Monday, December 31, 2007


Courtesy of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. I haven't done one of these in a while.

1) Your favorite opening shot (Here are some ideas to jog your memory, if you need ‘em.)

I can't remember if this is exactly the first thing you see, but to the best of my memory it is, so The Naked Kiss. A bald woman beating the shit out of some guy with a high-heeled shoe while some crazy bebop plays on the soundtrack. You know you have to watch the rest of the movie after that.

2) Tuesday Weld or Mia Farrow?

Mia Farrow is in a lot of movies I like, but I never really thought that much about her. So I guess it must be Tuesday.

3) Name a comedy you’re embarrassed to admit made you laugh

There's probably a better answer that I'm forgetting, but there's no excuse for me finding Mallrats as funny as I do.

4) Best Movie of 1947

Nightmare Alley, by a nose over Brute Force, which is probably a better film, but Nightmare Alley just plays to all my personal fetishes. It's probably my favorite noir.

5) Burt Reynolds was the Bandit. Jerry Reed was the Snowman. Paul LeMat was Spider. Candy Clark was Electra. What’s your movie handle?

Munchausen Biproxy.

6) Robert Vaughn or David McCallum?

Robert Vaughn is funnier. I don't really know either one very well. Never had the opportunity to watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E., so I can't work up much enthusiasm either way.

7) Most exotic/unusual place/location in which you've seen a movie

There used to be this BBQ place in Helen, GA that had a back room where they'd show old comedy shorts. I watched the WC Fields movie where he keeps saying "It's not a fit night out for man nor beast" while eating an exceptionally good pulled pork sandwich.

8) Favorite Errol Morris movie

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control. As a piece of art it's fantastic, the way the different subjects overlap so well that you sometimes get confused as to which one is talking. But I also found it inspirational at the time, to see people who actually enjoyed their jobs.

9) Best Movie of 1967

Playtime. I saw this almost by accident a couple years ago (out of laziness, really. I was going to see 40 Guns at the Aero that day, but I didn't want to drive across town, so I just went to the Egyptian instead), and I've been obsessed with Tati ever since.

10) Describe a profoundly (or not-so-profoundly) disturbing moment you’ve had courtesy of the movies

In college, got really stoned and watched Killer Klownz From Outer Space. Then went to the cafeteria for dinner, and I swear, everyone looked like a clown!

11) Anne Francis or Julie Newmar?

Julie Newmar, even though I actually prefer Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.

12) Describe your favorite one sheet (include a link if possible)

King Kong (1976). It promises a much better movie than it actually delivers. Maybe this poster for Godzilla vs. Megalon is even better.

13) Best Movie of 1987

Was this question inspired by that Raising Arizona/Evil Dead 2 double feature? Both rank high on my list, but I'll go with Near Dark. One of my favorite 80's horror movies (that's saying something), and a very quotable film ("I fought for the South").

14) Favorite movie about obsession

PeeWee's Big Adventure

15) Your ideal Christmas movie triple feature

It's A Wonderful Life, Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas and Elf. Or maybe that Mexican movie where Santa defeats Satan.

16) Montgomery Clift or James Dean?

I don't know much about Clift beyond the Clash song, but I really do not get James Dean. He's the most egregious overactor in the movies. Maybe that's the point, but I don't really get it.

17) Favorite Les Blank Movie

OK, you stumped me on this one.

18) This past summer food critic Anton Ego made the following statement: “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. Last night, I experienced something new, an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize that only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” Your thoughts?

What a load of utter horseshit. "We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read." I challenge you to find one critic who agrees with this statement. Yes, the negative stuff is easy and fun to write, at first. But it's a pleasure that wears off quickly. What critics actually "thrive on" is the very thing that Brad, I mean, Anton Ego...thinks is the rare exception to the rule: finding something new and exciting, and wanting to tell the world about it. That is why people become critics. It's what drives them to start their own fanzines (or, nowadays, websites). They are passionate about the art that they love. Of course, you have to write something every week to get a paycheck, and there's not always something that makes you want to scream from the rooftops about it, so yes, critics do occasionally "criticize" art. Which apparantly makes artists very defensive. I see this attitude again and again, that critics are small men who must insult the work of the true artists whose creativity they so envy in order to make themselves feel signifigant (my favorite example is the "first art critic" in History of the World Part I), because God forbid any mere mortal be allowed to have an opinion about Real Art! The irony is that, every day these artists have people telling them to change the ending, make it more palatable, show what happened to Llewellyn Moss, whatever, and who is defending them? Who is championing the artist's work? CRITICS.

I especially don't get why Brad Bird has this attitude. I can understand someone like Shyalaman doing it, but what is Brad so defensive about? Has anything he's ever done EVER gotten a bad review?

19) The last movie you watched on DVD? In a theater?

DVD: Once. Theater: Flash Gordon. (Planning on seeing Juno tomorrow).

20) Best Movie of 2007

So far, No Country For Old Men is probably the best I've seen, but Knocked Up and Superbad are my favorites.

21) Worst Movie of 2007


22) Describe the stages of your cinephilia

3-5: Disney movies at the Drive-In are an overwhelmingly exciting experience. Annual viewings of Wizard of Oz on TV.

5-12: Star Wars, James Bond, Godzilla, Harryhausen, Mel Brooks, Airplane...the usual suspects.

13-14: Bladerunner, Apocalypse Now, and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly convince me that my tastes are maturing. Also got up the courage to start watching horror movies.

15-18: The arrival of VCR's allows access to a much greater variety of movies. My friends and I begin renting every horror movie we find. Using Danny Peary's Cult Movies as a guide, I obsessively hunt down Pink Flamingos, Eraserhead, Fritz the Cat, 2000 Maniacs, every Monty Python movie, etc., and new movies like Brazil, Repo Man, Afterhours. And I become obsessed with Woody Allen, and manage to see every one of his movies except Interiors (finally got around to that one last year).

19-22: This should be the part where I seemlessly move from Lynch and Waters to Fellini, Bunuell, et al. But actually, in college, my movie watching greatly declines.

23-29: Living in Athens, GA, and finally having access to a genuinely great video store and a very good revival theater, I go about checking things off the list. After finally satifying my cult movie itch, I begin systematically watching all Universal horror films, a lot of films noir, that sort of thing.

30-39: Living in L.A., it's almost impossible not to take it up a notch. I finally buckle down a bit and start watching those "eat your vegetables" movies (you know, Begman and stuff).

23) What is the one film you’ve had more difficulty than any other in convincing people to see or appreciate?

I've shown Fritz the Cat to a lot of people, and most of them don't see much beyond the lame joke of "ha ha, cartoon animals being dirty!" I think there's so much more to the movie than that, but most people don't see it.

24) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth?

I'll go with Rita Hayworth, mostly for Lady from Shanghai.

25) The Japanese word wabi denotes simplicity and quietude, but it can also mean an accidental or happenstance element (or perhaps even a small flaw) which gives elegance and uniqueness to the whole. What film or moment from a film best represents wabi to you?

I'm going to skip this one for now, and maybe come back to it later, since it's holding up the process.

26) Favorite Documentary

Fast, Cheap and Out of Control

27) Favorite opening credit sequence

Freaked. Actually, deep in my heart, even though there's not anything particularly great about it, I get this warm feeling every time I watch the opening credits of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.

28) Is there a film that has influenced your lifestyle in a significant or notable way? If so, what was it and how did it do so?

This is a great question, but I can't think of a single answer.

29) Glenn Ford or Dana Andrews?

When I looked up Glenn Ford's picture, I thought he was the guy from The Girl Can't Help It, but that's not on his resume, so I don't know who he is.

30) Make a single prediction, cynical or hopeful, regarding the upcoming Academy Awards

Persepolis will win Best Animated Feature.

31) Best Actor of 2007

Michael Cera. Possibly the funniest man alive right now.

32) Best Actress of 2007

I can't think of a really good answer, but I really liked Leslie Mann in Knocked Up.

33) Best Director of 2007

Ah, I'll give it to the Coens.

34) Best Screenplay of 2007

Knocked Up or Zodiac or Ratatouille.

35) Favorite single movie moment of 2007

Jude Quinn opening fire on the crowd at Newport in I'm Not There. Or Remy experiencing mushrooms and cheese in Ratatouille. Or the pies in Waitress. Oh, wait, no...Rosario Dawson's final high-kick at the end of Death Proof. Yeah, that's it.

36) What’s your wish/hope for the movies in 2008?

That the strike ends quickly (and ends well for the writers), so everyone can get back to work (and that the strike doesn't kill any projects I'm looking forward to).

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best Christmas Present Ever.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Spittin' Christmas Spirit

James Brown - Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year

A few links to things that have made me happy recently:

The B-52's Live in Athens '78. Dig Ricky's fuzztone sound on "52 Girls!" You know, I've come to the realization that the B-52's are actually one of my favorite bands.

I missed most of the Wright Stuff Festival at the New Beverly (we did go see Flash Gordon, but on a night with no special guests. Still, it was awesome to see on the big screen). Fortunately, Metroblogging L.A. has been putting up the podcasts. The John Landis one is amazing, although I'd also reccomend listening to the Timothy Dalton one, just for the first question Wright asks him.

And a last-minute addition: Last Days has The Dicks' Kill From the Heart LP. Essential 80's punk!

I leave you with some more Christmas Soul:

James Brown - Please Come Home For Christmas

Saturday, December 22, 2007

F - 4 From '84 7"

F are a Florida punk band formed in 1981 by Flash, a frontman who combines the go-for-broke enthusiasm of Iggy Pop with the genuine cluelessness of Nigel Tufnel. Flash and his bandmates loved the Ramones and Sex Pistols, but also loved AC/DC and Alice Cooper, and didn't really see any difference between them, so it all ended up in their music. This 7" release from Burrito Records collects 4 standout tracks from their 1984 debut The Danger is Here, originally released on cassette only.

In 1983, guitarist Ken Decter joined the band. He didn't get along too well with Flash, and he left to form his own band called F, who played their own versions of the songs he had written with Flash. They put out You Are an EP in 1984. Over the years, this version of F has gotten quite a bit of acclaim among hardcore enthusiasts, and You Are an EP has become a (deservedly) sought-after item by punk collectors, but the Flash version of the band is mostly unknown outside of Florida, probably because most of their releases have been on cassette (they've put out a few CD's in recent years, but this is their first vinyl release). And I'm as guilty as anyone--listening to this single now, I'm ashamed that I didn't pay more attention to this band back then!

The first track is Flash's signature song, "I Saw Your Vision (in a 3-Car Collision)." I'm not sure if it's an improved mix, or if my memory is just faulty, but I remember the cassette having a thin, squeaky sound. But here, it comes through loud and clear. You can hear an mp3 of this song at the Sound Idea website, and see what I mean. As a bonus, here's an earlier version of this song from the 1982 compilation The Land That Time Forgot. It was recorded in a living room on a portable tape deck.

F - I Saw Your Vision ('82)

You can hear an even earlier version of this song--from the pre-F band Chaos, recorded in 1978(!) when the guys were still in high school--here. And here's a video of them performing it live:

The other three songs are "No," Spit It Out" and "Such Men Are Dangerous." If you're familiar with You Are an EP, these are the same songs recorded the same year by a completely different band with the same name! Contrasting the two, you can hear the creative differences. The Decter band plays them as DC-style hardcore, while Flash's band plays them as late-70's punk (think Dead Boys, Pagans or Crime). Other than that, the arrangements are pretty much the same, and I'm not sure which I like better. Flash's voice does get a little Axl Rose-y on "Spit It Out," which I could do without, but other than that, this is great stuff.

The record comes with two inserts featuring a great interview with Flash, a bunch of pictures and flyers, and liner notes by former members Mike Chatham and Ravenous Gangrene (who would later join Gay Cowboys in Bondage, who recorded the anthem "I Hate Flash," which you can hear on their myspace page).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Muslim Punks!

San Antonio's Muslim Punk Scene Goes National, And Europe Is Next!

A growing number of young Muslims who resist their parents’ orthodox views, but also struggle with the values of their non-Muslim friends, are embracing punk. Muslim punk provides a place to forge a new identity for young Muslims confused about religion and their role in American society, particularly as they are bombarded by negative stereotypes of Muslims in a post-9/11 America. At the same time, Muslim punk offers a palpable way to express anger toward the orthodoxies of fundamentalist Islam.

The image, if you were unaware, is from the upcoming animated feature Persepolis.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ike Turner 1931-2007

Ike Turner has passed away. Hopefully, this means a long-overdue reasessment of the man as something other than The Wife Beater. This is always an awkward position--I don't want to sound like I'm defending Ike's actions. Obviously, he was a son of a bitch, at least during the years he was with Tina. But you know, James Brown beat his wife. Miles Davis beat his wife. Chuck Berry...what was it, put cameras in the lady's room or something? None of this stuff is at the top of their resume. (Or, as Amanda Marcotte puts it, "Compare and contrast the ratios of lauding talent to bemoaning violent misogyny in his obituaries to the recent ones of Norman Mailer.")

At any rate, Ike Turner is absolutely a key figure in the rock world of the 50's, 60's and 70's. Whether or not you subscribe to the theory that his 1951 recording "Rocket 88" was the first rock n roll record, you have to admit that it's a fucking great song, and there's plenty more of 'em in Ike's catalog. Ike & Tina were one of the greatest rock bands on earth back in their day.

I should also mention that Bobbie's mama just passed away. Tomorrow morning, we'll be flying out to Georgia for the services.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Been Tagged

George tagged me with a meme, so while I have a minute, I'll go ahead and post. The rules:

1. Mention the person who tagged you and create a link back to them.
2. Copy-paste the traits for all the twelve months (I'm not gonna do that, but you can see them here).
3. Pick your month of birth.
4. Highlight the traits that apply to you.
5. Tag 12 people and let them know by visiting their blogs and leaving a comment for them.
6. Let the person who tagged you know when you've done it!

Actually, I bolded the stuff that fits, and italicized the stuff that might fit, depending on definitions. I'm sure nobody will accuse me of being "hardworking" or "highly motivated."

MAY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Strong-willed and highly motivated. Sharp thoughts. Easily angered. Attracts others and loves attention. Deep feelings. Beautiful physically and mentally. Firm Standpoint. Needs no motivation. Easily consoled. Systematic (left brain). Loves to dream. Strong clairvoyance. Understanding. Sickness usually in the ear and neck. Good imagination. Good physical. Weak breathing. Loves literature and the arts. Loves traveling. Dislikes being at home. Restless. Not having many children. Hardworking. High spirited. Spendthrift.

George pretty much tagged everyone I know who has a blog, so I'll just tag Bobbie.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pointless Purchase of the Week

Penguin Martini Shaker. But it's so cute! Look, it even has a bow tie!
Anyway, I know what you all really want is to know what to get me for Christmas. How about Miles Davis: The Complete On the Corner Sessions? Come on, only $100. No, too much?
Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938
Killer of Sheep
Girl 27
I Build the Tower
MAD About Star Wars
That one was brought to my attention by Moriarty at AICN, who says "I didn't even know I wanted this until I was holding it in my hands," which pretty much sums it up. Was MAD's parody called "Star Bores?" Or was that Cracked? Maybe it was "Star Warts." Can't quite remember. And did you realize that Cracked is still around, only now it's a website that's like a cross between Maxim and The Onion? Ooh, and speaking of old, cool magazines...
CREEM: America's Only Rock n Roll Magazine