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The Thrillville Beat

By Will ("The Thrill") Viharo



WHOOSH! There goes another year. The century is only (or already) two years old, and things in general suck outloud, and given the outcome of the recent election, it’s only downhill from here for all peaceful, freedom-loving Americans who cherish their civil liberties, pristine forests and the right to choose just about anything. On top of that, most of the movies and music made now suck, too. Here is a relatively brief litany of my disgust. Feel free to shoot me your own list via email. There is a profoundly pissed off population out there, if only they would speak up before it’s too late, if it isn’t already too late. Here’s my tiny little tirade, for what it’s worth to anyone at all – commiserate, crap on it, or ignore it altogether. Makes no difference to me, just like my complaints make no difference to the world at large. But this is my platform, and obviously, if you’re reading this, I have an audience, so here goes, Will’s Eleven:


I think they should maintain the same objectivity newscasters are held to. I HATE it when some smiley faced bimbo beams “High pressure system is bringing great weather to the Bay Area, with above average temperatures, offshore winds which will blow away all the fog and clouds, air quality will be poor but wow, it’ll be nice and warm, so who cares!”, yada yada yada. Some of us HATE hot, dry weather. Some of us actually prefer it cool, crisp and cloudy – and think of rain as a good thing. Save the “Surf’s Up Santa!” shit for your own bubbled-brained backyard barbecues - just tell it like it is without the pro-smog propaganda.


Talk about old school. This is so old. It’s more tired than the proverbial o.d.’ing rock star. I mean, I personally do not care for hip hop, the way it sounds, I mean, and I don’t dig the baggy ghetto attire either, which is equally tired, but I also have no desire to see any dead rappers, either. I just tune ‘em out, since it ain’t my thing, but everyone is entitled to their own means of expression. But what I really don’t get is why they keep knocking each other off as a matter of routine. What are they trying to prove? What kind of culture does that propagate? Can you imagine this kind of behavior in the lounge world? You never read headline likes “MEL TORME GUNNED DOWN BY EYDIE GORME IN DISPUTE OVER RHYMING LAST NAMES.” I mean, sure, Sinatra hung out with the Mob, but he drew the line at putting a cap in Sammy’s ass for calling him a “wopsicle.” Today’s gangstas need to get a life instead of taking someone else’s. Or at least learn how to carry a tune. It’s called anger management, fellas. You didn’t see no bullets flyin’ between the Four Tops and the Temptations. And they looked good, too.


The supremely idiotic dichotomy of this stance speaks for itself. I have nothing to add.


Hello? Reality is the stuff NOT on TV. Everything else is on tape. No one acts natural when a camera is on them, unless it’s hidden. These are not documentaries. They’re pre-fabricated fantasies. Get real.


I keep hearing the media crow about how he remains “hugely popular,” though I don’t personally know a soul who doesn’t think he is an incredibly smarmy, pompous, weasely, illiterate bonehead who stole the election, helped flush the economy, appointed a right wing bigot as Attorney General, and is now marching us into a war he cannot justify beyond exploitation of his tired anti-terrorist rhetoric. (By that logic, we’d be attacking North Korea, too.) He is alienating us from the rest of the civilized world with his arrogance and ignorance, and he doesn’t care. Even our media finds him “charming.” Yea, like a snake. Thank God the people giving him positive poll ratings aren’t in my social circle. I’d have to hate them, too. The sight and sound of W. makes me absolutely sick to my stomach, and I don’t care who knows it. He is hands down, without a doubt, THE worst president of all time, or at least the past hundred or so years. He screams one-termer to me, just like his old man, but then he also screamed no-termer to me when he was campaigning, and look where he is now. (And look where we are while you’re at it.) Where he is in 2004 is up to us. Get hip. I long for the day when he is gone for good, but by then, a lot of damage will have already been done – like the appointment of right wing justices, who will be calling the shots for us a lot longer than this administration. And he knows that. His so-called “mandate” is as much a threat to our freedom as any terrorist agenda, though his supporters don’t see it that way. Civil rights, the right to choose – this is freedom, and conservatives want to abolish that freedom, which so many of us take for granted. So what’s the real difference? In a couple of years, all those people who didn’t vote will wake up to a much different country, and you can’t blame it all on 9/11. Apathy is no longer an option. It’s past time to get proactive. The evil Bush dynasty must end. He’s not as obviously wicked as, say Saddam Hussein, W’s obsession and entire foreign policy, but he wants to exert similar control over his own country’s way of life and values. There are many different ways to destroy a segment of the population that doesn’t agree with its leader. Let’s try to salvage some semblance of a balanced, eclectic nation. Send this spoiled cowboy back to the ranch. He likes spending most of his time there, anyway.


Face it: you guys handed the country over to conservative Republicans by throwing your vote away on Nader two years ago. I don’t personally know anyone who voted for Bush, I hope, but I know a lot of people who voted for Nader, and while I respect their reasoning, I still resent their decision because of its overall impact, which is far more significant than they believe. If it’s not a close race, you have the luxury of voting your conscience with a “protest” vote. But if it’s crucially close, like in 2000, and you waste your support for a candidate that’s not even a serious contender, you’re screwing people like me who are now stuck with the prospect of a right wing Supreme Court. (As are Democrats who defect to the right.) If you really cared about the environment, you’d be more realistic – idealism is a nice goal, but it’s not worth sacrificing present reality. I hope you hippies are happy with the current administration – and if you really think Gore would’ve been exactly “the same,” think a little harder (he wouldn’t be threatening to drill in Alaska, for one thing, which is now an eventuality, given the current makeup of the House and Senate.). No wonder Republicans actually encourage Third Party candidates. Do me a big favor and start wondering why before 2004. I appreciate that most liberals have no representation in government, but right now, we have only two choices: Democrats who at least pretend to be liberal even though they are really centrist, and Republicans who pretend to be centrist but who are obviously ultra-conservative. It’s not my fault that’s all we have to choose from. But it is. That won’t change because you vote your little conscience. If your vote makes you feel good about yourself, good for you – but what about the good of society as a whole? Liberals are supposed to be for the good of the people, even while supporting the rights of the individual, while conservatives believe in every man for himself and fuck everyone else who doesn’t see it their way. You decide what you want to be, but don’t pretend you’re supporting major liberal causes when basically you’re just appeasing your own personal agenda – just like conservatives do.


Fuck you too. Just because I vote for you doesn’t mean I like it. I’m given little choice. You’re the lesser of two or three evils vying for control of our collective quality of life. It’s because most of you are weak spined, two faced dickheads that a lot of conscientious liberals decide to throw their votes away on Third Parties and write-ins that at least stand behind their views. If you voted to support Bush’s war agenda, I don’t want to hear you bitch about his domestic policy – because his war agenda is his domestic policy, don’t you get it? Well, some of us voters do, so please stop making me cringe every time I vote for one of you whiney whores. The recent takeover by rabid Republicans spells the death knell for everything you’ve worked for, or claimed to. There’s a lot of talk about how Democrats should now move more to the Center. Fuck that. There’s more than one war going on here. If we let a conservative right wing agenda dominate our culture, you can kiss goodbye the separation of Church and State, Roe V Wade (oh yes, believe me, that’s history), and a healthy environment. The appointment of more right wing justices is basically another notch in the terrorist’s belts, because our own courts will also attack our civil liberties – which is what people mean when they call us “Land of the Free.” What you need to do is consolidate your base by having a strong, consistent vision, instead of pandering to the polls. You politicians care more about power than people, I don’t care what end of the political spectrum you’re on. Don’t scare off more voters by waffling. Stand up against the Republicans instead of kissing their fat white asses. No one in this country wants to lose basic civil rights, including the right to choose. The trailer trash who didn’t bother to vote at all need a voice to lead them out of the darkness. If you blend your voice in with the ruling party, no one will be able to distinguish the values of either side. Don’t let Fear dictate your conscience. Aw hell, you already have - why do I even waste my energy on you. Oh yea. Because I have no choice. So far.


Eat! And your big fake tits don’t fool me, either, much less turn me on. I’d rather suck on a watermelon, at least that would be a sensuous, organic experience. I’m a straight male and I like booty on my broads. ‘Nuff said.


There’s no excuse. Fuck those stupid magazines, fuck your bone-headed boyfriend and tell him to go hump a twelve year old starving little boy if he likes ‘em like that, and fuck you if you stick your finger down your throat. Don’t let the media control your self-esteem. Real men think those models are about as sexy as a spoon. Be a real woman. Be yourself.


AT&T is flat out the worst, most corrupt corporation this side of Enron. They monopolize the cable TV market and then hold us hostage with outrageous prices and poor service. One time I called the Better Business Bureau to complain, and a recording says, “Brought to you by AT&T!” It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, an insidious takeover by hostile aliens bent on controlling our planet. As soon as any competitor comes along I am jumping ship. Starbucks actually open stores across the street from neighborhood cafes in a sad attempt to monopolize this industry too, but the fact is, their coffee sucks, so at least locally, it doesn’t work. And Blockbuster is just plain evil, censoring their tapes for the sake of their right wing conservative shareholders. Fight the soulless mall-ization of America – support your local independent businesses, before the concept of community and Main St. USA become as dead as Norman Rockwell. Just because something is old fashioned doesn’t make it the exclusive domain of conservatives. There are things about America I love, and the Mom and Pop shop is one of them, along with all vanishing relics of the past, like bowling alleys, drive-ins, tiki bars, and civil rights.


Even people who chided me for my boycott of the Ocean’s 11 remake a year ago are now starting to understand the angry nature of my stance, now that their favorite classic movies are being desecrated by studio monkeys pandering to the ignorance of the MTV/mall mentality. I mean, remaking Charade with Markie Mark? Where the HELL did that come from??? In the offing: a big budget, glossy remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, (which was effective because of its semi-documentary, no budget style) - with music by Marilyn Manson!? WHY? Eddie Murphy, who is actually talented, is making a career of remakes, or least making movies which steal the title and basic concept from a popular cinematic or TV icon – I Spy a man who has run out of inspiration, and ideas. I hear his next target the sci-fi masterpiece The Incredible Shrinking Man. This is just plain wrong. But the moronic mainstream masses keep flocking to these rip-offs, so the corporate puppets keep churning ‘em out. Talk about Attack of the Clones. Hollywood is big on budget but low on creativity. I celebrate the glory days of drive-in cinema, when the exact opposite held true, with much more entertaining, and lasting, results. I actually hear they’re planning on making an Ocean’s Twelve. Sequels to remakes. Welcome to the pop culture of the 21st Century. How pathetic. But then even the wars nowadays are remakes and sequels – like the pending Gulf War 2: Manifest Destiny, now in pre-production. Been there, done that – and I didn’t even like it the first time around.

Speaking of movies:

MY TOP 10 or 12 MOVIES OF 2002

I know, the year isn’t quite over yet, the big Oscar-heavy Christmas rush is almost upon us, but overall it’s been a tepid twelve months for new cinema, with few exceptions. And I don’t see anything coming out that might be a contender for my personal list, though I can always amend it later if I’m proven wrong. There are few obvious, right-out-of-the-gate classics like last year’s Ghost World, Mulholland Drive and Sexy Beast, or 2000’s The Woman Chaser and Psycho Beach Party. Well, maybe a few, like the first five. Here’s my Top 10 or 12 list for this:


Never heard of it? This is what I’m talking about. The Best Movie of 2002 actually hit screens (briefly) overseas in 2001, but went straight to DVD domestically just a few months ago. This is a crime, because Stuart Gordon’s latest Lovecraft adaptation is his best movie since, and besides, the incredible Re-Animator (possibly the greatest film of the ‘80s). Don’t rent it. Buy it. Meantime, I’m going to try to score a 35mm print of this pulpy masterpiece (sort of a combination of Humanoids from the Deep, Lair of the White Worm and Night of the Living Dead!) to show in Thrillville so I can show you exactly what I’m talking about, and defy the conspiracy that kept it from receiving big screen distribution in the first place.


This cable TV series is better than anything Hollywood has spit out since The Godfather. Apparently some fans are disgruntled by the slow pace of this season, and newcomers just don’t get it, since it doesn’t cater to network-bred mindsets used to being spoon-fed their stories, but to me its brilliance is intact. The acting is still superior to anything on the big screens, by a long shot, and so is the writing. Plus the soundtrack is still consistently interesting (with Frank and Dino as mainstays). My favorite episode so far this season is #3, “Christopher,” ranking among my Top 5 in the whole series. Though the one where Ralphie got whacked was god damn intense. As a whole, The Sopranos is an epic movie masterpiece for the ages, by far the best thing the current culture has to offer, and quite possibly the only artistic artifact from the turn of the Millennium that will be a cult favorite a hundred years from now.


I waited thirty years for this movie, and I’m happy to say, it was worth it. Director Sam Raimi is actually a fan of the Marvel icon, and it really shows. It always shows. This should be a rule when adapting comics, or books, or anything for that matter – the people in charge should be fans of the source material. Raimi, already a god because of his Evil Dead trilogy, (though he sort of lost his way when he made a Kevin Costner baseball movie), totally captured the feel of the comic book, combining four decades of mythology, and condensing it into two hours of pure cinematic wonderment. I’m mainly a fan of the ‘70s comic books and ‘60s cartoon show, which I grew up with, and obviously Sam is too – he even included the original theme song at the very end of the credits, which was a telling touch by itself. The cast was right on, all the way down the line. Can’t wait for the sequel, which Raimi has proclaimed will not go the sad way of the Batman franchise (in my book, Adam West is irreplaceable anyway.) Plus I hear the next one will feature two of my favorite villains, The Lizard (Bruce Campbell!) and Doc Ock (as yet uncast). My spider-sense is tingling already.


Todd Haynes, the man who brought us Superstar: the Karen Carpenter Story, now gives us a modern version of the great Douglas Sirk Technicolor melodramas of the ‘50s. Julianne Moore, who is seriously sexy, plays a ‘50s Connecticut housewife who has the hots for her black gardener (Dennis Haysbert) but is cursed with a gay hubbie (Dennis Quaid) and the provincial prejudice of her neighbors. The set design is sumptuous, the colors breathtaking, the acting superb. A masterpiece of madcap melodrama, surprisingly moving given its over-the-top style.


The Bob Crane story: Space age sitcom combined with hardcore porn. Perfect evocation of the era (60s and 70s). Greg Kinnear and Willem Dafoe are outstanding. Features an appearance by Miss Exotica World 2002 (Kitten Deville, whom we met at Tease-o-rama). Best opening credits of the past decade. Like a cross between Ed Wood and Boogie Nights. Gotta love it.


At least this sequel to a ‘60s classic features the original director (Ted V. Mikels) and star (Tura Satana!) – plus a cameo by John Carradine’s head! It’s only available on DVD via Ted’s web site, – I plan to show it on the big screen February 13 in Thrillville, don’t miss it, it’s a modern B movie masterpiece, with all the essential ingredients: rubber monsters, rubber aliens, cheesy characters, bad dialogue, outrageous sets, and best of all – passionate, bargain basement creativity. Monica and I visited the “spaceship” at Ted’s Vegas warehouse last October. It was amazing – Christmas lights, cannibalized fans, rubber work gloves, bendable hatchets. God bless Ted!


Disney’s best movie since The Jungle Book. Why? Simple ingredients, mixed well: Hawaii, tikis, space aliens, Elvis, and even a scene from the 1958 drive-in classic Earth vs the Spider, (which I showed up in Copia last May), making this truly the Year of the Arachnid. Best thing about it: no creepy, bland, saccharine songs from Phil Collins, Elton John or some other aging British pop star. It’s all primo King, including mostly originals and one cover (that kinda sucks, but I’ll take what I can get these days.) The fact that Elvis scored his biggest album hit ever this year (30 #1 Hits, going to the top of the charts in 17 countries simultaneously, even this one), along with a new #1 hit single (“A Little Less Conversation”), gives me hope for the future of mankind. A little, anyway. TCB.


This is from the same production team that gave us the loathsomely patriotic Independence Day and the bastardized, sacrilegious Godzilla, but this time, they actually got it right. This is a fun, fast-paced homage to Big Bug movies of the past like Them! and Tarantula, with good special effects, though to be honest, while I enjoyed it at the time, I’m having trouble remembering it. I might watch it again on DVD, but I’m still deciding whether to buy it, which is not a good sign. Still, I recommend it as a solid popcorn flick, the kind of movie the drive-in once featured weekly, but now, it’s a big deal and an anomaly that needs to be appreciated when it comes along.


Two of my favorite things in one movie – sex, and Latin culture. It’s no Night of the Bloody Apes, but it’ll do. Though the end left me pretty depressed, this is a raunchy road trip worth taking. And it’s so refreshing to see a movie that revels in its own raw sensuality, a rarity in today’s increasingly conservative culture. Boycott the censored version, go for the unrated original on DVD.


One of my favorite actresses/horror hosts/sex symbols is back ­ finally ­ fourteen years after her big screen debut in Mistress of the Dark. This time the voluptuous valley vamp stars in her own screenplay, a take-off on the AIP Roger Corman/Vincent Price Poe classics of the 60s like The Pit and the Pendulum and Tomb of Ligea, filmed in Romania! As usual, the boob jokes come fast and furious ­ and so will you; Elvira is as sexy, saucy and sassy as ever.


Seinfeld is the greatest sitcom since The Honeymooners. I love Jerry, so I know I’ll love this movie when I actually see it. He doesn’t delve into controversial subjects, but he does celebrate, and illuminate, Life’s little moments in a brilliantly savvy and funny manner, often changing your whole perspective and appreciation of them while he’s at it. His TV show is an immortal portrait of the human condition at its most desperate and vulnerable. Also check out Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David’s HBO show. It’s almost as great as Seinfeld, and gives you a sense of what Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine would be up to had their show not been axed, since co-creator Larry is all of them rolled into one.


Again, I haven’t seen one this yet either, but the fact that Michael Moore has the balls to speak out against the current administration and question this country’s fascination with firearms, despite all the random home-grown carnage, amid all this fear-mongering, is in itself worthy of an Academy Award, or better yet, a Humanitarian Award. Anyway, I loved Roger and Me, and this promises to be just as painfully truthful and hilarious. I just wish he wouldn’t dress like such a slob, perpetuating the myth that all liberals are stylistically challenged, and since he’s the leading spokesperson for the Left these days (since hardly anyone else has the guts to speak out), he should take this responsibility a little more seriously. That aside, he’s a hero.

Honorable Mention:

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF was a kickass and unique combination of martial arts, monsters, and mysticism, though I’m not into French foo-foo period pieces. What spoiled it for me, besides its deliberate art-film pace, was that awfully animated monster, which was never even identified clearly. That’s okay, but whenever it showed up, instead of kicking the movie into a higher gear of excitement, it reduced it to a video game. Still, beautiful photography, excellent fight scenes and some erotic touches make this one worthwhile, check it out.


As usual, I’m pretty Thrilled out by the end of the year (I’ll review my own Thrill-year next time – and it was a doozy), so I only schedule one show for December, and again, it’s FRANK’S THRILLVILLE BIRTHDAY PARTY (December 12, Parkway). The featured flick is the one Sinatra won his first Oscar for (and the other two were only honorary), the classic Pearl Harbor melodrama FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953), co-starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed (who also scored a statuette), and Ernest Borgnine. This may seem like an odd choice for a Thrillville tribute to Frank, given it’s so Oscar-studded and respectable, but the fact is not many of Frank’s flicks are available in 35mm. I originally wanted to book the psychotronic thriller The Manchurian Candidate, but that’s not currently around; and both of his swingin’ ‘60s detective flicks Tony Rome or Lady in Cement, are likewise unobtainable. Ocean’s 11 is still, amazingly, off the circuit, and I’ve already shown Robin and the 7 Hoods and Pal Joey. Anyway, when you think about it, any movie where Donna Reed plays a hooker is Thrillville material, plus ‘50s soaps in general are such a scream. And hey, this movie cost a horse its head, according to Mario Puzo, so I’m only paying my respects. Personally I think Frank was more impressive in movies like The Man With the Golden Arm and Suddenly. But even though he only has a supporting role in this ensemble epic, hotheaded Private Maggio is generally regarded as his comeback role, so this is a fitting birthday presentation to my spiritual mentor. Also on the Thrill-bill are some select Frankie short subjects and trailers, courtesy of my Palm Springs connection, Uncle Bill.

It’s no secret that I get my politics and religion from The Rat Pack, my personal Holy Trinity of Frank, Dino and Sammy. I qualify my voting status by calling myself a “Rat Pack Democrat,” which doesn’t officially exist on any ballots, but it’s an important distinction, especially nowadays, with all these pussies giving the Left a bad name. These swingers were savvy about stuff like civil rights (in fact, Frank received a NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, probably for blowing doors down for people like Duke Ellington and Sammy), and even when Frank went Republican and started hanging with former lefty Ronald Reagan, he remained socially liberal, by all accounts. I think the latter day switch was more of a reaction to the hippie movement which left them all in the cold and tainted liberalism with an image of loose living, at least in their old school eyes. But I’m only second-guessing, based on stuff I’ve read (Tina Sinatra’s book about her dad, My Father’s Daughter, was especially enlightening and insightful). The fact is, when the Rat Pack were together as a “group,” they were hardcore Democrats – with style. That’s what I was saying about Michael Moore. We liberals don’t all dress like Bob Dylan, or even listen to him. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

As far as religion goes, the day I decided to turn my life over to Frank, it all changed for me. I’ve been to churches and ashrams and AA meetings, hung out with Satanists and Deadheads, searching for The Truth. Nothing worked for me until I turned to the one guy who had it all, who knew how to live life all the way, without restraint, but with personal flair. I saw Frank perform with Dino and Sammy at the Oakland Coliseum in 1988, and I received the Rat Pack then and there. The metamorphosis was slow, but eventually, it all turned around for me. Now, I have a life, I have a wife, I have less strife. And I all because I surrendered my life to the Summit, and vowed to live a life of Lounge.

The real irony is: growing up in New Jersey, the state of Frank’s birthplace, the Holy Land, my stepmom worshipped a guru whose birthday was December 12th, so that was our “Christmas.” I used to be embarrassed (like George was by “Festivus” on Seinfeld) by this Far East lifestyle, worshipping a guru, taking my shoes off before I went in the house, a strict vegetarian, in the middle of all those carnivorous Catholics. Worst of all, I was miserable, and there’s no percentage in a spiritual path that leads you to nothing but blind confusion. But now I realize I was celebrating the right “Christmas” all along, just basing my faith on the wrong birthday boy.

Hey, I’m not the only one – the Church of Frank Sinatra meets in SF the first Monday of every month! I’ve heard about other similar “churches” around the world, too. We need more of ‘em, to spread the Word of Frank.

So anyway, this is why I salute Frank Sinatra, my Chairman and personal savior. Happy Birthday, pally. And here’s to a thrilling 2003. Ring-a-ding-ding!



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