Another story done, and close to being done on a revised essay for Halloween, which will also be in And the Skin Was Gone: Essays on Works of Horror Art. This is from it:
The people who love Season of the Witch do so as one loves a cult film. No one “kind of” likes a cult film that they like. They love it, or it’s not a movie with which they bother. Season of the Witch stokes passions. There are films by Bergman or Antonioni that don’t in the slightest. Are they better? I guess. Depends what you’re looking for. I would suggest, though, that a movie’s utility exists in proportion to how much it rouses you, and on that score, Season of the Witch may be a seasonal classic, albeit with a suitable amount of winking and nudging to get you to go along. But it’s not long before we—or some of us—are nudging and winking right back.
The first time I saw the movie was as an adult at the Brattle, a popular art house cinema in the Boston area. Smart programming, smart films, but this was a film that was smart because of its own awareness of what it was.
It’s cheeky and weird and insistent, all good qualities for a Halloween film to have. 1958’s The Blob has a similar “personality” as a movie, and what was treated as a disappointment at the time in Season of the Witch—critics hadn’t a clue as to the point—has aged better than anything pertaining to Michael Myers.
He’s cumbersome and once we’ve seen him coming that first time or two, we’ve seen him coming all of the rest of the times. Does Michael Myers ever really surprise you? Whereas, nothing preps you for Season of the Witch.
Tommy Lee Wallace directed, and we get bits of the original Halloween score in fugato-fashion—that reductive, follow-you-around synth pattern—and while Wallace was well-suited to the material—he’s clearly all in on the romp—I can imagine the anger people would have felt at the time going to the movies and discovering this meta concoction.
You wouldn’t go to a Dracula film without Dracula, right? Not knowingly. And if you went expecting to see Dracula and didn’t, you’re apt to think yourself ripped off. Michael Myers had become the franchise, which makes this massive shift all the ballsier, if also set up to fail at the time because of blindsided expectations.
The reason, though, that Season of the Witch lives on is because it taps directly into the vein of what Halloween the holiday is most about: The costume you will wear, the anticipation, the short days, classic monsters on the television, the telling of ghost stories, and, as we get older, our memories of nights out of tricks and treats.
Never underestimate what it means to get your costume just right. A silly thing, yes, but it counts for a lot. We feel better knowing we got the blood on our plastic fangs perfect.
Who else will notice? Probably no one, unless we tell them, which is okay. There’s a strange amount of joy and hope and personal satisfaction involved in Halloween. A licking of sharpened chops for the big day, and a sadness when it passes.
Luckily, November has its own spooky vibe, but much of that has to do with how the Halloween season spirits us into the penultimate month of the year, with carved pumpkins still in evidence, and the last of the leaves finally giving themselves over to death. There will be ghosts again at Christmas, but would there be if Halloween hadn’t already gotten matters started?
Death usually terrifies us, but there’s this one time of the year where we make a form of peace with it. The living and the dead commingle, call a truce, in essence, though the dead, of course, are far less troubled by us, I suspect, than we are by them.
Halloween is much like Christmas, in that when you’re a kid, you count down the days to the big day. In Season of the Witch, that countdown is epitomized by a banshee roundelay of a commercial that’s part of the grand plan to make all of those not-so-cool-after-all masks cement themselves to people’s faces and unleash the unholy horrors of hell. Or Stonehenge. Or the cosmos. The cosmos is involved as well. Let’s call it a cosmic jumble. We’ll be killed by our collective love for Halloween, is the bottom line, though. Now if that wasn’t one of the better brainstorms of a mad scientist, then what is?
Universal sent me digital copy of the ten-disc Who's Next/Life House Super Deluxe Edition box set, which was in wav files. I managed to download and convert all of them to mp3. This is no small thing for me. I'm not good at something like this--really all technology--and need to get better, especially to live the life I want to live when that time finally comes. But I did that, anyway. Small progress. I must write a feature on the December 12, 1971 San Francisco concert part of the set. For many years, this material has been on my ultimate wish list of music. Some of it has come out, albeit in a very scattered way. And some has come out on bootleg, in not-so-hot sound. But a soundboard tape of the Who touring behind Who's Next? Then you're talking something that could rival Live at Leeds. I'll get this done apace.
It's later. The revised Halloween III piece is done being revised. Ran 3000 stairs, did 200 push-ups. Was raining out, no one out, and me on my knees on the grass in between sets behind the disused tollbooth. Another one of the images of part of what it took--which one could look back on later--to get where I am going, and past the evil bigots of this vile, incestuous industry of talentless, envious, cowardly, broken freaks. But get there I will. And it will be because of days like this and because every day was a day like this and I never gave in, and kept creating, and staying true to myself and secure in myself. And rather than lose myself, or give in to anger, I've kept evolving and become the person I would like to be. I have controlled that, with strength and discipline, and these people have not taken that from me, because I have not allowed them to, when that would have been the inevitable result for anyone else in this situation. Not that anyone has ever been in a situation like this, or will ever be again.
Have also worked more on "Fall and Spring," another of the works for The Solution. I was a little surprised how much it changed today at this late date in terms of how many times I've sat down to work on it, but this is why I take my time with what I'm working on, though I know it seems like that couldn't be the case, given how many things are always being completed. But many things are going at once. And some are just, boom, done. It depends. But even when they are "boom, done," I like to keep coming back and reading them fresh, letting time pass, reading them again. As I've said, I call this the good OCD. It's how I operate now. I'm looking so deeply into the language. I will see things that no one will ever see, but I want the final work to be the way it should be even for people who wouldn't see these things. They matter. Getting it completely right matters. And besides, things that people don't see still add up in a work or over a body of work.
I'm getting up too late of late. That can't be happening. It's been close to six the last few mornings. It needs to be closer to four or before.
Was able to get some inexpensive tickets to several Handel and Haydn Society concerts for the upcoming season. They're all matinees. I'm a matinee kind of guy.
I heard an amazing piece of music, or should I say, pieces of music, since it was a short compilation of pieces of takes from the Stone Roses's recording session for "Elephant Stone," which isn't even on bootleg. I was able to download this. At the end, you get Ian Brown singing by himself, an isolated vocal track. He's one of my four or five favorite singers. I know people like to say he's not very good, but that's not what I think. And he was the perfect singer for them. But this isolated vocal is one of the most beautiful things I've heard from a human voice. A piece of music to be cherished.
I feel very good about what I achieved artistically with this new "The Giver of Care." Was Saturday morning I went back into the original version and a lot of the heavy lifting was done then, though someone looking at what was there would have seen something different than what I saw. But I know when I know. And I knew I was close to done. I just had to put the time in and be true to my ability and the story. That's most of what it is. But sometimes you have to go in and throw this here, throw that here, blow up this, cart the rubble out, make a mess. But when I make a mess, I know where everything is going and what needs to come in. It's not really that much of a mess to me. It's just roll-up-the-sleeves work. I'm also listening to the story and the characters, and that's really what's going to do it, more than me.
Listened to a bunch of episodes of The Shadow with Orson Welles. He must have thought that was fun.
The Smiths only played "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" live once, but I'm glad they did. They barely got it in--was at their very last concert. Johnny Marr plays well on that version.
Take no bait, play no games that don't rejuvenate and energize you.
It's later again. I didn't realize the Red Sox and Yankees were tied for last place. The latter have had an infusion of youth with various call-ups, whereas the former are flat and playing out the string. That makes it likely that the Yankees will avoid the basement when it's all said and done. I mean, who knows, but that's my guess. This is Chaim Bloom's fourth year running the Red Sox. If they do finish last, that would be three last place finishes in those four years. He was obviously the wrong hire and is not cut out for this job. You need to move on from him.
Saw a list of the Bruins' alleged best 100 players for their 100 year anniversary. I guess it was okay? Is Torey Krug really one of those 100 best? Mark Recchi? Gord Kluzak? Kluzak played less than 300 games with the team. Shawn Thornton?
The way this seemed to work to me is that if you played a bunch of years with the team--that is, you had a good run--you were included. Even if you were not any good. Like Hall Gill. Ken Linseman is there. I like Linseman, and I suppose he belongs. Keith Crowder, who definitely belongs. He had a nice career that guy. Better than you might think. Averaged a point a game or more twice, had three 30-plus goal seasons. Wasn't very good in the playoffs, though. Loved his 1985-86 season: 84 points, lots of PIMs.
Also encountered a discussion about the best seasons had in baseball by non-great players. Three such seasons by Red Sox players: Rico Petrocelli in 1969, Nick Esasky in 1989, Jacoby Ellsbury in 2011.
I mistakenly bought some extra hot salsa last time at Trader Joe's. Discretion being the better part of valor, I had to dump it. I just don't have what it takes to eat salsa that hot. I don't know how people do it. I was in pain.
Downloaded the Yardbirds' Cumular Limit. Don't know where the CD is and won't see it again until I'm out of here.
Watched the original trailer for Night of the Living Dead, a commercial, and listened to radio spots from 1968 and the 1970 rerelease. Romero nailed it with that movie. Perfect as what it is. And no film looks like it. Was that Boris Karloff impersonation at the beginning the first of its kind in a movie? If so, took a while to happen. Bela Lugosi got his right in 1931's Dracula, which I've always thought was neat.
Worked on this revised Louis Armstrong piece. It still needs work.