Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception since 1987

Saturday, September 17, 2011

'Transgalactic Delta House Ebullience,' Comic Book Evolution, and Timothy Leary's Head - PAUL (2011)

Like most people I know who follow exo-politics, I thought PAUL (2011) looked grim from the outset. First off, this is supposed to be a brom-com about a surviving Roswell alien, and here his huge eyes aren't dark black. The black eye on grey aliens is, as we now know now, a kind of DNA-implanted contact lens, as if we humans decided we loved Raybans (tm) so much we had them surgically grafted. Without the dark eyes Paul looks just like a big E.T. / Close Encounters love doll - and it turns out he was the inspiration for both films (we learn this thanks to flashbacks of long chain-smoking phone calls he had with Spielberg in the 1970s) which makes perfect sense from a disinformation standpoint (if you see an alien on the street eating Reese's Pieces, you're a lot less likely to get taken seriously when you report it to the cops).

I remember well at the age of around 15-16, gazing at my surly, bald, bespectacled comic book store owner (Quality Comics in Somerville, NJ, if you were there, you know him) and thinking: 1. I'll never stop being into comics no matter that they say people grow out of them, and 2. I hope I don't end up looking and acting like this surly bald bastard. Back then 16 seemed suspiciously old to still be into comics, even if you were into the sophisticated stuff like Frank Miller's Daredevil. And now... these clowns.

In other words, seeing what I'd look like if I stayed friends with my Frost-ish pal and never discovered sex, drugs, and rock and roll is kind of crushingly weird and terrifying. And Yet -  they actually grow as characters as the film goes on, how emotionally un-arrested of them! And Kristen Wiig is adorable, as the NY Post's Paul Smith noted: 
There may come a day when I tire of Seth Rogen’s shtick but I hope it doesn’t come soon. (Yes, I loved “The Green Hornet”). His sarcastic insults and Transgalactic Delta House ebullience keep things rolling along (even if the gay jokes are a little stale) as the boys pick up more enemies and a kindly one-eyed fundamentalist Christian (the indispensable Kristen Wiig) who says of Paul, “He’s not evil. He’s just a bit rude.”
  (Read more)
"Transgalactic Delta House ebullience" - I think we can all aspire to that, both as writers and as people. The ultimate message of this cosmic trip then becomes this: stoners are the smartest of all humans. Paul's very advanced, yet he acts just like a stoner slacker crossed with a less spastic Kermit the Frog. What does that tell you if it's not that stoners rule?!! That's what got me out of being a comic book nerd, I can tell you - drugs and alcohol were my socializing and talking to hot girls without blushing and stammering spinach. And as drugs, bass, and babes became the major force in my life, all the other comics stopped for me except Love and Rockets, Dan Clowes' Eightball (below), Pete Bagge's Hate, and old Zap! reprints. I yelled excitedly when I saw this guy (below) on one of Pegg's awesome T-shirts. That's a Clowes!

It would have been cool in Paul to see examples of other aliens or humans working inside the alien vessels to further advance the notions of a global elite conspiracy but it's great the way the CGI alien interacts with the humans so flawlessly--on the level of Andy Serkis' Kong and Golum, rather than the stilted dread knots of Jar Jar Binks and SyFy channel stuff. It works so that you forget altogether he's just a CGI hallucination. So see PAUL with a bunch of friends late night after the young person's AA meeting, or while getting hammered and it will treat you right. There's a subtext in there that any dope fiend or former dope fiend will take to heart, and it's traceable back to--what else?--a comic book:

The one big genre-buster comic I know of that deals with the issues of life after death and the universe and aliens, the only truth that sets one free, is Timothy Leary's Neurocomics (Last Gasp, 1979) which describes the circular DNA arc of life with the following being indicative of where our Paul is on the evolutionary scale:

In this strata, the hippie stoner is a whole evolutionary cycle above the family man preacher (below) who is the end game on the highest level of 'terrestrial circuits' while the stoner is the lowbrow level of post-terrestrial, so a whole DNA sequence higher on the celestial step ladder.

(Read the full comic  here or download here)

This should be good news to the moms of stoners and trippers everywhere, and explains why the religious right considers psychedelic drugs such a threat. It's because the 17 year-old mushroom dealer is a whole circuit higher on the DNA chain than freakin' Jerry Falwell or Michelle Bachman, or even Osama Bin Barack, or whatever his post-Bohemian Grove mind control reptilian takeover name is. And that's enough that those comic book geeks Pegg and Frost should really grow up and start doing some drugs. Paul's got a great magic power where he can send you all the cosmic truths in a big rush of DMT that will take the dogma crust off any cutie pie conservative, and it makes a good point for arguing that the bible belt might come around and be less closed-off if they got a nice dose of LSD in their morning cup of joe. If you want to 'see' the truth, you know who to trust, and it's not those Bohemian Grove owl-worshiping conservatives and their masochist leatherboy slave Antichrist, but the real deal, Tim Leary! LEARYCON, now that's a comic convention worth believing in. Vote Leary's frozen head for president in 2012! 


  1. Hey Erich, great stuff as usual, I always enjoy reading your blog.
    I just recently watched Secret Honor, directed by Robert Altman, and if you haven't already seen it, I think it would be right up your ally. It stars Philip Baker Hall as a paranoid post-Watergate Richard Nixon getting shitfaced, running around his office with a gun and screaming about "those fuckers at bohemian grove", "that whore master Kissinger" and those "fucking Kennedy bastards". I would love to hear your thoughts on it if you're looking for an interesting movie to review.

  2. Thanks Birch, I am and it sounds awesome, I'm on it.