"Elias Nebula is practicing Japanese but no one knows."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Living It Up at The Cockfights." Or, "Custer's Last Stand."

"He peered sideways up and gave a long low whistle of call, then paused awhile in rapt attention, his even white teeth glistening here and there with gold points. Chrysostomos."

I was watching a Dog the Bounty Hunter episode which I knew I'd already seen, which is - as I said yesterday - not far different from giving up altogether and freely, deliberately, frittering away your God-given life. It is not far different, I say, from cocking a pistol into your lower jaw and spinning the barrel playfully then pulling the trigger just to see what might come of it.

Anyway, that happened and this episode involved the team chasing a slippery character who goes by the colourful name of CHESTER CHRISOSTOMOS ("gold-mouthed," I thought, a good and dutiful scholarly "spalpeen" and remembranceful reader of James Joyce), who had retreated to the deepest darkest wilds of Hawaii. He had, in the idiom of his confreres, "dug in."

This man CHESTER GOLD-MOUTHED withdrew from society not - like Thoreau - to be closer to his thoughts and God-in-Nature, but to partake in low gambling and cock-fighting. He found a certain rural transcendental calm in bloodletting and mayhem.

The team busted in on one of his associates out way out in the wilds and the guy had dead chickens all over his yard and was actually wearing a baseball cap that said "COCK FIGHTING". The man goes, "I am not involved in cock-fighting."

They didn't find Chester. He had a way of disappearing into the night.

So on day three or four, Dog announced to the camera his revised methodology: "The plan is the boys are riding the motorcycles down in there, Baby Lisa's parked out at his mother's house and Beth and I are going to be up on the ridge." Then, without a trace of irony, he said: "We learned this tactic from Custer."

Their enterprise was about as successful as Custer's. Baby Lisa abandoned her post to use the toilet and the thing fell apart from there. "We're kind of stuck here," Dog admitted, "so we've got to try to make a possibility out of the impossible."

This seemingly involved them browbeating Chester's girl CARLA to no avail, then blundering aimlessly through the brush. At one point Dog picked up a breeze-block and hurled it into a bush. I thought, "What if Chester Chrisostomos had of been in there? He'd of been killed." The methodology further involved Duane Lee and Leland building plank bridges and falling into quicksand. The A&E website amazingly has the transcript of this episode, which includes this wonderful exchange, which since we have the apparatus I simply must quote liberally from:

00:54:16Right now we found this freakin' pig farm, we can't find a way to get around it.
00:54:20There's a big, huge moat.
00:54:22We got Leland going to go get a plank, and then we're gonna drop it like the military and freakin' attack.
00:54:31Go, just bounce like a rabbit.
00:54:33I'm right behind you.
00:54:36( laughing ) Are you going ?
00:54:44No way, bro.
00:54:48Okay, you guys, it's getting dark.
00:54:50We gotta put this on hold until tomorrow.

As you can plainly see from the transcript, they conclude their "methodology" - as usual - by going home as soon as it gets dark. It's really a pity that they stop at sundown, so they can put the kids to bed. Because as I have established in a previous essay, most criminal enterprise tends to take place after sundown. Maybe this is another tactic cribbed from that master strategist CUSTER.

In the interests of brutal honesty they really ought to show the scenes at home after a day of bounty-hunting, after the Chapmans have "clocked off," and everybody is sitting in the TV room watching TV. Like that scene a few weeks ago where they showed Duane Lee dolefully watching Storage Wars. Gary Boy stuffing his face with too much pasta. They could have ingeniously juxtaposed these scenes of domestic calm with orgiastic, bacchanalian scenes of Chester living it up at the cockfights. Chester with a chicken's head in his mouth, blood around his jaws as he heaves on an ice pipe.


As I mentioned, I had seen this episode before, but happily I couldn't seem to remember the ending. How they caught the bad guy and such. Usually I remember some sweet peculiarity from the arrest and the corollary Backseat Redemption Scene. This time I couldn't remember any such thing. It became clear why not in the last minute or so, when it turned out that one night, while the Chapmans were innocently dozing watching TV at home, the police burst in on Chester's rural compound and arrested him. It was one of those episodes, where they lost out to the FILTH. The police, it seems, don't play fair. They have an annoying habit of going after criminals even after the sun has gone down.


I wonder how much they pay per hour for somebody to transcribe the dialogue from an episode. It'd be a lot of fun I expect and you'd certainly improve your written English as you worked.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"The House Always Wins."

Sometimes in your day, in your life, in your soul's reeling arc betwixt the vault and the precipice, you have to simply listen to some good old kkkountry gold on the stereo of your shitkicker flatbed truck. And when you stop, as stop ye must, you have to stroll over to your foeman's front porch, where your foeman lounges in a hammock, and you got to spit a plug of tobacco in your foeman's face and smile as the juice drips down your foeman's chin.

Other times you have to watch an episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter that you know that you have seen before, even with the knowing that thy term of natural life on this firmament is perishing by the second.

Why because it's good and it's righteous and it's right and it's goodly and it's kindly and it's not ungood.

This lunchtime I watched an episode where Dog was going after an inveterate gambler, one Kristine Lau, and this provided the premise and the impetus for round after round of gambling metaphors from Dog.

"She's a gambler. So are we. We're gamblers. It's gonna be like chasing ourselves. Because bounty-hunters are gamblers. Every time we take on a bond we make a gamble. Right?"

The camera then shows Leland with his lips parted. You can almost read his mind:
"...? Whaddid he just say? We're gamblers now?"

Nothing daunted, Dog kept the thematic zingers coming. "We're The House. She's the gambler. She's bet she can outrun me. A-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha."

Now Dog had narrowed his focus. He wasn't going to keep making broad gambling metaphors. He was going to refer to himself and the team henceforth as "The House".

This is not to say he didn't experiment with other, equally confusing figures of speech. At one point, to punctuate a lull in the narrative, he growled "We're here. We're live. This isn't Memorex."

Bad metaphor for the digital age, Duane. You're making yourself look old - obsolete.

Then he resorted to that classic trope of American folk rhetoric, willful exaggeration. Speaking of his quarry's dwindling options, he asked facetiously, "Where they gonna go, the ocean? They gonna rent a submarine to get away from us?"

He was on rare form in this episode. It was, I should note, from maybe six or seven years ago, when the world looked young and hopeful and a bard was inspired to heights inconceivable today.

Dog's methodology had been typically bewildering. In pursuit of Kristine Lau they had decided to be as blatant and cumbersome as possible, effected by blundering raucously into all the illegal gambling dens and asking the staff bluntly "Ya seen her?" while brandishing her mugshot. Amazingly, when this didn't turn up any results, Dog seemed genuinely surprised. He was at a loss as to how it could've not've worked.

As time ran out the bounty-hunting team would go to the car parks of these strip malls where the gambling dens were and saunter around like Union Square protesters, ostensibly scaring off custom. I think the quaint idea was to embarrass her into submission. This didn't seem to be working either, especially because come about ten o'clock at night, when most gamblers are still eating breakfast, the Chapmans got tired and went home.

They were knocking on a gambling den door one evening when they received a call from their own office that Kristine Lau was there and had given herself up. Not one to underplay the moment, Dog still got right flustered and acted like they were in a race against death itself to get back to the office before Kristine Lau changed her mind. He was all animated in the SUV, bouncing up and down on the back seat, one second chiding Beth for her driving then chuckling with glee "The House is gonna win!"

As usual when they got to the office the arrest was totally mundane and everybody calmed down immediately.

Nevertheless, Dog had room for one more gambling metaphor in his summing-up segment: "In a gambling perspective you win, lose or draw. This was a draw."

Here he paused, and I thought he had finally laid his flirtation with the device of The House to rest. No such thing. He grinned his pure kkkountry gold smile and resumed:

"A draw in favour of The House."

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Unused Jokes" Or, "Backwork".

The "Unused Jokes" envelope is beginning to fill up. These jokes are ready-to-go, but they are (I predict) going to be boring to write out. They might also be boring to read. The convoluted mechanics of realizing the joke, of turning it from an idle rumour in my brain-stem to actual "physical" words on the "page," the actual "real-time" backwork involved, put me off writing these jokes down. I've got a whole new round of Dog the Bounty Hunter material around somewhere, unpublished (and so - to the greater world - unsaid), for the same reason: too much bloody backwork.


JOKE #1. Infinity Gauntlet: The Movie. Starring Klaus Kinski as Thanos.

JOKE-OID #2. Monkees Season Two Revisited.

I watched the last two episodes of The Monkees and then I watched the 1969 TV Special 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee.

The penultimate episode had a commentary by Mike Nesmith, who delivered it in a cool manner. Humility, remorse, chuckling at the excesses of youth. Nice. I was quite pleased because he confirmed some of the aimless ruminations of my previous "postings". For example, he recalled that the Monkees had indeed gotten cocky in the Second Season (he said they "gathered so much unwarranted power") that the character actors were required to carry the shows while the group rolled their eyes at their lines, ad-libbed badly and made their little peace signs. He said, "they would pretty much uniformly despise us or despise the show by the time they left."

DVD commentaries are often unintentionally funny. Nesmith was drawling about the show, then he'd get sidetracked on a subject and fall behind what was actually happening onscreen but he really couldn't give a fuck about that, you could tell... Incidentally, everybody on the DVD commentary tracks seemed to be compelled to remark, at some point, about Micky Dolenz's hair. The factoid that he had straightened his hair diligently in the First Season, but let it grow naturally curly in the Second. Everybody made this comment at some point. As if it were of some urgency that it be communicated to us.

Of all the things you could say... it gives you these sense that life, taken in the long view, is pretty boring, taken all in. As Emerson says, "Not much life in a lifetime."

Anyway Mike Nesmith was the only one who supported this factoid with some "local color" - he recalled how Micky would sit on the set with a pair of pantyhose on his head to keep his hair static and straight.

Nesmith was ruminating as the end credits came up, when you expect the DVD commentator to hush up and let the credits play out, but towards the last seconds he saw a credit for the man who designed the Monkeemobile and he burst out laughing at that: "The guy who designed the Monkeemobile got himself an end credit?"

Micky Dolenz had the honour of the DVD commentary track on the final episode. Micky puts the ADHD into DVD Commentary. The years since the Monkees have not brought wisdom to the Dolenz noggin. He's still hacking out the old hits. Night after night. Still Circus Boy in his mind. He makes Jerry Lewis in his prime sound sober and sagacious. The episode ends with a nice performance by Tim Buckley. Micky mused wistfully, as he watched it over over our shoulders, "I've been thinking of re-recording some Tim Buckley songs."

Yesssssss, I thought. That sounds like an excellent, commercially shrewd notion. Just what the world is crying out for right now in these difficult times: Micky Dolenz Sings Tim Buckley. The time is right. There is the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea. Time to hear Micky Dolenz's version of "Dolphins".

At one point, Dolenz was actually saying, "Oh wow. I remember buying that shirt. I liked that shirt. What did I do with that shirt."

Micky also provided the Commentary Track for the diabolically bad 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee. That is to be regretted because this hour-long special was so confusing that I wanted a lucid explanation of How it came to happen and more particularly Why?, and I obviously wasn't going to get any lucidity from Dolenz. It was like trying to sit through Fata Morgana back-to-back with Even Dwarfs Started Small in one bonanza of boredoom [sic].

The alternative to Micky's rhapsodies was a commentary track by Brian Auger, who is a "pivotal" figure in the hour-long special, this inexplicable cock-and-balls story. Brain [sic] was so dull and earnest in his commentary ("the Monkees were splendid chaps... I spent Thanksgiving with Mike Nesmith and his lovely family... hem, here I believe they used a green lens to...") that I ended up sticking with Micky pumping out his fitful bilgewater. Betwixt Scylla and Charybdis, always pick Scylla. After all, it has a girl's name.

At one point, - from the mouths of babes and Micky Dolenz - our guide, our Virgil, just sighed "This is so boring." The other momentary piece of rare and candid clarity slicing through spiritual materialism on this hour-long paean to self-indulgence and obfuscation came from Julie Driscoll of all people, who archly turned to the camera and observed, somewhat redundantly, that the show had degenerated into an "UTTER BLOODY SHAMBLES."

JOKE #3. "Worlds Within Worlds, Mad My Masters." Or, "Cinema Studies PhD at UEA": Clip of Duane Lee Chapman watching Storage Wars on TV. It was a scene with Dave talking to the camera.

JOKE #4. Amazing Race. The navy vet, newly returned from Afghanistan, who unwisely elected to go on the Amazing Race with his wife, who he hasn't lived with in years, immediately on returning from the War on Terror. They squabble incessantly. They say hurtful things that they can't take back.

They really went wild. They possessed the much-desired "Express Pass" which they could play at any time in the race and which would automatically get them past any obstacle on one occasion. They were counseled to use it wisely. They totally wasted it on a momentary whim and then compounded their mistake by giving up on the next task (balancing full bottles of wine on their heads) in a fit of pique and facing the two-hour penalty. As H.P. Lovecraft would say, "They went mad."

JOKE #5. People on Jeopardy really don't think about what they're saying to Alex in the biographical section. They're too nervous. Today, Dave, the reigning champion, actually informed America that his '98 Ford pickup had 140, 000 miles on the clock.

The woman whose ancestor was a judge at the Salem witch-trials.
"Did he order the deaths of anyone?" Alex asked, eyes twinkling.
"Yes he did," she replied, chuckling helplessly.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I ran into Keith from the No Neck Blues Band the other day in the Village. I had some copies of The Kirby Collector magazine in my hands at the time and he looked disdainfully at me and said "Is that what you're reading these days?"
My lips reared back from my gums in a defiant sneer and I drawled "Who don't like Jack Kirby? Show me that man. Let him come among us and state his case if he dare."

I asked Keith what he'd been doing lately. He'd been acting in Eugene O'Neill he says.
"Fiddle-de-dee," says I.
The band he said was sifting through old tapes of live shows, of which they had thousands of hours.
"Like the Dead." I mused dreamily. "Like Pearl Jam."
Keith said, "I prefer the comparison to the Dead."

We were talking about the interview I'd done with the No Neck Blues Band in 2003. I said, "Yeah we should do an update. A twentieth anniversary Where are they now?"
Keith goes, Yeah, it must of been a good ten years by now.
I shot back, shrilly, "Nine years. It was nine years. It's been nine years."
I am very prickly about matters of time -- every year an indictment.

On the subject of dwindling self-expectations, we spoke a bit about David Foster Wallace who was after all the sujet du jour nine years ago. Keith said he'd summoned up a bit of interest in DFW after DFW's suicide. "Like it legitimized his mewling about despair and sorrowfulness," I chuckled. Keith prevaricated a bit then admitted it. "Like reading Sylvia Plath."
I said I'd read The Pale King twice (happily I got paid by the hour for my trouble) and I was quite content to leave the poor man buried and not to bother his soul further after that last ejaculation.

So as we were parting ways, Keith goes, "So are you writing anything now?"

Before I could mumble something, eyes averted, about a vast systems novel in progress lo these many years, he corrected himself thus: "Are you writing a blog?"

As soon as he said it we both had a queasy sense of deja-vu, only compounded as I tediously spelt out ("spat out") the name ELIAS NEBULA.

"Oh yessss," Keith said. (Anagnorisis.) "I remember now. I tried looking it up. It was impenetrable."
"Impenetrable?" I rejoined, sharply. "You're calling me impenetrable? Have you listened to your group's records lately?!"

This is of course the tragedy of the avant-garde in the twenty-first century.
Infighting, and the regrettable conquest of the mid-cult.

AFTERWORD: I remembered, I urged Keith to look at this site and to leave a comment to prove he had done so. Curious readers will note that no such comment has been left. "Curious readers" may have "noted," in fact, that nary a comment has been left since Mark Balelo (an occasional character on the show Storage Wars) wrote his famous "cease and desist" note to this correspondent after I called him a nouveau-riche half-wit with all the grace and intuition of a guinea-fowl some time in the balmy days of last year. Is Mark Balelo really more committed to the life of the mind -- the project of die kunstkulturwelt -- than Keith from the No Neck Blues Band? It appears he is.

Asterix Und Der Goths Mit Der Herz Aus Glas Mein Gott Leibchen

I just watched Herzog's Heart of Glass after several months of pronounced dawdling and dithering and evasion (watching Monkees, watching Dog the Bounty Hunter). These Herzog films are forbidding, not in a sense that they will be an intellectual powerball overload, but in the sense that they could conceivably be dull. They almost never are dull, of course (Fata Morgana and Even Dwarfs Started Small notwithstanding); one wonders why the trepidation persists. Maybe it is the humdrum, unwavering nature of the opening German rural settings of his earlier films. The willful, defiant holding of the shot on the static mountaintop or the roiling mists (or the landing aeroplanes) beyond an acceptable point.

Maybe it is the dulness of the flaxen-haired towheaded German peasant in his shit-coloured smock. The image does not draw us in irresistibly.

I wearily work my way through the three Herzog box-sets I bought years ago on Shaftesbury Avenue, like a duty to the god Weltkunstkultur. Like I ploughed through The Monkees Seasons One and Two. Like I strove like a pit-pony through the Alain Delon box set my wife got me for Christmas. It's absurd; wasn't culture meant to be pleasurable?

It is of course a symptom of the times that we are so ADHD that to sit through anything longer than an episode of Justified is considered a travail.

The Delon box-set was on my "Wish List" so it's hardly my wife's fault, but still it felt like a purifying mortification for the deity of KUNSTKINEMA, sitting through these less-well-known Delon vehicles. The Widow Couderc. The Swimming Pool. Simone Signoret at every turn, imploring us with her sad eyes to invest our spirits in the project of Kunstkinema weltschmerz.

Nothing ever equals Delon's fine work in the Melville films, of course. Still these films were okay and I liked them and I did my duty by the Lord and I watched them. I mortified my flesh and I am a better upstanding Christian for it.

And Herz Aus Glas was a good film too. Not particularly dull. It has a beautiful soundtrack, with Swiss yodelling and medieval music; and when I listened to portions of Herzog's commentary track, and I heard his enduring and unfeigned fannish enthusiasm for the soundtrack, my slight vexation at Herzog as a public man evaporated. Herzog was not posturing here --- he was not feeding his self-ego -- his gaping Cthulhu Mythos -- his shrine to himself as his own hearth deity -- his own skull kept in a cabinet in his Hollywood home -- he was speaking as an unabashed enthusiast, and it was good to hear. A bit of sincere humility Christ Sake.

I even felt bad for some of the uncharitable unChristian things I said about him in a previous post.

(The fact remains that his attested ignorance of Nick Broomfield is the arrantest bunk.)

When I was watching this film I thought, of course, in my chronic comparing way, that the film was very similar to the beloved "B.D." Asterix and the Soothsayer (1972).

Heart of Glass was made the year after the German edition of this book (Der Seher) was published (although it appeared in serial form in MV-Comix from 1972 to 1973).

I suppose that M. Herzog will now claim that he has "never heard" of Asterix the Gaul!