Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The movie Arachnophobia was on some channel the other nite, stopped and watched a couple minutes between periods of some hockey game I was watching. While not anything I'm ever going to own on DVD, I do remember liking it. I had gone to see it in the theaters with some friends, which reminded me of the following story.

There was quite the marketing push for this film in the summer of 1990. A quick check of IMDB reveals it came out almost exactly on my 19th birthday. For weeks we kept seeing commercials for this 'comedy' film about a bunch of spiders and the people who were freaked out by them. Seeing as how it starred Jeff Daniels, who I like as an actor (except for Dumb & Dumber; how could he stoop so low?), it seemed like something good to go see.

Either late the nite before the official opening, or one-nite-only a week before the actual opening weekend, there was a sneak preview showing of the film. This is important only from the standpoint of up until the actual release weekend of the film, it was constantly being billed as a comedy. The commercials were edited in a way as to make this look alomst like a goofy 50's horror flick, with that edge of silliness to it that would make the horror aspect seem quaint.

Upon actually seeing the film, in a very dark theater, turns out the comedy aspect was extremely minimal compared to the creepy-crawly horror aspect. I'm not afraid of spiders, but I don't particularly enjoy them either. My friend who had driven us to the movie that nite, however, apparently had an extreme dislike of the creepy little guys, so much so that he was a little tense upon exiting the theater.

We had all enjoyed the movie, we just felt that we might have enjoyed it more had it been properly billed as the horror-first film that it really was. As we get into the car, with me in the seat directly behind the driver, I happen to look down and see a little G.I. Joe type action figure on the floor, and the brain spots an opportunity for comedy. Well, comedy for me, anyway...

While conversation continues about the film as we prepare to drive off, I carefully position the arms and legs of the figure so as to be as outstretched as possible, roughly resembling the size of the angry oversized spiders of the film we'd just seen. Just as my friend is about to start the car, I subtly placed the figure on his shoulder right at the nape of his neck, so that some of it was actually touching his skin. As for his reaction, let's just say it's a good thing I didn't do this while we were moving along on the road. Upon further reflection, it's possible the car might have jerked LESS violently had we actually been moving...

Oddly enough, immediately after the official Friday opening nite, the marketing campaign was switched to emphasize the fact that this was more of a straight-up horror flick. I like to think my little escapde in the parking lot had something to do with this.

Blog Post Soundtrack; The White Stripes, Metallica, Brant Bjork, Prong, Faith No More, Deftones, Rage Against The Machine (love that they got the X-Mas #1 in the UK, BTW)

Monday, December 14, 2009

More Death At The Post Office

So for a number of years out here, my job was to fill in for five specific carriers on their rotating days off. Each carrier had one day off a week (in addition to Sunday), so I would wind up doing a different route every day, within that group of five. One of the carriers, at the time I was doing this, was pushing 70, but we've always joked about him being a million years old. We frequently ask him about his days in the Pony Express, and he shoots back that when he started, they rode dinosaurs! Every once in a while during the mornings in the office, if he happens to stroll down the aisle where my case is, I'll shout "Dead Man Walking", or yell out "Lazarus!". Gotta have some fun.

This man is very popular on his route, so much so that when I would be out there, old ladies would come up to me and ask, "What happened to that nice old man who used to do this route?" Remember, the carriers are only off one day a week other than Sunday. These ladies had just seen the guy yesterday. "Used to do this route?" I finally got so sick of this ridiculous query, that one day, without picking my head up from the box I was putting mail in, I told a woman who had asked me that, "Oh, I'm sorry ma'am, he died". As I continued to casually put mail into the box, I could see out of the corner of my eye the look of shock take over her face, and her jaw drop down to about her waistline. I honestly can't remember if I let her off the hook and told her it was just his day off, or if I let her just think the worst, knowing full well she'd see him again the next day.

So the carrier came back the following day, and did his route as usual. When I saw him the next morning, he yells, "You been tellin' people on my route I'm dead?!?" "Yup". "Oh, okay".

These same women would also tell me, because I wasn't getting there at the times they were used to from him, "You must be new". An attitude of you-don't-know-what-you're-doing was dripping off every word. I'd been doing this job for 6 or 7 years at the time, so it kind of offended me, so when they would tell me I was new, I'd tell them, "No, I'm 31 years old!". They seemed to stop with the smarmy comments after that...

The funny thing is, every fall, he would take 6 weeks off to go back to the Illinois area on vacation. I never had to say a word to anyone on his route after the first week. They just started taking up a collection for his next of kin.

As I write this, the man is about two months from his 76th birthday, still carrying his route five times a week. We make fun of him because we all can only hope to be half as spry and full of energy as him. His sense of humor is also bigger than the fire that would be started were we to give him a birthday cake with the number of candles that we claim his age is.

Blog Post Soundtrack; The latter portion of The Roots Come Alive!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brant Bjork

Got my color vinyl copy of the 10th Anniversary re-issue of Brant Bjork's first solo effort, Jalamanta, in the mail today. Quick history lesson, Brant was the drummer for most of the all-too-brief career of the amazingly stunning stoner rock band, Kyuss. He, along with Josh Homme, was also the main songwriter of Kyuss. Josh went on to found Queens Of The Stone Age after the amicable demise of Kyuss, and went on to huge success in the music industry. Brant has been a little more low profile, but has put out better music, IMHO. I do love the first 2 or 3 QOTSA albums, especially the self-titled debut, but they've drifted kinda aimlessly into some weird experimental thing that I'm not so crazy about with the more recent albums.

Brant, on the other hand, has continued to put out albums, either on his own, or in collaboration with other bands and friends, that have been consistently fantastic. He drummed for Fu Manchu when they were putting out the best music of their still ongoing (and great) career, he was drumming with Nick Oliveri (another former Kyuss member) in his amazing Mondo Generator project, and has managed to put out over a half-dozen solo albums. And, while all of it has been terrific stuff, Jalamanta is the one album by Brant that is truly stunning in it's musical achievements. The places it takes the listener are third-eye opening, as Bill Hicks would say. I've never smoked, but listening to much of the stoner rock genre, along with the comedy/preachings/teachings of George Carlin and Bill Hicks, I'm pretty sure I've picked up a great deal of what I would've gotten out of that anyway.

Blog Post Soundtrack; Brant Bjork's Jalamanta album