Wednesday, May 24, 2023

10 years in the freakboy zone…

My first post was posted on Friday, May 24th, 2013.  I wrote about wanting to entertain through my words and how I didn’t want to set parameters for this blog.  Essentially, I planned to blog about whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  

Did I achieve what I set out to do a decade ago?  You have joined me as I released short stories, poetry and blog serials You have experienced my reviews of some wonderfully off-kilter books, films and television series You have stood by me as I shared my struggles & triumphs with vision loss.  You even stuck around as I dragged you into my obsession with the late filmmaker Andy Milligan Hopefully through it all, I entertained you and maybe accidentally expanded your horizons. 

No matter how old I get, I shall always be a freakboy, so here’s to another 10 years in the zone… 🤓 
Black and white Photo of a freakboy seriously staring at you
Thank you to past, present and future readers!  My appreciation runs deeper than words can fully express.  

Freak Out, 

P.S. You have also tolerated the plugging of my books, so click the pic ⤵️ for a recent red carpet review of DARK EXCURSIONS from Realweegiemidget Reviews… 

Screenshot of Realweegiemidget Reviews  review of dark excursions, a book by john l. Harmon, shows an ominous photo of a church.

Friday, May 19, 2023


This just in…

While in the middle of editing DARKENING STURGEONS and HAUNTING STURGEONS into a 2-in-1 print edition, something brand new occurred in my indie author career!  One of my books received a very low rating!  
Cover of Darkening Sturgeons by john L. Harmon shows a desolate road leading into a darkening sky.
A reader purchased DARKENING STURGEONS on May 17th and, within 24 hours, a 1 (out of 5) star ⭐️ rating appeared on Amazon. 
8 Amazon customer ratings for Darkening Sturgeons by John L. Harmon shows 50% gave it 5 stars, 28% gave it 4 stars and 22% gave it 1 star.
There is, as of this post, no review to go along with this low rating, which is disappointing.  I was hoping to use a so-called “bad review” for promotional material!  Plus, I am interested in knowing what the reader found unappealing about my ebook, so I can do more of it in the future!   Oh well, fingers crossed for next time. 

At least I can take comfort in imagining John Waters and the late Andy Milligan being proud of me for unapologetically doing my thing, naysayers be damned!  

Bonus points for me if my books make a conventional reader unconventionally uncomfortable! 😉 

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

Freak Out, 

P.S.  click the pic ⤵️ to find my books & blogs…for the unconventional readers out there! 😁
A shadowy selfie of the author with one eye highlighted

Friday, May 12, 2023

Andy Milligan Scripts: TRICKS OF THE TRADE

Photo of the hardcover edition of the ghastly one, the 42nd street netherworld of director Andy Milligan, by Jimmy McDonough, revised edition, shows a photo of Andy Milligan, half in black and white, half in red.
Oh, you knew it was gonna happen sooner or later!
  My Andy Milligan obsession forced me to purchase the shockingly big and ridiculously heavy out-of-print 2020 hardcover edition of THE GHASTLY ONE by Jimmy McDonough.  I could go on and on about how luridly beautiful this massive book is, especially with its enticing and exciting photos not included in the 2001 edition.  However, I’d rather talk about the bonus paperback book, which is the main reason I splurged on the behemoth hardcover.  
The paperback of Andy Milligan scripts looks like bound leather and shows 5 titles… tricks of the trade.  The bitch.  Section eight.  Cocteau.  Supercool, but that is scribbled out and replaced by the title Sharon.
ANDY MILLIGAN SCRIPTS is a collection of 5 film and/or stage play scripts from the Grindhouse/Way-Off Broadway auteur himself.  I am obviously eager to devour each deliciously acidic word, but I craved one script above the rest.  During the early days of my obsession, I searched for Andy Milligan on IMDb and was drawn to many titles, including TRICKS OF THE TRADE (1968).  The plot about a married man being blackmailed after indulging in a night of lust with another couple sounded right up my trashy alley!  Tragically, it is one of his lost films.  Thankfully, I have now read the mind-boggling, eye-popping script! 
Title page of script reads, Tricks of the trade, aka, the sex set-up, by Andy Milligan
IMDb also lists Gerald Jacuzzo as a writer.
Fred and Saline Clark are an unhappily married couple.  The unhappiness mainly stems from Saline’s needy and intrusive mother, who calls and drops by at the most inopportune times, even during the couple’s infrequent bedroom activities.  After a fight about his wicked mother-in-law, Fred storms out and finds himself at a bar far away from his unhappy home.  There he meets Stud and Marcy Perkins, a pair of swinging hippies.  

This carefree couple intrigues Fred so much that he agrees to go back to their place.  Before you can say “ménage à trois” three times fast, Fred gives into lust and experiences some new sensations, including a deep kiss from Stud.  Little does Fred suspect, this is a sex set-up.  Marcy and Stud have arranged for this session to be photographed so they can eventually blackmail him.  Let’s face it, a same-sex kiss blackmail pic would fetch a pretty penny in 1968 and, sadly, even in some parts of the world today. 

Fred returns to his worried wife and mundane life, still unaware of the devious machinations going on behind him.  Either because of his troubled marriage or his experimental night with Stud and Marcy, Fred makes an appointment with a psychiatrist.  Dr. Pauline Flood is the epitome of professionalism.  Within a couple of sessions, she tells Fred to grow a pair and then sleeps with him. 

This form of in-depth therapy works for Fred.  He finds the courage to throw his mother-in-law out and get his marriage back on track.  Just when you think a happy ending for Saline and Fred is in sight, along comes Stud Perkins with a simple request for Fred.  Show up at a sketchy address in an hour or their kissing photo will be released for the world to see.  Since a same-sex scandal could ruin his marriage and career, Fred agrees to this request and is introduced to the mastermind behind the blackmail.  

Four Eyes, a man residing over his court of degenerates on a throne, is bejeweled like a king and wears a neck brace.  He demands Fred exchange $5,000 for the incriminating photo.  Fred flat out refuses and is quickly beaten unconscious and drugged by Four Eyes’ henchmen named Eenie, Meenie, Minie and Moe.  How does this nightmare scenario of sex and violence end? 

Saline is an emotional mess because she hasn’t seen nor heard from Fred in six months.  Her mother thinks Saline needs to stop moping around, reminding  her daughter that she warned her how Fred was a poor choice for a husband.  Cut to a disfigured face.  Fred is barely recognizable and is suffering from amnesia.  He has become just another derelict junkie wandering the unsavory streets of the city alone. 

Yes, it’s another heartwarmingly cynical and pessimistic tableau from Andy Milligan and I was extremely satisfied!  There are some eyebrow-raising moments and I love the characters.  Fred and Saline Clark have some interesting quirks that are not, unfortunately, fully explored.  Saline’s mother is another entertaining example of Milligan’s controlling matriarch character.  Dr. Pauline Flood is joyously unconventional and unethical.  Stud and Marcy Perkins are memorably crazy and I imagine could easily slide into a John Waters film.  So could Four Eyes and his goofy-named goons.  I still wonder if Four Eyes got his name because of having four henchmen or if he wears glasses along with a neck brace.  There is also a slew of very interesting side characters which I haven’t mentioned because they are not directly involved with the main plot, and because this post is already too long anyways. 
A page from the script to tricks of the trade where Fred confesses to Dr. Flood about an earlier homosexual experience and then she tells him she’s done  all she can for him. He’s a free man and he should go to his wife and start breeding.
The pages in the book are scanned copies of the actual script.  There are sections of dialogue blacked out, with occasional handwritten notes, presumably by Andy.  It’s a visceral visual treat to study and devour these words, which thanks to my tablet and Mad Scientist Glasses, I did with devious delight!  Now if only someone would unearth a print of the film from a theater’s basement or somewhere. 
Film Poster for tricks of the trade shows various naked people in provocative poses, including the same-sex kiss in the top right corner.  Text reads,  girls and men who knew all about the tricks of the trade.  Other text reads, when they no longer got a kick from one partner, they tried two.  They never could go too far.   Trade of the tricks.
Below is more information and a list of cities TRICKS OF THE TRADE played during its original theatrical run, just in case anyone has the time, resources and desire to search sketchy basements and forgotten attics…
TRICKS OF THE TRADE (1968). aka, The Sex Set-Up, (shooting title). Tricks, (alt. press title). Run for Your Wife, (alt?). shooting date : circa Spring 1968. locations: Greenwich Village, NYC, Staten Island. NYC. format: 16mm b/w. budget: approx $10.000. theatrical running time: 83m (pressbook). production company: Extraordinary Films, Inc. theatrical distributor: William Mishkin.
From the booklet “Andy Milligan’s Venom” (included with The Dungeon of Andy Milligan box set)
Theatrical release. New York (Globe, Broadway): 30 October, 1968. Bryan, Texas: 28 April, 1969. Los Angeles, California: 09 May, 1969.  Allentown, Pennsylvania: 02 May, 1969.  Atlanta, Georgia: 02 July, 1969. Tampa, Florida: 04 July, 1969. Newport, Virginia: 09 July, 1969. New Brunswick, New Jersey: 11 October, 1969. Louisville, Kentucky: 24 October, 1969. St. Louis, Missouri: 14 November, 1969, Baltimore, Maryland: 21 November, 1969. Wilmington, Delaware: 22 April, 1970. Chicago, Illinois: 23 june, 1971. UK theatrical release. Birmingham, W. Midlands: 20 July, 1968. Bradford, W. Yorkshire: 05 March, 1969. Sheffield. S. Yorkshire: 26 March, 1969. Liverpool, Merseyside, 03 April, 1971. Stockwell. London: 13 June, 1971. Erith. Kent: 31 October, 1971.
There must have been at least two prints circulating around back then.
In conclusion…

Based on the script, I believe TRICKS OF THE TRADE could give FLESHPOT ON 42ND STREET a run for its hustled money as my favorite Andy Milligan film or at least bump NIGHTBIRDS down from a close second to third.  The story is so abrasive, occasionally shocking and sometimes very funny, that it could be Milligan’s lost masterpiece.  So, if you get a chance to experience the TRICKS OF THE TRADE script, grab a Pepsi and take this bumpy ride into the acerbic depth of Andy Milligan’s psyche.

SIDE NOTE: I’ve heard there is a theatrical trailer for TRICKS OF THE TRADE out there, but I haven’t been able to locate it.  Though there are some stills in the hardcover edition of THE GHASTLY ONE, which just inflames my desire!  If you know where to watch the trailer, please leave a comment below.  Thanks! 

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

Freak Out, 

P.S. click the pic ⤵️ to get weird with a previous Milligan post…

Friday, May 5, 2023

In Sight (a poem, of sorts)

Powering on 
my X-ray eyes 
seeing the cruel you 
You bury deep inside 

Reflecting in  
seeing what you see 
but when you laughed 
You didn’t see me 

Switching off 
these see through eyes 
having seen too much of 
You being blind 

Shadowy selfie of a freak wearing headphones, with light reflecting off his mad scientist glasses.
2023, John L. Harmon 

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

Freak Out, 

P.S. click the pic for an earlier poem, of sorts…

A ghostly blurry selfie

My book or ebook of half-blind poems is available from an Amazon near you…

Saturday, April 29, 2023

channel freakboy: RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES (1975-1976)

A red background shows a gorilla soldier with fist raised and text that reads… Return to the planet of the apes!

The year is 3979 and Earth has experienced a cataclysmic catastrophe while I was on a rocket ride in Outer Space with a certain animated feline pop band. 

Three ape-like figures are tied to what appears to be upside down crosses.
Saturday morning in the 1970’s was a very different time.

You see, I had Josie and the gang leave me on a planetoid so a certain animated Starfleet vessel could take me home, but Kirk and crew dropped me off in the upside-down future of RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES (It’s a convoluted scenario which you can read about HERE Anyhoo, I’ve been hiding out with the cave-dwelling humanoids for the last two years after my Ted Talk concerning the dangers of being a toon junkie went horribly wrong.  The talking apes chased me out of Ape City, but thankfully they now believe I was just a mental trick deployed by their below surface enemy, the Underdwellers.  If a humanoid with the knowledge of language is ever discovered, all the humanoids will be eradicated, instead of simply being harvested for animal labor, for scientific studies, for war games, for the “animal replacement preserve” and to be kept as pets. 

Close up of Jeff, a black man with short, dark hair.  Judy, a white woman with shoulder-length light brown hair.  And Bill, a white man with short blond hair.
Jeff, Judy and Bill pose for the cover of their folk album!

This is why I’m worried about the spaceship that crashed in the lake.  By keeping quiet and observing, I’ve learned three astronauts from 1976 are now among us.  Bill Hudson, Judy Franklin and Jeff Allen survived their crash, only to find themselves at the mercy of the desolate landscape and sweltering heat of The Forbidden Zone.  Bill and Jeff made it through the treacherous terrain, thanks to the care of Nova, easily the smartest of the humanoids, but Judy has been abducted by the Underdwellers!  They call her “Usa” and claim she is part of an ancient prophecy. 

Nova, a white woman with long dark hair.  She is wearing an officer’s dog tags
Nova cared for me during my Quisp withdrawal.

As if there wasn’t already enough going on, Bill and some of the humanoids were captured by General Urko, the leader of the gorilla army.  Thankfully Bill escaped by befriending Cornelius and Zira, two chimpanzee scientists.  Jeff and Bill then managed to free the captured humanoids, which is great, but the pressure is mounting from all sides.  Dr. Zaius, an orangutan leader, is growing more and more suspicious of Cornelius and Zira, as they are constantly risking their careers for Bill, Jeff and the humanoids.  General Urko is growing more and more war-hungry and paranoid of humanoids, the Underdwellers and even other apes.  The Underdwellers’ motives and ultimate plan for Judy remain uncertain and now volcanic activity is threatening their existence.  To top it all off, Bill and Jeff are planning to move the humanoids to a lush area called New Valley, where herds of unicorn-buffalo hybrid roam. 

Dr, Zaius, an orangutan with yellow-ish hair.
The doctor is in!

Will Dr. Zaius catch Cornelius and Zira breaking ape law?  Will General Urko start an all out war?  Will The Underdwellers release Judy?  Will Bill and Jeff save the humanoids?  Will the dog tags Nova wears bring help with a surprising reference to one of the films?  Will “A Day at the Zoo,” an ancient book Bill and Cornelius placed in the care of the extremely peaceful and very zen Mountain Apes, bring peace to the planet or completely tear it apart?  There was only 13 episodes and it ended with a cliffhanger, so we may never know.  Plus, I managed to escape from this animated upside-down future, which is another post for another time. 

Cornelius, holding an open book, and Zira, both chimpanzees with dark hair, glance at each other in their laboratory.
Cornelius and Zira doubt I’ll blog about my escape.

I first experienced RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES when my sister purchased a massive APES box set in the early 2000’s.  We both expected the series to be utter crap, but we were both wrong.  This criminally short-lived animated series is wildly entertaining and full of surprises.  While each episode has its own plot, there is an overall storyline throughout.  For a Saturday morning cartoon, it is amazingly complex.  Seriously, you need to watch this one in order!  The writers even expected viewers to remember little events from several episodes before.  Another interesting aspect of the series is how it borrows elements from the novel (the apes are technologically advanced), and includes characters from the original films and the live-action TV series, but does its own thing. 

The Underdwellers, hooded robed figures, worship a tree standing in a glass tube.
Tree huggers of the future unite!

I’m sure there are those of you out there who are yelling at my words.  Screaming about the not-so-great animation and the occasionally stiff voice-acting.  Yes, there are deficiencies, including plot holes and a few contradictions, but I think PLANET OF THE APES fans should embrace the sheer scope and clever intricacies of the animated series.  You simply need to overlook the flaws and lose yourself in the story and the characters.

General Urko, a gorilla with dark hair and wearing orange ape military gear, points an accusing finger.
General Urko wants YOU to watch this series!

SIDE NOTE: Sadly, Roddy McDowall does not voice Cornelius, but there is still an acting thread connecting the animated series to the films.  Austin Stoker, who portrayed MacDonald in BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, voices Jeff Allen. 

In conclusion…
I always look forward to returning to this intriguing animated planet when my sister and I commence our annual APES marathon.  With more money and an evening time slot, I believe this series could have found a wider audience and lasted longer, but, alas, it was not meant to be.  At least we have these 13 episodes to enjoy!  So, if you dig classic Saturday morning television or you’re a franchise completist, then RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES may be in your future! 
(whispers - “check YouTube”)

Thank you for reading or listening to my half-blind contribution to the FUTURETHON blogathon hosted by Barry of Cinematic Catharsis and Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews!

Michael York looks helpless in a scene from Logan’s run, with text that reads… cinematic catharsis and Realweegiemidget reviews present… Futurethon, April 28-30, 2023

Freak Out, 

P.S. Click a pic ⤵️ for more of my animated misadventures… 

Saturday, April 22, 2023

freakboy on film: WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING (1989)

First, thank you to my tweeps who voted in my recent Andy Milligan Twitter poll!  The winner was WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING, so here we go… 

Much like the infamous puppet porn, I won WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING as the sole bidder in an eBay auction.  I saw a reasonably priced copy, placed a bid for $1 more than the asking price and then went about my day.  I later received an email announcing my win, but I was still home, so tragically there was no public declaration of winning a weirdo. 

A green Blu-ray slipcover of WEIRDO THE BEGINNING shows a silhouette of young lovers surrounded by violence and death, with text that reads, this boy has been pushed beyond the limits of sanity…and he’s going to explode!
The slipcover perfectly captures the essence of this film.

I was rather nervous when I first popped in the disc.  At that point in time, I had experienced The Dungeon of Andy Milligan box set, which includes his available New York and England films, but I had not experienced any of Andy’s California excursions.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I quickly learned I had nothing to be nervous about.  WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING (aka THE WEIRDO) touched upon many tried & true Milligan plot devices.  Side characters & subplots that go nowhere.   Tyrannical mother or mother-figure.   Shocking family revelations.   Doomed lovers.   Death by pitchfork to the neck.   Tragically, there is no swirl camera, but no film is perfect. 

Donnie and Miss Martins in her kitchen.
Miss Martins has more clothes for Donnie to donate to the local church.

Donnie is a mentally challenged young man who enjoys spending time in the nearby woods searching for discarded treasures.  When he’s not bringing home old Frisbees and other junk, he is endlessly delivering his landlady’s used clothes to a local church and being tortured by three roving redneck bullies.  Miss Martins is a friend of Donnie’s mother and she agreed to let him live in her shed after his mother kicked him out.  She seems like a nice old woman.  On the other hand, the three bullies, Nails, Dean and Vic, are not nice. 

The three roving redneck bullies roving down the street.
The latest in roving redneck bully fashion.

This perpetual routine is disrupted by Jenny, a sweet, physically challenged young woman.  Donnie meets Jenny in the woods and their connection as outsiders forms a tenuous love between them.  This love seems unnatural to Reverend Cummings at the local church.  He and his wife believe Donnie and Jenny should not be together, mainly because of Donnie’s mental and emotional challenges. 

Rev. Cummings looking holier than thou.
Hey, Preacher!  Leave them kids alone!

Then to make matters worse, Donnie’s estranged mother, who lives on the outskirts of town, suddenly wants him to come for a visit.  Miss Martins insists he goes and he reluctantly agrees.  Once there, Donnie is humiliated with name-calling and a beating from his drunken mother.  As if that wasn’t enough, Donnie learns he is the product of an incestuous relationship between his mother and her brother.  Oh, and his mother is going to sell Donnie to a work-farm in Mississippi.
Donnie and his abusive mother in a physically peaceful moment.
A boy’s best friend is not always his mother.

Quite understandably, Donnie snaps and the killing commences!  Who does he kill?  How does he kill them, besides a pitchfork?  Will Miss Martins help Donnie or is she holding on to one final secret?  Will Jenny’s innate goodness save Donnie or does he have a plan for after the killings?  This blu-ray may be out of print, but I’ll never tell.  However, if you’re familiar with Milligan or my reviews of his films, you already know the answers. 

Donnie and Jenny in the woods.
Donnie & Jenny forever,

 Steve Burington as Donnie and Jessica Straus as Jenny give WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING a heart and soul despite, or maybe because of the complications in their burgeoning romance.  Naomi Sherwood brings a down home, practical vibe to Miss Martins.  Shawn Player (Nails), Patrick Thomas (Dean) and Dennis Robbins (Vic) are believable as redneck bullies.  Though I wonder if Trey Parker was inspired by this trio when he created the trapper bullies in CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL!  John Miranda, credited as John Rand, and Janet Roberts as the reverend Cummings and his wife are believably hypocritical as leaders of the local church.  Maladjusted Milligan fans, like me, will note Rev. Cummings is none other than Sweeney Todd in BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS Last, but certainly not least, Lynne Caryl gives an uncomfortably terrifying performance as Donnie’s abusive mother.  One can’t help but wonder if this is the closest Milligan came to capturing his mother’s hostile spirit on film.

The blu-ray cover of THE WEIRDO shows Donnie holding a severed head and screaming, while the bullies lurk in the background and two eyes watch in horror, with text that reads, A lost classic from the legendary grindhouse auteur.  Andy Milligan’s The Weirdo.  this boy has been pushed beyond the limits of sanity…and he’s going to explode!  Boy meets girl.  Boy kills everyone.  A love story only Andy Milligan could make. - Frank Henénlotter, director of BASKET CASE & BRAIN DAMAGE
This cover fails to capture the sweetness within the violence.

Speaking of Andy, despite the violence and hate emanating from the story, this second of his California films continues to show a softer side.  He seems to genuinely care about Donnie and Jenny.  Don’t get me wrong though.  His script and direction may not be as frenzied as his earlier work, but WEIRDO is unmistakably Andy Milligan.  It could almost be a sequel to SEEDS (aka Seeds of Sin) if that film had ended a bit differently. 

If I am not mistaken, and I may be, according to THE GHASTLY ONE by Jimmy McDonough, Milligan claimed he filmed a version of WEIRDO back in the 1970’s, but left the only print behind when moving.  Other sources say he had planned to film a version back then as part of a deal during his time in England, but it never was shot.  Either way, that WEIRDO would be a different kind of WEIRDO! 

In conclusion…
WEIRDO is my favorite of Milligan’s California excursions.  Donnie is complicated, relatable and sympathetic.  Yes, even when he’s being a bit of a creepy stalker and a killer.  So, if you have ever felt like an outsider, pour yourself some imaginary orange juice and embrace WEIRDO: THE BEGINNING! 

SIDE NOTE: According to the blu-ray commentary, Milligan was hoping to do a sequel, hence “The Beginning.”  From the description, the follow-up would’ve shared elements of MONSTROSITY, which may explain the mysterious ending of WEIRDO. 

Jenny looks amazed and full of expectations.
Jenny isn’t going to tell you the ending either.

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

Freak Out, 

P.S.  Grab a pie and click the pic ⤵️ to devour my review of BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS! 🩸 

A scene from bloodthirsty butchers where Mrs. Lovett smiles knowingly at an excitable customer
She knows what you want!

My books & blogs…

Friday, April 14, 2023

Kaleidoscopic Thought (a poem, of sorts)

I spend too much time in my chaotic mind 
Deconstructing the past 
Downplaying my victories 
Focusing on my failures 
Until I circuitously shift 
Constructing a future 
Full of flagrantly ephemeral   
Possibilities and desires  
Until past and future meet 
Struggling for supremacy  
Fracturing my phantoms 
Leaving only present day me 
Spending too much time in my chaotic mind 

A Kaleidoscope photo shows shadowy thin faces with one eye and light blue lampshades surrounding bursts of orange
2023, John L. Harmon 

This was inspired by the above photo, which I took in 2014 and recently unearthed through Facebook Memories. 

Oh, and happy National Poetry Month! 📜 

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

Freak Out, 

P.S.  One way to celebrate National Poetry Month… 🤓

Vision bent (half-blind poems) by John L. Harmon
available from an Amazon near you!

My books & blogs…