Friday, April 30, 2010

Repair Pal

Yesterday, while I was working, Jesse and one of his former ticket workers came to keep me company while the caterer took her break and there was a lull in the line. We spoke for a while before people came to get food. During that time, I was overhearing a conversation they were having about the former ticket worker's - I can't for the life of me remember his name - girlfriend and the car trouble she was experiencing the other day.

There had been warning signs that perhaps the head gasket was wearing down, but they didn't do much about it. I don't know a lot about cars, but the guy sure does. However, in the end, (though I didn't hear what the problem was) the gasket wasn't the issue - or at least that's what I heard. Oil had spilled over the engine - something terribly wrong.

If you're like me, then you pretty much know zilch about auto repair - I am, by the way, a lowly book hunter. If you're really like me, then the only thing you know about vehicles is how to turn them on. This is where Repair Pal comes into play. The site provides a much needed service for those who need to shop around for auto repairs. Offering estimates, car info, an encyclopedia of common problems - even a link to ask a question you can't seem to find the answer to.

The site also helps you find a shop near you - from New York to Los Angeles auto repair - that specializes from anything from a Ford Explorer to a BMW. This should be your first stop.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tale of two Eugénies

Mind the image - it looks like something that would be more at home at Pure Lusts Entraps than here, right? Loosely based on the novella by the Marquis de Sade - you can call it "Eugénie de Franval" or simply, Incest (pretty much like the movie - Eugénie de Sade titulates with softcore pornography and makes an attempt to shock us with lustful violence.

Directed by Jess Franco, this adaptation stars Susan Korday (Soledad Miranda) and Paul Muller as the incestuous duo. Unlike the novella by de Sade, Franco sets his sordid tale in the middle of the 20th century - like what  Pier Paolo Pasolini did with Salò, the adaptation to The 120 Days of Sodom.

At first I was a little bothered how anyone could adapt "Eugénie de Franval." Mostly because the story deals with the incestuous acts of the father and daughter characters. Franco's movie, however, adds turns M. de Franval into Albert Radeck de Franval (I can't for the life of me remember if his name was ever uttered in the story), who has sole custody of his step-daughter, Eugénie, whose mother died shortly after child birth. And instead of the father seducing his daughter, the roles are reversed. And rather just frolicking about, having sex with a devil-may-care attitude, Albert Radeck de Franval decides to steer his step-daughter into sweet decadence of murder. 

That's where I had to draw the line. The jealousy, the betrayal - all that other added in stuff, I could hack, but murdering people for sexual thrills, really?! While it isn't the worst adaptation I've seen, it isn't the best either. I have the feeling that the movie merely borrowed a piece of the original plot along with character names in order to milk the Marquis de Sade name. I mean, who in their right minds would wanna watch a movie like this if it wasn't based on a book by de Sade?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

the giant from Kate Greenstreet on Vimeo.

Times like this, I really appreciate following The Noumenon Revelation. This makes me feel like I should be writing again. The poem "the giant" comes from Greenstreet's collection entitled The Last 4 Things. The video clip is a scene from the DVD that accompanies the book.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I’ll tell you why I cheat. I need to. Infidelity makes me remember things. The details that expand to fill my life (my upcoming performance reviews, the aches and pains of training, the recovery of my 401(k) ) and the ones that deaden it (my guilt, my smug self-satisfaction, my fake epiphanies about my progress in this life) —all of that drops away when I look down at the naked spine of an unfamiliar woman, twisting slightly in the late-afternoon sunlight streaming onto the sheets of a Hampton Inn in some nameless suburb. This is the most absolute choice I can make. I am there on my own. Against every code, rule, and set of mores I pretend to obey. Against better judgment, against every lesson of hindsight and every shard of wisdom that comes with age, I have no regrets in that moment, because I am naked, or without pants, and I have chosen to be there. I have voted by my presence, declared it, and I feel the blood moving in me again. So it’s the blood. That’s who I am. That’s why men cheat.

From the April 2010 issue of Esquire magazine. If you haven't read this piece already, I seriously recommend that you do. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Fire of my soul"; "Fire of my loins."

"The Marquis de Sade is a larger-than-life character who, two hundred years after his death, has that rare twenty-first century commodity: the power to enrage and shock," writes Janet Street-Porter in a 2003 forward to the Hesperus published novella, Incest, by the infamous Marquis de Sade. "In an age when pornography is freely available and any fantasy can be catered for - providing that you are prepared to pay for it - his name stands as a symbol for all that is most perverted and vile."

Not much as changed for the Marquis in my eyes. If he had lived two hundred years after his death, surely he'd find some kindred spirits whose debauchery is displayed openly. Still, he'd be seen as a demon, a monster - a product of his sexual addictions.

Some may call the works of de Sade erotica - I call them philosophy. I do not read his works for the sheer thrill of reading 18th century smut, but enter the mind of a man who made attempts to break the bounds of religious babble in a time when being an atheist was a great offense - blasphemy, I should correct myself.

So the pages of Incest - a cautionary, moralistic tale dealing about the consequences of a man who is fueled by the sickest offense in the western world - were far from being erotic in my eyes. Published in The Crimes of Love as "Eugenie de Franval. A Tragic Tale," follows the misdeeds of M. de Franval, whose life mirrors that of de Sade, and his incestuous relationship with his own daughter - Eugenie. The antagonists - who we are led to see as the heroes of the story - are  his wife and his mother-in-law, Mme de Franeille.

Like most of de Sade's works - to be honest, I've only read Justine,  about half of The Crimes of Love, and a piece called "Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man" - Incest is down right depraved. Compared to Nabokov's Lolita in the Introduction by the translator as "what we know to be the hellish world of child abuse." I find Andrew Brown's comparison to Lolita unfair to both writers. While Lolita deals with similar decadence, if read closely, it is nothing more than a dark comedy about a man making an attempt to justify his lust for his step-daughter who is far from an innocent party - have we all forgotten the several times she used Humbert Humbert's own lust against him, eventually running away with Quilty?

No, the crimes in Incest are far worst. Unlike Humbert, whose sole reason - it would seem - was to relive the short love life of his adolescent self, Franval's reasons are less than misguided; he knows full well exactly what he wants and how to get it. Upon her birth, Franval whisks Eugenie away from her mother and hides her away from all social norms - religion (I don't consider this a social norm) and relationships. While he does hire the daughters of house servants and swears more than once that he isn't keeping Eugenie against her will, we pretty much see the deviance that thrives from each chamber of his heart.

And unlike Humbert, who continues to believe that he only did what was expected of him - doesn't he say more than once (in different variations) that all wise men have relationships with younger girls? - Franval sees the error of his way. While Humbert doesn't grow much as a character in the end, Franval does what is expected of him in the end - repentance for his sins.

Incest is the first translation of "Eugenie de Franval" that I've read - I own three translations. I never got around to reading it in The Crimes of Love (it's the last story), nor have I even cracked the translation featured in Justine, Philosophy in the Bedroom, & Other Writings - which also features "Dialogue between a Priest and a Dying Man." I have plans to read the other translations, hoping that each will give me another insight to the moral tale. What I do know, each will provide their own special chills down my back.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Zombies like you never seen them before

For my birthday, Jyg bought me a copy of the Zomibe Anthology entited The New Dead. Edited by Christopher Golden (The Boys Are Back in Town), the collection includes never-before-published tales of the undead by Max Brooks, Joe Hill, Aimee Bender and Brian Keene.

While the read took me longer than I had originally expected - this was due to my Easter Weekend Zombie Movie Marathon - the book is a must read, must own for every zombie fanatic out there. I was hoping to be able to write this post on Easter - what says zombie more than a religious holiday about a man who rose others from the dead, then rose himself from the dead and promised immortality for those who follow him? Of course this isn't the case, so you're getting this post after Easter Monday.

The book covers all aspects of any genre. There is the coming of age story of a pack of twelve-year-olds and their first zombie; the hidden truth behind the nearly picture perfect life of Walter Molson in "What Maisie Knew," a short story that provides insight of zombies who are conscious of their existence; and the awkward love story in "The Zombie Who Fell from the Sky."

Joe Hill presents us with a Twitter story in his "Twittering from the Circus of the Dead," which deals with a teenage angst ridden teenage daughter at ends with her overpowering mother on a family road trip that leads them to a suspicious circus in the middle of nowhere. 

If I had to choose a favorite, however, it would be Johnathan Maberry's "Family Business," dealing with half brothers Benny and Tom Imura, who both witnessed their parents' death - well their mother's anyway - on First Night - the marking point of the zombie outbreak. Benny, continuing to blame older brother Tom for their parents' death, refuses to join the "family business" of going out into the Rot and Ruin - the wasteland outside the gates of their town - to hunt down zombies for pay. In this twisted version of the brutal near future, everyone living within the town limits must hold a job, otherwise they only get half of their rations. Unlike other zombie hunters, Tom Imura doesn't kill for the sport or because he's a twisted son of a bitch. When Benny is forced to suck up his pride and works with Tom, he learns the true nature of this brother's job, and the hero he never knew. In order to seal the deal that Benny will take the job and become a man like his older brother, the two of them venture into a gated community that is all too familiar. 

Buy it. Read it. Love it. That's all I have to say about this book.

 DVD Sale: Pick any 3 for only $20!