Thursday, November 09, 2006


Lots of people have "dreaded-consequences-of-scratching" stories, so many that I'm beginning to think that scratching an itch is one the most perilous things you can do. It was in my case. Here's the story...

Years ago a famous German director made a low-budget, 8-hour movie called "Our Hitler." The critics raved about it and I was curious to see it. Evidently the public didn't share my curiosity because, even though I saw it on opening day, there were only about ten people in the audience. I found a seat in a completely empty section of the theater and prepared to be blown away by high art.

Well, to put it mildly, there was no art. The whole film was an amateurish, stream-of-consciousness home movie about whatever trivial thing the director felt like talking about. Sitting through it was torture; I wanted to strangle the critics who recommended it! I found my self endlessly re-adjusting my position in the seat, refolding my jacket, and scratching imaginary itches. Sometimes I'd get itches on my arm and, since I had nothing else to do, I'd roll up the sleeve of my shirt just to get a good scratch on just the right place. I particularly liked scratching my five-o'clock shadow which was bristley and made a noise. Once or twice I tried scratching like a dog just to see what they saw in it.

Hour after hour the film plodded on and I got more and more restless and itchy. I was scratching like a madman. Just when I was in the middle of the mother of all raking scratches a giant moose of a face appeared from the seat behind me and shouted at the top of its lungs: "Stop it! S T O P I T!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IF YOU SCRATCH ONE MORE ITCH SO HELP ME I'M GONNA KILL YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 

I froze and slid way down into the seat, too scared to move. I didn't even breathe. I just tucked my head into my shoulders and looked rigidly forward. Where did this guy come from? In a nearly empty theater why did this giant have to sit right behind me? I stayed there completely still for the rest of the film. When the film finally ended and the light came on I discovered the seat behind me was empty. There were only about three people left in the whole theater. I guess my outraged citizen found the film intolerable, even without the scratching.

So that's my itching story. What's yours?


Kali Fontecchio said...

HAHA! You told me that one! I loved it then and now! And hey! Werner Herzog is hilarious, just for the record.

aLouie said...

Little lad found a patch,
Patch he did so scratch,
Scratch 'till skin doesn't match,
Match had the doctor to an ezcema batch.

david gemmill said...

hahahahaah thats a great picture and story! haaha.

there is this thing called prickly heat, or heat rash, and i didn't know it existed much less that i could get it, until one fatal day....

its when your sweat can't reach the surface of your skin for whatever reason ( i found out it was some cheapass lotion i was using from savon that was on sale, those bastards) and its like little tiny bumps that sting and itch like the worst itchyness ever

and so one day, it was really hot and i had to drive somewhere on some packed los angeles freeway, like the 101, and it was super hot and i started getting the bumps, that felt like a million bug bites all over my arms, and so i was scratching like crazy. I thought i had some weird allergic reaction to a waffle i ate or something. I was freaking out and i wasn't really paying attention to traffic and basically almost died in a car crash as i let my car swerve into the other lane (because both my hands were off my steering wheel and trying to scratch furiously away at the stupid bumps.) and 4 people were honking at me slamming on their brakes.

i guess the moral of my story is don't by cheap ass lotion that will clog your pores if you have white skin that is prone to heat rash.


Trevour said...

In the land of Minnesota, we get mosquitoes. The worst mosquito bites are those on bony parts of your skin, like your knuckles, elbows, ankle, etc. I don't care what others tell me - they itch so bad that I scratch them until the top layer of skin is all gone. I might end up having a small scab for a few days afterwards, but hey, at least the itch is gone!

Steve Schnier said...

In the movie I'm making, the father comes down with an "industrial strength" case of pubic lice. Which is funny enough, but it's torture to edit the film because the editor and I start scratching along in sympathy. I know how it feels to scratch for 8 hours solid.

Jennifer said...

Uncle Eddie that story was hilarious! You are an excellent storyteller.

Vincent Waller said...

Oh Christ Eddie! If had known that was you, I'd have never barked at you;0)

Anonymous said...

I very nearly went to see "Our Hitler" which runs a total of ten hours, usually screened over two nights, and was made on a small tabletop over a span of five years. The human body is just not designed to sit for that long, no matter how comfortable the upholstery. Couldn't the director have made his point in like, three hours max?

Ryan G. said...

Ive got a Ukranian buddy who inadvertently gave his brother crabs. He had dipped his stick into the wrong pond and had all these little buggers crawling in his nether regions. He had gone a couple of days itching like crazy wondering what the hell was going on. He finally figured it out and went to the doctor to get some shampoo or something. Well, I guess these crabs just jump all over the place and his brother fell asleep on the couch one night and got infested with his crabs!

NARTHAX said...

Crabs are always hilarious. They well may be your best entertainment value.

Eric Dotseth said...

Being an entomologist I get stories about biting and itching insects a lot...pubic lice, fleas, bed bugs, mosquitoes, chiggers and other mites and ticks (such as the infamous 'dick tick').

However my personal favorite story involves delusionary parasitosis. Individuals with this condition believe little parasites are all over their body. These imaginary insects are believed to be responsible for their itching. One time a person with this condition mailed me samples of their scabs and wanted me to identify the (illusionary) insects responsible for their itching. It was disgusting.

Vincent Waller said...

I thought they found that there was some actual condition(other than brain malfunction) behind that condition.

Steve Schnier said...

Now THAT'S a nice come-on for ya: "Hello. Would you mind checking my scabs...?"

Jenny said...

Hey there, miss Kali(goddess of destrauction!)--Werner Herzog didn't have anything to do with "Our Hitler", did he? In any case he's tops with me.

I sort of wanted to go to see that film--"Hitler"--as the clips showed a weird puppet-Hitler and all kinds of fantasia on the "theme"--but 10 hours? I did that and more for "Berlin Alexanderplatz" in one go at the Vista; that was worth it but that was Fassbinder.

Anyway, itching? No, nothing funny I can recall, but full confession: I'd have screamed at you too if you'd used your beard like an emory board for 5 hours! Much as I adore you, I am afraid I probably would have. And then you'd have cut me off forever! OK, maybe I'd have restrained myself--or just walked out of the film. ; D
Remind me to tell you about the death theats I and my friends received from a hulking brute(and he really was)when we all went to see "Nightmare before Christmas" at the El Capitan...I honestly thought we'd all be shot in the lobby. That was over a polite request to quiet down. yeesh.

***A totally unconnected aside: there's a display I saw yesterday in the lobby of the Motion Picture Academy building (on Wilshire at LaPeer)of photographs from the estate of Harold Lloyd; all the pictures are blown up to 11x14, and they are gorgeous, completely wonderful. 'Highest recommendation', as Bud Plant would say. Tell Fontanelli to go-and go yourself!

Eric Dotseth said...

Here's another one relating to 'itching' and yesterday's blog about murder.

Forensic scientists using blood samples from pubic lice collected from a murder victim to convict a murderer.

Kali Fontecchio said...

Hey Eddie, isn't there more to that story? Like the escape?

Jenny, I was just refering to him, because he's a German filmmaker, no other reason, hehe, sorry. As for Herzog being involved, no idea- never seen the "8 hour masterpiece" haha.

Eric Dotseth said...

'I thought they found that there was some actual condition(other than brain malfunction) behind that condition.'

As far as I have read, delusory parasitosis is strictly a mental condition. Some people mistake psoriasis for parasite infestation. And people with delusory parasitosis may have poor eyesight.

Jorge Garrido said...

>As for Herzog being involved, no idea- never seen the "8 hour masterpiece" haha.

I can almost imagine the filmmaker reaching for an Oscar or some kind of immortality for innovation.

This post really got me going, I've rubbed my brown skin white!

Eddie, when white people scratch, do they leave lines? Can you draw pictures on yourselves or write by scracthging like darker people?

Jorge Garrido said...


CAn you mkae cartoon cahratcers out of emoticons? Here's Stimpy frowning:

]80{ );

Sally Worm:
~( 80))=8===}

John K:


Steve Worth with a cowboy hat:

=) ;^D))




] :>|]

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jorge: LOL! It never occurred to me that people with dark skin might leave lines behind when they scratch themselves! There's gotta be someway to use that in a cartoon!

The emoticons are hilarious! How did you think of that!?

David: I never understood prickly heat till now. So that's what it is!

Jenny: I'm not a fan of Herzog and Fassbinder. It's sad to think of the state of German film after WW2.

Jenny said...

Oh, Eddie, you disappoint me! Well, not really.

Alright, full disclosure: it's the men Herzog and poor old Rainer Fassbinder, that I developed a crush on, more than their films. And I still think "Aguirre" is pretty amazing...but apart from "Alexanderplatz"(which was a great book imho), I got into Fassbinder based on a single photograph of the director, when he was still alive, where he looked for all the world like a big sloppy version of Lorre(and I've already said how I feel about him)I cut it out of some magazine--Rolling Stone?--and mounted it and had it at NYU and at home...then, on Z channel(anyone remember that? Our household was one of the first to get cable in L.A. in the 70s)they showed a Fassbinder festival, and how can one resist titles like "Ali: Fear Eats the Soul"? Or the ineffable beauty of Hanna Schygulla's face? "Maria Braun"? Or Barbara Sukowa's cheekbones? See, I love UFA and pre-WW2 as much as the next person, too, an artist, I get hypnotised by the look of Fassbinder if I can't really sit through some of the films. I know, silly, isn't it? ; )

Now, again, Herzog is one of those people I want to have lunch with--he's a dynamic, enigmatic, brilliant guy as a person--anyway, that's my impression. My all-time favorite glimpse of Herzog(Kali--look for this one): his appearance in "Chambre 666", a short documentary done by another german(albeit a more sweet-natured one), Wim Wenders, which I've only seen once at the Nuart but Herzog's 5 minutes in it is burned into my memory, to coin a corny phrase.
Oh! Here's a link that explains it. I hadn't remembered Spielberg was in it--that tells you the impact the other guys made--Godard and Herzog esp. Fassbinder is in it too--a whole Rogue's gallery for you, Eddie! The death of german cinema! Oh my! : )

p.s.: Have you been to Deutschland, Eddie? I'd guess yes.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jenny: Thanks for the 666 link. I bookmarked it and will watch it as soon as I'm able. I really hope I'm wrong about German cinema. I liked the recent film about Hitler in his bunker and "Das Boat" has to be one of the best nautical films ever.

Hey, have you ever read Karl May? He was a popular German kids book author of the 20s and 30s, Hesse, Einstein and Hitler all read May. Maybe he was to German kids what Henty was to English kids almost a hundred years ago. When I'm able I'll post a couple of May pages, maybe some Henty too. See what you think of them.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jenny: BTW, what death threats?

Jorge Garrido said...

>LOL! It never occurred to me that people with dark skin might leave lines behind when they scratch themselves! There's gotta be someway to use that in a cartoon!

That's a good idea. Isn't it weird how I assumed it happened to everyone and it never even crossed your mind?

>The emoticons are hilarious! How did you think of that!?

Marlo's emoticon caricature of you inspired me. I think her's was better.

Jenny said...

Oh, this "dad"/thug with 5 tiny kids was sitting next to us during "Nightmare", gabbering LOUDly all through the film; in a scene that played like an episode of "I Love Lucy" I asked him to please keep it down, and he responded with a stream of horrific profanity towards my friends(who were male). The gauntletwas thrown in their faces and I was sitting in the middle.
Nautrally things escalated until the guy promised to, um, sort of...kill us in the El Capitan lobby. I think a firearm was mentioned.
For that reason I have neither any memory of the last hour of that film or any desire to see it ever again, which isn't the film's fault. The happy ending was the Blowhard disappeared after glaring at us through the credits where I tearfully forbade my friends to get up from their seats. Whew.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jenny: He threatened to kill you all infront of his five kids!!!??? Man! Imagine what kind of life his kids must have at home!

Anyway, that was a good telling of that story!