Gone With The Dust

I dream of Quixotic Cowboys around Campfires.

“They did not look at each other. They did not say a word to each other… They knew that talk is meaningless when a common knowledge is already there. The silence bound them as no words ever could.”





The world is transfixed with the virginal and the vacuous blonde but there is also a space for the deeply disturbed blonde. She is not psychopathic as her male counterparts, she rarely strikes out but sometimes she does,  slicing away wrongs. She is complex, beguiling and not to be categorized–she oscillates, she slinks, she morphs, try to hold onto her and she slips through your fingers like sand. Sometimes she is punished by patriarchy but often she becomes ‘otherwordly,’ haunting the peripheries of frame, knocking, scraping and digging away at rational linearity. I love disturbed blondes.

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Of Human Bondage


Of Human Bondage

I am fascinated with connections, those super umbilical cords that affix us all; ours bonds, our bondage. One leisurely activity I participate in, is choosing a random subject, lets say GLASS, typing it into google and then spending the next 10 minutes clicking on various links to see where I end. The end subject is usually incongruous to the original subject but by tracing it’s sorta genealogy, we get an analogous story. It weaves a beautiful co-existence of chance and choice, difference and sameness, of other and self. Life is made up of squillions of these cords, all tangled in a complex combustion of chaos and order. I have decided to compose together an ouroboric-like connection between 6 films.


1. Repulsion, 1965, Roman Polanski

Ah the disturbed blonde, a subject matter mastered by Hitchcock. The obvious choice was to choose a Hitchcock film but I decided to go down another path, funnily enough the path found its way to Hitchcock anyway.  I only recently decided to watch this film, the subject matter of the film and Polanski’s own shady transgressions made me a little uneasy but I have been watching films about ‘seemingly innocent’ females of late, Catherine Deneuve being one of these coy-masking-rage femmes and so decided to set aside my unease to indulge in what I found to be absolutely intoxicating. I was totally beguiled by the neurotic, claustrophobic expressionism of the cinematography by Gilbert Taylor.


2. Dracula, 1979 John Badham
The connection between Repulsion and Dracula = Gilbert Taylor, cinematographer.

I have seen many adaptations of Dracula but not this one. I have decided that nothing can compare to the actual novel by Bram Stoker, adaptations always wind up blood-splattered  camp (Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula) or blood-sucked wry (Louis Jourdan’s mini-series Count Dracula). Don’t get me wrong I am hypnotized by Murnau’s, ugly as hell Nosferatu, and mesmerized by Bella Lugosi’s orthodox Count Dracula (but both dispel the eroticism of the novel). No adaptation can quite balance the disclosed and displaced erotic violence of the novel without oozing hamminess or sterilizing it. John Badham’s version of Dracula strays into the cornball campground, getting a little too romantic for my taste but it does have several things going for it 1. the byronic brow of Laurence Olivier  2. Dracula’s slick pimp do 3.Gilbert Taylor’s cinematography which looks like the love child of a BBC period drama and german expressionism.


3. Never Say Never Again, 1983, Irvin Kershner.
The connection between Dracula and Never Say Never Again = Use of St Michael’s Mount.

I hate James Bond, not even Connery’s titillating timbre can seduce me into the ways of the martini stirring Bond but I do adore St Michael’s Mount, which features in both films. In Dracula, it features as the facade of Dracula’s castle, in Never Say Never Again, the misguided missile’s fly over it. Islands and castles and monasteries, oh my! All beddable infantile archetypes for me.


4. Marnie, 1964, Alfred Hitchcock.
The connection between Never Say Never and Marnie = Sean Connery

Alfred places himself as Lord Freud himself, as he probes the mind of a hysterical, hostile, kleptomaniac, who goes into a catatonic rage when she see’s red, she see’s red, she see’s red. Sean Connery is her suave savior/rapist, who performs a nonconsensual exorcism of her ‘psychological’ possession via his own penetrating patriarchal possession. I in no way condone his acts but Marnie nonetheless is an intriguing examination of female trauma.


Three Colors: Red, 1994, Krzysztof Kieslowski
The connection between Marnie and Three Colors, Red = RED.

The denouement of the color trilogy and Kieslowski’s final film before his sudden death in 1996, metamorphoses the french revolutionary ideal of fraternity in a cinematic prose of deja vu in the 90s. I was absolutely seduced by the sensual paring of red curtains and Irene Jacobs lamenting eyes, it nursed my faux nostalgia for the Other 90s.

Other 90s: The more mature 90s I was aware of but not apart of because I was part of the playground 90s.


Pulp Fiction, 1994, Quentin Tarantino
The connection between Red and Pulp Fiction = Irene Jacobs

The story goes that Quentin Tarantino saw Irene Jacobs in another Kieslowski film The Double Life of Veronique and wrote the part of Bruce Willis’s wife Fabienne, in Pulp Fiction, with her in mind but Irene was working on Red at the time. I love/loath Tarantino for he is a swindler, a reel-road robber absorbing ‘other’ cinematic cool shit, through his chin no doubt and regurgitating his pastiche patchwork in such a cool way, misty-eyed butterflies start fluttering inside you.

And now to tie everything together. In 1994, Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and who should be the Jury vice-president but Catherine Deneuve. This photograph captures a glance, that triggers an almost ouroboric connection between 6 films.

tarantino and catherine.jpg


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“Try to remember the kind of September
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow.”
El Gallo, The Fantastiks

I grew up without a TV, for many reasons primary school was a bitch because of this void but despite the crippling circumstances I did have something. That something wasn’t my contribution to a discerning discussion on who was cooler–Charmander or Pikachu; no, when it came to TV  I was an outcast, or in Pokemon terms an N’s Pokemon. Due to an unexpected twist of fate our street was chosen for a reality TV series, so for a good 15 mins I was a reality TV star, who didn’t own a TV. 

Instead of the ole box my parents owned a record player and I would spend hours scouring over the record covers; imagining stories for the scratchy symphonies that oozed out of the pirrouting pancake. The faces and figures that covered these record players were my gods, my high priestesses, my saints that lured me into other worlds. The other day, whilst, searching through an op-shop I happened upon a sublime dose of nostalgia-my fingers traced the cities, the sudden peaks and troughs of the purple lined title, the illustrated curves of the girl in a tangerine glow surrounded in a carnivalesque grasp by three men-one tall, her lover and two other farcical patriarchs.

It was The Fantastiks record that I had listened too, when I was a wee thing. I tried and remembered  ‘a kind of September when life was slow and oh, so mellow’ ‘a forest where the woodchucks woo … and vines entwine like lovers’ of a boy, a girl, two fathers and a wall and how these people and places were a meditation away from melancholy. Too much nostalgia is toxic stagnation but a little bit now and then is pure medicine for the soul. Here are some  record covers that take me to place behind the moon, beyond the rain to a strawberry somewhere.


What We Do In The Shadows: The Pavlova Vampire

What We Do
What We Do In The Shadows
, a vampiric mockumentary written by Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taiki Waititi (Boy, Eagle Vs Shark), sinks its teeth into the vamp flick genre and  Cinéma vérité’ doco style, only to ‘turn’ these borrowed tropes into something very other, very deadpan, very Kiwi.

The film is loaded with pavlova nuances from the humble, taciturn bloke Stu, to the hegemonic wolf pack culture of kiwi mates, to the protracted Richie Macawesque, ‘ah, yeah, pause’ response made by kiwi vampmate, Nick; all of which are made more mince pie to the eccentricities and dandyisms of the European vampires.

What makes What We do in the Shadows so deliciously diverting is how incongruous vampiric tropes are with the reserved, unostentatious makeup of New Zealand. New Zealand at unease in its own skin is exposed through the films spotlight on the shadowy inbetween, awkward stuff, the everyday, not-so-glamorous things that happen to Vampires: dishes not being washed, not getting an invite into a club, flying through windows, flatmate meetings and house safety hazards. The ‘we’ in the films title stands for all New Zealanders, a mockumentary on cinema of the unease and the vampiric nature of Kiwis–bloodsuckers of myth, withdrawn, loners at the bottom of the world. “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat human.”

Even for non-kiwis this film will tickle anyone with a taste for dead-pan, wry  humor, displayed in Flight of the Conchords and Eagle VS Shark.

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Norma Tanega: Deadpan Folk

Norma Tanega
I love discovering forgotten gems from yesteryear, I suppose it harks back to the days when I used to go treasure hunting in the muddy creek below our house. I came across Norma Tanega, when her single ‘You’re Dead’ was used in the credits of Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Taika Waititi’s (Boy, Eagle Vs Shark)  fangtastic mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows, about Vampire flatmates living in Wellington, NZ.

Norma Tanega was a camp singer in the Catskills, when she signed up to New Voice Records in 1966. She became a ‘one hit wonder’ when her strange, novelty single, ‘Walkin’ my Cat Named Dog‘ reached #22 on the US Billboard Charts.

The hit became popular in England and so Norma was asked to perform it on Top of the Pops, it was here in a rehearsal that she first saw Dusty Springfield. I’m standing there with my guitar, like a dork, while this woman, I had no idea who she was, stood on some scaffolding and went over and over this song until it was, of course, perfect.” The song was You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, Dusty’s #1 hit at the time. The lights went up in the studio and Norma, confused, asked Dusty what was going on and so Dusty explained the English tradition of a union tea break for electricians and cameramen, this sparked up a conversation between the two. Norma was in a relationship with Dusty Springfield during the 60s and as a prolific storyteller, provided lyrics to her songs, ‘No Stranger Am I,’ Earthbound Gypsy, Midnight Sounds.’  Just goes to show that behind every great woman is another great woman.

I am just obsessing over the dusty wryness and husky sincerity of Norma Tanega’s voice. There is a very deadpan delivery to her macabre and hilariously uncanny songs, which flatters the kiwi in me. Here is her song ‘You’re Dead’

ELI WALLACH: The Solicitous Sancho of the Screen

Often playing the Sancho to Quixote leading men, Eli Wallach brought a profundity to the side-kick,the ugly, the outsider, the other guy. I’ll never forget the first time I lay sight on those shifty, quizzical eyes in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, or the way he usurped the role of leading man, dancing with Marilyn as she utters in breathy tones  ‘We’re all dying’ in The Misfits. Alas, they all are dead–Marilyn, Clark, Montgomery, Thelma and now Eli. I get sad every time another ole’ screen actor checks out, thankfully the aren’t really dead, not really, they live on, preserved, taxidermy on the golden screen.

Tonight I am going to watch The Misfits.



Railroad Train by Edward Hopper

“The restlessness and the longing, like the longing that is in the whistle of a faraway train.
Except that the longing isn’t really in the whistle—it is in you.” 

                                      – Meindert Dejong, The Little Cow and the Turtle 

I have been thinking about Trains of late, I recently went to see a Miyazaki double feature, Spirited Away and The Wind Rises, where those beautiful iron beasts carry the wanderlust/lost on a spiritual trip to the afterlife or to an other life. I spent a good solid month in a small town in Wisconsin called Prairie Du Chein, and every night I was serenaded by the whistling soliloquy of the distant train and it was true, it was a displaced wail for a longing inside of me, a longing I knew couldn’t be fulfilled in a tiny town (no matter how much I romanticized it). The trains whistle still haunts me inside, I can feel it like a force of breath between my ribcage.The wailing between the rails guarding my unconscious. I long, so I play Vashti Bunyan’s Train Song.

I am on a bit of train binge at the moment, I am, as it were, loco over locomotives. It especially amuses me that trains petrified Freud, he suffered from Siderodromophobia (fear of train travel) through his childish eyes the steam jets from a train looked like souls burning in hell. In his self-analysis he said the rocking of the train reminded him of the loss of his mother, love thy mother.

The following is a list of my favorite train tracks, films, books, poetry ladeda.



Ghost Cat by Joy Cowley 

A couple years ago,
A deaf old cat named Mack
Went for an evening walk
Along the railway track.
He didn’t hear the whistle
Of the midnight train.
‘Dead!’ said the engine driver.
‘We won’t see him again.’

The driver was mistaken
The ghost of Mack came back
To haunt the midnight train
On the section of the track.
The driver said he saw him suddenly appear.
His coat was grey like mist
His eyes were cold and clear.

And sometimes lonely travellers
Bound for the distant places,
Woke up after midnight
With pawmarks on their faces.
They gave a cry of terror
As a pale grey shape slid by,
And through the darkened carriages
They heard the ghostly cry.

This poem by children lit darling Joy Cowley was probably my first exposure to terror, the accompanying picture drawn by a child called Waaka Harris didn’t help to nullify the unease. Between the whistle of the train, the callous response of the engine driver, the iridescent haunting of a Cat, with such a congenial name like Mack, I was absolutely petrified but also disturbingly beguiled on my first train trip.


Railway Rhymes by CL GravesRailway Station

“When books are pow’rless to beguile
And papers only stir my bile,
For solace and relief I flee
To Bradshaw or the ABC
And find the best of recreations
In studying the names of stations.”

Ah to escape by train from life’s shit, now that would be a great adventure. There is something therapeutic about studying the names of streets and stations. The best part about studying train stations from a moving train is that it flashes by and it is gone, and it’s on to the next one. Ponder and release.

Strangers on a Train

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Train lit. has been embroiled in the world of what I am going to call hard-boiler crime. The Train in Patricia Highsmiths psychological thriller opens a platform for a psychopathic playboy to prey of those in transit-physically and mentally. An A to B journey for Guy Haines is derailed by a strangers proposition-a moider swap, he will kill his unfaithful wife, if Guy kills his father.



Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

What appears to be a formulaic whodunnit on a train, opens up a space for derailing ideas of crime and punishment. It sparks on the terrors of train travel, being cooped up in space of compartmental collapse with strangers, who could perhaps kill you. Exotic landscapes are rendered  impressionistic by the trains speed, and whodunnit becomes a landscape to the shaky forefront of human ethics. 


In 1986 the Lumiere brothers created the first unintentional horror film, when their train sent audiences (unfamiliar with how film worked) screaming from the auditorium, solidifying the symbolic power of the train on screen. The terrible, terrific imprinted forever on the collective unconscious.

Click on the pictures to watch a scene from these films.

North by Northwest

North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock, 1959

The reason why I attribute train travel to sexy espionage, slinky martinis and comfortable sleeping lounges, Amtrak quickly dissolved those romanticized views. The end of this film has the best sexual innuendo involving a train.

Once Upon a Ti

Once Upon a Time in the West, Sergio Leone, 1968 

Trains have and still are intrinsic to the myth building of the West in the American consciousness. Sergio Leone capitalizes on the ‘traveling’ nature of the Western to redress the mythological expansion of the iron horse across the west-frontier building on crack. Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack, accentuates the plodding, dying whistle of the demi-gods on horses, as the train makes tracks across the western narrative.

Spirited Away

Spirited Away, Hayao Miyazaki, 2001

There is something so peaceful about a train taking spirits home, train as travel to the afterlife. The train scene lulled into a slumber by the medicinal music of Joe Hisaishi is like a meditative pause. It opens a space for a long sigh after life is done.

La Bete Humaine

La Bete Humaine, Jean Renoir, 1938

Jean Renoir’s poetic realist masterpiece takes us into the coal clogged, hellish belly of the industrial monster. In this locomotive infested world, the plights of suffering male,sacrificial woman and popular front are fought in the slinky, oilskin shadows.

The Music Man

The Music Man, Morton DaCosta, 1962

The opening scene where a honky salesman rap coalesces with the rhythm and sounds of the train, as if the men are having synchronized sex with the train, not to mention each other is just brilliant. The fact they are salesman (prostitutes in suits) jostling in synchrony with the grind, steam and steady thrust of the locomotive will have you in hysterics.

The list could go on and on so here is a montage of train scene from the films I love.


Click on the picture below to  listen to my  Spotify playlist, TRAIN TRACKS


5:15 The Angels Have Gone – David Bowie
All Aboard – Muddy Waters
Jumping someone else’s train/another journey by train – The Cure
Downtown Train – Tom Waits

500 miles – Peter, Paul and Mary
Train Song – Vashti Bunyan
Blues in the Night – Ella Fitzgerald
Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel

The Draize Train – The Smiths 
Gone Darker – Electrelane
Long Black Train – Lee Hazlewood
High Speed Train – R.E.M

The Sixth Station (Spirited Away) – Joe Hisaishi
Farewell to Cheyenne (Once Upon a Time in the West) – Ennio Morricone
Conversation Piece (North by Northwest) – Bernard Herrmann
Lara’s Theme (Dr Zhivago) –  Maurice Jarre


“In this fast movin’ world that we live in nobody rides ’em much these days
Maybe I’m a little sentimental cause I know that things have to change
But I’d still like to go for a train ride cause I’ve got a thing about trains .”

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“Lord! there’s somebody walking over my Grave”


I was reading The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham and I came across the line, ‘Someone is walking over my grave,’ a response by a character feeling a sudden shudder. I had used, what I presumed to be a common idiom often; but I had never actually thought about what it meant.  For some reason the saying irked me, scratched at my skull. This I declared called for an investigation.

Thanks to the wonders of the Interverse I discovered that the saying was first coined under Jonathan Swifts pseudonym Simon Wagstaff, in A Complete Collection of Ingenious Conversation, 1978,

“Miss [shuddering]. Lord! there’s somebody walking over my Grave.”

It also stems from a folk belief/wive’s tale, recorded in Basil Godfrey’s Caprice by Lee Holme, 1868,

“Joan shuddered – that irrepressible convulsive shudder which old wives say is caused by a footstep walking over the place of our grave that shall be.”
Link to full text here

The saying derives from a time when the distinction between life and death was ambiguously murky; also grave sites were for the most part pre-determined so the idea of someone walking across your future resting place made sense.

In American versions, the human footstep is substituted with a Goose, hence the term ‘goosebumps.’

I am often possessed by sudden shudders, I get them multiple times per day. Either someone is being a twit and walking over my grave multiple times to be an asshole, I think it could be the love of my life OR I have multiple grave sites because I am going to be chopped into tiny bits by New Zealand’s first serial killer and be spread across this antipodean land OR I am going to get my wish and be scattered to the wind and wind up flying back into my nearest and dearest’s mouths. Thats right, bite me future loved ones

and now to leave you with some grave words from Criswell…



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