It's 1980. I'm the most awkward, alienated, insecure kid in the sixth grade, yet convinced that I can be a rock star. It's all been worked out. My best friend and next-door neighbor Gary is going to play guitar. Mike, down the street, is on guitar as well, and Eric, who lives a world away (a ten-minute walk) gets the drums. I'm the singer. None of us own any instruments yet, but we've all walked over to Sears-Roebuck, priced out the gear and started thinking of ways to pay for it. Plans have been set into motion. All I need is a mic. Never sang before, but I know that as soon as I'm on stage I'll have the charisma to be a frontman.

This rock band thing has to be kept a secret from my family. It's not allowed in this household. I've been required to practice classical piano every day since the age of six, and will continue to do so until I'm 14 and allowed to quit. I'm also being enrolled in piano competitions which I have no interest or hope in winning (spoiler: one of the chinese kids will win). My siblings are a few years older, but they don't open any gates for me; my sister only likes MGM musicals and 40's tin pan alley stuff, and my brother the mathlete seems to have no interest in music at all.

But I sneak things in. I have a little portable cassette recorder, and over at Gary's house I've made a dub of the Who's "Who Are You". I listen to it at home with the sheets over my head, the cassette speaker close to my ear and the volume almost all the way down. A whisper of other music besides that notation, scribed by wealthy European males centuries ago, which I'm obeying every day for reasons I don't understand.

Cable TV also helps. We just got it this year. Three movies (in constant rotation) come to mind: "Tommy", which freaked me out when I saw it at the drive-in as a six-year old but now thrills me with its decadence and debauchery, "Rock and Roll High School", which has this band I've never heard of, but they're apparently the biggest band in the world and they sound incredible, and "Flash Gordon", with that killer Queen soundtrack. I hold up my cassette recorder to the TV speaker and tape the little bits of music that interested me on previous viewings, and quietly, secretly play the tapes back in my room later.

On the weekends I'm over at Mom's on the North side of Chicago. My stepfather has mostly jazz and classical records, but there are three "forbidden" ones: "Meet the Beatles" (too childish) "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (too sappy) and the Rolling Stones' "Hot Rocks" compilation, which is okay, but it still sounds antiquated. I want to discover some new music. Mom doesn't have cable, but television isn't closely monitored here, so I get to see some performances that inspire me:

Most importantly, at 10 p.m. on Saturday there's the Kenny Everett show, which screens some of the very first "promotional films" (later to be called "music videos") of contemporary artists. I see this Gary Numan video and practice my onstage swagger:

The last day of elementary school arrives. It's sunny and warm out. My best friend Gary and I are in my backyard, bouncing on the trampoline together and playing the radio loud because dad's not at home. "Don't Stand So Close to Me" comes on, and we're holding tennis racquets and playing them like guitars, lip-syncing to the song, doing our mid-air scissor kicks and Pete Townsend windmill guitar chops, dreaming those rockstar dreams of adolescence.

We never start up that particular band, of course. But I do get into a band with the same Mike, down the street, when I'm seventeen. He's the singer / bass player, two others are playing guitar and drums, and I'm the rhythm guitarist / keyboardist / backing singer. I go along with most of his ideas for covers: we do some REM, Clash, U2. But my tastes have changed; by this point I was going to the all ages punk rock shows at the Metro uptown. No matter what song we're playing, I have my guitar all the way up and I scream every word of my backing vocals with all of my energy and rage behind it. He caves on a few of my suggestions for songs: Black Flag, Sex Pistols, Flipper ("to sound like Flipper you have to distort the bass signal!" I keep insisting. "I won't do it!" Mike keeps retorting).

We play one live show, a high school graduation party thrown by a girl in my homeroom whom I've never spoken to, somewhere within those few short, precious weeks of freedom before I leave for boot camp so I can get away from under dad's thumb. We nearly start a riot with our closing tune, a cover of Flipper's "Sex Bomb". It's the only song of the evening that I sing, and the only one that gets any sort of response from the audience. The crowd is loving it, doing the pogo and chanting in unison. I finally get a little bit of what I was yearning for in the sixth grade.



Sex droids. They're here. Forget the fantasy...

...and embrace the reality. Behold Roxxxy, your new life partner:

Is anyone going to have sex with this? It looks like a quadriplegic terror-stricken Chrissy Hynde with Down Syndrome. How much would you be willing to pay for this fine item? Don't answer, they're selling for upwards of $9,000.

But wait, there's more. This isn't just a doll, it's a real-life droid. Look, she has five different personalities:

more from the press:
It has touch sensors at strategic locations and can sense when it's being moved. But it can't move on its own, not even to turn its head or move its lips. The sound comes out of an internal loudspeaker. The dark-haired, negligee-clad robot said "I love holding hands with you" when it sensed that its creator touched its hand.

The level of sophistication demonstrated was not beyond that of a child's talking toy, but Roxxxy has a lot more brains than that – there's a laptop connected to cables coming out of its back. Douglas Hines, founder of Lincoln Park, N.J.-based True Companion LLC, said Roxxxy can carry on simple conversations. The real aim, he said, is to make the doll someone the owner can talk to and relate to.

"Sex only goes so far – then you want to be able to talk to the person," Hines said.

The phrases that were demonstrated were prerecorded, but the robot will also be able to synthesize phrases out of prerecorded words and sounds, Hines said. The laptop will receive updates over the Internet to expand the robot's capabilities and vocabulary. Since Hines is a soccer fan, it can already discuss Manchester United, he said. It snores, too.

So she's basically like one of these, except she has no moving parts, and she has silicon skin which is cold to the touch, just like a real corpse.

I wonder if they take custom orders. I'd love to have a talking life-size doll made of this guy:


Justice League XXX

(Despite the formidable title, this trailer is suitable for all ages.)


Slithis 2

Nine new tracks from Slithis can be heard if you click the titles above.
I'm phasing out divshare. Their playlists are too unreliable. These are linked to my own server. The new Slithis page on my website has songs listed roughly in reverse-chronological order, with new material appearing at the top. Visit here.


Trailer Trash: Slithis

I saw this at the drive-in when I was eight. Kid heaven. And yes, we received a Slithis Survival Kit at the box office.


Movie of the Week: Spookies

Click the above image to begin our feature film of the week, Spookies, still unavailable on home video.

Begun in '83 and tentatively titled Twisted Souls, the project was never completed and the footage sat on a shelf for three years. Another director then came in and shot some unrelated material to expand it to feature length. It makes no sense, and it's very dumb, but it has some great creatures and outrageous effects.

When watching this, remember that it's two projects spliced together. The 1986 footage is absolute shit,and the musical score is some of the most ambivalent synthesizer fumbling you've ever heard, but the original 1983 material is really good; a hilariously inept, but sincere, variation on The Evil Dead. Too bad it was never finished. But I understand that sitting through it can be a chore, so if you can't handle the terribleness of it all, a kind youtube member has edited the film down to eight minutes of monstrous mayhem: