Archive for May 2006

Shape Shifting

May 17, 2006

A pretty busy day at work.
Presenting a desirable image to those in upper management is always a humorous exercise. Take, for example, one of our senior quality engineers. He spends endless unpaid overtime hours drawing up various charts and reports on the finer aspects of our quality standings. Yet, he is the target of blatant derision and commands little respect from his seniors. I’m always amazed at the number of otherwise competent individuals who “miss the point” on a regular basis. It’s not how good you really are, it’s how you can manipulate your image that matters. A very similar concept was presented in the Carlos Castaneda books when the Yaqui “man of knowledge”, Don Juan, talked about the art of “Stalking”. Stalking is basically how we deal with our fellow humans. It’s not a deception, per se, but a shift in the way we touch upon the realities perceived by others. If you’ve ever noticed how one person may admire you and another may view you with contempt, even though they are in the same group and are presented with identical actions from you, then you may understand what I’m referring to. What most people don’t understand, however, is that the perceptions of others can be tailored to fit our current needs or desires. This amounts to a miniature version of a “universal image” that is projected to an entire group simultaneously. This is the goal of politicians and generals. But these are high profile people. In my opinion, the greatest accomplishment is to manipulate one’s image while remaining just out of reach and only making an appearance when it is needed or to facilitate a desired outcome.

Decent Weekend

May 15, 2006

Well, here I am. Back from a “well-earned” vacation from writing, posting, reading, doing, etc. I think the rain has something to do with it. The only decent days have been on the weekend and I value those, too much now, to spend them squint-eyed and bleary in front of a computer monitor. I sincerely hope that we will eventually reach a point in our cultural evolution when less time is spent on computers and more face time is given to our fellow humans. Although, you can always argue that computers give the opportunity to communicate with more people than would normally be possible.

I was going to write an article on “The Ape Man” (1956 – a good year for trashy movies and the birth of folks like myself. Of course Bela died that year too, so I guess it’s a strange year, at best). But then I decided that rehashing that pathetic old flick was a rather redundant exercise. Besides, it’s not like I’m shooting for any kind of readership. This is more of an exercise in self reflection than a scrambling for attention or validation. Heaven knows, I’ve spent enough hours with that pursuit.

I got paid on Saturday and noticed I picked up a thousand dollar raise based on my review. Not all that much, but I’m thankful for any pat on the back, at this stage of the game. It also looks like I may be heading up one of the new projects due to start in a couple of months so I guess I get to keep on working. Always a good thing. I didn’t do much this weekend except rest, visit with the animals and watch a little TV. I’m really enjoying my new satellite dish. The digital recorder that came as a free add-on to new subscribers is amazingly cool. Tonight is a “24” night. I hope Jack Bauer gets a bathroom break during this “real time” hour…

Write With Caution

May 3, 2006

Nice day all around, so far. I like to write stuff like that, lest this turn out to be one of those “Night Gallery Blogs” ala Patty Duke in that episode “The Diary”. In that one, she played a mean spirited celebrity gossip person who enjoyed ruining careers as much as she enjoyed dated 70’s New Years Eve parties (complete with diapered midget – don’t ask). She was given a one-year diary by a fading starlet that had been the recent target of her venomous commentaries. Shortly thereafter, the unfortunate woman committed suicide and the diary begin to produce some rather interesting entries that it’s owner doesn’t recall writing. It has a nice twist at the end that I won’t reveal and I recommend seeking the episode out. You can find it in the First Season collection of “Night Gallery” on DVD. It’s a nice box set and well worth the money. Anyway, as I said earlier, I like to write nice things occasionally with the hopes that anything I place in this blog will eventually come to pass. Hey, that’s a decent idea for a story.
Last night, I got out my old VHS tapes and re-visited “The Black Sleep” which has an amazing cast and “Night of the Ghouls” (Ed Wood) – which doesn’t. Each has it’s charms which I may go into tomorrow. Or not. We’ll see.

Spider Baby

May 2, 2006

As I mentioned, yesterday, I had the opportunity to re-watch “Spider Baby” (1964) starring Lon Chaney Jr., Carol Ohmart (“The House on Haunted Hill”) and Sid Haig (“The Devil’s Rejects”). The alternate title for this film is “The Maddest Story Ever Told” amongst others. Amazingly enough, the opening credits start off with Lon Chaney singing the theme song (!!). The story involves the sinister doings of the Merrye family and their chauffer/caregiver named Bruno (Chaney). Evidently, the Merrye family suffers from an inherited malady that causes age regression and eventually leads to deformity and a reverting to a cannibalistic state of primitive behavior. The film, itself, plays as a black comedy which is something that Chaney stated he had always wanted to do, but never got the opportunity. Here, his performance (as well as the rest of the cast) shines. According to Jack Hill (Director – this was his first feature film), Chaney, who was a serious alcoholic at the time, wanted to do this film so badly that he actually went on the wagon for the 12 days that it took to shoot the film.
As I mentioned, the cast is excellent. Of particular note is actress Jill Banner. Although only seventeen at the time of shooting and with no prior film experience, shows herself to be a natural. Every hand and body movement was improvised and adds a creepy understated value to the performance. It’s a shame that she was killed at a young age as a result of an automobile accident (although she had left the acting profession, by then). The most touching scene is the one where Chaney is explaining to the children how “everything” is going to be OK” while setting up a suicide scenario. In the director’s commentary, Jack Hill mentions that while shooting that scene, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house and the crew gave Chaney an ovation.
Made in 1964, the film wasn’t released until 1968 due to legal issues and, even then, only enjoyed a very limited release. This is truly a shame, since Chaney never got to see it released nor was he able to enjoy the cult status this film has since achieved. The DVD has some nice extras on it, including deleted scenes and a short feature on a cast reunion at a screening in Los Angeles. Though offbeat in nature, I highly recommend this film if you have a taste for well-acted dark humor or if you are a Chaney completist and you’re tired of seeing how pathetic he could look in his later films. This one is an absolute gem.

Them Changes

May 1, 2006

Here I am. Back in the blog after an extended “vacation”. Quite a few things have been going on to alter the existing path of my life. Good things, for the most part. But change is always tough to take after you reach a certain age. It used to be that I welcomed the unexpected. One day, working in advertising a half a block from Seattle’s Space Needle. The next, being driven by a Navy corpsman assigned as my assistant, along the coastline of Okinawa on a beautiful Fall afternoon. The ocean painted with iridescent reds, greens, and blues. Then driving through Atlanta on my way to a rented restored home in the heart of Buckhead. Now, writing this in a mostly deserted warehouse\factory in Memphis, Tn. contemplating “a day without an immigrant”. Strangely, after 12 years, I find myself living alone, again. I have a nice place, though and after all these years, I have extra money. Interesting concept that. “Extra money”. I didn’t think that was even possible.

I’m watching more movies, these days. Just revisited “Spider Baby” with Lon Chaney Jr. This time, with the director’s commentary turned on. Great film with an amazing cast. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll write a more detailed review. See you then.