All posts by David Jennings

This is my short bio.

Poison Spur on the March

Last Saturday, I went on a pilgrimage to Kayo Books with my pal Betty. I hadn’t been there in over a month and was looking to pick up some fodder for upcoming reviews on the site. Granted, there were a number of books I already bought and had read but haven’t reviewed yet but I figured I needed some fresh source material just to maintain my sanity. Rereading Asylum – or Hell? proved to be a painful exercise and I felt no desire to repeat that.

I agreed to meet Betty for breakfast in the Tenderknob at 11 and stroll over to Kayo after. I woke at about seven and puttered around until it was past 10 and I had to jump in the shower and hop on a bus pronto. When I got down to the bus stop at 24th and Mission, it was just past 10:30. I figured I’d make up there in plenty of time since the schedule posted in the bus shelter said a 49 would come by every nine minutes. Well, I should have taken into account that this was Muni and while the posted schedules make for lovely decoration, they have little bearing on when the buses will actually arrive.

This left me a good 15-20 minutes to amuse myself by watching the sort of street life that congregates around that intersection. There were the usual drunks and crackheads shuffling along like extras in a George Romero zombie flick and the obligatory street preacher shouting fire and brimstone into a bullhorn in rapid-fire Spanish to a captive audience of none. There was also a Scientology table and I have to tell you, the booth babes saddled with working my neighborhood were a haggard and homely bunch. They weren’t as lumpy as Revolutionary Worker spokesmodels tend to be but if they roped in any recruits that day, it wouldn’t be because of their looks.

It’s hard to imagine how Muni buses have such a hard time staying on schedule, until you ride on one. Some of the delays are unavoidable. For example, it’s impossible to know beforehand how many passengers are going to be riding, which stops they are going to be getting on and off, and how many of them have mobility problems. Then, of course, there are the off-their-medication riders who pay their fare with nickels and dimes while insisting on telling the driver about the Secret of the Universe before finding a seat next to me.

In light of all this, I should consider myself lucky that the bus arrives at all.

When the bus had worked its way through the Mission and was crossing over to Van Ness, I got a call from Betty. She told me that she too ran into some unexpected Muni delays. She apologized profusely and I let her, failing to mention that I was going to be late as well. I can be a cad like that sometimes.

Eventually, we both got to the Tenderknob, ate satisfying breakfasts at the Grubstake, and then walked down Polk to Post Street and turned left toward my Mecca, Kayo Books. Betty is quite the bookworm but had never been there, so I took it upon myself to go on about the place at great length about the sleaze, mysteries, novelizations of “Kojak” episodes, and other treasures to be found on the shelves. She stayed quiet and listened, which was most unlike her.

My primary interest was of course sleaze so when we got there, I made a bee line to that section in the back of the shop. I had promised myself I would only buy four books that day. There was no point lugging around a huge load of paperbacks and cutting spending valuable drinking money just to fill my shelves with books I might not get around to reading for a month or more, let alone finding time to review.

While I try to limit book purchases to a few at a time, Betty has sworn them off entirely. She fears if she added any more to her current collection, the sheer weight would give way and she’d fall into the apartment of her downstairs neighbor, a registered sex offender with lots of back hair.

She chose instead to amuse herself by reading passages from various books that caught her fancy. She also livened things with impromptu games of Show and Tell, calling my attention to coffee-table volumes of fetish art stocked by Kayo, including a collection Eric Stanton’s work (which I already own) and of Tom of Finland’s (which I do not).

I took this as a cue that she might be getting impatient so I figured it was time to make up my mind and buy some damn book rather than agonize over it all day. I think I did pretty well. For my reading pleasure, I can look forward to murderers, a dominatrix, teen lesbians, and a hillbilly rape cult.

Life is good.

Give Me That Old Time Religion

I don’t pretend to be a biblical scholar but I’m pretty certain the coming of the Antichristâ„¢ is not supposed to be heralded by a mediocre Hollywood remake. Maybe I’m just being pissy because of a deep personal connection I have with the original. And no, I don’t fancy myself some sort of 666 guy made flesh. I figure whomever Satan appoints as regional manager of the material plane probably will have achieved more in four decades of existence than I have.Back when I was about 13 or 14, my mom took my brother and I to see the original “Omen” when it played in the theaters. This was a big deal for me; my being allowed to see R-rated films was a pretty recent thing. The movie also had a character named “Jennings.” It was like being able to watch some crazy, long-lost uncle up on the big screen. What’s more, the actor playing him was David Warner, whose ability to look simultaneously constipated and malevolent lends him an unequaled screen presence.

The most memorable scene for me was the decapitation scene, where Warner is digging around a construction site for the Ye Olde Antichrist-killing dagger and a window pane slides out of the back of a truck and smacks him in the Christopher Reeve vertebra.

What made the scene a moment of cinematic perfection for me was that the head did not simply roll around on the floor. Oh no, this head did a slow-motion backspin in mid air with an agility and grace rivaling that of Nadia Comaneci.

Years later, I was reading an essay by Harlan Ellison where he got his panties in a serious bunch over the gratuitous violence in the scene and questioned the humanity of anyone who enjoyed it. If I didn’t love that movie already, having it make Ellison expose himself as the elitist little hall monitor I always suspected he was would have won my heart for sure.

So no, I won’t be going to see the remake. The real Antichrist, spawned in the age of disco, shall always have my loyalty.

The First Design Flaws Emerge

From a cursory glance at the access log, it looks like there are a fair number of visitors who get come to the index page and go no further. To be specific, they’re not going to the pulp-reviews page, which keeps the site from being yet another piece of blogshpere blight. In some ways, I suppose that is to be expected and can be summed up as the no-porn-screw-this user experience.
I would happily accept this conclusion and let the horny geeks eat up someone else’s bandwidth except that the site has only been up for a day and I believe that most of the hits are from people whom I personally emailed and told about the reviews. Granted, most of these folks are bar people and therefore have a hard time paying attention to anything that doesn’t damage the liver. Still, they are my friends and I’m sure if they were able to find the link, they could be counted on to at least click on it and read a sentence or two.For this reason, I think I need to put a mini sitemap up above the search box that will include:

  • A clearly visible link to the reviews page.
  • A link to webmaster bio page because my ego can always use a good fluffing.

I should have these additions plus a new review by this weekend. If anyone has any suggestions for ways to make Poison spur suck a little less, please comment and share them. Thanks.

Launch

After months of delays brought on by inertia, technical ineptitude, and near-fatal hangovers, the new Poison Spur has been launched in all its glory. The previous incarnation of the site seemed like a good idea at the time. I had assumed that if I had a place to share my creative outpourings, great things would happen. The result was a collection of seldom updated puerile crap. Clearly, it needed either a complete overhaul or to be taken to a secluded spot and quietly murdered.

It was sometime just after the beginning of the year that I came up with the idea of doing book reviews of sleazy old pulps. Galleries of the cover art have been a staple of the retro hip for years but it seemed like damn few people paid any attention to the words filling the pages. Certainly no one was reviewing the books. I saw my chance to become the Joe Bob Briggs of fiction.

Because there were some review-specific features I wanted to incorporate that wouldn’t mesh with other types of content I might include, I decided to put the pulp reviews in a separate blog and save the main one for site announcements and assorted blather.