Friday, October 22, 2021

EddyD and the SexBombs Part Two: a Bob Petterson (Jelly Bean Beaudine) interview

"Bob Then": Bob Petterson on the left, by bev davies, playing with Buddy Selfish before the Cramps, May 21, 1982 at the Commodore 

"Bob Now," Dec. 31, 2020, at Lanalou's with the Frank Frink 5 - screenshot from a vid I shot

Bob Petterson - AKA Jelly Bean Beaudine, Bobby Beaudine - has a verrry long history as a bassist in Vancouver, dating back at least to the early 1980's; he was posting on Facebook the other day, on Lux Interior's birthday, in fact, about having been lucky enough to have been in a band - Buddy Selfish and his Saviours, with Ian Tiles of the Pointed Sticks on lead vocals - when they opened for the Cramps back in 1982 at the Commodore, and I never got closer to seeing Buddy Selfish than the gig this summer in New West with Mike Van Eyes - which Bob wasn't at - but there are easily half a dozen other bands I've seen Bob in over the years - certainly the Frank Frink 5 and EddyD and the SexBombs, but there are doubtlessly many more. I've always enjoyed chatting with him; he's a charming fellow, a snappy dresser - I think of him as  "the man in Vancouver most likely to own, or at least covet, a Nudie suit" - and a constantly engaging and enjoyable bassist. I was interested in hearing more about that Cramps show, and just wrote a big piece with Eddy Dutchman apropos of the Saturday Food Bank Benefit at LanaLou's... so why not get some stories from Bob? 

This is a quick, straightforward email interview, without EddyD to orchestrate it into something that sounds like a conversation (it's hilarious and kinda great that he did that - made it real easy on me, actually!). Anyho, I'm going to revert to my usual formatting - italics indicate my questions, while non-italics indicate Bob. Enjoy, and maybe see y'all Saturday at LanaLou's? 

Allan: So how many bands have you been in, over the years? How many are you in now? 

Bob: More bands over the years than I have fingers and toes. All sorts of genres and configurations. I’m down to maybe a handful now if we’re counting bands like the Frank Frink 5 who only play once a year nowadays. Currently Sinead X Sanders’ backing band, Mike Van Eyes, the Frinks, EddyD and The Sex Bombs, of course. A couple of new projects just starting up and still too new and raw to talk about right now. Always open to one-offs and sessions. For example, played on a couple tracks of the just released new SuckerTrap EP [new project of Pinto Stilleto]. 

Bob with Randy Rampage, photo by Vincent Kuan

You posted on Facebook that you opened for the Cramps at the Commodore? What band were you in, and what was that like? Did you get to meet Lux? 

The Cramps at the Commodore, 1982? That would have been with Buddy Selfish & His Saviours. It was a transcendental experience, still one of the highlights of my so-called “career” and yes, we did get to meet, converse, hang with Lux and Ivy. I cannot reveal all…|

I was startled by your facefur in the "Lemon Squeeze" video - how much growth was that? Have you shaved since? [Bob with beard at top, over Shelley's head!]

Ah, the facefur in the "Lemon Squeeze" video… COVID/ quarantine related absolutely. I’ve always played around with facial hair over the years. Sideburns/chops, goatees, soul patches, full beard etc… might have done it all except for the “Abe Lincoln”. The "Lemon Squeeze" video was “Covid Beard” #2. Maybe 6 months growth there. I’m the clean shaven evil twin bro again right now. 

(Bearded Bob by Tony Lee)

Do you contribute to the writing for EddyD? Do you come up with your own bass parts?

I wouldn’t say I actually contribute to the songwriting in the strictest sense but I do have the full freedom to come up with my own bass parts and the band likes it when I add a little bit of spice to the mix maybe. A bit of a funky, bluesy, soul inflected, r&b groove where it might not be expected. That sort of music from the 1960s and 70s (all the “Ms”: Memphis, Motown, Muscle Shoals) is where I’m most rooted as a bass player although I did also grow up loving 70s hard rock (Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Steve Marriott and Humble Pie etc… ) and singer-songwriter stuff.

Bob by Vincent Kuan

What do you play, basswise?

I probably have more basses than I reasonably need and you’ll mostly see me playing live with a Fender Jaguar (I have four of those) or Fender Precision (I have two of those). I do have others: In that "Lemon Squeeze" video I’m playing an Eastwood reissue of a 1968 Vox Saturn IV; in the "Boom Boom" video it’s an Epiphone Rumblekat (love THAT bass); and in the past year's EddyD and the SexBombs livestream show I brought out a cheapo Danelectro 1963 re-issue just mostly for matching with the overall look of the stage setting for the broadcast (you can see it on YouTube). Nice to have the luxury of being able to do that.

Bob Petterson with Richard Duguay, shot by David Nagy

Who are your favourite bassists?

Favourite bassists? Oh, there’s so many that I fear leaving some out if I try to do a proper list. Let’s just say that my favourite bassist of all time is the Memphis studio and Booker T. & The MGs legend, Donald “Duck” Dunn. Can’t pinpoint any one single thing that makes it so but I have always strived to emulate his approach to playing, attitude and demeanor... or what I imagined it to be. I did have the opportunity to meet him in 2000 when he was touring in Neil Young’s band and you know they always say you shouldn’t meet your heroes because they’ll disappoint you. But not the case here. Super guy. 100% genuine. True southern gentleman. You know he’s had some experiences in a very, very long career but not jaded. Meeting him made me happy that I kind of looked at him as a “role model”, you might say, for so long. Could have done a lot worse. 

Other guys and gals? I always did and still love those classic 60s and 70s Fender players and bass tones so James Jamerson, of course, Carol Kaye, Joe Osborne, David Hood, Tommy Cogbill, John Paul Jones, Carl Radle, Jerry Scheff etc.. others might include Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper), Roger Glover (Deep Purple), Bee Spears (Willie Nelson’s band), Willie Dixon, Jerry Jemmott, Bootsy. And, I denied it for years and years but Sir Paul (McCartney) is clearly a very big influence. See, didn’t I say it would be hard to keep the list short?  

Bob Petterson by Bob Hanham

When people ask you to describe what EddyD. and the SexBombs do, what do you say? 

I like to say that EddyD and the SexBombs are “crispy, crunchy, cheesy, chewy with a chocolatey cream filling”

Have you worked with Tony in other bands (or ANY of the SexBombs?)

Tony & I, along with Canada’s rockabilly legend Jimmy Roy, have done a few live shows as the Wretched Sinners backing up local country/bluegrass sweetheart Sparky Spurr and Preston & Fletcher (i.e. Shelley & Scott from the Sex Bombs) have called on me from time to time to fill in for their regular bassist, Dave Reimer when he has not been available. Tony & I have also played together, sometimes with Scott & Shelley and sometimes not, in a variety of one-offs, tribute nights and special events here and there...

Do you all have to buy your own costumes, or does the band have a budget? 

Band budget for stage wear? No. The individual Sex Bombs look after their own wardrobe needs mostly and usually requires very little in the way of shopping. It’s mostly that this is just who we are… I wouldn’t say I’ll exactly be sparkly for this upcoming Food Bank benefit but for the second set I’ll be wearing the same thing I wore in the “Boom Boom” video: a red suede collarless jacket that Tony has described as looking like 1980s Michael Jackson collides with a Russian Cossack in a grommet factory… OK, I made up the grommet factory part.

What is your favourite SexBombs song and why?

Favourite Sex Bombs song? Again, hard to pick just one child. They’re all special in their own way. Keeping it to a handful in no particular order: the “For The Love of Gawd/ Wheeling & Dealing” medley because it’s swampy /bluesy. That one goes back to the original Faustian mini-rock opera at the very first live gig; "Round & Round" has a nice dreamy Anglo-pop feel and sound and multiple layered vocal parts (everybody sings on it); Scott & Shelley’s “Kiss of Death” a Bond movie theme in search of the movie with the same title. It’s ready made. If anyone knows how to get the track into the hands of the Bond movie producers we would be ever so grateful; Also love their “Lemon Squeeze” which I like to call a “Faux-sa Nova” and I normally never get to play things with that feel; and last but not least “So Slow” from the Yikes! CD, Stonesy/Stoogesy guitar riffs and a fun one to sing along on. It speaks to me!

Thank you, Bob! For more information on the Saturday food bank benefit, go here! As Eddy explains in my previous post - bring cash, not food!

Dances with Sandworms: a big, disappointed "Meh" for Dune.

NOTE: Sometimes when I see a film I have high hopes for, and it doesn't meet my expectations, I get oddly angry at it, and criticize it more than it warrants. This might be one of those times! 

The short version is that I prefer David Lynch's version of Dune. It's imperfect, maybe, but it's still a movie that I care about, that seems to care about its source material. The Villeneuve is pretty to look at, very expensive, and not really all that interesting at all. Nowhere near. Lynch is a filmmaker. Villeneuve has apparently become, sadly, just another Hollywood craftsman, albeit one with a distinctive and impressive visual style, which is almost all his new version of Dune has going for it. The new David Fincher, maybe? Kinda sad. 

The long version: you know, I loved a couple of Denis Villeneuve's English-language films. Still haven't seen Polytechnique or Maelstrom or Incendies, but Prisoners and Sicario were both really enjoyable, and showed someone coming essentially from an arthouse cinema background making interesting inroads into commercial movie making; reading Prisoners as a commentary on the whole issue of "enhanced interrogation techniques," which was still a reasonably hot topic when the film came out, made it one of the most politically compelling thrillers of its year, and absolutely in keeping with my idea of what cinema should be - or at least the kind of cinema that I enjoy. Enemy was interesting, too, if very strange, and with what seemed a tacked-on, unnecessarily misogynistic ending that made me think maybe I'd misunderstood everything that had gone on before. I didn't care for Arrival, and couldn't exactly put my finger on why - and haven't sat down to a second viewing yet. I remember it just left me feeling flat and unconvinced. It was clearly supposed to have an emotional impact, but what it apparently intended and what it actually achieved (in me, at least) were so dissimilar I came out of the theatre grumbling, even though I recognized the film had some interesting ideas in it. 

I started to feel less enthusiastic about Villeneuve's commercial filmmaking with the Blade Runner sequel. I am not among those who think Ridley Scott's first Blade Runner film is anywhere near the best film ever made, as was a common assertion among my peers at one point, and though I have seen it a dozen more times than I properly needed to, the film's production design and images seemed far more interesting than its story, which greatly simplifies the Dick novel, and leaves out several key ingredients - electric sheep included. There's a level of distance from its characters, too - the film is so stylized that I never really felt Deckard's feelings, or anyone else's. I think if I forced myself to watch all three cuts of the film in a row, I'd come out liking the first one, with Deckard's narration, the most. 

...And something happens with me when a film is praised and revered far beyond its merit. It's like a song that gets too much airplay; even a good song ("Comfortably Numb" and "Stairway to Heaven" might be good illustrations) that gets elevated to the level of cultural sacred cow starts to grate on my ears, makes me feel like something has gone wrong in the universe, makes me quarrelsome and ill-disposed to participate. It's not that I dislike Blade Runner, or deny its impact; it's that there are a thousand films I value more, and would rather see praised and imitated and talked about. The culture has gone wrong, I think to myself, as yet another edit of the film makes its way before my eyes. I would rather just watch some stupid Marvel film (which at least has the potential to surprise me) than waste another two hours watching the latest tinkerings on a vastly overrated, style-over-substance faux art film. 

So I wasn't really predisposed to enjoy Blade Runner 2049, but nor did I expect that I would be bored to tears by it, and - I haven't yet said this publicly - the one time I tried to watch it, I shut it off after half an hour. Erika wasn't feeling it either. There's no shortage of films we will actually enjoy and/ or admire, rather than wasting effort on an unnecessary sequel to an overpraised film that the filmmaker appears to have no strong investment in, other than a) making money and b) extending the range of his images: because Villeneuve has a definite visual sensibility, and does seem concerned about image-making, but... was there anything else to be said for the film? Was there anything else there that he CARED about as an artist or storyteller? (I mean, I didn't finish it, so I don't really know, but was any of it really more vital or necessary than the last dozen Star Wars movies? I doubt it). Prisoners, by contrast - my favourite of the films of his I've seen - seems to have a sincere interest in character and story and ideas, all of which seemed to me - in the first half hour of Blade Runner 2049, to be subordinated to Villeneuve's aesthetic ambitions. Sure, the film looks great. But sunsets look great, too, and don't cost $15 to see, so... 

Dune is much the same, but is based on a novel I rather love, which has been well-adapted for the screen before - maybe not perfectly adapted, as I say, but I have never had any great problem with the David Lynch version of the film, much as I wish he would assent to fixing up the Alan Smithee cut of the film and making something great of it (because there are some truly great moments in that long cut of the film, even if the ultimate assembly is amateurish and unworthy of Lynch's name - I wish there could be a proper restoration made of it, even if he isn't the one at the helm). 

But if you thought Lynch left out too much of the original Frank Herbert text, I've got bad news: Villeneuve leaves out a lot more. It strips characterization and dialogue down to the bare minimum. It completely disregards huge swaths of the novel - like the highly politically-charged and tense dinner party where Kynes argues with and provokes a Harkonnen-allied banker and subtly shifts to the support of house Atreides, for example - one of the richest moments in the book, but it simply doesn't exist in the film. The idea of Leto dispensing with water-wasting customs is also removed. Kynes - beautifully, if too briefly, played by Max von Sydow in the first film, has been replaced by a black female actress, which in itself is interesting - the only black people in the film are Fremen or Fremen-allied, I think, which presumably connects to what seems to be a telegraphed anticolonial message in the film - by which the whole narrative is framed in terms of the Fremen struggle for freedom against those who would exploit their homeworld. But whatever potential there is in the casting, the film is barely interested in Kynes - her character, like almost everyone in the film, is such a foreshortening of the book that she reads as a cardboard cutout, a plot point, a way to get from point A to B than a vehicle for expression, insight, comment on humanity, or so forth. 

That, unfortunately, is something that extends to almost every actor in the film - they're just not given enough to do to make them interesting or human. Kyle McLachlan may have been too old when he played Paul Atreides, but he was likeable and human and seemed a fully-realized character. Timothée Chalamet, by comparison, is emptied of as much character as possible, as if giving him recognizable emotions or wit or interesting dialogue or the space to be human in might interfere with the audience's identifying with him as a hero, projecting their own traits on to him. It's not really Chalamet's fault - it's Villeneuve's. Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac are equally under-cooked, ciphers and plot points instead of characters, vastly reduced from what you find in the book. I wanted to care, tried to care, but for all the expense and craft that went into image-making, there really just wasn't much to latch onto in any of the principal characters. 

To be fair, there are a couple of actors who are able to build interesting things with their roles, apparently against the odds. Jason Momoa, whom I don't normally think much of - I kinda hated that idiotic Aquaman eyesore - makes a fine Duncan Idaho, even if there's a weird casual quality to his English that sounds far more like how kids speak today than how some futuristic warrior attached to a royal family might. Javier Bardem manages to make Stilgar a complete and real human, or Fremen, or whatever, and steals the best scene in the movie (the spitting). Josh Brolin, as Gurney, has terrific gravitas, even though he's given far too little to do. Charlotte Rampling as the Bene Gesserit who puts Paul's hand in the pain box is creepy and delightful, if only around a short time. And I guess some praise should go to Stellan Skarsgard, who is kind of unrecognizable as Baron Harkonnen, though he's got a fair bit to compete with compared to Kenneth McMillan's hilariously over-the-top revulsion-generator in the Lynch. It is still a testament to the role (and to the makeup artists behind his character) that Erika didn't recognize him, though she knows Skarsgard from many other films; as the credits rolled, she was like, "Which one was Stellan Skarsgard?" 

So that's all fun enough. There is also some terrific production design, some compelling imagery. The worms are neither here-nor-there, not particularly better or more interesting than Lynch's, but the ornithopters are modelled on dragonflies, which is delightful. The visuals are generally amazing, as you might imagine from someone who seems to be following in Ridley Scott's footsteps, and it LOOKS like a Denis Villeneuve film, which, as I say, seems to be the point - to put his aesthetic into a new text, which I guess is the only part of the challenge that really engages him as an artist, now that he's gone Hollywood. But MOST of the characters have so little to do or say, contributing a few lines of dialogue, advancing the plot, then dying or disappearing, that someone who hasn't read the book will wonder what the point is. The Shadout Mapes would be one example - she exists to give Jessica the knife, but there's nothing else intriguing about her, nothing else we learn about her, and between giving the knife and being killed when the Sardukar attack - does she even HAVE any dialogue? Cripes, Marvel characters are generally more richly realized.

That's not good. 

I mean, look, I'm biased, I admit it. I'm not that interested in film as image, primarily; I like a pretty picture as much as anyone, and appreciate the craft of image-making in cinema, but I'm PRIMARILY interested in film in terms of character, story, writing, ideas. Erika and I have been binging on Better Call Saul and loving it, and it's full of all of those things. There MIGHT be some interesting ideas behind the Dune adaptation - along those aforementioned anti-colonial lines - but the film only barely gets to the halway mark of the first novel, so it is kind of impossible to evaluate on those terms, reading more like a very glossy, slightly chilly white saviour narrative, which, pretty as it is, isn't really anything all that new. Dances With Sandworms, anyone - with Lakota Fremen? 


And you know what else I hated? That the film pretty much ends on the words, "This is only the beginning." (Or something to that effect). Like, oh, really, you need to TELL us there's going to be a sequel? Like we didn't already know that? Gee, thanks. It's clear Villeneuve doesn't have a lot of respect for the characters or the writing in Frank Herbert's novel, but ending on a clunkily obvious bit of foreshadowing like that makes it seem like he doesn't have a lot of respect for his audience, either - like the whole point of the film is not to express an idea of tell a story, but get us hooked into a franchise. There is no possible note more likely to generate in me a non-serviam response. Only the beginning, you say? Well, I better tune out now, because I sure didn't think much of it, and fuck y'all for thinking so little of me. Tug on my leash at your peril. 

The best thing to come out of the whole Dune remake thing? That there's a bunch of lovely new editions of Frank Herbert's books. I'm reading one of them now. I'm going to go back to it in a second - pet the cat and read a bit before I join my wife in bed. 

Perhaps I wouldn't be so disappointed if I hadn't been waiting for a whole bloody year for the film to get released?

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Getting sparkly with EddyD & the SexBombs: an Eddy Dutchman interview, apropos of the LanaLou's gig this Saturday

Art provided by Eddy Dutchman, by the late Colleen Caveen (RIP)

EddyD & the SexBombs are one of the most fun live experiences in Vancouver: they have a sense of showmanship and style; a sense of playfulness; and what seems a sincere love for vintage rock'n'roll, soul, and R&B, which they present live with a tongue-in-cheek cheekiness and a roomful of character(s). As skillful as they are, musically, it's not entirely a serious experience - and it has very little to do with punk rock, from which scene Eddy Dutchman hails  - but it's very entertaining, as the videos for "Boom Boom" and "Lemon Squeeze" amply attest, sung by a typically leggy "ShowBiz" Shelley Preston (of Preston and Fletcher) and, uh, "bassed" by an atypically furry Bob Petterson, AKA Jelly Bean Beaudine, also of the Frank Frink Five. (While we are on the topic of lemons, a brief aside: what the hell do sex and lemons have in common, besides juices, anyhow? People have been squeezing their lemons until the juice runs down their legs since the days of Robert Johnson, but never once during sex have I USED lemon, THOUGHT of lemon, or WANTED lemon, nor have I seen genitals, male or female, that reminded me in terms of shape, colour, odour, flavour, or texture, of ANY citrus fruit. One of the weirdest metaphors in music history, if you ask me!).

EddyD & the SexBombs aren't just a fun live show, either; they released their second LP, Yikes!, in the midst of COVID. They didn't really get to support it with many shows at the time, but they have a new gig at LanaLou's on Saturday - a food bank benefit, too, so you can go check it out confident in the knowledge that the money will be going to a good place. (And speaking of food, if you haven't been to LanaLou's, they have some amazing items on the menu; last I was there, my go-to, the lamburger, seemed to have disappeared, but Lana's poutine is excellent, and she makes some sort of Jolly Rancher cocktail that is totally yummy, too). 

 EddyD & the SexBombs, by Gord McCaw

Commence Eddy Dutchman interview (he was a gent and put a lot of work into making this read naturally, since he knew I had surgery recently, so this will follow mostly HIS formatting choices, not mine - I've tidied up a few things, but I sent him a block of questions and he basically took care of the rest!). 

Let’s meet EddyD & the SexBombs! Left to right, using Gord's picture, above: 

Fletch: Guitar whiz, production guru, singer song writer, musical mastermind. 

ShowBiz Shelley: Vocalist extraordinaire, singer/song writer, tappist and banjo. 

Jazzy Pink Zircon: Poet, artist, singer/songwriter, trend setter. 

Eddy Dutchman: Guitar scoundrel, singer/ songwriter, band chauffeur. 

Mr. Tony Lee: Working the tupperware, band youngster, notable public figure 

Jelly Bean Beaudine: The boss at holding down the bottom end. 

EDDY- Hey Al. Good to see you. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and giving us an opportunity to push our up coming show. It’s a fundraiser for The Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

ALLAN: No problem Eddy. Glad I can help. We can talk about the food bank gig later. I was hoping to ask you a few questions about EddyD & the SexBombs. You guys have been around for quite a while now. Do I assume the Sex Bombs started with you and Jazzy wanting to make music together?

EDDY: Absolutely Al. 

EddyD & the SexBombs started out as a one off. I was asked to participate in a Halloween show at the Railway Club and I wrote a mini rock opera based on the Faust theme, where EddyD sells his soul to Satan in exchange for being in a rock band. 

Jazzy sang back ups at that first show. And bassist Jelly Bean Beaudine (Bob Petterson) was also present - two original and still active members of EddyD.

The opera was well received so we decided to milk it. With other players coming and going we did the Rock Opera a few more times until Jazzy and I realized this was fun.

We work well together and joined forces and started writing together expanding our musical direction.

She’s an amazing poet so the cross over to song writing was easy peasy.

That’s when EddyD & the SexBombs started to explode on the scene.

ALLAN: Can you give me a bit of history of the two of you?

EDDY: We are soul mates.

We have known each other since our twenties and here we are, still hanging around with each other. We’re a lot of things but most of all, we are really good friends. And we work well together.

We used to write funny songs for our amusement way before punk.

Here’s how I met her.

It was 1974. I was driving home to my dump in Kits and I picked up this chick hitchhiking on the downtown side of the Burrard St bridge. It was Jazzy but who knew what was to happen. 

We talked on the drive back into Kits. We talked and connected about music, film and art. So we made a date for the next day.

Unknown to me, she had also made numerous other dates that night with other guys.

I was infatuated with Jazzy so, the first thing the next day, I was the very first one to get to her place and off we went. Ha ha ha - too bad losers!

We did everything together and even raised a fabulous human being, our daughter (Hi Lyza!). We work well together and have fun doing so.

ALLAN: Wow. You guys have been together a long time. I realize you date back to the old-time Vancouver punk scene - does she?

EDDY: Oh yes. We would go to the Buddha, Windmill, Starfish Room, all the hall gigs. Yes, we went to all those shows together.

Shelley and Jazzy, by bev davies

ALLAN: Do you and she "hear ear to ear" on most music, or do you have different tastes?

EDDY: Well. I guess we have more in common than not. She listens to heavy metal which does nothing for me and I like some country which makes her leave the room. But for the most part, we have very similar likes. 

We were both totally caught up in the Punk and New Wave music of the late 80s. The beginning of that scene really got us enthused about music to the point that we became musicians.

ALLAN: Are there things on the album that really reveal one or the other of you, in terms of your musical influences and inclinations?

EDDY: Well Allan, we have 2 CD’s out. Our first CD, Bombs Away, showcased a more individual song writing approach, with me writing more ballad type songs while Jazzy wrote more up beat songs, while on our second CD, Yikes!, there was more of a collaboration between Jazzy and myself.

Each song there, we both worked on together.

I guess if there were to be a comparison of our styles, I would say Jazzy is more Ramones-ish and I’m more Stones-ish.

People love labels so when I am asked about what kind of music does EddyD & the SexBombs play, I refer to it as original “retro rock.”

ALLAN: What was the order of people joining the SexBombs?

EDDY: Myself and Jazzy and Bob were there from beginning at the Rock Opera days.

Through the years this band has gone through some wild personal changes and Im not going to name everyone that has come and gone but I guess maybe five years ago Fletch (Scott Fletcher) and Show Biz Shelley (Shelley Preston) joined the band.

Jazzy and Shelley were friends outside of this band.

We had EddyD, and they had Preston and Fletcher.

We needed a guitar player and so Jazzy invited Shelley and Fletch to join the band which they did, and man are we lucky.

The newest member would be Tony Lee. We had a real tough time finding the right drummer. It’s the toughest piece to find.

So we got Tony on loan from The New Black and we bribed him with snacks and eventually he joined the band full time.

And that is the current and final line up. If anyone leaves the band now, the band folds since this is the perfect line up for us all.

ALLAN: So Preston and Fletcher were already performing as a duo before they joined up?

EDDY: Yes. They were performing as Preston and Fletcher while we had some version of EddyD & the SexBombs on the go. Shelley and Jazzy were friends before they joined EddyD and Scott had seen me in some other band where I did this bit where I would sing from the top of a ladder. So they knew about us and we knew about them. It ended up being a perfect fit. They are both so talented.

Actually the whole band is super talented.

ALLAN: Do they contribute to writing, as well?

EDDY- Yes they do. We encourage everyone to write as we believe it adds to the diversity of our music.

Fletch and Shelley have a very strong background in pop music and if you listened to either of the CDs you can hear their songs. Like on Bombs Away they wrote a beautiful James Bond-type spy song called “The Kiss Of Death.” And on Yikes! they wrote this great Bossa Nova type song called “Lemon Squeeze." They write such beautifully crafted songs. 

ALLAN: They're a great complement to you and Jazzy, to be sure. 

EDDY: Al, I’m getting kinda tired. Do you think I can plug our next show and then go to bed?

ALLAN: Of course, Eddy. Tell us all about it.

EDDY: Thanks Al - like I mentioned earlier, it’s a fundraiser for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Always a good cause. And because of COVID and trying to minimize contact, we will ‘NOT’ be accepting actual food but only cash. We’re using the motto, ‘CASH IS KING’ and it is because for every dollar donated the Food Bank can get 3 dollars worth of food.

So it’s great value for everyone's donation.

EddyD & the SexBombs are playing all night. We’re doing three sets of all our original music plus costumes changes.


With costume changes.


Entertainment for donations.


It’s on Saturday, October, 23rd at Lana Lou’s.

I should also mention that a Vaccination Passport will be required and we would like everyone to still practice COVID-preventative measures such as masks, social distancing and minimize table hopping.

So admission is by donation and we are hoping to raise $500.00 which will buy $1500.00 worth of food to feed some very hungry people. A great cause.

So come on out. [Eddy also points out on Facebook that the first set will be the songs from Bombs Away, with sunglasses and berets, and the second set will be the whole of Yikes!, in order, with the band in sparkly attire, because, as Jazzy reminds us, "There is no such thing as too much sparkly"]

Al, thank you very much and all our best. Not just from our band but all the other musicians and artists that you support - thanks.

ALLAN: you're very welcome, Eddy! And good luck with show.

EddyD and Jelly Bean Beaudine, by bev davies

Find more information about the gig here, and please folks - I'm still recoverin' from surgery, so a) don't get me talkin', and b) use what Eddy calls your "COVID common sense," and if you don't feel well, stay home!

Appreciating Michael McKean in Better Call Saul: a career best?

I have always enjoyed Michael McKean. I enjoyed his songs and his performance as David St. Hubbins in Spinal Tap, and - having grown up on Laverne and Shirley, as a child - was always positively predisposed towards him, whenever he'd turn up in something else - not that I've seen that many of his performances. I think you'd have to go back to the 2001 film My First Mister, an awkward teen-adult romance film starring Albert Brooks and Leelee Sobieski, for the last non-Spinal Tap-related feature I'd seen him in, prior to settling into my current Better Call Saul binge; before that, there was 1999's Teaching Mrs. Tingle. (I actually have not seen Best in Show or A Mighty Wind, though I am told I should). 

Michael McKean is still around, of course - this isn't an obit or anything. But I just wanted to say - if McKean has ever been better in ANYTHING than he is as Chuck McGill in Better Call Saul, I sure haven't seen it. Coming late to that show, I'm stunned by the richness of his performance, by the sympathy he evokes for a difficult character and the vividness with which he realizes that character's psychology. It's like John Heard and Cutter's Way, or Treat Williams and Prince of the City: they're also actors I'm positively predisposed to, but did either of them ever play a role remotely as meaty and rich as in those films? Are there better performances to be seen by them, in anything? I haven't seen them, if so. 

Like I say, it's entirely possible that there are other gems in McKean's filmography that I've missed, since there are big holes in my viewing, but damn does he do fine work as an actor in Better Call Saul. He plays a controlling, successful lawyer - brother to Bob Odenkirk's character Jimmy, who has not yet adopted, when we meet him, the moniker "Saul Goodman." Chuck is either afflicted with a poorly understood medical condition, or else a serious mental illness, that has him totally intolerant of - allergic to - electricity. It's kind of akin to the Julianne Moore character in Todd Haynes' masterpiece, Safe; he is adamant that the problem is a real one (and indeed, it is drawn from reports of a very real, but controversial and poorly-understood condition, which you can read more on here) - though other characters in the series prove to their own satisfaction that he's "just" mentally ill (as if that is ever the only explanation for anything; even the mentally ill are human beings, with feelings and intentions and personalities which inform and are informed by their illnesses). 

I'm loving the whole series, of course - Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks and Mark Margolis and Michael Mando and Rhea Seehorn and Giancarlo Esposito are all a great pleasure to watch - but McKean is the discovery for me. I've always enjoyed his work, but had no idea he could be THIS good. 

Maybe I WILL watch A Mighty Wind and Best in Show, now... 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Todd Haynes' Velvet Underground doc: impressive, but also "meh"

There's a lot I didn't expect that was in the Velvet Underground documentary, now streamable via Apple TV. I was pleased that avant-gardists LaMonte Young and Marian Zazeela were interviewed, and that substantial screentime is given to Jonas Mekas, whose writings about film are full of vitality and passion. I was happy to learn that American minimalist Tony Conrad - the only person in the film I actually got to meet, once - was in an early version of the Primitives, with Lou Reed and John Cale. It was interesting that Mary Woronov got a fair bit of screentime (she's one of these Helen Mirren types who apparently only gets more striking with age), though curious that her actual interactions with the band weren't much discussed (I believe she used to whip Gerald Malanga on stage during "Venus in Furs," or at least that's how Chris D. told it to me... it's barely explored). I was happy that Moe Tucker got to tell a few stories, and mildly surprised that her current political allegiances didn't come up and/or  weren't allowed to taint things. And there were some charming, completely unexpected contributions by Jonathan Richman, and certainly a LOT of interesting image-making; not a lot of footage of the Velvet Underground playing, but lots of split screen collage-y stuff with clips of band members, scenes from "deep context" arthouse filmmaking like Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures, etc. Todd Haynes clearly is interested in situating both this film and the band in the experimental/ arthouse world, specifically that of NY circa 1967, and there's more discussion of that context - including bits on drone music and nearly half an hour on the Theatre of Eternal Music/ Dream Syndicate stuff, very relevant to what John Cale was doing immediately pre-VU - than there is about heroin, or Lou's bisexuality, or the whole "art as hustle" element to things (which maybe runs antithetical to Haynes' ambitions, but is certainly relevant to Warhol, the Factory, and the general milieu; it would have been interesting to have some of the naysayers - besides Cher - give their view of the scene). It's kind of a wart-free, "respectable," respectful, deeply-researched documentary that just, when all is said and done, doesn't make you feel the passion of the band, doesn't really take you into their personalities, doesn't really grip you with any of the tensions and contradictions and dramas of the art world, and doesn't even really talk about the songs. It strives to put the Velvet Underground on one of the very top shelves of American cultural life (which is where Haynes' himself clearly aspires to be; much as I enjoyed it, his choice to have lots of footage of Jonas Mekas says a lot more about him than it does about the Velvet Underground); it may even succeed in doing that. But YOU WILL NOT LEARN HOW THE SAUSAGE IS MADE by watching this film. It's got about as much sausage-making in it as Jim Jarmusch's Iggy doc has cock in it. It's well-researched, well-crafted, and kind of dead, about a tenth as much fun as, say, Velvet Goldmine. (Which is another Haynes' film I have limited fondness for, but much more vibrant and enthusiastic than this one).

Oh, and the third and fourth studio albums get less than ten minutes screentime each, and there is no mention that Yule went on to record yet another VU album, Squeeze, post-Lou (not much about Yule at all, in fact, and wasn't his brother in the VU for a time? You would never know)... Haynes really is interested in the NY art and film scene more than he is the band or their whole trajectory, and the cornerstone of his "respectable" version of the band is kind of John Cale, at least insofar as the music scene goes.  The film devotes over an hour of its time to the prehistory and the first two albums, the ones with Cale, and he probably interviews Cale more than anyone else, but Haynes loses a lot of interest in the band once Cale is out. There IS some time given for the literary figures who inspired Lou Reed (there are a few minutes set aside to Delmore Schwartz, even mention of Hubert Selby's Last Exit to Brooklyn, tho' no mention that Lou would later interview Selby). People wanting to learn more about Lou's time with Pickwick will find stuff, too. There *are* a fewstories offered that don't highlight Cale or Reed's artistic ambitions or background, like Moe talking about singing "After Hours," or deets about Nico, but charming as moments like that are, they are few and brief, and feel like asides, distractions, digressions, insufficient to really convey much in the way of human warmth to the film.  

I could go on. There were things I learned from the film, but it is a very particular "take" on the band that kind of ultimately left me cold, or colder than I wanted to feel, given how much I love some of their music. By contrast, The Sparks Brothers documentary and the Zweig Records film  are both vastly more entertaining, more dynamic, more enriching, and actually get us reasonably close to the human beings at their core. You're left - especially by Zweig, interviewed a few posts back - asking questions beyond the confines of the film, as it spills out into life, which is the goal. The Velvet Underground remains aloof and strangely outside its subject matter, however deep it goes into the facts, however impressive its eyewitness testimony may be, and it never really seems to open out into the world, just curves back onto itself. You might learn a few things about Lou Reed or John Cale or New York in the early 1960's - but you won't learn much about humanity. There isn't much of it on hand. 

 It's unfortunate - I had hoped for more. 

Bad (?) news: radiation therapy to come

So my oncologist found, it turns out, two incidents of cancer on my tongue, not touching each other. 

It is indeed, by the by, cancer. The biopsy was done post-surgery; there was no question surgery was necessary, whether what I had was dysplasia or cancer, so no need for a biopsy beforehand, which meant there was some doubt before the operation actually took place what I was being treated for... but it turns out it was exactly what I had in 2017: squamous cell cancer. 

Those squamous cells, man ("things I have in common with Christopher Hitchens" - it's a very short list).

That there were TWO sites on my tongue, unconnected, means I've now had cancer in three places on my tongue, and will likely have further recurrences; so radiation treatment is recommended. Gotta whip my tongue cells into compliance or something, to keep them for going rogue again in the future. This will mean taking more time off work (which is a mixed blessing), and in terms of side-effects, I gather, will feel like I have a sunburn inside of my mouth. Unclear when it commences or how long it will last, but the cancer agency is being contacted.

"It's not like I can just keep whittling away at your tongue," my oncologist quipped at one point. 

Indeed. Meantime, I've now weaned off my strongest painkiller and am getting by managing my pain a codeine at a time (three or four pills spread out over a day). If I don't, then when I go to speak or swallow, the pain in my ear is far worse than I want it to be... but I can swallow whatever I need to (soft food is still best), and speech is okay, though I'm a bit sore at the moment (pain med hasn't hit yet). 

Nothing much else to report. Erika and I are watching, and loving, Better Call Saul, and I'm really pleased with the Severin blu-ray release of Blood for Dracula, which has great extras (Udo Kier bums a smoke mid-way through his interview, knowing full well that it will be value-added; I mean, who, on an extra interview, ever bums a smoke? Udo is the man). 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Cinematic comfort food: Phantasm 1 and 2

You know you're deep into the comfort movies when you find yourself watching a Phantasm sequel. 

Phantasm the first, of course, is the best of them. It bizarrely fuses male anxieties about sex and death into a sort of "male brotherhood" movie, by which two brothers and a best friend come together to battle against... what, exactly? The explanation is ridiculous enough to elevate matters into the realms of the totally unreal, like the whole thing is some sort of shared delusion, never meant to be taken seriously: the Tall Man and his team of shrunken-dwarf Jawa ghouls are actually graverobbers from space, converting bodies into slave labour on a distant planet. Oh, and they have yellow blood, can travel through mirrors, and if you cut off their fingers and keep them in a box overnight, they turn into killer flying insects. Some of the most ridiculous and outlandish monster-mythmaking in history - next stop, Cenobites! ...But the beauty is, it really doesn't matter, because whatever the Tall Man and company represent in terms of the story, their primary function is to give the brothers and friend a chance to assert their resourcefulness, their love of tools, their masculine virtues and thereby keep death at bay. It's as strange a celebration of male brotherhood as can be wished... 

...and it actually does get weirder in the second and third and fourth films, as it becomes more and more apparent that set pieces in which the main characters can use tools together to fight against the darkness are the point of the film. There's even, in the second film, a level of homoerotic fantasy to it, which I fully understand: because at 12 or 13, before my hormones really kicked in, I would have LOVED to just become a go-on-the-road monster fighter with my best male friends, and never think about those slimy girls again! Reggie and Mike - played in II by James LeGros, because I guess the suits figured he was more bankable than Michael Baldwin - are like some preteen fantasy version of what adulthood must be like that is recognizable and charming and quite comforting to inhabit; you want to revert to your own 12 year old sense of the world so you can be one with them, sharing in brotherly love, fighting monsters, fighting the Tall Man... whatever it is he represents. (Adulthood?). There's also a female character who gets a subplot of her own in II, and some rather weirdly Nightmare-on-Elm-Street-like dream stuff (though much of all of the films works in a kind of dreamlike way). There's no real need to extend the franchise beyond the limits of the first, classic movie, but if you haven't seen them, 2-4 are very much still the children of the great Don Coscarelli, and if they add nothing to the first film, they certainly ably extend its pleasures. Let's hang out with Reg and Mike and... doesn't Jody come back in one of them? I have no doubts...  

I've loved Phantasm since a VERY influential double bill of both it and Dawn of the Dead my father took me to in Mission, somewhere around 1978 or 1979. (I saw both films theatrically at the perfect age). I went to see it remastered onscreen at the Rio a couple of years ago, and just yesterday, upgraded my discs into blu-ray as part of my "cinematic comfort food" love-in, which has also featured The Fog, The Mist, The Dead Zone, Children of Men, An American Werewolf in London, Children of the Corn, The Blob remake, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake, and a couple of okay but not great films from The Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee. (I also grabbed a couple of other Severin titles as blind buys - All the Colors of the Dark, And Now the Screaming Starts, and The Horror of Party Beach, so I can trade off with my Phantasms over the next week. It's all keeping me well-entertained. BTW, if you missed it, Phantasm I and II have just been issued as part of a two-fer set on blu-ray; III and IV are sold separately but on the cheap (though lord knows there are bundles of all films, too, if that's what you want). Ravager, the last one, is a bit of a bummer - it is simply not as fun a jaunt, and is lacking Coscarelli at the helm, though it does continue to wax meditative on death, and possibly is a necessary film if you really want to grasp the full arc thematically... 

Movies like this are gonna keep me goin' this week. Thanks, movies! (Thanks, Don Coscarelli!).  


Thursday, October 07, 2021

4:36 am

So I end up with a lot of drool. Couple of times now, I've had puddles of yellow drool on my pillow when I woke up. I don't relish swallowing it, even in my sleep, so I often also have a cracked dry throat, with the drool I am not swallowing just pooled in my mouth.

My sleep schedule is out of whack from Erika's, because I just go back to bed when I'm tired, which was twice yesterday afternoon. Nothing helps while away time between meds like sleeping.

Anyhow I got out of bed to spit and pee and now sitting here. It seems have an abundance of time and no plan to use it - not just now, with Erika still trying to get her Zzz's before work, but for the next couple of weeks. I have 14 days in a row off! (And maybe more, depending on how well I heal).

I'm still not quite gung-ho to tackle a big project yet - I do have a couple in mind - but I'm mostly on the "just want to watch some movies" page, revisiting old favourites...  not sure where to go next. I wish there was a blu-ray of John Frankenheimer's Black Sunday available - the blimp terrorism one. That would be perfect for my needs right now. Alas, all I have is the non-anamorphic widescreen DVD, which could look so much better. Never came out in R1 blu, it seems. 

I kind of need a great film I *haven't* seen before, but...

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

VIFF Review: Night Raiders is vital dystopian SF

There are certain conventions in play for end-of-the-world horror films at the moment. Think of movies like A Quiet Place, or A Quiet Place Part II, or It Comes at Night, or Birdbox, for some examples: the world, in these films, is no longer normal. Some fundamental rule has changed, requiring people to reorganize their lives; and we enter the film in the midst of this change, watching people following these rules, living in some, tentative, frightened kind of way that we can't fully understand - because we haven't met the monster yet. We must watch and learn the rules, so that when the monster comes, we are prepared; the nature of the monster is essential to understanding what we are seeing...  

Night Raiders begins in just this mode, with an Indigenous mother and daughter making their way through the woods in what we presume is rural Canada. Everything seems wrecked. Drones patrol the skies, but it is not clear who controls them. There is still a society of sorts - people huddled in alleyways, trying to get by, and the odd heavily-uniformed cop exuding menace - and there is some jeopardy, in particular, for the young, who are at the risk of being rounded up - but by whom and for what purpose, we are not told, at least not right away. It is clear that the film has bearing on the Canadian residential school system, but it is set in the future, not the past, and there's a whole lot else going on as well, dystopia-wise...  

Night Raiders has gotten some stellar reviews; some critics dubbed it "the best movie of TIFF 2021 so far." TIFF reviewer Sarah describes the film "packing more psychological horror into 97 minutes than The Hunger Games did in four movies," and calls the film "a sharp, decisive commentary on the harm of colonization and cultural oppression." Steve Newton interviews the director, here. I am not finished the film as I write this, but am certainly hooked by what I'm seeing! (Oh, and Amanda Plummer is in it. Haven't seen her in awhile!). It does strike me that I haven't seen this strong a sublimated anti-American subtext ("fuckin' Jingos!") in a film since Battle Royale II, and that the whole affair is a bit on the paranoid side, but it's healthy to express your paranoias in cinema, isn't it? And these don't seem the most unreasonable paranoias for Indigenous people to have.

 There are no further VIFF screenings booked, don't know if it is still optional to stream it, but keep this one in mind. You'll get another chance to see it...

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

VIFF 2021 review: Be Still

Look, I just had surgery a few days ago. I'm still all doped up, quite legitimately, but I'm still going to give some impressions on VIFF fare this week. These may not be the most cogent reviews I've ever written! First one up is Be Still, a BC-shot film about Victoria surrealist photographer Hannah Maynard, as played above by Piercey Dalton; the actual Maynard is shown below. 

The press release for Be Still, by Latvian-to-Canadian filmmaker Elizabeth Lazebnik, says that the story:

takes place in 19th century BC and delves into the mind of an artist whose shattering grief leads to the creation of striking new artforms. All but erased from history, 40 years before Dali and the Surrealist movement began, professional Canadian photographer Hannah Maynard was perfecting surrealist art techniques in her Victoria, BC studio. The film, which took 17 years to make, is a work of passion and dedication from filmmaker Elizabeth Lazebnik. With 15 short films and three TIFF premieres under her belt, Lazebnik is proud to debut her first feature in BC where Maynard lived and worked.

Elizabeth Lazebnik

In a way, this film was perfect for my bleary, confused, slightly damaged state of mind, post-surgery. It bent my brain in very compelling ways, and occasionally I found myself lulled into dreams that interacted with what was onscreen, like I was being lured into another mental state altogether by the logics of the film's construction. Call it "high" praise - the film is really quite skilled at evoking altered states of consciousness in the viewer, through associative shifts between images... It is a bit too reserved in its pacing and serious about what it does for me to think the filmmakers would relish my use of the word "mindfuck" to describe it, but it does fuck with the mind a bit, in ways that I found intriguing and surprisingly effective, always using its tricks to evoke Maynard's confused thinking (I initially thought that the sheer number of visual gimmicks in Lazebnik's toolkit would throw me off, but none of them are used for their own sake, and seem perfectly subordinated to her filmic purposes). 

And yet, perfect as it is on the one hand, watching this film all wiped out and doped up also does it a grave injustice, on the other, since for all its willingness to experiment and clear desire to induce non-normative perceptual states, there is a story at its heart that, however eccentrically it unfolds, still deserves to be properly processed. I could not do this; I do not fully understand what I have seen. I could see things adding up, could find a through line in terms of theme, but not in plot; there are ideas about women's roles, and women being torn within themselves trying to fulfill these roles, and what happens to women who refuse to conform to these roles. There was a fair bit about Maynard's apparently dead daughter, and a striking (if digressive) look at the ways European artists treated their Indigenous subjects where Maynard becomes briefly the focus for potential criticism. That's a set piece of considerable power - one of many in the film that leaves a lingering impression.  

But ask me to recount the overall story, and I cannot (it might have been challenging even without the dope; this is, ultimately, an experimental film). Though I do not fully understand what I have seen, I was still impressed, and thought Be Still succeeded quite well in doing some unusual things; most specifically, I did not know who Maynard was, and am glad for this memorable introduction. I gather that exteriors were filmed not in Victoria but in locations and Langley and so forth. I recommend being fresher-witted than I if you decide to see it - you can find links to tickets on the VIFF website

Saturday, October 02, 2021

More cancer surgery stuff: tonight's ER visit

WARNING! Somewhat disgusting photos below.

So I started a video diary, to document my healing and the effects of the surgery on my speech, and maybe to provide helpful insights to people facing similar situations. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three - which gets a bit disgusting, since it documents my oral thrush - is here. I plan to keep it up, since it may have some interest value, and it gives me an excuse to practice my speech, and something to look back on, in lieu of a memory, should I ever have to face all of this again.

About oral thrush: it's some sort of common fungal problem that can rise up after all the beneficial bacteria in your mouth have been killed. You feel like your mouth is full of froth; it starts to hurt a bit; and you end up with gross little white growths on your tongue. Despite it being predictable, it appears - in my case, anyhow - not to have been avoidable, because I had oral thrush the first time I had cancer surgery, as well, and I did ask my oncologist, before they put me under, if there might be some preventative measure we could take to ward it off this time. He prescribed me an antifungal, and I have been taking it, but nonetheless, when I arrived at the Emergency Ward tonight, this is what my tongue looked like: 

That wasn't something I figured out about until AFTER I decided to go to the ER, mind you. My main concern was dehydration. It was getting increasingly difficult to swallow, which meant I'd had very little to drink; it was equally unpleasant to know I was mixing any of the liquids I drank with the frothy thrush-saliva foaming in my mouth, though I didn't clue in what it was at the time. And swallowing is even tougher when it comes to pill-form painkillers: I spent most of today wondering if a hydromorphone pill was lodged in the back of my throat without my having the muscle strength in my tongue to work it out. I thought ahead and wrote out a long note for the ER staff, which Erika printed out before driving me: Could I get some hydration? Could I possibly get some IV pain meds while I was at it? Could they look at my achey left ear and see if it seems infected or inflamed? Could he give me something for my oral thrush? And was there any way I could get pain meds in a suppository form? 

Apparently there is - there is an ass-friendly version of Voltaren - but it is an NSAID, and I don't do so well with those. So nix on the suppositories, but everything else went exactly as planned: I got a full bag of IV fluids, got a scrip for the thrush and I even got to chat with the ER doctor about his ties to Powell River, where Erika and I just went last spring. There were entertaining fellow-patients in the Walking Wounded area, too: a guy who'd gotten a tooth knocked loose in a hockey game when the puck hit him in the face, and a little kid crying about having to get stitches, with a bunch of nurses and doctors going "Ooh, you'll be okay, it's just a little stitch and it will make you all better". As they hydrated me, I lay back and listened and felt a shimmer of relief coursing through me. ("Could you throw in some pain meds, while I'm hooked up, anyhow?" And they did!). 

I believe the scrip that the doc gave me for the oral thrush, btw, is called Nystatin, but the pharmacies are closed. I've been encouraged to rinse with apple cider vinegar, which does seem to improve matters. Between that and the opioids I actually feel a bit nauseated, but I feel better than I did earlier, by a mile.

Here's the really gross thing. I have felt there was some sort of gooey mucusy clotty substance up my left nostril - where I think the tube had gone in, after intubating me down the throat didn't work. Normally I've been taking steambaths, or their home equivalent - sitting in the bath with the shower pelting my head - to loosen up the snotclots, but there's only so much that's come up. But without even so much as a shower, when I got into the bathroom tonight, I gave a blow out the left and THIS monster flipped out into my hand. 

No fault if you don't want to see.

You've been warned:

...Sorry, it's disgusting (but it was definitely impressive and a release to get it out of my nose!). 

Anyhow, Erika is in bed. I'm going to sit up a bit - have a bit of mild nausea from the opioids that I'm hoping I can distract with a bit of reading. Not sure if I should try to eat something or not - really don't want to. 

In fact, tonight was actually one of my more successful ER experiences. Everyone was friendly; there was no long wait; and I got almost everything I'd hoped for. I got none of that pain med mistrust that you sometimes see, where they think you're an addict as soon as you ask ("Sure you have kidney stones, haven't heard that before.") And as disgusting as that snotclot is above, at least it's OUT OF ME now. Breathing much better. Whew.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: reactions and opportunities, and a few film recommendations

It is easy to be skeptical about having a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. There are, no doubt, people out there who will experience this as mostly a day off work or out of school - who won't really care about why they're getting the time off or use it to educate themselves. Marcus Reichfield - a Victoria painter - described it in a comment on Facebook as a "hollow government gesture," and another Facebook friend, Bruce McKiel, writes that it is that "100%," characterizing it further as, "The government slugz giving themselves a day off to pat themselves on the back while the working class (indigenous and non-indigenous) are out working in the rain... A classic example of the 'We need to do better' stuff the politicians just don't seem to get."

But there is still potential here. To keep this from being "more lip service," there has to be an actual attempt to do something with the time. That doesn't seem impossible to me; we use Remembrance Day, another holiday that serves as grim reminder of the past, as a platform for education, and there's no shortage of resources that could be brought into the classroom in the run-up to this new holiday. Opus Art Supplies, for example, at the location where my wife works, are having a day of what sounds like very positive things, with an Indigenous staff member smudging the building and... well, I'm not sure what else; it's happening as I write, but they've given the person who is doing it, Ruby, free reign, I think, to design some activities, present stuff; not really sure what yet. And the school where I work, Vancouver Community College, is committed to Indigenization, as well; obviously I haven't been there for the last couple of days, but they've ALWAYS tried to prioritize Indigenization, funding staff to take the San'yas Cultural Training program, for example. Last time I was at the Broadway campus, they were in the process of removing a bust from the library of a guy who I think I have to describe as "some king," not because he necessarily had a destructive impact on Canada's First Nations, Metis, and Inuit populations, but because they'd rather have Indigenous art or something relevant to the school on display than a bust of someone that even I, a descendent of settlers allegedly tied to European history, cannot describe with clarity. The hell was that? "Some king." "Why are we taking it down?" "Indigenization." "Did he do something bad?" "No idea." ...when that is the level of connection to settler history you feel, it's hard to object to removing something, and if putting some other piece of art up in its place is going to make Indigenous people feel more comfortable using the space, do it! 

Here's a few things that might be of interest, re: the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: I've already mentioned, apropos of my Kier-la Janisse interview, below, that Jesse Wente's book Unreconciled is out, and it's at the top of my "to-read" pile as I recover from my surgery. I did not mention at that time that Wente will be conducting a virtual Q&A session with Tanya Talaga at part of the upcoming writer's festival, with the event taking place October 23rd (I might just feel better enough to attend?). 

A subsequent happy discovery is that the film Reel Injun, which is where I first encountered Wente as part of the San'yas training, is actually available for purchase online. (Not through Amazon or eBay, though, where it is treated as an out of print collectible; it isn't - just go to McIntrye Media, linked above). It's a great film. 

It's not a great ad, putting the two famous white guys' names first on the list, but I do understand that Clint Eastwood has more "draw" than John Trudell, and he does appear in the film - speaking most interestingly about the Adam Beach role in Flags of Our Fathers, where Beach plays Ira Hayes. Wente - in his role as film critic - and Trudell are the high points, though. I usually find Trudell a little hard to take, but recall a really blow-you-away moment where he talks about white people in the 1960's trying to adopt European fashions - buckskin jackets and so forth - in a very sympathetic light, observing that they, like all peoples of the world, were once part of a tribe, and it's not necessarily so much that they're trying to be Indians, as they are trying to reconnect to their own tribal roots.  Another great bit of journalism in the documentary is where they interview Sacheen Littlefeather about her standing in for Marlon Brando when he declined the Academy Award for The Godfather, asking her to read a speech about how he was declining because of the treatment of American Natives - which caused quite a ruckus and considerable hostility to Littlefeather. It also, however - and this is one of many moments where Reel Injun attains greatness - greatly lifted sagging spirits and morale in Pine Ridge, during the ongoing Wounded Knee Occupation and conflict with the FBI. Russell Means, who was present, also appears in Reel Injun, talking about seeing Littlefeather on TV making this speech while the FBI closed in. If you love movies, and love to think about movies, and care about representations of Indigenous peoples in movies, Reel Injun is a must see (it can also be streamed if you are Campus subscriber, but I don't know what Campus is). 

For VIFF enthusiasts, there are also four NFB shorts appearing at the VIFF this year, available for streaming as of tomorrow. Two - Mary Two-Axe Early and Nulujuk Night - appear as a program of shorts, here.  There is also Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics, also part of a program of shorts. 

There are other films in VIFF with First Nations, Metis, and Inuit content, like Returning Home, the high-concept SF film (?) Night Raiders, and quite a few other films (you can actually just search their website for the word "Indigenous;" there are more than a few options available.

And of course, it's never too late to read the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the summary volume of which you can buy as a book (Indigo/ Chapters stocks it as does or read online. It's sad, sobering stuff, but you won't find more relevant reading for today.

As a slightly irrelevant final note: my post-op "comfort food" movie last night was a film that has no overt Indigenous presence at all, but seems still strikingly relevant: John Carpenter's The Fog. I have no idea if anyone out there has connected that film to the history of colonization, but it's not a big leap. A town is about to celebrate its hundredth anniversary, but a priest (Hal Holbrook), discovering an old book, learns that the town was founded on acts of "theft" and "murder." The specifities of that theft and murder have nothing to do with American natives, but rather with the ghosts of angry but wealthy sea-bound lepers seeking to establish a colony nearby, who are tricked by the townsfolk and drowned; somehow, by removing all trace of the REAL acts of theft and murder that the United States and Canada were founded on, Carpenter creates an absence that the mind can't help be drawn to. 

And it even touches on the themes of church complicity and the indecency of having a celebration - think this last Canada Day, "cancelled" by many after the mounting number of First Nations graves. Hal Holbrook, as a drunken priest with a conscience, mutters "our celebration is a travesty," at one point, and prepares to sacrifice his life in order to give back to the, uh, nautical leper ghosts what was stolen from them, in the form of a big golden cross. Leading by example, there, Hal. It's kind of a norm of Carpenter's cinema that he often doesn't seem to quite understand what he's doing - the most thought-provoking things in most of his movies (They Live aside) are usually above, between, and beneath the lines, so to speak... but he still manages to do it pretty well with this one. I'm not sure if The Fog counts as a productive activity to do for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation - I suspect it counts as a cheat -  but I sure enjoyed watching it in this light. 

Cancer Surgery, Round 2

Note: some of the photos below might be TMI. 

I arrive eight minutes late to the surgical check in area. The door is closed, and there are half a dozen people, all also waiting for surgery, milling around outside; you don't get to go into the room until your name is called, which I assume is some sort of new COVID protocol. I don't really remember how things went down in 2017, but I don't recall it happening this way.

I ask a stranger, also waiting, "Did they call Allan MacInnis, yet?" Nope. It feels very strange, being in a waiting room that is just a hallway with a few chairs, in front of a closed door. 

But there are seats, so I sit.

Eventually I am led into the main room, where I go over my information with a series of about five different nurses, first at the front desk, then later as I get in bed and people come to ask me questions. It's a funny level of redundancy built in - like, someone pretending to be Allan MacInnis, with the services card of Allan MacInnis and their photo on it, would probably know what Allan MacInnis' birthday is, too - since it is ON the services card; I'd have to be a pretty bad imposter to suddenly forget it, but I still have to tell it to every single nurse I talk to. (Maybe the redundancy is about screening for dementia, or making sure that you don't have the wrong person with the same name? Dunno.). I am led to a bathroom and given a bag of clothing to change into and an unlocked locker to leave my pants and shoes and such ("take any valuables with you," they say, so I negotiate stuffing three pieces of ID into my cell phone cover). The underwear seems too small, but fits. The socks are big weird green things, rectangular at the end instead of rounded, and the slippers are disposable jobs that have no obvious "correct" way to go on your foot that I can see. I snap a few selfies while I can.

Later, lying in bed, my attention is drawn to an old guy who I hear nurses warn each other is "quite hard of hearing" as they approach him. That explains why he speaks with a booming voice - a form of compensation I have used myself, when my hearing has been bad (or when I've had headphones on). I get to hear a fair bit of their check-in with him, which is about all I can pay attention to, because he's plenty loud and the internet reception in the hospital is terrible and I've brought nothing else to distract me. He's come for a scalp resection, I learn, has a growth on the back of his head, and I watch my oncologist - who I guess is a "whole head" man, not just an internal guy - interview him while a nurse measures around his neck ("Is that for the noose?" the old guy asks, and I instantly like him.) I think nothing of the fact that we are both large men with beards in our fifties or so until my oncologist, when he comes into the surgery a bit later, as the anesthesiologists are preparing to knock me out, and identifies me to his team as the scalp resection (the fact that everyone is wearing masks doesn't help). No, no, I'm the partial glossectomy! ...his team sets him straight soon enough. 

I surrender my phone, which is placed in an envelope in a safe. Two nurses have failed to find a way to get the IV into the back of my hand - my veins are hard to find, and though they break skin and poke around a bit and make me flinch, it doesn't take hold either time. I joke with one of them as she tapes up my hand that I'm going to write an expose on the role of Big Tape in the hospital system and she chuckles and says, pleasantly "We sure do go through a lot of it." 

I think guys feel obliged to entertain their nurses a bit, to make up for the debt they feel to them. There are worse ways to be in the hospital. I was considerably crankier in 2017, but Erika has set me right, there.

The main anesthesiologist - a large fella with a delightfully foreign African name, which I try to say correctly at least once before I go under - does better with the IV and gets a vein in the back of my right hand in no time. I can never tell if it's skill or luck, but whichever it is, it does seem to vary a lot between hospital staff. Then I've got a mask being fit over my nose and mouth and, without particularly noticing the descent, am unconscious, and my oncologist is cutting away either what is recurrent cancer or else severe dysplasia (I am assuming there will be a biopsy after the fact but as yet I still don't know which). He got a bit abrupt with me when, before I went under, I mentioned that last time I went through this, I was allowed to develop a nasty case of oral thrush, so I ask if there can be some preventative measures taken this time; he seems annoyed by the question, a little, but I get a scrip for an anti-fungal when leaving, so, I mean, I don't really care. He's a good man - a hard working, devoted man, I can see -  but you still have to advocate for yourself in our hospital system, because if you don't, you can't really trust that anyone else will, either. 

I mean, they might, but they might not.

Surgery starts just after 8. I wake up about an hour later - I think by this time it's something like 9:15am - with a little less tongue, a lot of pain in my throat, and weirdly clear nasal passages. I learn that they had problems intubating me, so I could breathe during surgery - which is why my throat is sore, and that they had to go up my nose, instead, blasting a clear passage up my narrow nostrils. I haven't breathed so clearly through my nose ever, as I did on waking up.   

Weirdly, my tongue - the actual main object of my oncologists' attentions - feels fine, better and more normal than it has since before the 2017 surgery, really, since it's never been without a bit of discomfort (and has been very sore over the last few weeks). It feels like a normal tongue, though it still looks a bit weird - I have no idea what the black stuff is on the side, here. Whatever the doc did to me, I think I'm going to recover fully, and hopefully be cancer free for awhile again.

But for any vaccine-hesitant people out there, I will say this, if you haven't already got the memo: intubation is a big deal. If you end up intubated for a long time due to COVID, you are going to suffer. I'm suffering now, fifteen hours later, and they didn't even have the tube down my throat for more than a few minutes, it seems. I can't swallow without a lot of pain, even on painkillers, which means that my mouth tends to fill with saliva and my throat dries up. And a mouthful of thick saliva is kind of disgusting - it's hard to make yourself WANT to swallow it, especially when you know it's going to hurt like hell. I've walked over to the kitchen sink a dozen times since I started writing this to spit a small pond of it down the drain. I do have a cold drink at hand - cool seems to go down better than hot, and at least seems worth swallowing; but there is something about the act of drinking that makes you salivate more, so you can't really win. The pain does go away if you stop swallowing altogether for awhile, but then it's worse when you DO get back to drinking something, while oddly, when you ARE drinking, it seems to somehow soothe the throat, make it relax; you just have to get over that first hurdle, and then you'll want to drink more and more. 

But not saliva.

I've also been peeing a ton - because I was on IV fluids during surgery, and that stuff has got to come out. They give you a portable urinal; one nurse was un-shy about pulling aside my tiny man-panties and helping me affix the jug - seen below, with the odd bend in the top - over my genitals, but mostly they left me to figure that part out myself (I actually had to ask someone, being a bit woozy, which end was supposed to face up). 

...and lest you think nasal intubation is no big deal, while I do admit that it hasn't caused me discomfort - in fact seems to have improved my breathing - I blew some truly disgusting things out of my nose after the operation. Clots of blood, I think, though the dark splotch here felt disturbingly solid and tissue-like, so I don't know. Not the only one like this I blew, either. It's the weirdest sensation I've had of something passing through my body since I peed out my fragment kidney stones, a few years ago.  

But some discomfort is a small price to pay for being cancer free, and overall, I was trulyimpressed by the speed and efficiency of the whole process. There weren't even any visible "COVID roadbumps," at least on my end of things (I'm sure the hospital staff have a few). I'm back home now - Erika, who has been the ever-supportive, loving wife, has driven me about, taking me to the hospital, coming back here for my CPAP machine (which we didn't ever end up using), taking me to get prescriptions filled, and best yet, stopping for a big tub of vanilla ice cream for milkshake purposes. The dairy makes my saliva even stringier than it already is, but the act of swallowing mouthfuls of milkshake - not from a straw, note, because that hurts a bit - was pure relief. My main concern now is not that my tongue will heal up - it did before, and I'm confident it will again, though right now my voice is a mushy mess not fit for human ears. No, my main concern is my throat. It's worse than any illness-borne sore throat I've ever experienced, feels more unnatural, like someone was jamming equipment down there, which is exactly what they did.

Barring any major new developments, though, I'm going to just leave the cancer blogging behind. I had cancer; I had surgery; the cancer (or something like it) returned; I had surgery again. 

It's not all that unlike your second root canal, really. The first one is a big deal, but the second is like, "Oh, shit, this again? Oh well."

Not that I want a round 3. 

Thanks to everyone who has checked in or wished me well, eh?