“Black and Yellow ‘Safety’ Snake” by Richard F. Yates

—Richard F. Yates

Posted in art | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Buzz Buzz Buzz” by Richard F. Yates

Don’t be a Bugaloo!

—Richard F. Yates

Posted in art | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Spook Show 2018 – 06: Shaun of the Dead” by Richard F. Yates

I’m not a big fan of zombie movies. As a little kid, I saw Night of the Living Dead, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, Dawn of the Dead, Evil Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and On Golden Pond, and after watching the terrifying and disgusting things that happen in these films, reanimated corpse stories just seemed sort of DONE for me. What else could anyone possible do with ZOMBIES to make them interesting again? Leave it to a couple of British blokes to breathe new life (or new DEATH?) into a tired genre…

shaun of the dead (2004) - (peg)

Shaun of the Dead is a 2004 horror / comedy directed by the brilliant Edgar Wright and based on an original script written by Wright and his buddy, Simon Pegg. The film stars Pegg as the titular character, Shaun, whose life (playing video games, shambling to the store for a can of soda, wasting his days at an electronics store, and going to the same pub every evening) has become so boring and repetitive (and zombie-like) that his girlfriend, Liz (played by Kate Ashfield), decides she’s had enough and gives him the old heave-ho! Meanwhile, his best friend, Ed (played by the irrepressible Nick Frost), who has been couch surfing at Shaun’s flat for far too long and who Shaun is constantly defending, seems perfectly content to smoke pot, play games, and make fart jokes all day, every day. (It’s the classic conflict: FRIEND VS LOVER—which one do you need to make most happy?)

As Shaun is dealing with the mess that is his life, (a rather tedious, repetitive mess, but still,) in the background all around him, a global epidemic has begun to spread—people are getting sick, folks are biting other folks, dead bodies are getting up and walking around, while Shaun (who is completely oblivious) wallows in his own misery. When he and Ed are finally confronted with the reality of the situation, that the DEAD have returned to feast on the living, Shaun makes a startling realization: he can use the APOCALYPSE to win his girlfriend back!

Edgar Wright is a fantastic director, and the craftsmanship on this film is evident from the opening scene on. The soundtrack is exceptional, the pacing and timing of the dialog are needle-sharp, the social critique implicit throughout the film is devastating, and the whole damn thing is both laugh out loud funny and genuinely gory and horrific. There are NO punches pulled in the death scenes—even for prominent characters who you wouldn’t expect were going to get bumped off! Make no mistake, this IS a horror film, but a hilariously funny horror film, which I would image is a pretty tough trick to pull off.

Two of the techniques that Wright uses, superbly, and which make the film a joy to watch over and over again, are foreshadowing and repetition. A third flat-mate, Pete, a no-nonsense fellow, is sick of having Ed laying around the place all the time and complains that Ed doesn’t pay any rent, doesn’t clean up the apartment, and is constantly forgetting to close the front door properly. A few scenes later, when the zombie invasion is in full swing, a television news anchor says that everyone should stay inside and lock their doors. Shaun and Ed look at each other, realize that Ed never shuts the door properly, and sure enough, as they turn towards the front door, a zombie comes wandering through it and into the room! (Maybe Pete was right about Ed?)

In another sequence, which combines foreshadowing and repetition, Shaun is at work talking with a young kid. The kid spots an ink stain on Shaun’s shirt and says, “You’ve got red on you,” obviously caused by a broken pen in Shaun’s pocket. Later in the film, a number of other characters also mention that he has “red” on him, even his mum, only in these cases, his shirt isn’t covered in red ink but in zombie blood! I could spend about 20 pages discussing repeated phrases, double meanings, and recurrent themes in this film, but as this is supposed to be a quickie review and not a literary analysis, I’ll go over just one more example, and then call it good.

In an early scene in the film, Shaun walks to the store. He passes a kid kicking a soccer ball around, almost gets hit by a car while crossing a busy street, gives some change to a homeless man, and then buys a snack at the shop—all seemingly in a daze, tripping over curbs and barely paying attention to his surroundings. In a slightly later scene, after we (the viewers) have become aware that a zombie apocalypse is unfolding, Shaun again walks to the store. He walks past the sidewalk where the kid was kicking the soccer ball around, and we see the ball on the ground, but no kid. He walks across the street, which now has no moving vehicles on it, as far as the eye can see. He passes the homeless man, who we can tell is a zombie, and just says that he hasn’t got any change for him today. Shaun goes into the store, slips and nearly falls in a puddle of blood on the floor, opens a refrigerator door with bloody hand prints all over it, drops some cash on the counter and says (to nobody in particular) that he’s a little short and will have to pay the extra bit the next time he comes into the shop, and then he leaves—all without noticing that a horde of slow moving zombies have begun shambling towards him as he walks home. It’s a perfect scene that manages to be both very funny (in a tense kind of way) and super creepy. If we remember how alive the neighborhood was from his earlier trip to the shop, the quiet and lack of movement as he starts this second walk can be extremely unsettling, even before we spot the first zombie.

So for folks looking for a genuinely funny horror film, I definitely recommend Shaun of the Dead. It’s well written, has some great music in the soundtrack, manages to be scary and funny and sometimes a little sad, all at the same time, and (once things start going bad) it doesn’t skimp on the blood and violence. It’s definitely not a kids’ film. The language is explicit, the blood flows freely, and for those looking for a sharp critique of societal values and expectations, there are a lot of deep concepts to be found hovering around the subtext of the plot. (One of my favorite moments in the movie takes place in the electronics store when a young kid accuses Shaun of being old, and Shaun says he’s not going to be stuck working in that store forever—he’s going to DO something with his life—and the kid, deadpan, just says, “When?” It’s kind of a sad moment, but there might be just a tiny bit of HOPE in that question as well. How about doing something with your life RIGHT NOW?) Anyway, it’s a great film. One of my favorites! (But I still don’t really like zombie movies…)

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!

https://primitiveentertainment.com/
https://primitiveentertainment.com/read-a-damn-book-list/
https://primitiveentertainment.com/support/
https://ko-fi.com/primitiveentertainment

Posted in writing | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“When Dealing with the ‘Humans'” by Richard F. Yates

—Richard F. Yates

Posted in art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Culture Club, The B-52’s, and Tom Bailey @ Theater of the Clouds, Portland, Oregon, USA” by Richard F. Yates

On Saturday, September 15th, 2018, Mariah “The Boss” and I, along with our good friends Peter and Chere “Rabid Chihuahua” Jones, headed south to catch Boy George and his cohorts in concert! We made sure to leave town early enough that we could make a stop for dinner at the new McMenamins’ Kalama Harbor Lodge, which recently opened right on the Columbia River in Kalama, Washington.

boy george 01

boy george 02

The building itself looks great, and although McMenamins is kind of known for buying old properties and restoring them, they built this facility from the ground up. Despite the fact that the building is brand new, it looks old on the INSIDE because they used a lot of reclaimed materials to build and decorate it. The ambience is fantastic, and it would probably be a fun place to stay, if you’re cruising through the Northwest and need a place to sleep for the night. Unfortunately, I can’t really speak very highly of the food. Between the four of us in our party, we tried three different entrees (Peter and I both had the King Kalama burger), and NONE of us were particularly happy with what we ordered. The food was also pretty damn expensive, considering only one of us ate the whole meal (and he ended up having stomach issues later!) I only had about two bites of mine… (I asked for no onions, and it was swimming in onions. I asked for no sauce, and it was covered in sauce. I was hoping for a hamburger—I got a “HOW HOT CAN YOU HANDLE” challenge…) So, our overall impression of the joint: looks nice, might be a good place to have a couple of drinks and some appetizers (which weren’t too bad), but avoid the dinner menu (unless you have a deep wallet and an iron stomach!)

Anyway, we made the best of it—and then broke the news to Peter that we weren’t going straight home after dinner but had a little stop to make in Portland before calling it a night. (He’s more of a Rob Zombie or Big and Rich music fan than a New Waver, so his wife felt it best NOT to tell him we were going to see Culture Club until it was too late for him to say no…) After convincing him that we weren’t joking, we got back on the freeway and headed for Portland!

boy george 03

Our destination was the Theater of the Clouds at the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon. I hadn’t seen a concert at the Moda Center before this (I’d only been there for comic conventions), but Mariah had seen Depeche Mode a few months before at this venue and said it was a great show. The “Theater of the Clouds” is, I believe, just the main stadium (where the Portland Trailblazers entertain their fans with their sporting skills) with some curtains up so that you can only see a portion of the arena. We had some nosebleed tickets, too, and I mean we were WAY up in the stands. Like SCARY HIGH! (We had to duck, on occasion, for passing satellites…) It was so far up, and the seating is so STEEP, that I was terrified just climbing the stairs. I get vertigo, and this section of the venue, for someone like me, was pretty scary to get to—but the one good thing about steep seating is that the person in front of me could have been eight feet tall and I wouldn’t have had any trouble seeing over his head!

boy george 04

boy george 05

boy george 06

boy george 07

The first act out of the chute was Tom Bailey (formerly the front man for The Thompson Twins) with a new, all female backing band, and they were FANTASTIC! Bailey maybe didn’t have as much energy as he did when he was 20, but he still moved around the stage a lot, playing a variety of different instruments and ripping through his well-known back catalog. The band was fab, and the sound they produced was a cool mixture of techno atmospherics and programming, infused with those old Thompson Twins’ tones, which gave the nostalgia a kind of updated, electro feel. Very cool. Besides the classic cuts, Bailey also played a newer song, “Science Fiction,” which was interesting and enjoyable enough that I’m going to look for his new album next time I’ve got some extra cash! Chere, who was mostly interested in seeing The B-52’s, said she was surprised at how much she enjoyed Tom Bailey’s set, and I agree. His performance was great! The songs are iconic, the stage show was fun to watch, AND his final cut (“Hold Me Now,” of course) had the entire audience on its feet and singing along! Well done, Mr. Bailey and associates. Well done.

boy george 08

boy george 09

I apologize for the quality of my photographs (actually, according to the signs all over the place as we were coming into the theater, NO photography or video recording were supposed to be allowed—although the folks sitting directly in front of me seemed to be live-streaming the entire show as it was going on!!!) I don’t have a professional camera, just my silly phone, and I didn’t realize I was going to be two miles away from the bands, but I did my best! The poor, little camera on my phone even has trouble taking up close shots when the light is low. (Here’s a couple of “concert selfies” with me and “The Boss” as examples of low light imagery!)

boy george 10

boy george 11

Next up was The B-52’s, who I’m sure most people know as a fabulous party band with several mainstream hits! If you DON’T know The B-52’s—which seems unlikely, but not impossible—they are a tongue-in-cheek, surf, rock, dance band with clever lyrics and great male/female vocal interplay, and very high energy songs that make you feel good, whether you want to or not! They were fantastic to witness live as well, with a quirky, amusing stage show, and classic, iconic tunes. At one point, Fred Schneider left the stage, leaving Kate and Cindy to tear through a couple of the female fronted tracks (“52 Girls” has always been one of my favorite songs), and he came back a few songs later wearing a gigantic, pink, cotton candy wig and ridiculous, over-sized glasses for “Party Out of Bounds!” It was hilarious! And that’s what you get from The B-52’s: a great sense of humor and a party in a box! Mariah and Chere pointed out that the vocals maybe weren’t quite as strong as they used to be, (they thought Ms. Williams was having some trouble sustaining her notes), and the dancing might be a bit more subdued than it was in “the old days,” but for heaven’s sake, these performers have been AT IT since the 1970s! Fred is something like 67 years old now! You can’t expect him to do the “Shy Turnip” with the same gusto as he did in ’81, and for my money, the show was still excellent!

boy george 12

boy george 13

boy george 14

boy george 15

And finally, we get to Boy George, who has been one of the most influential and controversial performers since the 1980s, when he chose to come out as an openly gay man in a world that wasn’t quite sure what to make of that (yet. We’re WAY past caring about sexual orientation, now, right?) Regardless of his sexuality (or perhaps DESPITE it) he and his band managed to rack up an impressive string of hits in the U.S. and around the world, and he has continued to be a force to be reckoned with for four solid decades now (as a DJ, a producer, a performance artist, AND a musician.)

I sometimes forget how good Culture Club was/is as a band, even though I still have both Kissing to be Clever and Colour by Numbers on vinyl. The mixture of reggae/ska rhythms, r&b pop sensibility, and George’s unique vocals really is fantastic, and the band was spot on perfect performing live. (Mariah says she forgot how good “Church of the Poison Mind” is, too. I’m not the only one with a bad memory!) George’s vocals have a deeper, more bar-room quality to them now (HE isn’t 19 anymore, either!), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and his back-up singers were all incredibly talented. The show was excellent, and the band started straight out of the gate with a Bowie tribute song. (Peter didn’t care for it, but I thought it was a touching gesture.) Then they cracked right on through a number of “sing-along” classics, with George giving us some great, stand-up comedy banter between the numbers. He really is a hilariously funny performer (sassy!) who knows how to entertain a crowd. The band also performed an Aretha Franklin tune, obviously in tribute to her, and pulled out a Robert Palmer cut from the 80s, as well. (I didn’t remember that Palmer was also a goner, until I looked it up!) If you’re going to do cover tunes, you might as well make them meaningful!

boy george 16

boy george 17

boy george 18

boy george 19

boy george 20

Overall, this was a FANTASTIC, FUN, highly enjoyable experience, which I would happily see again if given the chance. (Although I might spring for floor seats next time…) I was very impressed by all of the performers, and very happy to have been able to share the experience with some good friends (and with Mariah, of course!) The evening was primarily a nostalgia fest, reaching back to our kid-hoods, but so what??? The music from the 80s is still fucking awesome. I don’t care what the slags and haters and downers want to say. I’ve been a PROUD WAVER since the late 1970s. Blondie, Devo, Billy Idol / Generation X, The Cure, Adam Ant, Depeche Mode, OMD, The B-52’s, New Order, Gary Numan, The Clash, The Thompson Twins, Human League, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Heaven 17, Thomas Dolby, Men Without Hats, Public Image Ltd., Siouxsie and The Banshees, Yaz, Naked Eyes… These are my favorite bands, and they have been since I was a kid! I was never ashamed to love what I really love, even when the world went GRUNGE, and I was supposed to hate electronic music and spectacle and futurism. FUCK THAT! I’m still holding my FAITH that the NEW WAVE sensibility will come back into fashion, someday—that the future will seem BRIGHT and PROMISING again, that we’ll finally get those silver jump-suits and bright lights and colorful architectural designs that we were promised 30 or 40 years ago—eventually. Until then, keep that NEW WAVE SPIRIT alive, and dance like a star!

—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Supreme Bunny Lord of The P.E.W.)

SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!

https://primitiveentertainment.com/
https://primitiveentertainment.com/read-a-damn-book-list/
https://primitiveentertainment.com/support/
https://ko-fi.com/primitiveentertainment

Posted in writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sketchy-Man Battles the Darkness of Night” by Richard F. Yates

—Richard F. Yates

Posted in art | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“I’ll Get More Shit Done Tomorrow…” by Richard F. Yates

—Richard F. Yates

Posted in art, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments