I Was a Vaseline Vampire…

The Dr Frank Weakly Reader for 10.23.2020

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ello, and welcome to the latest Dr Frank Weakly Reader, that thing I do where I collect the week’s internet items and organize them into an annotated, illustrated, and (sometimes) expanded “index” so they can be found in future should that ever become necessary or desired. I tried not doing it, but the result was chaos. And I don’t like chaos. Hence, the present document.

So, here goes…

But first:

xcept for a couple of years when I wore a sport coat with a rubber Nixon mask, my Hallowe’en costume as a kid was always: vampire.

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It wasn’t because I was particularly interested in vampires per se. Mostly it was just because it was the easiest thing to throw together. It was entirely rote. Vaseline in the hair, some kind of thing to use as a cape, those plastic fangs, that tube of fake blood applied and re-applied to the corners of the mouth, et voilà: I’m a vampire, give me candy.

Except I didn’t even like candy all that much. So I’m not sure why I did it — it was just what you did and I went along with it till I realized I could just choose not to do it and nothing bad would happen. I just stopped, and it worked like a charm.

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Same thing happened with sports, which, for me, had been precisely the same thing except instead of dressing up as a little vampire I dressed up as a little baseball player. I got along just fine without the vampire and baseball player costumes. Ditching them freed up a lot of space for sitting on my own staring pensively into the distance, which is really what I was born to do. It just felt right.

Minimal effort in all things, that’s been my unofficial program for as long as I can remember.

So I stopped being an annual Vaseline Vampire when I entered junior high school, and I never looked back. I haven’t worn a Hallowe’en costume since.

But many people continue to “dress up” for Hallowe’en well into middle age, and I really don’t get it. It’s cute and funny when kids do it. With adults it’s merely… unnecessary, and often quite awkward. But grown-up people put lots and lots of effort and thought into their costumes, carefully planning all year what they’re going to “be” for Hallowe’en. And they have deep discussions with their friends and associates, round about March or April: “what should I be for Hallowe’en this year?” I cannot imagine a more uninteresting question. You’re 43 years old. Be yourself, isn’t that good enough?

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It’s especially strange in this day and age, where the wrong Hallowe’en costume choice can have dire consequences in one’s professional and social existence. You’re just one “problematic” costume away from an extinction event, there will be pictures, they will last forever, and there’s no way of knowing what will be declared cancellable in the future.

Doesn’t seem remotely worth the risk, especially since you can just, you know, walk into a Walgreen’s and buy your own candy if you want.

I’m sure the fault is mostly mine. I have a block.

Similarly, I can’t really grasp the appeal of “superheroes” to adults either. (I wrote about that a bit here, concerning Spider-man.) But the superhero “reboots” continue and continue and a whole lot of people seem earnestly, even desperately, interested, like it’s the most important, fascinating, significant matter in the world who’s dressing up as Batman this year. I keep waiting for the day to arrive when everyone figures they’ve seen enough Batman movies to last us awhile now, and they drop the superheroes and start making movies about regular things again, but it doesn’t seem like it’s happening any time soon. People love it, I get that, and I’m glad they’re happy.

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I liked Batman back when I was ten, when I was still Vaselining myself into Dracula every year, but I kind of grew out of both of them. There are lots of childish things I haven’t grown out of, maybe even most things, so I’m one to talk, e.g. swords, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, naked ladies, punk rock… There’s nothing virtuous about any of this. It’s just that in three particular areas, i.e., dressing up as a vampire, watching dozens of overblown, sententious comic book adaptations, and playing right field on the Millbrae Pancake House blue team in the Lion’s League, I’ve sort of stopped being interested in participating. If you’re interested in that stuff, great, knock yourself out, but it’s not for me.

All that said, I love Hallowe’en qua Hallowe’en. I may be a superhero humbug, but I’m not a Hallowe’en humbug at all. I just like to enjoy it quietly from the sidelines with no Vaseline in my hair. Give it a try, maybe you’ll like doing it that way too.

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FRONT BURNER

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— RAD-14–7, i.e., the Sounds Radical re-issue of the “Alternative Is Here to Stay” / “New Girlfriend” seven inch: you can still sign up for “dibs” for the fancy limited first pressing with the custom box, pin, and other optional extras. I believe the buy link emails to “dibs” people go out on Monday, October 26. They’re going to ship in mid-November.

It’s beautiful and sounds great.

— RAD-013: The Mr T Experience… and the Women Who Love Them re-issue, that is.

You can still get it from Sounds Radical — I believe we’re on to the third limited pressing now, a deep opaque red.

— Records are great:

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— RAD-009: Yes, Mtx forever. Still a thing:

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MTX BAR SINISTER

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— LK 106: the latest from Mark Murphy, who is posting images one by one of each Lookout release, of which he has a complete collection. LK 106 is the catalog number of the “Tapin’ Up My Heart” seven inch and the …and the Women Who Love Them CD ep, owing to the fact that it was originally slated and budgeted as a seven inch. (Basically, we said we were doing a seven inch and then recorded a bunch of extra songs and crammed them in.) This has caused much confusion in the discography over the years.

You can still get the re-issue from Sounds Radical here if you like.

— Opening for a band named Butt Trumpet, Feb. 1, 1995: a flier with setlist written on the back, posted by Anthony Lew on the FB Lookout Records fan page. I reminisce, and decode the setlist a bit here.

— …and, your Friday morning “Deep Deep Down”

There’s a YouTube playlist of covers here.

DR FRANK SAYS…

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— The secret to drinking beer out of a boot is to do it toe down, as though aiming to kick yourself in the chest. If you do it the other way round, you wind up with a sort of beer bukakke situation, which is a shame, a waste, and an embarrassment.

It’s simple physics, probably.

News you can use.

— What “really happened” in Rosemary’s Baby: some thoughts from me on cinematic double entendre and artful ambiguity in one of the great films of all time.

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— Odin continues, with yours truly doing “I Wanna Ramone You” solo-acoustic in Belgium, 2012.

The “minor secrets” write-up is here, basically the story of how the song grew naturally out of writing the book King Dork and how the subsequent “balbum” came to be. The Songs for Odin playlist is here.

By the way, this is 152nd SfO entry (covering 121 different songs.) Onward, yeah?

NOTEBOOK

Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.

― Eric Hoffer, The Temper of Our Time

OTHER PEOPLE’S MUSIC

— Good morning world: Blind Faith — “Can’t Find My Way Home”, live in Hyde Park

PICTURE BOOK

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— Roman calendar: Hosea, Prophet of Doom, illuminated; Saint Luke by Jan Gossaert; Philip Howard, one of the Forty English Martyrs, portrait by George Gower; Saint Acca, of Northumbria, in stained glass; Ursula and her eleven thousand companions; Saint Mary Salome (with Mary Magdalene); John of Capistrano at the Battle of Belgrade…

— Halloweenies: Walk softly, Witch; Vincent Price’s shrunken head apple sculpture, a craft for the entire family; glamour ghoul fashions; Satanik; it was Alice all along; Morgan Fairchild en witch; just a regular old jack-o-lantern with blue smoke billowing out of the eyes and mouth…

— …and finally:

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IN THE NEWS

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FIN

And that’ll do it for this week’s Weakly Reader. But for those who’ve made it this far down the page, here’s some tattooed gals posing with a pentagram, reversed:

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See you next week.

Written by

I am Dr. Frank. I write books and songs. Mtx Forever.

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