Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Frank Zappa as an Influence on "Breaking Bad"

People have commented over the years on the various influences on Vince Gilligan's work, but I haven't heard anyone mention satirist Frank Zappa. Zappa's work, like Gilligan's, is characterized by conceptual continuity, with ideas and characters reappearing across works.

Most of Zappa's satire starts with simple but careful observations.

Among the most-prominent alumni of Zappa's Utility Muffin Research Kitchen (UMRK) studios were Warren Cuccurullo, and Dale and Terry Bozzio, who formed the 1980's New-Wave band, "Missing Persons." Among their most-popular songs was "Walking in LA," which satirically notes how few people walk anywhere in sprawling Los Angeles, and more-importantly, that "only a nobody walks in LA."

The 1993 film "Falling Down," starring Michael Douglas, is virtually the prototype of "Breaking Bad." The film follows a nobody named Bill Foster (the proto Walter White) on a walk across central Los Angeles. Many "Breaking Bad" themes are directly-anticipated: the same gallows humor, Golden-Age decay, Latino hoodlums, complaints about wretched consumer service, obsession with family, a neo-Nazi, and interactions with the police. In addition, many visual elements are anticipated too: a pesky fly, Art Deco architecture, playground equipment, hanging lamps, and Whammyburger as the proto Los Pollos Hermanos. And the music is very similar too.

Vince Gilligan took a lot of the elements of "Falling Down" and weaponized them for "Breaking Bad."

In some ways, "Breaking Bad" is Frank Zappa's direct descendant.

Scenes From "Falling Down" (1993)

An annoying fly.

Bill Foster just walks away from his car.

Walking in LA.

Latino gangstas.

Bill Foster (Michael Douglas) picks up an arsenal when the Latino gangstas crash.

"Not Economically Viable."

Los Angeles Streamline Moderne on the left.

El Pollo Loco.

The grid of windows on the Korean Market anticipates Breaking Bad's glass block windows.

Busting up the Korean Market under the windows.

La Barata Theater.

Art Deco theater front.

MacArthur Park Art Deco architecture.

MacArthur Park playground equipment.

A Neo-Nazi.

Octagonal pavilion at the end of Santa Monica Pier (representing God's protective grace).

Grid of portraits on the wall.

Police station windows.

Whammyburger. I love 'Sheila Folsom' here.

"The customer is always right."

Hanging ceiling lamps are shaped as icosahedra with tetrahedral symmetry, a Platonic solid representing water. Platonic solids represent a premature "Theory of Everything" which modern physics is still working on.

"Breaking Bad" objects to positivism. So does "Falling Down." The hanging ceiling lamps, for example, are icosahedra with tetrahedral symmetry, a Platonic solid representing water. Platonic solids are a premature "Theory of Everything" - alluring but misleading - as are orders of fries at Whammyburger, or Gus Fring's spices at Los Pollos Hermanos.

Taking A Knee

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


I felt like I had a mild cold coming on, and I wanted to celebrate the latest death of Zombie Trumpcare, so I took the bold step of actually entering the kitchen and using the unfamiliar implements there, and made an immense vat of soup. There is so much soup I had to get a second vat. There's enough soup here for the next iteration of Zombie Trumpcare, which will soon be attached to tax reform. No matter how many times Zombie Trumpcare returns, there will be enough soup in the vat to fight back against the infection.

Videos From DMTC's "Jekyll and Hyde"

Awesome performances! One more weekend. Tickets at DMTC

I'm a creepy-crawler in this video:

"Walking in LA" - Missing Persons

Noodling tonight about the various origins of "Breaking Bad." I'm thinking the alienation in this song, written by Terry Bozzio (the drummer), with Dale Bozzio as lead singer, is as good a taproot as you can find, not just for "Breaking Bad," for Lady Gaga too. The song leads directly to the film "Falling Down, and thence to "Breaking Bad."

Walking In L.A. by Missing Persons on VEVO.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Photos of Marc in DMTC's "Jekyll and Hyde"

As an ensemble member, I'm not that visible. Still, I like this cast a lot. One more weekend left!

Product of Intelligent Design

From Bike Mike:

Jared and Ivanka and All the Rest of the Shits

Even though Karl Rove had a private E-Mail server and violated communication protocols with impunity, the GOP decided to whomp up a fury about Hillary's private E-Mail server. Steve Bannon had a private E-Mail server too, with all the related security problems. Now, Jared Trump used unprotected E-Mail for government correspondence. Do you think the Republicans will ever acknowledge a broader problem with E-Mail security in White House circles, or *gasp* ever apologize to Hillary for their relentless hypocrisy?

It's past time to burn the GOP to the ground
Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December, part of a larger pattern of Trump administration aides using personal email accounts for government business.

Kushner uses his private account alongside his official White House email account, sometimes trading emails with senior White House officials, outside advisers and others about media coverage, event planning and other subjects, according to four people familiar with the correspondence. POLITICO has seen and verified about two dozen emails.

"My Pal Foot Foot" - Cover by The Dot Wiggin Band

Hipster fun! The Dot Wiggin Band reproduces The Shagg's notoriously-out-of-tune and impossibly-difficult (yet carefully charted) song, "My Pal Foot Foot," note for note:

"You Think You're a Man" - Divine

Sassy Gay Republican Learning The Hard Way

Bootstrap time for the callow youth:

Map of Nambia

Folsom Prism Blues

My Blue Heaven - Pete Fountain

Here is Pete Fountain on "My Blue Heaven."

Pete Fountain was one of the stars of the Lawrence Welk show, but he had trouble adjusting to Welk's temperament and the show's demands. I like his story:
"Mr. Welk said to me, "Peter, I would like you to run the bubble machine tonight. You will be backstage anyway, waiting to come on, so just put the fluid in it and then let the machine run during the first number."

...I poured in too much fluid. I didn't know any better. The bubbles were supposed to drift gracefully up from behind the band and float out across the ballroom.... That night they crowded down over the band like Niagara Falls! There were bubbles everywhere. I thought that the effect was great, so I poured in some more. There were so many bubbles that the guys couldn't even read their sheet music."

Fatal Familial Insomnia

Having insomnia; reading about fatal familial insomnia, vowing to sleep:
In 1986, this disease was given a name: fatal familial insomnia, or FFI.

Much of what doctors first learned about the disease comes from a family in Venice, Italy, who have suffered from it for over 200 years.

..."It's been a disaster. A brutal suffering," said Lucia, 63, one member of the Italian family. She has lost many relatives to the disease, including her father, brother and sister.
But when another family member, Silvano, started showing signs of the disease -- he began sweating profusely, with pinpoint pupils -- he decided it was time for his family to stop suffering in silence.

It was 1984, and he was 53 years old.

Silvano went to the University of Bologna, where researchers filmed his final months. In some of the videos, his eyes are half-open, staring into space. Just as it appears he's dozing off, he jerks to a half-wakefulness.

"Exactly what you can feel if you get a sleep attack when you are driving," said Dr. Pietro Cortelli, one of the researchers Silvano approached at the University of Bologna. "You are falling asleep, and then you wake up."

In other videos, he is lying in bed, pretending to comb his hair or button an imaginary shirt.

Sleeping pills didn't work. No matter what, his brain didn't allow him to reach the deeper, restorative stages of sleep.

Andres Barreto Zumba Birthday Love

Michael Flynn Begs For Money

Pleased that friend Greta G. got a dig in tweet here:
Flynn has been caught in a series of connections to foreign investors and shady deals and he’s already begging for immunity. He’s not getting it, though, and he’s begging for money to help him mount a defense.