Friday, July 25, 2008

"Soul Coaxing": Deceased Artiste Raymond Lefèvre


The world of easy listening, what used to be called “beautiful music” on the airwaves here in the U.S., lost one of its Gallic icons, the composer Raymond Lefèvre, at 78, the other day. I will refer you to his greatest international hit, something that I hadn’t heard in literally decades but which is imprinted soundly on my brain pan, the instrumental “Soul Coaxing.” Lefèvre worked with both the immortal Dalida (French singer and heavy-duty gay icon) and Eddie Constantine (yes, “Lemmy Caution” used to sing). He also did scores for several hit comedies featuring “Rabbi Jacob” himself, Louis de Funès.

Take a listen to “Soul Coaxing” (have I mentioned lately how much I love the French?), and just float away on its cushion of mega-plush sound. Thanks to M. Faust of Buffalo’s Mondo Video for passing this one on.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Living well and ripping your enemy's still-beating heart out with your bare hands is the best revenge": the forgotten work of Michael O'Donoghue


Since the post below begs the question, what exactly do you find funny, Ed, if you can’t laugh at the hee-larious antics of that tall, gawky, spontaneous, and oh-so-glib Will Ferrell whom millions’a happy souls think is really a panic? Well, I have already offered a few dozen answers on this blog, but I will supply one more: Michael O’Donoghue, aka “Mr. Mike,” the rapier-sharp nasty black humorist whose wit was exhibited in The National Lampoon (both the magazine and the radio show).

He was no doubt the best writer ever to toil in the Lorne Michaels “we’re gonna run this fuckin’ character into the ground” factory that seems to amuse so many folks who want to watch TV in real time on Saturday evenings (hey, in NYC, just flip over after you’re done laughing yourself into unconsciousness, and give the Funhouse a try — I may be tackling a topic that doesn’t suit your fancy, but I can guarantee it won’t insult yer intelligence).

O’Donoghue’s life was well-chronicled in the essentially biography Mr. Mike by Dennis Perrin, but the true guts of the man’s material is to be found in a bunch of old Seventies (and, surprisingly, Nineties) magazines, plus on the discs of vintage SNL that are now slowly being shuffled out. He was the natural extension of the “sick humor” gods of the Fifties/Sixties (Bruce, Berman, Sahl, Nichols & May), but he added a very nasty rock ’n’ roll/punk sensibility (without ever playing the “rocker” roll himself, unlike the great Bill Hicks or the wafer-thin “Dice” Clay).

Mr. Mike was the late 20th-century’s equivalent of the brilliant magazine humor writers of earlier days (the Perelmans and Thurbers). His humor was extremely brutal, extremely fast, and extremely precise. He counted among his heroes William S. Burroughs and the inestimably perfect Terry Southern (check out a portrait of Tip-Top Ter by yrs truly), but he also no doubt drew inspiration by the sick souls who wrote with him at the Lampoon (the few anthologized examples we have of Doug Kenny prove he was one wonderfully twisted fuck).

There isn’t a lot of free Mr. Mike on the Web — a search on the official SNL site produced none of his “Least-Loved Bedtime Stories” or his odder creations like the Ricky Rat program. Instead we must turn (natch) to YouTube, where some helpful soul has uploaded the first five minutes of his Mr. Mike’s Mondo Video, which I was so taken with as a teen that I sat through it twice in a theater (it was short, and christ, when you alternate between sacrilegious and sexy material, and Root Boy Slim and his Sex-Change Band and El Sid himself, you couldn’t lose).

I also must direct you to two sites that have posted some of his brilliant writing (no, no one has hazarded “Children’s Letters to the Nazis” yet). The first is this one featuring the wonderful ”How to Write Good”, a guide to creating fine literature. And then there is this completely indispensible link to some of his “Not My Fault” columns for Spin magazine. O’Donoghue only did a handful of these, which have been Xeroxed and passed from hand to hand among sick humor enthusiasts for several years.

The site doesn’t have the one wherein [paraphrase, I'm doing this from memory] he notes that Whoopi Goldberg has done charity work for every humanitarian organization except the “Give Whoopi Goldberg a facelift because she’s an ugly bitch fund.” O’Donoghue took no prisoners when writing humor, which is the way it should be. He also hit on some universal truths in his seemingly scattered and angry rants. Check out the fourth column included here, which is his final word on the Rat Pack (this years before the heavy-duty sentiment set-in for Sinatra’s “clan” of compares. In discussing Liza Minelli, he gives us this bit of pop-cult wisdom:

Because [Judy Garland]… knew an incredible secret -- a secret so dark and twisted that it has never been spoken aloud -- a secret any Rosicrucian would give his left nut to possess -- forbidden knowledge older than the pyramids unveiled here for the first time -- a secret guarded by the rich and powerful for centuries yet I reveal it to you for the price of a rock'n'roll magazine -- a dreadful secret that Judy, lying on her death bed, with seconds to live, leaned over and whispered into her daughter's ear:
"The person in the most pain wins."
This simple truth is the basis of all daytime chat shows--
"Notice me, Phil. I'm a woman and my husband beats me." 
"Notice me, Sally. I'm a woman and I'm black and my husband beats me and my father sexually abused me." 
"Notice me, Ricki. I'm blind -- so blind that I don't even know if I'm black or a woman -- and somebody -- it's so dark it's hard to tell -- beats and rapes me and I weigh 850 pounds." 
"Notice me, Montel. I'm a woman, I'm handicapped, I'm fat, everybody from the mailman to the parish priest beats and rapes me, my son has Gay Bowel Disease, my daughter was born with pot holders for hands and I'm on fire right now."
 "Notice me, world. I'm Liza."

I think he hit that target with a bullseye (and years before the even more pathetic ceremonial-ritual of the reality show “confession booth” came into being). I also think he was an incomparably funny individual.

Gilda, We Miss Ya, or when comedy was (gasp) funny


Occasioned by my finally listening to the audio book (on audio tape, yessir, it is) of Gilda Radner’s at times heartbreaking cancer-chronicle It’s Always Something, I offer a little bit of joy from her terrific retrospective show Gilda Live, which I did indeed see when it had its limited time on B’way.

Thinking about Gilda again, I was brought to mind of the fact that the recent Vanity Fair cover proclaiming a heyday for female comedy had it all wrong: comic actresses/sketch goddesses had their heyday back in the Seventies, and the wimmen plying the trade today, while fine and okay to watch, just simply ain’t funny (Tina Fey=snark, Sarah Silverman=deadpan, with “shocking” subject matter; Amy Poehler=perky and… well, who cares?). They are, simply put the female equivalents of today’s biggest movie comedy star, Will Ferrell, a big void on screen. A pleasant, friendly void, mind you (the guy, and those ladies, seem to be well-loved in the biz), but not bright, witty, brilliant, and funny in the way that the classic screen and TV comedians were (yes, call me middle-aged and cranky, but you stack any of these sorry-assed Lorne Michaels discoveries up to Groucho, W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy, Sid Caesar, Kovacs, Lenny Bruce, Steve Allen, Richard Pryor, the late Carlin, and you’ll see how the national funnybone is now equivalent to the voting sentiments: “well, he/she seems like they’d be fun to have a beer with…”). It's the triumph of the funny guy at the company picnic, or the office clown, whose humor only has relevance in that same workplace.

Thus, I think back fondly to the Seventies, when Gilda, Catherine O’Hara, and Andrea Martin showed what it’s like to have a range in comedy (please don’t tell me Amy Poehler has played many characters on SNL— they all register as the exact same person in a different wig and costume). I salute them and miss their presence on the tube (Gilda's presence is missed in general). Women in comedy is a tricky subject: there are goddesses at certain times, and the rest are are the grinning wives on sitcoms and women who do wacky/crappy skits on shows like SNL and Mad TV.

There are also women stand-ups who break down barriers, but who don't seem to be eternal as the male comedians (for instance, in the world of comedy records, a world I have delved too deeply into, it's hard to think of an LP by a woman comic, save Elaine May's eternal contribution to the perfect three Nichols/May records, that you'd easily break out and replay countless times). The pioneers were the housewife ladies (Phyllis DIller, Joan RIvers); the stalwarts were the filthy ol' dames (Belle Barth, Pearl Williams, Rusty Warren); and at any given time there are about two-three "famous" (read, in today's favorite term, "branded") women stand-ups. Today, they are Sarah Silverman (again, deadpan, deadpan, deadpan, some funny lines, but it's all 'bout the deadpan), and Lisa Lampanelli (all-out filthy, taking the guys on on their own turf, with the addition of the "I fuck black guys" trope).

Whenever anyone writes about this subject, one steps delicately around the possible assertion that their comedy may not be "for the ages" as it is for the handful of male comic icons. You run the risk of being called a sexist (which I'm doing right now), but I think the best way to counter that assertion is to note the perfection of a small number of female sketch comedians, from Imogene Coca (and, okay okay, Lucy) to the ladies mentioned above, who brought versatility into the mix for good (and then Lorne Michaels' crew sucked it out, with decades of really, really shitty comedy).

To sum it all up (and get down to the clip below), what we’ve got now in the way of comedy “stars” in American sketch comedy and major motion picture crappy-vehicle pics is a sorry, sorry lot indeed. I am reminded of the wonderful Albert Brooks “comedy institute” short film that aired on the show-that-has-now-been-seriously-reeking-for-decades, Saturday Night Live. In that little flick, Albert is cornered by an angry man who has been dying to tell him that he’s not funny. The gent pushes Albert against a wall, and accosts him, telling him that he’s not funny at all, why the hell did he think he was funny, etc.

You know the sad, sorry thing about today’s lackluster “friendly” bunch of comic lights? They’re not even worth pushing up against a wall and screaming at (Chris Farley, now there was one monstrously unfunny performer, worthy of a “what the fuck?” confrontation; Carrot Top, good for an attack; Adam Sandler, doing that fucking high-voice shit for the thousandth goddamned time — but who could even get angry about how tediously deadpan and UNFUNNY Ferrell and his comic posse are, it ain’t even worth it).

I am glad that there are a few folks who are doing quality material (the "fake news" folks on Comedy Central, Larry David, and Brits like Gervais and Coogan, who can construct a comedic concept like it’s nobody’s business). American moviegoers, on the other hand will actually pay to see Ferrell, Ben Stiller (funny for the run of his terrific Ben Stiller Show, rough, truly rough since), and Jack Black (ah, the appeal of rotund "cool" guys — I'm not even getting into that).

Let me, finally, soothe my achin’ comedy-fan head with the words of the late god “Mr. Mike” as sung by our fair Gilda. Who else could add the proper amount of cuteness to “fuck you, Mr. Bunny/eat shit, Mr. Bear/if they don’t love it, they can shove it/frankly, I don’t care…”? Play this one for the kiddies.

The YouTube poster didn’t want embeds (huh?), so click here.

A not-so-Dark Knight: Batman (1966) hits Blu-ray

Okay, first let me be honest and say I don’t have a Blu-ray player (someday, when that ship comes in…). That stated, I will note that the Adam West Batman movie, a theatrical feature that was made in the summer hiatus after the show had proven a major TV hit, has come out on this latest high-def, boy-does-it-look-good format. I will point you in the direction of some of the featurette snippets that are on the disc. And thus we have the original trailer. And Adam and Burt Ward reflecting on the series’ absurd humor.



Now that the film is out in the best of condition, it’s interesting to note that there’s currently no ETA on the release of the Batman series itself, since the various parties who hold the rights to the show and the character still haven’t made a deal. In that case, wouldn’t it be nice (ah, dream on) to have an actual rerun network that runs these things all the time…?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

“End of the Road”: review of Classe Tous Risques


The best film noirs are invariably about doomed characters, men and women who initially rail against, and then make peace with the fact that, as one title put it, “nobody lives forever.” Claude Sautet’s Classe Tous Risques (1960), which was recently released by Criterion, features one such doomed antihero, a crook named Abel Davos played by the great Lino Ventura.

Classe begins with Abel and a cohort successfully pulling off a theft, but inadvertently causing the death of Abel’s wife. The rest of the picture finds Abel struggling with the fact that his future is pretty much nil, but he still has to care for his two sons. Enter a rather convenient helpmate: a young hood (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who helps him avoid the cops and also watches out for his kids.

The fact that the melodramatic aspects in Classe don’t drag the film down is a testament to both fledgling director Sautet’s skill at pacing his curiously tripartite thriller, and to the film’s cast, particularly its two leads. For all the strangeness of his role (his character bonds with Ventura a mite too quickly), Belmondo makes a terrific costar — something he was never to do after he became a box-office god. Classe was made shortly after Godard’s A bout de souffle had been filmed, so JPB was still just a young eager performer who happens to get a nice showcase for his talents here, as you can see in the rather lengthy French trailer below. Ventura was a phenomenal talent possessed of an incredible face and a quiet simmering presence just made for noir: he gave two of his best performances for the king of French darkness, Jean-Pierre Melville in Le Deuxieme Souffle (coming out soon from Criterion — after not having played in the U.S. for decades!) and Army of Shadows (already out from… you guessed it).

Speaking of Melville, he is revealed to be a fan of Classe in the notes included with the package. He raved about the film and director Claude Sautet, perhaps because Sautet was not a member of the French New Wave, the group of young filmmakers for whom Melville served as an inspiration, and later became an antagonist (in the 1962 piece included here, he in fact vaunts Sautet by crackin’ wise about Truffaut). Another major fan of the film is consummate film-fan and Funhouse interview subject Bertrand Tavernier, who maintains he wrote his first-ever review about the film, and defended its reputation as a B picture by declaring “Better to be B like Boetticher than A like Allégret!” (thereby slamming a noted French director and praising another Funhouse favorite and interview subject). Tavernier mounts an argument that the film’s seemingly odd construction, including a rather sudden ending, is to its benefit.

Finally, since this is a review of a Criterion release, I have to praise the characteristically terrific obscure TV interviews they’ve dug up. First is a segment from a documentary on Sautet, in which he reflects back on this, his first complete feature as a director (he had taken over a preceding film), and the film’s initial box-office failure is discussed (it evidently was overshadowed by the new crime flicks like the aforementioned A bout de souffle). Ventura is seen being interviewed in both the Sixties and the Seventies, and proves to be as calm and reflective offstage as he was on (only don’t mess with him, alright? One sequence where he picks up a guy up and throws him over a table is explained by talk of his past as a Greco-roman wrestler). The most interesting supplement is an interview with the film’s scripter, Jose Giovanni, who adapted his own novel. Giovanni also wrote Le Trou and Le Deuxieme Souffle among many other films, and was unashamed to discuss his past as a crook (in fact Le Trou was his account of an unsuccessful jail break he took part in). He reveals that Classe was based on a real crook he knew when he was “inside” on death row. Now let’s see other crime-movie scripters compete with that sort of pedigree….

Here is the original French trailer for the film, which gave me a clue as to what the title was getting at, when the narrator pronounces it like “Classe Touriste”:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Playing games with his audience: Peter Greenaway’s Tulse Luper Journey website

Several indie directors have taken the time to maintain blogs about the productions of their movies, or offer updates on their movements around the country/world. David Lynch has created a little world of his own at www.davidlynch.com. And now I find that another filmmaker of limitless imagination, Peter Greenaway, has had an interactive site up and running since 2006. The Tulse Luper Journey is an extension of a concept he began in his earliest shorts: the studies of Tulse Luper, fake expert who may or may not even exist.

Greenaway has stated in interviews that Luper is a sort of alter ego for him, but I also believe the character is his ultimate spoof of academia: an expert who contradicts himself and can't be trusted; a source of information that changes its definitions; an authority who may be full of shit. Greenaway offers a list of strange facts about Luper (“Tulse Luper, not knowing what else experiences were for, turned all of them into some form of literature. Even whilst having a heart attack, he was wondering how to spell the word "cardiac".” “Tulse Luper found it difficult to continue to be antagonistic forever. But he kept trying.” “Tulse Luper knew that without a God, the Universe could be considered to be even more amazing.”) at his website.

But that’s not all. Greenaway embarked in the early 2000s on a series of films called The Tulse Luper Suitcases, and created a site that allows “researchers” to go through the great man’s luggage (which is said to contain the sum total of Luper’s knowledge, plus maybe, quite possibly, the secrets of the 20th century). It seems that the site’s big “trip around the world” was indeed won by one gentleman (despite the fact that all 92 suitcases haven’t been “opened” to date), but there are at least 26 esoteric games available on the site, all for free.

I’m not a computer/video game-player, but I ante’d up and mostly lost points while having fun. The games include some of the usual attractions (dropping stuff from a plane, reassembling scrambled photos, a variation on “Clue”), but there are some pure Greenaway time-wasters (assembling photos out of narrative fragments, making a series of mouths saying words speak a sentence, and even creating “bloodied wallpaper” by punching the hell out of some unfortunate actors). I believe the entire site works by the three laws of thermodynamics that are quoted when you begin one game: 1.) You can’t win. 2.) You can’t break even. 3.) You can’t get out of the game.

Sorta like life, when you think about it.

Here’s a trailer for the site. Watch it, and then play a game or two at the the Luper site, which is structured, natch, like an academic research facility (in fact, a number of research facilities).

Sins of the Flesh: Dennis Potter’s Brimstone and Treacle

On any short list of things that MUST come out some day on DVD in America are the brilliant television plays of British TV genius Dennis Potter. Currently, the only place to discover these slices of innovation, raw emotion, and just incredibly fine writing are at the Paley Centers in New York and L.A., but at least one of Potter’s many “missing” masterpieces is available on YouTube. Two posters in fact have put up the original television version of his Brimstone and Treacle. I thank them both heartily, and any other Potter gems they can throw our way would be more than appreciated.

The 1976 play was banned from the BBC, and didn’t air until 1987, but by that time the British public had the opportunity to see it on stage (in ’77), and in a big-screen version starring Sting and Denholm Elliott. It concerns a drifter who scams his way into the house of a couple tending to their daughter, who is in a coma because of a hit-and-run incident years before. It is implied that the charming-yet-sinister drifter could well be Old Scratch himself. The play is only one of the many brilliant Potter productions that need desperately to reach a broader audience (currently it's only easy to find his Singing Detective and Pennies from Heaven in the U.S.). If I needed to make a short list (having seen most of the stuff the Paley Center has in its simply amazing coffers), I’d also include Moonlight on the Highway, Joe’s Ark, Schmoedipus, Double Dare, Blue Remembered Hills and, most definitely, Follow the Yellow-Brick Road. For the time being, feast thine orbs on the original Brimstone:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

For the July 4th weekend: high and low entertainment

To beckon in the holiday weekend, I can think of no better offerings than the following. For the high art, I give you the exquisite work of Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr. I have only seen two of Tarr’s movies, one of them being his overwhelming, hypnotic masterpiece Satantango (1994), which runs a mere seven hours, and his last film, The Man from London (2007). This week I was reviewing the Facets DVD release of the former (coming in July) for my freelance gig, and thought I’d pass on two small segments of work from a filmmaker whose work can, for the most part, not be excerpted (it’s about time, it’s about duration, it’s about sadness and sarcasm). And to experience his work for real, you really need to see it on a movie screen.

In SPITE of all that, I offer:
A dance sequence that contains an air of beautiful desperation from his Damnation (1988):



And a gorgeous short film he contributed to the film Visions of Europe (2004), which he calls “Prologue.” Tarr is a poet of black and white, and his films are sensory experiences.



And because the Funhouse is about nothing as much as the mingling of the high and the low, I give you an utterly ridiculous Swedish music video (yes, the Seventies were a particularly harsh time for the stylistically challenged, but man, are the misfires ever compelling):



And the accordion music heard in Tarr’s features has it all over that of the late great Lawrence Welk (“ah-one and ah-two”). I don’t know which is the more representatively godawful clip from the Welk program (which still runs all over America on public television, as if beamed from outer space, some planet where they still publish the Saturday Evening Post). Dig Larry in his hippie threads, circa any Beach Party movie or Sonny and Cher variety-show appearance (to quote Lenny's jazz cat auditioning, “you got a nutty wig there, Polack”):



and because the Seventies were a confused time, let us view a perhaps oddly chosen cover from the Welk program. “One Toke Over the Line” by Brewer and Shipley:


Thanks to Miss Kat and M. Faust for contributing to this madness.

The Psychedelic Lenny Bruce: Murray Roman


While I’ve been immersed in George Carlin material since his death last week, I have been brought back, time and again, to thoughts of George’s stand-up hero, the one and only Lenny. George used the lessons learned from Lenny in an original and innovative way, and went from outright impersonations of the guy (on his LP with Jack Burns) to doing linguistic and social hypocrisy bits inspired by him, to simply using his groundbreaking work as a springboard for his own precise and wonderfully silly explorations of everyday stupidity. He jettisoned the umbilical cord to the Great God Len by the mid-’70s when he turned “observational” commentator, with an anti-social edge.

A comedian who emulated Lenny to an incredible degree, and is mostly forgotten today, is the great psychedelic comic Murray Roman. I first heard a Roman routine on WFMU, when the now-departed but never forgotten DJ “KBC” (of overstuffed Xmas tape fame) played a war movie routine off of his You Can’t Beat People Up and Have Them Say I Love You. I was struck by how much the material sounded like the Firesign Theater, but Roman’s nasal, hip delivery was surely Bruce-ian (Bruce-esque?). Roman made only four albums in his lifetime, and though only two of them can truly be called finished products, he does serve as a bridge between the genius social commentary of Lenny and the “head” humor of the Firesign Theater. His records are mindwarpingly strange and cool, and perfect time capsules of their era.

Roman began, like Carlin, Pryor, and everyone else in the Sixties, as a “straight” comic playing nightclubs. He carved out a specialty niche in Aspen, Colorado, humor about skiing, which is explored at length in his forgettable first LP Out of Control. By 1968, he had opened the Doors of Perception (in fact, he opened for the Doors at one point) and became a psychedelic stand-up, who combined Lenny’s hipster cadences and expressions with a speculative tone that makes him a forefather to such Seventies drug absurdists as Cheech and Chong. His most notable gig was as a staff writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, undoubtedly one of the hippest shows on the air in ’68-’69. Following that show’s rapid finale, he apparently kept doing stand-up, and sadly died from injuries incurred in a car wreck in 1973 at the age of 44.

Roman worked as an opening act at rock concerts, but did very few TV appearances, aside from little acting gigs in Batman, That Girl, and the “Fairy Tale” episode of The Monkees (Michael Nesmith participated in his last album). Only two pieces of him as a comedian have survived: a bit from what appears to be a home movie shot at a social event with Keith Moon (see below) and the “writer’s episode” of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour which was rerun on the E! network in the early ’90s. Roman is a cipher, a guy whose cumulative legacy are his psych-comedy albums, the aforementioned You Can’t Beat People Up…, the black-covered album (decades before This is Spinal Tap….) called Blind Man’s Movie, and his final effort, a sort of mash-up of the previous two albums with some new material called Busted.

Very little has been written about Roman, aside from entries in a few comedy reference books and websites. It turns out, though, that one intrepid fan/journalist undertook some heavy research into the guy, and posted his findings on the WFMU Beware of the Blog site. A person known as Kliph Netsteroff (if that is indeed his name, as Ter Southern used ta say) has authored a great article on Roman that provides information on him gleaned from interviews with Tommy Smothers, Steve Martin, Bob Einstein, and Mason Williams. In fact, Kliph (who has written about other Funhouse faves like Henry Morgan and Arnold Stang) has even posted links to the unedited transcripts of his Roman/Smothers-related interviews (except for one thing Einstein refused to say “on the record”) on his blog, Classic Show Biz. The WFMU blog article also contains links to downloadable MP3 versions of You Can’t Beat People Up… and Blind Man’s Movie (1972). Check out the article and the albums. And also scope out this one tiny little remainder of this interesting comedian’s career:

From the folks who doted for way too long on "caning"....



In the dim dark days, back when I was in college, I used to regularly peruse adult materials. One of the most interesting mags to read at that time was Nugget, the skin mag that had turned from girlie photo spreads and writing by such dedicated toilers as Stephen King to a wholescale fascination with fetishes. Some of these kinks were perfectly understandable, some practically wholesome preoccupations (girl-on-girl) among the straight male of the species.

The magazine also included various things that were not as, well, easy to behold and consider sexy, to some/most of us. Since I am fascinated by things that are deemed sexy by some but that I find rather bizarre (seek out my past blog entry about the since-removed "Deviant Desires" fetish chart that included bug bites, sneezing, and clown shoes as fetishes), I would check out Nugget even as its definitions of "turn-on" started to move further and further afield (boredom in the boardroom? Editors need amusement too).

These included the “Roadside Leak” fascination (’nuff said) and photographic tribs to girls who were missing limbs, sprawled out in sexy lingerie and revealing their stumps. The amputee fetish may not have rung any of my bells, but there are a younger generation of British gentlemen who will now be apprised that, yes, that a girl missing an arm and a leg (or two) is really a hottie worthy of “meditation” (or research, or whatever you’d care to call it), thanks to the new BBC show Missing Top Model.

So, what are the girls missing? Well, an arm or a leg, but they’re not lacking in sensuality, and so they will compete for top prizes, and will no doubt participate in those fucking godawful “talking head” confessional bits that are the single most odious element of reality shows (“so I’m there, and I’m looking her right in the eye, and I can’t believe she’s telling me this…” Shot of girl looking other one in eye. Cut back to “I’m like, ‘uh-huh, that’s not true!’” Flashcut to confessional girl saying, “Uh-huh, that’s not true!” All things must be spoken of as well as seen in the threadbare and oh-so-carefully-prefab reality genre). I guess there are moments when fetishes do truly go “above ground” for a bit, freaking out some of the populace, and introducing the uninitiated into their pleasures. I for one am not so sure about the stump kink (I’m sure the girls are perfectly fine ladies, just as sexy as the next girl, different only in that they possess “one leg too few”). I will note that my perusal of Nugget ended for good when I encountered a fantasy letter that involved a colostomy bag. Anyone ready for another reality series…?