough money to place their treasures in hock. I snatched up the Greys and this Macdonald book a few months ago because I dug the kind of blocky-schlocky look to the lines of the cover art.


    The Underground Man — that’s right. Decent enough title, I guess.

    The phrase “blew my mind” was used repeatedly in the book to refer to literally taking too much acid and suffering brain damage and prolonged schizophrenic episodes triggered by hallucinations, which usage I thought was a handy demonstration of the evolution of slang — in the book it was suggestive of overdose and possible fatality, but you can see how it developed over time the more benign definition it has now in the sense of changing one’s worldview in a feller-than-the-usual-pace-of-educational swoop, while still somewhat referencing the phrase’s original intent.


    2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968). He swar to gar for all his life that whole sequences of this film were not planned to look like an acid trip, to which anyone who has ever done acid says, “Sure.”

    The Macdonald book wasn’t the worst thing ever and some of the slangy shenanigans and quaintly dated rough talk in it wet my palate for some Hammett. I never re-read Red Harvest until October (red HARVEST, get it?) but I also brought down with me from Portland The Dain Curse and the Op’s short-story collection and could give one of those a spin. Think that’s what I’ll do tonight.

    Actually maybe Hammett is only the appetizer. Know what? I think I will try to squeeze in L.A. Confidential before I have to pick up Tommyknockers. I usually, though not maniacally, like to read that closer to Christmastime because of the whole Bloody Christmas scandal that sparks so much of the action, but I’ve been self-auditing through all these long sick waking nights, and by setting this bookfoolery in to print I have come to see that I’ve got some really fucked-up and compulsive reading habits which are even perhaps the least of my worries and so I feel like rebelling against myself in this small thing to test the waters of making Change happen. I’m going to do this because I can.

    Synchronicity — just dug out Red Harvest and the quote on the front cover is from Ross Macdonald, the author whose pulp I read this morning. Wild way that the universe is telling me I’m on the right track? or subconscious self-affirmation from whatever part of my brain has been looking at that (quite kickass) Red Harvest cover for the last four years?

    I can’t say for sure. Either way, tell that girl from Canada that it ain’t ironic.

    William Blake Month: She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot; is bound / In spells of law to one she loathes

    June 24, 2010

    Some thoughts from Mr. Blake on free love, fidelity, procreative pressure, and the institution of marriage as it functioned (and did not) for ladies during his lifetime:


    Jane Birikin and the dread Serge G.

    … She who burns with youth and knows no fixed lot;
    is bound
    In spells of law to one she loathes:
    and must she drag the chain
    Of life, in weary lust!


    Must chilling murderous thoughts obscure
    The clear heaven of her eternal spring?
    to bear the wintry rage
    Of a harsh terror driv’n to madness, bound to hold a rod
    Over her shrinking shoulders all the day;


    Marilyn and Arthur on their wedding day. Marilyn’s dress was ivory but her veil arrived white, so rather than freak out or buy a new one she soaked it in tea overnight. She was an orphan and imminently practical.

    & All the night
    To turn the wheel of false desire: and longings
    that wake her womb
    To the abhorred birth of cherubs in the human form
    That live a pestilence & die a meteor & are no more.

    (William Blake, excerpt from Visions of the Daughters of Albion. 1793. Shockingly self-published.)


    The Graduate (Kubrick, 1967).EDIT: It was directed by Mike Nichols, not Stanley Kubrick. Jesus-christ-bananas. How that got past me is a mystery. Mucho mas mucho thanks to Peteski for the heads-up!

    Happy bride month, am I right? Goin’ to the chapel…

    In all seriousness, William Blake was a sort of pre-feminist and a great admirer of Mary Wollstonecraft but for all his forward-thinking, he could behave curiously backwardly and contemporarily to the times in his personal life, almost as if his own wife, Catherine, did not count in his reckoning of the equalities of the opposite sex.


    Audrey and Mel. She looks terribly unhappy and trapped. I do not believe this was their wedding day but rather shortly before their breakup in an ad for Givenchy’s L’Interdit, the first celebrity fragrance. I wear Givenchy Amarige when I am Really Me. But that is very rare. So often it is best to be Other Me-s, so I roll with Michael by Michael Kors.

    As an example, when they had trouble conceiving, Blake openly advocated bringing another, younger woman into their marriage and relegating Catherine to second-class status in a different bedroom. My guess is he backed up his proposal by citing the timeless, good ol’ Rachel/Leah biblical argument, which reminds me that I get to hit Handmaid’s Tale next month.


    Humbert and Lo’s toes. Lolita (Kubrick, 1962).

    Okay, I went in to more insomnia-fueled bookfoolery and this entry is now uncomfortably longer than I’d prefer a Blake one to be. I’m going to split it up. Meet me in the next post. More Kubrick, even (I didn’t intend for that to happen but now that it has I’m on board). (edit: again, The Graduate is directed by Mike Nichols. Not Stanley Kubrick.)

    Daily Batman: Come to lady

    June 23, 2010


    Again, awesome art by Bengal.

    For doing pretty much nothing with it, it’s been a surprisingly busy day. I feel accomplished. Did a lot of swimming and started that Stieg Larsson book I mentioned last week. Just wound down tutoring my Scamp (somehow we spent way longer than I had planned talking about the Alamo, but I suppose that should have been expected because she is a nut for the old west and I ♥ Davy Crockett) and now I’m off to scare up dinner. Catch you on the flip.

    William Blake Month: Liberated Negative Space o’ the Day: “The Tigers of Wrath”

    June 23, 2010


    Berlin, Germany

    The quote comes from “Proverbs of Hell,” a chapter in William Blake’s gnostic text The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

    The book has been interpreted as an anticipation of Freudian and Jungian models of the mind, illustrating a struggle between a repressive superego and an amoral id. It has also been interpreted as an anticipation of Nietzsche’s theories* about the difference between slave morality and master morality.

    (the wiki)

    *cf: in particular Nietzsche’s camel – lion – child model of human thought and behavior as outlined in Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen / Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (1883-1885).

    Portions of this post appeared originally on December 5, 2009.

    Daily Batman: “Wtmfh” edition

    June 22, 2010


    via

    Batman’s big love scene — with a goat. Wtmfh? So many more questions than answers. I’ll admit, that would discredit Batman. That would discredit just about anybody, even people who make their living in legit adult entertainment and are recognized for it. Like, I dunno, Tera Patrick, even. I mean — a goat? Shit. That’s bad juju. Madison Ivy all calls Tera Patrick to cancel coffee dates; Ron Jeremy turns and quickly walks away from Tera Patrick at the Van Nuys opening of some low-rent Ed Hardy boutique; Sasha Grey sees Tera Patrick waving in the security camera at the gates of her complex and pretends she is sick with laryngitis.* Puzzled and unwanted, a lonely Tera Patrick walks forlornly down Rodeo Drive, scuffing her clear lucite heels as she trudges to the picked over remains of a sidewalk sale at the Bebe. Poor Tera Patrick.

    Oh, holy heck! Piss up a penny whistle, it is CLEARLY time for me to hit the hay! You stay classy, The Internet. I am exhausted as heck.



    *A maledictory fiction for humor’s sake: the real Sasha Grey would NEVER do that. (And needless to say, neither would Ms. Patrick be guilty of hurting an animal even for the sake of film.)

    Movie Moment and answer to yesterday’s Blake trivia question: Manhunter (part 1) and nominal review of Red Dragon

    June 22, 2010

    ATTN: Spoilers like a bat outta hell. Stop if you’ve never seen nor read Red Dragon and Manhunter and are the kind of person who yells at people on the internet for posting spoilers of things that have been out for decades.

    I was relaxing after dinner and I suddenly remembered yesterday’s random Blake trivia — forgot about that!

    Okay, soooo, I used this picture yesterday in the “Tyger” post …

    … because it comes from Manhunter (Michael Mann, 1986). This is part 1 of its Movie Moment because I need to cover technical aspects a different day. Today I want to just sort of compare Manhunter and a more recent adaptation of the same fucked-up and riveting material. Manhunter is the original filmed adaptation of the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon (1981), in which the writer William Blake plays a very large part of the dissociative disease that leads the antagonist to kill and sets off the action of the novel/film.


    Manhunter, the original Red Dragon screen version.

    In 2002, a different adaptation, whose title was the same as the book — Harris’s novels have a weird and haphazard history of screen-arrival in Hollywood — was released in light of the success of the year before’s screen adaptation of Hannibal (novel: Thomas Harris, 1999; film: Ridley Scott, 2001), a rather late-breaking sequel to the infamous film version of Silence of the Lambs (novel: Harris, 1988; movie: Jonathan Demme, 1991).


    Red Dragon, second adaptation.

    A totally different animal, not even attempting to remake in part the cinematic masterpiece that is the color-drenched, painstakingly-framed Manhunter, the alternate more recent film is what I consider a sloppy adaptation of Red Dragon. It is nothing like the very-admirable entry into the Harris genre that is Hannibal, which despite the replacement of Academy Award-winner Jodie Foster with Academy Award-nominee Julianne Moore as the infamous “[Hello,] Clarice” Starling managed, I think by virtue of Sir Anthony Hopkins’ reprisal of the sensationalist character of Dr. Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter combined with Scott Free productions’ attachment to the project in the wake of smash-hit Gladiator, to make quite the box office splash. As it ended up, that success was deserved.


    Check out Vegetarian Times in the background. No. 1 favorite Hannibal still with A Bullet.

    The Red Dragon revamp that followed it the next year, on the other hand, falls short of its predecessors due to cocky casting and the hasty pudding nature of the picture. It is almost unfair to stack it against such a stunning piece of eye candy and psychological discourse as Manhunter. But I’m going to anyway.


    “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed In Sun” — William Blake. Blake’s illuminated print-making process is actually still partially guessed at, as he never troubled to write down most of how he did it. Another post — I promise.

    The novel Red Dragon, the first in the Hannibal Lecter series of books by Thomas Harris, has as its main detective not Clarice Starling, but rather a young FBI mindhunter named Will Graham. The book and 2002 film take its title from the antagonist’s personal inspiration (and devil with whom he dances) for his transformation to what he views as a higher being. This is a highly detailed, uniquely gnostic series of ritual murders which the “bad guy” bases around Blake’s work, particularly his illuminated manuscript print “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed In Sun.” The killer calls this multiply murderous, cleansing-by-blood process “Becoming.”

    This antagonist is called the Tooth Fairy by the press, a name he loathes, but he’s tipped to the reader early on — by his preferred nomenclature as the Red Dragon — to be a shy and cleft-palated industrial photographic-development-expert named Francis Dolarhyde. Francis is an abused and orphaned soul with an unfathomably deep dark side due to psychosexual torture in his upbringing.

    Meanwhile, young Will Graham is a bummed-out “good guy” chilling in Marathon, Florida with his family on the beach, trying to get his mojo back after unhappily closing the toughest case of his career as a profiler with the FBI: arresting former friend and consultant, reknowned psychiatrist, classical music fan, and noted long pig gourmand one Dr. H. Lecter — M.D., Ph.D., hella murderer.

    As the action unfolds, the already tightly-strung Dolarhyde — who, as the Red Dragon, writes in supplication to Dr. Lecktor/Lecter appealing for help in his quest to purify his weak flesh and Become, further enmeshing the good doc in the plotohs — finds his demon not only hunted by highly-skilled semi-retired agent Will Graham and the FBI, but also must elude his own dark side’s brutal orders when he suddenly finds himself in an unlikely and empathetic mutual attraction with a plucky handicapped co-worker and falters in his faith in “Becoming.”

    This complex character is played equally well by Tom Noonan in Manhunter and Ralph Fiennes in Red Dragon. Noonan gets the edge for creepy wordless scenes such as rasing his head to the sunlight like an animal drinking in vital and engrammed diurnal directives; Fiennes has the advantage in the all-important following tattoo-revelation scene and Red Dragon cry of chagrined triumph at tabloid reporter and luckless human torch Freddy Lounds (Steven Lang, 1986; Philip Seymour Hoffman, ’01: winner Hoffman on that one — ♥ that dude’s freaky energy 4eva-evah).


    YOU OWE ME AWE.

    Totally disturbing scene.

    Tormented by the demon with which he wrestles, Dolarhyde attempts to steal and eat the original Blake painting which has been, in his mind, masterminding his murders. He believes that by consuming the painting, he will stop the voices, visions, and impulses torturing his brain with which he valiantly argues.

    He finds himself particularly rising in opposition to the Red Dragon’s orders that he murder Reba (infinitely worthy and perpetually underused Joan Allen plays her in Manhunter while shiny-eyed dope Emily Watson —I know it’s an unpopular opinion but this chick bugs the hell out of me — got the role in the revamp), the outspoken, sexually bold blind woman from the photo labs with whom he has fallen in love.


    Punch Drunk Love, Cradle Will Rock, me shaking my head and saying “Boo.” (limited theatrical release)

    Dolarhyde is a sadder, sympathetic and strangely more touching, conflicted character than the early Lecter (or even his later and in my book cheaply slapped together Hannibal Rising incarnation) and much more relatable than Dolarhyde’s equally compulsive 1988 series successor, Buffalo Bill — “it puts the lotion on its etc” — are ever portrayed to be, yet because of Dolarhyde’s disorderly mind and act-driven kills, the Red Dragon as a predator has scenes that are in some ways more resonantly chilling than any of the often-quoted histrionics hailing from either star of Silence of the Lambs‘ gruesome sideshow.

    As an example, in the above screencap, the Red Dragon side of Francis’s beaten, slavish personality makes the nervous newly-dating Dolarhyde give blind Reba McClane a drink of water from a glass with not only ice floating it but also the anciently misshapen and hideously rotting false teeth of the author of his schizophrenia, Dolarhyde’s dreadful dead grandmother, which dental implements he fits in to his own mouth and bites his victims in a frenzy during his kills. (Hence the hated nickname.) That part is not a-okay with me.


    Forensic expert showing an FBI-Atlanta PD task force meeting a plaster mold of Gramma Dolarhyde’s choppers.

    Um. Yeah. All that biting and teeth stuff? And the yells from the Red Dragon and his grandmother to murder Reba before he accidentally tells her how they have him trapped in his own mind? That’s fucked up. And oh, god. When those teeth knock against the glass as Reba thanks him, raises it to her lips, and sips, there is not a cringe-free face in the room.

    So. In Manhunter, the first jump of Red Dragon from novel to screen, Will Graham is played by William Petersen, and Brian Cox plays Lecktor — not a typo. The film spells it this way. (You may recognize my darlingest dearest awesome Mr. Cox, pictured below as “Lecktor,” from Rushmore, The Ring, or Supertroopers — he is a personal fave from Way Back).

    In 2002’s adaptation of Red Dragon, Edward Norton performs the part of Agent Graham with Sir Anthony Hopkins reprising his role as Dr. Lecter. Hopkins did get to have a little fun, for once off of his familiar smug game of “fava beans” and psychological bullshit, because this whelp of a wolf among the lambs has just recently been chained in the Red Dragon storyline.

    The Lecter of Red Dragon is still a young and relatively vengeful Lecter, pacing a gym on a harness and leash for mandatory exercise to keep the other prisoners of his psychiatric facility safe (no mask just yet), unthinkably pissed at Graham for having caught him several years earlier, even lunging for him in an unguarded moment of rage — Lecter is not yet completely at home in the role of Fucking With the Po-lice as is the maturing character encountered in Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.

    In spite of Hopkins’ fun stretching his wings, I still feel that Brian Cox plays him with a hair more dignity and better-hinged chilliness than Hopkins does, which gives Lecktor, vs. Lecter, that slender shoot of a just-germinating seed of polish-mixed-with-go-for-broke-ruthlessness which is so necessary for the character’s believable development in to who he is by Hannibal. I think Hopkins saw the chance to finally show the less-controlled, animalistic side of a character he’d been at home playing as an after-the-fact “tyger” — caged and angry but a careful planner — for a long time and jumped, maybe too high, at the opportunity for this gamier potrayal. Just an opinion.


    “You think I’m stupid?”
    “No, Dr. Lecter. I don’t think you’re stupid.”
    “But you still caught me.”
    “You had certain … disadvantages.”
    “Disadvantages? Such as … ?”
    “You’re insane.”

    You are correct to recognize Petersen from the original, Las Vegas-set television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Fun fact: for Halloween 2002, the producers deliberately teamed William Petersen up in his role as Gil Grissom, the brilliant but troubled detective able to get in to killers’ minds, in pursuit of a nemesis freaky killer performed in the October 31st episode by Tom Noonan (Francis Dolarhyde, aka the Tooth Fairy) as a nod to their parts opposite one another in Manhunter. Noonan played a demented illusionist, escape artist, and master magician known as Zephyr. Near retirement, the Zephyr still had some scores to settle and a lot of pyrotechnic sleight-of-hand tricks up his sleeve before he was ready to call it a day. The episode actually ends in delightful ambiguity, but I will not spoil it.


    Special thanks to wetpaint, a CSI: fansite, for the screencaps.

    I used to wonder with great conflict why, having lost someone special to me to a real life version of this type of shit, I am okay with fare such as the Lecter film and novel shenanigans, CSI:, and the like when I am so vehemently opposed to so-called “true crime” and often even discussions of such stuff in company or on the news. I will leave the room on certain topics and I don’t consider that burying my head in the sand — I have seen all I want to see for now of what people will say “needs to be reported” like as some kind of lesson.


    Fiennes and Watson in Red Dragon; my professor friend and I looked nothing like this during our deep conversation (below) — I just felt like I had not shown enough stills from it as opposed to Manhunter.

    Not too long ago, I wound up one day in deep, private conversation after a where-am-I-going-in-life conference with a former professor I dearly love about Harris’s novels and perhaps Patrica Cornwell’s, or some line very similar, and I confessed that I felt conflicted about my reading of that type of material because of things I’d dealt with in the past. He surprised me by saying he’d also lost a friend to violent crime growing up and despised, as I did, the cult of violence and serial-killer-admiration that seems to grip the tabloid television shows and bestselling non-fiction shelves. Yet he, too, read with genuine enjoyment many series of fictional genre crime thrillers. He said that, like me, he’d often disgustedly questioned himself as to how he kept both opinions in balance, and why he differentiated between hating the one and being all right with the other.


    We need this hero.

    He said he’d read a great scholarly article just a few years earlier, and I cannot remember the writer he quoted because I am garbage and frankly slugging a margarita on the rocks right now (it’s hot where I live), which forever answered our question for him.

    This psychological scholar and literary critic posited that the murder mystery — all the detective thrillers and suspense novels and cop vs. boogeyman films the genre spawns — even with a detailed portrayal of a base, disturbed and seemingly random monster like Lecter or Dolarhyde as their antagonist — far from the feeding of dark fantasy that we anxiously supposed, serves instead a need in humanity to see our fears realized (as we had already done in reality) but the conflict then resolved.


    Couldn’t go the whole post without a Silence of the Lambs scene.

    What he basically said was that every time he and I watched CSI: and Grissom caught the Bad Guy, or read a James Patterson book on the beach and cheered as Alex Cross brought in his latest nemesis, we were solving our friends’ murders and seeing the people who disrupted our lives brought to task for their wrongdoing. We were gaining our much needed closure. Even people who have not suffered loss but empathetically and logically fear it because they love people in their own lives and understand that the possibility of these lives being taken by cruel injustice is never far away, seek and enjoy that same positive resolution to this basic human anxiety as it plays out in genre crime fiction.


    Lecter caged and contained, kept in by the Forces of Good and therefore shut up like a witch in a well of a fairy story. (temporarily in this case but you get my drift) The people of the village are Safe.

    It blew my mind, and I almost wanted to reject it because it was so far from my self-loathing castigation, but it felt very true. I know he was right. I am no longer so guilty nor constantly probing myself for some latent and despicable, prurient interest in fictional depictions of things that in real life have caused me pain. I understand now that I am actually acting out in my mind, against a cathartic and safe backdrop, the conflict and agonized anxieties from which I shy away in real reports on the news, and deliberately seeking through a book in my hands a satisfactory resolution which will lay my mind at ease that justice has been reached — and, by extension, that justice can and will be reached in reality.

    That strayed pretty far afield from Blake and Manhunter but I’m kind of not sorry.

    All of this entry’s screencaps come from kpannier and thewadingegret on the lj; rottentomatoes forums; and personal grabs here and there over the years.

    William Blake Month: “The Fly”

    June 22, 2010

    Late post, am I right? I’ve been invovled in some deep bookfoolery which I will explain below. The heading of each of the chapters in a book I read last night/today is followed by a quote, and one such quote was from this poem of Blake’s.


    via

    Little Fly,
    Thy summer’s play
    My thoughtless hand
    Has brushed away.

    Am not I
    A fly like thee?
    Or art not thou
    A man like me?


    For I dance
    And drink, and sing,
    Till some blind hand
    Shall brush my wing.

    If thought is life
    And strength and breath
    And the want
    Of thought is death;


    via

    Then am I
    A happy fly,
    If I live,
    Or if I die.

    (William Blake, “The Fly.”)

    So — the lateness in the day. Yes. Sorry, but I am not even firing on four let alone six cyllinders today. See, I went against all my usual instincts and quickly finished my yearly series last night wayyy ahead of time and I refuse to let that happen with my other obligations, so when I dropped the last in the series to the floor, I dug in to my pile and instead of snatching up The Tommyknockers (absolutely not touching it until July 2nd or 3rd or I will not be where I need to be for the 4th and I cannot afford any more Bad Days), I started this book my cousin Mary loaned me called The Descent.

    I was initially skeptical and, at points, flirting with grogginess from the overabundance of sleep-inducing substances I pour down my throat every night in an effort to quiet the seven-headed rock dragon of my insomnia which makes the Balrog look like a Pound Puppy, but it was amazing shit, full of caves and sci-fi creatures and anthropology and linguistics and religious themes and Hell and mountaineers and Jesuits and everything else that rings my bell, and before I knew it I was completely sucked in to the throat of it. I powered through the layers of tylenol pm, Miller, and a slug of Ny-Quil I’d taken earlier, ignoring my sandy eyelids because I Couldn’t Stop Reading, and, having finally shook off any need for sleep and finished the last sentence and closed the book thoughtfully at around nine this morning, I can confidently say I’m a believer.


    via

    I slid it under my bed and lay reflecting on what I’d read for a few minutes, because I felt like there had been some unresolved plot points, then I suddenly did this herky jerky twitch and thought, “How many standalone science fiction novels are that long? Plus … it was set in ’99, but the cover was new. No dog-eared pages. Mary would’ve loaned it to me years ago if she hadn’t just recently bought and read it. It’s a new book.” Reprint. Why?


    via

    Totally excited by this chain of thought, I flipped my ass in the air, dove under my bed and grabbed the book back out of my piles and checked the front. HELL YES: among the author’s other books listed by the publisher is one titled The Ascent, which I think it is fair to conjecture can only be a sequel, so now that I’ve finished all the housework and cooking I’d planned previously to do in the hours of the morning I’d spent reading, I’m going to cruise out to the used book store by my house and see about scaring that bitch up for tonight — and see if there are more. Keep you posted. Don’t worry about the insomnia thing: I’ll get all the sleep I need when I’m dead.

    Mean Girls Monday: Tell it like it is edition

    June 21, 2010


    Yyyep.

    Daily Batman: Why? … Why?

    June 21, 2010

    In Batman’s nightmares, he is not well-liked and he doesn’t understand why.

    I had troubling, thickly plotted nightmares last night but too much was going on immediately after I woke that I didn’t have time to make a note of them. The last dreams like that I can remember happened while I was subbing for the Scamps, and I told them about it the next day:

    I dreamt that my daughter was being held in this large industrial building and I was using the stairs to get to a certain floor before the elevator, and a dude started pursuing me and I turned around and first wrestled him, then kicked him down a short flight of stairs, then ran briefly down after him for, you know, “suresies” and threw him over the edge and heard him come down all wet and broken on a landing several flights below. I totally did not even lean over the rails to check on him after that because I was only focused on getting the kidlet and getting out.


    Scamps in bio class action, but I chose a blurry picture for privacy.

    The kids were shocked and exhilarated by this vivid story of unmerciful ass-kicking and I said it was all on their heads because they’d asked me anxiously the day before during Social Studies what would happen if the President’s daughters were ever to be kidnapped. I’d reassured them and theorized that not only would the Secret Service prevent such a godforsaken thing from ever happening, but that my guess was Michelle and Barack Obama, besides being loving parents, are pretty hardcore and good at taking things in their own hands, and that I definitely would not want to be in the shoes of an attempted kidnapper of their girls were he to be caught.

    In retrospect, maybe I shouldn’t have told a classroom of ten-year-olds that I dreamt I straight up dropped a motherfucker, but, on the other hand, it could be part of why I had practically zero discipline problems in that class.