Posted by Richard Harland Smith on January 23, 2009
Over at Video WatchBlog, Tim Lucas writes that he has accepted a Premio Dardo Award for excellence in blogging and offered in “recognition of cultural, ethical, literary and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.” The award (which is accompanied by no prize other than the honor and the bragging rights) were created with “the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers (and) gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.” Well, here, here, I’m all in favor of that in principle and as the prize applies specifically to Tim. Tim’s writing has played a big part in shaping my own over the nearly 20 years I’ve been reading him and his perspective on popular culture (and not only film and television, but books and music, too) describes a world that – for all the bad things that happen in life – I want to continue to live in.
All recipients of this peer-driven award are required to first acknowledge those who bestowed the honor upon them and in turn name five other writers to whom they would like to pass the prize. Along with four others (all estimable talents, some known to me), I was named by Tim for a Premio Dardo. Modesty prevents me from quoting the very nice things Tim said about me, but you can read them at Video WatchBlog and know that they prompted me to cinch my belt, puff out my chest and strut around the Sweet Haven waterfront sawing my muscular, tattooed forearms in the air in front of me. (Perhaps I should mention that in moments of extreme emotion I thinks I’m Popeye.) I accept the honor and I hereby name the following writers/blogs for the same:*
1. Brian Olewnick, Just Outside. Though he has strong opinions on cinema, Brian’s blog is devoted primarily to music… and most of it you’ve never heard or heard of. The great thing about this blog is that it reveals the world to be so much bigger than popular culture would lead you to believe. Brian’s been blogging about Brian Eno lately, with asides devoted to novelist Graham Greene, Swedish actor Erland Josephson and jazz bassist Johnny Dyani.
2. Alan K. Rode, One Way Street. Alan’s beat is film noir but his love for classic Hollywood filmmaking of all stripes is very apparent in his terse, machine gun-style writing style. Alan’s had his hands full lately just keeping up with the obituaries (Ricardo Montalban, Ann Savage, Beverly Garland, Forrest J. Ackerman, Nina Foch) but he’s made time for an interesting take on the planned remake of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1-2-3 (1974) and his own perspective on Chicago politics, past and present. Alan is also the author of an excellent book on the life of character actor Charles McGraw.
3. The Flying Maciste Brothers (Howard S. Berger & Kevin Marr), Destructible Man. You’ve got to love a good idée fixe. This film blog is devoted entirely to “the dummy death in film,” which is to say every time an actor shooting a death scene steps out of frame and a grip tosses a weighted rag doll over the balcony or under the wheels of a truck. You know a dummy death when you see one. But rather than a snarky geek parade, Destructible Man looks for profundity within the fakery. On a bit of simulacracide in Val Guest’s THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN OF THE HIMILAYAS (1957), the Brothers note that the effect “acts as a staple in the centerfold; separating the film’s first half which sets up and satisfies those viewers who desire a straight-forward horror-adventure and a second half which destabilizes the audience’s trust in everyone and everything around them.” Incisive, vigilant and highly literate, this blog is not for dummies.
4. Marty McKee, Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot. I “met” Marty over a decade ago at The Mobius Home Video Forum, where we were both moderators (and Marty still is). His specialty is pulp… pulp fiction, pulp TV and pulp cinema. He’s an unapologetic Shatner apologist, an inveterate list maker (“297. That’s the number of movies I watched in 2008. That’s an astounding 179 fewer than I saw last year, and my lowest total since I began keeping track in 2003. My all-time record is 588 in 2004, which I hope I never equal.”) and a merciless cinema judge, jury and executioner (“His performance is so rotten and his physical appearance so laughable that one can’t even argue in this case that Pacino’s presence adds class to the production. The worst criticism I can make of 88 MINUTES is that it isn’t even silly enough to be laughable. It’s sloppy, stupid, cheap, and ridiculous, but it’s never funny, intentionally or not.”)
5. Chris Poggiali & Paul DeCirce, Temple of Schlock. This blog won’t be to everyone’s taste, focusing as it does on grindhouse fare and the grimy, gritty 42nd Street experience with all the associated filth and degradation. The brave and the curious, however, will find themselves blindsided by the sheer volume of cinema they’ve never heard about (THE SEXPLORER, SECRETS OF A NURSE, PUSHING UP DAISIES, SMOKEY AND THE JUDGE), yet which played (and played and played) all around us in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Posters, ad art, vintage photographs and an encyclopedic knowledge of those involved make this blog a very unsentimental education.
* In order to keep things from seeming too clubby, I’ve resisted naming any of my fellow Movie Morlocks for this award. I hope they know I value their company and read them religiously.
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