On Jennifer Saylor’s blog, dated Feb. 14, she lists a sample of alternate names for Valentine’s Day. Most are a bit longish to be embraced by Madison Avenue, but I rather like the “Jeez, I’ve Grown Up Since This Day Used to Bother Me So Much Day.” Not only does it not bother me so much anymore, but I generally forget all about it. Were it not for Carlos knocking on my door Saturday night I might have remained oblivious. I was slugging back a jigger of NyQuil whilst listening to the Skepticality podcast (man, they can be smug mofos, but they do have cool guests), when I hear a tentative tapping on the door off my kitchen. There are two doors on my front porch. And I guess Carlos could hear that I was sitting at my desk, at the kitchen door, listening to a podcast on my computer and no doubt muttered back, in a NyQuil fugue state, “you smug, self-righteous mofos!” All he wanted to do was explain that he was leaving his Camaro parked in front of my house while he went out and painted the town a decided Valentine’s Day red with the wife. “Oh, right,” I muttered, standing on my porch in my socks. “Valentine’s Day.” Carlos said something about how he’d tried to wriggle out of it, but I wasn’t buying his machismo front. He likes special nights out on the town as much as the next guy — more, I believe. At that moment Shelly pulled up in their second car. She’d just gotten off work. I bid them a pleasant night out, and played out the podcast before calling it a night.
That I’ve spent many more Valentine’s Days alone than with this or that girlfriend in my adult years doesn’t hit me so hard as it might … were Valentine’s Day not five days after my birthday. See, by February 14th I’m still reeling from the ghastly realization that I’ve squandered another year of this short and unspecified time I have on this planet, and continue to come up short, having done little of which I can be proud. A romantic I may be (and a failed one at that), but for me the sting of mortality trumps the sting of the love-lorn. And, well hell, they’re both kind of wrapped up together at times.
Because I never use my TV to watch television (and with this impeding digital transition, I soon won’t be able to even if I want), I fulfill most of my TV diet via Hulu.com. I might have to wait a day or a week after other people see these shows, but I’m in no hurry. Thus I keep up with the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, 30 Rock, The Office, House, Fringe, and Bones; I also could do the same with Heroes and Battlestar Galactica, but because they don’t archive these shows, I’m completely lost in the bloated soap opera plots. Hulu also has quite a few free feature films. Hulu is “free” in so far as you have to watch the occasional short commercial.
There’s is one documentary on Hulu which played at the Cine Festival. It’s called Crawford. The filmmakers made periodic visits to the town of Crawford, Texas over the course of about five years to talk to the residents about their most famous neighbor. Head over to Hulu and check it out. It’s filled with quite a few interesting local characters with a wide range of opinions. And some of these opinions change, as they watch their town turn into a media circus.
Another documentary I recently watched on Hulu is titled Abel Raises Cain. It about Alan Abel, the great media hoaxer. I’d explain some of his great gags played on the media, but why bother. His daughter’s excellent documentary does it all. Alan, and his wife Jeanne, had a background in entertainment and comedy writing, but it’s the world of hoaxing in which they excelled. Because they were trying to promulgate a message (even if that message was only for people to be more aware) they would clearly be called culture jammers were they of a more modern generation. However, this documentary, released in 2005, makes it clear that Alan and Jeanne Abel continue to be trouble-makers, even as impoverished septuagenarians. As I was watching the documentary, mention was made several times of a mockumentary directed and written by Alan and Jeanne Abel. Is There Sex After Death? It came out in 1971. I was intrigued. And when I check IMDB and saw that the film included cameos by, not just the Abels, but Buck Henry, Robert Downey, Sr., Holly Woodlawn, Mink Stole, and James Randi (as a seance medium, no less), I knew I had to track this down.
It arrived from NetFlix Saturday. It’s well worth watching. Playful, funny, rude, quaintly racy, and filled with priceless cameos of the cream of this country’s swinging ’60s odd balls. I swear, I was hitting the pause button all the time and toggling over to Google trying to figure out just who was this or that weird performer.
This film needs to be seen by more people. It’s true art wrapped in kooky comedy and vague prurience. Alan Abel gives the perfect deadpan delivery as our narrator and chief interviewer. And Buck Henry gives the performance of his life. And, man oh man, Holly Woodlawn is a scream, especially in the interview where she switching back and forth between a joint and a cigarette — she’s brilliant, insane, and totally adorable. So, take a walk on the wild side. Get ahold of Is There Sex After Death? Alan Abel will become your newest hero.