Thursday, June 30, 2005

rex in an invisible bikini

Yes, a temporary change to make things a bit more festive for the holiday weekend.
ghost in the invisible bikini
I am not one to nitpick movies. I accept them for the fantasy world in which they reside and try to limit my complaints to historical inaccuracies, the rare boom mike dipping in and out of a scene, and extras who stare at the camera. This suspension of disbelief is doubly required for B-movies, especially those that both take place in or around the beach and include a healthy dose of paranormal elements. However, the above advertisement for the 1966 Tommy Kirk and Deborah Walley vehicle (Frankie and Annette actually turned the roles down, believe it or not) The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (with appearances by Boris Karloff and Nancy Sinatra) leaves two questions that demand an answer. Those of you with any resemblance of a life should’ve stopped reading sentences ago.

Question 1: What would be the purpose of an invisible bikini? I can understand an invisible cloak or invisible vehicle, as such objects guarantee one the element of stealth, but fail to see how an invisible bikini would be an attribute. If the bikini itself is invisible, then why not just go nude? If only the areas covered by the bikini are invisible, then what sort of advantage is gained over one’s enemies? This form of “invisible bikini” merely hides one’s naughty bits from public viewing…much like your common everyday household variety of bikini. The time of the scientific community has been wasted.

Question 2: Why the hell would a ghost need an invisible garment? The trait of invisibility naturally comes with being a ghost. A ghost in an invisible bikini is like Superman with a jetpack.
Maybe it has something to do with the veritable Whitman’s Sampler of disturbing B-movie monsters scattered about the poster. Maybe it has something to do with Nancy Sinatra’s musical numbers scattered about the film. I have no intention of finding out. Though these questions may haunt me the rest of my days, I fear there is more to haunt me from seeing the film. It would provide only more questions.
Indeed. There is something horrid for everyone.

more signs

college heights
The sign for College Heights shopping center by campus is my favorite from the Murfreesboro area. The center houses a tattoo parlor, Laundromat, comic book store, barber college, and Asian restaurant of some sort. There are a couple of other things and I could be wrong on some I listed, but that is close enough. There was a good little bar and a used CD and bong shop there when I was in school, but that side of the center was bought and torn down by the University a few years back. I was never really clear on what happened and why, but I think it had something to do with a possible parking lot that never materialized. It doesn’t really matter now, as the sign obviously survived. That was the important thing.
murfreesboro's imperial inn
This is the sign for Murfreesboro’s Imperial Inn. It was once part of a chain of hotels known as “Imperial 400”. The chain still exists in Canada. This one seceded long ago and still boasts “weekly rates”, “kitchen units”, and “Color Cable TV”. It undoubtedly houses any number of meth labs at the moment, and will possibly be on the chopping block at some point, as it is located on prime real estate along Broad Street. Then again, perhaps commercial interests will stay focused on expanding Murfreesboro and leave us with a bit of architectural history and steady supply of downtown meth.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

a bell buckle bovine conspiracy

Anytime I hear about the town of Bell Buckle I always recall a dead cow I passed on the outskirts of town there a few years back. It laid there on the side of the road with all four limbs in the air and it’s tongue hanging out as if it had seen animals die that way in cartoons and took it to be the position one takes when exiting. This is a regrettable association, as Bell Buckle is a great little wide spot in the road for a day trip. Known mainly for it’s Moon Pie festival, Bell Buckle is also home to a good used book store and the poet laureate of Tennessee (whoever that is)—though none of these attributes have ever helped me understand what brings a dead cow to the side of the road. Would someone hit a cow and then keep just keep on driving? Bear in mind that in Tennessee you can eat what you kill with your vehicle, though I for some reason imagine a preclusion in that law for animals that are traditionally edible. Also, such a collision would’ve rendered the cow a much less pristine corpse than the expired bovine I happened upon. That then left me to wonder about dead cow pick up services and whether or not rural sanitation departments provide residents with such options. I haven’t ruled this scenario out. It would seem an easy avenue to investigate but I’ve never been motivated enough to contact their county’s services department and pose the question.

Which brings me to this, an option I tend to favor despite a lack of evidence and the fact that it could reflect poorly upon the town if taken without all the minor details. Perhaps the town placed it there as a sign to other cows that they are not wanted in Bell Buckle. Was there some incident, long buried by Bell Buckle’s established media, in which a cow or herd of cattle somehow threatened the Moon Pie festival in some way? Is the poet laureate of Tennessee (whoever that is) afraid of cows, and the possibility that one might just wander up and happen upon him/her and disturb the important work that he/she does in the state government enough for the community to take such a drastic action? I like to think so.

Or is it the aliens?

Now, at the risk of sounding any crazier, I will admit to having seen and unidentified flying object on two separate occasions. I won’t go into the whole stories, but I will say that each sighting lasted long enough for me to compare the crafts to identified crafts I have in my memory bank of flying objects. I ruled everything out. I can definitely say that neither of these was a star, plane, helicopter, space shuttle, flaming bird of some sort, swamp gas, or the poet laureate of Tennessee (whoever that is). I can however tell you that I do not believe that either of these crafts was piloted by beings from another planet. The military is always a decade or decades ahead of what they let us know they have, and I have always assumed unexplainable UFO sightings to be experimental crafts.
I also like to think that all the cattle mutilations you hear associated with UFO sightings has something to do with the government keeping the bovines intimidated and less prone to wander about, rendering the world a safer and less stressful place for the poet laureate of Tennessee (whoever that is).

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

carl weathers and i hunt ghosts

I neither believe nor disbelieve in ghosts. Trying to find them has been an occasional hobby of mine, dating back to when I first received my public library card and immediately checked out all the paranormal books I could find, with the exception of the books aimed at my eight or nine year old age group. I wanted books that looked at the situation scientifically and with a healthy dose of skepticism. I also wanted the poltergeists and the bleeding walls.

At least I did until I actually started venturing out to these places.

I say that I don’t believe or disbelieve in ghosts, but the lump that forms in my throat while deep in the woods at a Civil War battlefield or in an old cemetery at sundown says otherwise. That is why I always bring along my dog, who will be henceforth referred to as Carl Weathers to protect his identity.
hi carl

There is a supposedly haunted church on my side of Murfreesboro that I checked out on Saturday afternoon. It dates back to around 1820, I think, and was the site of the community’s “hanging tree” in the days when the community law was a bit more improvisational. The church itself is an old one-roomed building with a couple of cemeteries sitting over to the side. I couldn’t see much through the window and didn’t bother to see if it was unlocked.
haunted church?

There are supposed to be a number of ghosts here. There are a couple of ghosts from the children’s cemetery who are always described as playful and harmless, and another known as “the man in the black hat” who met his demise at the hanging tree. The folklore goes that if you see the man in the black hat you have overstayed your welcome and should immediately vacate the premises.

I don’t need to be told that. If you and I are ever ghost hunting together and our hunt becomes a success, I will be long gone before you turn to me and ask: Rex, what the fuck is that thing? A martini glass will be cartoonishly spinning in the space I just vacated. I might not come back for it.
I didn’t see anything on Saturday. Carl Weather might have, as he yelped quite a bit from the car when I ventured back to look at an older part of the cemetery at the edge of the woods. That was sign enough for me to leave, though we plan to go back sometime. He has no choice in the matter.

Monday, June 27, 2005


No, I don't always proofread and edit before posting these things. Why do you ask?
Funny story: I was a middle school English teacher for a year. I even taught the gifted kids.

rex reviews "batman begins" without seeing it, sort of

Any hack with a pair of working eyeballs and reasonable grasp of their given language can write a review of any movie they’ve actually seen. Where is the challenge in that? Roger Ebert has grown fat as a parasitic deer tick and then deflated while Gene Shalet has gone without personal grooming for decades all because they can watch a movie and have an opinion.

I think we should demand more of our critics, cats and kittens, and I will even go first—working without a net, as it were. I have not yet seen Batman Begins and do not plan to see it for a few more weeks, maybe not even until it comes through Netflix. However, that will not stop me from giving a review, for what it’s worth. I will even do it for free.

Kids, I was there in 1989 for the first Tim Burton Batman movie. I saw it on opening weekend and on a couple of subsequent weekends, as there was not much else to do in small-town Alabama before one made it into high school and established a good alcohol connection. Back then you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some goofy bastard in one of those plain black Batman T-shirts, and I quickly learned to duck. Warner Brother had the Dark Knight pimping fast food and anything else they could slap the Batlogo on, Prince's ill-conceived "Batdance" was all over MTV (this was way back when they showed videos), and half the population of Alabama died from a plague brought on by the number of dead cats piled about for swinging purposes. I remember it as though it was last weekend, though it was actually half my life ago.

No it wasn’t.
Indeed it was. Do the math, you fat bastard.
Holy shit!

I haven’t seen it in a while but imagine that it held up relatively well. Keaton was a decent Batman (especially compared to what followed) and Burton is a great director if you conveniently forgot to catch his remake of Planet of the Apes. Let us also forget the subsequent Burton and Shumaker Batman films. Let us pretend that Val Kilmer and George Clooney never wore the batsuit, and that the Batman never had some goofy-ass sidekick kid in a bright yellow cape.

The big difference in Batman Begins seems to be a full separation from the campy Batman that was referenced by Burton and especially by Prince. Once that is distilled from the character what we have left is the Dark Night, the mere tortured human in the batsuit, a man just like the rest of us but with the resources and motivation to fight crime.

I trust Christopher Nolan to pull this thing off. Memento was a great film and certainly dark enough. I also trust Christian Bale, as he appears to be able to brood enough without being melodramatic—or too melodramatic, at least. I honestly don’t care if Katie Holmes brings anything to the table, as I find that women in superhero movies just tend to get in the way and always seem written into the script half-heartedly, as if no one wants them there but feels they have to be there to serve as the superhero’s Achilles’ heel. Such pressures drove Margot Kidder crazy, and I suppose it is meant to drive Batman crazier. I suppose we need to see Batman’s awkward relationships to make him appear more human and more like the rest of us.

But I don’t know if I really buy into the whole “one of us” argument for Batman’s appeal.

I myself took a stab at superheroness. I took to the Murfreesboro night for a time dressed in a mask and a purple cape dating back to one Halloween as Randy “Macho Man” Savage. I came up with the name “The Purple Onion”, painstakingly stenciled it onto a T-shirt, and moved across the ‘boro from shadow to shadow searching for danger. I found out later that there was a Nashville area porn shop of the same name. This fact contributed most to my lack of success, but at the time of the discovery the business cards and letterhead had already been placed on order.

Young college girls who had locked their keys in their car was my area of expertise. I’m quite good with a coat hanger and cracked window, though these skills were never put to the test. All it took was one, “Let the Purple Onion help you, Ma’am” and then came the mace and label of “pervert”. I soon stopped announcing myself and even wore a different shirt, but it was still there where I had written it on the cape along with my phone number. This only postponed the macing and slapping, and eventually led to me spending most of the night safely perched in a tree overlooking the square. I would bring a thermos full of martini and an ashtray and await some serious danger where the victim would not have the luxury to get hung up on names.

Those times came and went without me leaving the tree. I would see people breaking into cars and assure myself that the victims had really good insurance. I would see people getting mugged and assume that it was out of my jurisdiction and really a matter for the police. All the macing and rejection had left me without confidence or sobriety, and I had finally come to the conclusion that it was time to hang up the tights.

I would like to say that it was fun while it lasted, but it wasn’t. Falling out of the tree drunk night after night left me with a number of concussions. In the end I really made no difference unless you consider the fact that I empowered a number of women who had spent years carrying around mace without having an opportunity to use it.

I blame a lack of funds for my failure. You see Batman really isn’t like the rest of us for the simple fact that he can afford to be Batman. Sure, you really can’t by things like a good motivational child trauma, but plenty of poor people have that and never take to the streets fighting crime dressed as the flying mammal of their choice. That doesn’t happen in the real world.
In the real world it makes about as much sense as paying someone obscene amounts of money to watch movies and give their opinion.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

groomed like a sheep, i am

It hasn’t turned out to be that kind of weekend—no “all Skynyrd, shirtless in the yard with domestic beer and arsenal of clichéd sports talk ready for the neighbors" kind of weekend that I had envisioned. The wife is out of town for the day and her absent vehicle would’ve been a sufficient excuse for me to skip out on the neighborhood block party, were the party actually occurring. I was mistaken. A second glance at the hard-hitting and informative neighborhood newsletter clearly places said block party towards the end of July.

I still got the buzz cut. I showed up on square a little earlier than usual to swing by the Three Ten pipe shop and re-load on their whiskey blend tobacco before deciding against it. I have to smoke outside and it is too hot to smoke outside, even late at night. Todd A says that it is hotter than a whore on nickel night and I believe him.

My barbershop sits in a former department store on the Murfreesboro Square and I always get there early to listen in on conversations, thumb through the latest National Geographic, and generally soak up the atmosphere. The building itself is at least a century old and the tiled floor looks to pre-date World War II. There are pink walls and wallpaper that clashes with floor and I doubt that any time in history would claim them, though I would guess the mid-eighties. From November to February my barber fills the front display windows with his collection of model trains that constantly run in a figure eight through model towns and little plastic trees, and you can watch the kids stop and press their faces against the glass while you get your haircut. These kids have videogames and all kinds of distraction devices that I am unaware of or just oblivious to, yet they are just as fascinated as the kids who likely pressed their faces against that same glass some seventy years ago for similar displays. That is why I pay for a haircut I could do myself.

Back when I was in college I would get my hair cut at a cheaper place across the square. The barber there could have easily been in his seventies or older, and I still see him walking downtown between his house and barbershop sometimes. He wears a suit and tie to work and always shaves the back of your neck with a strait razor. He lathers it first and then sharpens the razor on a leather strip off to the side, just enough in the periphery for one to wonder about his arthritis. Back then I got the “Ivy League #2” cut, and its tapered nature allowed a prominent role for the razor. When the haircut was over he would run an electric massager across my back for the most awkward thirty seconds one could imagine. It is good customer service, I suppose, but one can never really become accustomed to a senior citizen touching them with a vibrating appliance and then paying them for it. I always left a little nicked-up, bleeding, and embarrassed, but it was a good haircut and one he had probably been doing since the Roosevelt administration.

When I was really poor in college I would go to the barber school for a four-dollar haircut. It invariably looked like a two-dollar haircut and also left me bleeding a bit. I am less welcoming of that sort of thing when it comes from a high school dropout with an electric razor.

I have never been to a chain barbershop. When I was growing up the same lady cut my hair from grade school to college, even after I moved to Tennessee. When I was in Knoxville I got my hair cut by this Vietnam veteran biker guy with long gray hair, tattoos, and the constant stench of smoke and layered sweat. He actually chain smoked while giving you the haircut and conversed with the vocabulary one would expect from a war veteran and biker. If I went in on weekdays he would have Days of Our Lives on the TV set and would comment on the characters while he smoked and cut hair. That is why I kept coming back.

Every barber has really been the same though. We have our one conversation and the visitations are spaced out enough to allow having it over and over again. Some barbers talk about the weather or Jesus or tell you a dirty joke, but you know you’ll hear the same thing the next time you walk in, as if you were just doing multiple takes of the same scene until director got one he liked.

The conversation that my current barber and I have subconsciously chosen is “lawn mowing and other assorted yard work”. We will even discuss it in the dead of winter for some reason. Politics and other things creep in for a mention here or there, but yard work is our zone and in it we are comfortable. That is where we were today. There was a hell of a cedar bucket out there to tackle, but we let it alone. Those wounds are too fresh. When the bastards are caught we will have something to discuss, and discuss it we will. We may even scan the room for womenfolk and throw in a four-letter word on the subject if we are not found to be in mixed company.

That is why I get my haircut.

Also, it is good to have someone else to blame for the way it looks.

Friday, June 24, 2005

simple man

Jeez. Three days back at work and I'm already going into the weekend like some Nascar yahoo yelling out the classic rock station's call letters over the radio for a free sixer on his way home from work. It will indeed be one of those weekends. I will get the remaining hair on my head buzzed down to a half inch and I will do things in the yard with my shirt off. I will not shave. I will squint a lot and wave at the neighbors and talk about how hot it is. I will even say that it is a dry heat for Tennessee. I will say this with my shirt off and the radio blasting from the porch and a PBR tall boy in my hand. I will be a simple man. Yes, I will listen to Skynyrd. I will listen to Skynyrd because I have it and it should be listened to, and because Skynyrd was a damn good band. Don't you dare deny it, not this weekend. This weekend I will pop in some Drive By Truckers. They hail from my hometown back in Alabama and I will tell people that if they ask. I will tell them that if their music collection does not include the Truckers' Southern Rock Opera, then their music collection is woefully inadequate. I will tell you the same thing. It is that kind of weekend.
Oh, shit.
I just remembered that this weekend was the big neighborhood meet and greet cookout. The creepy strangers around me will no doubt be wanting to socialize and for a lot longer than my "dry heat for Tennessee" observation will cover. Plus, if it rains between now and then the comment is no good, and I damn sure won't talk about the humidity.
Last week was the neighborhood yard sale. I hid in the house and watched the old people, chain smokers, and heavy set girls in puff paint and sequin adorned home-made t-shirts walk down the street from garage to garage. Perhaps hiding in the house for two weekends in a row will put me just over that crazy neighbor line. I don't mind if it makes me eccentric. That I want. But crazy neighbors get no Girlscout cookies or leftover squash. Neighbors are not so quick to call the fire department when crazy neighbor's house is seen flickering across the street. It is just sad when crazy neighbor stands in his yard shirtless and half-drunk, talking about the weather and wondering where his Girlscout cookies are.
Looks like Uncle Rex needs to make it two cases of PBR, as it is not the weekend for the brand of confidence and set of social skills one finds in a martini glass. It is the weekend to sweat a bit and hate Jeff Gordon while eating barbecue. It is that kind of weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

rex l. camino, working man

It looks like your Uncle Rex will have steady and legitimate employment complete with multiple responsibilities over the next month to eight weeks. I can’t divulge too much but I can let you know that I am doing it for the youth of America. Anyway, I’ve already been at it a couple of days and regret that it will seriously cut back on the time I have to peruse bloggage both far and wide.

Here is the view from my window. It overlooks the rolling hills of Antioch.
antioch skyline
No, it is not that interesting. This is real life, people.

And it is really damn hot, people. There are rolling and cluttered hills back there but they were not visible at 9:30 this morning when I snapped this. It also doesn’t help that there is a river of semis and other assorted angry traffic known collectively as I-24 running through that valley. I like to get out and walk around the building a couple times a day to keep the blood flowing, but invariably return sweaty, defeated and unable to breathe anytime after ten. I briefly contemplate changing to a lifestyle involving less alcohol and caffeine, but that is just the near heatstroke talking. It passes.
For a more interesting shot you can check out this pic I took at Ft. Morgan in Mobile, AL a couple of years back. It has nothing to do whatsoever with anything I just said. I just like to look at it sometimes.
ft.morgan, mobile

a range of gargoyles

A gargoyle is supposed to be a waterspout, technically speaking. It comes from the French word “gargouille”, which means throat. It’s where we get the word “gargle”.

I mention this to lead back into vacation slides. Here are a couple of the gargoyles that greet one upon entering the Biltmore estate in Ashville, NC.

the gargoyles at the biltmore
Pretty bastards indeed. I’ve always had a fondness for gargoyles. They have been domesticated into little evil and grotesque adornments for the outside of your house. They stand along side the gnome, jockey, angel and cat statues at the gardening store, yet seem timeless and more elegant. They frighten children and spook house pets. Were it up to me I would fill my yard with them. However, as it stands, there is only one on the grounds of Casa Camino.
the gargoyle at casa camino
He is rather small and unintimidating, resembling more Triumph the insult comic from Conan O’brien than something one would see hanging off the side of Notre Dame. This little guy frightens no children and spooks no pets. He has done nothing to ward off door-to-door solicitors or neighbors.
Yet I like him, this lesser of gargoyles.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

rex l. camino, trusted newsman

Big thanks to the amazing Brittney at Nashville Is Talking, the great Todd at the NashvilleZine, and the rocking Wally over at the Soulfish Stew for linking to your humble host on the tragic loss of my Boro's Cedar Bucket.

You can visit and possibly even interact with the disembodied spirit of the bucket here.

Together we will find the bastards and administer justice.

rex finally sees "revenge of the sith"

I finally made it to the new Star Wars movie. I’m not one for a crowded theater and generally wait about a month to slip in for a relatively empty afternoon showing to see these things. I should’ve perhaps given it another week or so, but that was no fault of the film itself. As with most my outings lately, I found myself harassed by some over indulgent soccer mom type with a string of little heathen in toe.

Soccer Mom: Can you keep it down back there?
Rex: This will just take a minute, Ma’am.
Soccer Mom: You’re making a lot of noise and my kids can’t hear the movie.
Rex: Your kids haven’t shut up since you walked in here five minutes late. I don’t think this will bother them.
Soccer Mom: What is that thing?
Rex: It is a martini shaker, if you must know.
Soccer Mom: Do you have to keep shaking it?
Rex: Ma’am, it isn’t going to shake itself, despite being called a shaker. I suppose that is a misnomer, now that you mention it. I appear to be the one doing all the shaking. Ha! You have a keen eye for a breeder. Let us henceforth call it my martini shakee, or however you would spell it.
Soccer Mom: I don’t think you’re supposed to have that in here.
Rex: I don’t think your little bastards are supposed to be jumping on the seats now, are they. Besides, that fat one on the end has been farting like Mamma Cass near a campfire for the last ten minutes. Can the father only afford Kibbles & Bits for his illegitimates? I wasn’t going to say anything, but if you want to start something…
Soccer Mom: I don’t think you should be drinking in here either.
Rex: Well, when else do you propose that I have my 3 o’clock martini?
Soccer Mom: Sometime when you’re not around my kids.
Rex: Perhaps the little savages could stand to be around some culture. Did you ever think about that?

I know full well that we are living in a society and I make every effort to get along with all these poor saps around me. Hell, I kept my interaction with the screen to a minimum and even blew my cigarette smoke in the opposite direction of this wench and her brood. I am quite the southern gentleman.

But I digress. This should not lead me astray from my important review of a movie that everyone else on the planet has already seen multiple times.

Someone had told me that this one was better even than Empire Strikes Back. I didn’t believe them at the time and still don’t agree now that I’ve seen it. Comparing the two trilogies is really an apple and oranges deal, yet it is inevitable. I will say this though: Revenge of the Sith blows episodes one and two out of the water. I will even put it above Return of the Jedi. It had that quality of making me want to rush home to begin my Jedi training as soon as I left the theater, same as the original trilogy. I didn’t get that from the first two.

However, it still had that B-movie level script that Lucas annoys me with. Each actor gives an Oscar worthy performance by being able to keep a straight face, even the computer generated ones. Natalie Portman and that guy who played Vader could do nothing with the script, while Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford always had a good chemistry and way of letting us know that they knew just how hokie the dialogue was.

However, the real hero here is John Williams. He is the constant thread running through both trilogies and I would venture to say that he could score film of George Lucas waxing his back and make it compelling. If you were to take the music out of the “Vader in the suit for the first time” scene it would resemble more Rick Moranis in Spaceballs, but with the subtle strains of the “Imperial March” to punctuate it one is given to chills. Kudos to you, John Williams, for your under appreciated genius has again saved Lucas from himself.
Now if someone could please alert the authorities as to the fact that I have apparently broken my leg in a misjudging of the distance between the dresser and bed, and that my makeshift light saber has fallen too far from the bed to serve as a makeshift crutch, I would be grateful. Please hurry, as this will undoubtedly hurt like hell when I sober up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

seany o'kane update

Some of you may recall a formerly albino bloke by the name of Seany O’Kane, winner of the first annual “Rex L. Camino’s Favorite Jackson Fanatic” spirit award. If you do not, then please take a look at this and its subsequent links before proceeding. Also, please take note of my improved HTML linking skills while you are at it.
Now, none of you whatsoever has written to me asking about what has happened to Seany after his moment in the sun was over, but it doesn’t matter. I will tell you anyway. Believe it or not, those of you in the Wavertree area of Liverpool (yes, that Liverpool) can not only meet but also live with the Seany O’Kane. No joke. One would think that someone who sat outside the courthouse at the Jackson trial would have no shortage of friends, yet I stumbled across this.
"Grumpy shits" need not apply, while smooth criminals, one would assume, are welcome.

requiem for a bucket

What sort of gutless bastard would torch a defenseless and so gargantuan as to be utterly useless cedar bucket? A cedar bucket in its natural element is no more intimidating or harmful than a cat in a basket of fresh laundry. Destroying the World’s Largest Cedar Bucket is cruel and un-American, and the only reason I can come up with is terrorism, pure and simple

See, Murfreesboro’s economy has been held up by the World’s Largest Cedar Bucket tourism for years. Lovers of cedar buckets and all things uselessly large have been making the pilgrimage from all four corners of the world for years just to stand there before it in the Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village. They inevitably go home and tell others about what they’ve seen. They show photographs to the disbelievers and are immediately the envy of their town, city, village, or tribe. Thousands of cedar bucket enthusiasts across rural China have been hoping for freedom just so they can someday scrimp and save and send a representative to view the bucket in person. What say we to that miserable lot now? This is a devastating blow to the movement for democracy in China. Also, what say we to the multitude of children all over the world who tried their damndest over this past school year just so their parent would take them to see the World’s Largest Cedar Bucket? It is obscene that many will now have to settle for Disneyworld or Six Flags.

The culprits, when found, being the ratfink terrorist swine they are, should be deported immediately to Gitmo—and not that “All you can eat Doritos” type of Saddam Gulag that the military runs either. As Murfreesboro’s now fragile economy teeters on the balance of collapse and it’s people wander the streets like the spirit-broken zombies they now are, the terrorists should be getting the full Newsweek-type Gitmo treatment in Cuba. Toby should personally administer the boot-in-ass implementation while Dick and Dubya perform a freedom themed morality tale with sockpuppets. Lee Greenwood should write a song specifically for the occasion and then sing it repeatedly in their faces. We should break them and then pursue the matter significantly past the breaking point. Let us be cruel and unusual in our administering of justice, people. I have no doubt that anyone who has stood before that pile of cedar ash, no matter how liberal and forgiving, will agree with me whole-heartedly.
Let us do it for the children.

Monday, June 20, 2005

rex l. camino outs self, sort of

Cats and Kittens,

I have to admit that this notion of being "outed" has old Rex mighty a feared. Ever since I read the South Knox Bubba story I’ve been looking over my shoulder, seized with the terrifying possibility that the person sitting at an adjacent table at might be one of the handful of readers who have stumbled across this humble blog, and that something here might have them terribly disgruntled. A person can’t live like this. So I will therefore take a cue from Bubba and have my own “coming out”, as it were. This won’t be a full revealing, mind you, but just enough to let the more quick-witted among you decipher who I am and relieve a little of the pressure on myself.

Okay. Deep breath. Here goes…

Name: “Phil”
Business: Governor of a large southern state that requires four e’s to be spelled correctly. No, it is not Mississippi, but I can see where you were confused. My state resembles a somewhat skewed parallelogram, is known primarily for road kill and road construction, and was the home of the late actor Jim Varney.

Now that a keen few of you are in on my secret I certainly hope that you will stop giving me grief for my more official blog. It is much more fun to take the laptop and a bottle of the state’s finest whisky under the desk and venture out into cyberspace as someone else for a while.

Which reminds me: Does anyone know a good way to get rid of some Commies and a few sick folks that seem to have congregated outside the door? There is no back way out of this place and the “not around today” thing only works for so long. The person responsible for the winning solution will receive a sports franchise of his/her choice.

Good Luck.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

a journalist tries to kick my ass

You’re never really prepared for a big time cable newsman to show up in your driveway drunk, armed, and blind with rage. You especially don’t expect it from a pretty boy like Dan Abrams, but it happened. Something in the third paragraph of this apparently set him off.

At any rate, the wife and I were on the back porch enjoying the cocktail hour here at the Casa Camino on Saturday afternoon when we heard the rifle shots coming from the front of the house. We ran inside and peeked through the front blinds to find this:
dan abrams on my lawn
“Git yer ass out here, Mr. Rex-L.-Ca-mi-no!” he yelled. “You think you all that? Huh? Huh, shithead? I might not be no big time blogger, but I’ll sure as hell whoop yer ass!”

He was now out of his pick-up truck and strutting around it like a bantam rooster as neighbors gathered up children and retreated back into their houses. “Come on out, chickenshit, and take yer asswhoopin’ like a man!” He yelled.

It went on like this for the better part of an hour. Abrams would chug a beer, fire his rifle, and then drone on with, “I’m waitin’ on you, Mr. Rex-L.-Ca-mi-no”, followed inevitably with another shot and a resounding, “Wooooooooooooo!”

I eventually had enough. I cracked the front door just enough to yell and called out, “Sir, you have the wrong man. My name is Blake and I must inform you that I am heavily armed. A single, inebriated member of the liberal media is no match for me. Stand down!”

As if on cue, a shirtless and equally drunk Tucker Carlson rolled from the bed of the pick-up yelling, “Wait, I got it. I got it. This ain’t about politics, sir. My friend here just got his heart broke is all. We don’t want no trouble.”

By this point Abrams had reached a depressed point in his drunkenness and was curled in the fetal position beside the truck. He was sobbing audibly. Carlson lumbered over and gathered him up, reaching into the back of the truck for the cooler of beer and taking both to a neighbor’s porch. The two remained there overnight where I suppose many Oprah moments occurred, broken occasionally by the thundering of Carlson shooting at jackrabbits across the field.

The next morning they were tame enough for me to emerge with my Polaroid and snap this.
dan abrams and tucker carlson
I think a certain blogger out there owes Danny Boy another chance.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

remember to tip your bartender

You should go here just to enjoy the looping musical accompaniment. I myself often have it opened in another window while at the computer. It is captivating and hypnotic, having a "Girl From Ipanima" and theme song to "The Odd Couple" feel to it, though methinks it to be part of an Esquivel composition. At any rate, it makes me want to grab for the martini shaker every time. If you recognize the ditty please drop me an email, as I now have a link over on the right.
If you feel like grabbing for your martini making implements head on over to this place for some variety. I myself have never tried any of the recipes--preferring to stick with a standard gin concoction--but must admit to being tempted by the idea of a key lime martini.

Also, does anybody know Katie Couric's email address? Just asking.

Friday, June 17, 2005

seizing the opportunity

Special thanks to Brittney over at Nashville is Talking for sending some traffic my way today. I figure that makes this the ideal time to announce my candidacy.
rex for president
Yes, dear cats and kittens, you can now make a difference in the political process. By electing Rex L. Camino in 2012 (my first year of eligibility) you will essentially guarantee that shit will not get done. That is a good thing for us all. I solemnly promise to lounge about the Whitehouse for the majority of the day, swinging by the office for only a few minutes between breakfast and cocktails to check for any legislation repealing laws. That will be the only shit that gets done. All other legislation will be immediately trashed. I also swear to return the Whitehouse pressroom to its former glory as an indoor swimming pool. Those are my promises to you.
Other promises include planning to run Libertarian. I will, however, accept other parties' nominations or try it independently, should the Libertarians unwisely choose to run another. I have also chosen this guy for Press Secretary, should he accept. That in itself should garner me some votes.
Now we come to the crucial part, the financing. Always remember that no amount is too small, but that we here at the Blog o' Doom will give perks and favors based on the amount you give. There are many cabinet posts left to fill, each with decent pay and benefits and consisting of nothing more than fetching me another drink and making sure Helen Thomas doesn't drown or wear anything too revealing around the pool.
Join me, dear readers, and together we will go forth and live the dream.

rex l. camino has a way with the ladies

I’ve begun talking to myself. It may be the heat or signs of creeping dementia, but I have noticed it more frequently lately, always coming at the end of one of those long subconscious conversations in which two or three factions of the mind swing Tarzanically from topic to topic, and ending only when you hear yourself very audibly say something to the effect of, “ Who wouldn’t vote for Carl Weathers?” I even think I said it with a Scottish accent.

It comes from the astounding fact that two of the stars of the movie Predator have now been elected Governor of large US states. Carl Weathers would make it a hat trick. It is a dream I have.

I quickly looked about my surroundings with the disassociated expression of a mounted deer head. There was, of course, a convertible full of high school girls within five feet, stopped at a traffic light and looking at me the way a carload of high school girls will look at a thirty year old balding (yet in reasonably good shape and fairly well-groomed) man audibly endorsing Carl Weathers on a street corner.

I am happily married and have no need to impress high school girls, mind you. Yet I am not without ego and basic survival instincts. I had to think fast. Luckily, I was walking my dog at the time.

“Who wouldn’t vote for my little Carl Weathers?” I asked him.
The dog wagged his tail at the attention; He doesn’t know he isn’t Carl Weathers.

That’s when I found out there isn’t much difference between the way a carload of high school girls will look at a full grown man talking to himself on the street corner and the way they look at a full grown man talking to his dog about seeking public office on a street corner.
Some traffic lights and crosswalk signs last an eternity.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

i will not be undersold

Guess who's number five when one googles the phrase "asian camino's".

  • Who?
  • Please remember the ol' Blog o' Doom (formerly known as the Ongoing Manifesto) for all your asian camino needs.

    Wednesday, June 15, 2005

    my first interview

    I recently sat down with a famous country star for my first interview here on the Blog o’ Doom. It was a big score. I can’t really go into how I went about setting this up, as it is technically illegal to impersonate an attorney, but will tell you that it will probably be my only interaction with “Toby”, who has agreed not to press charges.

    rex &
    Again, I can’t really go into it, but here’s the bit that I can relay.

    I met Toby at the Antioch Hooters last Friday to discuss politics, country music, and whatever else he felt like getting off his chest. That was the plan. I must admit that it was a poor interview, as I do not listen to and am really not able to stomach country music, but turned out to be a learning experience for future interviews.

    It turns out that there is more than one Hooters in Antioch, a fact that I should not have been surprised by. This led him to the wrong location and left me to get quite drunk while waiting on him. What I can print of the exchange that occurred when he finally showed up follows.

    Rex: What up, Toby?…Toooooby…Toooooo-beeeee…Tooooo…..
    Toby: (interrupting) You Rex?
    Rex: Yyyyyep. What kind of name is Toby, anyway? I mean you don’t hear it that much anymore. Are you really old, Toooooby?
    Toby: Can I ask you a question before we get started here? (Toby slides into the booth beside me)
    Rex: Sure thing, Toby-oby-oby-o.
    Toby: How come you’re sitting behind a cardboard cut out?
    Rex: This is a photo image I use on my website so people don’t know who I am.
    Toby: Who the hell are you suppose to be?
    Rex: I’m Rrrrrrexexexex…
    Toby: (interrupting again) No, and cut that shit out. What I mean is who’s that on the cut out?
    Rex: Charles Drake. He was (hiccup) a B-movie actor in the fifties and sixties. I think he was on a couple of episodes of “Bewitched” too. Man, that Elizabeth Montgomery was hot as hell. It’s pissing me off that they’re making a movie with that Australian chick…uh…whatshername…uh…
    Toby: Well I look real retarded talking to a damn cut out of some guy who was own “Bewitched” one time.
    Rex: Nicole Kidman! I mean, she’s hot too…but, you know. That movie’s gonna suck…Oh, but what I was saying was I use different pics of Charlie Drake here to play Rex on the website cause I can’t let people see me.
    Toby: Well put that shit down. Can’t nobody see you right now anyway.
    Rex: Sure thing, Tobey-o. (putting aside cut out)
    Toby: What’s this website you got anyway?
    Rex: Rex l. Camino’s Blog of Doom, or whatever the hell I’m calling it this week.
    Toby: What the hell do you do on there?
    Rex: I just talk about shit, Tobobyoby-o.
    Toby: I told you to cut that shit out. Now, you’re supposed to be a lawyer?
    Rex: (response omitted for legal reasons)
    Toby: If you say so.
    Rex: You ever get on the Internet there, To-by?
    Toby: Look, I’m here cause you told my lawyer that you had some pictures…
    Rex: (this time I interrupted) Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll get to all that later. Right now I have a list of questions for my interview-iew-iew.
    Toby: Quit touching me.
    Rex: You want to wear the cardboard cut out of Rex?
    Toby: No!
    Rex: I don’t mind people seeing me talk to some guy who was on “Bewitched”.
    Toby: I don’t give a shit.
    Rex: I’m man enough…I’m in touch with…uh…my man feelings enough…I’m just…uh…confident a lot, so I don’t get embarrassed or care about what people…
    Toby: Damn, man, get on with it.
    Rex: Okay, question one: How come so many people in country music have two first names? I mean, there’s you and…uh…some other people.
    Toby: Look, I don’t know. I just use my real name.
    Rex: Question two: Uh…In one of those America songs you do you talk about putting a boot in somebody’s ass.
    Toby: Yeah.
    Rex: Man, that would hurt. Did you really think about it when you were writing it? I mean people throw clichés around all the time without thinking about it, but a boot in the ass would hurt like hell.
    Toby: Look, you might find out real soon if you don’t hurry this shit up.
    Rex: And was the Statue of Liberty the one putting a boot in somebody’s ass? I can’t remember.
    Toby: Man, look. It was America with the boot. Now can we move on?
    Rex: If the Statue of Liberty had some boots they’d be a lot bigger than your ass. But she doesn’t wear boots.
    Toby: Are we finished here?
    Rex: I mean, would you go to the procologist or haberdasher to have it removed?
    Toby: That's it.
    Rex: Wait...the haberdasher is the guy with the hats, isn't he? Where was I?
    Toby: (stands up) I want to see those pictures. Now.
    Rex: What pictures?
    Toby: Look, you called my lawyer and…

    I’m afraid that’s where, for legal reasons, my recounting of the interview must end. Again, I would like to thank Toby and the legal team that represents him. They were all very gracious and understanding. I would also like to apologize to the Antioch Hooters and the family of the late actor Charles Drake for what transpired afterward.

    If any celebrities or near celebrities would like to be interviewed by me through legitimate circumstances in the near future, please, by all means, send me an email.

    the bridges of yoknapatawpha county

    Oprah has declared this a “Summer of Faulkner”. As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Light in August, one of my favorite Faulkner works, are featured reading on the big O’s book club at the moment.

    I really don’t like Oprah and want to have a negative take on this, but I can’t. I love Faulkner and would encourage anyone to read all the Faulkner they can get their hands on. If people read him because it was part of their Oprah marching orders, then so be it.

    I have to admit that I’ve never read The Sound and the Fury. A professor in college told me it would be better if I let it sit on the shelf a while, and so I have. My paperback copy has sat there for six years like a rare bottle of wine or one of the Cuban cigars I brought back from Spain in high school (I knew nothing of cigars at the time and neglected to keep them in a humidor, so smoking them now is about as enjoyable as smoking my copy of The Sound and the Fury). I don't know if he meant it as an insult or genuine advice. He was drunk at the time, as English professors are prone to be, and was always rather sarcastic on the few occasions I found him sober.

    Another Faulkner work I would recommend is The Wild Palms (If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem). It is really two short novels, The Wild Palms and Old Man, not really interwoven in their storylines but presented in alternating chapters. The first is the tragic love story Charlotte and Wilbourne, the man she leaves her husband and children for, as they move from place to place trying to have a life together. The second is the story of two escaped convicts adrift on the great Mississippi flood of 1927. It is funny, depressing, and really hard to put down once you’ve started.

    If it helps, according to some info I found on, The Wild Palms is one of Julia Roberts’ favorite books.

    Tuesday, June 14, 2005

    who was your favorite jackson fanatic?

    That’s a tough one. I first thought to award the honor to the Eurotrash delegation as a whole, but was then tempted by the young man who had apparently glued glitter all over his left hand. That’s love. Then there were the endless impersonators, the fat white guys who took time off from trolling the playgrounds in their 1975 Chevy vans, the racial conspiracy theorists, and the large crying Latino women, each certainly deserving in their own right.
    However, I think that the albino chap in the pinstripe suit with white silk armband wins it for his enthusiastic expression of utter “pinnacle of life” joy…or white supremacist anger and indignation. I can’t really tell.
    you've been hit by a smooth
    Kudos to you, my pasty friend. You are indeed living the dream.
    UPDATE: It turns out that he isn't albino, but Irish. I was close. The formerly albino chap pictured above is one Seany O'Kane from Derry, Ireland, and I think he answers the question: What would Bono be doing if he didn't have U2?
    For more on Seany you can read
  • this story
  • about how Seany and some other fans protected the group from the mind tricks of a handpuppet.

    mankind weighs in

    I don't remember having ever voted on a spokesperson, though is possible that it occured during one of those elections where I didn't make it to the polls. Or perhaps it is a position nominated by the President, delegates from the European Union, or Secretary General of the UN.
    mankind speaks
    They may be right though. I think that if each and every one of us takes time to reflect we will see that we are indeed sorry for having rushed to judge a 46 year old man who admitted to having shared his bed with young boys. Our spokesperson is doing a hell of a job. Kudos.
    Then again, this could merely be a representative of former professional wrestler Mick "Mankind" Foley.

    under seige

    AMC Viewer Mail
    200 Jericho Quadrangle
    Jericho, NY 11753

    Dear AMC,

    While taste in film is certainly subjective and criteria for an “American movie classic” ranges from individual to individual, I feel confident in letting you know that any reasonable definition precludes films starring, containing cameos of, or in any way eluding to Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, or Jean Claude Van Damme. I think we would all agree that each of these is a second tier action star at best, and that their body of work comprises an unfortunate time in American culture. Yet I can’t flip by your channel without seeing one of their travesties being broadcast in all its tragic waste of film. This is not funny anymore.

    Just stop it. Seriously.

    Monday, June 13, 2005

    celebrity justice

    In the spirit of full disclosure I must admit to having held a one-man vigil outside the Van Nuys Courthouse for most of the Robert Blake trial. It was I who you may have heard chanting “bring back Baretta” as a string of attorneys and witnesses made their way into the courthouse. I dressed as the character of plainclothes cop Tony Baretta and constructed my own paper mache replica of Fred the Cockatoo. I waved it jubilantly behind Wolf Blitzer and Geraldo Rivera. I made my own poster board signs with phrases like “Free Baretta” and “What else has Robert Blake been in?”
    baretta and fred
    It was a lonely time. You probably didn’t see me.
    rex's vigil at the blake trial
    So I understand blind fanaticism. I understand the legions of fans, nearly all foreign, camped out at the courthouse and at the ranch where Jackson actually molested any number of little boys. I understand the happiness, the jubilation, and the throngs that link arms and stand along the roadside to welcome Michael back.

    I would have loved some of that camaraderie at the Blake trial. I would’ve loved a throng of my own to line the streets of Van Nuys. I would have preferred someone to have at least accompanied me in my AMC Pacer as I followed Blake’s SUV from the courthouse, as it was quite difficult to wave the signs, throw confetti, yell through the bullhorn, cry, hug myself, and trail the star at the same time. They managed to lose me at a traffic light.

    I wish I had been as cool as this guy.
    annie, are you ok?

    one foot in the grave

    Is Nashville Public Television ever not having a fundraising campaign? They have been at it for at least the past three weeks. I had assumed it to be a seasonal things but it seems like they’ve already gone though four of these this year, each more of a blatant begging than the previous and with the dignity of a crack whore. A commie trying to raise money is never a pretty sight.


    That having been said, Mrs. Camino and myself shelled out some cash during their last drive, prompted by the drastic reduction in BBC comedies. The lady at the station said that they were just unable to afford all they had been showing and that they might return to the old line-up if the funds were available.

    How much have they spent on “The Lawrence Welk Show” for the past twenty or thirty years, and do they serious believe that anyone is watching it? No, of course not. Lawrence Welk is so bad it isn’t even campy. How much do they spend on “Are You Being Served?” Have they not been showing it for about as long as “Welk”? Have they not exhausted each and every damn episode?

    My axe to grind is this: “One Foot In The Grave”—my favorite BBC production, better even than “The Office”—is one of the shows that got cut. It isn’t yet available on Netflix or through any similar entity, yet it is easily one of the funniest, most well written, well acted, and consistent shows to ever appear on television. It ran from 1990 to 1995 and follows the life of retired couple Victor and Margaret Meldrew, as played by Richard Wilson and Annette Crosbie. The first episode deals with Victor being replaced at his job as a security guard by a microchip. From then on through the next five years we follow Victor as the entire world conspires against him.

    If it ever becomes available or if you live in an area where the public television establishment deems it as worthy as “Lawrence Welk”, please, by all means, take advantage of the opportunity.
    one foot in the grave

    cocke county fight club

  • This
  • story certainly won't reinforce any southern stereotypes. On the bright side, it got folks out of the meth labs. How ironic that it happened in Cocke County though. I’m sure there’s nothing funny to be made of that.

    Among the arrested were children and the elderly, many of the latter having to be medically treated after the shock of government agents busting and holding them at gunpoint. Perhaps the cocks were Cuban and Janet Reno wanted to get them back pronto.

    The story on the other side of the above link deals with the anger at the government busting in on all these “law abiding citizens”. It implies a federal harassment of peace loving people. Perhaps the cockfighting industry needs lobbyists, some friends in congress, and a good public relations campaign. Perhaps they need bumper stickers along the lines of “You can have my cock when you pry it from my cold dead hand.”
    Sorry. I couldn’t help it.

    Saturday, June 11, 2005

    rex l. camino vs. the dreaded manuel labor

    I have spent the past couple weekends helping my brother in law paint the inside of his newly constructed house. It wouldn’t be so bad except for the ceilings. I’d rather paint four walls than a ceiling any day. It kills your arm and back, and the natural tendency is to get right underneath the roller, as it is the closest one can get to a gravitational advantage. The problem with this is that the paint will drip and cover more of the painter than the ceiling. Then you sometimes ingest the stuff, getting a pit of the latex primer to coat the insides and render one a bit loopy for the next few hours. In the midst of this I paused and took this shot, thinking it artistic at the time.
    a ceiling unpainted
    Indeed, it was a bad trip. For the next few hours I was mellow and fine, but later found myself getting up at intervals in the night—creeping slowly to my closet each time in the hopes of busting in to find little people in the act of cobbling my shoes.
    back of my brother in law's
    It is a nice house though. What you’re seeing is the view from the back. It is set in the middle of former pastureland with plenty of pastureland left all around them. Right now it is sort of a stark landscape but certainly more aesthetic than any number of cookie cutter neighborhoods. Houses in this context always remind me of Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor’s Place in “Giant”.
    james and the
    Maybe not. But there is something creepy about having all the cows around. Across the street and just behind them is nothing but fenced in hills and herds milling about. There is a fenced in strip of land running just beside the house so the cattle can mill about along the roadside for some reason. It should be a strange moment the first time he cooks some steaks on the back deck.
    cows in the backyard

    Friday, June 10, 2005

    bonnaroo descends

    The Bonnaroovians are upon us. Each year at this time they return as if by instinct, swarming my local grocery and liquor/tobacco establishments just off the interstate. My side of Murfreesboro, mainly populated with soccer mom and Nascar dad types starts to look like this:
    Well, not really. These appear to be genuine modern day hippies. These are not the people that my liquor store fills its aisles with extra cases of Sierra Nevada for. No, what I generally see more of is your fraternity/sorority jam band fans, trust fund hippies, and an assortment of ungroomed youth wearing Abercrombie and Finch. I didn’t have my camera with me at the grocery store yesterday, but my gut tells me they would be well represented by a stock photo of Glen Campbell.
    ladies and gentlemen, glen campbell
    Yes, that’s it. I think its something about the whole air of trendy nonconformity—more style than substance, as it were. It’s like that guy in high school who listened to Motley Crue and Queensrych (I’m not going to bother to look up the correct spelling) and hated the music of the Grateful Dead, yet covered all his notebooks and the back of his Ford Escort with an assortment of Grateful Dead stickers.
    Let it be known that I have nothing against “jam bands” on the whole and hope for nothing but happiness and met expectations for all who brave the crowds. I own many jam band CDs and count the Allman Brothers Band as one of my top ten, maybe top five bands of all time. There are always a few bands on the bill that I would love to see, but way too many that I would avoid at all costs.
    Dave Matthews will never go away and I’ve accepted that. John Mayer will probably be around as long as the Dave Matthews fans need a Dave Matthews substitute to pop in from time to time. Kings of Leon, while also being way overhyped, probably stand the most chance of fading away sometime in the near future, as they maintain a very dangerous style to substance ratio. While I certainly wish them no negative energy, I fear this next shot of Glen is the sort of thing awaiting them and many of the Bonnaroovians in the future:
    glen campbell is drunk and angry

    Thursday, June 09, 2005

    the warrior motel

    More vacation slides here. This one is from the same trip, taken along the winding road somewhere between Bryson City and the Cherokee reservation line.
    the warrior motel outside cherokee, nc
    I love this one. Were I to see this anywhere at any time I would have to stop the car and pull out the camera. I could sever my own arm in a lawncare accident of some sort and be rushing it to the hospital in an ice chest for reattachment, see this, and have to stop.
    If you are offended by the subject matter I offer the fact that I am something like 1/16th Cherokee or Creek, I think, and am not offended. You can relax. What we have here is a proud warrior, a fine specimen of a man with huge pectoral muscles, a strong nose, and a mohawk. He sort of look likes Bono, only manly.
    What it has is character. This is from the day of the motor lodge, a happy and magical time so poignantly captured by Alfred Hitchcock in "Psycho". It is a far cry from the safe and sterile, yet bland and painfully ordinary modern traveling reality of a Howard Johnson's or Motel 6 at every interstate exit. I bet you can still smoke at the Warrior Motel. You can also picnic and enjoy the flower and water garden too, whatever that is.
    It certainly beats the hell out of the Lee Greenwood theater and endless airbrushed t-shirt and pulled taffy establishments that await one in Gatlinburg.

    Wednesday, June 08, 2005

    down and out in cherokee

    This was taken at the El Camino Motel (no relation) in Cherokee, NC. I was vacationing in nearby Bryson City last Christmas and spent a week exploring the Carolina mountain towns.
    el camino motel
    The motel itself sits just beyond the parking lot of the casino. It stands two stories and has an old look to it that just begs for an independent film. I didn't document this.
    I love old motel signs. I love any old neon signs really, and have a collection that includes better examples than this. I show this one because I was reminded of this missed opportunity that occured a fraction of a second before this was taken while recently going through some of my pics. Had I been slightly quicker with the digital camera I would've gotten this in the same shot.
    an actual el camino
    One only gets so many chances at this in a lifetime. Actually, there seems to be quick a number of El Caminos in Cherokee and I suppose I could've gotten another chance at it sometime that day, had I wanted to spend the day in the parking lot of a motel I wasn't even residing in. Also, there was money to be gambled away. Maybe next time.

    pastor of muppets

    You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but I was quite the puppeteer back in the late eighties. The First Baptist Church in Muscle Shoals, AL was my forum and a trunk full of musty and uncomfortable handpuppets was my art. Each was a bit frayed at the edges and sported fashion from the seventies sewn onto it’s anything but flesh-colored body, as the church hadn’t supplied the “puppet ministry” with new characters in quite some time. Each had an expression that was both caring and stern, a combination that came across in puppet form as concerned and anxious, as if they feared the proctology involved in their roles. Their yarn hair was thinning a bit and some of the eyes had been sewn back on at various times, sometimes by unskilled seamstresses who left the puppets looking like something that crawled from a Picasso work. Occasionally an eye would fall off in mid-performance and cause some younger children to shriek in horror.

    Those were the times a young puppeteer would live for—the puppet malfunctions and occasional arm spasms that left the door open for improvisation in an otherwise restrictive genre. If an eye fell off one could feign an Old Testament tribulation of some sort. If one’s arm began giving away at the end of an especially long scene fellow puppeteers could either attribute the visible quaking of a puppet to it’s being filled with the spirit or a clear-cut case of demon possession. I preferred the latter. Though it was often a difficult scene to pull off in front of young and impressionable audiences, it made for the most compelling drama and rewarding performances.

    And those long performances hurt like hell. Those who haven’t been around puppets simply do not understand the stamina required to hold one of those things up for minutes at a time. A good five-minute performance is the most your average puppeteer could hope to go for a scene. Puppets need to be constantly moving, and the coordination required to keep them lifelike and entertaining—not to mention the dialogue, interaction, and obligatory walking up and down imaginary staircases to enter and exit the scene—takes years to master.

    We did all this behind a two level set of blue velvet curtain draped over a pvc pipe frame of our own construction. There were nine of us and we took this stage and the trunk full of puppets to various churches throughout rural north Alabama, taking the show on the road and spreading the word abroad when the home crowd grew tired of the same skits. We sometimes wrote our own material and sometimes lipsynched to professional puppet ministry tapes or songs. Once we even stepped into the secular a bit for an interpretation of Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I think I was a turtle and mimicked one of the higher parts in that one.

    I didn’t mind the religiousness of my art at the time. I think many middle schoolers go through that religious phase when they start to contemplate things like death and how stupid everyone else is, and subsequently find a way to combine the two into a comforting thought of everybody who doesn’t agree with them going to hell. Many adults still cling to similar mantras. When people get into high school they generally trade it for a mantra of non-conformity, a tone-deaf garage band, and a keg party every weekend. When people get into college they generally trade it in for an intellectual elitism, thinking more along the lines having a more fulfilling life by getting rid of their televisions and replacing them with shelves of books about exhistentialism. Were there a team of puppeteers who set up outside theaters showing Jim Carrey movies, I probably would’ve joined up at one point in my long college career. But there was not, and puppeteering platform sadly disappeared alongside my enthusiasm for church and organized religion.

    I still bitterly recall my last performance. The Alabama Baptist Association (or some such entity) held a puppet ministry competition each year at one of the small city-sized churches around Birmingham. This particular year we had chose to lip-synch along with a taped a skit, a light-hearted gameshow parody, as I recall, and I had the sacred duty of manning the host puppet. It was flawless. We had the timing, the moves, the enthusiasm, and the energy, and made all the other puppet ministries look like rank amateurs—all with just a trunk full of shabby second hand puppets.

    Then the home team went on last. Their puppets were new, sporting current fashions, and smelling of fresh laundry. Their tapes were original and recorded at the church recording studios. They had all they needed to make up for puppeteering imperfections and provide us with a worthy adversary. And still we would have defeated them soundly, had the bastards not incorporated film into their presentation. It wasn’t something prohibited in the rules, yet I still feel to this day that such an action was underhanded and went against a number of unspoken agreements that should’ve been in place.

    They had chosen a musical number, something upbeat and expressing a general happiness for Jesus. They pulled that part of it off well, yet we would’ve still handed their asses to them had the movie screen not come down. A general groan came from the audience as it did so. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, as it were. The film shown was of a rollercoaster, taken from the inside looking back on the occupants and thus giving the impression that the puppets had suddenly boarded a rollercoaster and were still able to enthusiastically sing to Jesus without being liberated of their little puppet lunches.

    Of course we came in second to the sum’bitches. I won’t go into the argument of how all their additions were nothing more than a smokescreen to divert one’s attention away from their lack of puppetry and how some feeble minded judges were obviously swayed away from the real purpose of this puppetry competition. I can only hope that karma has led those good people to fall victim to a nasty crack addiction, and that they currently wander the shadier streets of Birmingham having hallucinogenic conversations with their once shiny and new puppets.

    No, I don’t. Not really. That would make me sound bitter and as if my life has somehow been lessened by a puppeteering defeat at an early age.
    I do, however, hope that at some point their unethical film screen fell upon the lot of them in mid-performance, causing a number of minor injuries and quite a few foul and unchurchlike exclamations to be made over their microphones.

    Thursday, June 02, 2005

    death and kojak

    In my memories of my long-departed grandfather he is always played by Telly Savalas. The resemblance was there—the baldness, large frame, flattened and brad nose, thick lips and heavy forehead—as was the fedora and deep rolling voice, though my grandfather had a definite southern accent and could never be mistaken as a Greek immigrant. I always picture my six-year old self with a large and chain-smoking Telly sitting together at the dinner table, in church, at the park, and mainly in front of the television, where the bulk of our time together was spent. It isn’t a stretch for an association, as the man, a retired butcher and gifted cook, loved his television. I don’t recall ever sitting through “Kojak”, but do remember countless nights of “The Incredible Hulk”, “Dukes of Hazzard”, “Barney Miller”, “All in the Family”, and even a few episodes of the forgotten Freddie Prinze, Sr. vehicle, “Chico and the Man”.

    Now, people with near death experiences always talk about going down that long, dark tunnel towards the light, and when they reach that light they always find dead relatives waiting to welcome them to the other side. In my childhood years, when I thought about my own impending death, I pictured Telly Savalas waiting for me on the other side. He had a lighted cigarette and wore a tuxedo. I think what I pictured then was the Telly Savalas from those “Player’s Club” credit card commercials, thus giving heaven a swank and Vegas-like feel, as if grandfather had a scotch and soda, a seat at the blackjack table, and complementary tickets to Siegfried and Roy waiting for me on the other side. Even now, when I think of death, I think of Kojak.

    I haven’t bothered to watch the new “Kojak” with Ving Rhames in the title role; though it isn’t for fear that I’ll begin confusing him for my grandfather instead. Nor do I linger when I flip by an episode of the original series. I was never much of a Kojak fan, preferring the cigar chomping and trenchcoated Columbo to any of the other seventies detectives. He was no Magnum, but one must look at the television detective from an evolutionary standpoint. It still bothers me to this day that he wore the trench coat at all times—whether interviewing some young and bikini clad suspect on an obviously warm beach or on those occasional episodes where he was supposedly vacationing—and that that roughly a third of the episodes featured Robert Culp as a different character—always the one guilty of murder and suspected from the get go, if for no other reason than he was Robert Culp—but ones has to have a healthy suspension of disbelief to enjoy television.

    No one in my family looks like Peter Falk, with the possible exception of my mother’s Yorkshire terrier. Nobody looks like Magnum, Mannix, McMillan and Wife, Beretta, or the blonde brother in Simon and Simon. Now that I think about it my dad actually looks a little like Gerald McRaney, the other Simon.

    I never picture “Rick Simon” when I think of dad though, and doubt that I ever will. The whole Kojak thing undoubtedly has something to do with childhood imagination and way too much television in my formative years, though there really are much worse afterlife scenarios to contemplate than Kojak waiting in the sky.