In a Plain Martha Wrapper

Linette and I went to Borders yesterday. The plan was to stop in and buy a guidebook for Italy (where we dream of going, when we can afford it) and then to head over to Starbucks for a coffee (which we like to drink when we can afford it).

When we first walked in to Borders, I scanned the place as I always do, I suppose subconsciously looking for fire exits, ex-girlfriends, physical threats, and other things of interest. In the process, I noticed a guy sitting on a bench to my immediate left, in the corner, with his back to the wall. He was an average looking guy, clean-shaven with short brown hair. He was probably about 30. He was wearing a green jacket and pants that looked like Dockers. He had loafers on his feet and his legs were crossed at the knee. There wasn’t anything suspicious about him in particular, but I kind of stopped when I got to him, as he was on my immediate left and I’d just completed a right-to-left scan of the premises. At that exact moment, he reached over the scratch his knee or something and I saw that inside his copy of Home Beautiful, or one of the many Martha Stewart Global Enterprises publications. He was looking at hard-core porn.

Just as I had been able to clearly see the renovated, ivy-covered guesthouse on the cover of the magazine, I was able to see what was inside of it.

And the kind of stuff that I saw wasn’t anything like what I’d seen before. It caused me to wonder what had been happening since I was last in the market for adult reading material. Definite evolution had taken place. It was completely insane.

“Is this what kids today were getting to look at,” I thought. “Damn.” My dad had “National Geographic.” I had “Cosmopolitan” and the rare copy of an early edition “Playboy” and now, apparently, someone had discovered a peephole into a place that Charlie Sheen would be afraid to tread.

There were things magnified to comic proportion. I think I saw a chrome bolt going through a clitoris the size of a standard index card. I don’t want to get too graphic, but there was something that looked like the canal system on Mars. The only thing that made me almost sure that it wasn’t was the giant, ejaculating cock in the background.

“At Borders?” “What the hell?” I headed over to the adult side of the magazine rack in front of me. I actually positioned myself in front of the home computer magazine section and cast a sideways glance into the neighboring section. There were the regular titles, like “Playboy” and some kind of tame-looking tattoo and motorcycle porn-hybrid magazines. Nothing looked like what this guy had though. I was expecting to see something in a lead case called the “8th Circle of Hell” or “Xtreme Caligula,” but I didn’t see anything like that. It couldn’t possibly be that I was looking at “Playboy,” could it? It’s weird, but I’d just read an article a few weeks ago in the New York Times business section about “Penthouse” and their going out of business. It seems as though they went too far toward hard-core, showing penetration and urination(!), and in the process alienated their client base, the guys who just loved the skanky, gynecological beaver shots. Could it be that “Playboy” was heading down that same road?

The alternative was even worse to consider. Had this fellow brought his own porn from home? Could it be that he somehow got off on this kind of activity? As I sat there and contemplated how I should mention it to Linette, a woman and her two kids came buzzing through the doors. There was a boy of about seven and a girl of about ten. They stopped right in front of me, right between me and the guy on the bench, and the mother, an exasperated soccer-mom type, pointed to the bench and said, “Sit there and wait for me. I’ll be right back.”

At this point, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think the guy was going to grab the kids and run off, but I also didn’t feel comfortable letting them just sit there on either side of him as he further explored the wonderful boundaries of his fetish. Perhaps they were just in time for the public exposure portion of the show.

“Fuck, am I going to go ahead with my shopping, or am I going to stand here by the magazine rack and play masturbation guard until their mom comes back?” I decide to tell Linette to go on without me while I continue to “look at magazines.” I make eye contact with the guy, so as to let him know that there’s not going to be any funny business on my watch, and he responds by pulling his magazines a little closer to his body. He continues to sit there and look at his magazine, while the kids talk around him to one another, without apparently noticing anything unusual. The mom eventually comes back with her paperback romance and I’m on my way.

On “M” and free reviews

Actually, this is an odd segue. I want to write a review of the 1932 Fritz Lang film “M,” but it’s about a serial child killer. Can I go from a story about a creepy man sitting next to kids right into a review of “M”? Will this blog get flagged by the FBI or, worse yet, attract a loyal readership of serial child killers?

For the record, I do not advocate serial killing of any kind, whether it be of the old or the young. (I should probably post that right up front, at the top of my web-page, just so people are all clear on that. And, just in case you can’t tell, I also think that terrorism is bad.)

Actually, maybe I don’t want to give you my review of “M” anyway. What if I review it and do such a good job that you go to Amazon and buy the DVD? Here I’ve done all of this work for Amazon and I don’t see a penny of the profit. I’ve heard that there’s a way I can do that though. Amazon has a system that apparently rewards those of us with web log for doing the dirty work of sales.

I heard that Wil Wheaton does it. He gets paid every time you follow one of his links to Amazon and it leads to a purchase. Shouldn’t I be able to do that too? Don’t I deserve the money just as much as effeminate space-boy Wesley Crusher from “Start Trek the Next Generation”?

Wil Wheaton’s site, now that I’ve mentioned it, is actually pretty good. It’s especially good when he writes about two things; 1) being a struggling actor in Hollywood, and 2) being a part of the Star Trek television family. I found it particularly amusing when he once related a story about negotiating for a raise during one of his last seasons with “Next Generation”. Apparently, instead of a raise, they offered him a promotion. Yup. Instead of giving him, the actor, they offered to make his character an officer in Star Fleet. That was one of the goddamned funniest things I’ve ever read in my life.

So, I’m tempted to say, “No reviews until I tap into the Wil Weaton cash stream.” After all, I deserve the money more than he does. He can do Start Trek conventions for the rest of his life if he has to, and, believe me, there’s no Brown Jug Restaurant Line Cook convention out there for me to fall back on.

Fuck it. I will spit in the face of greed and I’ll review the damned film. I like the film “M”. I liked it a lot. I ordered it from Amazon on a whim and I’m glad that I did. It’s about a serial child killer on the loose in a German city at the end of the 1920s, so it’s not based on the most pleasant of subject matters, but it’s very good. Actually, I should be more specific. It’s a good movie for adults. I would think that, given the subject matter, kids might enjoy “Spy Kids” better, or just anything where kids aren’t being murdered.

“M” was made in Germany, in 1932, during the reign for the Nazis. It is a classic example of German expressionism, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre (both of whom would later have successful careers here in the US). It’s in German, but the subtitles are nice and crisp. (I tried to think of a good compliment to pay the subtitles and that’s the best I could think of; they’re “crisp”!) Anyway, it’s a very interesting film and the print used in the Criterion Collection DVD version, is very good. My only criticism is that there isn’t a commentary track on this disk, and I’ve kind of come to expect them on DVDs by the folks at Criterion. It’s something I can live without though. (Actually, I just got back from a used book store where I bought a biography of Lang, so that I could learn more about the production of this film.)

To think that this was done in the early 1930’s just blows my mind. The haunting imagery, the juxtaposition of scenes, the terrific shadows and camera angles, the use of sound and silence, the subject matter itself; it all seems so much ahead of its time. And, although he doesn’t speak until close to the end of the film, the performance by Lore is the best of his career. I could go on and on, but I’m tired.

So, if you’re looking for an old German film on child killing, I’d recommend this one.

Let’s see Wil Wheaton give away a review like that.

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