Singing this Borrowed Tune

Singing this Borrowed Tune

Dear Imaginary Reader:

Racial hypnosis, red shoes and black sails, Jim Carrey and Tyler Perry.


“Get Out” (Jordan Peele). Finally got to “Get Out”- and it got to me. There’s nothing much I can add thematically to its point – other than that you might be surprised at the racist crap this “white Hispanic” has to hear during incursions into certain supposedly liberal circles, so I can’t even imagine how black people feel in those situations. Except now I can, because they made a movie about it!)But stylistically? I feel people don’t praise Peele’s direction enough! And it’s only his debut! Reminded me of the unnerving nightmare state of Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin.” (5)

redshoes“The Red Shoes” (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger). The British film industry during the 40s and 50s was about as good as the Argentinean film industry, and nowhere near as good as the Mexican cinema. Other than Luis Bunuel, the Filmstruck / Criterion collections are unaware of this. I’m not saying that they’re missing many Mexican masterpieces. (although one Cantinflas would be cool.) I’m saying British movies of the period were mediocre. Exception: the Powell and Pressburger films, and “The Red Shoes” in particular. Second only to “Black Swan” in the very-niche ballerinas-gone-crazy subgenre. (5)


“Black Sails” Season 2. Halfway through Season 2 of “Black Sails” comes a genuinely brilliant plot twist (you thought there were no more of those?) that is simple and obvious and yet makes us reassess everything we thought we know about some of the main characters of “Black Sails,” the very underrated pirate prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” and easily the best thing to have the words “Produced by Michael Bay” attached to it. (5) Black Sails 2014

neil young“Tonight’s the Night” (Neil Young). Phenomemal boozy night at a bar with a great, mad, sad band. I love the way “Borrowed Tune” pours out into its “Rolling Stones” admission. (5)






“Inspector Lewis” Series 3. I love me a cozy whodunit, but I should make sure never to watch “Inspector Lewis” in too close a proximity to its immediate ancestor (“Inspector Morse”), or to “Inspector George Gently,” or to “Midsomer Murders” for that matter, cuz honestly they just sort of blend into one bloody British blur. (4)

HW7A2501.CR2“The Whole Truth” (Courney Hunt, “Frozen River”). A great little legal thriller with Keanu Reeves and Renee Zwellwegger; it will strike many as contrived, but I loved the way it highlights the obvious: if you didn’t see it, don’t believe it. If you saw it, kinda sorta believe it, but not really. The whole truth makes very few appearances in a human’s life. (4)

jimcarrey“Jim and Andy” (Jim Carrey’s method-acting ways during the making of Milos Forman’s Andy Kaufman biopic, “Man On the Moon”) An old episode of “The Simpsons” posited the idea of a fancy “Jim Carrey Retrospective” as an absurd joke. Two decades later, there’s better actors and better comedians, but there is no better comedic actor out there. “Jim and Andy” documents the fact. (4)

madea“Madea Goes to Jail” (Tyler Perry). Judge me not, lest ye make Madea take off her ear rings and show you some righteous prison-chapel anger. What happened was that “Madea Goes to Jail” showed up on cable, I felt too slothful to reach for the remote, and I watcheth. There are enough good intentions in this preposterous melodrama that I eventually gave in to the scoliosis-inducing tone-shifting- and sort of enjoyed it. I think that applies to all of Tyler Perry’s movies. (3)

sinbad“A Flying Princess and a Secret Island” (Shinpei Miyashita ). “Arabian Nights” anime for kids, part of a Sinbad trilogy. Unfortunately any carpet flight of fancy is weighed down by under-budgeted animation. A poor man’s Ghibli show. (2)



I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plans

Dear Imaginary Reader:

This week we have pubescent cartoons, Berry funny has-been actors, and (Hallellujah!) triple the Bob Dylan.

“Big Mouth”: Hilariously honest pubescent antics from both male and female perspectives. Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, John Mulaney,  Jason Mantzoukas, Jessi Klein, Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen – and Jordan Peele as Duke Ellington. Is that Aimee Mann singing “Everybody Bleeds” at the end of ep. 2? Of course it is. Someone did point out the oddness of Peele’s Duke Ellington. It sounds off, like a weird impression of Cab Calloway. (5)

“Neo Yokio”: Much less animated. The idea of examining New York’s  stratified society through a “sci-fi anime” lens is not bad. The execution is. I simply don’t see what Ezra Koenig was aiming for- but I can tell he missed. This takes away from valuable “Vampire Weekend” time, man! “Neo Yokio” might be great for whoever thought Jaden Smith was worth following on Twitter. I do not follow Jaden Smith on Twitter.  (2)

toast of london

“Toast of London”: Cheesy scenery-chewer Steven Toast (the multi-talented Matt Berry, from “The IT Crowd” and “The Mighty Boosh” and “Snuff Box” and etc etc) is a West End boy facing theatrical disaster. Doing voice-over work and losing his shoes during a poker game with Andrew Lloyd Webber are the least of the many ignominies Toast suffers in this cheers-worthy goof. (5)



“America is the Greatest Country in the United States” (Judah Friedlander): Brilliant! There is a reason Tina Fey took in this trucker-hat wearing shlob under her umbrella. Deceivingly sharp. (4)

“How to Be Black” (DeRay Davies) : Expressive Chicago comedian, funny ghetto observations. Some of it feeds into pretty nasty stereotypes about blackness, though. (3)








“Triplicate” (Bob Dylan). Bob karaokes to his fave Frank Sinatra standards, once again. Hans tolerates it. And then grows to love it. Breeze past the too-familiar chestnuts (“As Time Goes By”? Yawn) to find great takes on “I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” and the new-to-my-ears “Braggin'”. Check out this great interview re: Dylan’s Sinatra-sycophant period.

“It’s a human story that builds to a climax and it’s personal from end to end. You start out wondering why you bought those blue pajamas and later you’re wondering why you were born. You go from the foolishly absurd to the deadly serious and you’ve passed through the gaudy and the nasty along the way. You get to the edge and you’re played out and you wonder where’s the good news? Isn’t there supposed to be good news? It’s a journey like the song “Skylark,” where your heart goes a-journeying over the shadows and the rain. And that’s pretty much it. It’s a journey of the heart. The best had to be saved for last.”

Also, wait for the moment in the interview when Bob Dylan is like: “Wait. Did you just say Taylor Swift recorded one of my songs?!? WHAT!!! WHY DON’T I KNOW ABOUT THIS?!?” And the interviewer clarifies he’s referring to the far-less-important Taylor GOLDSMITH. (4)


“Slow Train Coming” (Bob Dylan). Revisiting this difficult classic from 1979. It’s by far my favorite album of Dylan’s short-lived Christian phase, the only one that sounds like he’s genuinely invigorated by the enthusiastic adoption of all-American evangelicalism.  True, the brimstone preaching and merciless lecturing ruins otherwise beautiful songs like “Precious Angel” (“you either got faith or you got unbelief, and there ain’t no neutral ground“!) In the early ’80s, Dylan’s more secular fans turned on him, (“Judas! Again!”) It’s easy even for moderate Christians to cringe at the sheer apocalyptic venom in this couplet:

Can they imagine the darkness that will fall from on high
When men will beg God to kill them and they won’t be able to die?

But one has to forgive the man: has there ever been a convert to ANYTHING that doesn’t get abrasive and self-righteous for a couple of months before they mellow out and gain perspective? Besides, few listeners at the time gave Dylan credit for the lines in which he attacked religious quackery and hypocrisy:

Big-time negotiators, false healers and woman haters
Masters of the bluff and masters of the proposition
The enemy I see
Wears a cloak of decency:
All nonbelievers and men-stealers talkin’ in the name of religion.


dylan“Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Volume 13, 1979-1981” (Bob Dylan). Still haven’t fully explored this selection, but so far what I hear deepens and justifies the two sub-par Christian albums of that period (I mean “Saved” and “Shot of Love”; “Slow Train Coming” is amazing and needs no justification). Most people remember “Christian Dylan” as over-bearing and/ or doomed by his relative inability to keep up with his gospel-choir back-up. “Trouble No More” suggests an alternate reality: what was going behind the studio tracks was far more inspired than whatever landed on the ready-for-Sunday-school wax.

And “Every Grain of Sand” remains goose-bump-inducing, even in this spare version. I’m sure there are Satanists out there weeping at its beauty. (4)

“In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair

Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay

I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey I come to understand
That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand

I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light
In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face

I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
I am hanging in the balance of a perfect, finished plan
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.”

That Is Why… I Pay No Mind

That Is Why… I Pay No Mind

Dear Imaginary Reader:

Hans here. From now on, weekly summaries will probably become my main mode of communication with the fascinating land of Internetia for a while, while I concentrate on THAT NOVEL THAT MUST BE WRITTEN. Make this the place where you can find out what bits of culture, old and new, pop and un-hip, inspire and amuse me on a weekly basis. This week we talk Humans, Aliens, Beck and Wick, and Women who Get Impregnated by Ghoulish Things.

“Alien: Covenant” (Ridley Scott) : The director and I are the only two entities in the galaxy who think “Covenant” was the smartest “Alien” movie since the original. Sure, people touch things they definitely should not touch, but by now that’s a franchise trademark. I COULD have used without the bizarre Michael-Fassbender-on-Michael-Fassbender autoeroticism. (5)

“Humans” S.1: Ridley Scott, Mr. “Blade Runner” would appreciate “Humans,” a British show (remaking a Swedish show, and probably on the way to being turned into an American show) – that addresses what android creators avoid addressing: Our planet doesn’t need realistic humanoids to lift crates, play chess, or explore planets. We need them for robo-sex. There’s no honest sci-fi scenario in which we don’t turn our “replicants” into guilt-free love machines. (5)

“Queen of Earth” (Alex Ross Perry) : Ross Perry has studied his Bergman. “Queen of Earth” smashes two personas (“Mad Men”‘s Elizabeth Moss and “Alien: Covenant”‘s Katherine Waterston) through a glass darkly. But this deliberately unpleasant tale of summertime sadness among the privileged could have used a joke or two. People forget Bergman had jokes! (3)

“At The Devil’s Door” (Nicholas McCarthy, “The Pact”). A graceful Catalina Sandino Moreno and an un-gleeful Naya Rivera play Hispanic sisters called… Leigh and Vera? Also, the Devil pays only $500 per possession. Cheap! All highly implausible, but can we agree that abortion is acceptable in cases of rape-by-Satan? (3)

“American Horror Story” S. 1 : The original, haunted house season. Rubber gimps! Twice as many demon babies as there were in “At the Devil’s Door”! Ghosts in French maid outfits! A house that’s open… FOR MURDER! It’s all Ryan Murphy camp; the TV master of emotional inconsistency never allows characters to behave logically for more than two scenes in a row. But Patrick McDermott, Connie “Mrs. Coach” britton, Taissa Farmiga, and particularly Jessica Lange truly sell it. At the time, some of the most genuine horror ever made for TV. (5)

“Mea Culpa: Alexis de Anda”: On a holier note, this Mexican stand-up delivers jokes in white-wedding setting. Specially of note to Anglo viewers because Netflix did a great joke of translating the more local jokes into American equivalents. (4)


“Jerry Before Seinfeld” : Nostalgic comic trip to a time of more innocent observations about how socks tend to get stuck to the sides of laundry machines in attempts to escape the drudgery of the sock drawer (4)


“John Wick Chapter 2” (Chad Stahelski) : I appreciate the all-out kinetic style of this Keanu Reeves series, but they could have let SOME substance into the fray. (3)

“Mellow Gold.” (Beck) I’m digging into the Beck vaults in a late bid to build up to “Colors.” Beck is too good to turn into a 90s artifact in my head. “Mellow Gold” was not technically his debut, but certainly his debut as far as it concerned a pop culture that was suddenly in love with losers. In here, Beck happily absorbs Captain Beefheart, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, NWA, Nirvana, and the Beastie Boys into the Beckian Hip-Folk he would abandon maybe too soon. So good and full of surreal quotes (aside from the deliberate noisey crap.) “Pay No Mind” and “Nitemare Hippy Girl” are the best. (5 Cherries)

The Sneaker Pimps- “Becoming X.” Kelli Ali and the Sneaker Pimps were once big: In ’96, “6 Underground,” “Clean,” and “Spin Spin Sugar” all tripped-and-hopped even into this decidedly uncool kid’s ears. The Pimps never recovered after Ali’s removal. Her career, although existent, has been on the underground side. (4)

The Sneaker Pimps’ “Clean” inspired at least one episode of Heather Meade’s supernatural romance webcomic, “Dream*Scar”. Younger, more romantic fans of the genre should enjoy. (3)

“Cliff Burton” (Rodolphe) : Not just the late Metallica bassist, but also an adventurer in a series of “bande dessinees” written by the one-named Rodolphe and originally drawn by Frederik Garcia. Burton is the halfway point between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, dashingly solving crimes in the shadow of Queen Victoria’s Empire, while ejaculating curses that sounded British enough to a French writer: “Holy Queen’s Damnation! Bloody Blaster!” (4)

“Cheap Caffeine” (Nathan Schumate) : Yes, it’s remarkably like David Malki’s “Wondermark,” but that’s a compliment. (3)

“Amazing Superpowers” (Wes and Tony, whoever they are.) It’s no longer active, but still among the funniest strips out there. Half Saturday Morning Breakfast Club, half Perry Bible Fellowship. (5)

“SimCity : Build It.”- (IOS) : I’m obsessed. I can see that little city in my architecturally-elaborate dreams. I will one day have to explain to God why I wasted so many hours on THIS. (4)


archive 81“Archive 81”: Sci-fi/ horror podcast about a transcriber of paranormal phenomena in a shady government facility. The tapes he listens to (about the tenants in a “Welcome to Nightvale”-ish nightmare building) make unnerving use of aural spaces. On-going. (4)

“1st to Die” (James Patterson) : Fast paced, hacky procedural, opener in the Women’s Murder Club series. A series of “Newlywed” murders implicate a best-selling mystery writer who is presumably NOT James Patterson. (3)




“The Orchard Keeper” ( Cormac McCarthy) : Southern mayhem of Biblical cadence and sentences running wild and redolent with fruits and a sworn enmity toward commas. (5)





“Between the Assassinations” (Aravind Adiga) : Revisits “White Tiger” territory too closely. Short stories depicting life in a small Indian town, which I assume to be fictional by virtue of its too convenient triangulation of Christian, Muslim and Hindu influences. (4)




“I Am Not Esther” (Fleur Beale) : YA cult “expose” from New Zealand with few revelations for adults, and few literary aspirations. (3)




The Beach Boys – “Surfin’ Safari.” I can love them, but not take them seriously. Beyond “Pet Sounds” and the vital “Best Of,” I just wasn’t made for those times. Songs to Surfboards and Woodys are Californian stupidity at its most harmonious; but they’re always are too short to engage anyone’s disgust. “Moon Dawg” is awesome! (4)

Clear Light- “Self-Titled.” Dark and muddy 60’s mix-bag. “Mr. Blue” is the memorable track. (3)




Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands has a wealth of Bob Dylan bootlegs on YouTube that ensure I will always have a chance of hearing “Mr. Tambourine Man” in all its miraculous permutations. Currently: A 1978 Concert from the Pavillon de France and a 2015 one from some intimidating-sounding place in Germany. (4)

Lindsey Stirling dances frantically to her violin. I believe “cross-over” is the industry’s cynical term. Do her Zelda medleys or the such pander, or are they genuine appreciation of Koji Kondo’s Nintendo scores? Who cares? Sprightly background music. (4)




Glad You’re Here. Let Me Catch You Up!

Dear Imaginary Reader:

Let me catch you up. Hallucina used to be quite the encyclopedic pop culture blog. Writer Hansel Castro loved exploring culture from ABBA to ZAPPA. From Chinua Achebe to Stefan Zweig. From ABC to BBC to CW to HBO. J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and George R. R. Martin had a mighty gathering where they agreed not to be so cryptically pretentious about their hidden names. There were a lot of Davids there: Bowie, Lynch, Fincher, Cronenberg. There were a lot of movies from the Criterion Collection, and there were Anna Karinas and Catherine Deneuves and there was Alexandre Dumas, specially the SUPER ABRIDGED MARIE ANTOINETTE SAGA and THE SUPER ABRIDGED COUNT OF MONTECRISTO! There were way too many references to Bob Dylan and the Beatles. And there were Stephen Kings and Stephen Sondheims and Steven Spielbergs and Steven Soderberghs, etc etc. Movies, music, books, television, video games, theater, graphic novels, art, etc…

HALLUCINA tried to cover it all.

And then it was doing too many things. There was too much going on and it was about to topple. It was a big messy bear of a blog and like bears, it needed to hibernate. Cubs came out of the cave: A Son Of Hallucina Tumblr. Capsule Reviews on Facebook and Instagram and the such.

In the meantime, Hans entertained himself with:

INTERFAKE (Brief, Fake Interviews with Hideously Famous People- A great, acidic humorous concept that I still love but that isn’t for people without a love for satire and roasting… And maybe I outgrew satire and roasting?)

THE PAGEAHOLIC  (A couple of years of book reviews.)

PICKSHERRY (From May to December of 2017, the delightful Picksherry Family gathered for 125 episodes of critical deconstruction. Other movie critics give you their meager one-person opinion. Picksherry gave you SIX differing opinions to deal with.)

Now, HALLUCINA is quietly back as Hallucina 2. I hope you read along. This will be home base for a while. I will keep you updated on the world of Hallucina, which is the world we all live in: one of new ideas and sights and sounds constantly evolving. These brief summaries will probably become my main mode of communication with the fascinating land of Internetia for a while, while I concentrate on novel writing. Make this the place where you can find out what bits of culture, old and new, pop and un-hip, inspire and amuse me on a weekly basis.What you don’t already know, you will certainly find out. Read on!

Hansel Castro is a Miami-based Writer and Cultural Critic. He Believes that Earth is an Anagram for Heart.


On Whether a Table is a Table

What a waste of time, philosophy. Penniless nerds pondering whether “a table is a table.” A table IS a table, and that’s that. And if it isn’t, who cares! Right?

Thought of any “non-profitable” nature is often mocked as a waste of time. Philosophy- the love of wisdom- a mere collegiate perversion. Egg-head territory. Don’t think: punch the clock, grind your teeth, collect the pay. Keep things tweet-simple. Intellect is the root of all evil.

Let’s try to make a case for discussing tables.

Because a table is NOT objectively a table. A table can easily be a very uncomfortable bed. Or an unusually big chair. My coffee “table” is indeed smaller than a chair. In fact it is closer in kinship to a chair-ish “stool” than to my dining-room table. A table is a rectangle when viewed from above. But sometimes it is a square or a circle of a triangle, and can assume any number of unexpected forms in the hands of a visionary designer. Is a table the place where “one puts dishes”? If I put a dish on your head, do you become a table? Or are “tables” already human? (What IS a human?) And when does a table stop being a table and become an altar? Do the services provided by the table change its essential nature?

Or… wait… is a table actually a graphic arrangement of chemical elements?!?

It may be that our Platonic table, bearing only tangential connection to our tangible tables, is simply “a surface in which we put things.” And that “Platonic ideal” may help us recognize tables- but only in a table-centered society. The ground was the world’s first table, much like the cupped hands are the world’s first dish and glass. Many a Neanderthal never learned the concept of “table” and would have been puzzled as to their use. The earliest tables can only be traced to as recent a tribe as the Egyptians, and it wasn’t until the Greeks that tables were first tentatively used for dining purposes.


Maybe these questions aren’t worth more than a few minutes of mental energy. But if we never wonder about tables, we will never develop the mental tools to question anything of any higher complexity – and there are few concepts as un-complex as “tables.” Not having the imagination to wonder about tables leaves us hopelessly inept when facing higher-level, abstract concepts as endlessly subjective as
‘human relationships,’ ‘sexuality,’ ‘identity,’ ‘morals’, ‘economics’, ‘religion,’ ‘politics,’ ‘society,’ ‘life.'”

There are no “facts”: facts are only heavily enforced opinions. You may believe that someone is six-feet-tall and that is a “fact.” But the fact crumbles when one starts wondering: what IS a foot? Whose ‘foot’ exactly? Who decided that a foot was a valid, universal source of measure? Why do these “feet” correspond to the average feet of males, and why were females not asked to the measurement party? To say that feet are feet, and everyone knows what they are, and that it’s all, is only contrary to “objective” reality: no one is “six-feet-tall”. People are only six-feet-tall depending on what subjective measurement system they choose to participate in.  Travel around Europe and your “objective height” will quickly vary: there are dozens of different ‘feet’ by region, often varying by inches.  In Bruges, a foot is equal to 274 millimeters. In Tyrol, a foot is equal to 334 millimeters. So an item that is a foot tall in Brussels will MAGICALLY CHANGE its supposedly objective height in feet when traveling to Tyrol. To never wonder about these seemingly unimportant things is to be doomed to ignorance about a complicated, thousands-of-years-old history of laws and regulations, of evolving mathematics, of science allied to government dictums, of massive campaigns of national homogenization, of  local individuality surrendered to global expediency.

In short, wondering about a table may be a minor mental exercise- but by all means, let’s keep our mind sharp with minor exercises. If we can’t be bothered to attempt one easy mental push-up, we’ll never be able to deal with any serious weight-lifting.

Most people do simply accept that a table is objectively a table and never wonder about the set of circumstances that led for them to acquire that belief; these are the people who believe that “it is what it is”; that there is such a thing as a placid lagoon of truth, where there are only the wild tsunamis of perception. If we don’t “waste time” questioning something as simple as a table, we can never hope to question something as complex as life. And if we do not ask questions of life, how we can expect to get any meaningful answers from it?

(Matthew 7:7)




(For Kate. Good for the goose, good for the gander.)

Since Mr. Ballard had been on Ativan for a while, not to mention Lexapro, Zoloft, Paxil and Wellbutrin, everyone felt uneasy about letting him know that his wife Brenda had been in a disastrous car accident.

It was Chip, Mr. Ballard’s younger brother, who finally texted about it: “Shit. Bro. Sorry 2 tell U, but Brenda was in an accident. Flipped the Explorer off US 1. Fucking American cars! Try not 2 lose Ur shit over this, ok? She’s DOA. Be strong.”

Other men might have taken a while to process this, might have felt disbelief, might have left their gaze drift about in confused aimlessness. Not Mr. Ballard. He understood at once, and pictured the car as a burning hulk by the side of the highway, and Brenda twisted somewhere in that flaming vehicular prison, and the hopeless ambulance ride as the EMTs gave up on the corpse. Mr. Ballard sobbed with sudden, wild abandonment, like he had sobbed at the beginning of Pixar’s “Up,” or at the end of Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” or throughout most of Pixar’s “Toy Story 3.”

Continue reading “A TALE OF FIVE MINUTES”




Nancy said to Frank, “Sweetie, I feel like ice cream. Oooh, mint ice cream! Want to share with me?”

Frank kissed Nancy’s belly bump and said: “Aaaah, I see the cravings are starting. Mint ice cream? Sounds like a trip to the fridge.”

He jumped out of bed, nearly stepping on Pom Pom. The little orange Pomeranian ran busily between Frank’s loafers, intent on making him trip on the way to the kitchen. Frank opened the refrigerator’s door, peered in, frowned. “I don’t see it. We don’t have that.”

Continue reading “CRAVINGS”