Salma Hayek and David Arquette in Roadracers

Rebel Highway

Our second child—Louise, called Lou—was born in late January. She came out gray and limp and spent her first few days in the NICU. We weren’t really all that worried—just frustrated about not having her with us, and bored. As much as I like hospitals and hotels and airports and all those other places that kind of make you feel like you’re on a spaceship, once you’ve figured out where everything is, there’s not a whole lot to do. And of course the TV sucks. So I break out the laptop and open Netflix and find myself watching my way through Rebel Highway, a series of ’50s-drive-in style B-movies that Showtime commissioned in the mid-’90s; they’re on there individually, so you have to search by title. The idea was to get to established directors to make low-budget (about $2 million in today’s dollars, which is less than the average prestige cable series costs per episode) movies in the AIP vein, starring up-and-coming young actors. I’d seen Joe Dante and John Milius’ entries before—the former (called Runaway Daughters) a satire of suburban mores featuring Paul Rudd’s first film role, the latter (called Motorcycle Gang) a kind of proto-Taken reactionary dad-revenge fantasy, with Jake Busey as the Kerouac-quoting, drug-running, murder-rapist-biker villain. John McNaughton’s Girls In Prison, with Ione Skye, Anne Heche, and a sublimely pulpy script by the great Samuel Fuller, is a lot of fun, but the real eye opener—at least for me—is Robert Rodriguez’s Roadracers. Rodriguez was fresh off of El Mariachi, which made him the odd man out in the group; while for everyone else involved, Rebel Highway was a chance to slum a little, for Rodriguez it was his first shot at the big time. It’s one of his best and most energetic movies—a rollicking, footloose exercise in retro-rockabilly kitsch, starring David Arquette, Salma Hayek (in her second film role), and John Hawkes. (Hawkes—who looks obscenely young, but was already in his mid-30s—is also in Ralph Bakshi’s entry, The Cool And The Crazy.) There’s a lot to dig through, and, frankly, I wish cable networks were a little more willing to undertake these kinds of cheap, chancy projects. [Ignatiy Vishnevetsky]


Instead of making a bunch of abstract, unattainable New Year’s resolutions, I made only one for 2015: start meditating. The act of meditation has always seemed too self-indulgent, so I have resisted, no matter how often my father told me mindfulness meditation changed his life, or how often I saw a study touting the numerous physical and psychological benefits. But I figured there were worse ways to spend 10 minutes a day, and after trying daily meditation for a while, I now have to actively resist the urge to be evangelical about it. It’s helped tremendously with my focus and concentration, my most stubborn weaknesses, and I’m sleeping better than at any other time I can remember. The key to sticking with it was a mobile app called Calm, which, like other health-related apps, encourages persistence by creating the illusion that you’re just doing another frivolous thing with your phone. Calm features an array of peaceful sounds and images, plus a variety of guided meditations voiced by a woman I’m pretty sure is literally an angel. It features an alarm that reminds me when to do it, so I’ve had no excuse but to integrate meditation into my day. At last, one of my resolutions has survived January, and I couldn’t have chosen a better one. [Joshua Alston]

Dogs On Acid, self-titled 7-inch

At this point, I feel like I’m being pranked by Philadelphia’s punk scene. I’ve gone on about numerous bands emerging from the city, but it seems as if every week a new one springs up and grabs my attention. The most recent one being Dogs On Acid, a band that recently signed with Jade Tree Records after releasing its second self-titled 7-inch on Asian Man Records. This recent 7-inch is a step up from the band’s Ranch Records debut, with the A-side “Flushed” becoming an earworm that digs deeper until it takes up residence at the center of your brain. This is to be expected from a band fronted by Peter Helmis (Algernon Cadwallader, Mike Bell & The Movies) as the vocalist-guitarist has an uncanny ability to make jangly chords cut cleaner than his compatriots. As brief as these two songs may be, their ability to demand repeat listens alleviates the stress of having to wait for the band’s debut full-length. [David Anthony]


DOGS ON ACID - FLUSHED from Craig Scheihing on Vimeo.