gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
My poem "scenes from a marriage" will appear in Strange Horizons, one of my favorite publications. [personal profile] cafenowhere suggested I write a poem about this photograph by Elliott Erwitt, and "scenes from a marriage" was the result.

Last night on TCM I watched The Return of Dracula (1958), which I'd never seen before. It's not great, though the "vampire posing as a family member idolized by a young girl" premise gives it a Shadow of a Doubt vibe. Also I watched House of Dracula (1945), which I've seen a few times and like very much, especially for the part where mad science cures Larry Talbot's lycanthropy, and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (1966), which I'd heard about for decades (and okay, I didn't watch the whole thing, but wow, John Carradine's Dracula is a lot campier in this film than in the Universal movies).
gwynnega: (Default)
I am hennaing my hair on a pleasant LA afternoon. We had some autumn weather, then we had a brief heat wave, and now we're somewhere in between.

I have been enjoying TCM's October horror movie programming. (They're mostly showing films I already know and love, comfy blankets of horror. This is fine with me.) Also, the other night I watched The Tin Star (1957). Westerns are a hard sell for me, but Anthony Perkins and Henry Fonda have such great interplay in this one.

This morning I saw an excellent noir, They Won't Believe Me (1947, starring Susan Hayward, Robert Young, and Jane Greer) that had one of the most WTF endings I have ever seen.
gwynnega: (Default)
It is Henna Day, on a mild Los Angeles afternoon. I finally got my hair cut yesterday. I last got it cut the weekend after the election. What a long, strange time it has been since.

Last night I watched Gargoyles, a 1972 TV movie, on Svengoolie. It stars Cornel Wilde as an anthropologist who encounters the gargoyles-come-to-life, but the highlight of the movie is Grayson Hall, chewing the scenery as a boozy motel owner. I'm pretty sure she has a drink in her hand in every scene she's in (except for the shot of her after she's been killed off), including a scene in a police station and one in a car.

Wiscon is less than two weeks away, and I'm really looking forward to it, though I still have tons of prep to do.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a warm Los Angeles afternoon. I really need to get a haircut before next month's Henna Day, as the process is getting unwieldy.

Last night I watched Daughters of the Dust for the first time, and I'm still wowing about it today.

The other day I finished reading the Feminist Press edition of Violette Leduc's Thérèse and Isabelle, and now I'm once again deeply annoyed that Leduc's letters haven't been translated into English.
gwynnega: (Default)
It is Henna Day, on the warmest, sunniest day we've had in awhile. (We're supposed to get more rain and cool temps this week.)

Yesterday I saw the long-awaited Hidden Figures at my local movie theater. It made me cry a few times. As Lisa Bolekaja said on Twitter, the film "shows how racism (plus sexism sprinkled in) holds America back. Although a historical drama, it's really talking to 2017." The film seems more necessary than ever just now, with Trump's inauguration (I can barely type the words) less than two weeks away.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
The autumn issue of Mythic Delirium is here. It includes my poem "Champagne Ivy," inspired by Rouben Mamoulian's 1931 film of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (available now to subscribers, and online in November).

I am happy it is October, in spite of this terrifying election season. Here, have a guide to TCM's October horror offerings.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a warm Los Angeles afternoon. We had a few lovely fall-esque days. Now another heat wave looms. We'll probably have a few of those before actual autumn sets in.

The other night I watched Tomorrow, the World! (1944) on TCM. I joked that it's "The Bad Seed, Hitler Youth edition," but the two films have some striking parallels. Both are based on Broadway shows; both feature electrifying performances by child actors recreating their Broadway roles; both center around "bad" kids. Unlike Patty McCormack's Rhoda, Skip Homeier's Emil wasn't "born bad"; a German war orphan whose father died opposing the Nazis, Emil has been thoroughly steeped in Nazi ideology (including a giant helping of misogyny). He comes to live with his American uncle, a university professor (played in the film by Fredric March; Ralph Bellamy played him in the Broadway production). When Emil learns his uncle's fiancée is Jewish, he remarks, "That is...regrettable," and things go downhill from there, as he wreaks havoc at home, school, and in the neighborhood. Emil is clever and calculating, both mature beyond his years and an insufferable brat; his repudiation of his father masks a grief he's stuffed so far down, it seems nearly irretrievable. The film hinges upon Homeier's performance, and it's a remarkable one. (It doesn't look like the film is available on DVD, but it's showing on TCM On Demand through September 23.)
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, and we're having another heat wave. Tomorrow I'm going to see Planet of the Apes (1968) on a big screen. I've never seen any of the original series of films in a theater, and I would love to see the whole series that way (except perhaps Beneath the Planet of the Apes, which I have a grudge on because it features a different actor than Roddy McDowall as Cornelius).

I'm trying not to be entirely consumed by politics, but it isn't easy these days.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a cool May day in Los Angeles. WisCon fast approaches, and I have So Much To Do. Fortunately, some of what I have to do involves watching Jane the Virgin for a panel.

Last night I was watching The Incredible Shrinking Man yet again, and I consulted Cinema Cats to find out about the cat that appears in the film. I was pleased to learn that the cat who menaces the Shrinking Man is none other than veteran cat actor Orangey!
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is the first Henna Day of 2016, and since we've in the midst of LA winter (i.e., a high temperature of 60 degrees today), I'm a bit cold with the henna on my hair. We had massive rain last week, which we really needed. Fortunately my windows stayed dry.

Yesterday Mythic Delirium Volume Two showed up in the mail, featuring my poem "It's a Universal Picture" and work by Sonya Taaffe, Virginia M. Mohlere, Rose Lemberg, Dominik Parisien, Shveta Thakrar, and many other terrific writers. Plus the cover art is gorgeous.

I've been reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was one of the books I most enjoyed last year; this one is utterly delightful and makes it clear I need to read all of Karen Joy Fowler.

Last night I watched Phase IV (1974) on TCM. It's a movie about ants plotting to take over the world, directed by Saul Bass. It's visually stunning (though the plethora of ant closeups wigged me out) and deeply weird. It was also weird to see Michael Murphy (who I knew best from movies like Manhattan and The Front) playing an ant-battling mathematician. I think I might need to see it again.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a cool Los Angeles afternoon. We might even get some rain. The henna on my head is a bit chilly, rather than refreshing. I am glad we've been having some actual autumn weather.

My car battery has been less thrilled by the cool weather--i.e., it died yesterday. But at least I was at home when that happened, and now I have a zippy new car battery.

Last night I watched Abar, the First Black Superman (1977) on TCM. It's a blaxploitation film about a black scientist who moves with his family into a white, ultraracist neighborhood in Los Angeles and ends up creating a wonder drug which gives a neighborhood activist super powers. The film apparently had a beleaguered production history. I was particularly taken with the 1970s LA location shots, especially the fight scene filmed at Watts Towers.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a mild, overcast afternoon. We have had heat waves galore, but now Los Angeles seems to be contemplating autumn at last. (It does this every October here; it is annoying every year.)

Since it's October, I've been enjoying TCM's Friday night horror marathons. This Friday they focused on Scary Kids. They showed (along with classics of the genre The Bad Seed and Village of the Damned), a couple of films I'd never seen: The Nanny (1965) and Children of the Damned (1964).

All I knew about The Nanny was that it was one of Bette Davis's 1960s horror outings. I hadn't realized it was a Hammer film (written and produced by the awesomely named Johnny Sangster!). It's a battle of wits between a 10-year-old boy and his nanny; he claims she killed his sister and is planning to kill him, but he's given to playing nasty practical jokes and may well be the dangerous one. The film kept me guessing almost until the end. Extremely well done.

I had expected that the sequel to Village of the Damned would feature another bevy of blond children, but to my surprise Children of the Damned's superintelligent telepaths hail from various parts of the globe (China, India, Nigeria, the Soviet Union, the USA, and England), so we actually get a multiethnic cast of kids in 1964. The children are a lot more sympathetic than in the first film, only using violence in self-defense, but swirling Cold War paranoia makes a peaceful outcome impossible.

TCM also showed the beautiful The Curse of the Cat People (1944), though it does not qualify as a scary kid film: the little girl protagonist is adorable and (aside maybe from Roddy McDowall's childhood roles) is the movie child I would most like to give a hug. This film affects me more each time I see it, to the point that I need to be armed with Kleenex when I watch it.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a rare Saturday Henna Day. (On Sunday I'm going to read a couple of poems and listen to a lot of great music at a friend's birthday bash.) It is a far too summery summer day. As usual at this time of year, I am longing for autumn weather, but we probably won't get it until around Halloween.

Later today I will watch The Vanishing (George Sluizer, 1988) for the first time in a number of years. Cable keeps taunting me by showing the crappy American remake from 1993 (made by the same director, but pretty much a textbook example of how Hollywood wrecks brilliant foreign films), so I ordered a Netflix DVD of the proper version.

ETA: My new favorite website: The Horror Cats: A Celebration of Felines in Horror Movies and Television.
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day on a pleasant warmish LA afternoon. Yesterday I had another fun afternoon on Vermont Ave.: a browse at Skylight Books (where I succumbed and bought the new Penguin edition of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber with introduction by Kelly Link, even though I already have Carter's collected stories), followed by a matinee of Mad Max: Fury Road, and dinner takeout from Juicy Burger.

Frenetically explodey films aren't usually my cup of tea, but Fury Road won me over with its awesome, mostly female characters and its fire guitar, to the point that I think I need to see it again.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a pleasant LA day, after a spate of unwelcome heat. Also unwelcome was the smallish earthquake that woke me (and half of LA) around 4 a.m. last night.

Yesterday was both Free Comic Book Day and Independent Bookstore Day. I somewhat failed at Free Comic Book Day. There was a line around the block at Legacy Comics on a blazing hot Glendale day, and I hadn't eaten yet; I eventually opted to forgo the free stuff so I could go inside the air-conditioned store (and then go home and make brunch).

My Independent Bookstore Day trip to Skylight Books was much more successful. I bought the new book of Kathy Acker letters. After the bookstore, I went next door to the Los Feliz 3 to see the very impressive and intelligent Ex Machina. After which, I got a delicious burger and fries from Juicy Burger (conveniently located between Skylight Books and the movie theater). Days like this are part of why I enjoy living in Los Angeles (in spite of earthquakes).
gwynnega: (books poisoninjest)
My poem "Misogyny" (inspired by The Stepford Wives) is online at Strange Horizons. The poem is part of my ongoing classic film/TV/pop culture poetry project.

An excellent start to my week!
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
I am hennaing my hair on a pleasant Los Angeles afternoon. We may actually get some badly-needed rain on Tuesday. It's been three weeks since my day job ended, and I'm still adjusting to my new working-at-home schedule, but I'm enjoying it more and more. (This week I will attempt to purchase an ergonomic office chair.)

Last night I watched The Hunger (1983) on TCM. Somehow I didn't see it when it came out or any time in the past 22 years. Visually it could not possibly be more eighties. Red lipstick! Black veils! Sunglasses and sunglasses and more sunglasses! Billowy white drapes! Fluttering doves! (There's a hilarious moment when the shit is hitting the fan and there's a shot of the doves walking across the floor like, "We're outa here!") My friend Carolyn said Susan Sarandon looks like she's in the Human League in this film.

I'd seen Dick Smith's name in the credits, and sure enough, David Bowie's Old Man prosthetic makeup is very similar to that which Smith originally designed for Jonathan Frid for Dark Shadows back in 1967.

I was particularly struck by the title sequence, featuring Bauhaus performing "Bela Lugosi's Dead." It must've launched a thousand Goths in its day (though for the first thirty seconds or so, my reaction was, OMG, the eighties.)

Catherine Deneuve makes an undeniably cool vampire. She and Bowie have chemistry; her chemistry with Susan Sarandon is off the charts. I would've liked the film better if it had ended with Deneuve and Sarandon living happily ever after (or at least for a century or so), but alas, no.

It would be fun to see The Hunger on a double bill with Only Lovers Left Alive.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a warmish Los Angeles afternoon. (But we had a little rain yesterday!) This weekend has included a none-too-smooth Internet upgrade. My Internet now works fine, but my landline intermittently doesn't, because apparently my AT&T telephone is not compatible with AT&T's U-verse service(which they gave me the hard sell to switch to from the DSL that had worked fine).

This has not been a great weekend for technology around here, as yesterday a Windows update threatened to bork my laptop. After about an hour and a half I managed to get it working again.

Last night I watched The Leech Woman (1960). Though half the film is devoted to a cringe-worthy "finding the youth serum in the jungle" storyline (complete with way too much stock footage of elephants, alligators, etc.), the movie also delivers a surprisingly mordant critique of ageism and sexism. The World's Worst Husband (who says things like "All old women give me the creeps") is going to divorce his slightly-older-than-him wife until he decides to experiment on her with the youth serum instead. When the wife realizes what he's up to, she picks him to be killed (because, naturally, human sacrifice is a component of the youth serum). The woman in charge of the youth serum says (speaking for the audience, or, at least, me): "An excellent choice. You will have beauty and revenge at the same time!" Surprisingly, the film does in fact kill off The World's Worst Husband (only halfway through the movie). Things go south from there, as the wife goes on a murderous rampage to maintain her newly youthful appearance. But in spite of its numerous flaws, it's a weirdly interesting film.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, and I am drinking hot cocoa on what passes for a winter day in Los Angeles (high temperature in the low 60s). We had a massive storm the other night, and my power went out for about seven hours--but the power stayed off a lot longer in nearby Los Feliz, so I was lucky. We needed the rain, of course. We're supposed to have more this week, but not in such a dramatic form.

Last night I saw The Ghost of Frankenstein for the first time in about forty years. The first of the not-so-good Universal Frankenstein films, it still has a lot to recommend it, especially Bela Lugosi reprising the role of Igor (by far my favorite role of his). Also, Dwight Frye pops up uncredited in one scene as an Angry Villager and demands that the other Angry Villagers bomb the castle (which they do). Lon Chaney Jr. is not good as the monster, and Cedric Hardwicke is not particularly great as Dr. Frankenstein's other son (i.e., the one who isn't Basil Rathbone). Weirdly, they throw in some clips of Colin Clive and Dwight Frye from the original Frankenstein (1931)--but splice in footage of Lon Chaney as the monster on the table. Then a few scenes later, Cedric Hardwicke plays the titular ghost of Frankenstein, but of course he looks nothing like the already-dead Colin Clive. Towards the end of the film, Igor's brain gets transplanted into the monster's body, so Bela Lugosi can (badly) play the monster in the next movie.

Late last night TCM showed The Beast With Five Fingers, which I'd been wanting to see since [personal profile] sovay wrote it up, so I DVR'd it and will watch it tonight.
gwynnega: (coffee poisoninjest)
It is Henna Day, on a pleasant (but not autumnal enough for my liking) Sunday afternoon in LA. We had another heat wave, followed by a dip into autumnal-for-LA temperatures, and now we're somewhere in between, but at least the nights are cooler. Meanwhile I keep eating pumpkin products from Trader Joe's. My favorite new pumpkin item: their mini pumpkin-and-ginger ice cream sandwiches.

I'm working on my book of poems based on horror movies etc. and trying to figure out how to revise my novel Out of Uniform. Last night I watched Fright Night (1985) (after [personal profile] sovay posted about it). What an eighties fest that film is! I watched it mostly because Roddy McDowall's in it, and he's marvelous--but I hadn't made the connection that Chris Sarandon, who plays the vampire, is the guy who played Leon Shermer in Dog Day Afternoon (one of my favorite movies) ten years earlier. So that was an extra treat.

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