Hey comix fans! Guess what!? That's right kids, La-La & Lu-Lu are back!! After a two month hiatus, The World's Greatest Comic Strip (patent pending) has returned into a world that has been mourning its disappearance for two plus months now. For those of you out of the loop (and shame on you!), La-La & Lu-Lu are a couple of snarky sonsabitches who have made 39 previous appearances on line, all courtesy of yours truly, and his/my comic label, Brain Tumor Comix. Now, after a long and tragedy-laden sabbatical, these groovy comicstrip creations of mine, have found their way out of whatever nether world/alternate reality they have been trapped in, and back to us here in the so-called real world. So, without further ado, here are the guys in their triumphant(esque) return engagement. And if it's a bit too small for ya, don't worry, just click on the image to enlarge.
To see all my La-La & Lu-Lu strips, in one oh so convenient place, just head on over to this place, and peruse to your heart's desire, and keep an eye out for new strips, which for the foreseeable future, will be coming to the pages of All Things Kevyn, on a semi-regular basis.
Okay, so here we go. The 25 greatest letters of the alphabet. Why 25, and not all 26? Why the hell not. C'mon, after all this is a list of the greatest letters of the alphabet, it's not like we need to take any of this seriously. If I don't take it seriously, why the hell should you? Anyway, before I start to ramble (and we don't want that, do we?), let's get on with this list. Oh, and as for R...well, you know what you did. Oh, and before I forget, I would like to mention that this list was highly inspired by This List, a list you should really check out, because it is much funnier than my list. Oh well, awaaaaaaay we go...
25) The Letter S - Sure, it looks like a snake, and that is indeed pretty cool, but really, S is just so self-righteous, just so 'Ooh, look at me, I'm so fucking special,' just so la-dee-dah. Well guess what S, you suck, you sanctimonious sidewinder you. Sure, you may be on Superman's chest, but Superman's a pussy. Batman can kick his ass, and Batman has not a single superpower. So there! And after all, somebody's gotta be last, right? Screw you R! Oh, and by the way, don't tell Superman I called him a pussy, okay?
24) The Letter N - Yeah, one could easily hate this guy for that infamous N-word, but that's not really his fault, and therefore not the reason he is so low on the list. The reason? None of your business! No, seriously, it's probably due to something nonsensical. Maybe it has something to do with nads. Maybe not. For whatever reason, here it is at number twenty-four. I mean, N does start the word nerd, of which I am one, and it starts the word narwhal, which is a pretty cool fucking sea creature, so it probably deserves a higher placement, but hey, nerts to that. I don't care if he's the second most used consonant out there, nerts to him!
23) The Letter L - What a loser! Fa ra ra ra ra indeed. The L-word may get ya'll hot and bothered, but the lazy-ass L-letter ain't worth the litmus paper it's lettered on. It's a Louie Louie kinda mess. My dear old friends La-La & Lu-Lu (a 4-panel comic strip I write and publish every now and again), even with such names, are not even all that fond of the letter L. In fact they spit on the letter. Spit on it! But then again, if you double the letter south of the border, you get a soothing Y sound, and you do get the lovely likes of Lois Lane and Lana Lang and Larry Linville. Wait, what? Seriously, I guess L isn't that bad, but still not a s good as the 22 letters above it. Oh yeah, and screw you R!
22) The Letter D - Hey, this looks like my high school report cards. Ha! Just kidding. It was mostly C minuses, but, who's counting? Ha, again! Anyway, after the self-centered S, the low-down L, and that N ninny, we are starting to get into slightly better territory. Slightly. It's a Delta House kinda letter, and that's pretty cool, right? Hey, and it's also a name! How many other letters can say that? (J and K, dummy!) Granted, we still have a low grade kinda letter, but hey guys, we also get some D-cups thrown in there as well, so what's your problem!? Time to double down, boys!
21) The Letter P - C'mon people! Not only is it something you do in the bathroom (or a back alley, if that's your thing), it's also a nasty little green piece of veggie that your mother tried to make you eat. It's also one of my lovely wife's favourite foods, so I'm probably going to get an eye roll over this one. Of course, if you add a nut to the end, you do get a yummy little legume. But still, it's kinda hard not to keep wrapping your head around that whole 'going in the back alley' thing.
20) The Letter E - I've been told this is the most common letter in the English language. Well la-dee-fucking-dah. Kinda arrogant if ya ask me. Kinda commonplace as well. Kinda easy too. That damn slutty E. Filthy, nasty, slutty E. But then again, this little slutty letter, so full of itself, does encompass pretty much everything, and it is a big mover and shaker online - ya know, with the whole e-commerce,-e-bates, e-bay, e-everything, stuff. So I guess E can get a pass here. And anyway, who doesn't love a slut. Oh E, you little minx, you're living the glamorous life, baby. That last one was for all you Sheila E. fans in the hizzouse.
19) The Letter U - It's all about U. U, you, and no one but U! That's right, sports fans, the letter U is here, asüber as it wants to be, and it is kickin' some ass from its untidy, unweildy start to its unbelievable and unnerving ending. From the comicbook world U-Men to Yoo-hoo (U who?) Mrs. Goldberg! to the uncola to the very universal truth of everything there is, the letter U (yeah, I'm talkin' to U, Mr. Bickle) is the unanimous winner. Well, okay, obviously it's not the winner, I mean we are only at number nineteen, but still, as they say, U are a winner! And mama, U ain't seen nuthin' yet!
18) The Letter T - Tea for two, two for T. A truly terrific letter. In fact this is a letter to a veritable T. But let's face it, T is kinda square (see what I did there?) and therefore only comes in at number eighteen. I know, I know, that's gonna tee off a lot of T lovers, those T-men of lore included. Let me say to them, forget the T and drink some coffee instead. Yeah, take that T. You may be the letter of truth (and that ain't false) but what does that have to do with the price of you-know-what in China? Tsk tsk, I kid T. I kid. Don't let Mr. T know what I said.
17) The Letter B - Poor letter B. Forever destined to come in second to the letter A. As a grade, the poor guy can be a welcomed highlight to the typical C student, but to anyone trying to make their way into Harvard or Princeton or Brown...well, B just ain't that great, and B just ain't gonna getchya into the ivy league, bruthah. But still, B is a bold and bawdy, buxom (bosoms a-blazin'!) bravado-filled letter, and boo-hoo to any of those bitches (or B's if you will) who think differently. B all that you can B, and do it B4 it's too late! But don't let the old heppy B getchya.
16) The Letter M - Mmm mm mm good. Yup, the M is the yummiest of all the letters (mmmmm, and drool-inducing to boot), and surely one could not enjoy a good brownie or cookie without the letter M. Hey, and I suppose good ole Jimmy Bond would have trouble getting work without M to give him direction. And let's not forget the classic M & M. Twice the bang for your buck. But then again, some claim M is merely the superior W, turned upside down. Who am I to say otherwise?
15) The Letter O - O say can you see! The only letter that also moonlights as an expression of surprise. The only letter that hears itself screamed out in the middle of someone's lucky night. O say can you see, indeed. Oh oh oh oh OOOOO, said Sally Albright on the whole situation (I'll have what she's having). It's the big-O! Now granted, O may be seen as having a weight problem by the thin-happy society of today, but these are the same no-nothing kids that see pictures of Marilyn Monroe, and think "what a cow." O, what a beautiful morning!
14) The Letter H - Whether it's the hard H of hitmaker or haz-mat or the soft H of oh oh oh oh oh, this admittedly middle-of-the-road letter just might be a bit more than it's usually cracked up to be. One heck of a letter. The letter H is a hurly-burly kinda letter, and one full of hullabaloo too. Granted, the damn French tend to drop the letter from every word they place it in front of, and many Brits can't even say it (I 'ate you 'enry 'iggins!), but that doesn't mean its not one hell of a letter. Ha ha. Howzabout that!
13) The Letter G - Yo G, what up!? He's a grand old letter, a high-flying letter, and definitely a letter that really hits the spot - THE spot! Gee, ain't that swell, and gee-willikers, and all that g-force kinda grub. A giant of a letter, and one that has its own event at the Winter Olympics (Super-G!!), and have I mentioned the G-spot yet? I have? Good, because from what I am told, that's a pretty important spot to find. And a lucky one too, which is why I put the G-dogg at lucky number thirteen.
12) The Letter W - What a letter! So much so that it is a double letter, a double U (although it looks a lot more like a double V to me - damn Romans!). W is such a great letter, that unlike his other twenty-five single syllable brethren, W is not only two, but three syllables long. Howzabout that!? But alas, poor W, they didn't always know him well. A line form a 14th century grammarian reads, "Poor W is so infamous and unknown that many barely know either its name or its shape." Well, hopefully a twelfth place finish here will help that stature, at least the tiniest little bit.
11) The Letter C - As we all learned from Cookie Monster on Sesame Street, until those bastards made the guy start eating broccoli and the like, C is for Cookie, and cookies are freakin' yummy. C is also for a word that many of the ladies don't like all that much, and therefore packs a pretty good wallop. C+C Music Factory and C. Montgomery Burns are fans, I am sure. C is also the most copyrighted of letters (ha!) and Charlie ain't just whistlin' Dixie about that. Stop making cents (ha, again!) and I will see (C) ya on da flipside. Case closed, and now on to the top ten.
10) The Letter Z - Last but most certainly not least (screw you R!). Often zombie-fied (which actually is a big thing in today's zombie-happy world), the letter Z, is aa big winner in Scrabble, and the one letter that gets a whole word to it's name in some countries (Zed ain't just a dead guy from Pulp Fiction, baby). Z is also one of only two letters that get a special flourish to its American Sign Language counterpart (J is the other), and Z is the only letter to get a special written flourish with the oh-so-European dash through its zig-zaggy belly. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah!
9) The Letter V - Va-va-va-voom. The lovely letter V is one of the sexiest members of our alphabet. An alphabetic vixen, if you will. Symbolizing the softest spot on a woman, and being the symbol for victory, V is not only sexy, but also a strong modern day woman. V is a peaceful, powerful lady, and you do not want to mess with her, unless she wants to be messed with, and when she wants to be messed with, look out baby! She's the kinda letter that will bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never ever let you forget your a man. Va-va-va-voom, indeed.
8) The Letter A - In the beginning, the was the letter A, and we looked upon it, and thought it a damn good letter. It's good to be the first of something. The leader of the pack. The literal Alpha Male of the alphabet. But with great power comes great responsibility (thanx Uncle Ben) and the letter A has responsibilities out the a-hole. So many responsibilities, that they don't call him Mr. A-Responsibility for nuthin'. The letter A is A number one, top of the heap. The Fonz would agree. So would my lovely wife, Amy. A will getchya into Harvard or Oxford, and A-One will put a steak through your heart. A+ indeed.
7) The Letter I - It's all about me, huh? The eyes have it? An eye for an I, and all the other puns that would fit in here. This cute little dotted letter gets used a hell of a lot around these parts, but that's probably just due to my rather self-centered outlook on all things (the name of the blog is All Things Kevyn, after all), and therefore gets a placement here in the top ten. I mean (see what I did there?) this little guy is a fun letter, a seemingly invincible letter, even when you're not using it as a spoiled rant. I want this and I want that and I want it all. The I's have it, and oh yeah, screw you R!
6) The Letter J - My man, the letter J. A jaunty little guy that becomes the toast of the town every day around 4:20 (those in the know will get that joke), the little letter J is surely one of the cutest members of the alphabet, especially in his adorable dotted lower case identity (check out the last entry for another cutie-pie of the same ilk). In the world of grammar, this little guy also represents a palatal approximant (look it up!) but he's not the kinda guy that lets something like that go to his head. With a finger swooshing flourish in ASL, the little letter J is simply Dyn-O-mite!!
5) The Letter F - What can one say about the letter F? About that fantastic Foxtrottin' sixth letter? This E with an amputee letter? Well, like everyone else reading this right now, there is one particular word that pops immediately to mind. One of my favourite words actually, and one of the most versatile as well. A word that can be used as a noun, a verb, an adverb, and an adjective. A word that an mean great happiness and terrible sorrow. A word that can be used to describe a fun activity, as well as a word that can be used toward the end result of the greatest insult. It's a word that will maybe turn on your bedtime partner or perhaps get your mouth washed out with soap, as happened to hapless little Ralphie in A Christmas Story. But fuck that, F is more than just one simple F-word. The letter F is simply fabulous from freaking beginning to freaking end. Now, ain't that a fuckin' hoot!?
4) The Letter Q - This is a queer little letter, but quaint as well. A fat cat player in Scrabble, and a royal personage in poker and solitaire. Q is the letter that gives James Bond all his funny little toys and gadgets. Q is a quite quarky Q-Bert of a letter. Sure, one might argue that without U following the great gal up almost every single time, he wouldn't be worth the ink she's written in, but I say that the letter U is merely the pawn of this queen of the alphabet. I even created a whole planet named for it, in my Smiley-Face Land Adventures comics (soon to be seen right here on this very blog!). Plus, with that stubby little tail coming off that voluptuous old school body, she's sexy as hell too.
3) The Letter X - Hey, what can I say? After 37 years or so as a fan of the Uncanny X-Men (even through their rather over-exposed, post 1990 period), as well as being a proud alumni of The Jean Grey School For Higher Learning (and my Facebook page says so, so it must be true), it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, that the grand letter X is so high on my list. After all, this is a letter that not only marks the spot, but also does something in math that I have never really understood, but something that must be pretty important. It's the Midnight Cowboy of letters. The most X-treme of letters. I don't always drink beer, but when I do, it's gonna have a coupla X's on the label. And then there's the porn connection, but we can just gloss over that, and move on. Oh yeah, and screw you R!
2) The Letter K - Yeah yeah, I know. Placing the letter that is both my first AND last initial (but don't worry, the middle initial is different) may seem a bit on the self-centered and/or egotistical side of things, but I surely cannot ignore a letter as great and as crooked as the letter K. It's a special K (see what I did there?) and should be as high as the number two spot. Special indeed. Klick klack klick klack - K is often called the funniest of letters (some so-called experts claim that it is because a lot of traditional American humour is derived from Yiddish, a language that has many K sounds abounding - and thus we have a comedy legend born unto the world) and K is a letter full of kudos and kerfuffles. Or at least it should be. Hey, and it is also an integral part of the world's most famous haiku. Kerplunk we go!
1) The Letter Y - Ya know, as I was compiling this list, I was having trouble coming up with which letter should be deemed the greatest, but then my lovely wife made it all a moot point, when she told me how much I obviously love the letter Y. And ya know, it's true. It's all true. From the fact that I changed the spelling of my first name from the so-called traditional Kevin, to the more Celtic-inspired Kevyn, to the fact that I tend to add a Y to the end of many words when I am happy about them (I don't eat eggs so much as eggy-weggs, and a bird is more likely to be called a birdy in my giddy excitement - yeah, I'm a big dork). And, as my much-more-astute-than-thou wife pointed out, the letter Y is the only letter that is also a question. So why not Y? Y not? Its phonetic nom de plume is Yankee, and anyone who knows me and my baseball-loving side...well, you know. And hey, Y is also the only letter that is both a consonant and a vowel. The most bi-polar of all the letters, and bi-polarism's pretty hot, right? Maybe that's just me. Anyway, thanx to the lovely little missus, and her reminding me just how great the letter Y happens to be, we have ourselves a winner. Y the hell not?
Well, that's it kids. I'll be back soon with another undeniably unforgettable post...oh wait, I do have one other thing to mention before we go to commercial. It's a little something that will be happening a few months from now - in April to be exact. And yes, it has a little something to do with the alphabet as well. With the month of April, also comes the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge. It's going to be a month long blogathon where each day of the month (sans Sundays) will see a fresh new post, each with a different letter of the alphabet. The blogathon has been happening each April for four years now (I think) and apparently there are a thousand or so bloggers that play along each year. This will be my first time participating. But enough of that now - it's still more than two months away. Most of ya'll are going to forget about before then anyway. Who knows, maybe I will too. Anyway, thanx for coming and enjoying (I assume? Maybe?) my list of the greatest letters of the alphabet. See ya 'round the web. Oh yeah, and screw you R!
Hey all you music fans out there - and you know who you are!! Welcome to an all-music, all-the-time kinda post. Yep, that's right people, get your headphones on, and get ready to listen to some tunes. Well, okay, maybe not listen so much as hear me ramble on and on about some of my recent musical writings and doodlings. But enough of that, let's move on, shall we?
First things first, and since it is listed first in the post heading as well, let's talk about my contribution to a cool new thing called Top Five Fridays. The place is a place called All The Day Sounds, and it is a music blog run by a cool cat by the name of Peter Winter. If you have not been to this up-and-comer music blog before, GO THERE NOW! I'll wait. Once you are back, we can finish our little talk. Are you back? You sure? Okay, let's move on. As I was getting at, Mr. Winter has a new game over at his blog. It is called Top Five Fridays, and it goes a little somethin' like this (in Peter's words): "I draft people far cooler than myself to share some of the happening jams they’ve been rocking out to lately!" So, apparently I am one of these "far cooler" peeps (who knew, eh?), and have been asked to contribute to this weekly gig (and thanx for that dear sir). The challenge was to come up with five albums that I am groovin' too recently, and talk a little bit about 'em. So this I did. What are these aforementioned albums, you ask? Well, I'm not going to tell you here. For that, you must travel back over to All The Day Sounds, and check it all out. I can tell you that all five records are from the past decade (surprisingly, I'm going modern for this one, although I do still toss in someone who is decidedly not so modern). I can also tell you that the album pictured above has nothing whatsoever to do with my contribution, nor does it have anything whatsoever to do with anything in this post. It's just a fun looking album cover is all. The band itself has its moments as well (well, it has its moments for what it is, anyway). But I digress. Just click that pretty little link just below, and you shall be magically transported to the very place you need to be. Oh, and as before, please come back here, so we can finish our musical discussion.
So, we'll back. What didjya think? Wait, tell me later (perhaps in the comments section below) we have other stuff to discuss right now. And that other stuff is The Great Albums series. What!? You don't know what The Great Albums series is? Blasphemy! Oh well, I guess if I have to, I'll explain it one more time. Kids today! So, The Great Album series, is a series featuring albums I happen to think are pretty darn good. Easy peazy, lemon squeezy. Eventually, I would like to compile a Greatest Albums list, but my knowledge of music and musical history is rather on the low side of things (as opposed to my much broader knowledge of something like film history), so I am giving myself a crash course, of sorts, in modern music. And by modern, I am talking rock, pop, blues, jazz, what have you of the past seventy years or so. Yeah, I know, that's a pretty huge undertaking, but someone's gotta do it, so why not me? Anyhoo, as I check out these albums (using several different great albums lists as reference in my quest to become a so-called music expert), the ones that I find worthy, will become part of this series (while others are maliciously tossed aside for lack of what I shall deem as greatness), and get some sort of in-depth(ish) posting. These posts are in no particular order, mind you. So far, I have done two of these great album postings. The first was on The Queen is Dead by The Smiths (a blast from my young adulthood - it came out the year I turned nineteen), while the second was on Hunky Dory from the always cool-as-cool-can-be David Bowie (an album I never actually listened to from start to finish, before starting this quest of mine). Coming up next (within the next week or so) will be one of several Beatles albums that will most assuredly make the list (but which one? you'll just have to wait), and then I will dig into some great albums from the eclectic likes of Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Jack White, Amy Winehouse, Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Miles Davis, Tom Waits (did you know just how fantastic his Rain Dogs is?), Patti Smith, Joy Division, Lou Reed, Huey Lewis & the News (just seeing if you're still paying attention), Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Loretta Lynn, Robert Johnson, and of course, Mr. Zimmerman. There will be lots more (hopefully at a one every two weeks clip) but these are some of the highlights coming up soon(ish).
Well, that's my musical rant for now. Keep checking back (as if you don't already have this blog on your regular daily rotation!) for more fun musicological postings - as well as on all other things in the pop cultural realm. And, once again, I would like to thank Mr. Peter Winter, the cool hep cat that he is, for allowing me to be a part of his shin-dig. Perhaps I'll be asked to contribute another one down the line sometime. For now, ta-ta and all that jazz. Below is another pic that really has nothing whatsoever to do with this post. I just wanted to include it because it is so freakin' cool. Of course, it could have quite a lot to do with that aforementioned Greatest Albums List, but more on that later. See ya 'round the web.
Vertigo. Singin' in the Rain. The Rules of the Game. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Seven Samurai. More modern films such as Taxi Driver. Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, and Brazil. Perennial list-topper, Citizen Kane. What do these films have in common? Well, duh. All ya have to do is read the title of this post to know what that particular commonality happens to be. So, let's move on, shall we? Ya see, since I'm what one might call an expert (well, sorta) on the subject of cinema and film history, and all that so-called jazz, people often ask me to count off my favourite films, or sometimes, more arrogantly, the ten best or greatest films. And, like a trained seal (though I'm guessing a seal, trained or not, could not actually do such a thing) I spout 'em out. Most people look at me with a strange sort of expression. Sure, they've heard of some of them (who hasn't heard of Citizen Fucking Kane!?), but others just go right past their supposed wheelhouse of know-how, and these people (obviously the less cinematically-inclined - my fellow critical compatriots are never bewildered by such antics) end up walking away in total bumfuzzlement. Ah well, their loss. But I digress.
As I wanted to say before I was so rudely distracted by my own ever-wandering mind (and surprisingly fast-typing hunt-n-peck fingertips), is that I have finally compiled a list of these aforementioned favourite films, just for your friendly (or not-so-friendly - all up to you) perusal. This list has been painstakingly compiled by yours truly (arranged and rearranged and rearranged again ad infinitum) and represents my eclectic taste in cinema - or in all things really. Sure, there are the standard bearers, such canonical doo-dads as the aforementioned Kane, or Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, Chaplin's City Lights, Hitchcock's Vertigo, et cetera, but there are also some more unique (some may say questionable, but who cares about those people!) choices. How many lists such as this, include the likes of Bogdanovich's Targets, or Wellman's pre-code doozy, Safe in Hell? Not as many as should, dammit! There are some other unique/questionable choices in here as well, but I'll let you peruse the list to find those. And peruse you shall. I built this damn thing, so you now need to read it. If you build it... (and no, the film referenced there is most certainly not on this list). So, without any further ado, I give you the link to my very special page of faves. Enjoy the crap out of it. And, as always, see ya 'round the web.
What a list, right? I know. What can I say, I have great taste. Who am I to argue? As for future additions to the list, instead of replacing, I will probably just add to the list a la 101 Favourites, 105 Favourites, 117 Faves, and so on and so on. You get the picture. Basically this is due to the fact that it took me a lot of hair-pulling (metaphorically, of course), and damn if I'm gonna change it! But anyway, there ya have it. Let me know whatchya think - either here or (more preferably) in the comments section of the list page itself. Hey, why not give me your lists as well. Just post 'em in the comments section of the list. Well, that's it...for now. Below is a collage piece, showing the top 25 on my list. Enjoy. And (once more), see ya 'round the web.
Set inside their moody, 'grey skies are never going to clear up' world, the brothers' Coen have created yet another slice of their unique brand of morose emotionally-macabre moviemaking. And this critic would have it no other way. Set in the early 1960's, mostly in Greenwich Village (with a sidetrip to Chicago and back), Inside Llewyn Davis is the story of a down-on-his-luck folk singer and guitarist, one of Ginsberg's angelheaded hipsters, thinking himself one of the best minds of his generation (a thing he may or may not be - we never find out), and several (typical?) days in his down-and-out life. With the Coens at the helm, don't expect to see any personal growth on the character's part, nor any sunny rays peeking out from behind the gloom and doom of the film's atmosphere, in order to let our not-so-intrepid hero find his way out of the dark days of his life. No siree, this is not what one should expect from a Coen Brothers film, and once again, this critic would have it no other way.
Now I am not saying there is not life inside the Coens' insular cinematic world, but that life is ofttimes ridiculed by whatever natural or unnatural forces may be crushing down on our protagonist. Be it the law (Raising Arizona and Fargo), the corporate world (Hudsucker Proxy), the mob (Miller's Crossing), feral criminality (No Country for Old Men), possible insanity (Barton Fink), or perhaps even God himself (A Serious Man), a Coen Brothers' protag is never safe from what could befall and very possibly destroy them. In their latest film, the duo's sixteenth feature, Oscar Isaac portrays a man who is not necessarily falling apart so much as a man who has never been together. Like most artists in our society, Llewyn Davis has a dangerous disconnect with the norms of society, and thus has an outsider feel no matter where he goes, even with his fellow artists, with whom he presumably has something in common - and yes, as a lifelong writer and outsider myself, I too can empathize and thus sympathize with Llewyn's feelings of disdain and disgruntlement. Llewyn is a sad case, but not a terminal case. He is trapped inside a world he doesn't understand, looking for a way out. Looking for a way out into the world that he feels he should be part of. A world where his desires are not looked upon as lesser, but a world where he, as an artist, is respected, perhaps even adored.
And then there's the music. As melancholy in mood as the film itself, or as Llewyn himself, the array of old folk tunes, sung on film by Isaac, as well as costars Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and Adam Driver, all arranged by the ever-capable T Bone Burnett give the film a sense of realness. We aren't just watching a film set in 1961, we seem to be right there as the beat/folk Village scene is about to explode (you'll see a hint of the coming explosion as a certain someone takes the stage near film's end). The one song actually written especially for the film (co-written by Burnett, Timberlake, and the Coens), the comedic bon mot, Please Mr. Kennedy (recently egregiously snubbed by the Oscars), is a shiny highlight in a film full of sad, seemingly endlessly sad, characters. Now I am sure that those who won't even go near a sad movie (for some reason, everything must be positive for these silly people), will not like this film, even one bit, but for those who want tragic, yet sadly realistic, storytelling, done with a bravura central performance (and wait til ya get a load of John Goodman!), then Inside Llewyn Davis is the film for them/you/us. Oh yeah, and there's a cat (or two or three) as well.
That's right, kiddies, this is a list of the greatest of the great apes. Now what, you ask, exactly is a great ape. Well, I'm gonna tell ya. You see, one of my biggest pet peeves (second only to idiots who say could care less instead of couldn't) is someone calling an ape a monkey. Apes and monkeys are different creatures people! Let's get it right! Monkeys are (usually) little guys with tails, who mostly live in trees. Apes are bigger, and live mostly on the ground floor. Egads, I hate when someone calls an ape (and it usually is aimed toward the chimps of TV and movie fame), a monkey. But I digress. Actually there are only five kinds of apes. First ya have the gibbon, these guys are part of what are known as lesser apes, and actually never show up in our list today, so why even mention them. The other four, known collectively as the great apes, or Hominidae for the more scientifically-minded, are the Gorilla, Orangutan, Chimpanzee, and the good ole basic Human Being. Now since some of the more right-bent folks out there (but really, are these idiots even reading my blog?) would argue that humans are not apes (evolution is a scientific fact morons, no matter how many ridiculous bible quotes you spout off!!), and since it would be kind of silly to include them in such a list as we have going here today anyway, said list will consist of the big three only. So there.
But, before we get to the list proper, let's drop a few runners-up on ya'll. First there are such comicbook world great apes, as Ape-X of the Squadron Supreme, Gorilla Man from Agents of Atlas, and Matt Fraction's criminally little known cult superspy, Rex Mantooth, Kung Fu Gorilla. Then ya have such TV simians as Professor Bobo (MST3K), Mr. Teeny (The Simpsons), King Gorilla (The Venture Brothers), Zippy the Chimp (a regular on Ed Sullivan) Bingo (The Banana Splits), Mojo Dojo (Powerpuff Girls), and Bear (of B.J. and the.. fame). Other great apes of note are Cheeta, the sidekick of Tarzan, Bubbles, the sidekick of Michael Jackson (no jokes, please), and Mighty Joe Young, the smaller version of King Kong. Oh yeah, and let's not forget Congo, the Abstract Impressionist painting chimpanzee of legend and lore.
And awaaaaaaay we go...
Special Mention: The Weeping Gorilla
Okay, probably nobody but the most die hard of comic book fans will even know who this is, but since I happen to be one of those die hard fans, here he is. This special guy was created by Alan Moore as an inside joke about how comics sales will increase with a gorilla or a crying character on the cover. He first appeared in Moore's Promethea series, and has since made cameo appearances in dozens of other comics, most notably in Tom Strong's Terrific Tales, scripted by Moore's daughter, Leah.
Special Mention: Robot Monster
Robot Monster, the hairy-ass antagonist of this cult classic ultra B 1953
movie (it's one of those continuously voted one of the worst movies of
all time kinda things) is not an ape, so much as an alien who just so
happens to have an ape's body. That should be enough to get the big guy
in as a special mention. Not to mention that Robot Monster in 3D is one of the most fun stupid movies you would ever want to watch (the Citizen Kane of bad movies) and therefore needs to be mentioned as often as possible. So there.
10. Magilla Gorilla & Grape Ape
Okay, this one's a bit of a cheat, since I am putting two different apes in one spot, but this is my list, so if I wanna cheat, I'll cheat. But let's face it, Grape Ape is basically just a big purple rip-off Magilla Gorilla anyway, though that doesn't make the big guy any less worthy of being on this here list. And, I thought, why not just put the two together (both denizens of my misbegotten youth in front of the tube every Saturday morning and afternoons after school), and that way, there's room for an eleventh great ape on the list.
This little trouble-making chimp is always getting himself into silly predicaments in Speed Racer. Along with his pal Spritle (Speed's little brother for those not in the know), these two are the Scooby and Shaggy of Speed Racer, sans the obvious drug references (though somebody was doing some sort of illicit drug in the creation of this show). Basically they are the silly counterparts to the action heroing of Speed Racer himself, and maybe could have been successful as a spin-off series on their own.
Every which way but loose, baby there's no excuse, to turn me every which way but loose. That line is from the hit Eddie Rabbit song that acted as the theme to this rather ridiculous movie. Clint Eastwood has done some great movies, but he has also done his share of crapola too, and Every Which Way But Loose may have been one of the crappier ones, but that doesn't mean Clyde the Orangutan (played my Manis the Orangutan) doesn't rock. In fact he steals pretty much the entire film from Eastwood.
Koko is the only member of this list who wasn't a movie or TV star, but that doesn't mean she didn't get her fair share of publicity in her day. Born in 1971, this now 42 year old female gorilla, is said to have a vast knowledge of both the English language and American Sign Language. This brilliance is teh reason the Gorilla Foundation is at Koko.com. Hell, this old girl is smarter than a lot of humans I know. Evolution, schmevolution. And hey, she's a fan of Mr. Rogers too. Howzabout that!
6. Gorilla Grodd
First appearing in Flash #106, back in 1959, Grodd is a hyper-intelligent (and hyper-telepathic) gorilla supervillain, in DC Comics continuity. Grodd is the evil-minded ruler of the futuristic hidden enclave known as Gorilla City (which he took over by force at one point), as well as one of the arch-nemesii of the heroic speedster Flash. There are a slew of apes throughout the comic book world (several mentioned as runners-up in the intro) but Grodd is the kick-assiest of 'em all.
5. J. Fred Muggs
This famed chimp was the co-host of the Today Show back in the day. The primate pal of Today Show host David Garroway, this sidekick even had his own sidekick (Phoebe B. Beebe - all three are pictured above). He was so popular in fact, that at one time the chimp was receiving more fan mail than Garroway himself was getting. A lot more. By the by, J. Fred and his live-in-girlfriend, Phoebe, are still alive and well, enjoying retirement in the great state of Florida.
4. Donkey Kong
As a kid (and perhaps as an adult as well) I spent many a so-called wasted hour down at the local arcades (back in the day when every mall had a full sized arcade) playing video games, and this barrel-tossing primate was one of my faves. Sure, I would eventually move onto things like Super Mario Bros. and Mortal Kombat (both stalwarts of my lunch break from work at the time), but hey, it was Donkey Kong who helped to spawn Mario in the first place. Lookout Pauline!
3. Dr. Zaius
Granted, there are a lot of great ape characters in Planet of the Apes (Cornelius, Zira, Urko, Ursus, and Caesar, just to name a few), and any of them could have made this list, but none of 'em can match wits with the arrogant, egotistical, intellectual Minister of Science and Defender of the Faith, rock star Orangutan bad-ass extraordinaire that is the legendary Dr. Zaius. I mean really, as they say, 50,000,000 Zaius fans can't be wrong. The Elvis fans in the crowd will get that last joke.
2. King Louie
My favourite Disney movie has always been The Jungle Book (well, when I wasn't acting all pretentious, and saying Fantasia was my fave, that is) and my favourite character from The Jungle Book was always that jungle V.I.P., King Louie. He is the king of the swingers, after all. Also as a kid, I had the record of the film's soundtrack (yeah, record!) and Louis Prima doing "I Want to be Like You" was the most well-worn track on the album. Oh oobie doo, indeed.
1. King Kong
C'mon, how could a list of the greatest of the great apes, not end with the king of all apes. Starring in one of my all-time favourite movies (the original 1933 classic), as well as a coupla far inferior remakes in 1976 and 2005 (and in a notable crossover film where he kicks Godzilla's ass all over the place), Kong is without a doubt the best of all the apes - the greatest of the great apes. Don't even try to deny it, because you would be wrong. In the end though, it was beauty killed the beast.
Well kids, it's time to see just who got nominated for that oh so coveted little golden guy, apocryphally named after Bette Davis' uncle Oscar, as well as find out just how well (or how poorly, but we all know this isn't the case) in my annual predictions. To get that last little piece of information out of the way (so we can enjoy the rest of our date), I went 39 for 44 in my predictions, or for the more statistically-minded amongst my readers, an 89% accuracy rate. Not bad, but considering how predictably boring the nominations were (again) this year, I should have probably broken 90% quite easily. Anyway, I digress. So, without further ado, let's get a-lookin'.
First off, let's take a look at Best Picture. As the rules state (and as this guy hates) there can be anywhere from five to ten nominees (and there should be five, as tradition - mostly - dictates), and this year, for the third year in a row, we have ended up with nine. Oh, and by the way, these are the exact nine that I predicted yesterday. So take that! They are: American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Nebraska, Captain Phillips, The Wolf of Wall Street, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club, and Her. So, as they say, no real surprises here - not that there were any real surprises anywhere today. In Best Director, I went 4 for 5, having picked Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips instead of nominee Alex Payne for Nebraska. The other four, Alfonso Cuaron, David O. Russell, Steve McQueen, and Marty Scorsese were all pretty much shoo-ins, and therefore easy pickin's in my predictin's. As for who might win on March 2nd? Pic is up between Slave and Hustle I do believe, with the slight edge going to the more dramatic Slave, and Cuaron is surely the frontrunner for the directing Oscar (the first Mexican to win?). Hustle and Gravity are the big winners, each garnering ten nominations, with 12 Years a Slave coming in with nine. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa also received an Oscar nomination this morning, but more on that later. Onto the acting categories.
I went 17 for 20 in the acting slots, acing Supporting Actor, and missing just one each in the other three categories. The big news here though (at least I think it is) is the fact that American Hustle pulled off a nomination in each of the four acting categories. Amy Adams and Christian Bale in the leads (Bale was my one misstep in Best Actor) and Cooper and J-Law in Supportings. This is just the fifteenth time this feat has been accomplished in Oscar history. The last time such a thing happened? Just last year, with Silver Linings Playbook. What? Huh? That was a David O. Russell film too. Howzabout that? The last time before that was Reds in 1981. As for surprises...well, there really weren't any. No Redford (which I predicted). No Hanks (which I did not). No Emma Thompson (probably the closest thing to a surprise). But we did get Sally Hawkins (again, I predicted that one), so that's a good thing. As for my of-the-top predictions for the eventual winners, I would say (at this time only - this may change before Oscar night) McConaughey, Blanchett (though look out for Amy Adams in a surprise win), Jared Leto, and Lupita Nyong'o (unless they are willing to give J-Law two in a row). Snubs? Not that they ever stood even the remotest of chances, I would have loved to have seen Julie Delpy, Mia Wasikowska, or Greta Gerwig in Best Actress (maybe Rooney Mara too), Oscar Isaac, Simon Pegg, or Michael Shannon in Best Actor, Nicole Kidman, Kristen Scott Thomas, or Tao Zhao in Supporting Actress, and Matthew Goode, John Goodman, and (of course) James Franco(!!!) in Supporting Actor - but that's just me.
The screenplay nods were just as boring and predictable as everything else, as I missed just one (predicting the shamefully robbed Inside Llewyn Davis instead of the nominated Dallas Buyers Club for Original Screenplay), so there's really nothing to talk about there. As I said earlier, I had a success rate of 89% this year, up from my pathetic 77% turnout last year, so all is good. As for the rest of the nominees? Well, there are some mentionables, so let's mention 'em. A snub for Sarah Polley and her doc, Stories We Tell, nominations for Arcade Fire (Score), and Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Song), no nod for Blue is the Warmest Color, but the wonderful Great Beauty is up (and will win!) for Foreign Language Film, Miyazaki gets an Animated Feature nod for what he has called his final film (but can he beat Disney's Frozen?), Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster is up for two Oscars (Cinematography and Costumes), and yes, the aforementioned Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is nominated for Best Make-up & Hair. So there! A pretty unremarkable year in surprises here, but that seems to be par for the course in these recent Oscar times. I'll be back on March 1st with my final predictions, but in the meantime, check out the Oscar poll I'm a-running 'round these parts (you will find it near the top of the right hand sidebar, unless of course, you are reading this after the poll ended, in which case you will see a different poll over there). That's it for now. See ya 'round the web.
Welly well well, here we are on another Oscar nominations eve, so, without further ado (other than the poster image of 12 Years a Slave, that is), here are my final, and as the post's title says, set-in-stone, Oscar nomination predictions. Have at 'em. Oh, and I have listed them in order of probability within each category.
1. 12 Years a Slave
2. American Hustle
4. Captain Phillips
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
7. Dallas Buyers Club
10. Saving Mr. Banks
Wild Cards: Blue Jasmine and/or Inside Llewyn Davis (Yeah, right - but I guy can dream)
The first three here are pretty much locks, and the next three are pretty darn as close to locks as they can be. Now since we don't know just how many nominees we will see in this category, as the rules claim anywhere between five and ten (a rule with which this critic is not all too fond), who knows what tomorrow morning will bring. My guess though, is eight, but if it does go to ten, there ya have it. Other (slim) possibilities are Before Midnight, Fruitvale Station, The Butler, and even Blue is the Warmest Color, if hell freezes over.
1. Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
2. Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
3. David O. Russell for American Hustle
4. Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips
Possible Spoilers: Alexander Payne for Nebraska and/or Spike Jonze for Her
Wild Cards: The Coen Brothers for Inside Llewyn Davis
The first three are locks here, with Cuaron the frontrunner to win then gold (another split between director and picture is likely again this year). Scorsese is likely but not a sure thing. Greengrass is a bit on the wobbly side here, with either Payne or Jonze (or maybe even both!) on the ready to (semi)surprise tomorrow morn. A real surprise (and a welcome one) would be a nod for the Coens. Who knows.
1. Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club
2. Chiwetel Ojiofor in 12 Years a Slave
3. Bruce Dern in Nebraska
4. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
5. Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips
Possible Spoilers: Robert Redford in All is Lost and/or Joaquin Phoenix in Her
Wild Card: Christian Bale in American Hustle or Forrest Whitaker in The Butler
Wow, just think, a guy who was the frontrunner to win the statue a month or so ago, may now, not even get nominated. The top three are locks, with McConaughey in the hot seat to win in March, but the next two are a bit shaky. Redford was the frontrunner, but with Leo buzzing up a storm, it seems unlikely he'll be left out, and Redford is the most likely culprit to end up not having his name announced tomorrow. Of course, I could be wrong - imagine that. Perhaps the Leo buzz came to late to affect the outcome, and Redford's once vaulted slot is safe after all. Phoenix could just as easily slip in there as well, but less likely.
1. Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
2. Amy Adams in American Hustle
3. Sandra Bullock in Gravity
4. Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks
5. Judi Dench in Philomena
Possible Spoiler: Meryl Streep in August: Osage County
Wild Card: Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue is the Warmest Color
What!!? Streep not getting nominated!? What am I, a fool!? Yeah, well maybe I am, but with a sudden surge in buzz for Amy Adams, someone had to get knocked off the list, and La Streep is the injured party. Otherwise, this seems a pretty tight race.
Best Supporting Actor
1. Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club
2. Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave
3. Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
4. Bradley Cooper in American Hustle
5. Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
Possible Spoilers: Daniel Bruhl in Rush and/or Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks.
Wild Cards: James Gandolfini in Enough Said and/or James Franco in Spring Breakers (yeah right)
Again, the top three are sure-fire locks. Numbers four and five, a bit more on the shaky side of things. For a while, it looked as if Mr. Hanks might be a double nominee this year, but the buzz on Saving Mr. Banks, save for the lead performance of Miss Thompson, has pretty much taken the proverbial long walk off of a short pier. That, along with the surge of both Hill and Cooper in this race, gives us our top five, but don't be too surprised if Herr Bruhl sneaks in there somewhere. And let's not forget Oscar's reverence for the dead, and the, albeit slim, possibility of the late Mr. Gandolfini popping up as well. James Franco? I wish.
1. Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
2. Lupita Nyong'o in 12 Years a Slave
3. June Squibb in Nebraska
4. Oprah Winfrey in Lee Daniels' The Butler
5. Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine
Possible Spoiler: Julia Roberts in August: Osage County
Wild Card: Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station
Again, the top three are locks. After that, it's pretty much a free-for-all. If Oprah is nominated, she may very well win, but it's still debatable if she will be nominated (and if she's not, then maybe we'll see back-to-back Oscars for J-Law). As for the fifth spot, conventional wisdom goes to picking Julia Roberts, but if Streep is snubbed (as is my prediction above) then perhaps the whole film will be, leaving the spot open for one of my faves of the year, one Miss Sally Hawkins. Then again, there tends to be a big surprise somewhere in the acting categories, and perhaps our wild card Spencer is just that surprise.
Best Original Screenplay
1. American Hustle
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
5. Blue Jasmine
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. 12 Years a Slave
2. Captain Phillips
4. Before Midnight
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
The screenplay nods seem pretty firm right about now, which is kind of unusual, so there is bound to be a surprise or two in here somewhere Possibles surprises for Original are: Saving Mr. Banks, Lee Daniels' The Butler, Frances Ha, Dallas Buyers Club, Fruitvale Station. Others for Adapted are: August: Osage County, Blue is the Warmest Color, and The Spectacular Now. So there ya go.
Well, that's about it for now. I'll let the other categories go for now (though I'm sure the 3D spectacle, Gravity, will be up for most of the tech awards, just as Life of Pi did last year). All-in-all, I think American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, Captain Philips, and Gravity are the films destined to lead the nominations, and maybe The Wolf of Wall Street, if that pans out. We'll see tomorrow morning, and I'll have a wrap-up of the nods, as well as my stats in the ole predicting game. See ya 'round the web.
Forget the Phillie Fanatic. Forget Mr. Met. Forget Sparty at Michigan State and forget Rocky of the Denver Nuggets. Forget Uga the Bull Dog and the freakin' Rally Monkey in Anaheim. Forget Benny the Bull and Wally the Green Monster. Hell, you can even forget the San Diego Chicken. Granted, these are some of the most popular of sports mascots, but they are too ordinary for this guy. I want the weird and wonderful. I want the wild and wacky. I want the what the fuck!? Yes, the guys on this list are quite ridiculous, but they are also wonderful. But hey, since this is only a top ten list (I was tempted to go to twenty), that means there are many worthies, or almost worthies, if you will, that will not make the list, and therefore, a bunch of runners-up. And since I haven't included images of the runners-up, I highly recommend you look some of these bad boys up - it'll soooo be worth it.
Some of the more intriguing of these aforementioned runners-up are, in no particular order, Steely McBeam, the hardened steel worker getting all those Pittsburgh Steelers fans a-goin'; the Southern Illinois Saluki (there's actually two of them, and they are creepy as hell looking); the Roboduck of the University of Oregon (yeah, really - go ahead and google him - I'll wait); the Horned frog, known as Super Frog. from Texas Christian University; Squatch (a slam-dunking Sasquatch) working Seattle SuperSonics fans into a frenzy; Wake Forest's Demon Deacon; Big Red, a fuzzy "thing" from the halls of Western Kentucky U. (pictured above); the unidentifiable Youppi, who went from being the mascot of the now defunct Montreal Expos to the ice-skating cheer master for the Montreal Canadiens; Burnie, the fiery, basketball-nosed mascot of the Miami Heat; that evil-ass looking bear that root root roots for the Utah Jazz; the 76er's Hip Hop the Rabbit (quite acrobatic but what a crappy costume); the St. Louis College of Pharmacy Eutectic (I can't explain - look him up); and in the English Football League, we have the Swansea City Swan, affectionately called the Sadistic Swan due to personality problems (yup). Yeah, yeah, there are many others (and I'm sure you're upset that I didn't include your alma mater or hometown team) , but it's time to get on with the list, so let's move on.
And awaaaaaaay we go...
10. The Xavier University Blue Blob
Although the official school mascot is D'Artagnan the Musketeer, this fuzzy blob of a mascot, who looks a lot like a blue version of Captain Caveman, is the fan favourite, eliciting a slew of promotional items from bobble-heads to plush dolls, as well as making an appearance in Playboy magazine. Yeah, that's right.
9. Goleo & Pille of the 2006 FIFA World Cup
There was some criticism over the national symbol of rivals England and Holland, being chosen for the German-hosted World Cup, but still, this loving lion (a pretty boy if ya ask me) and his talking football/soccer ball sidekick (they've even tried their hands at music videos) are just alright with me.
8. The Ft. Wayne Mad Ant
Seriously!? Why the hell not? If Ant-Man can be one of the original Avengers, then this steroid-laden, big and beefy, psycho-looking giant, self-described, mad ant (called the Nightmare Ant at Deadspin sports site - It's Them! It's Them!) can be the mascot of this NBA Development League team. So there.
7. The Delta State Fighting Okra
The school's official mascot is the Statesman, but when you think tough mascots, ones that will put the fear of god into the opposing team and their adoring fans, one need only think of a piece of vegetation - some ruffage if you will - and this unofficial mascot makes the grade. Okra! Okra! Okra! Okra!
6. The San Diego Chargers Bolt Man
This batshitcrazy Max Headroom-looking mofo should probably be checked for steroid use, but this insane look is also what gets this guy on the list. He probably scares the bejeezus out of kids when he comes roaming through the stands, and that too helps to get this nightmarish kinda guy on the list.
5. The St. Louis University Billiken
What exactly is a Billiken, you ask? Well, he's a freaky little charm doll dreamt up my an American art teacher back in 1908. Normally, this little guy resembles a knock-off Buddha,but in the hearts of the students at St. Louis U., he looks a lot like the infamous Bat Boy of tabloid fame.
4. The Wichita State WuShock
What's a tough mascot? Forget the ant or the okra from earlier on the list. Howzabout a bundle of wheat? Howzabout a muscle-bound bundle of wheat? Yup, that's what the kids at Wichita State get. Called WuShock, or Wu for short, this guy has been kidnapped, beaten up, and even tossed out of games.
3. Sammy the Slug from UC Santa Cruz
The school mascot used to be a sea lion, but in 1986, in an overwhelmingly lopsided student poll, the banana slug was installed as the official mascot and log for the school - much to the displeasure of the chancellor. This bugger can even be spied on John Travolta's shirt in Pulp Fiction.
2. Scrotie from Rhode Island School of Design
Granted, Scrotie is not the official mascot of RISD (really, what self-respecting college administrator is going to sign off on this one?), but with the full support of the student body, this dick of a mascot root root roots for all the teams, including the basketball team, the Balls, and the hockey team, the Nads (Go Nads!).
1. The Stanford Tree
Seriously, who has a tree for a mascot? Yeah, I know, the last entry was a scrotum-as-mascot, but for some reason, a tree seems even more out there - which, of course, is why I love it. And just to add to the silliness, the Tree has gotten into public fist fights, and has been arrested for public drunkenness during a game.