Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The General Lee

Pulling into a gas station at Harris Ranch, halfway up to the Bay Area, a truck carrying cars was pulling out. One of the cars was The General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard. We madly searched for our camera, cars behind us honking, while the truck passed us, but it was in vain. Fortunately, half an hour later, we passed them going up the 5.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Outa Here

Tomorrow morning, we leave for Oakland, to finally get this kid off to art school. So don't expect me to be around for the next week. In a way, it kinda sucks, because it means I won't be able to go to the Sunset Junction Street Fair this weekend. Redd Kross and The Eels are playing Saturday, and Sunday actually has a pretty amazing lineup: Candye Kane, Dave Alvin (of the blasters), The Drive-By Truckers (one of my current favorite bands), Hank Williams III, and the headliner is The Cramps! And I realize that The Cramps are probably well past their prime, but I've somehow managed to have lived 38 years without seeing them. It seems like I should see them at some point before I (or, more likely, they) die. Ah well...

Hey, Christina Aguillera is paying homage to The Carrie Nations! The chorus of this song includes the refrain "Sweet-talkin', Sugarcoated Candyman!" It's a pretty fun song, too. I just burned it onto a mixtape for the trip.

One thing I forgot to mention in my last post, what most liked about Snakes on a Plane, is that it actually is about exactly what the title says. There's some movie that keeps showing on IFC or Sundance called The Invisible Circus, but then you read the synopsis and it's something like, I dunno, "two misfits find comfort in their friendship in post-war Poland" or something. Fuck that. If the movie's called The Invisible Circus, I want it to be about a fucking invisible circus! Or this movie called The Squid and the Whale. You hear that title, you think "fuck yeah, I'll watch that!" Then you see it, it's just about some loser growing up in Manhattan. Fuck that, I want to see a movie about a giant squid and a sperm whale battling to the death!

Adding this to my reading list.

Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.

That's the winner of this year's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, the object of which is to come up with the worst possible opening sentence for a novel. Bulwer-Lytton was the author of Paul Clifford, the novel that begins "It was a dark and stormy night," a reference which I never quite got when reading Peanuts anthologies as a child. Jess Nevins calls bullshit. (I'm burying the lede here--it's the Jess Nevins link I want everyone to follow).


More great Batmusic!!!!!

These guys tried to add my myspace. I don't want them on there, but I do think it's pretty funny, so as a compromise, I will link to them.

And with that, I sign off the internet for the next several days. Have fun.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What I Did This Weekend

So Friday night, we ended up going to Snakes on a Plane. I was actually kind of reluctant to go, and tried to stear things towards The Descent, but it was late (for me) by the time we actually left for the theater, and by that time of night, if you're going to the movies, it really is a Snakes on a Plane kind of night. Anyway, it was alright. They could easily have trimmed at least 15 minutes off (especially if they'd had a more efficient screenwriter), but once things got going, it was a pretty solid B-movie that unfortunately is being crushed under the weight of its own hype. What annoyed me the most was that it was clear that the audience had made up their mind before the film even started that they were gonna LOVE this movie, and, more to the point, that it was gonna be so-bad-it's-good. They were just giving it up for the movie without it ever earning it, laughing and cheering wildly at stuff that was maybe worth a little chuckle. This really cheapened the whole experience for me, which was a shame, because once it gets going it really does start earning the cheers. But even through the crazy middle act, it could have been paced more efficiently.

Also worth noting is that we went to the AMC Burbank theater, usually a pretty busy place, and arrived at about 9:38 for the 9:30 show. Not only did we have no trouble getting in, but we had no trouble finding four seats together. Thus, I'm not particularly surprised that it didn't do much at the box office. As Devin points out, yeah, everyone was talking about the movie on the internet, but nobody said they wanted to actually SEE the thing.

This is what we did Saturday:

The Angel City Derby Girls are a local rollerderbyteam, and they were playing the Central Coast Roller Derby Voodoo Dolls at the YMCA Roller Hockey Rink in North Hollywood (Roller Hockey Rink apparantly being a euphamism for Basketball Court). These girls are fucking badass. They were really knocking the shit out of each other. The girls all have cool names like Vodka Toxic, Mo Effen Vengeance, Bette Noir, Penney Dreadful, Joanjetta...even the comedian doing rinkside commentary was called Lenny Bruise. A lot of them had scary makeup on, like professional wrestlers, and they were all wearing the traditional short skirts.

There was an after-party at The Tonga Hut, a nice little tiki bar in NoHo. Unlike the Safari Room, The Tonga Hut really commits to its decor--there's nowhere you can look and not see a tiki bar, and there's indoor waterfalls and stuff. Bigger and more comfy than the Tiki Ti in Silverlake. The mai tai was pretty tasty, lots of dark rum in it, and layered so that the drink seems to get stronger as you drink it down.

Sunday, it was last minute shopping at the Santa Anita Mall for Brandie. She had gone to Disneyland the day before, wearing boots, and was in so much pain she could barely walk. We were starving, so we decided to go to Dave & Buster's in the mall, thinking it was like a Chili's/Appleby's/whatever type place. We walk up, and the greeter says "Welcome! Have you ever been to Dave & Buster's before? No? OK, think Chuck E. Cheese for adults..." At that point, if it hadn't been for the situation with Brandie's feet, I would have turned around and walked away. But we were kinda stuck. So we ate in the dining room.

I get the Chuck E. Cheese analogy, but it seemed like a pretty loose definition of "adult." The menu was basically just bar food. The drink menu was about three times the size of the food menu, with all kinds of shooters and "over-unders" and "martinis" and whatnot. There was a huge video arcade, several bars, dozens of TV's (all tuned to sports)...what a nightmare. And on top of it all, we had a truly awful waiter.

Anyway, on to happier things. Like today's edition of The Big Screen. And also my Boy Howdy Profile, courtesy of The Fake Life. Or Bandini reporting good news in the Taco Truck War. Or Jerry Lee Lewis' Iago.

Most of all, I want to bring your attention to this LA Weekly piece on This Film Is Not Yet Rated, which focuses on the issues of copyright and fair use being finally brought to a head by the release of this movie. The fair use aspect may actually prove to be a bigger and more important aspect of this film than the expose of the MPAA.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

13 Movies I'm Looking Forward To This Fall

But first, on The Fake Life: this week's What's Left? column examines the lost Tony Danza classic Going Ape!, and I also debut a new column: The Big Screen, your guide to what revival theaters are screening in your city!

So far, not much of a year for movies, right? The two best films of the year so far, for me, have been hip hop concert movies: Dave Chappelle's Block Party and Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That! are, in my opinion, two of the best concert films ever made. V for Vendetta was pretty solid, and Brick was cool, and Lady Vengeance, and I've got a few more to catch up with, but over all, pretty uneventful.

But then the Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview Issue lands in my mailbox, and goes and gets me all excited. It seems the final four months of '06 are going to be crammed with more goodness than I could possibly find time to watch. My top 13:

1. Pan's Labyrinth (12/29). Guillermo Del Toro's companion piece to The Devil's Backbone is getting rave reviews from the few who've seen it, and it looks great. I have a strong feeling that this is gonna blow everyone's socks off.

2. This Film is Not Yet Rated (9/1). Kirby (Chain Camera) Dick's documentary exposing the MPAA as a cabal of idiots.

3. The Black Dahlia (9/15). DePalma adapts Ellroy, promises "This is noir to the nth degree. It's just as dark as it gets."

4. Shortbus (10/4). John Cameron Mitchell finally follows Hedwig and the Angry Inch (the best movie of the 21st century, if you ask me) with a "post-9/11 New York relationship dramedy" featuring "actors engaging in real sex, hetero-, homo-, and solo." Could be a good double feature with This Film is not yet Rated.

5, 6, 7, 8. The Science of Sleep (9/22), Children of Men (9/29), The Fountain (11/22), Southland Tales (no release date yet). Weird scifi from (respectively) Michael (Eternal Sunshine) Gondry, Alfonso (Y tu Mama, Prisoner of Azkaban) Cuaron, Darren (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) Aranofsky, and Richard (Donnie Darko) Kelly. Doesn't look like we'll be seeing Kelly's film any time soon, but I included it just because it seems to fit in with the others.

9. Tideland (10/13). A new Terry Gilliam film. Even though most people who've seen it have called it irritating and unpleasent, I'm still obligated to see it. And it might make a good double feature with Pan's Labyrinth, after spending the afternoon reading Alan Moore's Lost Girls.

10. Casino Royale (11/17). This one snuck up on me. I hadn't cared about it at all until I started reading about it in EW, but now I suddenly find myself looking forward to it, like pavlov's dog, trained to salivate at the prospect of sitting in a theater watching the new Bond film.

11. Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (11/17). The same day as Bond? Why???

12. The Departed (10/6). Scorsese remakes the fine Hong Kong cops and mobsters flick Infernal Affairs. It's a great premise, following a young cop who goes undercover to infiltrate the mob, and a young mobster who joins the police force as a mole, and it's got a great cast (DiCapprio as the cop, Damon as the mole, good ol' Jack Nicholson as the mob boss, Martin Sheen as the police chief). This could be really good.

13. The Wicker Man (9/1). Normally, a remake of this fine horror flick wouldn't interest me, but Neil (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty) LaBute will probably come up with a good take on the material.

Also new films from Clint Eastwood, Sophia Coppola, Steven Soderbergh, the Amores Peros (sp?) guy, and probably plenty of other stuff, but those are the ones that stand out for me.

Let's see how that shakes out. 8 movies opening in 7 weeks. Well, Wicker Man and The Departed get shoved out by the competition, so 6 in 7 weeks, which is probably more than I'll get to. I can choose between Children of Men and Science of Sleep depending on which looks better. Then 4 weeks off, then the Sophie's choice of James Bond or Tenacious D, followed by The Fountain. But then there's another 4 weeks to catch up, and then Pan's Labyrinth at the end of the year.


And a smidgen of randomness:

For when you're ready to start living your life again, there's Prozetene. From the folks who brought you Space Squad 21.

Moistworks has been posting some great stuff. Here they have the original version of "Mbube," the African song that evolved into "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," along with a later (1960) version of the song by Miriam Makeba that's just awe-inspiring. Seriously, listen to it, it reminds me of the most ecstatic moments on the first two Patti Smith albums.

A cartoon I'd like to see.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Killers (1946)

How's that for a master shot, eh? It's from Robert Siodmak's 1946 film The Killers, which I finally got around to watching this weekend. One of the most important early noirs, especially in it's visual style, this film borrowed heavily from Citizen Kane, both for its shadowy visuals and its multiple-flashback narrative structure. Ava Gardner is a great femme fatale--a 9.5 on the femme fatale scale, if Barbara Stanwyck is a 10. I like this scene in a bar, where a shot of her is replaced by a shot of a panther.

The Criterion DVD includes the 1946 version, and the 1964 remake, which has an incredibly badass score, but can cause severe cognitive dissonance for anyone that grew up watching TV in the 70's and 80's. It is difficult for the mind to process the image of Ronald Reagan and Mr. Roper interrogating sheriff Lobo and Police Woman.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Spittin' Wicked Randomness, Vol. 13

Somewhat related, I'm so used to agreeing with Bill Maher that it's kind of a shock when I violently disagree with him on something.

Punk's Not Dead in Uzbekistan, or, This Bazouki Kills Fascists!

Here's a great homage to The Louvin Bros. No idea who this is (someone forwarded it to me), anyone know?

You can download the World's Greatest Rock-n-Roll Band's second-to-last show here (although, I have to admit, the sound's not so goo, and this sounds like it was a better setlist).

Soulsides has a couple great funk tunes up right now, including "Funky L.A." by Paul Humphrey and the Cool-Aid Chemists. Captain's Crate posted this same song a while back, and it's become one of my favorites. Check it out.

Pam Grier! Incidentally, here's the NSFW picture we decided against using.

Jonathan Gold on Square One in East Hollywood:

There are many ways to enjoy bacon at Square One Dining, which, if it didn’t have so many vegetarian-friendly options on its menu, might almost be a bacon-specialty restaurant. There are bowls of stone-ground grits flavored with Cheddar and studded with tiny cubes of bacon; frittatas of bacon, tomato and cheese; a kind of deconstructed Egg McMuffin with bacon, scrambled eggs and aioli on toasted brioche; and bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato sandwiches made with superbly ripe produce. When you order pancakes, you have the option of a thick caramel sauce whose buttery qualities have been further enriched by a bit of bacon fat, whose subtle smokiness you probably couldn’t trace unless somebody let you in on the secret.

Yeah, that sounds good to me!

Oh yeah, one more thing: this piece James Ellroy wrote in the L.A. Times, a great love letter to the city from one of it's most fucked up residents. I'm about 3/4 of the way through The Big Nowhere right now, and eagerly awaiting Brian DePalma's adaptation of The Black Dahlia, so I enjoyed the hell out of this.