Search This Blog

Saturday, March 31, 2012

OH, HAPPY DAY: MEETING HENRY WINKLER, THE #1 AMERICAN '70'S ICON OF COOL


I was in a lousy mood when I awoke this morning, but I nonetheless rallied myself to haul ass to the New York Comic Book Marketplace at Manhattan's Pennsylvania Hotel. It's a good small-scale, old school show with tons of stuff to buy and artists and celebrities to meet, but my main motivation in going today was to meet Henry Winkler, known to all Americans of my age as Arthur Fonzarelli, aka "the Fonz," the breakout star of TV's (HAPPY DAYS 1974-1984).

HAPPY DAYS — and more importantly to American pop culture, Winkler's character — was an indelible part of the '70's growing-up experience for kids of my age and the Fonz became an icon of the era, despite his origins being based in the early-'70's wave of nostalgia for the 1950's. It may be hard for those born after the fact to quite grasp it, but the Fonz (or "Fonzie" as some called him) was abso-fucking-lutely everywhere during the height of the show's popularity and the merchandising avalanche revolving around him was titanic.


From the height of the Fonz's popularity. If Henry Winkler had actually run for president during the 1976 campaign — and the voting age were lowered to 10 — he would have won by a landslide.

It was especially amusing to witness the character's progression from something of a thug in his initial appearances to an unlikely role model who balanced his epitomizing of the concept of "cool" with leading by example when it came to stuff like brushing one's teeth or making sure to "eat your veggies." It was shortly after that point in the character's development when the Fonz jumped over a shark while on water skis, thus providing the popular lexicon with the basis of the term "jump the shark" in reference to pinpointing the exact moment when something irreversibly goes off the rails and immediately nosedives into outright shit. Near the end, the Fonz could actually be considered something of a superhero, especially when he fought beside the very strange martial arts warrior woman, Katmandu, and it was around that point when I bid HAPPY DAYS and the Fonz, both once unmissable parts of my weekly ritual as a kid, farewell. That said, I did return for the show's final episode, which aired during my sophomore year of college, and I watched it with a suite full of girls who got rather weepy over it since it was the end of a pop culture era that we'd all seen take root and flourish during our formative years.

Anyway, today I met Henry Winkler, the Fonz himself, a pop culture deity from my childhood, and he was a total sweetheart who was very engaged with his fans. "Poverty be damned," I said to myself, and I shelled out for a couple of autographed pictures and a photo op. (I also couldn't resist a personalized copy of his fly fishing memoir, because how could I not have a fly fishing memoir written by Henry Winkler on my bookshelf?)

Yer Bunche meets the Fonz. If only I could send this shot back to my classmates at Hillspoint Elementary School in 1976...


Classic Fonz.

I love that Winkler has a totally aware sense of humor that allows him to show up with ready-to-autograph shots of himself as the Fonz moments before he quite literally jumped the shark. I intended to get only one photo, but there was no way I could pass this one up.

And while searching Google some images with which to punctuate this post, I came across this:

I have no idea what the hell it's supposed to mean but I can only imagine the reaction if Winkler had shown up with a stack of these for autographing. Sadly, I would have bought one, thus ensuring myself a one-way ticket to the 8th level of Dante's Hell, the "Malebolge."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

FRANK ZAPPA'S "CHEEPNIS" WITH LOADS OF MONSTER FOOTAGE

Two of my very favorite things — Frank Zappa and monster footage — in a head-on collision? Oh, HELL yeah.

Monday, March 26, 2012

HAPPY 81st BIRTHDAY, LEONARD NIMOY!

My very favorite hero since I was four. I don't think I'm capable of writing enough words to express my love of Spock and Leonard Nimoy's singular portrayal of the character, so I won't even try. Just let it suffice to say that Spock spoke directly to the heart and mind of this misfit when I was young and in dire need of an outsider idol who was cool beyond words.

Friday, March 23, 2012

THE PLASMATICS DOING "LIVING DEAD'" ON FRIDAYS-1/16/1981

Special thanks to Satyros for this. Seriously, is there a better way to start a kickass weekend than with a visit from the Plasmatics? Here they are as seen on FRIDAYS, the short-lived SNL-esque late-night show that's best remembered these days for its terrific musical guests and for being an early showcase for Michael "Kramer" Richards.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

HAPPY (?) ANNIVERSARY

FYI, dear Vaulties, today's date marks the second anniversary of Yours Truly getting laid off from the design 'ho house. Yep, I've been unemployed from a steady gig for two solid years, so to all of you out there who are in the same boat as myself in that respect, STAY STRONG AND BE PRODUCTIVE.

Friday, March 16, 2012

GREAT MOMENTS IN RAP: Shawn Brown's "RAPPIN' DUKE" (1984)

I wonder what John Wayne would have had to say to this...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ELEGY FOR A GRANDMASTER (and a related, unexpected gift from the Time Tunnel)


Jean Giraud, aka Moebius (1938-2012): grandmaster cartoonist/illustrator and one-of-a-kind imagineer.

I believe the impossible
Can come true
If we want it to
-The Damned ("I Believe the Impossible")

As the comics fans who read this site are no doubt aware of by now, the legendary Jean Giraud, best known to the world as the one and only Moebius, recently lost his battle with cancer at the age of 73. This lovely Frenchman was one of the world's true grandmasters of comics illustration, possessed of skillfully applied draftsmanship that seemingly impossibly matched his vast and vivid imagination's infinite landscape, and he has been a major influence on my sensibilities since I discovered him when I was just a month or two shy of turning twelve. How to describe this man's...no, this titan's oeuvre and its meaning to those unfamiliar with his body of work? It's for more legitimate journalistic organs like THE NEW YORK TIMES to pen his obituary, but I was — and remain — a staunch fan, so I'll try to give it a shot.


Patty Smith: her image used as photo reference in THE AIRTIGHT GARAGE.

Moebius' name ranks among the all-time greatest and most influential visual storytellers of the last hundred years, a pantheon of such comics deities as Kirby, Eisner, Tezuka, Hergé, Foster and Caniff, each of whom birthed recognizable visions that were truly and uniquely their own. When you read a Moebius work, you don't just read it. One is immediately drawn in by visuals whose apparent simplicity of line created worlds that had weight, depth, color and a certain dreamlike/lysergic atmosphere. His figures, human or otherwise, all bore a near-palpable fleshiness and weight that one would think impossible to achieve with such a relative economy of linework, and that aspect was key to the believability of his vast dreamscapes. The structures and technological wonders he drew displayed an elegance to match his characters, and all of it dazzled the eye.

One of Moebius' designs for Ridley Scott's ALIEN (1979). Watch the film again and note the space helmets.


Note the simplicity of line that works to somehow provide a depth of detail that no amount of pointless art-wankery noodling would have achieved without rendering the piece murky or confusing with superfluous minutia.

Discovering his work as an adolescent male was a serious eye-opener when it came to redefining how I considered what is often defined as "good girl art." My tastes in depiction of the female form have always run toward the Frazetta and Corben schools of buxomness, coupled with an earthy torridness of a kind that made one feel they could practically smell and taste the fantasy females in question. (Corben's bosomy women especially got me going and I always had it in my head that their presumed soft and lush expanses had a sweaty, salty flavor to them.) But then came Moebius and his classy visual sensibility that delineated delicate, sleepy-eyed, very European-looking women whose physical attributes somehow managed to combine the expected elements of sexual fantasy with a more realistic approach to the form and depiction of its many pleasures, both as art and erotica. When his females were seen engaging in the act of sexual congress, there was always an air of classiness to their cavorting and a definite sense of joy in the sharing of bodies in that most intimate form of communication. Once I was of an age to have experienced such things for myself, my appreciation for Moebius only increased because I recognized the erotic being expressed by someone who had not only enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh, he positively reveled in them as a vital force. Even when applying his skills to what would in lesser hands be considered "beaver shots," Moebius' women maintained a distinct cosmopolitan dignity.


I fail to find anything even remotely vulgar about this.

That aspect shook me as a desperate tween and was further driven home while reading the recent collected edition of his MADWOMAN OF THE SACRED HEART, which contained some moments that one wants to have within reach on lonely nights.


Moebius and Jimi Hendrix: a lysergic gene-splicing that simply had to happen.

I have no idea if Moebius ever availed himself to the renowned psychedelic "party favors" that were obtainable in the 1960's and 1970's but one of the things that most appeals about his work and the fantasmagoria it brings to vivid life is its quality of hallucinatory malleability and colorfulness, which also paradoxically works even in monochrome. His fantasy landscapes could be splashed with colors you just knew tasted like sweet citrusy candy, or they would veer toward cool pastels that evoked a certain velvet feel, and his black and white pieces' lack of hues only served to bring the deceptively minimalist surface details and textures into sharp focus. Many a young stoner or dabbler in quality hallucinogens seasoned their altered journeys with the artist's works and one can imagine those febrile visuals serving as a diversion that blew 3D movie imagery right out of the water.

A famous image from ARZACH, a visually influential series going on four decades old whose impact is still being felt.

To those of us who followed his career beginning with the U.S. debut of HEAVY METAL magazine, it seemed there was nothing Moebius was not capable of. In his hands, even a garden variety Marvel superhero could be lent his signature style and otherworldly aspect.

This 1989 Iron Man poster hung framed in the Marvel Bullpen for ages and seeing it among far lesser works every day during my time there (January 1990-late October 1998) only made me appreciate it more.

But all of the greats must eventually pass and Moebius' time is finally over. His imagination and capacity to express that seemingly limitless wellspring were indeed moving and powerful, but even his powers could not hold the dire end that is the body consuming itself at bay. I openly wept upon reading of his demise and I think it's clear from my ramblings that I held the work of Jean Giraud most dear. To put it simply, perhaps more than any other illustrator, he truly made me believe the impossible.

And then came an unexpected miracle gift from the Time Tunnel. (Note: THE TIME TUNNEL was an old sci-fi show about time travel, and I often invoke it when things I'd long forgotten about return as if from out of the blue.)

The Time Tunnel: a classic piece of sci-fi hardware, now re-purposed at random spots in my apartment.

Over the days since his passing was announced, there has been much outpouring of grief and tributes by some of today's most talented cartoonists have begun to surface, with more inevitably to come. (Worth seeking out are the ones by Chris Weston and Goran Parlov. They're gorgeous and clearly bear the mark of his influence upon their work.) I've spoken with a number of fellow Moebius-lovers about his demise and we reminisced about the many, many stories of his that moved and inspired us, but of particular importance was the conversation I had last night with my dear friend and Bullpen brother, Big Black Paul. As Paul and I chatted, he began to recount the day when Moebius came to visit the Marvel Comics office, a time we both thought occurred before I started working there. But as Paul discussed Moebius' translator noting the Lt. Blueberry poster that the big guy had hanging on the wall next to his desk — to call paul a maven of westerns would be a colossal understatement — and asking him if he wanted the artist to sign it, a bell began to go off in the back of my memory. When Paul mentioned an officemate who had a desk near his station, an officemate who did not join the staff until at least a year after I arrived, I recalled that I was there on the day of Moebius' visit and that if I had advance word that he would be visiting the House of Ideas, there was no way in hell that I would not have had my copy of his THE AIRTIGHT GARAGE, my favorite of all his classic works, on hand for him to sign. Once that memory fully processed, I launched myself toward one of my bookcases...

One of the problems with being the sort of longtime collector that I am is that occasionally I forget exactly what resides in the bookcases and many boxes (some unopened for years) that occupy my flat. (It also doesn't help that there was a period between 1990-1996 when I was perpetually in a state of weed and/or beer and tequila-fueled self-medication, so the memories of those days vary in their clarity. I'm not proud of it but there it is.) However, I did know where my two favorite Moebius books — the aforementioned THE AIRTIGHT GARAGE and THE HORNY GOOF — resided, neither of which I had cracked open in a very long time. I had sold off all my other Moebius books during various lean times over the past two decades but the two that remain will stay with me until I'm tits-up dead, so I was immediately able to find THE AIRTIGHT GARAGE. I pulled it from its place on the shelf...

..and opened it to find...

...this hand-drawn treasure that was signed by Moebius himself to l'il ole me.

I'd been having an appalling week for a number of reasons, but finding this gift from out of the Time Tunnel erased all of the negative energy of the past few days. I swear I almost fainted from joy upon rediscovering this, and I promise I'll get it scanned for posterity as soon as I can manage it! See what I mean about believing the impossible?

Monday, March 12, 2012

JOHN CARTER (2012)

By now you may have heard about Disney’s JOHN CARTER movie and how it’s likely to be considered a massive $250,000,000 flop (the actual budgetary figure varies depending on the source). The pre-release buzz tarred the film as looking uninvolving and dull, and upon release it was largely savaged by critics who deemed it, among other pejoratives, “unoriginal” and “derivative” of flicks like STAR WARS EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES and AVATAR. Well lemme tell ya, Bunkie, it’s actually the other way around, so here’s a wee divergence for a short history lesson.

Where it all began.

The first of the John Carter pulp stories, originally issued as UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS and later re-titled A PRINCESS OF MARS when published in book form, appeared in the February 1912 issue of THE ALL-STORY pulp magazine and was the inaugural work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the man who less than a year later would earn great wealth, fame and literary/pop culture immortality as the creator of Tarzan of the Apes. Over the course of eleven pulp novels, Burroughs spun fanciful tales of John Carter, a former Confederate officer and master swordsman who through rather weird means finds himself terrestrially displaced to the planet Mars — known to its native inhabitants as Barsoom — where he encounters a number of warlike races, all manner of strange creatures and a cornucopia of advanced-yet-quaint ordnance and sci-fi vehicles. He also wins the hand of a local princess whose beauty is described as “unequaled,” and from there the adventures cover a hell of a lot of old school ground, pretty much inventing many of the tropes that are now part of the DNA of science-fiction/fantasy adventures. If one does even a cursory overview of such stories over the past century, many of the common elements of the genre that we now take for granted or find rote can be traced directly back to the Rosetta Stone of Burroughs imagination. For the most recent example of what I’m talking about, look no further than James Cameron’s “revolutionary” AVATAR (2009), the monster box office hit that I was not alone in considering it to owe a sizable debt to much of what Burroughs came up with in the John Carter tales. The exotic alien world and culture, multi-legged beasties, an Earthman hero who goes native in a big way and marries the locals’ princess… All found in AVATAR and all cribbed from the first John Carter story written a hundred years ago, so don’t come crying to me about JOHN CARTER the movie being “derivative.”

My boyhood wish finally comes true, some thirty-six years after I first encountered the John Carter books.

Disney’s JOHN CARTER is a film I’ve waited for since I first read the initial novel thirty-seven years ago, and though not without some flaws here and there, I enjoyed it very, very much. It’s got all the action, romance, intrigue, cool extra-terrestrials — the awesome Tharks are among my all-time favorite alien characters — and the far-flung exotic planetscape that made Burroughs’ stories irresistible to me when I was between the ages of ten and fourteen (though it was unfortunately inevitable that the novels’ depiction of Barsoom’s culture as that of a planetwide nudist colony would be sanitized for the screen, especially since it’s a Disney film) and it made me feel like I was a kid again, even for the briefest of periods. Simply put, it was exactly what I needed to take me out of my currently miserable and frustrating existence for just over two hours, and I enjoyed it enough to happily pay NYC 3-D movie price to see it twice within twenty-four hours. (NOTE: I admit that I likely enjoyed it as much as I did thanks to having been a lifelong John Carter fan, so your individual mileage may vary.)

John Carter among the Tharks.

The film chronicles John Carter (Taylor Kitsch, who’s not bad in the part but exudes nothing of the Southern gentleman quality found in the novels) having adventures on Mars/Barsoom that drop him into the middle of a conflict between the warring city states of Helium and Zodanga, while he must also navigate surviving among the equally warlike Tharks, towering green warrior tribesmen with four arms. During all of this mayhem, Carter befriends the Thark chief, Tars Tarkas (Willem Defoe), and much-abused female slave Sola (Samantha Morton), as well as meeting the spirited and smokin’ hot Heliumite princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), while political machinations from a number of different parties spur the narrative’s finer points.

Boy gets to know girl during a road trip fraught with discovery and ass-kickings

If all of that sounds complicated or convoluted, it isn’t, and it all moves quite briskly while doling out heaping helpings of old-fashioned fun that evokes the sci-fi/fantasy/space opera thrills of yore, which is only appropriate when one recalls that this the seed from which an entire genre germinated. What we have here is, when boiled down to its simplest descriptor, an old-fashioned pulp adventure yarn brought to vivid, fun life, and that’s really all there is to it. If you’re looking for Dostoyevsky, I politely suggest you look elsewhere.

Among the film’s many fun points, the following elements are the standouts:

  • The Tharks are everything I’d hoped they’d be (if depicted a good deal shorter than the average fifteen feet described in the books), especially Tars Tarkas (Willem Defoe, giving voice to an excellent CGI creation) and Sola (Samantha Morton, also voicing a CGI character).
The awesomeness of Tars Tarkas finally hits the screen.

Sola: a much put-upon warrior with a heart of gold.

Tarkas was the main reason I continued reading the books and when I was kid who devoured those works, I often imagined myself in his place in the adventures. He was just that cool. The one problem with Tars Tarkas and Sola in this film — which, let’s face it, is yet another origin story — is that they are not the focus of the narrative. Whenever they’re onscreen, they steal the movie, but John Carter himself is the true and obvious thrust of the tale, so Tars and Sola are understandably given less screen time. More’s the pity…

  • Woola, Carter’s assigned guardian animal — a “calot” in the books, but never identified as such in the film — also steals the movie.

He’s a large-ish, dog-like critter that’s the film’s grossest example of “Disneyfication,” a not unexpected process that altered the beast from the source material’s much more fearsome-looking creature, but even knowing the more visually badassed Woola from the books, I adored the cinematic version. And you and your kids will too.
  • Lynn Collins rocks as Princess Dejah Thoris, the film's best non-CGI character.
The casting of that character was a serious make-or-break element for the film, thanks to a century of her being burned into the pop culture DNA matrix as an impossibly beautiful, exotic woman who could easily and without hesitation dispatch her would-be assailants. Yeah, she was captured and rescued on a number of occasions in the books, but Dejah Thoris was a surprisingly capable heroine for her era and I would argue that she was the direct attitudinal progenitor to the likes of STAR WARS’ Princess Leia.

Lynn Collins, as seen when she's not being all Barsoomian.

Collins turns in a great performance and is very, very easy on the eyes, plus she wields a sword quite impressively. She’s the perfect fantasy female for guys like me, and I find it more than a little amusing to note that technically Dejah Thoris has joined the ranks of the Disney Princesses, what with having been brought to the screen and sanitized from the original iteration. (In her case, her 24/7 nudity obviously had to go).

The latest of the Disney Princesses.
  • The all-too-brief appearances by James Purefoy as Heliumite royal soldier Kantos Kan are terrific and genuinely funny, and I wish we’d had the opportunity to see more of him.

So, there’s a lot to enjoy in JOHN CARTER but Disney did a spectacularly poor job of marketing the film, which I believe is the key element in the film doing shithouse box office domestically. The trailers bit the big one, the posters and logo were the polar opposite of interesting or attention-getting, the words “of mars” were removed from the title shortly before the film’s release (reportedly due to Disney now-fired marketing head determining that the earlier MARS NEEDS MOMS tanked and therefore the word “Mars” was automatic box office poison), thus granting the film the utterly generic title of JOHN CARTER (they may as well have called it JOE BUDIDOWITZ: THE MOVIE, for all that the title imparted about other-worldly adventure, aliens and a hot space-babe) and there was no mention whatsoever of the character being from the same guy who created Tarzan.

The most boring movie poster ever?

In fact, if I didn’t know better, I would swear that the studio was making a concerted effort to sabotage its own release. Most of the critics have also been merciless and I wonder if that’s because they just don’t like this kind of material or they’ve just joined the overwhelming culture of Internet hating on something for months before it even comes out, thus already bearing a head and heart full of vitriol as they enter the screening room.

Whatever the case, the damage has been done and theater attendance on opening weekend was dismal. I saw the film twice, first at a decent multiplex not far from where I live in Brooklyn, and again the following night at Manhattan’s legendary Ziegfeld theater, and I can scarce recall seeing a big-budget sci-fi/action/adventure movie in its first few days where the theaters were so barren that their aisles should have been littered with bison skulls and tumbleweeds. The 4pm show on Friday yielded a turnout of just over twenty people (including me), many of whom were fans of the John Carter novels (a fact gleaned from overhearing their conversations on the way out), and the 7pm show on Saturday night at the Ziegfeld — a showtime that’s virtually always guaranteed to be sold out, almost no matter what movie may be playing there — saw an audience of maybe sixty-five or seventy people, including myself and the four friends who joined me.

Actual shot of the Ziegfeld's auditorium, ten minutes before the lights went down on Saturday night. The crowd did not come anywhere near to filling the theater's capacity of just over 1500.

We all enjoyed it and the majority of folks who’ve written in to comment about it on my Facebook wall shared in the fun, so hopefully positive word of mouth will help turn JOHN CARTER into a “sleeper” hit. Anything can happen and I hope it does well enough to generate a sequel, and I hope the studio stands behind it if it comes to pass.

BATMAN AND ROBIN...THE MUSICAL

Short, sweet and infinitely better that Joel Schumacher turd storm.

Friday, March 09, 2012

STAR WARS XXX-A PORN PARODY (2012)

Tenderloin parody king Axel Braun is back with this lovingly-crafted and insanely visually-accurate porno version of the original STAR WARS (1977), and while I support pornographers' right to do parodies of familiar properties, what I'm not down with is aping the source material to such a degree that the only difference between the original and the porn version (other than considerations such as the budget, decent acting and kickass special effects) is the inclusion of "you are now a gynecologist" closeups of the performers in action. This production is a textbook example of what I'm on about, being practically a scene-for-scene remake featuring different actors in the parts of the space heroes we've known and loved for the past thirty-five years, getting it on in numerous ways.

Opening with the expected text crawl — which amusingly identifies the film as "Episode IV: A NEW HOLE" — the movie retells the entire plot of the 1977 classic, only with rather uninspired hardcore sex shoehorned into the proceedings when possible. The problem with that is that the original film features only four women that I can think of off the top of my head: Princess Leia, Aunt Beru and those two twin sister from the cantina sequence. That's it, and of those only Princess Leia is truly focused on in the narrative, which reduces the possibilities for the porno iteration rather limited, unless the filmmakers have the princess take on every character in the film in what would amount to an Annabel Chong-style one-woman marathon session set in a galaxy far, far away. To remedy this, the XXX version gives us a Tusken raider who is revealed to be a horny and eager woman, the cantina twins re-imagined as lesbians and an assortment of other random females dropped into the cantina from out of nowhere (including a Twi'lek woman straight out of Jabba's palace in RETURN OF THE JEDI), and a pair of very accommodating female stormtroopers. The result is involving only to the most desperate and STAR WARS-obsessed of fanboys.

The classic cantina sequence, now with orgy.

If you've seen the original STAR WARS — I refuse to call it "A NEW HOPE" — there's really no point in me bothering to describe the plot particulars, other than to note a few items of interest:
  • With the exception of the over-the-top flaming C-3P0, all of the characters are performed with an uber-straight delivery that makes their stilted and occasionally clever parodic dialogue and goings-on periodically laugh-out-loud funny. The joke with Threepio is incredibly obvious and it wears out its welcome almost immediately.
  • The film's CGI special effects are quite good and help to place the viewer into a suitable re-creation of the Lucas galaxy.
The classic opening spaceship chase, re-created with very good, relatively low-budget CGIeffects.
  • Porn veteran Tom Byron's Obi-Wan Kenobi is a hoot, thanks to him interpreting the character as a dryly-snarky and rather jaded "been there, done that" asshole, and his Alec Guinness impression is spot-on. (I cannot believe Byron, the stalwart of countless tenderloin pieces, is currently fifty years old!)
The venerable Tom Byron as Obi-Wan Kenobi, working the Jedi Mind trick...

...on a formerly-wrapped sand person (Jennifer White) who turns out to be quite attractive, and with whom he immediately gets it on with atop the hood of Luke's landspeeder.
  • Seth Gamble takes Luke Skywalker's dorkiness/quasi-stupidty to new comedic heights and he's very funny in the role.
  • The same cannot be said of Rocco Reed's Han Solo, though some of his efforts are worthy of checking out. His reaction when Luke points out Solo's error in citing a parsec as a measure of time rather than distance is great, but what happens during the re-staging of the Solo/Greedo firefight is hilarious and goes a long way toward making up for the damage done in the so-called "special edition" of STAR WARS.
When Greedo has him at gunpoint, Solo pretends to see something interesting and exclaims "Gods of Alderaan! Look at the tits on that stormtrooper!", which distracts Greedo long enough for Solo to shoot him dead. Solo then walks over to Greedo's corpse, unloads another two blaster shots into it and proclaims, "Shoot first, shoot often!" Following that, Solo ushers Luke and Obi-Wan onto the Millennium Falcon with "Can we get a move on? I just just killed a guy back there and I'll feel a lot better about everything once we're outta here."
  • There is a lengthy three-way beejay scene involving Chewbacca, the beloved Wookie co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, and a pair of very friendly female stormtroopers, and I can't speak for you but I can unequivocally state that I've never once entertained thoughts of Chewie getting it on with anyone, let alone two eager human females. I'm well aware of the concept of "rishathra" — sexual relations outside of one's own species — but this ain't a Larry Niven novel and the sight of Chewie giving the "come and get some of this" sexy face while enticingly gesticulating is full-blown nightmare fuel. That may appeal to the "furries" out there, but what is this doing in what's supposed to be a porn parody geared for the enjoyment of a general porn-lovin' audience?
Everyone's favorite shaggy space alien makes with the "come hither" moves...

..which are well received by a pair of curvy Imperial stormtroopers...

...who swiftly doff much of their armor and grant Chewie a tag-team "chewie" on his all-too-human ween that's guaranteed to be seen in your nightmares for weeks afterward.
  • I rather liked Princess Leia as portrayed by Allie Haze, late of the classic FOOT FUCKERS (2011), who is cute in a normal, girl-next-door kind of way and displays a body refreshingly free of the mammalian augmentation common to today's porn actresses (though she does retain the Barbie-like "smoothie" that has lately supplanted the "landing strip" as the favored style of pubic topiary). She pulls off Carrie Fisher's signature attitude and is right up there with Tom Byron as the best of this cast's actors during the non-explicit portions of the narrative.
That said, the role of the princess poses one of the biggest and most off-putting problems in the film. Since the revelations in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), everyone and their dog knows that Luke and Leia are twin siblings, which has led to over three decades of queasy incest jokes and the endless generation of fanfic and amateur erotica depicting the pair in flagrante delicto. In some corners, incest may fly as spank-fodder but, much like rape and sexual torture fantasies, it's a touchy subject and very much down to the individual's taste when it comes to enjoyment thereof. We know the actors are not really brother and sister but we are nonetheless grossed out by the concept of them taking their relationship and affection into the realm of taboo, so things get really gnarly when that imagined scenario is allowed to play out in a movie whose very point is to depict up close and personal sexual congress. And let us not forget that Darth Vader (here played by impressively-endowed ebony cocksman Lexington Steel) is Luke and Leia's father, so this film's version of Vader's interrogation of Leia in her jail cell on the Death Star becomes especially distasteful as Vader offers to "work out a deal" with his captive daughter. Though she's not explicitly stated to be Vader's little girl, the film does play with the incest angle throughout its running time, relying on the audience's foreknowledge of the genetic connection between the father and children in question to hopefully provide a certain titillating frisson, so it was really rough to endure the sight of the princess sucking the Sith lord's girthy kidney-scraper during a spirited beejay/masturbation sequence that seems to last for a short eternity until the predictable DNA-meets-face denouement. But that bit of nastiness is completely eclipsed at the film's end, when the trio of heroes celebrate after their victory against the Death Star. Yes, it's a three-way with the princess, Luke and Han Solo, and I assure you that it's nothing less than disturbing when one cannot help but recall the sibling element. It's one thing for the scenario to feature three friends enjoying sharing each others' bodies and the pleasures they can provide, but when two of the participants are brother and sister pop cultural icons it's just, well...Yecch.

Gaaaah!!!

The bottom line on STAR WARS XXX is that it's clearly one of the most ambitious adult films ever made, especially among those in the now-ubiquitous and largely terrible parody sub-genre, but its attempts at finding the perfect balance between respectful re-creation of a cinema classic, parody and explicit sex just don't mesh into a truly entertaining smut confection. Sure, there are those who will enjoy having one off the wrist while seeing the STAR WARS gang rutting like crazed weasels dosed on a fistful of Stud City animal stimulants, but for most of us that novelty will likely wear off after around ten minutes. I've watched a lot of porn since I was younger than I care to admit, so maybe I'm particularly jaded, but I've seen more enjoyable efforts that were made in the early 1970's for a minute fraction of this film's budget, shot in a basement somewhere and starring two out of shape hippies with dirty feet fucking on a sheetless mattress. I understand what Braun and company were attempting to do, but you can't necessarily hew this close to the source, which, let's face it, was pretty much a wholesome kid's film, and expect it to work well as something with which to facilitate the emptying of the wank-tanks. (Braun's exceptional BATMAN XXX is a rare exception to this rule.) Sadly, I rate STAR WARS XXX as a well-intentioned failure and I'm curious to see if it makes enough money to warrant a skin flick remake of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Aaah, who am I kidding? It totally will, so when it happens I earnestly pray that we are spared the sight of Yoda's wrinkly green nutsack smacking back and forth against some randomly-introduced female character's ass. When all is said and done, the sci-fi classic I would be much more interested in seeing rendered into a full-on porno version is BARBARELLA (1968), which was already pretty much there anyway. Please alert me when that one inevitably happens.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

"GIRLS GONE WILD"

NOTE: The story that follows is 100% true, and only the names have been changed in order to avoid the two principal parties described herein accidentally stumbling upon this post and finding them spurred on to pump Zyklon B into my apartment while I sleep.

Allow me to state that the better part of the past Monday evening was taken up babysitting two very wrecked neighbors from my within my building, and it was irritating like you would not believe. Here's the epic recap of the evening's events:


Shortly before 9pm, I was interrupted in my reading by a knock on the door from Shauna, my cute neighbor from down the hall. Since she moved in she's had non-stop issues with a leak from her bathroom, a leak that's caused all kinds of problems for her downstairs neighbor, Ann, a 56-year-old incredibly loud and volatile Sicilian/Cuban chick who's lived in this building longer than me (by two years). The two of them have been battling the landlord over this issue and the landlord has pulled all sorts of moves that result in little or nothing being done, and he's sent multiple unlicensed repair crews to allegedly fix everything. These workers basically show up, fiddle about for a bit and affect the the most crudely-executed of repairs, and sometimes have damaged items in Shauna's apartment and/or stolen small items from the place, including her much-needed prescription mood stabilizers.


A small sample of the crapsack workmanship perpetrated by the landlord's unlicensed dirt-cheap contractors.

Shauna summoned me to witness the shoddy workmanship that was done on her bathroom just a few hours earlier, so I went over to her apartment armed with my camera. When I walked in I saw that Ann was also there and it was obvious that the two of them had been polishing off at least one bottle of white wine. They were both drunk enough to be very,very loud and shrill, but I tried to be patient and considerate and listen to their venting while I took detailed pictures for evidence. (They're planning to sue our landlord.) After that I sat there and tried to help them work out a rational game plan for dealing with the landlord, and the more I heard of their dealings with him, the more disgusted I became, because it's obvious that the creepy fuck is using the ongoing go-nowhere repairs to try to get some alone time with Shauna (who, though around 36, looks like she's at least ten years younger and is very cute, plus he mistakenly thinks she's Jewish). I told her to come and get me to just hang in her place whenever she knows he's going to show up, especially when he shows up at 10pm or later (!!!) and once that happened, she and Ann requested my contact info (despite the fact that they can just knock whenever they like). I figured that would not be a big deal, so I gave them my info. More on that later...

I went and got my laptop so I could burn the evidence photos to a discs, so Shauna went out to buy another bottle of wine. (NOTE: I was not drinking with them. I'd had my moderate fill at Woodwork the previous night and I make it a point only to drink with a lovely group of friends at a favorite Manhattan pub on Fridays or at my weekly movie night at Prospect Heights' Woodwork pub, and that's it for the week, plus, I am not a wine drinker.) The problem with this was that Shauna freely admits to being an alcoholic, something I already knew from the numerous nights when she would return home from an evening out with her boyfriend and practically shriek down the building while fucking wasted beyond belief, so her continuing to drink turned her into a ticking time bomb of obnoxiousness. (She's also bulimic, a condition that does not mesh well with alcoholism, or much of anything else, for that matter.) Upon returning from getting another bottle, she, Ann and myself began to chat about various things and it was admittedly fun, but then the wine really kicked in on Shauna — who it turned out had eaten nothing all day — and she began to get more and more drunkenly obnoxious with every passing moment. She is apparently seriously hung up about race, so she began grilling me about my ethnic mix and was shocked to discover I was (mostly) black and not Hispanic, prompting her to walk over and hold her arm next to mine and loudly point out how dark I wasn't. At that point I decided it would be best if I politely took my leave, so I told them I had not eaten since breakfast and that I intended to cook something for dinner (by this point it was 10pm), and if they needed me I would be around.

I should not have said that.

As I was cooking there was a knock at the door, so I opened it to find the two drunk chicks who, with a fresh bottle of wine and glasses in hand, then barged their way in and took seats on my futon/couch. They proceeded to get further inebriated and while Ann was visibly drunk but able to hold her liquor and behave (though I did have to constantly remind her to keep her annoyingly shrill voice down), Shauna just got worse and worse. At one point, following a lengthy attempt at sorting out my "trinity" in the horoscope and going on and on about how she and Ann were Scorpios, she asked if I were dating anybody and when I told her that my prospects for a full-time girlfriend were rather limited at the moment, she was shocked to discover I was not a homosexual. I've gotten that one many times before, so I was neither surprised nor offended, but the very wasted Shauna would not let go of her amazement at my heterosexuality, her assumption of my presumed homosexuality being based on the fact that I'm a nice and erudite person. Then she went on and on about how embarrassed she was at having "offended" me, all while Ann chimed in to chide her over how she never got the gay vibe from me. Shauna then began an endless repetition of all the annoying things she'd been saying all evening and then requested I call our neighbor Jennifer and try to drag her into her half-baked (but well-marinaded) lawsuit scheme, so I called up Jennifer since I knew she'd had issues with the leak as well and had also had problems with our landlord. I briefly discussed it with her but Shauna kept demanding to speak with her, so I put Jennifer on hold and told Shauna that if she was serious about the lawsuit, it would be best for her to talk to any other residents when she was sober. That shut her up for the remainder of my phone time with Jennifer but the second I ended the call, Shauna verbally attacked me for daring to mention she was drunk while Jennifer could have heard her. Needless to say, I did not put up with that and I corrected her, with Ann occasionally chiming in to apologize for bringing the wine to Shauna, her excuse being that she thought she could handle it. (Ann had not previously encountered Shauna's drunken side.) Shauna then ran back to her place to get a photo album to show to us (oh, yay) and during that brief respite I filled Ann in on how Shauna is an unstable alcoholic. She sheepishly looked at me and said "I didn't know," to which I firmly responded with "Well now you DO."

Shauna soon returned and tried to interest myself and Ann in photos of her boring college friends whom we did not know (Shauna is, like myself, a SUNY Purchase grad, which, considering her level of intoxication, came as no shock) and she then suddenly became obsessed with becoming my friend on Facebook. To facilitate this and hopefully shut her up for a while, I allowed her access to my computer but for some reason when she logged onto FB, I would not show up when she did a search and the same applied when I tried to search for her. She then long-windedly/drunkenly droned on about how she'd done work for the CIA (!!!) and FBI and Israeli intelligence, despite having previously stated her vocation as a P.R. representative, so she had all manner of blocks on her FB account. Nonetheless, she incredibly annoyingly would not let it rest and spent the next half hour jabbering and obsessing about connecting with me while loudly bemoaning the fact that she'd drank up all the wine ("Is there no more alcohol to be consumed?") and that I did not have any weed with which she could get further destroyed. (Not that I'm against it for others, but longtime readers of this blog know I swore off weed for good around three years ago.) Ann was no help whatsoever during any of this and loudly bitched and moaned about the uselessness of social media, though she would occasionally cut me a look that said "I am SO sorry for inflicting this upon you."

Then Shauna began to kittenishly get physically "friendly" with me, rubbing up against me and attempting to kiss me, at which point Ann finally perked up and attempted to do likewise, even going so far as to close her eyes and gently try to pull my head close to hers for a deep "toungie." I politely fought them off until Shauna suddenly announced she was "a girl gone wild" and began to repetitively shriek the lyrics to some stupid Madonna/Cyndi Lauper song mashup as she attempted to dance around the limited confines of my apartment. Her internal gyroscope was by this time completely fuchachteh and she fell over several times, nearly landing on my open laptop, requiring myself or Ann to either catch her or help her up when she hit the floor. Shauna, not at all cognizant of how wasted she was or that she was barely able to stand, decided to move the so-called party into her apartment, so she staggered to my door but was too wrecked to remember how to use the doorknob. (No, seriously.) When I let her out, there was enough time for Ann to once again apologize and ask me if I were mad. I told her I was rather annoyed because I had stuff to do that evening (a lie) but my time was instead wasted with babysitting two grown women. When she left, I looked at Ann and gritted my teeth, contorting my face into a hideous rictus as I mimed strangling Shauna. Ann attempted to chide me for that, stating "Awww, ya just gotta be nice ta her. She's just sayin' what she feels." I wasn't having it and I shot Ann a look that immediately silenced her so-called advice.

Ann and I entered Shauna's apartment to find that Shauna had produced a bottle of Scotch from somewhere and had begun nipping from it. She then turned on her stereo to that horrible Madonna/Cyndi Lauper song and began to dance wildly about the apartment, loudly proclaiming she was a professional dancer and a "girl gone wild." She lost her balance several times before noticing her full-length mirror, in front of which she began to drunkenly and utterly unappealingly "sexily" gyrate. Well, unappealing to me, but Ann, who claims to be neither a lesbian nor bi, was clearly getting heated-up by Shauna's "amateur night at the Flaming Cave Lounge" antics. Shauna tried to get me to dance with her but I remained rooted to the leather couch as I proclaimed that I would soon be leaving because I wanted to talk to a long-distance female friend on the phone. (The friend in question is also currently unemployed, so calling her at Jesus o'clock in the morning is not an issue.) I called my friend and asked her how late she would be up, thus further establishing to Ann and Shauna that I had something else I needed to be doing. Ann, who had previously proclaimed her inability to dance, was by this time dancing with Shauna, and Shauna jumped up onto her bed, which was located flush with the window, screaming "girl gone wild," lost her balance and nearly went through the window. I launched myself to catch her and I managed to grab her by the arm and haul her off the bed. Shauna tried to thank me with a sloppy, Scotch-reeking kiss (which I was able to evade) and she then suggested I call my friend from her place because it would be funny grab the phone from me and tell my long-distance female friend that she and Ann were having sex with me. That was the last straw, so I tried (and failed) to be polite as I made my exit to the disappointed sounds of Ann and Shauna trying to get me to stay and play with them.

It was now midnight.

I came back to my apartment, which is basically next door to Shauna's so I could still hear them acting like morons, and I got on the phone with my lady friend to recount the story you have just read, She found it hilarious although she did offer sympathy, but then I heard scratching at my door and the sounds of someone making "meow" noises. It was Shauna, trying to get me to come back, but I simply told her to go away since I was talking to my lady friend. She tried to be funny by yelling about how she and Ann were going to fuck me, in hope that my lady friend would hear it, but I just ignored her while keeping said lady friend abreast of what was going on. I then heard the two of them attempt to go upstairs, presumably to bother Jennifer and/or Mark, the other resident who lived up there, but they were too wasted to climb all those stairs (Jennifer lives on the top floor) so they stumblingly came back down.

I was still talking with my lady friend when a knock once again came from my door. This time, it was Shauna begging for me to help her since she and Ann had locked themselves out of the apartment. I told my lady friend I would call her back, shifted to "help girls in need" mode and exited my apartment. A shoeless Shauna and Ann were ready to cry and were standing on wobbly legs as they supported each other, so I whipped out an old and spent Metrocard that I keep in my wallet in case I need to jimmy a lock and went to work. (I've had to help other tenants break into their apartments more than once, and I find a strip cut from a plastic soda bottle works best, but I did not have one on hand on the night in question.) As I fussed with the lock, Shauna started up again and began to dance, but this time she totally lost her balance and ended up falling very hard and headfirst into the metal door of the apartment across the hall from hers, bounced off and nearly took a header down the stairs, but Ann caught her in time and hauled her into a sitting position against the wall. Shauna slumped to the floor, clutching her head, and began to sob and keen, and the noise was simply unholy. Ann tried to calm her down and while that was going on, I stated that I couldn't budge the lock. It was then that Ann handed me the keys. Yes, they had the keys the whole time but they were too fucked up to be able to determine which one simple key they needed to open the lock, and there was a total of five keys on the ring, one of which was quite obviously the under-sized lobby mailbox key. I immediately opened the door, much to their visible relief, and as they hauled themselves up from the floor, Ann was astounded and asked me how I figured it out. I ignored her query and ushered them into Shauna's flat, closing the door as they once again tried to get me to join them. I went back to my apartment and called my very amused lady friend with the rest of the story, but then my call waiting alert went off. You guessed it: it was Shauna, calling to see if everything was okay between us. She wanted to chat but I once again made it clear that I was talking to my lady friend. She reluctantly (and, disturbingly, in a little girl voice) said "okay" and I hung up and resumed my previous chat. I heard Ann leave a little bit later and she thankfully did not bother me any further.

I tell you it was just over three hours of sheer hell, and I'm curious to see if Shauna makes an attempt to apologize at some point. I kinda doubt it.

EPILOGUE

I sent Jennifer the recap of all this mess the other night and my hunch about Shauna and Ann making their way upstairs near midnight to bother her or the other tenant on her floor proved to be correct. This morning I received the following from Jennifer (the Olaf she mentions is her live-in boyfriend):

OH.MY.GOD.

I can't believe you had such a crazy night. You know, they did come all the way up here and knock on mine AND Mark's doors.

Mark, luckily for him, is in Puerto Rico and Olaf was home but in his underwear watching TV and didn't know who it was knocking so he just hid out. I'm so glad he did or they may have tried to seduce him too! think I'm going to limit contact with those two....sorry you had to go through all that Bunche! I'm so glad I missed all the drama!

And, no lie, as I finish writing this, at this very moment Ann is outside Shauna's apartment, shrieking like a banshee and haranguing Shauna for her apparent lack of help in furthering the lawsuit against the landlord. I turned off my TV and put my cell phone on vibrate so I can more effectively pretend not to be at home in case they try to drag me into this latest round of drama. Fuck that shit...