With a Jolt, My Mind Awakens….Special Edition: The Week the Music (and Jack Tripper) Died…

In a previous post, I talked about my musical “Supergroup”: Roky Erickson, Tom Waits, Mike Patton, Daniel Johnston, and the Ghosts of Warren Zevon & Johnny Cash. The Werewolf of London and the Man in Black passed away five days apart a decade ago, WZ on September 7 and JC on September 12. To say these fellas have kept me movin’ along through the years would be a gross understatement – they’ve been the guiding light/comfort of darkness for ol’ Kentucky Jay in his misanthropic evolution. I can’t provide any accolades that have not already been poured upon these gentlemen, but to these outlaws, I will offer humble gratitude and appreciation. I do hope that someday we will have a good laugh together that will shake the afterlife something silly…

Warren Zevon was a wry, malcontented, and deeply sentimental cat whose sardonicism strummed his chords. I present this folksy fable of flash fiction as tribute, penned by ol’ Kentucky Jay:

‘This is really fucked up’, Ronald thought.
“A cancerous caterpillar,” the doctor said, “wrapped around your stomach. Been growing and feasting for years. Something you ate as a kid? Spoiled meat? A bad stick of licorice?”
Roland folded his arms against his stomach, pressing hard, trying to feel the creature. ‘How the heck could he be so calm? A caterpillar? When did my insides become an all-night diner for some sort of alien caterpillar?’ Roland rubbed his abdomen, wanting to tear into his skin and squash this Lethal Lepidoptera between his fingertips.
“Well, it explains the stomach pains, that’s for sure,” said the doctor, tapping his finger on his nose. “You’re medical history, Mr. Thompson. No more moshpits for you, young man!” The doctor’s levity was cold and further sickened Roland, a cheap joke like a dodgeball to the gut…which the caterpillar would likely have enjoyed. Sadist.
“I’ll tell what’s funny, they don’t eat meat. No, I read that on Wikipedia…”
‘You read that on what?’
The doctor went on to tell Roland the usual rhetoric associated with the diagnosis: a couple of months, get your life in order, take those vacation days at work, call me if I can do anything for you, slap on the back, skedaddle.
Roland had barely the strength to walk to the elevator from the doctor’s office. Naturally, he evaluated his entire thirty-three-year existence while waiting for the elevator’s arrival. Naturally, this didn’t mean a thing to the caterpillar.
“Wait! Roland!” The doctor jogged towards him. “Oh, boy, you almost left without your button!” He slapped a button into Roland’s right hand and jogged back to his office. “Remember, don’t hesitate to call me! Aruba! It’s lookin’ good right now!”
Roland looked at the button in his hand, a sharp metallic pin on the back that gently stuck to his palm. A black-and-white picture of an eyebrow-raised Warren Zevon, with these words written in red Times New Roman:
Roland placed the button in this shirt pocket, thinking,
‘This is really fucked up.’

The Werewolf Howls in Passaic, New Jersey…

To me, every performance of Johnny Cash is pacifying. He, too, reveled in his droll, aslant jocularity with a hint of shade; I haven’t crafted a Johnny Cash story to my satisfaction, so I simply present a performance that remains memorably off-beat:

Meanwhile, on September 11, John Ritter died from an aortic dissection caused by an undiagnosed thoracic aortic aneurysm, tragically misdiagnosed as a heart attack. I loved everything this guy did, from “Three’s Company” to “Hooperman”, “Hearts Afire” to “8 Simple Rules…”, “Stephen King’s IT” to “Problem Child” (yes, I endorse his participation in that movie and its yak-attacky sequel!) Hey, let’s trip over the sofa together, hmm?

Meanwhile, Rock ‘n Roll is hushed by the passing of Keith Moon, 35 years ago on September 7:

September 7 also marks the fiftieth birthday of a poet who left us before the party kicked into overdrive:

Ah, September…sweet, sweet September…

Friday Night Flix: Crawlspace

Crawlspace2Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.

Did you know Australia has its very own Area 51? Me neither! It’s called Pine Gap, which I find adorably pastoral. I’m surprised this place has been in existence for 25 years, yet I’ve never come across a movie that exploited its reputation for classified operations until now. Enter, Crawlspace (Netflix).

Crawlspace4Wasting no time at all, a terse title card informs us that, for reasons unknown, the government has lost all communications with Pine Gap. Fuck exposition, man. A boatload of commandos chopper out to the site. Awesomely, they’re given nothing more than a list of detainees and orders to exterminate the lot of them. No one has a problem with this.  But oh ho, things are not what they seem in the narrow confines of the duct system in which this movie inexplicably and almost exclusively plays out. (“I agree it doesn’t make sense to have everyone crawling through vents instead of just using the hallways. Then again, we already paid for the domain name…”)

Crawlspace1Stuff like that happens more frequently than I’d like, requiring some substantial leaps of logic. One minute the facility is on total lockdown so there’s absolutely no way out, until, oops, my bad, there’s the exit right there. If you can get past all that, Crawlspace is fun in a twisty but familiar way. (To my surprise, the black eyeball effect is alive and well. Adobe thanks you for purchasing After Effects!) Perhaps the best recommendation I can give Crawlspace is to describe it as Aliens meets Scanners, or perhaps Aliens meets Watchers. Definitely Aliens meets some movie with a perception-based title.

Added Bonus: Aside from gunning down civilians, which they are excellent at, the army men can’t shoot worth a damn. There are multiple scenes in which these highly trained operators are unable to hit targets less than 20 feet away and trapped in a ventilation shaft. If that’s even remotely close to reality, New Zealand should really think about invading Australia.Crawlspace3