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Monday, April 14, 2014

HAPPY פסח FROM THE VAULT OF BUNCHENESS!

To all my Red Sea Pedestrian readers, Happy Passover! And enjoy this classic from the October 1977 issue of NATIONAL LAMPOON, an excerpt from "The Unreleased Albums of John, Paul, George and Ringo," credited to the magazine's editors:

RABBI SAUL (1967) This album was recorded for the benefit of Queenie Epstein on the occasion of her son Brian's untimely death. The idea was simply to cheer her up after her terrible loss; but not content with being cheered up, Queenie wanted to have the album released, claiming it would make "a pile." When the group refused, she sued, claiming that since they had given her the album, she owned it outright. The court case continued until Allen Klein took over management of the Beatles, at which point Mrs. Epstein inexplicably dropped the suit.

Main cuts:
  • Hey, Juden
  • Here Comes My Son, the Doctor Robert
  • Helter Schmelter
  • Your Mother Should Only Know
  • P.S.I.O.U.
  • If I Kvell
  • Mocky Raccoon
  • Sexy Seder
  • The Schul on the Hill

Thursday, April 10, 2014

IN HONOR OF BATMAN'S 75th ANNIVERSARY

The pre-Robin Batman, my favorite version of the character, finally gets animated. Oh, how I wish they'd do an entire series like this, black-and-white and all! Or, better yet, a 13-chapter serial! Anyway, this is the perfect way to celebrate this pop culture icon's 75th anniversary, so make sure to watch this in full-screen mode.

Monday, March 31, 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA; THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)



It’s two years after the events of MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS (2012) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) — aka Captain America — continues fighting for his country (and the greater good in general) as an operative of S.H.I.E.L.D. while also struggling with adjusting to being a living anachronism who’s been time-displaced by seven decades. Partnered with veteran super-spy the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a crack team of the hardest of hardcore special ops soldiers, Cap and crew storm a hijacked ship to rescue the ransomed innocents onboard, but during the mission Cap discovers the Widow acting on a separate and rather shady mission that he was not made aware of. That discovery puts him at odds with S.H.I.E.L.D. direct or Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who, seeing Cap’s discomfort with possessing a strong sense of morality that runs counter to a career in the sometimes-nasty world of international espionage, clues him in on Operation: Insight, a government initiative that will put three new heavily-armed heli-carriers in the air, each ready to rock some heavy-duty ordnance on the nation’s enemies before they have a chance to actually get up to anything. Cap, being the true blue guy that he is, states that he’s all for fighting in the name of freedom, but this latest plan reads not as freedom but as a means of imposing order by means of devastating, practically-applied preemptive fear-mongering. While Cap stews over his disgust with S.H.I.E.L.D. and his own role in furthering their agenda, Fury, to his horror, discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s security protocols have been compromised and the control of Operation: Insight is in the wrong hands. Fury soon finds himself targeted by unknown foes that dispatch a legendary, highly skilled, bionic-armed — and apparently un-aging — assassin known as the Winter Soldier, and calling the resulting takedown brutal would be a gross understatement. With Fury taken off the board, Cap, the Widow, and para-rescue veteran/PTSD counselor Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) — known to longtime comics readers as the Falcon — must ass-kick their way through a maze of intrigue and low-down treachery that leads to the highest levels of government, and whatever the outcome, things will never be the same for any of the players.

That’s really as much as I can say about the plot without giving away its intricacies and surprises, but I will say that I greatly enjoyed the film. It’s every bit as good as its predecessor, only with the WWII period flavor replaced with that of a political/espionage thriller, and with the action cranked up considerably. With Cap’s origin out of the way, the movie’s main thrust it to take the audience along with the most moral of heroes on a journey through the murkiest waters of the global spookshow as filtered through the sensibilities of the Marvel Universe. A few notes:
  •  The heartbreaking return of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). She last saw Cap in 1944 and did not have the benefit of being frozen along with him. You do the math…
  • Spectacular fight choreography that lets us see how well Cap fights when not relying solely on his shield-slinging chops. The fight in a crowded elevator, in which Cap decimates close to a dozen counter-terrorism hardcores and regular S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and the in-the-street battle against the Winter Soldier are standouts that had the audience cheering. 

Mess with the best, lose like the rest.
  • More quality ass-whuppery from the Black Widow.
  • The Falcon finally being rendered in a way that made me care about him as a character, something that was long overdue, especially since he shared Cap’s monthly comics series as his partner for a number of years in the 1970s.
  • The live-action debut of Batroc (Georges St-Pierre), and the man can fight like an utter sumbitch.
  • Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce, the man who hired Nick Fury as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. The last guy I ever expected to see in a Marvel Comics movie, Redford’s terrific and totally believable. 
  • I saw the film in 2D and nothing that I saw appeared to be specifically geared for the 3D effect, so I suggest you opt for the 2D and save yourself the extra bucks.
  • As expected, the movie features two Easter eggs at the end; one immediately after the main cast credits that prefigures the next AVENGERS installment, and one at the very end that looks to be an element that will be pursued in Cap’s next solo outing.
  • Based on the strength of this entry, I’m very interested in seeing where Captain America’s solo adventures go from here, especially now that he’s partnered with the Falcon.
 I saw the film at the Marvel Comics company screening with a number of friends and former colleagues, and several of those comics veterans hailed CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER as the best Marvel movie yet. That opinion was espoused by people who would not say that in order to tow the company line, so take it for what it’s worth.

Yours Truly, at the Marvel Comics screening at the Ziegfeld. The shield belongs to a super-fan whom I've seen at the NY Comic Con several times over the years, and all of the signatures of comics luminaries are authentic.

Friday, March 28, 2014

AIN'T IT THE TRUTH!

The photoplasty of my Facebook images continues, with this apropos entry from Melanie Cossio Avallone.

FUN WITH PHOTOSHOP!!!

There's been a trend where people post photos of themselves online and let their friends alter them in ridiculous ways via Photoshop, so a few days back I granted my photoplasty-savvy artsy pals leave to raid my Facebook photo albums and mess with pics of me in any way they saw fit, the more ridiculous or offensive, the better. Well, the first two digitally-retouched images have come in, courtesy of my old friend and ultra-talented artsy colleague Matt Maley, and they're a hell of an opening salvo. This first item is fun enough:

But it's this second one that I'm absolutely mad for, and I intend to have it printed at 8"x10" and framed for my wall:

Ro-Man, the titular star of the infamous ROBOT MONSTER (1953), is my unofficial alter-ego, so this could not possibly have made me happier.

I'll post more such items as they come in, and I sincerely hope they start veering into the ultra-absurd and twisted!

INEVITABLE, THY NAME IS THIS

I totally called this one when the source film came out. Forget the fact that slave fetish porn exists, this one was guaranteed to happen the minute the title 12 YEARS A SLAVE was emblazoned across the nation's cinema marquees.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

JODOROWSKY'S DUNE (2013)


If it plays at a schmancy art theater anywhere near you, run, don't walk, to see JODOROWSKY'S DUNE, a documentary on the ultra-psychedelic director's abortive attempt to get his vision of Frank Herbert's science-fiction classic to the screen, with collaborators Moebius, Chris Foss, Dan O'Bannon, Salvador Dali, Pink Floyd, Magma, and H.R. Giger. I'm a huge fan of his movies — especially THE HOLY MOUNTAIN and SANTA SANGRE — but the documentary was not at all what I expected, because it is hands down the funniest account of the making of a film that I have ever seen. First of all, Jodorwsky hadn't even bothered to read the book when he launched the project, and at one point he describes his process as "raping Frank Herbert...but with love." A compelling look at what happens when an ambitious artist seeks to craft a project that will utterly change the horizons of film while granting its audience some form of enlightenment through a movie that sought to emulate the effects of an LSD trip without actual hallucinogens, viewers will find themselves rooting for the director's utterly bonkers plan, though it's obvious that no Hollywood studio in 1975 would have funded a 20-hour (!!!) film that would obviously cause a tidal wave of hemorrhaging cash.  I could say more — a LOT more — but this documentary is best seen with as little foreknowledge of its content as possible. It's complete madness, thoroughly entertaining, fucking hilarious, and it gets my HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.
 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

FUN WITH KAMEN RIDER!!!

THE MISFITS' "AMERICAN NIGHTMARE" + GRINDHOUSE MOVIE FOOTAGE = A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

Never was Glenn Danzig's delivery more Elvis-like.

Monday, March 17, 2014

THE WEARYING OF THE GREEN


NOTE TO NEW READERS: this is a rerun from previous years (with minor updates), but it's apropos for today so please enjoy.

So it's Saint Patrick's Day 2014 and I'm going to stay off the streets of New York tonight while the populace at large gets Viking-level destroyed on their fermented beverages of choice. During the bygone days of my misspent youth I gladly joined in the revelry, happy that this one day of the year was more or less given over to everybody getting completely fucked up and shedding the burden of being human, but Saint Patrick's Day has long since lost its allure for me thanks to growing up (sort of) and having worked two St. Patrick's Days at the barbecue joint. The joint — now defunct — opened nine years ago today and St. Paddy's is as good a day as any for the anniversary of that fine dining establishment, but it became a bit overwhelming and the altered behavior of most of the crowd in attendance got rather David Lynchian in its crawly strangeness.

I don't know about the rest of the nation but New York City in the throes of intoxicated Irish pride is an untamable green-clad beast that yowls and screeches random Pogues hits in tones even more unintelligible than those found in a live performance by the band's toothless wreck of a front man, Shane McGowan. Seriously, it took me years to decipher McGowan's wasted warbling during his infamous Saint Patrick's Day performance of "Body of An American" on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE back in 1990.

The might and Majesty that is Shane McGowan.

There's a strange blend of good feelings and ready-to-erupt primal savagery that permeates the air on this day, a palpable buzz of expectation and yearning that mutates into the full gamut of human emotion once strong drink is introduced into the mix. Fucking and fighting are practically guaranteed, occasionally at the same time, and every bar in the city is sure to be packed to the rafters with folks decked out in cheap plastic Leprechaun hats and "Kiss Me I'm Irish" t-shirts, merrily gobbling up free and fatty corned beef and cabbage while swilling down foul-tasting beer tinted with green food coloring, a libation barely a step up from McDonald's odious seasonal horror, the Shamrock Shake.

The Shamrock Shake: minty taste treat, or mass-marketed bio-hazard sludge?

But the worst thing to come from all of this is the day-after remains of hardcore partying, namely broken bottles everywhere, carelessly discarded party cups, rivers of reeking piss provided by both men and women and, worst of all, sidewalks copiously adorned with spewed beer and partially-digested food, making the streets look like they've been carpeted with day-old corned beef hash. I shit you not, in some years the pavement was so puked-out that one could easily have skated on the vomit, this phenomenon being especially bad near the Park Avenue offices of Marvel Comics during the early-1990's.

The morning after also sees the subways smelling of fetid beer and drunks who have voided themselves in all possible ways without the benefit of having a restroom close at hand. The floors are glazed with spilled drinks and your feet stick to the linoleum like flypaper. Just plain revolting.

Please don't get me wrong. I totally understand the need to let off steam and get buck-wild but St. Patrick's Day is rightfully termed "amateur night" by those of us who know how to properly get our drink on and not inflict out-of-control, sloppy assholism on the innocent citizenry, so we tend to sit this day out. Have you ever been out on St. Patrick's Day and had some boozed-up Bronx chick with big tits and green hair chat you up only to get close to you and bark up her dinner and last six shots of Jameson all over your chest? Well I have, and I can assure you that it completely harshed my evening and forced me to shell out ten bucks for one of those "I Heart NY" t-shirts to replace the vomit-sponge that the shirt I'd worn had become. Sorry, but stark white with a touristy slogan simply is not my aesthetic.

And why is it that a day that supposedly celebrates all things Irish invariably degenerates into a reinforcement of the drunken Mick stereotype? The Irish have contributed so much worthwhile literature, music, and who knows what else to the world, but other than being thrown a bone in any one of a gazillion St. Patrick's Day parades little, if any, mention is made of that. As far as the public at large seems to be concerned, on St. Patrick's Day the greatest contribution made by the Irish is whiskey. That's a damned shame when one takes into account what a genuinely wonderful people the Irish are, a group overflowing with a no-bullshit humanity and honesty of expression that's just plain endearing. My buddies Cat, Hughes, Amanda, Declan, Garth, and Tracey are prime examples of this and many of my other friends and acquaintances whose ancestry hails from Ireland are equally as awesome.

Garth and Hughes, two of my favorite people.

So maybe that's what should be concentrated upon on Saint Patrick's Day, namely the oft-ignored excellence of our society's Irish component. And while we're at it, how about a marathon of flicks like THE QUIET MAN, DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE, and THE LUCK OF THE IRISH? So even though the drunken idiots of all ethnicities out there may unintentionally be a rampaging annoyance, show some love to any of the Irish who may be in your life. And be careful when walking on those barf-splattered sidewalks 'cause falling down and breaking your ass on concrete is bad enough, but having that happen with the added accent of having your body coated with slimy, half-digested bar food is simply horrendous.