Monday, December 28, 2020

Snowy Year's End (December 2020 in Hindsight)


December is drawing to a close in a winter yuck-land, which is why I'm posting this early.  I don't want to chance the library being closed on the 31st due to weather.  So, what have I done this month? 




I blogged a lot about NOWHERE and added another piece of the supernatural jigsaw puzzle I started in 2014.  NIGHT CALLING made me feel kind of proud.  I also released a video about my small town life.  



I don't want to officially say SMALL TOWN PERCEPTION is my final video for The FreakOptic Files, but I feel like stepping back a bit from my visual blog.  Even though 2020 has been an artistically good year for my video creations, I'd rather focus more on writing in 2021.  Yeah, I'll probably end up in an obsessive video creative jag next year just to make myself sound like a fool. 

Where will my writing take me in 2021?  I hope to continue my aforementioned supernatural jigsaw.  I imagine at least two more short tales in the series.  I will also be participating in a blogathon in January, which should be fun!  There are other projects on my radar, so we shall see.  All I can promise is to try to keep my freak light shining in the new year. 



Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words this month and this year!  I appreciate you more than I can say! 

Catch you in 2021!

Freak Out, 
John L. Harmon 

P.S.  PHOTOGRAPHIC GHOSTING was my most read post this year and DRONES OVER NEBRASKA! was my most watched video.   
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The Collective Eye is going to open a little differently in 2021, so here is one last glance at December...
πŸ‘

Monday, December 21, 2020

freakboy muses music: NOWHERE (music from the gregg araki movie)

"LA. is like..nowhere.  Everybody who lives here is lost." - Dark 


I was living in Omaha, Nebraska in the late 1990's when my boyfriend (at the time) and I were driving around.  The radio station we were listening to announced they were giving away free CD's in their parking lot.  This was before Spotify, so we were soon part of a crowd digging through a pile of plastic cases.  There was some sort of contest about a ticket hidden in one of the CD's, but I remember not really caring about the prize.  I was more interested in the music, especially when I  picked up a soundtrack to a film called NOWHERE.



I became obsessed with this compact disc.  What kind of film was NOWHERE?  How did the songs on the soundtrack fit into the film?  How had I not seen nor heard of this film?  I was even more intrigued because I recognized some of the actors in the photos, but this was either before Internet Movie Database or before I heard of the site.  So, I searched all over Omaha for the film, but NOWHERE was, like...nowhere. 

I just kept listening and obsessing over the free CD I stumbled upon.  I was introduced to some great music, which painted many hypotheticals of NOWHERE.  A few songs quickly became favorites.  Life Is Sweet (daft punk remix) by The Chemical Brothers is a repetitive techno-beat that I wished my fave dance club would've  played.   Nowhere by Curve is a sexy, sultry ode to destruction ("An end must come to all this fun").  I Have The Moon by Lush may go down in history as my favorite love song because it's romantic, sad and wonderfully tragic ("You're  bound to die under the sun").  Trash by The London Suede is a joyous celebration of living on the fringes of society, which I related to then and now ("We're the litter on the breeze").  Plus, 311, Hole, Chuck D and Marilyn Manson provide some edge to NOWHERE.

In a plot twist of fate, a cousin in Grand Island, Nebraska randomly rented NOWHERE and she knew I needed to see this crazy film she discovered.  It was like the clouds parted and a beam of light shined down upon me.  I finally found out what NOWHERE was about and the music & photos at last made sense, well, sort of.   I eventually located NOWHERE in an Omaha video store.  There was a DVD available but I didn't own a DVD player, so I purchased the VHS.  Flash forward 20 years or so, and I finally found a DVD on eBay.  (More about that happy moment here...http://freakboyzone.blogspot.com/2020/12/freakboy-on-film-nowhere-1997.html

In conclusion, I enjoy the soundtrack to NOWHERE so much that I purchased a used CD after my free radio station copy was stolen during the infamous 2004 Memorial Day Break-In of my Omaha apartment.  For those without a gadget that plays CD's, I've noticed a NOWHERE playlist or two on Spotify and they may include a more complete soundtrack than the disc.

"NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" - Dark 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words. 

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S. A different post about a different Omaha soundtrack...

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In case you want to give the gift of words this holiday season...

Friday, December 18, 2020

freakboy on film: NOWHERE (1997)

I Googled my book (Dark Excursions: the complete set) one evening and spotted a copy on eBay.  This lead me down an eBay rabbit hole of searching for whatever popped into my mind.  Eventually, a DVD of Gregg Araki's NOWHERE was on my screen and it was reasonably priced.  So, I placed my very first order from eBay.  I've enjoyed a lot of the Araki films, but this one has long been my favorite and I had been hoping to find it on DVD for years.


What is NOWHERE

Well...

                    "Are we still in reality?" - Dingbat 

(written & directed by Gregg Araki)

Dark is having a really strange day.  His girlfriend believes in giving love and sex freely to anyone.  A dreamy boy from class has been occupying his mind.  He feels his time is near, like a premonition of his own death.  An alien (directly out of Star Trek) is wandering around abducting people.  Oh, and it's Armageddon Day, but all Dark wants is someone to love him completely.  What's a morose 1990's teen gonna do?  Buy a bunch of CD's, play kick the can, go to a drug-fueled party and brood, of course. 



What else can I say about this neon saturated, alterna-pop, frenzied sci-fi, satirical drama of teen angst and ennui at the end of the world?  The plot, if there is one, weaves through various oddly named characters and their romantic entanglements.  All of these threads connect through sex, violence and music, culminating at Jujyfruit's party, the social event of the season.  When viewing NOWHERE, I recommend checking your critical mind at the door and just go with the crazy dialogue, the surreal visuals and the fun cameos. 



Beverly D'Angelo (Vacation) is Dark's loudly blunt mom.  Eve Plumb and Christopher Knight (The Brady Bunch) are parents of a very troubled son.  David Leisure (Empty Nest) is a father to a very troubled daughter.  Charlotte Rae (The Facts of Life) is an intense street corner fortune teller.  Lauren Tewes (The Love Boat) is a talking head on the perpetually bad news program.  John Ritter (Three's Company) is a televangelist leading the teens to a questionable salvation.  Plus, in a tragically all too brief scene, Traci Lords (Cry-Baby), Shannen Doherty (Heathers) and Rose McGowan (Scream) turn up as a trio of post-'80's Val-Chicks.



There is also plenty of familiar faces to be seen in the main cast.  James Duval (Independence Day) is our moody protagonist Dark.  Rachel True (The Craft) is free-lovin' Mel.  Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions) is oversexed Shad.  Heather Graham (Boogie Nights) is sex bomb of little to say "Dogs eating people is cool" Lilith.  Scott Caan (Varsity Blues) is the nice guy with the epitome of nice guy names...Ducky.  I could go on and on with this list but there is one familiar face that stands out and is truly a revelation.



Christina Applegate (Married With Children) expertly leaves vixenish Kelly Bundy far behind as awkward, kind of nerdish Dingbat.  She's smart, down-to-earth, and brave, despite her ridiculous name.  There's a genuine sweetness and innocence in Dingbat, which is a stark contrast to the debauchery going on around her.  In a film full of highlights, Christina Applegate shines bright and gets some great lines.  "Am I like the only person on this cosmic plane who ever goes to class?"

So, that is NOWHERE in a nutshell. 



The DVD I ordered arrived in about a week and was exactly in the condition described.  My only complaint, which has nothing to do with the seller, is the company which released this DVD omitted a post-end credits scene.  A little disappointing, but I can live with this oversight.  Overall, the first half of my first eBay experience was a success.  Yes, there's a DVD of a recently reviewed film heading my way from Greece.  It probably won't arrive until 2021. 

In conclusion, watch your step, grab a corn dog, keep an eye out for roving gangs named after classic gaming systems and enjoy NOWHERE!  

"I'm outta here." - ????? 


Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  A recently reviewed film... πŸ˜‰
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The Collective Eye for December is open!
πŸ‘

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

NIGHT CALLING



     "He's alive." 


    She whispers in the corner of her prison.  What else would one call a room with a solitary barred window?  The joke is on them, for they are the ones in prison.  The prison of denial. 

    "I saw him." 

    She whispers and softly laughs.  There he was on the night the sky burned.  Stumbling from the fire as if the flames somehow returned him to the world.  He melted into the darkness before she could call his name.

    "Henry." 

    She whispers and quickly covers her mouth.  The forbidden name brought her to this prison.  She said it to them.  Shouted that he lived but they scolded her.  Moral girls do not venture out at night unescorted.  Sane girls do not imagine seeing phantoms.

    "He was flesh." 

    She whispers and wipes away tears.  He was real but moved in a dream.  Someone learning to be new.  Was he not the same man she listened to?  Coins for conversation, unlike the other boys.  Conversations and confessions that would have brought him here.  

    "I'm not mad." 

    She whispers and closes her eyes.  Squeaking wheels shriek into her prison.  Which night is it?  Clanking metal keys thunder into her ears.  Is it her night?  Creaking hinges scratch at her mind.  Is it the kind one?  The one with the promise? 

    "You are not mad."

    The night nurse whispers.  She enters the small room, leaving the cart in the corridor.  The suffering, disheveled creature huddled in the corner turns to see and visibly relaxes.  She kneels and locks eyes with the patient. 

    "This is the night." 

    The night nurse whispers the promise.  A faint smile shines from the patient's smudged, tear-streaked face.  She chose this tragic soul with one glance of loneliness.  Whose loneliness?  Such thoughts no longer mattered.

    "You will be strong." 

    The night nurse whispers, drawing close to the patient.  How many lives has she transformed?  She lost count long ago, but she senses this will be her last.  Brushing away tangled blond hair, she moves closer.  A white film slides over her obsidian eyes.

    "You will be beautiful." 

    The night nurse whispers before sinking her fangs beneath skin.  She drains the pain and memories away.  Close to the edge, but leaving a breath of life.  Specific preparations must now be seen to, but they have all night.  Gently wrapping a peach-hued scarf around the patient's neck, she cradles her in the darkness of the asylum.

    "You will be forever." 


2020, John L. Harmon 
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This story may share threads with...


 




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Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S. A different post about different vampires...

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In case you want to give the gift of words this holiday season...

Monday, November 30, 2020

Short Hair Traveler (November 2020 in Hindsight)


I got a haircut and it ended up being very short.  The kind of short that would have sent me into tears in my younger days.  Now that I'm a mature individual in total control of my emotions, I just wore a hat and refused to take new haircut selfies.  Well, until now...




In other news,  I've been getting around this month.  I traveled from my small Nebraska town to 42ND STREET in NYC.  Then, on the way home, I stopped off in EERIE, INDIANA.  I'm obviously referring to this blog.  Oh, and I also celebrated my birthday in video for The FreakOptic Files...



I guess November has been a somewhat uninspired month, creatively speaking.  Maybe all the birthday pizza muddled my brain.  I will hopefully find motivation or inspiration in December.  At least I can look forward to my short hair growing out a bit. 



Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  Here is one more glance through November's Collective Eye...

πŸ‘


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In case you want to give the gift of words this holiday season...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

channel freakboy: EERIE, INDIANA (1991-1992)


I was probably not NBC's target audience when this half-hour series premiered in 1991, but TWIN PEAKS was over and I needed my weird fix.  So, I decided to visit EERIE, INDIANA.  Once I relocated, I made new fictional friends, met Dawson's mom before she moved to the Creek, and saw strange sights, such as Bigfoot, Elvis and aliens.  Plus, I encountered Sgt. Knight (Harry Goaz), who was obviously really Deputy Andy working undercover for the Twin Peaks Police Department.  Yes, it turned out EERIE, INDIANA was the perfect new home for me. 




Eerie is also a new home for Marshall Teller (Omri Katz).  His father (Francis Guinan) moved the family to Indiana to escape the dangers of New Jersey.  What Marshall's father, mother (Mary-Margaret Humes) and sister (Julie Condra) fail to realize is that this seemingly normal town is chock full of weird dangers.  Plastic storage kitchenware-obsessed housewives who never age!  An ATM gone sentient!   A tornado with a grudge!  A corn cult, but not the Stephen King variety.  Plus there is the perilous paradox of observing Daylight Savings Time!  How can a 13-year-old boy deal with this level of crazy by himself? 



Thankfully, Marshall is not alone.  His best friend Simon Holmes (Justin Shenkarow) is at his side while investigating the strange goings-on around town.  Will they solve the mystery of why Eerie is the center of weirdness?  Will the curious collection of mementos from their adventures be discovered?  Will Marshall's family ever get a clue?  



Sadly, we will never know.  EERIE, INDIANA was cancelled after one season.  However, much like some other short-lived series, it burned bright.  Especially in Reality Takes a Holiday.  The final episode begins with Marshall skipping a family outing and then finding a script of EERIE, INDIANA in the mailbox.  What follows is wickedly clever fun and a strangely satisfying conclusion to a truly original, offbeat series. 



To add to the offbeat madness, director Joe Dante (Gremlins) helmed some of the episodes and I can't help but believe he was behind sprinkling the series with quirky-cool guest stars.  Dick Miller (Gremlins) and Henry Gibson (Laugh-In) helped the residents of Eerie lose things.  Matt Frewer (Max Headroom) literally dropped in as a tornado hunter.  Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek; Deep Space Nine) made Eerie a devilish deal.  Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian) was surrounded by a bunch of corn-heads.  Last, but not least, a freakishly young Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) appeared as a ghost with a romantic problem. 



In conclusion, I had not seen this series since it originally aired and I think it holds up.  The stories are fun, freaky, clever and often not afraid to touch upon mature themes such as death and fighting parents.  So, if you crave something a little different, pay a visit to EERIE, INDIANA.  Marshall and Simon will gladly show you around the weirdness. 



(SIDE NOTE - At the time of this writing, Amazon Prime is streaming EERIE, INDIANA and a spin-off series from 1998 that I never knew existed.  I'm one episode into EERIE, INDIANA: THE OTHER DIMENSION and I think it's off to a potentially good start.) 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  I wonder what Marshall and Simon would think of the supernatural weirdness happening in Collinsport, Maine...πŸ€”



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Just like the eye in the beginning credits of EERIE, INDIANA....




...The Collective Eye for November is open...

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

freakboy on film: FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET (1973)

 (written & directed by Andy Milligan)


I could slip on my Mad Scientist Glasses and take photos of the TV screen or just look up a program schedule online, but my sister was already checking listings on the onscreen cable guide last Friday.  So, I inquired as to what was airing on Turner Classic Movies overnight.  When my sister mentioned FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET, I asked in a most incredulously curious tone, "What is that about?"  When she uttered the words, transvestite roommate, I knew for certain I'd be waking up in the middle of the night to catch this TCM Underground flick. 


FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET (or, as it's also known, The Girls on 42nd Street) is about a worldly New York woman of the 1970's named Dusty.  Dusty is three months into shacking up with a guy and she's tired of listening to him bitch about her not having a job.  The final straw breaks when he asks her to tidy up the apartment while he's at work.  Dusty lulls his anger through seduction, and promises to do so.  Then, once he leaves, she tidies up the place by robbing him blind. 



Dusty takes the hot property to a less than reputable (is there any other kind?) pawn shop.  The owner offers her $30 for the TV and jewelry, but Dusty wants more.  The classy owner offers her $50 if she joins him in the back room.  She does, they do and they leave the pawn shop.  He heads off to fetch lunch for the two of them, while Dusty claims she is going to use a phone booth across the street.  Instead, she breaks into the shop to steal more money and a nice broach.  Even hustlers need to look glamorous.



Speaking of glamorous, our ever-resourceful heroine lands on the doorstep of Cherry, a transvestite hustler with a sharp tongue and tricks to spare.  Her clientele are strictly men and when a weekly appointment spots Dusty, Cherry generously steps aside, but the trick makes it clear that he will be back next week for some Cherry.



With all of Dusty's recent influx of income, she and Cherry go out on the town.  They end up at a bar where they spot Bob.  Bob, despite his Norman Bates demeanor, is a nice guy from Staten Island.  To nobody's surprise, Dusty goes home with Bob.  What is surprising is Dusty likes Bob so much that she doesn't accept money from him and doesn't want to rob him blind, even though he gave her keys to his home. 



Will Bob be the fairy tale ending for Dusty, our hustler heroine?  Will Cherry ever afford a less grandmotherly wig?  Will I give away the ending that, quite literally, comes out of nowhere?  I seriously considered it, but decided to leave you satisfied, but wanting more, like a good hustler should. 



As for the acting, there is a natural 1970's feel to it.  Honestly, the performances are better than they should be.  Same goes for the dialogue.  The words are brazen, shocking and probably offensive to 21st Century ears, but there is honesty there.  Especially when Dusty doesn't want Bob to stare too deep into her eyes and when Cherry waxes tragically realistic about being an aging transvestite hustler.  I found it easy to feel compassion for these characters despite some of their horrible behavior. 




SIDE NOTE: While researching this film on IMDb, I was shocked to learn that Harry Reems, the notorious DEEP THROAT actor, played Bob!  Actually, the three leads all used assumed names.  Laura Cannon played Dusty and Nell Flanagan played Cherry.  Further research revealed what I watched on TCM was an R-rated cut of an X-rated film, which explains a lot. 

In conclusion, if you dig obscure, gritty, indie films from the 1960's & 1970's, then FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET may be the trick for you.  I have no regrets waking up to watch it at 1:30 am, and I would do it again.  Mainly because the DVD is out of print and is crazy expensive. 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  A different post about a different obscure film I watched in the middle of the night...



Friday, October 30, 2020

Tricky Treat Thoughts (October 2020 in Hindsight)


 I know October still has another day, but the library is closed on Saturdays because of the pandemic. 

 
I am pleased with my blogging this month.  Some spooky posts mixed with some personal stuff filled these digital pages.  I was excited to continue my supernatural short story series.  Click INTO THE FOLD if you want to jump in.

I actually released a video for The FreakOptic Files in October.  While it is not a Halloween video, it is all about a Halloween color.  Watch FREAK ORANGE A GO-GO below...⤵️



In book news, the year of Dinkel continues!  A reader from the UK sent me a photo of his copies of my two paperback books.  It always amazes me when someone takes a chance on my words.  I secretly hope he is enjoying DARK EXCURSIONS and VISION BENT while having tea. πŸ˜  



On a personal note, the mother of one of my best friends passed away this month.  I've known this friend (she inspired Dark Excursions) and her mom since 1996, the year I moved to Omaha.  My half-blind eyes prevent me from driving, but I was able to attend the funeral online.  It was initially weird to watch a live streaming funeral.  It felt like  I was intruding on something private.  However, I was ultimately thankful this option was available. 

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words this month.  As for November...all I can promise is I'll keep blogging as long as the library remains open during these turbulent times. 



Be well...

Stay safe...

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S.  It was 5 years ago this month when I released DARKENING STURGEONS as an e-book....

Ben Straker is dealing with abandonment issues, a potential romance and a town on the verge of chaos after a series of mysterious disappearances...




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The Collective Eye will open late in November, but here is one more look at October...
πŸ‘


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

INTO THE FOLD



     Ricky Jones sits alone at the monitoring station, putting in his time as the newbie of the group.  Four screens bathe him in a vaguely blue illumination, a spotlight in the darkened students lounge of the old science building.  He studies the four images before his milk chocolate eyes.  Two screens are stationary while the other two are in constant jerky motion.


    Val and Marnie, in the upper left screen, are exploring a storage area in the attic.  Books, equipment and a few old skeletons fill the claustrophobic space.  Footsteps have allegedly been heard reverberating through the rafters.  Ricky wishes Marnie wasn't in charge of videoing because she jumps at the slightest noise.  Val is in his film class, so she knows how to hold and move a camera in a variety of situations.

    Lexi and Derek, in the lower right screen, investigate a peculiar lab in the basement.  A metal surgical table centers a room full of broken or long-unused equipment.  Old newspapers have documented numerous accounts of eerie sobbing emanating from the bowels of this abandoned building.  Ricky wishes Derek would focus the camera more on the surroundings and less on Lexi, who is encouraging him with flirty smiles and laughter.  Derek is intensely attractive, so people often make allowances for him, including Ricky. 

    The lower left screen displays a classroom, it's lab tables cluttered with test tubes, microscopes and miscellaneous science class contraptions.  Claims of objects being hurled in this room have been reported.  A specific hallway on the first floor can be seen on the upper right screen.  It's an old university legend that the spirit of a night watchman stalks this corridor, searching for lost souls with the aid of an oil lantern. 

    Ricky Jones is searching for proof of an afterlife.  In the last year, he watched his grandmother waste away from cancer.  It's impossible for him to believe that the woman who raised him after his parents flaked is simply gone, like she never existed.  He needs to know for certain that she goes on in some form.  This drew him to the university's ghost hunting group.  His reasons for wanting to join touched each of the members, so they gladly accepted him into their fold.

    His alert eyes dart from screen to screen, waiting for something to happen.  Waiting for the others to encounter unexplainable phenomenon.  Waiting for what appears in the upper right screen.  A dim light hanging in the air begins illuminating the hallway, immediately catching his attention. 

    Ricky stares as the light on the screen grows brighter and begins moving towards the camera.  He leans forward, mesmerized, when all four screens suddenly go dark.  Urgency hits him and he grabs for his walkie to contact Val, but finds the charge is gone.  Urgency morphs into panic as he realizes the students lounge should be as dark as the screens. 

    The guttural scream echoes throughout the old science building and then abruptly stops.  Marnie clutches at Val in the attic, while Lexi plunges into Derek's arms in the basement.  Hurried, whispered discussions lead the pairs to one decision.  Flashlights in hands, they quickly converge on the monitoring station, calling out for Ricky.  All that answers them is the silence of his empty chair bathed in a vaguely blue illumination, as if Ricky Jones never existed. 


2020, John L. Harmon 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
This story may share threads with...






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Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind words.

Freak Out, 
JLH 

P.S. A different post about a different ghost...