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Saturday, December 27, 2014

5 things my wife gets upset about that are really her fault

Friday, November 7, 2014

4 Romantic Gestures Killed by Technology

Romance is dead and, for once, it wasn't killed by my stained boxer shorts and "complete and utter disregard for everyone except myself."  This time, the culprit is technology. That portable phone/computer/camera/bottle opener you carry  around in your pocket all day just mere inches from your genitalia isn't just slowly making you sterile. It's also crushing any hopes of impressing the opposite sex in any kind of significant or meaningful way. Nowhere is this more evident than by taking a quick look at films from the last 10-20 years. What was once considered grand gestures of romanticism have been retired faster than a Beanie baby commemorating Hitler's regime. And on that terrible metahphor, let's move on to a few examples.

The Mix Tape
The entire movie High Fidelity is an ode to the highest and single most important art form of the 1980's (and early 1990's)-- the mix tape. In this film, John Cusack wins and loses the love of his life all on the strength of plastic, metallic tape, and songs recorded off a tinny tape deck off the radio.

I'll defer to a better writer here:

To me, making a tape is like writing a letter. There's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again. A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention (I started with "Got to Get You Off My Mind," but then realized that she might not get any further than track one, side one if I delivered what she wanted straightaway, so I buried it in the middle of side two), and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs and...oh, there are loads of rules.
What do kids do today... Send links to the YouTube? Swap MP3 players? I don't know. My kids didn't even recognize what a tape cassette was and now even CD's are a thing of the past. Everything is digital. Gone are the days of composing a 90 minute ode to the person you love. Now all we've got is three-minute links to an underage singer writhing around on a bed explaining how her big ass is something we should be super excited about.

The Boom Box Serenade

You know the scene- John Cusack (again) stands outside the girl's window in his adorably ruffled trench coat with a boom box blaring Peter Gabriel held over his head. The song was 'In Your Eyes' though most people couldn't hear it over the collective sound of a million panties falling to the floor. It is the single grandest gesture in the history of movies. And I'm including Sophie's Choice.
What do kids do today... If my street is any indication, they blare their car radios and honk their horns while their frustrated date tries to convince their father that the marks on her neck aren't hickies but an allergic reaction to wool and that she will, without a doubt, be home by 11pm in the same clothes she left in this time. Promise.

The Anonymous Love Letter
There's an entire movie dedicated to the anonymous love letter. It's creatively called the Love Letter because in the 1980's a much higher value was placed on cocaine than imagination. You know who writes letters now? Your grandmother and serial killers. That's it. You're either someone who still thinks of ballpoint pens as a pretty nifty idea or you're living in a murder dungeon sending taunting letters to the police. There are no in-betweens. what is sending an anonymous love letter going to get you? Either relegated immediately to the friend-zone or placed on a government watch list.

What kids do today... Texting I guess. But compared to leaving a hand-penned, syrupy ode to love in someone's locker, 'I can haz feelings for u. Howz bout u?' leaves a lot to be desired.
The Car Door Test


This actually turns up in a few films but my favorite is Singles. In it, the main character who is surprisingly not John Cusack opens his date's car door and then smiles when she leans over to open his. It's a simple little gesture that showed that she was not only appreciative of his chivalrous gesture but was thoughtful enough to return the favor. My best friend dumped several women on the sole basis that they failed this test. But he also had the luxury of being attractive to the opposite sex and not a loathsome person like myself which makes being choosy much easier.
What kids do today... Remote-click open the door. It's not a grand gesture if all you have to do is press a button. And if you escort a young lady to her side of the car these days all you're going to get for your trouble is an annoyed look and a snarky comment along the lines of, "So what, your car door's broken and you're too cheap to get it fixed?"


With technology killing romance faster than a choleric baby, it's a wonder kids are even getting together anymore.  Eventually we won't even need to have sex. Humans will reproduce only in cold labortory settings. Candles, cornish game hen, Marvin Gaye, and Mad Dog will be a thing of the past. At least until some maverick stands up and fights against the cold system. That'd make a great movie wouldn't it? And you can bet your edible undies it'd probably star John Cusack.
 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Correction

I would like to issue a correction on yesterday's article which, as some astute and clearly bored readers pointed out, treaded the fine line between inaccurate and "outright lies".
 
1. Q. Lazzarus is netiher a band nor a man. She is a woman and I'm sure her mother thinks she is quite lovely.
 
2. "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey was not used by the Clinton campaign. That honor went to Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" although close enough should count for something
 
3. Finally, I would also like to apologize to any remaining readers of this blog who thought that I possessed any sort of journalistic inegrity or strove for any kind of accuracy. Honestly, it's a good day when I can drag myself over to Wikipedia to verify any of my wild and unsubstantiated claims. 99% of this blog is pulled directly from my butthole and sent straight to your eyes. You do the math.

Monday, November 3, 2014

5 Classic Songs Ruined by the Movies

Movies and music go together like peanut butter and an over-heated sheep. That's not how the saying goes? There's something deeply wrong with me? Well, that's an article for another day. Today's topic is the seemingly blissful marriage of classic songs with film. But, like any marriage, things occasionally hit a bump. You come home to find your spouse in a spandex body suit covering herself in glitter and nothing is ever the same after that. Sure, you smile at each other and show up at all the kids' events, but you know, deep down, nothing short of a Tinkerbell/Captain Hook roleplaying session is ever going to please your mate. And you can't, you just can't, wear the hook. Not even for her. I've lost track again. Something about marriage. Or music. No, movies. Music and movies. And the movies that ruin those songs forever.

Sheep have such judgmental eyes.


5. Stuck in the Middle With You- Stealer's Wheel
Stuck in the Middle With You is not a Bob Dylan song despite what every user on Napster circa 1998 would have you believe (and every mis-labled illegally downloaded mp3 since then). The song was recorded by Stealer's Wheels, a band whose most notable accomplishment outside this single was recenlty reforming without any of its original members. The song is rambling, upbeat, sunny and a bunch of other adjectives that could also be used to describe the decade in which it was recorded ("shag-carpeted"?). 

Until, of course, it was completed ruined by Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino's first, and probably best film, blends 70's style, music and swagger with modern day violence and mayhem. And of course this also happens:

You know the scene. You see it even when you close your eyes. Michael Madsen's uber creepy dance with the open razor in his hands. The gasoline. The ear. The blood. So much blood. And all of it set to the tune of Stealer's Wheel chirpy little tune released in the middle of the most harmless decade of all time. Try hard as you might, every time you hear this damn song, you replay this damn scene over and over and over again. It's Tarantino's greatest crime.
Well, second.

4 Q. Lazzarus's "Goodbye Horses"
Q. Lazzarus may as well have titled their biggest hit "Goodbye Horses", the "Penis Tucking Song" instead. In the film Silence of the Lambs, the song supplies the soundtrack to this bit of movie magic.  


Can you imagine how happy this obscure artist was when he found out that his song was going to be used in a major motion picture featuring Sir Anthony Fucking Hopkins and Jodie Foster? Can you picture his face as he sat in the darkened theatre on opening night anxiously awaiting the moment when he'd hear the words he'd written played as the movie unfolded? You can almost hear him bragging to his new lady friend (who in any other circumstance, would have been way out of his league by the way). 

And then this happened.
I can't stop posting this picture!

Like burning down your last place of employment, that's the kind of thing that doesn't come off the ol' resume.

3. Dont stop Believin- Journey
It's hard to ruin a Journey song, seeing as how shitty they are to begin with. In fact, Don't Stop Believin is one of those songs that's been ruined more than once (beyond just by Journey's releasing it). But this song is resilient. This song has returned more times than John Travolta. Check it out. 
  1. Bill Clinton appropriates the song as his unofficial theme. Later, BJ puns ensue.
  2. Glee covers the song in their premiere- more BJ jokes ensue. 
  3. And that takes us to The Sopranos
In the shittiest (or best, depending on how smart you want to appear) finale ever, Tony Soprano is gunned down (or is he?) to the tune of Don't Stop Believin'. What is the significance of this song at this moment? Much has been written. None of it makes sense. It's a shit song that raises my ire every time I hear it. Tony Soprano deserved a lot of things in the finale-- Journey was not one of them.

2. Singin' in the Rain- Gene Kelly
Even if you have never seen the film Singing in the Rain starring Gene Kelly, you know the song. Maybe you hate puppies and rainbows as well, I'm not even going to speculate as to why you'd deny yourself the pure joy that is seeing Gene Kelly dancing in the rain with nothing but an umbrella and a streetlight. 
This is not the rain scene I was referring to.

Go to Youtube and watch it now. Did you do it? Are you smiling? Well, then obviously you've also never seen Clockwork Orange.

Because you've clearly just time traveled back in time from a futuristic society where television and movies are no longer a thing, I'll explain Clockwork Orange as well. It's a movie so violent, it was banned in Britain for years (and this is a country that didn't bat an eye when the Spice Girls arrived). And one of the most violent scenes in the film features the main character beating the ever loving shit out an older man with a cane, all to the tune of Gene Kelly's incredibly bouncy classic song. 

Now whenever I hear Singing in the Rain, I find myself adding 'Whap whap whap' after every verse. I imagine giant concrete dildos and penis masks. And yes, this is all in the movie. I'm not giving you a glimpse into my tortured soul. Quite frankly, you couldn't handle it. 

5. Bohemian Rhapsody- Queen
If ever there was a Queen song that showed off Freddy Mercury's incredible vocal range or ecclectic musical influences, it's Bohemian Rhapsody. This single is probably the unlikliest rock and roll hit of all time, fusing hard rock and opera of all things into an eight minute song that every man, woman in child in America can sing along, too. And, unfortunately, also Canada. Because Canadian Mike Myers liked the song so much he stuck it in his extended Saturday Night Live sketch/movie Wayne's World. 

You know the scene-- a bunch of slacker douchebags head banging in a shitty car, rocking out to Queen. Which is unfortunately what anyone who sings the song alone in their car also looks like. The movie's biggest crime here is holding up a mirror where no one wanted one to begin with. There's a reason why there's no reflective surfaces at the Sizzler. 
Feel the judgmental sheep eyes on you?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Terrible Early Versions of Famous Songs

Genius does not emerge fully formed like Athena springing from Zeus' head. For example, it took me 16 drafts to come up with that opening line. The original draft looked like this:

Writing is hard.

And then I went to the kitchen to make a bagel and ended up watching Pawn Star reruns for an hour. When I went back to writing, I had forgotten my original idea, but fortunately had left the TV on the History Channel, heard an interesting fact and then decided to steal it for this blog post.

Pictured above: The creative process.

I'm also pretty sure I swiped the opening line of this article from a fortune cookie.

But that's the way the creative process works. If you were to take a peak at even the most successful artist's rough drafts, you'd be shocked at just how bad (or appalling) some of the early versions of your favorite works truly were. Like these:

5. Yesterday, The Beatles--A Denny's Commerical 
Yesterday, by The Beatles, is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs ever written. With simple lyrics, it perfectly encapsulates feelings of loss, and separation, while still maintaining hope. As the story goes, Paul McCartney came up with the tune in a dream but the lyrics would have to wait.

As John Lennon explained it in that adorable Liverpool accent we all know and love, "The song was around for months and months before we finally completed it. We made up our minds that only a one-word title would  suit; we just couldnít find the right one. Then one morning Paul woke up and the song and the title were both there, completed. I was sorry in a way, we'd had so many laughs about it."

But did you know? 
The original lyrics, the one that John and Paul spent months laughing about, was an ode to breakfast.

Scrambled eggs
 Have an omelette with some Muenster cheese
 Put your dishes in the wash bin please
 So I can clean the scrambled eggs

Join me do
 There's a lot of eggs for me and you
 I've got ham and cheese and bacon too
 So go get two and join me do

Fried or sunny side
 Just aren't right
 The mix-bowl begs
 Quick, go get a pan, and weíll scramble up some eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs

Scrambled eggs
 Good for breakfast, dinner time or brunch
 Don't buy six or twelve, buy a bunch
 And we'll have a lunch on scrambled eggs

That's not a Weird Al send-up of Yesterday. Those are the original lyrics. Having come up with one of the most hauntingly beautiful tunes ever, Paul McCartney sat right down to pen an ode to something a chicken pops out his ass.

I just created an internet fetish.


Thank god, John and Paul let this one incubate (Pun!) before hatching (Pun!) the final lyrics.


4. Little Richard, Tutti Frutti- Butt Sex
Maybe you don't remember Little Richard. Maybe your parents were cool and listened to something besides 1950's music growing up. Good for you. All you need to know is that Little Richard is right up there with Elvis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and Buddy Holly as one of the most important musicians to emerge from the early days of rock and roll. His music was loud, upbeat and infused doo wop with gospel and blues and rock and roll.

Little Richard's signature song was Tuti Frutti. And again, maybe you've never heard it, but it's a catchy, nonsensical, rambunctious sprawling tune that doesn't make a god damn bit of sense, "A whop bop-a-lu-mop, a whop bam boo. Tutti frutti, oh Rudy."

But Did You Know?
And that's because the original draft was an ode to getting anally penetrated by a man.

A wop bop a loo mop, a good goddam
 Tutti Frutti, good booty,
 If it don't fit, don't force it,
 You can grease it, make it easy.

The 1950's were a kindler, simpler time. A naive time. A time when a man could look like this and nobody would suspect he was a homosexual.


Which Little Richard was. In the most flaming sense of the word. And in the 1950's he was so enamored with being gay, he almost wrote the community's national anthem. Think about it. One of rock and roll's earliest signature songs was almost the soundtrack to the most fabulous (Pun!) coming out party ever.


3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane- Suicide is Painless
In a genre crowded with songs, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, is one of the most recognizable holiday songs around. It's been recorded by dozens of different artists, most famously by Judy Garland and Frank Fucking Sinatra.

In just four verses, this song captures everything that Christmas is supposed to represent--hope and joy and rebirth:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
From now on our troubles
Will be out of sight

But Did You Know?
The original draft of the song presented to Judy Garland was less 'Merry Christmas' and more 'Pass the razor blades.'

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York.

This was not a tune for a man having a holly, jolly Christmas. It was for the guy who'd just lost his wife and job and was celebrating his first Yule Tide in a motel by the railroad tracks.
So this guy again.


2. Purple Haze, Jimmy Hendrix- Science Fiction Geek
It pains me to write this. Purple Haze is Jimmy Hendrix's signature song. If you haven't heard it, you clearly are not my audience. I, I can't even look at you right now. For the rest of you, you will remember Purple Haze as the song that hippy girl played for you in her darklight-lit basement before giving you your first tab of acid. It played in the background at every smoke-filled college party you went to. It was the song, man. It defined the psychedlic, drug-fueled 1960's--a time when people were pushing their freedoms to the upper limits.
The best freedom is naked freedom.


But did you know?
Hendrix was less concerned with pushing the limits of his freedom and opening the doors of perception, and more concerned with penning an ode to his favorite sci fi writer Philip Jose Farmer. That's right, Jimmy Hendrix, psychedlic guitar god, wrote one of the earliest fan fics.

Try to stifle a yawn as you read this citation on Farmer's book from WikiPedia, "In the story set on a distant planet, sunspots produce a "purplish haze" which has a disorienting effect on the inhabitants."

Oh Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Is it any coincidence you died only months after the original Star Trek went off the air?

1. Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Wizard of Oz--Urban Rot and Decay
The Wizard of Oz is one of the most recognizable films of all time and Somewhere Over the Rainbow played no small part in that. It is a beautiful, uplifting meloday sung by Dorothy (Judy Garland) on her small Kansas farm as she imagines a bigger, brighter world beyond her own.
Probably not what she had in mind. But how awesome would that have been?

But did you know?
The original draft read more like a William Faulkner novel than the opening song in a movie that featured a race of people called 'munchkins'.

Somewhere down past the wheat field, way way back,
There's some land that I heard of a miles past the railroad track
Somewhere down past the wheat field, skies are gray
And the people that trudge to work do it day by day
Someday I want to see this spot
Where troubles grow like mildew rot ...so true
And everything revolves around
The money that they all have found -destroying values
Somewhere down past the wheat field, way way back,
Thereís a land that my curiosity wants a crack. (at)
If happy little bluejays fly beyond the wheat field, why oh why can't I?

This version of the song made it all the way to early shootings of the film. The dark lyrics changed the entire tone of the song. How noticable was the difference? Apparently, they couldn't stop Toto from howling throughout the recording. This set off a Rube Goldberg effect of scaring a coop of chickens, showering the set in feathers. Just a few simple verse changes and the Yellow Brick Road would have had to be renamed to the Feather and Chicken Shit Covered Path.

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Movies You Didn't Know Were Based on Comic Books

Marvel recently released its three year plan to take over the movie box office (and then the world!). And why not? The collective gross on the X-men franchise alone out-earned most of the members of the United Nations. As a result, everyone is releasing comic book-inspired films these days. No seriously. Everybody.
You didn't believe me, did you?

It won't be long until Merchant-Ivory churns out some period drama about a guy named Phineas Codswallop, a lowly stablehand who simulataneously romances a woman above his station and fights highwaymen by night. It will be based on the imaginary comic book series I'm working on entitled 'The Walloping Codswallop and His Wench of Doom'.  Of course, Merchant Ivory will do everything in their power to hide the fact that their Oscar-winning movie had its lowly origins on the pages of a comic book. Because making comic-book money is one thing, being associated with comic book nerds is a whole other bottle of Clearasil.

And they wouldn't be the first to studio to do it either. Check out these other movies which were born from the pages of comic books and from the minds of men who didn't get laid until well after college.

5. A History of Violence (2005)
A History of Violence stars that guy named Vigo who looks like Tom Petty and Kid Rock's love child.
Tell me you see it too.

Vigo stars as a guy who has a history of violence and it comes back to violence the crap out of him. Okay, I didn't actually see the movie and the Wiki entry was just so damn long. There's probably a lot of talking in between a couple of scenes of people getting their heads kicked in, if Vigo's previous roles are any indication.

But did you know? This movie was based on a graphic novel by John Wagner, the man who was also responsible for the source material for the 1995 Judge Dredd film. I'm sorry. I can't find it in myself to defend the man.


4. RED
RED is a movie about a group of geriatric former spies and previous Cold War enemies who team up to take out current spies turned bad, all the while assisted by a call center representative.


Who, if the movie was at all realistic, would look like this.
That wasn't racist. Some of my best friends are cell center representatives.

It was the last gasp in Bruce Willis's action career and the first time John Malkovich had a convincing role (as an insane old dude). The movie was occasionally funny, action-packed, romantic and terribly disappointing so of course it made a buttload of cash (more than an armload, less than a colon-fill).

But did you know? RED was actually based on a three-issue comic series of the same name by writer Warren Ellis. Remember the shitty movie--now remove the recycled cold war jokes, stereotypical Russians, and one-dimensional characters who existed solely for comedic relief. Keep all the action. Add a badass killer. And take away any redemption or a happy ending. That's RED. It's awesome. Go read it.

3. Surrogates (2009)
In yet another entry in the ongoing series 'How else can we rip off Blade Runner'? Bruce willis, in his second nod on this list, stars as a cop investigating a murder involving clones in a movie which is not at all a copy of ten other clone-murder films. Because they're called surrogates, you see. It's totally different.
He doesn't change his facial expression the entire movie.

But did you know? Surrogates is based on the series of comics by Robert Venditti and is much more Logan's Run than Blade Runner. It's not another humdrum cloning movie that asks the same rehashed questions about what makes a human, human, but a story of an inventor whose creation got away from him. It's Frankenstein only the monsters are damn near everywhere. There's collected editions out there. Treat yourself.


2. Wanted (2008)
Wanted stars Mrs. Brad Flick and the guy who played 'Delivery Man' in the Muppets Most Wanted. He's an assasin and doesn't know it. She's a sexy blah blah blah. And then blah blah blah. This movie made a lot of money, but honestly I don't even remember it being in theater. Though to be fair, if it wasn't animated and made by Disney or Pixar, my kids did not allow me to see it.

But did you know? This movie could have been sooooooooo good. For one, the original comic source was written by Mark Millar, the guy responsible for Kick Ass, one of the freshest super hero comics written since The Watchmen. And while Kick Ass was about ordinary joes stepping up and becoming heroes in a hero-less world, Wanted was about a world where all the heroes had already lost and the villains were now in charge. It was gritty, edgy, dark, and most of all surprising. If you saw the movie, I apologize. Now here's your reward for having sat through it:


1. Weird Science (1985) Weird Science is easily one of the most identifiable films to come out of the 1980's. It stars the skinny guy who got picked on in every John Hughes film, that dude from Twister, Iron Man, and Kelly LeBrock's panties. A lot of twisted and weird shit happens, even by 1980's standards.

But did you know?  The original source material for this gem of a movie, comes from the old EC comic book of the same name. In particular, a story from the fifth issue which you can read in full here: link

This is the one case where deviating from the source material actually works, but I'm warning you Marvel, if you screw up Deadpool for me or let John Wagner anywhere near the studio, I will hunt you down.