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, 

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


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, 

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

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, 

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