Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bay of the Living Dead: "Carmilla" Is The Birth of Lesbian Vampires

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 2:00 PM

  • David MacDowell Blue
Welcome to Bay of the Living Dead, a monthly column dedicated to horror films and TV shows, past and present.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's novella "Carmilla" was first published in 1871 in The Dark Blue, a publication of the period. The following year it appeared in Le Fanu's collection of short stories: In A Glass Darkly. "Carmilla" was a tale of terror that no doubt raised many eyebrows in its day: Countess Carmilla Karnstein was a vampire with a particular taste for the blood of young ladies.

Though not as well known as Bram Stoker's Dracula, which was published 26 years later, "Carmilla" remains a horror classic in its own right. Some could argue that Stoker in fact borrowed from Le Fanu's "Carmilla" — vampire hunter Baron Vordenburg has more than a passing resemblance to Dracula's arch-enemy Van Helsing.

"Dracula's Guest," a Stoker short story published two years after the author's death in 1914, was thought to be to a deleted chapter from Dracula. The 1936 Universal Studios film Dracula's Daughter claimed to be an adaptation of "Dracula's Guest," though the film told an entirely different story than what was initially published. But it did retain what may have been borrowed form LeFanu — a (at the time) shocking lesbian seduction scene in which the Count's thirsty daughter (Gloria Holden), posing as an artist, feasted upon the throat of a female model (Nan Gray) after asking the terrified young woman to remove her top.

The most famous, and faithful, screen take on Carmilla was Hammer Films' The Vampire Lovers, (1970). Polish-born Holocaust survivor Ingrid Pitt had a field day, and a brief brush with movie stardom, with her no-holds-barred performance as a lusty and sometimes nude Carmilla. Though she went to great pains to hide her vampirism, Pitt's Countess flirts openly with women, shocking behavior during the film's 18th century setting. Lesbian content was still considered daring, and titillating, at the time of the film's release. Shots of beautiful young ladies with bite marks on their breasts helped to fill theaters to capacity and made The Vampire Lovers one of Hammer's biggest hits from the studio's latter day period. It remains a fan favorite.

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I Know Where Your Cat Is: Tracking San Francisco Cats

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Because cats and the internet were made for each other, there's a new site devoted to all things cats: I Know Where Your Cat Lives. Equal parts creepy and amazing, this site allows you to see public pictures of feline friends from around the world. 

We were wondering which cats may live near our office and found the cats in our neighborhood were more likely passing through than lounging in a sun spot — we found a cat on a leash and yet another cat on a leash. As we scrolled over San Francisco there were definitely dead zones, apparently those in Pacific Heights and the Marina are dog people (or they're just not snapping photos of their cats).

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Mystery Girls: Sister Issues

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:05 AM

click image So much talent wasted - WIKIMEDIA
  • wikimedia
  • So much talent wasted
Someone has been stealing hot dogs at the mall and it’s up to Charlie (Jennie Garth) to solve the case. “Too many buns, not enough weiners,” she quips. And if that wasn’t hilarious enough, the stereotypical gay assistant says, “Story of my life!”

But let’s analyse this… What does it mean? Does that mean that he sees butts everywhere but he doesn’t have enough penises to have sex with them? I think that’s it. Hilarious.

The real plot of show veered elsewhere in a surprising twist. (Yes, that is sarcasm.) Holly’s sister is in town and she’s a bitch and Holly wants to impress her with her detective skills so that she can finally get the approval from her she’s been craving. Nick the assistant invents this entire fake case that sends the girls to a biker bar full of his friends dressed like Satan’s Helpers.

The gist is that a phony fight will be started and the girls will foil it etc, all in front of Holly’s sister so that she can look like a hot shot. Everyone is dressed like Judas Priest groupies (hell bent for leather, natch) and the heroes pick a fight with the biggest biker in the place. But get this: He’s not in on the joke! He’s a real biker! Ruh-roh! He kidnaps them and then some stuff happens that I couldn’t quite follow, because who the fuck cares.

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The Write Stuff: Hollie Hardy on Being Brave, Diving In, and Making Connections

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 8:00 AM

  • Joe Carrow
The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

Hollie Hardy can teach you how to survive anything. Her first collection of poetry, How to Take a Bullet, And Other Survival Poems has titles ruthlessly appropriated from The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook. She is an adjunct English instructor at Berkeley City College and lecturer at San Francisco State University, where she also received her Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry. An active participant in the local Bay Area literary scene, Hardy co-hosts the popular monthly reading series, Saturday Night Special, An East Bay Open Mic. She is a core producer and venue coordinator for the annual Beast Crawl Literary Festival in Oakland, curator of Litquake's Flight of Poets, and a former Editor-in-Chief of Fourteen Hills: The SFSU Review. Her work has appeared in various literary journals, including: Eleven Eleven, sPARKLE & bLink, The Common, A Sharp Piece of Awesome, Parthenon West Review, Transfer, Milvia Street, and other journals. She lives in Oakland. The release party for How to Take a Bullet is this Saturday at the SF Motorcycle Club.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Possibly the Worst "Room" for Rent in S.F.: Back of a Pickup Truck for $300/Week

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 1:16 PM

  • Craigslist

We've seen some awful rooms for rent, but it's particularly bad when it's not even a room. Behold the latest Craigslist rental: the back of a pickup truck for $300... a week, and you have to share it!

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NudeTube: Top 10 Memorable Nude Scenes in TV & Film (NSFW)

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 11:50 AM

  • YouTube

Nudity has always been a staple in arts and entertainment, but it seems we're moving into a time of at least a boob on every tube. We're less prudish and softening to the notion of viewing more pornographic/natural depictions of the human form. Being naked is going mainstream, and one facet of the media that fully embraces nakedness is reality television. TV is disrobing and there's a lengthy schlong of a list that includes programs like Discovery's Naked and Afraid, WE tv's Sex Box, TLC's Buying Naked and last week's premiere of VH1's Dating Naked. So SF Weekly has compiled the following films and television programs showcasing nude scenes that stand firmly erect as important and memorable — compared to other flaccid companions in this genre. Let us know if you agree, or if you feel we left any off the list.

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Have Gordon Ramsay Yell at You — Be on Hell's Kitchen

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM

  • Wikipedia
Our TV critic just finished reviewing the latest Hell's Kitchen season, and she was not impressed by the chefs or the lack of women making it to the final round.

But now's your chance to impress her and have Gordon Ramsay yell at you on national television while you cry over  wilted lettuce — Hell's Kitchen is coming to San Francisco to find chefs for the next season. 

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There's More Than Meets the Eye In Rachel DeWoskin’s Profound Novel: Blind

Posted By on Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Rachel DeWoskin - BOOK PASSAGES
  • Book Passages
  • Rachel DeWoskin

The morning after I finished Rachel DeWoskin’s debut young adult novel Blind, I awoke unable to see. I tried to blink but my eyelids remained firmly shuttered. In the darkness I wondered how life had come to imitate art so literally that I was experiencing psychosomatic symptoms of a book. With some concern over my sanity as well as personal hygiene, I realized that my eyes had been glued together by the phlegmy debris left over from the 394 pages worth of tears I cried consistently through Blind. The novel, which focuses on a teenager suddenly struck with sightlessness, made up for some adolescent incoherence with extraordinary frankness and emotional depth.

Emma Sasha Silver feels invisible among seven siblings in her small town until a terrible accident renders the high school sophomore blind. Nothing in the plot that follows these basic book jacket-facts is surprising. The book chronicles a girl dealing with a traumatic and life-changing event at the height of puberty, a traumatic and life-changing event in and of itself. Her journey towards reconciliation with her disability doesn't have the luxury to pause for adolescence, and DeWoskin should be lauded for treating a disability with seriousness while respecting the gravity of regular high school mores. At first Emma can't dress herself or leave the house alone, later she can't see her crush; she learns to identify him by his smell: "light blue." Blindness isn't a metaphor for navigating through the darkness of adolescence, it is just another unique glimpse into the adult world of suffering. The narrative device of suicide by a childhood friend attempts to force Emma’s suffering into perspective, but becomes cumbersome at points.  

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Art TV: The Compound Art Gallery's Station

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 3:10 PM

  • The Compound Gallery

Back in the 1980s, our lazy Saturday afternoons were filled with episodes of Bob Ross bringing together happy shades of sky blue and jovial forest greens on giant canvases. And while we were likely chowing down on a bag of chips as we watched his paintings progress, we always learned something and were always impressed by the end product: an entire landscape in under an hour. How did he do it? 

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Circle of Life's "Wait Until Dark": Theater Company Casts Blind Actresses in Blind Role

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 12:48 PM

It will be a suspense filled September when Frederick Knott's chiller" Wait Until Dark" is revived at the Victoria Theatre. First performed on Broadway in 1966 and filmed with Audrey Hepburn the following year, "Wait Until Dark" serves as the freshman production of Circle of Life Theater. Lead character Suzy, who is blind, will be portrayed by two visually impaired actresses who will alternate in the role during the show's September 4-21 run. 

"We are a company that casts abled and disabled actors," said Circle of Life Executive Director Fritz Lambandrake. "We don't cast disability, we cast talent. We accomodate the disability, but the actor still needs to be the best for the role." 

The two actresses that will portray Suzy over the 12-performance run are Ariana Ruzovich and Megan Luis. Ruzovich lives with Stargardt's Disase, an inherited form of macular degeneration that started to appear when she was nine. Today, she still has her peripheral vision, but cannot see anything in front of her. While Luis is serverly nearsighted, and can see reasonably well with her contacts. Without them the world is a blur, leaving her legally blind. When onstage they will wear special contacts that will block the vision they still have — they will portray Suzy without sight of any kind, as Suzy is totally blind.

Lambandrake explained his decision to cast two actresses as Suzy:

"We were told by theater people that we wouldn't find any blind actors. We attended all three days of Theater Bay Area general audition, and there was indeed not one blind actress. We decided to knock on every door of every blind service organization in the Bay Area. It took three months, but we found six blind actresses. We decided that if we were going to confidently promote our show as starring a blind actress, we should cast two and make sure we had a built in understudy at all times. We also want to show that there's more than one blind actress in the Bay Area." 

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