Friday, February 29, 2008

80's Trash of the Week: Runaway

It Is The Future... where every home has a robot, Tom Selleck saves us from Gene Simmons, who has made evil microchips that turn projectors and erector sets into deadly killing machines.

All the good parts condensed into a trailer.

I can be pretty forgiving of a movie that makes me nostalgic. I saw Runaway back in '84 as a 13 year old idiot, and it was the greatest thing ever. Robots, computers, boobs, and Gene Simmons. Now just a few years earlier, the horrible KISS album Unmasked came out and shattered our childhood dreams that KISS were exactly like they were in KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, demons from another dimension who bring us Rock and save us from monsters. Before the blessed internet, the movie was the only way we could glimpse what Gene Simmons looked like in human form. If he was truly human... we all knew he had a cow's tongue grafted on, so perhaps his make-up was really a tattoo, or a birthmark.

According to the wikipedia, Runaway was meant to be "the sci-fi blockbuster of the summer," but Michael Crichton's dreams were smashed like a poseur band under KISS's boots when James Cameron, the one true god of the action film, came out with another little killer robot movie called The Terminator. Crichton would have to shut up about the d-d-dangers of technology until 1993, when he stole Charles Pellegrino's idea about getting dinosaur DNA from amber. So we have James Cameron to thank for not another retread of Westworld coming out every few years. Crichton's other bad 80's film, Looker, which was about making CG "models "of perfect fashion models and then killing them, will be the subject of another week's review.

This movie starts out bad and gets progressively worse. It has a few interesting ideas that it executes clumsily, and it's hard to believe that it's made by the same guy who gave us the pretty damn good 70's movie Westworld, also about killer robots. Futureworld had come out already, so maybe we were sick of killer robots that looked like Radio Shack leftovers. Either way, watching it now is like getting teeth pulled.

It begins with Tom Selleck and his female partner (see, in the future we won't be as sexist as Michael Crichton's novels) show up at a corn field to catch a runaway robot that looks like a Tonka truck.
The wily robot runs all over the field, and the cops, as a robot version of Animal Control, can do nothing better than chase it on foot and tackle it. It of course, explodes. That's what technology does. Later, they show up at a hostage situation where the home robot has a gun and shot its masters. There's a baby inside, so Selleck dons chain mail and some oven mitts, grabs his trusty laser, and heads in to kill Rosie the Robot, who looks a lot like an old projector with wheels on it. Sort of like Battlebots would be, years later. So maybe they got that right.
To Selleck's discredit, he plays the part completely straight.

Our hero is pretty bland and has no personality, except hating robots (despite owning one) and being afraid of heights. This and the spy flop Lassiter pretty much buried any hopes of a Tom Selleck action hero career. Even with the porn 'stache. Magnum, P.I. always had some humor, and this movie would have benefited from a little. As usual, Crichton takes his nervous-nelly technology-fearmongering incredibly seriously, with such awfully written exchanges as:

Ramsey: Lemme tell ya the way the world is. Nothing works right. Relationships don't work right, people don't work right, people make machines so why should machines be perfect?
Karen: Because they're machines.
Ramsey: Yeah, well thats not the way it is.
Pretty deep, huh?
J-NEE's got a gun...

Once they check out the killer projector, they find a custom chip in it with a red mark on it, the universal symbol of evil. Once the token black cop inspects it, he declares it can "turn any domestic computer into a killing machine." Dun dunt DUN! Who would do something so diabolical? Gene Simmons from KISS, that's who. Just look at how deliciously evil he looks. He's loving every minute of it.
That little smirk means "I was banging Kirstie Alley in my trailer."

Yes, Kirstie Alley. Back in the 80's she was smokin', now she's a smoked pork loin. Actually that's a cruel and easy joke, but she's a Scientologist and we show them no mercy here. I guess she's just got a lot of body thetans now, or the cans on her e-meter were filled with gravy. But here, in the magical 80's, she was hot stuff, with some wild eyeshadow.
If I only knew that thetans lived in pie.

In this scene, they are checking her for bugs. Not coochie-thetans, the electronic kind. It's a clever excuse for her to get topless, but they don't show us A-list boobies. We do get our 80's ration of titty when they raid the bad guy's hotel room, and a girl is in the bathroom topless for gratuitous breast purposes.

In the 80's, discerning audiences demanded at least one boob scene.

Gene Simmons' gun pre-dates the cool RoboCop gun by a few years, but isn't as cool. Instead of being a machine pistol, it uses Acme Cartoon Technology to sniff out its target, turn corners, and double back. Tom Selleck actually runs away from it, dodges it, and so on. We later learn that it is a mini-rocket that traces your heat signature, when the black scientist cop lights a smoke next to one they captured. Yes, he lights a smoke next to an unexploded rocket cartoon bomb that chases you all around the studio backlot to explode up your ass. The movie is that smart. They also use a fucking psychic to track where the bullet came from, to show that flim-flammery is better than science.

Hey Gene, that's no Love Gun.

Selleck's partner gets shot in the arm with the Wile E. Coyote gun and he demands to remove the bullet himself, since those "disarmer bots" (also looking suspiciously like a projector with stuff on it) are always screwing up. He saves her arm and she's just fine one scene later, that's the power of the human touch. In the next, most exciting scene, the cops get into their crappy little cars and get chased by little remote-control modems that explode under them.
They get chased because they forgot to scan Kirstie's purse for bugs, and there's a great scene where they jump from moving cars, with the doors open so the cars are 10 feet apart, instead of going through the windows. They shoot the bomberbots with a laser mounted on top of the other car, that uses the same sound effect as the Star Wars ship lasers.
Not the best way to swap cars, but the best way to show Selleck's ass.

Kirstie, shaken by that idiotic chase, finally gives up "the templates" for the Evil Microchips, which look like photo negatives. They meet Simmons to trade the templates at a sushi restaurant with a racist neon logo, where his partner gets captured because Selleck isn't paying attention.
Hai! You wan' sushi? Yes, the face is yellow.

Simmons doesn't just have Acme chase-you bullets, evil microchips, and remote control bombs at his disposal. The film's probably most famous for the spiders, which look like erector set toys, and can jump on you, inject acid, and explode with a lot of sparks, "leaving no evidence." Except acid burns and robot shrapnel in your face. My personal favorite scene is when one kills a female cop in the bathroom, because she dies like a cartoon cockroach. Her legs flail and then stick straight up like she got sprayed with Raid. Crichton should be commended for directing this touching death scene.

Dying in a toilet stall is never dignified.

They trade templates for hostages, but only give him half, so Simmons has to sneak into the police station to find out where Selleck lives. Despite looking like pure evil, and being the city's most wanted terrorist, he just dons a uniform and uses their computers. He doesn't even hack in on a phone line, even though he hacked the police cameras earlier. He shows up at Selleck's house and kicks over his housebot, who talks like Cartman's mom and looks suspiciously like a stereo system on wheels with a phone attached. Then he takes his annoying kid hostage, and to the top of a highrise under construction, because he knows Selleck is afraid of heights. Not that it stops him from going to the top of the building, hanging from underneath the freight elevator, and swinging around like an orangutan. Also, there is a Spark Factory on the top floor. Action films have a lot of spark factories in them, sort of like how every spaceship since Alien has had a Dripping Chain Room.

The intolerably long roof scene.

Simmons unwisely tells him that the spiderbots are programmed to kill the first person down the elevator, so Selleck uses their cold robotic logic against his nemesis, by making him land on the ground first. And we all know what that leads to. Explosive acid-injection! One even gets him in the crotch.
Where's the KISS Army when I need them?

After the requisite second death scene, they all live happily ever after, and are all killed by Terminators. I wouldn't recommend seeing this film, unless you want to shatter your nostalgic yearning to see it again. It's badly paced and feels intolerably long, it has what is probably Jerry Goldsmith's worst score, and Selleck and his partner are so damn boring that Gene Simmons chewing up the scenery like Ozzy on a bat's scrotum isn't enough to keep it interesting. Unlike The Last Starfighter, it lacks the charm necessary for me to overlook its faults. It was deservingly overshadowed by The Terminator, whose effects and pacing make it look like a TV movie in comparison. The spiderbots are kind of neat and they manage to make them look better than little tinkertoys in a few scenes, but this is a relic best avoided.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In Which Molly is Soundly Flogged

I haven't seen Flogging Molly for about a decade, when I saw them in L.A. before they hit it big. Yeah, that's right, I knew them before they were popular. That's also the motto of Demorama, the music site I once again write for, run by my friend Deneen Gannon. More about The Neener and Demorama later, this is a concert review. Flogging Molly is an Irish rock band, with influences ranging from the Pogues to Stiff Little Fingers. Their songs range from ballads to balls-out rockers and sea-shanty inspired pirate punk tunes like "Salty Dog," one of my favorites. They're on iTunes (and therefore iLike on Facebook) if you want to sample their wares.

Sarah bought us tickets as my Valentine's Day present, and since I sat through Rufus Wainwright, she had to sit through a few hours of Irish mayhem. The opening bands, two from Molly's label Side One Dummy and one local, were uniformly excellent. They had to be, to stand up to Molly's energy.

The first opener was the Dusty Rhodes River Band, from Orange County, California. They're a folk-rock band with a violinist, and have a great, full, raucous sound. They reminded me a little of The Black Keys. I took a video of them playing, probably the best one of the night.

I picked up their CD but left it at Sarah's, but if it's half as good as their set, it'll be worth it. The myspace link of their name above has some songs, including "Street Fighter" which they played. They also covered "The Weight" by The Band, who their sound resembles quite a bit. They also covered "Midnight Rider" and did a fine job.

Next up was my favorite band of the night, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. Two Indiana maniacs on slide guitar and a washboard, and a psycho drummer. They call themselves "roots blues" and they're somewhere between shockabilly and old Delta blues, reminding me of one of my favorite underrated albums of all time, Elmo Williams & Hezekiah Early. Hell, everyone's on myspace these days. I only go there to listen to bands. Every page is like a money shot of adware at your face in a candy-colored web porno.

My video of Peyton & co. sucks, but they are all over youtube. Here's a good tune that lets you experience his slide guitar sound and her washboard mania. He does rhythm on it too- a glass slide on his thumb provides rhythm, like on banjo, while he plays with his other hand on the fretboard.

My video is sneaky because security was nearby, but you can hear them playing "Your Cousin's on Cops." I got my picture taken with them after the show. His beard puts mine to shame, and she makes those faces on stage too.
I was later plied with corn liquor and rolled for my wallet.

Next up was Jesse Malin, a local alt rocker. He was good and energetic, sang from the mosh pit, and had that typical sound you will probably hear on the radio soon. My fave were his faster-paced songs, like "In the Modern World," available on the myspace link.

After many Guinness imbibed, we were all ready to hear the main act. Doors opened at 7:30 and now it was 10:30, the natives had begun to grow restless. Having been to Ireland, I must say they handle their drink much better than us Irish-Americans. In the ticket line I nearly got into fisticuffs with a trio of drunken boys who were yelling about not being let in. They practically yelled right in Sarah's ear. I gave them a stern talking to. They questioned my ancestry and I told them about my trip to the mother country, that distracted them a while.
Another thing I like better about Ireland- they don't care how "Irish" you are, whether you're "pure Irish" or whatever. Sorry, I'm an American first. Though I am eligible for Irish citizenship and hope to retire there someday, I get tired of how us Americans just can't be frigging Americans.

Despite the Kim Jong Il haircut, Dave rocks like nobody's business.

But enough of that shit, Flogging Molly! They blasted on stage with "Selfish Man" and "The Likes of You Again," two powerful rockers from Swagger, still my favorite album of theirs. I saw them for the first time right before it was released, and still think it's one of the best Irish rock albums ever recorded. They have an accordion player, a tin whistle, banjo and mandolin player and a spate of guitars. They really have a full sound and overpowered the mike on my little camera. So here's someone else's video of "Drunken Lullabies."

Dave King looks a bit older than I remember him ten years back at that venue in Los Angeles, but he is a perpetual motion machine for turning Guinness into pure musical enjoyment. His banter in between songs was as delightful as usual, though he doesn't talk to the crowd as much as he used to. He gave a can of Guinness to a girl who got a bloody nose in the mosh pit, and consistently thanked the security crew for keeping the crowd under control. Their fanbase has changed a lot since the early days, I remember people dancing Irish jigs back then, now the punk foundation of their music has really brought in a lot of people from the Dropkick Murphys Boston Punk scene. We were right behind the soundboard, and the Fillmore has a "strick" 115db limit. They touched 117 a few times according to their meter. They also have a golden monkey's paw as a luck charm.
They did a few of their lighter tunes like "Whistles the Wind" and "The Worst Day Since Yesterday," always encouraging the crowd to join in. The songs off their new album, Float, were quite good, and I'll be picking it up soon. He finished the set with one of my favorites, "Salty Dog," and teased us a bit before coming back for an encore.

Dave broke out a bodhran drum for one of the encores.

The encores included "Black Friday Rule" with Dave going solo, and their house shaking pirate punk tune "The Seven Deadly Sins" finished the night. I was hoping they'd sing "Delilah," because they do such a great crowd-rousing cover of it, and that's what they ended with the last time I saw them, but it was not to be. It was a great show, they played for nearly 2 hours, and the floor was as littered with beer cans and plastic cups as the streets of Mardi Gras. Sarah grabbed me a concert poster, too. Gotta love the gal.

I managed to snag the playlist.
I was kind enough to let the guy who asked seconds after I did to photograph it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Black History Month: Big Bald Black Men Whom I Admire

Let's face it, there's just something about big bald black actors. There are roles only they can play, shoes only they can fit. Can you imagine Marsellus Wallace being played by a big bald white guy, like Stone Cold Steve Austin, or Jason Statham, or even Vin Diesel? (Though apparently Vin is biracial, there's some oil in the diesel). It would not work. Pulp Fiction would be doomed to failure. Forrest Gump would somehow be worthy of beating it for Best Picture, which is crazy talk.

So in honor of Black History Month, which ends in a few days- we gave them the shortest day of the year, that was mighty white of us- in no particular order, here is my completely opinionated list of My Favorite Big Black Bald Guys and how they have influenced my life, and yours.

Keith David is one of the most underutilized actors working today. You probably know him best as the Dad from There's Something About Mary, with the immortal lines, "How'd you get the beans above the frank!?" But he wasn't bald in that! For me, he will always be Childs from John Carpenter's The Thing, with his cleanly shaven skull and ferocious smile. When he hacks down the steel door with a fireman's axe, he looks like he could kick the Thing's ass all by himself. And eat it.

If you forgot The Thing, here's the whole movie in 6 minutes.

On the internet, he's probably more well-loved for his role in another Carpenter film, They Live. You know, the one with the sunglasses, and the aliens, and Rowdy Roddy Piper... and one of the longest fight scenes in film. Probably to appease the wrestling fans who can to see their hero sans kilt, Mr. David and Roddy ad-libbed their fight scene for several hours, all of which are in the rare director's cut of the film, which I sold on ebay to make my enormous fortune. Let's view it here, in the shorter theatrical cut, which only lasts 36 minutes.

Just wear the damn glasses, Keith.

The other thing Keith David has going for him is a great voice. He narrates documentaries and commercials, and may be fondly remembered by people nerdier than I as a voice from the cartoon "Gargoyles." He narrated Ken Burns' documentary on Jazz, but wasn't in the IMDb for it, so I just submitted it. You're welcome, Mr. David! I'd be floored if you sent me an email or a signed photo.

To end his entry on a disturbing note, if you saw the soul-crushing Requiem for a Dream, he plays Big Tim, the pimp who tells Jennifer Connelly, "I know it's pretty baby, but I didn't take it out for air." Chilling words you never want to hear his basso voice whisper from across a dark prison cell. On the other hand, how'd he let this photo be taken?

Irving Rhames. It takes a real bad-ass to be called "Ving" and not have anyone ask "what the hell is a Ving?" for 13 years until I finally saw it was short for Irving. Names definitely factor into the person we become, and I'm sure Mr. Rhames' badassery is due in part to growing up in Harlem with the name Irving. I was even more shocked when his IMDb bio said that SUNY roommate Stanley Tucci gave him the nickname. Well, that sort of makes sense, since we Italian-Americans like to shorten nicknames down to one syllable, if not one letter. Thus the progression of being called, Anthony! Tony! Tone! T! Ving's lucky he's not Irv or V.
Everyone remembers his performance in Pulp Fiction, which is iconic and unforgettable, and endlessly over-quotable. I'm not going to make you relive his rape scene set to "Yakety Sax," though that would be extremely funny. That song makes anything funny. Someone has set it to "My Sharona," however.
I liked him a lot in Bringing Out the Dead, the Scorsese movie so few people seem to love. I think it's a fantastic dark comedy, and has some of the best performances its leads have given in years. Nicholas Cage, for example, actually acts. John Goodman and Ving are both great in it, and Aida Turturro is incredible as the cold nurse. Go rent it now.
He was also the best part of the Dawn of the Dead remake, so here he is in all his bad-assery.

Fuck y'all.

#3. Scatman Crothers
Although Benjamin Sherman "Scatman" Crothers is most famous for getting killed by Jack Nicholson in The Shining, he was a badass and a very memorable part of the collective 80's childhood. Not only was he Jazz in the Transformers, but he was also Hong Kong Phooey, one of the first African-Americans to break the barrier and play an Asian canine. His comforting voice, reading off the long list of the food in the Overlook Hotel from this scene in The Shining, would be perfect to lull yourself off to sleep with. Turkeys, hams, legs of lamb, beans, ice cream... everything a growing boy needs, right Doc?

There are three videos on youtube of Scatman Crothers singing, but they cannot be embedded, so click if you want to hear: Mean Dog Blues, Ain't She Sweet, or End of the Road. Here he is in Black Belt Jones- The Prequel! kicking some ass in 70's blaxploitation style.

Bet you've never seen him with hair.

Now, in The Shining he played a psychic, a character created by Stephen King. Our next Big Bald Black Dude also had supernatural powers in a Stephen King movie, The Green Mile. We'll get to Stephen King and black people later, because he likes to write about magical negroes. Now before you get all up in my ass, Spike Lee created that term and I am quoting the diminutive director, whose movies I love and admire. Especially Bamboozled.

Mr. Duncan, whom I've accidentally called Michael Darke Cluncan, is one of my favorite tough guy actors. Who else could play a hulking behemoth with a gold ball for an eye, or make America smile by beating the crap out of Ben Affleck? No one, that's who. I'm glad he's popular enough now that people don't mistake him for Ving Rhames, because Google Image Search sure is racist.

Back to Stephen King. As much as I enjoy his books, have you noticed that he's not all that great at writing black characters? If you slogged through the Dark Tower series and met Detta Walker, it's about as comfortable as sitting through those clips from Bamboozled I posted a few lines up. I have a theory, and let me put it forth to you.

Stephen King has never met a black person. In Maine, they are considered mythical creatures, like unicorns. He's only seen them in books and perhaps on "What's Happening?" and thought Rerun was leprechaun. That's the only explanation for why they always have the "shining," or the "whatever the things flying out his mouth in The Green Mile were." Now you may say bring up the excellent movie The Shawshank Redemption, but I credit Morgan Freeman for reading the script (he was Easy Reader on Electric Company after all) and saying "What's this shit about me having a unicorn's horn?" Trust me, it's on IMDb in the trivia section. Or will be soon.

Here's Michael Clarke Duncan with my cousin, Lou Taylor Pucci. They met at the premiere of Lou's first film. Thankfully now Lou has developed secondary sexual characteristics, and doesn't look like a blonde Javier Badem from No Country for Old Men. If you follow the link to his website, you'll see proof that he can grow a beard. I bet some of The Dunc's manliness rubbed off on him.

Another one of the better actors of our time who doesn't get enough work. Get Shorty, The Cider House Rules, Clockers, Domino. These are just a few. He can play the heavy or go subtle. He was also in one of my favorite trashy 80's movies, The Blood of Heroes. I'll review that for one of my 80's Trash of the Week posts, just you wait. Mr. Lindo was in one of Congo's funnier scenes, he's the Captain who won't let Tim Curry eat the sesame cake. Because there are no good scenes of him in Get Shorty up on the 'tube, I'll let you laugh at how bad Congo is. This is the Michael Crichton movie about ancient killer gorillas. The book was hilariously dated the day it came out, about blue diamonds used to make 128k microchips with humongous storage. The movie is not much better.


Wait, you're saying. What about Samuel L. Jackson? Now I love Sam as much as the next guy and I know he's bald underneath that Kangol hat, but his best roles have all included hair. Mace Windu? He got killed by emo brat Hayden Christiansen! Shaft? There's only one Shaft, and I'm sorry, he doesn't have the triforked beard of Poseidon. Richard Roundtree is the only Shaft in my book. He's a badass and always will be, but like Laurence Fishburne, he looks much better with a head of hair or a hat on his head.

One more Honorable Mention:

#5a. Tommy "Tiny" Lister Jr. aka Deebo
Also known as the President from The Fifth Element, Tiny Lister has presence and certainly deserves better than the small roles he's been landing lately. Who can forget Deebo from the Friday movies, on his little bike? I thought he did a damn fine job as President Lindberg, too. Maybe someday he'll be as legendary as the others, but until then, honorable mentions to you, Tommy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

IMDb acknowledges my genius

I've always liked the IMDb. I remember when it was just a bunch of huge flat text files on Usenet. I've been contributing to it since then, and I was a little miffed when it got purchased by Amazon back in the 90's. After a few burps they got things working well, though now and then the ads get to be a bit much.

I know just about anyone can get in there as an external review, but this is the first time I've taken advantage of it. Of course I'm only reviewing stupid movies like Joy Sticks, The Last Starfighter, and Michael Clayton, but I still feel a small sense of accomplishment that my blog will now be alongside moronic comments like "wtf is up wit the end to No Cuntry for Old Men?"

a major milestone in the plucky world of bloggery

The best part is that I'm above DVD Verdict, a cool review site that I've applied to write for.
That's the power of the plucker.

Weird Japan: Pom Poko, or the Tanuki Testicles

"We've got the biggest balls of them all." - Bon Scott, AC/DC
Sorry, Bon. These raccoons have got you and Angus beat.

My friend and cohort Johnny wanted to see the classic animated film Pom Poko after seeing a video mashup with footage from it, and the classic rock song "Big Balls" by AC/DC. Now why would a children's movie, one released in the U.S. by Disney no less, fit with a song filled with such double entendre? Permit me to demonstrate.

The clip that gave Johnny the girly-giggles.

Tanuki look like raccoons, but they are technically called raccoon dogs and live in Japan and Siberia.
This is what they look like. Note: no gigantic balls.

According to the wikipedia, tanuki have "unusually large testicles, a feature that has inspired humorous exaggeration in artistic depictions of the creature. Tanuki may be shown with their testicles flung over their backs like travellers' packs, or using them as drums." Maybe the tail is hiding something, but I don't see any signs of elephantiasis. Then again, in Japan maybe they have a different idea of what big balls are. We're all "Big" in Japan if you know what I mean.

When I went to Japan, I saw this statue of a tanuki outside of a restaurant, where they bring good luck and prosperity. Sort of like how every Chinese restaurant has red and some 8's somewhere. It's like the hidden Superman in every Seinfeld episode, look for it.
Look how cute! Then look more carefully. Keep looking. What the hell? Does that thing have wangmeat? Why yes it does. Hmm, how come it doesn't have any legs? Mother of God. Its BALLS are covering its feet. Do I want to eat at this establishment? What if they serve me giant raccoon balls?

Nothing is funnier than Engrish.

Blob? Okay if big balls make you lucky with money, Italians would be winning the Powerball (pun definitely intended) instead of toothless trailer trash. Trust me. They need to make bigger pants for us. I just had mine let out so the boys could have some room. I may invest in a kilt. But enough about my balls, or as I like to call them, Mutt and Jeff.

The movie itself is actually very cute, and is about a group of raccoons living near the city during a housing boom. Their habitat will soon become condos. If Ralph Bakshi made this movie, they'd be crows, if you remember Fritz the Cat and its caricatures. "Sheee-itt! I hate this genchrication!" But enough gratuitous racism, back to the story. It's a simple story. The raccoons fight the construction workers and the businessmen. They learn how to transform into people, which animals have always been able to do in Japanese folklore. The film jokes that all the fat Japanese who eat lots of candy and energy drinks are actually tanuki in disguise. Which made Johnny call me Tom Poko. So I hit him with my balls.
When tanuki party, they go balls out.

The do everything to harry and foil the construction crew except light a bag of poop on fire and ring the doorbell, which believe me, would fit right in to this movie. They enlist the help of the Tanuki Elders whose balls are the size of large trampolines, and one of them looks like Wilford Brimley.
Do you have the Diabetus?

The elders try to scare the humans away with a parade of creepy spirits running through town, but everyone enjoys it, and thinks it was put on by the local amusement park. See, we're all so enthralled with our new-fangled technology that we can't recognize the magic of nature and the spirits of the past! Apparently the raccoons were stoners, which makes sense because they sit around eating all day with their balls out for easy scratching.
More proof that tanuki are stoners.
Freaky-Ass Shit.
Bad trip, man.

This does exactly jack shit to stop the construction, as you can imagine. It becomes time for the Final Countdown, the big battle. Some want peace, others want war, and some of us want the animals to WEAR SOME FUCKING PANTS. Either way, we lose.
The war faction ready their balls for battle, and the peaceful ones actually hug the fucking trees.
There's a joke here somewhere.

But you came to see flying raccoons with biggie-size nutsacks, and I will not disappoint. I warn you, the nature of the next images is extremely graphic. Well duh, they're graphics. I never understood that stupid TV warning. Images are graphic. So let me say that the images are of a Nutley nature.

How to Attack With Your Balls

1. Get blue balls.
2. First you stretch your scrotum into a trampoline.
3. Have your friends jump on your scrotrampoline and become airborne.
4. Shock & Awe Paratroopers inflate ballsack (not Balzac, that's a French author)
5. Use your scrote as a parachute and glide toward enemy targets. Yes, really.
6. Kick yourself in the nuts until you look like you're riding a Space Hopper Ball.
7. Land with great fury!
Let's take a short break to remember Space Hopper balls or Hippity Hoppers.

8. Swing your balls like a sack full of doorknobs.
9. Or just smother the riot police with your mighty scrote.
10. Don't let the cops hit your nuts with their batons.
Note the veins. Sticklers for details, those fellows over at Ghibli studios. Yes, this was made by the same folks who did Princess Mononucleosis and Howl's Moving Castle. It's actually a quite funny and beautifully animated story that will make children think about nature, and probably get rabies from a raccoon. Just imagine the playfights they'll get into using beanbag chairs. I can't wait to have kids and mess their heads up with this stuff.
Proof that this nuttiness is nothing new.

In the end, the raccoon dogs learn to live alongside the city in smaller numbers, stealing from garbage cans and not assaulting people with their testicles unless the sanctity of their home is threatened. A delightful film to scar children with or laugh yourself silly with, once properly inebriated. 3 stars or 2 giant tanuki balls.
Are you done swinging your nuts around?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hummus recipe

I made hummus for Sarah's Oscar Party last night. Some of the crew liked it a lot so I thought I'd share the recipe. It's pretty simple if you have a hand blender or a food processor.

1 28oz. can chickpeas / garbanzo beans - drain the juice but reserve it
1 8 oz. can tahini
4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp minced garlic or 4 minced fresh cloves of garlic
Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning, to taste
cumin, to taste
paprika, to taste
juice of 1 lemon

Drain the can of chickpeas but keep the juice, you may need to thin the hummus with it. In a large bowl put the beans, the tahini, and the olive oil. Roll the lemon on the counter firmly to release the juice, then half it and squeeze it into a bowl or through your hand so the seeds don't fall into the mix. Add your garlic and blend until smooth, adding the juice from the can until it's the consistency you prefer. Add your spices and mix well.
I add some cardamom and a little dried mint, and sometimes some pine nuts or roasted peppers (squeezed and drained) to fix it up a little. Sometimes I use a lot more garlic. You can roast the garlic in the oven until it is soft to make the flavor milder.

And the cheese was fromager d'affinois, similar to brie. It's a little pricey and you can get it at Whole Foods or a cheese shop. Tahini can be hard to find but Whole Foods usually has it by the peanut butter, since it's sesame seed butter. They sell a big can for $4, enough for two big batches of hummus. You can use less than I do, I just really think the taste helps it a lot. More olive oil and faster blending will make it creamier.

Holy Schmidt! The New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra

I met New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra band leader and singer George Schmidt at his art gallery in New Orleans during my trip. We dropped in at his Julia Street warehouse, not knowing if he was in, because he wasn't answering the phone. It's a little art gallery showcasing his varied styles, from landscapes to historical murals.
Well it's rather obvious from the first photo that I met the man. He is a bubbly and ebullient fellow, a lively talker full of humor. I introduced myself as a fan of the orchestra and he told me of their history, and some of their future concerts. It seems they'll be in Princeton New Jersey for an alumni celebration in April. I'm going to try to go see them, so hopefully their show will be open to the general public. Princeton's a lovely little college town with a great record shop, The Princeton Record Exchange. The New Leviathan is a revival band that plays ragtime music and earlier, really delightful stuff. I also love their motto:

Art fails where concept outstrips performance.

George Schmidt talks about giclee posters.

They always play at JazzFest, but it's tough to get into town then. It's not quite as big as Mardi Gras but brings in a more affluent crowd who fill up all the hotels. My co-worker Debbie is having a crawfish boil on May 3rd during the festival and invited me down, but I'm not sure I'll be able to make it. I'm going to try, though.

This site has some of Mr. Schmidt's paintings. I told him my friend Emma from Texas was a big fan but couldn't make it out to meet him, so he gave me a signed poster and some pamphlets to give her. He also gave me booklet of an exhibition honoring his 60th birthday where a bunch of friends did caricatures of him. I'll scan them in tomorrow and post them here.

George playing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on his banjo.

He's quite a friendly guy and told me that the band rehearses next door to his gallery on Wednesdays at 7pm. I'd like to stop by and see them someday. Maybe on my next trip down to the Crescent City, which has fast become one of my favorite places.

The orchestra plays "Old King Tut" in a private performance.

Here's another clip of them playing at Jazz Fest last year.

To hear music clips, the Louisiana Music Factory has all their CD's.
"Bo-la-bo," from Burning Sands
"It Don't Mean a Thing," from Favorites
"The International Rag," from Old King Tut
"Angry," from I Didn't Mean to Say Goodbye
The title track, from Here Comes the Hot Tamale Man

The band is insistent that the Factory has "From New Orleans to Constantinople on the S.S. Leviathan," but the store is adamant that they do not have it in stock. It's a remaster of an older album that I'd love to have, so I'm going to keep bugging George about it.

disclaimers of legal bull shitte

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