Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Wes Anderson - trailer

With the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and of course, Owen Wilson. Hmmmm. I really like Roald Dahl's book. Mr. Fox is extremely clever at outsmarting his human adversaries. Anderson's stop-motion animation is...interesting and reminds me of the original King Kong--how Kong's fur involuntarily moved while being animated, giving him the appearance of a creature being tormented by unseen ticklers.

I'm wondering why this particular style of primitive furry animation is being used, especially when astounding stop-motion like "Coraline" is going on. Well, it's only a trailer. But Clooney voice coming out of Mr. Fox--it just doesn't sit right with me. No sir.

Let's review some classic animation from 1933. Truly the thrill of thrills!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MadMen Yourself - It's Swanky

AMC's Mad Men site allows you to MadMen yourself. Choose your body type, coloring, eyes, hair, swanky outfit, etc. and marvel at the results. I did myself and Keith to see what kind of caricatures we'd be if it were 1964.

I could not resist having a drink with Don Draper. Hey, it's just a business meeting. That's how we do it in 1964.

Keith at his new job at Sterling Cooper, coming up with all kinds of brilliant ideas while partaking in a morning Danish (no bagels around the office back then, I guess).

From the fertile creative mind of Dyna Moe.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bad Sax: It Happens

You're grooving—you're in tune and the rhythm is right. Then: BOOM, bad sax solo. It happens to everyone, especially to audiences in the 80s.

This clip, originally entitled "The Lost Boys Buff Guy Playing Sax," (before being yanked for copyright infringement) describes the scene perfectly. A well-oiled, very muscular and gyrating Tim Capello is indeed playing sax in this cover of I Still Believe (originally performed by the non-buff group, The Call), to the delight of young Corey Haim and hundreds of whooping Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk extras.

Capello slaughters another solo at the 2:52 mark of Tina Turner's One of the Living, part of the juggernaut of terrible music videos spawned by Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. If I had to describe this brief solo, it would be along the lines of, "Boop Boop BWEEEEE! BWEEEEOOOEEEEOOOOEEEE!!! BEEE BEE BEE BEEEE!. In my musical opinion.

St. Elmo's Fire is perhaps the most earnest, worst movie ever produced for potential mass consumption. Rob Lowe is ultra pretty as bad-boy Billy Hixx. And he's honking away in a very sleeveless new-wave bat-appliqué shirt with his band, Billy Hixx and The New Breed. His tortured solo—edited here for the full, glorious effect—can seemingly only be interrupted by his wife's indication of infidelity. That's the kind of heightened drama St. Elmo's Fire is known for. I paid a dollar to see it and that was overpriced.

Side-note: The New Breed was an actual 80s mod band from San Francisco. My roommate went out on a few ambiguous "dates" with the drummer. This was going to be their big break but the movie tanked so bad that we never heard from The New Breed again. Bummer. The drummer got a five-second coke-snorting scene with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore so it wasn't a total bust.

Waverly Film's "Sax Master."

They're also responsible for "Cartwheelin'" and "Floating Head," so I wouldn't take this too seriously.

It's been several years since Mike Diva Productions shared this with the world but for sheer impetus, not much bad sax can top "Sexy Sax Man Careless Whisper Prank feat. Sergio Flores." Shirtless, shiny-pants-with-suspenders-wearing Flores with his manly mullet, endlessly (and badly) repeating the George Michael hit solo within SoCal's (which might as well be Anywhere, USA's) bland consumer environs is an absurd little masterpiece of awkward weirdness. Anyone who's been enveloped within the dreadful pop muzak loops that is our constant reality while shopping in public can appreciate what's going down here. Just the right dose of obnoxious theatrical pizzazz. Hail.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who Framed Roger Rabbit - 1988

We've been watching a lot of classic Disney cartoons around here lately, so I thought I'd revisit "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"--a love letter to classic animation. A very expensive, time-consuming, difficult-to-comprehend-the-scope-of of love letter. Director Robert Zemeckis did the impossible with a crew of hundreds of hard-working artists, craftsmen and coffee-fetchers and the result is the first and only blend of 40s-era film noir detective story combined with zany animated madness.

So how does it hold up, all these years later? As a visual effects break-through: excellent. The "toons" and the real-life actors truly seem to interact and react to one another. The animation is masterful and there's plenty of hat-tipping to classic Disney and Warner Bros. cartoons and their characters. The sets and costumes are fun and inventive. I especially liked the references to the Metro Red Line streetcars that zig-zagged across Los Angeles before the freeways took over (in a fit of insanity, according to the movie--long before we were obsessed with "going green").

Still weird: Bob Hoskins in the title role. He's one of the short, squat character actors that permeated the 80s (Danny DeVito and Joe Pesci complete the trio) and he's no leading man. He spends the first half of the movie in a drunken, explosive rage and the dark alleyways and piles of garbage and dust that surround him don't exactly announce: children's movie.

But when he starts playing off his toon co-stars, you can't help but be in awe of his focus and ability to pretend. The DVD contains many "making of" shots of Hoskins acting alongside big, rubber dummies of the toon characters, held up by mimes; with Charles Fleischer (the voice of Roger) who wears a bunny suit to get into character; and with...nothing--just a blue screen. As you can see in this still, he's playing a scene with Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny. Only instead of the famous stars, he's actually interacting with two markers placed on sticks held by off-camera crew members, all the while pretending to fall at terrific speeds to his impending doom. Pretty impressive, Bob.

More weirdness: it's really not a kid's movie but it's clearly not entirely an adult film as well. It's in that in-between place where darkness meets absurd comedy and no one can classify what it truly is. Also, Jessica Rabbit hearkens from the pages of 60s-era Playboy, not from any classic cartoons that I can name. Her effect on her male co-stars portends Internet cartoon porn by several years. And Christopher Lloyd as Judge Doom is the stuff of nightmares. These dark concepts plus the fact that every frame of animation was hand-drawn with no computer enhancement make Roger Rabbit a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience--a freak of film history.

And now:

Roger Rabbit - the ride

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It Might Get Loud - trailer and excited anticipation

Davis Guggenheim has made perhaps the ultimate guitar-god documentary. He got Jimmy Page (my first rock & roll crush), Jack White and The Edge to hang out, talk, and play their guitars. That may not sound fascinating to some, but I think it's the ultimate use of film and sound.

Some may also question the inclusion of The Edge with Page and White, who are blues-rock innovators, while he is firmly in the jangly treble-clef of new wave, but I say: piffle! It's a good trio of obsessive geniuses. I only hope they saved a chair for where Jimi Hendrix would have sat in.


Summary: The history of the electric guitar as seen from the point of view of three significant musicians: Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, U2's The Edge and the White Stripes' Jack White. It tells the personal stories, of three generations of electric guitar virtuosos. It reveals how each developed his unique sound and style of playing his favorite instrument. Concentrating on the artists musical rebellion, traveling with him to influential locations and provoking rare discussion as to how and why he writes and plays

It Might Get Loud opens August 14 in NYC and Los Angeles, then spreads out in theaters for our general viewing pleasure.

ONTD post with much Page/White love thrown in.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bagpipe Mania Monday

Today I had to get up and go to the DMV. Woe! But I just thought of music that featured bagpipes and that cheered me right up.

AC/DC - It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)

Bad Haggis - Cinderella Man (performing at Disneyland)

Schelmish - Aequinoctium

Forest For The Trees - Dream

Dance Dance Revolution Expert - Bag (follow the arrows with your feet)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Viva The Zeros

Last night on KALX a well-informed DJ told the back-story of The Zeros, the 70s-era punk band consisting of high school friends from Chula Vista, California. Up until that moment in time I knew NOTHING about The Zeros, even though I've been aware of the career of their former guitarist, El Vez (Robert Lopez), for years. And I vaguely knew bassist Hector Penalosa in the 80s from his San Francisco band, Flying Color. If Hector had been in one of the coolest Mexican-American punk rock bands of the the past decade, he was very quiet about it.

The Zeros played up and down California alongside The Germs, The Avengers, The Nuns and The Dils, but like many early punk bands, they split up before they could achieve the worldwide fame they so deserved. But it's all going to be OK because they've reformed and they're playing TONIGHT at the Elbo Room in San Francisco. All four original members, including guitarist Javier Escovedo and drummer Baba Chenelle, played their 30-year reunion show in Spain back in 2007 and are now touring the West Coast (opening for Mudhoney at Dante's in Portland, September 18). Excelente!

San Diego television, Don't Push me Around & Wimp - 1977

Don't Push Me Around - no year listed but definitely a reunion show.

The Zeros 30th Anniversary - DVD trailer, supposedly released from Last Bandit Films in Spain and Munster Records but I can't find it on either site. Elusive!


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let's talk about...throw pillows

Now that we're all broke and finally saving rather than spending our money, throw pillows are going through some kind of design resurgence. Interior decorators eager to push some product, ANY product on us, especially now that we're "nesting" more than ever, have hailed the throw pillow (and paint--they're always telling us how cheap it is to paint--not true, but that's another post) as an "essential component" in your decorating schema.

As someone who suffers from a dust-mite allergy, throw pillows to me just look like comfy condominium complexes for the microscopic vermin. But now that I've moved into a neutral-toned (i.e., beige) rental and I can't deal with painting yet, I'm starting to re-think my views on throw pillows. Designers are always telling us (never "suggesting," aways "telling") to swap out our pillows seasonally and if we have to buy new storage units and make extra space in the garage to store our seasonal pillows, so be it. ANYTHING for design!

I went to Etsy and tried to find the strangest assortment of throw pillows I could. Etsy URLs are the longest in the history of Internet browsing, so I unfortunately can't link to any of these pillows' sellers without causing severe eye-strain while proofreading. You'll have to search for them yourself. Type "throw pillows" at Etsy. That should do it.

There seems to be a mega-trend of caged-bird motifs in throw pillows. Maybe we feel trapped on the domestic confines of our couches, surrounded by pillow forms and walls that cry out for cheap paint jobs. The images simply mirror our predicament.

"Excuse me. This conversation is fascinating but I feel the need to genuflect to your pillow. Don't mind me--I was raised Catholic! Do you have any holy wafers to go with this wine?"

Sasquatch. Bigfoot. Whatever you call him, I think you'll agree he makes a lovely knitted pillow. Will there ever be a sighting of a female Bigfoot and if so, will she have long eyelashes and be wearing a bow?

You loved the movie, wore the T-shirt, and now you can cuddle with the throw pillow. I wish with all my heart I still had my vintage Hanson T-shirt. It never occurred to me to recycle it in this manner. Snugly.

Gotta include a poodle.

These animals are listed as "cute" by the seller. But I BEG TO DIFFER.

Look at this smarmy little pony. As my Grandma Tocha used to say, "He thinks he's it."

Giant uterus pillow anyone? Hey, how come no one's sitting on that end of the couch? Is it the giant uterus? You can just push it to the side. What? The female body is beautiful, man. Just get over yourself and get the feel of that plush fallopian tube. Ya big baby.

What else have I got here? Anyone from Oklahoma? Raise your hand. Have I got the pillow for you! This would actually go really well with my tacky vintage collector plates from all over the continental United States.

You don't see enough walrus decor these days and that's too bad. Remedy the problem with this dignified fellow. Blubber, tusks and ascots are all making a come back. So I hear.

I could easily become one of those older ladies who collect owls if I could start off my collection with this hand-drawn guy. So cute! Owls are the perfect bird for older people because we think of them as "wise" and that's what we aspire to as we age. Ultimately, as long as owls keep the rodent population down, they're doing their job on the planet. That is really why we secretly admire owls.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Isn't it time you owned a Theremin?

Tired of throwing your money away, leasing your Theremins? Have your friends started hiding out when they see you coming up the street because you keep borrowing THEIR Theremins? Maybe it's time to think of pride of ownership. Live the American dream with your very own Theremin.

Tired of your electronic music hobby jacking up the electricity bill every month? Go "green" with the solar-powered Theremin.

Very famous celebrity Jon Spencer could use some Theremin lessons.

Thomas Grillo teaches YOU how to play the Theremin.

A cat plays a Theremin. What was life like before YouTube? Cold, wind-blown, and grayish I imagine.

- Moog Etherwave(R) Theremins add life to any party, spiritual gathering or impromptu happening.
- The EtherMusic Festival is fun for all.
- The Theremin's Making a Comback - Brow Beat.
- See you later everyone, I'm going to Theremin World.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Look at all this lovely, lovely liquor

Shopping at my nearby Trader Joe's this week, I rounded the corner of the last aisle and came upon this:

I had to photograph it as evidence that California knows how to party. How do I know this? Because I've been living in SW Washington State for the past two years and you will never see this selection in a Trader Joe's or any other store other than one sanctioned by the government if you go there.

They make you work hard for your liquor in Washington. And when you go to the government-sanctioned liquor store, you better have some valid I.D. because even if you're in your 70s, like my dad trying to get his allotment of high-end vodka, they STILL card you. It makes no sense but I suppose with the weather being what it is and the abundance of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), plus winding mountain roads, cliff-sides and gorges, perhaps an attempt to curtail the sale of liquor makes some sense.

There's also no doubt some old religious, moral laws from pioneer days affecting the sale of alcohol in Washington. Obviously not enough Catholics settled in the Northwest back in the day. Disclosure: I was raised Catholic and imbibing the occasional glass of wine (or gin or whatever) is not looked down upon by Catholics and can even represent the blood of Christ on occasion. Overall, the Catholic religion puts the spiritual in spirits.

Of course these archaic laws don't stop a drinker from drinking. They just make it harder to get the drinks without going to a bar. So when I turned that corner in Trader Joe's and saw all the lovely, expensive, imported booze, my heart sang. Not because I'm a big drinker or even have a home bar stocked for visitors (you're getting beer, wine and probably vodka at my house at all times and that's about it), but because if I ever DO need to obtain some tequila, scotch, grappa, or schnapps, I know EXACTLY where to go and I couldn't say the same at my old house. Just one more reason to feel at home in California, where the ouzo flows like wine.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Unfortunate Classic Music Videos

Billy Ocean - Loverboy

One of those "must be seen to be believed" experiences that I can't begin to describe here. I'd rather imagine the initial creative-team meeting with Billy, to vaguely go over their concept for this one.

Team leader: Well, Mr. Ocean, as you can see, the outline features a really hip bar scene with a dramatic occurrences that will take place within the beach-front club. We don't have the storyboards as of yet, but I think you'll agree: This one will up your "cool" factor by exponential ten!

Ocean: Sounds good. Will I have a role?

Team leader's assistant: You'll be performing within the context of the dramatic action!

Ocean: Fine, fine. Draw up a contract. I have to get to a recording session now. Let me know when the second-unit crew has finished shooting so you can edit me in there.

Team leader and cohorts: Affirmative Billy Ocean! See you at the MTV awards of 1985!

As Ocean leaves the room, the creative team high-fives one another while adjusting their thick eyeglasses and snorting with pleasure.

Kansas - Dust in the Wind

The minor-key classic gets a fittingly somber treatment for the video. But we must ask ourselves: do we want to see the group in foggy tableau, playing a dirge while wearing prom-night outfits in soft-focus? Does that benefit us or the group? They look like a bunch of guys whose coke deal fell through just before filming began. It's appropriately sad but takes away from the overall suicidal hopelessness of the song itself.

Journey - Separate Ways

From the ugly and low-cost warehouse backdrop to Steve Perry's hysteria-infused dramatic performance, this one's an all-time classic bad music video from frame one. It's got terribly unflattering hair, a big mustache, air keyboard, Perry's tight T-shirt/jeans combination that would help catapult him to hyperbolic stardom, plus some kind of home-made industrial musical instruments that can't possibly sound good even within experimental standards, and a forklift. And the 80s staple: white pumps with a black leather skirt.

And here's a really admirable move-for-move remake, proving that even terrible productions can be inspiring and even worthwhile if they don't make our brains explode in the process.

And while I'm at it, I cannot ignore Steve Perry's postmodern take on Oh Sherrie. Just because he's making fun of high-concept music video, doesn't make it any less shitty when he launches into "sincere" mode. A not-so-bad bombastic love ballad made brain-meltingly annoying on film. Thousands of Perry fans will now attack me with sharp pointed objects but I've always thought that Journey is the greatest band for people who generally hate music.

Guns N' Roses - November Rain

Epic, expensive, macabre, dramatic, pointless, stupid, unnecessary in the extreme; this was the "Heaven's Gate" of music videos. No amount of high production values and scenery could disguise the fact that the song wasn't very good and just as pieced together as this disjointed narrative. At least Axl isn't swimming with the dolphins while wearing his Charles Manson T-shirt.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Here's to good friends...

It won't be long now and we'll be "entertaining" in our new abode. The boxes are (somewhat) unpacked; the kitchen is kind of functional; the decor is happening (in my head). Just DON'T go in the garage. Best of all: the friends are nearby and willing. Here's to you.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rye Rye 4th of July - Bang

The latest from Baltimore's Rye Rye, directed by M.I.A. (swear-word chorus). Have a good fourth. I like to imagine Thomas Jefferson visiting the current White House and doing a tremendous double-take. Ha!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Mrs. Slocombe has left the building

I don't know if you've ever been privy to "Are You Being Served," the British sitcom that was in constant rotation on Bay Area PBS throughout the 90s. I never get through an entire episode, but let me say this, Mollie Sugden, who played middle-aged Mrs. Slocombe with her multi-colored hair, was a funny, funny lady.

What I liked about Sugden was that she didn't mind playing her character as mostly unlikable. Mrs. Slocombe was a bit of a grotesque, but a proper one who always stood at attention just so. She was fussy and clueless and her hair was a different color for every episode. I honestly watched the first five minutes of every show to see what she looked like, especially her incredible outdoors-wear.

At age 86, Mollie Sugden has left us.

Thank you, ONTD for helping me blog this week while I'm unpacking. There will be no "deep thoughts" while I'm moving into my new home.