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Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Yer Bunche is weary, dear readers, in both body and spirit after the usual Thanksgiving dysfunction. This year's anti-excitement included being stuck in Westport from Wednesday evening through Saturday afternoon — admittedly shorter than the usual duration — with my mom's TV locked on either MSNBC or that fucking Macy's parade (which did surprise the living shit out of me by hauling Rick Astley out of the pop music sepulchre to lip-synch; how bad is it when a show actually makes me glad to see motherfucking Rick Astley?!!?), no friends coming over except for an all-too-brief appearance by my buddy Chris and no decent marathons of old movies or vintage television to lend me some distraction from the soul-freezing inertia of being in my growing-up place, a la-la land of privilege and a certain disconnect with general reality. The one thing — the ONE THING — that got me through the first section of the seasonal surrendering of my autonomy was the knowledge that on Saturday night I’d finally get to see as rarer-than-tits-on-a-fish screening of URGH! A MUSIC WAR, the multi-band documentary cornucopia of bizarre music from my fucked-up adolescence that kind of served as a de facto soundtrack to the unsung and utterly mundane non-epic of high school hell. I went to the screening tonight accompanied by a number of good friends, most notably Chris, the only person I know who shares my passion for URGH! A MUSIC WAR with equal fervor, and we were all stoked to witness the madness unspool.
Well, lemme tell ya that I’m beyond pissed off about the screening because the thirty-four-band documentary was shorn of ten (!!!) of the performances, reducing the film to a mere ninety-three minutes and leaving myself and Chris feeling distinctly ripped off. With no indication that the print was not complete, the film played out and I did the tally in my head and noted that the movie was minus the following bits:
• John Cooper Clarke’s “Health Fanatic”
• “I’m On Fire” by Chelsea (the omission of which was particularly disheartening to Chris)
• “Where’s Captain Kirk?” by Athletico Spizz ’80 (another omission that kicked Chris square in the taint)
• The excellent “Model Worker” by Magazine
• “Offshore Banking Business” by the Members
• “Valium” by the ultra-obscure Invisible Sex, the omission of which only compounds the band’s status as being almost completely unknown
• “Birdies” by Pere Ubu
• John Otway’s wrenching performance of “Cheryl’s Going Home,” something I would have loved to see on the (relatively) big screen
• “Sign of the Cross” by Skafish, definitely the missing sequence whose omission most irked Yer Bunche because it’s fun, humorously blasphemous, introduces a new (and ludicrous) dance craze and allows the cornea-wiltingly ugly visage of frontman Jim Skafish to be emblazoned large in projected form
• Splodgenessabounds’ lively cover of Rolf Harris’ “Two Little Boys”
That’s about a full third of the movie gone to who knows where, and insult was added to injury when the end credits rolled and every one of the missing bands were listed, much to the confusion of those who didn’t have multiple uncut viewings of URGH! under their belts like Chris and myself (we’ve both seen it countless times since the Spring of 1986 when I got it on tape from WTBS’ late, lamented NIGHT FLIGHT). What began as an evening at the movies with a grin plastered from ear to ear swiftly degenerated into a huge buzz kill that not even Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge” could assuage, and I really kick myself for opting to see a truncated version of my favorite concert movie when I had a done-deal bit of quality time with a recently re-connected old flame in the offing. There were a few good reasons for me passing up that bit of fun, but the fact remains that I could have enjoyed the wonder of that which is pink but didn’t proving yet again that I am more than a bit of an idiot.
Bottom line: if URGH! A MUSIC WAR is making the rounds to movie houses across the nation, be forewarned that you should call the theater and find out its running time before you go. If it’s the ninety-three minute flaying that I saw, rather than the two-hours-plus whole real deal, bail immediately.
God damn it, I missed sex for this! Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
-Yer Bunche, keeper of the Vault of Buncheness
Some words of holiday advice:
1. You can survive your fucking annoying family. And if they piss you off too much, just remember that one day they will be dead.
2. Don't drink and drive, 'cause that shit's for amateurs and assholes. Stay at home to tie one on; why do you think Thanksgiving's an all-day festival of football, parades, movies, dog shows and marathons of classic TV reruns? It's a dazzling cathode ray cornucopia of stuff to keep the wasted off the streets and at home, puking, fucking and fighting right where they belong.
3. When seeing your old high school pals for what's probably the one time you'll see them all year, do not comment on how fat and/or old they look. That shit goes two ways, bunky...
4. If you must go to church during the holiday, make sure to go as hungover and reeking of booze as possible, that way next year they'll think twice before forcing you out of bed and into a place choked with incense and festooned with pictures of Jesus looking at your ass.
5. If your family gathering has a kiddie table, make sure to sit there and serve as a bad example to the next generation. Tell age-acceptable off-color jokes and stories. Teach the kids the lyrics to "The Diarrhea Song" and have them sing it loudly halfway through the meal. Introduce them to "pull my finger." In short, do your part to ensure your status as the fave older relative from the start; that way the kids won't feel so awkward in later years when they need somebody to take them to get an abortion or bail them out of jail without their parents being any the wiser. And believe me, they will pay back your "cool relative" kindness somewhere down the line.
6. Always, ALWAYS eat the turkey's tail. It's the perfect amount of dark meat, fat, and skin in one concentrated morsel, and if slathered with the right amount of gravy it's a thing of joy forever (well, at least until it's digested and re-manifests itself as the next morning's enormous post-Turkey Day turd).
7. The true bombardment of Christmas-themed TV commercials commences right around Thanksgiving, so feel free to let loose with the Ribald Songbird action and desecrate the classic Yuletide tunes that have already been corrupted for TV adverts, only make them super dirty with usages of words like "cocksucker," "shit," and "pussy fart." Since you're gonna hear them a million times between now and the new year anyway, you may as well have some fun with them.
8. If you have to suffer through the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade — the Thanksgiving moment I dread most — don't try to be an asshole and bring to your aging parents' attention the fact that it's nothing more than a saccharine, three-hour commercial. They like it for the marching bands, big-assed balloons, and celebs lip-synching, and do not give a fuck about it's true purpose, so let them have their fun. And you can always have something to look forward to, namely the hope that the guy playing Santa at the end of the show will either be drunk or have a visible hard-on.
9. If you're staying at your parents' house with a significant other, try to remain as silent as possible if having sex under your folks' roof. I don't know why, but the idea of their kids having sex, even us grownup kids, seriously fucks with the heads of our progenitors. Then again, maybe you should fuck like monkeys on crack while at home...Aah, what the hell? Make 'em remember how it's done! And if they bitch about it, remind them of all the times they nagged you for grandkids and ask them if they forgot where said grandkids come from. That'll shut the geezers up in no time.
10. If the friends and loved ones you miss most can't be there this year, think of them fondly and rest assured that they're probably every bit as miserable as you are.
And with that, Happy Thanksgiving, and may the pecans in grandma's cookies actually be pecans and not roaches. (She doesn't see that well anymore, you know.)
We cannot break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, "Do not trust the Pilgrims."
-Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) as Pocahontas in ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES (1993)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I thought I'd seen the nadir of derivative genre clonings when I endured ERAGON the other night, but boy howdy, was I ever unprepared for NEVER CRY WEREWOLF, an almost impossibly-shameless ripoff/remake of the 1985 vampire classic FRIGHT NIGHT, only minus all of that film's wit and originality, and each instance of vampiric lore replaced with every werewolf trope in the book. In fact, it's such a fucking swipe-job that I laughed out loud throughout its running time and repeatedly uttered "You've gotta be fucking kidding me!' at the screen as the bald-faced knockoff unspooled, in other words it's almost worth seeing because its shamelessness is hilarious.
Note that I said "almost."
FRIGHT NIGHT told the story of an awkward teenager who realizes his personable new next-door neighbor is actually a vampire, and with the help of his at-first-disbelieving girlfriend and weirdo/dork best friend sets out to stop the supernatural predator before the vampire kills him. During the course of this mishegoss, the kid also enlists the services of a washed-up TV personality to aid in his errand of execution and all hell breaks loose in the finale. Everything you just read in the my FRIGHT NIGHT capsule synopsis occurs in NEVER CRY WEREWOLF, as well as assorted minor plot details such as the teen spying on the monstrous neighbor and witnessing the creature killing a hooker, the washed-up TV celebrity — in this case HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS' Kevin Sorbo subbing for Roddy McDowall — being confronted with shocking evidence that monsters really do exist and the monster putting the lead's significant other in their hellish thrall, with the only real difference of note being that the monster's a werewolf (who resembles a defective gene-splicing of Gary Sinise and Hugh Jackman) and the protagonist is a girl. The whole damned thing is ridiculous and even though FRIGHT NIGHT successfully trod the often thin and uneven line between comedy and outright horror, NEVER CRY WEREWOLF fails to provide either intentional laughs of legitimate scares, so you, the viewer, lose. TRUST YER WEREWOLF-LOVIN' BUNCHE and give this waste of time and film stock a miss and instead check out a werewolf movie actually worth watching, namely Neil Marshall's instant classic from 2002, the superb DOG SOLDIERS.
Men to face charge after court finds necrophilia is illegal in Wisconsin even when using a condom
Three men accused of trying to dig up a grave in Wisconsin in order to have sex with a dead woman entered not guilty pleas this week.
The twin brothers, Alex and Nicholas Grunke, and Dustin Radke (all pictured) are alleged to have attempted to remove the body of a 20 year-old woman killed a week previously in a motorcycle crash. The three decided on the woman after seeing her photo in an obituary in the local newspaper.
Stranger still perhaps is the legal argument leading to the point. The case in the courts so far hasn’t been whether the three were guilty or not, but whether necrophilia was illegal in Wisconsin or not. A lower court originally found that there was nothing in the state that banned the boys having their way with the corpse, but the State Supreme Court over-ruled that decision in July. The fact that the three brought condoms to the scene to protect themselves was not taken into account by the court.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Anyone who reads this blog has most likely figured out that I’m not a rap or hip-hop fan per se (although I do enjoy a limited amount of it), but there is something strangely appealing to the cartoonishly goofy charms of Snoop Dogg, a man who gained his nickname due to his resemblance to Charlie Brown’s dog (who is arguably Charlie Brown’s intellectual superior). I enjoy him whenever he’s in a movie or on a talk show, his baked-like-a-motherfucker stoned state evident even to those who’ve never even heard of marijuana, and I may be the only person on the planet who finds SOUL PLANE funny for its utterly shameless and over-the-top stereotyping of black folks, something I usually loathe in properties like MARTIN, THE PARKERS (though I do confess to having a soft spot for plus-size cutie Mo’Nique; those eyes…that smile…) and the unmitigated toxic shock/modern day minstrelsy of both UNDER ONE ROOF and TYLER PERRY’S HOUSE OF PAYNE. I have neither an explanation nor an excuse; it’s just the way it is, so when I read that a horror movie featuring Snoop was about to come on I figured it wouldn’t kill me to give the movie a shot. After all, his turn as the title character in the 2003 horror flick BONES (with the mighty Pam Grier) was pretty good, but alas the same cannot be said of anything on display in HOOD OF HORROR, a feeble TALES FROM THE CRYPT-style anthology knockoff that differs from the EC Comics-derived original only by virtue of a drastic difference in overall quality and a higher concentration of melanin.
The film features three stories framed by bits featuring Snoop in the Crypt-Keeper role, so lets examine them one by one:
This wholly unnecessary anime-influenced opening cartoon segment explains how gang-banger Devon (Snoop) accidentally shot and killed his little sister in a drive-by shootout, only to have the Devil (or some other random demonic presence) show up and offer to bring the child back to life provided that he sell his soul in exchange and work for the Devil as a harvester of evil souls on this mortal plane. Once enlisted in the satanic work force, Devon becomes the live-action “H.O.H.” (“Hound of Hell”) and is “blessed” with a garish orange pimp suit, ridiculous blond pigtails and — of course — a pair of demonic ‘hos that he apparently pimps for between story segments.
This segment offers absolutely nothing other than some would-be “cool” pseudo-Japanese animation and an origin that serves no purpose since we really don’t need to have an explanation as to why some demonic guy is telling us stories about assorted assholes who get some sort of totally predictable supernatural comeuppance for all the rotten shit they did before being relegated to the Lake of Fire (borne there by an animated elevator, no less). Did Rod Serling need any kind of back story to explain why he was spinning his tales of weirdness? Did the Crypt-Keeper? The answer is a resounding “no,” and I swear I wanted to yell “Who fucking cares?!!?” at the screen as this mess dragged on. And this segment also introduces us to “Half Pint” (Gabriel Pimentel), H.O.H.’s dwarf sidekick who pukes up blood and other stuff whenever he’s on camera, a bit that adds neither horror nor humor to the proceedings.
An inner-city graffiti artist named Posie (Daniella Alonso) runs afoul of a trio of thuggish douchebags who take umbrage at her girly tag style and scrawl their own names over hers, and after kicking their leader in the nuts, spurring the gang to pursue her, she is abducted by a sinister and sorcerous derelict (my man Danny Trejo, turning in one of the film’s genuinely good performances). The creepy bastard straps Posie to a chair and applies a skeletal tattoo onto her right hand and forearm, giving her the power to erase her enemies from existence by spray-painting an “X” over their names. The trio of thugs meets horribly predictable demises — although the death involving a forty-ouncer of malt liquor and a guy’s head does get points for its amusing/stupid value —
and once they’re dead Posie becomes as much of an artless vandal as they were, prompting the irate derelict to mystically strip her of her magic tattoo, thus leading to the zombified corpses of the thugs revenging themselves by apparently squashing her against a wall and using her blood to fashion a red mural of pretty flowers. Yaaaaaaawn…
An outrageous redneck stereotype (Anson Mount) who’s the Caucasian answer to Stepin Fetchit — decked out in Texan businessman suit, cowboy boots, stars 'n' bars boxers, and a huge set of steer horns mounted to the hood of his car — mows down his salt-of-the-earth dad and stands to inherit a good chunk of change and a building that houses a quartet of black Viet Nam vets (led by Ernie Hudson) once commanded by the much-beloved and respected dead dad, but in order to get his legacy the asshole must live with the vets for a year, during which time the asshole’s dad hoped the vets would teach his ne’er-do-well son honor and decency. Well that wasn’t going to happen because not only is the guy a royal douchebag, he’s also the most gratuitously offensive onscreen white trash since William Sanderson’s indelible Jesse Lee Cain in FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, only much more cartoonish, and once he and his Chihuahua-toting bimbo girlfriend take up residence, the pair embark on a campaign to make the vets’ live a living hell, resulting in the starvation of one and the near-rape and successful murder of their foxy caretaker (Sydney Tamiia Poitier, aka Jungle Julia from Quentin Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF). Having finally endured more abuse than is remotely believable, even by the standards of this kind of morality tale, the vets don their uniforms and mete out EC-style revenge, including a mechanically-assisted force-feeding of caviar that causes the bimbo’s stomach to explode, showering all present, including the Chihuahua, with the fish egg delicacy.
Though it is kind of funny to see the dog happily chowing down on the expensive bounty in the blonde’s now-burst belly, believe me when I say it sounds much more interesting than it actually is.
An ambitious and assholish rapper (Pooch Hall of the CW’s THE GAME) reaps the benefits of a career built on being a douche to everyone around him, especially his deejay (MAD TV’s superb Aries Spears, whose immense talents are completely squandered here), until what I think is supposed to be an angel shows up and makes him watch a video display of all his transgressions, including setting up a convenience store robbery engineered to kill his partner and gain him more lucrative chart popularity. The deejay’s corpse shows up, drives the rapper mad and spurs him on to a guns-a-blazin’ rampage backstage at an awards ceremony, resulting in a demise so full of lead that he could use his dick for a pencil. Though it tries to be kinda deep in its depiction of avaricious betrayal and the poisonous allure of stardom, this is by far the most rote of the stories, but at least it’s mercifully short.
This pitiful hodgepodge is capped with an uninspired rap in which Snoop’s narrator recounts all of the just-seen stories, with clips, as the newly damned-and-gore-drenched souls stand around or listlessly gyrate on a set that’s apparently meant to be the netherworld’s ghetto, and as I watched it I wondered how this would have fared at the late, lamented Norwalk Theater, the local grindhouse that ran such trash during my high school years. Considering the tastes of my fellow Norwalk Theater attendees, I doubt SNOOP DOGG’S HOOD OF HORROR would have played for more than a week, doubtlessly being killed by negative word of mouth that would turn away even fans of Snoop’s recording career.
Positively eye-rolling in its predictability and derivativeness, SNOOP DOGG’S HOOD OF HORROR is best avoided by all but the most fervent of completists since it offers nothing whatsoever that can’t be found elsewhere, realized a hundred times more effectively. I recently saw TROLL 2 and while it was a floater of the first degree, at least TROLL 2 was vastly entertaining in its wretchedness. No such luck here; hell, I've taken scarier dumps than this flick. Maybe the filmmakers were relying on their audience being zonked out on copiously-toked blunts and an ocean of malt liquor forties...
NOTE: if anyone out there thinks I'm stereotyping my own with that last comment, you've never seen a movie at Norwalk Theater during its heyday or a flick of this ilk in a Times Square venue. Or even today's Brooklyn's Court Street 12 multiplex, where my pal Hughes and I saw SOUL PLANE on opening day — him being the lone white person in attendance — and heard the frequent sound of forties shattering as they were dropped upon the theater floor, there joining multiple discarded boxes of KFC and Popeye's chicken, half-eaten or picked-clean bones spilling out of their containers.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
after considering the possibility of getting laid off from the design 'ho house, I have decided that the best possible employment option for me would probably not be a career in "bear"-oriented DVD pornography, but rather something more in line with my lifelong interest in superheroes. Shit, if a fuckstick like Kyle Rayner can be a superhero, then so can Yer Bunche! So with that in mind, I give you,,,Roadkill-Man!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
HEROES CREATOR TIM KRING SHOWS DOUCHEY CONTEMPT FOR HIS AUDIENCE AND OUTRAGES A STAUNCH FRIEND OF THE VAULT
In yesterday's newspaper, I read that the creator of HEROES, Tim Kring, stated that due to the advent of DVR and Online streaming, the way people watch Heroes has changed. Therefore, in the future, the show will be less serialized, and each episode will be more insular. This, I think is a good thing and may break the series out of this maelstrom of plot elements and new characters that are turning the show into a Greek Salad of confusing elements.
Then, Tim Kring was quoted as saying that people who still watched the show on its initial network telecast were "saps and dipshits who can't figure out how to watch it in a superior way."
Uhh.... Excuse me?.......
Mr. Kring, I hope you're reading this because, as a fan of the show from EPISODE ONE, I'm absolutely flabbergasted and downright pissed off at your shitty attitude. That was a pretty lousy way to refer to people who have loved and supported Heroes. Even though the quality of the show has eroded a bit more each year, we stuck with it. Even though the charm and unique approach that separated this show from its contemporaries has evaporated into a mess of divergent ideas, we stuck with it. Why? Because we loved the characters and saw the potential the show has (or had, depending on your viewpoint).
Not anymore. You sound like a pompous, self important egotist for insulting your viewers like that. How dare you! How dare you alienate people who are loyal viewers, who've stuck with the show all this time. Who gives a shit how we watch it, as long as we're watching it! You arrogant, vainglorious piece of rodent excrement!
We will never watch your show again. Not a great sacrifice, since its gotten so muddled and virtually incomprehensible this year, that it's practically unwatchable anyway. Driving away the people who've built up the show to what it is (was), will all but guarantee the show's eventual cancellation. Which looks like what you might want to have happen anyway, judging from your petulant swipe at the show's fanbase. And firing more producers at this point would look like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, as they say.
I wonder how many other fans appreciate being called saps and dipshits. Maybe when the ratings fall again, you'll see that folks don't like to be insulted for no reason...asshole!
Initially I thought to stick to the coonskin motif, but made from a skunk instead (as seen below)
but then I read that some skunk hats give of a bit of a whiff when wet, so that's out.
I then chanced upon the shamanistic-looking piece seen below, headwear fashioned from a full coyote pelt that offers considerable cover to the ears and neck, and I'm seriously contemplating getting one.
I think it looks rather old school/disturbing and it would go well with my black leather duster, but it is a tad expensive so I'll have to see what I would be willing to sacrifice from my usual budget in order to afford it. At least once it's bought it'll probably last a long time if given the proper care, so this may be a done deal.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Rats — or "track rabbits" as they are affectionately known — are not by any means an uncommon sight to the everyday straphanger, often providing amusement and helping the wait between train arrivals to pass with displays of territorial fighting, scrounging for scraps of rotting food that would make a buzzard blow chunks, or my favorite, impromptu and vigorous live sex acts involving much thrusting and squealing, accented by the endearing-yet-horrible sight of enormous, hairy rat nuts bobbing obscenely during the rodential coitus. I find the antics of the track rabbits both fascinating and funny, and that blows my mind because when I encounter rodents in my apartment — thankfully just the occasional mouse, as is unfortunately common for my building — I tend to lose my shit; some people primally freak the fuck out at snakes, spiders or roaches, but the critters that make me don a dress and hop up onto the nearest tall piece of furniture are mice and rats. I know they’re small and all that, but for some reason they just get to me when seen out of a subway context.
Anyway, I know I’m not alone in my daily enjoyment of the track rabbits because every morning still-groggy subway riders suddenly rouse themselves upon arriving at 34th Street and peer out the window or open doors in hope of witnessing the morning’s chapter in the saga of our favorite furry subway vermin. This week has been a particularly fruitful one for rat-spotters due to the door being slightly off its hinge and improperly chained, thus allowing the wee scavengers freer access than usual and they do not give the slightest fuck who knows about it. Just like their feathered, above-ground analog, the venerable and foul pigeons, these rats display little (if any) fear of man and would no doubt pummel, stab or shoot the average citizen if their stature were increased enough to facilitate the handling of the city’s easily available brass knuckles, knives and firearms, and having dispatched said citizen, the rat who enacted the foul play would riffle through his victim’s person, abscond with any cash, valuables and eats, and finally invite his fellow subway dwellers to share in the shitload of meat available from the swiftly-cooling corpse.
The rats I see each morning would never have to resort to such anti-social and downright criminal endeavors thanks to the station’s maintenance staff clearly not caring whether the place is overrun with disease-carrying pests. Seriously, the track rabbits in question don’t skitter about or run when the train pulls in; instead they stroll with a leisurely gait, look directly at the riders, and when the riders prove of no interest they sit there on their haunches, their tiny hands clutching whatever cast-off goodie they’ve found, contentedly noshing away without a care in the world, often directly under posted warning signs that tell of the latest round of poison left out to cull their legions. Fat load of good that does, because, as previously stated, I have never failed to see at least two rats at this location every day during my daily commute. I may have a deep-rooted loathing of the little guys, but they do have my respect. (Unless one of them turns up in my flat, at which point there will be much shrieking and extermination.) But when it comes to the ubiquitous track rabbits, I say live and let live since they do provide daily entertainment of a more legitimate and real form than any of the morning chat shows, and since there are no decent cartoons on when I get up I’ll take what I can get (although WTBS’ near-dawn slot of MARRIED…WITH CHILDREN reruns are certainly welcome).
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I've been through the layoff dance a couple of times and I probably don't have to tell you that it's a major downer for all of a workplace's staffers, leaving those who remain after the axings with a sense of survivor's guilt but also with a feeling of tension and possibly impending doom. It kills kills morale stone dead and hampers productivity, and no matter how much the higher-ups may make promises to the contrary there are always cuts to be made in these uncertain economic times. At least here at the design 'ho house there is no blatant psychological cruelty involved in the layoffs; when Marvel Comics ended up in Chapter 11 in the 1990's, the powers that be over there tried to put a ludicrous positive spin on things by giving the corporate clear-cutting the catchy name "Marvelution," and some of the people from the floors that had a clue as to who was up for the chop during the long cycle of culling would actually brush past some of us Bullpenners in the hallway and cryptically tell us things like "I'd get ready for something heavy today if I were you" and other such uncalled-for bits of torment, putting us into even more of an agitated state than we already were. And despite such dire "warnings" the layoffs would sometimes not come for weeks, leaving people fucked up and scared throughout, but at least some of the suits got their jollies...
In fact, if I remember the dates correctly, it took some three or four years from the announcement of Marvelution before I got let go after nearly nine years of service, so we're talking years' worth of uncertainty and anxiety.
But this time around, should the axe fall upon my beige neck I'm ready for it and I'll just have to man up and sell boy-pussy in videos with titles like BEEF CHUNX 'N' GRAVY or BEARS' NIGHT OUT.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Okay, TROPIC THUNDER was funny enough in the theatrical version, so how do you top that for the DVD release? The answer is simple: make good on a joke from the film, namely insane Aussie uber-method actor Kirk Lazarus' (Robert Downey Jr.) comment that he wouldn't drop character as black soldier Sgt. Lincoln Osiris until he'd finished doing the DVD commentary, and that's exactly what you get with the director's cut. Downey does the entire commentary track in character as Osiris (despite being referred to constantly as "Robert" by his co-stars), and it's damned near impossible not to laugh your ass off as he rocks a ridiculous "black" voice throughout, commenting not only on the movie itself but also on his co-stars, Ben Stiller and Jack Black, saving special abuse for Black who had the gall to show up late for the track's recording. And as if that wasn't crazy enough, he also provides the vocie for when Lazarus as Osiris does the voice of a Vietnamese rice farmer that the character impersonates, and then he drops into character as straight-up Aussie Kirk Lazarus when Lazarus drops character as Osiris. finally finishing the last five minutes or so of the commentary as Robert Downey Jr.! This is a rare case where not only is the movie worth buying on DVD, the looney commentary actually adds to the fun, so this gets an offical Vault of Buncheness nod for going above and beyond in giving the movie fan more than their money's worth. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
My former roommate and Marvel Bullpen colleague Glenn Greenberg — the James Mason to my MANDINGO — was at the NYC preview screening for the upcoming JJ Abrams STAR TREK reboot screening last night and here's what he had to say:
I was at the NYC screening last night of four scenes from the new Star Trek movie. JJ Abrams hosted the event and introduced each of the scenes. I was in the front row and sat about 5 feet away from Abrams. The entire presentation took about 50 minutes. I was surprised by how much was shown.
Afterwards, I met Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News. Nice guy, pleasure to talk to.
So here's the lowdown:
JJ Abrams said right off the bat that he had never been a fan of Star Trek. As a kid, a friend of his who really loved TOS tried to get him into it, but he never connected with it on an emotional level.
He was as surprised as anyone when he automatically accepted Paramount's offer to produce a new Star Trek movie. In working with his creative team, consisting of both lifelong fans of Trek and people who had never seen the shows or the movies, he realized that he really loved the story they came up with and decided that he would not only produce it, but direct it, as well. Now, having worked on the film and gotten to know the characters and the universe intimately, he says that he truly loves Star Trek.
One of his goals, he said, was to make everything seem as realistic and plausible as possible, because, unlike Star Wars, which is set "a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away," Star Trek is supposed to represent our future. And he wanted to show a future that the audience could relate to and understand.
It seemed clear to me that his intent was to make this film as appealing to non-fans as possible. Abrams went out of his way to explain to the audience things like what Vulcan was, what the Federation was, just in case they were not familiar with the franchise.
At one point, he was introducing one of the clips that focused on Kirk and mistakenly referred to the character as Spock. He corrected himself by saying, "No, not Spock... uh... the other guy." He smirked, chuckled and added, "No, it's Kirk--I knew it, I knew it."
All in all, I found Abrams to be pretty sincere, enthusiastic, and proud of his work and his cast and crew.
So, my thoughts based on the four clips:
- It's going to be a big, bright film with an epic scope and a lot of intense action and suspense. The woman sitting next to me even gasped and put her hands over her mouth during one of the fight scenes we watched.
- The actors seem to have been well cast.
My prediction is that the breakout character in this movie will be Zoe Saldana's Uhura. She's absolutely gorgeous--you can't take your eyes off of her. She carries herself extremely well, projects an air of confidence and ability, has a lovely speaking voice, and has good chemistry with Chris Pine's Kirk. It's a really strong performance.
Chekov provides some in-jokey comic relief, but has a really cute heroic moment where he shines.
Sulu has a major sequence with Kirk in which I think he has more to do than he did in all six TOS movies combined.
Karl Urban has a moment where he positively channels DeForest Kelly, and he does it with nothing more than a nervous raise of his eyebrow. You can tell that Urban studied at least some of the nuances of Kelly's performances as McCoy. I should note that Urban's McCoy is much more INTENSE and high-strung than Kelly's, but maybe the rationale is that McCoy calmed down a bit as he got older and more experienced.
Simon Pegg's Scotty seems more playful, manic, and mischievous than James Doohan's.
I'm not completely sold yet on Zachary Quinto as Spock. I think I need to see a bit more of his performance before making a firm assessment. He seems okay, not bad. On a related note: As you can see in the advance publicity photo and the footage from the trailer, an angry Spock attacks Kirk. This seems to be a major story point, and it may be a reference to the fact that the young Spock was not in full control of his emotions. This may be a way to tie in with the Spock from the first pilot, who smiled, got agitated easily, and tended to shout in moments of crisis. ("The women!!!!!") Or not.
I was surprised that we got to see any footage of Leonard Nimoy as Spock, but we did. He looks old. I mean OLD. Which is odd, because Leonard Nimoy doesn't look too bad for his age. So Abrams must really want Spock to look ANCIENT in this movie. I'm not too thrilled with the Spock makeup. The eyebrows aren't consistent with what we've seen in the past, and the ears look a little too big and thick. Me, I would've tried to just recreate the look from the TV series and then add gray hair and lots of wrinkles. Also, Nimoy's voice seems much more raspy now. That said, it seems like Leonard Nimoy is having a good time playing Spock again. There's a warmth and comfort that he shows in his performance that I don't think we've really seen since STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.
Bruce Greenwood is very effective as Captain Pike. His performance is more or less consistent with Jeffrey Hunter's.
Finally, Chris Pine seems effective as James Kirk. As with Quinto, I'm not completely sold yet, but I could be, once I see more of his performance. He has good chemistry with Zoe Saldana and Karl Urban. In the footage that was shown, he and Quinto's Spock are mostly at odds with each other, with sparks flying between them. Pine carries himself well during the action and fight scenes, and he's good in portraying a rough- around-the-edges Kirk who hasn't quite mastered his notorious magic with the ladies. He is also good during the more comedic moments, which include his negative reactions to McCoy's hypo injections. His interactions with Greenwood's Captain Pike are good, and there's one particular moment between Pine's Young Kirk and Nimoy's Old Spock that is really quite touching.
- The exterior of the Enterprise looks bulky and clunky, especially the warp nacelles. I can only hope that at the end of the movie, they show the ship being repaired and fitted with new, sleek nacelles. (Wouldn't mind seeing them replace the secondary hull too, but that might be too much to ask for.)
- The interiors of the Enterprise are BIG. They look far bigger and more spacious than ever before--which actually might be closer to what Roddenberry envisioned. He didn't like Nicholas Meyer's "submarine" aesthetic for the Enterprise, with crewmembers sharing quarters and sleeping in bunkbeds.
- Continuity is maintained, in the sense that Kirk is from Iowa and his middle name is Tiberius. Spock is from Vulcan and his mother is human and his father is Vulcan. Chekov's full name is Pavel Andreivich Chekov. Scotty's first name is Montgomery. Captain Pike commanded the Enterprise before James Kirk.
All diehards and anal-retentives better go into this expecting a whole new ballgame, or it's going to be a very unpleasant experience. It's very clear that Abrams and Co. play fast and loose with Star Trek history, to say the least.
Just from the four scenes we saw, I could tell that elements and details from "Balance of Terror" and even "The Menagerie" have been rendered null and void. Starfleet is apparently well aware that the Vulcans and the Romulans are related. The quasi-canonical Captain Robert April? Forget about him. Pike is the first commander of the Enterprise, because he takes command upon the ship's completion.
Depending on how the film ends (I don't know whether Pike remains in command of the Enterprise at the conclusion or we actually see Kirk take over as captain), Pike's original visit to Talos IV may no longer be part of the history, or the fact that Spock served on the Enterprise under Pike for 11-plus years before the switchover to Kirk.
Overall, I suspect that people who like Star Trek but who don't have encyclopedic knowledge of it (my wife, for example) won't be bothered by any of this. If it's a well-acted movie with great special effects and a good story, chances are that they'll like it. Hell, I might even find myself liking it, as long as I force myself to see it as a new, completely separate entity--a full reboot, as much as John Byrne's MAN OF STEEL was for Superman--instead of a proper canonical prequel. And of course, people sampling Star Trek for the first time with this movie won't know that anything has been changed or contradicted.
I have a feeling that anyone trying to connect this neatly with previously established TOS is gonna go nuts.
So... is it going to be a hit or a bomb? Can't say yet. From what I saw, it looks like it will be a well-made, well-acted, fun adventure.
But one thing's for sure: it will only be a hit if it attracts more than just the Star Trek fans. Abrams is clearly aiming to bring in a new audience, and he's right to do so. Will he alienate the core audience in the process? Will it matter if he does? Only time will tell.
I know there's the option to leave anonymous comments here on the Vault, but why not identify yourself in some form when you comment? Fake names are okay, and maybe even encouraged 'cause they can be fun, but the anonymous thing just seems kind of cold to me. I like knowing who my readers are, even with pseudonyms, so I can attach a name to a singular style of feedback.
Anyway, it would be nice because if people have the bravery to leave comments — even scathing ones, which I post BTW — I think they should also have the bravery to make themselves known in some way. I tend to avoid getting into back-and-forth vitriolic warfare with people if we have a difference of opinion since I don't really see the point (and I leave such stuff to you, the readers), so please feel free to identify yourself as Dr. Poltroon McSnickerdoodle for all I care, just gimme some kind of name.
Thanks for your continued readership!
Having absolutely nothing to do with TROLL (1986), the story, such as it is, tells the "scary" tale of a family of total non-actors who journey to the rural town of "Nilbog" (oh, puh-leeze!) and discover the place to be a nest of supremely bogus-looking goblins played by a bunch of dwarves in tatty costumes designed by Laura Gemser. Yes, dear Vaulties, the very same Laura Gemser who starred in such classics of softcore cinema as BLACK EMANUELLE (1975), EMANUELLE ON TABOO ISLAND (1976), EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS (1977), EMANUELLE AND THE WHITE SLAVE TRADE (1978), UNLEASHED PERVERSIONS OF EMANUELLE (1983), and that favorite of bad sword & sorcery fans everywhere, ATOR, THE FIGHTING EAGLE (1982).
Laura Gemser: skin-flick mainstay and TROLL 2's special effects costume designer. No, seriously!
The family and other assorted characters (translation: "goblin fodder") must stay one step ahead of the evil goblins who, in a bizarre (and pointless) twist, are vegetarians who use a magic green goo to transform their prey into plants before they chow down on them; in one memorable instance a nerdy teen is turned into a tree and takes root on a clay pot exactly like what you'd find at a garden supply shop, only to meet his fate at the hands of the chain saw-wielding goblin queen — a character named Creedence Leonore Gielgud — who's actually a witch from Stonehenge or something.
The incredible Deborah Reed as scenery-devouring goblin queen Creedence Leonore Gielgud.
No joke, Creedence is one of the most over-the-top flagrantly poorly-acted characters in film history, and I love her. Just how bad is actress Deborah Reed in essaying this part? Let's put it this way: imagine the witch at a local junior high's Halloween haunted house that's been set up in the school's basketball court, as played by some baked hippie chick with no previous acting experience that they'd conscripted from off the street and told to go completely apeshit with her conception of "scary," and you'll only scratch the surface of the thespic anti-wonders to be had here. There's even a truly mind-boggling bit in which Creedence seduces one of a group of annoying and horny teenage boys by materializing from out of the TV the idiot was watching and manifesting as a sexy, lingerie-clad spank fantasy made flesh, complete with black stockings and an ear of corn.
"Gosh, Mrs. Robinson! Whatcha gonna do with that ear of corn?"
The two thrash about on a couch as they French through the ear of corn (?), their passion becoming so hot that the scene explodes in a shower of popcorn.
The most ludicrous seduction scene in cinema history? You decide!
No, really! I swear on my Devo albums that I'm not making up any of this! And I've neglected to mention that the boring and grossly untalented family who serve as the protagonists in this mess have a son who keeps receiving lore about goblins and advice on how to deal with them from his dead grandpa, the chief nugget of wisdom being not to eat any food proffered by the townsfolk of Nilbog (*snicker*). So when the family sits down to feast on an assortment of goodies that look like somebody overdid it with the green food dye and Play-Doh, the kid has to come up with a way to stop his famished family from eating and save them from turning into plants, so on the spot he settles on whipping it out and giving their repast a major golden shower (which we thankfully don't actually see transpire).
Those are just some of the horrendously-acted highlights in the film, and after seeing it I did a little research and was astounded (but not really all that surprised) to discover that TROLL 2 has a huge and steadily growing cult following as the "greatest bad movie ever made." That's a pretty lofty anti-accolade and I'm not sure what film would really deserve that title, but TROLL 2 is definitely among the curdled cream of the bad movie crop and is head-and-shoulders more entertaining than just about any other genuinely bad film you can name. There's even a documentary about it entitled BEST WORST MOVIE, supposedly due out by the end of the year and directed by Michael Stephenson, the former child actor who so memorably whipped it out and let fly all over the family's meal in the film, and I can't wait to see it. As truly awful movies go, TROLL 2 should definitely be experienced by one and all, and you just have to give it up for any movie entitled TROLL 2 that features not even one troll in its entire running time.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Which brings me to this morning.
As I was running some proofs over to one of my company's designers, a respected co-worker and fellow geek asked me if I'd seen the new STAR TREK trailer, a question that prompted one of my signature vitriolic explosions. "Did I see it?" I answered. "Oh, I saw it alright, and it fucking bit the big one!" My fellow geek nodded knowingly, but before we could explore our irritation any further we noticed wild gesticulations from the office of the two sales guys behind us. They waved their arms at us with looks of horror on their faces and told us to shut the fuck up because one of the guys behind the new STAR TREK movie was in the conference room right next to us, engaged in conversation with our boss about that very trailer. Luckily for us the conversation between the boss and the TREK dude was very enthusiastic so my comments were not heard. Good thing too, because the guy in the conference room was none other than J.J Abrams, co-creator of LOST, writer of ARMAGEDDON, and producer of CLOVERFIELD among other things, and currently the producer and director of STAR TREK.
As previously stated, I did not get busted, but can't people around the office give a guy a heads-up? Sheesh!
I mean, what's not to like about a stunningly elegant Dench in Elizabethan gear, a fetching hairdo and pointed ears? Perhaps the only way to beat that would be to have the character redesigned a la a Brian Froud-ish organic/nature spirit line and have Dench play her more or less nekkid and slathered in green makeup from head to toe...
Oh, wait! They did that in 1968 and it's available on DVD, so as soon as I can get my hands on it I'll get back to you with a review.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Just when I thought that Hollywood could never outdo itself in its day-to-day proving that it's completely and totally out of ideas, a feature film based on the venerable board game MONOPOLY is in the works and none other than Ridley Scott, the visionary behind ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER, is reportedly attached as producer and possibly director. The future predicted in Mike Judge's ever-more-prophetic IDIOCRACY is looming that much nearer, so it's only a matter of time until ASS actually makes its way to the big screen.
More on the fucking ridiculous MONOPOLY flick can be found at
Saturday, November 15, 2008
After the visceral impact of CASINO ROYALE and what was considered by many to be a creative rebirth of the 007 franchise, the middling entertainment found in QUANTUM OF SOLACE comes as quite a disappointment. Those who complained about CASINO ROYALE’s surfeit of character development and emotional content at the expense of action will be pleased to see that the new Bond film reverses that equation and provides the viewer with action set piece after action set piece and nary a moment to catch its breath.
For the first time in the series’ history the new Bond movie is a direct sequel to its predecessor, opening about an hour after the events seen at the end of CASINO ROYALE and dropping us into the middle of an insane car chase in Italy. After bringing in for questioning the guy whose kneecaps he shot off in the previous installment's coda, Bond (Daniel Craig in full-on scowl mode) promises M (Judi Densch) that he won’t go crazy-ape-bonkers and seek revenge on whoever it was who killed his lover/betrayer, Vesper Lynde. But then an unexpected assassination attempt nearly claims his boss’ life so Bond sets out on an odyssey of willy-nilly killing in order to discover who’s responsible (and in the process find out who killed Vesper anyway). So once again Bond goes rogue, then there’s some business involving a vengeance-seeking hottie (Olga Kurylenko) and her evil boyfriend (Mathieu Amalric, looking disturbingly like a slightly defective clone of Gary Oldman) who has a nasty plan that the CIA is in bed with, but that’s pretty much all the plot you get as the film piles on endless action scenes edited in that all-too-common quick-cut style that’s damned near seizure-inducing and actually gave me a headache. There’s a “free running” sequence that more or less repeats the one from CASINO ROYALE, a thoroughly lame boat chase, and there’s even an obvious nod to Shirley Eaton’s famous gilded demise in GOLDFINGER, the deceased posed identically only this time covered in crude oil, but who cares? The film is loud, uninvolving (at least to me) and very much a mediocre, by-the-numbers 007 outing, but at least it’s mercifully short at 106 minutes (far shorter than the majority of James Bond movies).
I’ve definitely seen worse movies — hell, I’ve seen far worse Bond movies — but once again a major studio film felt like I was watching someone else playing a video game, but unlike most other films that struck me that way, QUANTUM OF SOLACE’s entire running time exemplified my video game complaint as opposed to that effect being felt only in a sequence or two. Hopefully the next film will strike a happy balance between solid story and blistering action, because this film was Bond for the Playstation generation and as a person who does not enjoy such perfunctory pyrotechnics I have to say I feel ripped off. I paid $12.50 to see it and feel I did not get my money’s worth, so QUANTUM OF SOLACE joins the ranks of A VIEW TO A KILL, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, OCTOPUSSY and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH as a Bond film I have no intention of ever returning to.
Seriously, dear Vault readers, TRUST YER BUNCHE and wait for cable.
An object lesson in not judging a book by its cover, creator Shoko Conami's romantic tale of time-displaced love across perceived class barriers features a compelling story that paradoxically benefits from its bland “girly” art style, allowing readers to focus on the much-better-than-expected characterizations. Feudal-era ninja bodyguard Kagetora finds himself inexplicably thrown forward in time and into the dysfunctional life of bratty rich girl Beni, a dead ringer for the princess he steadfastly protected in the past. The girl even bears the same name as his royal charge and, unaware that he’s been transported into the twenty-first century, assumes she’s the same person. Sticking close to the initially reluctant Beni, Kagetora discovers a web of familial intrigue surrounding her, and as they spend time together they experience the first stirrings of attraction. But as love threatens to blossom, the pair are ripped from the present and wind up in the past, about a year after Kagetora disappeared and face-to-face with the original Princess Beni, whereupon it’s revealed that she’s the modern day Beni’s ancestor. To say more would spoil the fun, but let it suffice to say there’s enough here to hold one’s interest and possibly lure readers back for more. I won't be returning to SHINOBI LIFE, but the fact that I was able to read it without loathing it in the least speaks volumes for its merits.
Friday, November 14, 2008
But no more.
I was on 42nd Street recently and again my heart sank to see this once proud and utterly shameless Whore of Babylon neutered and tamed into the plastic strip mall that it is today. As I elbowed my way through the touristy throng on my way to the subway station, I was appalled to behold this especially offensive example of corporate ubiquity:
This glitzy and ultra-posh Mickie-Dee's looms large on the site of what was once a spacious Chinese gift store which had a rear area that could best be described as a kung fu fan's dream come true, specifically a huge selection of martial arts weapons of all manner of description and function, both common and esoteric. Looking for a pair of chrome shobo?
A seven-foot staff surmounted with a very pointy and fearsome "wolf teeth" club?
A life-sized hand crafted from solid bronze with curled, taloned fingers attached to the end of a chain for intimidating use as a flesh-shredding flail? Flagrantly illegal butterfly knives and brass knuckles? All of that stuff and much, much more was readily available for reasonable prices, and it was yours for the asking provided you could cough up the required green.
And now it sells Happy Meals. To quote the old Happy Flowers song "Unhappy Meal," I don't want a Happy Meal, I want a weapon!!!