Monday, September 29, 2014

The Alphabet Game: 1980's Edition...Totally

Hello, and welcome to The Alphabet Game, where I take a look at 26 different things in one common category. This edition is all about that late great decade, when I became a man, the 1980's. Have fun...

A is for Allison Reynolds - Out of the five archetype characters in John Hughes' 1985 teen classic, The Breakfast Club (yeah, I said classic!), the one with which I can most identify, is Ally Sheedy's basketcase character, Allison Reynolds. Granted, I had a pretty big crush on Ally Sheedy back in the day, but really, her character is the one that most closely resembles myself at that age. I definitely wasn't the athlete or the princess, and even though I had one, I was never the brain in high school. I may have had aspirations to be the criminalistic Bender, but let's face facts, I am now, and will always remain...a Duckman. Wait, what? Oh sorry, wrong John Hughes film. Yeah, I'm the basketcase.

B is for The Brat Pack - And speaking of The Breakfast Club, howzabout that Brat pack!? Named (obviously) after Frank, and Dino, and the Rat Pack of the 1950's & 1960's, this was a gaggle of young stars from the 1980's. The core of the group was made up of Breakfast Clubbers, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall, and the lovely Miss Ally Sheedy, as well as Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, and Andrew McCarthey. Other fringe members include Jon Cryer, Emilio's brother, Charlie Sheen, Mare Winningham, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, John and Joan Cusack, and even Tom Cruise. There was interdating and public drunkenness and lotsa tabloid fodder to be had. In more recent days, actors such as Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, and others, have tried to recreate the so-called magic in their own Frat Pack identities, but let's not go there.

C is for Chess King - Back in my high school days (1981 - 85) was a time of great fashion. It was truly a fashion forward kinda time. Looking back, it was totally ridiculous...totally. At the time though, these early 80's fashions were the bomb-diggity. And ya know, no matter how ludicrous we looked, and we did look quite ludicrous, the fashions of the late 80's got even worse. But anyway, these aforementioned fashions could be gotten at a certain group of stores in any local mall. The big one was a place called Chess King. There were others, like Merry-Go-Round, but Chess King was my fave. From my overly zippered pants (more on those at the end of this post) to my skinny silk ties to all the Adam Ant, New Order, Ducky Dale looking clothes I could find, the early 1980's and Chess King was the place to be. Hey, at least I didn't wear parachute pants. Oh wait, yes I did. More on that later, as well.

D is for the DeLorean - For anyone who grew up in the 1980's, John DeLorean was that eccentric rich guy who made that crazy looking car where the doors opened up like wings unfolding, and was later put on trial for cocaine smuggling, for which he got off due to entrapment charges against the feds. Of course the DeLorean became much better known, and longer lasting (really, who actually remembers John DeLorean!?), as Doc Brown's time machine in the Back to the Future franchise. Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.

E is for Eddie Murphy - Back in 1980, the original cast of Saturday Night Live, including creator/producer Lorne Michaels, were gone from NBC. In their place was a brand new cast, made up of comics such as Gilbert Gottfried, Denny Dillon, Tim Kazurinsky, Joe Piscopo, and Charles Rocket, who was meant to be the new break-out star of the show. Oh yeah, and midway through the season, this young featured player made his debut. Some guy by the name of Eddie Murphy. Yeah, we all know the rest. Big star in the 1980's. Lackluster guy in the 1990's. Pretty much a joke nowadays. Remember when Eddie Murphy was funny? Yeah, me too. That's the Eddie Murphy we are talking about here.

F is for Frogger - The 1980's were a time of great classic video games. Long before the ultra realistic action of today's games, the early video games from Atari and Coleco, Sega and Activision, were my kinda thing. One of my faves was Frogger. Introduced into arcades in 1981, this was a game where you had to get your frog across dangerous terrains like highways and rivers. I am sure kids of today would look down on games like Frogger, with its still-basic graphics, and no hos to punch in the face, but call me a relic, call me what you will, I prefer these games of old to the new Calls of Duty and Worlds of Warcraft out there today. I'll let ya in on another one of my faves a little bit later on the list.

G is for Ghostbusters - If there's somethin' strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? If it's somethin' weird, an' it don't look good, who ya gonna call? If you're seein' things runnin' through your head, who ya gonna call? An invisible man sleepin' in your bed, oh who ya gonna call? I think we all know the answer to these questions. There's no real reason to go on. If you don't know, then I don't wanna know you. I ain't afraid o' no ghost!

H is for the Hair Bands - While I was busy listening to bands like Depeche Mode, Joy Division, and R.E.M., many of my generation, those of a slightly younger bent though, were taking in the hair bands that began popping up in the mid 1980's. My lovely wife was one of these slightly younger generational compatriots, but this was well before I knew her. Still to this day, when some random hair band song comes on the radio, she tests me, and I lose more often than I win. Sure, I can easily recognize a Poison song or a whatnot, but really, outside of certain big one time hits, everyone from Winger to Warrant to White Lion to Great White to Stryper to The Bullet Boys to Jackyl to Slaughter to Slayer to pretty much everyone else, sounds pretty much the same to me. Gotta admit though, I really do enjoy Once Bitten, Twice Shy, and turn it waaay up when it comes on the radio. Oh yeah!

I is for Iran-Contra Affair - To get off of the pop culture stuff, and into some real life action, I thought I would include this 1980's political scandal. Yeah, poor hapless Ollie North got the shaft here, but let's face facts, this was Reagan and Bush Sr. who pulled this bullshit off. And still, to this day, people love Ronnie Reagan. I mean, granted, these are mostly stupid people, but still, he was the guy who destroyed the US economy. Granted, that is a whole separate issue from the Iran/Contra cover-up, but I still needed to rant about it.

J is for The Jacksons - Tito, Marlon, Jackie, Jermaine, Michael, & Randy. These are the Jackson, I mean 6. Yeah, Randy joined later. Anyway, the 1980's is when little Michael came into his own. Thriller was one of the biggest albums ever. Ever! And hey, Janet even got in on the music scene in the later 1980's. And ya know what? I actually saw the Jacksons live. It was back in the Summer of 1984, during their Victory Tour. I may have also owned a couple of Michael Jackson replica jackets as well, but more on that later on. Granted, I may have been heavy into the New Wave, but I also owned Thriller on vinyl, so take that however you wish.

K is for Kenny Loggins - Known as the King of the Soundtracks in the 1980's, Loggins, upon splitting from ex-partner, Messina, had hits from a slew of movie soundtracks, including most famously, Caddyshack, Footloose, and Top Gun. He's alright. Don't nobody worry 'bout him.

L is for Laser Tag - Didjya know that the first laser tag arena opened in 1984? Well, it did. In Dallas, Texas. Now I have never played laser tag myself (I should really remedy that someday soon) but since the sport was born in the 1980's, and this is a post about the 1980's...well, you get it. Now let's move on to one of my early 1980's crushes...

M is for Martha Quinn - When MTV made its debut on August 1, 1981, the age of the DJ had morphed into the age of the VJ. You see, for all you kids out there, there was once upon a time, when MTV actually played music videos. This was back when MTV stood for Music Television. Now it officially stands for nothing, just like AMC, formerly American Movie Classics, now with no movies to speak of on that channel, also stands for nothing, officially. But back in the day, when the channel was pretty much 24/7 music videos, the channel had VJ's (video jockeys as opposed to radio's disc jockeys) who introduced the videos. My favourite VJ in those early days was the cute as a button, tomboyish Martha Quinn. So popular, Martha was voted the best VJ in MTV history by readers of Rolling Stone, and in a 2011 look back at MTV, Dwight Garner recalled: "Every sentient straight male in the country developed a schoolboy crush on Martha Quinn, one of the first V.J.'s, fresh out of New York University and so cute she could make your cranium detonate." Yup. Sounds about right to me. The girl even has a 1980's video trivia game named after her. Nowadays Martha can be heard on Sirius XM Radio, giving us the hits of the 1980's. And today, at 55, Martha is still cute as a button.

N is for New Wave Music - New Order. Joy Division, Devo. Blondie. Depeche Mode. Talking Heads. The Smiths. Split Enz, Elvis Costello. Granted, the term New wave was first used to describe early NYC punk bands like The New York Dolls and The Velvet Underground, and later the Ramones, but those acts most associated with the term are the post punk and early synth pop acts of the early 1980's. This was the music I listened to in high school. Sure, thanks to my mother and my aunt, I grew up on a steady diet of The Beatles and 1960's music, and I still love that stuff to this day, but when I came into my own, so to speak, it was the New wavers of the early 1980's, as well as New wave-esque bands such as R.E.M. and The Cars. Yeah yeah, Michael Jackson and Prince were in there as well, and even Madonna, but New Wave was my meat and veg for my high school years. Totally...totally.

O is for One Hit Wonders - And now that we have discussed both the birth of MTV and the New Wave movement of the same period, we should probably mention the one hit wonder. Yes, there have always been one hit wonders, but thanks to things like MTV, the one hit wonder exploded in the 1980's. Anyone and everyone could get a video on MTV back in the day, and many of these were the proverbial flash-in-the-pans. Flashes-in-the-pan? Anyhoo, many of these one-hit wonders perhaps deserved to never be heard from again, but some were quite good, at least once. 99 Luftballons from Nena or Soft Cell's Tainted Love or Come On Eileen from Dexy's Midnight Runners or Take On Me from A-Ha, were among my personal faves.

P is for Parachute Pants - Okay, okay. There were these pants from the 1980's called parachute pants. They were made from what seemed to be parachute material. Many had zippers, some were baggy MC Hammer style, most were the 1980's version of skinny jeans. Well, yeah, we still had skinny jeans, but they weren't made of seeming parachute material, so they were not as cool. Oh, and yes, I owned several pair, probably bought at Chess king or Merry-Go-Round. Mine were not the aforementioned MC Hammer things, but merely shiny, multi-zippered parachute pants. But more on the zippered aspect a bit later. I owned several pair of these actually. I had 'em in red and bright blue, and I think black as well. Yeah, I was cool. At least that is what I tell myself thirty years later.

Q is for Q*Bert - Earlier I talked about Frogger. Now here is another fave video game from the 1980's. Q*Bert, which was released to arcades in 1982, was a game where you had to lead the fuzzy, curly-que titular Mr. Bert, through a pyramid of mazes and towers and what not. Not only was this game a blast, but Q*Bert was quite vocal in his hopping about. There were other games such as Pac-Man, Missile Command, and later Tetris and Super Mario, but Q*Bert was an early fave...and he is an easy fit into the Q portion of our program.

R is for Rubik's Cube - I believe it's a rule that no one can ever speak or write about the 1980's, without mentioning this iconic puzzle cube invented by Hungarian architect and inventor, Erno Rubik. Actually created in 1974, the Rubik's Cube was sold to Ideal Toys in 1980, and the rest is pop culture history. Not only did this 3D puzzle cube become a staple of 1980's culture, but there were (and still are) tournaments. Now I became rather proficient in solving the cube, but my prowess was nowhere near the ability of some of these cubers. Just crazy fast. Anyhoo, the Rubik's Cube can pretty much be seen in every single 1980's based TV show or movie. That's really all you have to do to make people realize when your story is taking place. Easy as that.

S is for Square Pegs - Running for just one season back in the 1982-83 TV season, the mostly forgotten Square Pegs (one of 101 shows in my upcoming Forgotten TV book) was one of my favourite shows. Revolving around a group of high school freshman ( I was a sophomore during its run), this sitcom was the precursor to a show like Freaks and Geeks. There were the popular kids and there were the outcasts. The show featured future stars Tracy Nelson, Jami Gertz, and Sarah Jessica Parker, as popular valley girl, annoying preppy, and four-eyed nerd girl, respectively. My fave on the show though, was Johnny Slash, the oblivious new wave kid played by Merritt Butrick. Johnny Slash was a totally different head...totally.

T is for Totally...Totally - And since we had the perfect segue, let's talk about...talking. Every generation has their own slang, their own speak, if you will, and mine was no different. From rad to awesome to tubular to grody to the max, the Gen Xers of the 1980's had their own unique form of communication. We were the generation that gave the world terms like bangin' and fugly and homegirl and airhead and bitchin' (Bitchin' Camaro!!) and skate betty and even space cadet. We were the coolest. Totally...totally.

U is for USA! USA! USA! - The 1980's were a politically charged time period. With Ronald Reagan taking up residence in the White House, the start of the Me Generation, where everyone was expected to pull up their collective boot straps and stop "sucking" off from the government teat. Yeah, well this Ayn Rand bullshit led to a ruined economy and the gap between the rich and the poor growing to the astronomical proportions it stands at today. Before the 1980's, people could work a job and live a life. After Reagan's diddling with his trickle down nonsense, people now need several jobs just to make ends meet. Gee, thanks Ronnie. Anyway, to get away from the rant, this was also a time of renewed gung ho patriotism. Everyone was chanting USA USA USA!!! At one point, when setting up his re-election campaign in 1984, Reagan had asked Bruce Springsteen for the use of his Born in the USA song to rally the voters. Seriously, Ronnie? Did you even listen to the lyrics of the song? Really? Needless to say, the Boss said no way Jose. The end. Well, sadly enough, not the end of stupid blind and deaf jingoism, but the end to this section of our little ole Alphabet Game here.

V is for Voodoo Economics - Yeah, here I go again on Ronnie Reagan and his insane middle class-hating policies. I just couldn't stop with that last one. This term, by the by, was handed to Reagan by George Bush, during their 1980 debates. Of course once Ronnie took good ole Georgie-pie as his running mate, then the future Veep had no problems with an economic plan that would destroy the middle class. But hey, there's more than enough political ranting on the internet, and from both sides, mind you, so I should probably just get back to the pop culture bent that is my blog. I guess I could've talked about the classic VHS tape here. Oh well. Too late now. So let's move onto the advertising of the 1980's, shall we?

W is for Where's the Beef!? - Anyone who grew up when I did, should remember tiny octogenarian Clara Peller, yelling "Where's the Beef!?" in Wendy's commercials. The ad, taking a stab at the rather petite competition burgers of places like McDonald's and Burger King, debuted in 1984, and Clara and her catchphrase became something of a thing.

X is for The X-Men - When the X-Men came around in 1963, they were not all that big. In fact they were canceled (sorta) after issue #66, The series did go on through issue #93, but these were just reprints of older stories. Then in 1975, the X-Men were triumphantly brought back in Giant Size X-Men #1. After this, the X-Men were the cool kids in the neighbourhood. Throughout the 1980's, the title became the biggest title in comic books. The 1980's version of the X-Men, retitled Uncanny X-Men, and written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, and others, was the title during its most creative and its greatest period. Starting off the decade with the Dark Phoenix Saga, and introducing such characters as Kitty Pryde, Dazzler, Longshot, Rogue, Rachel Summers, Jubille, as well as new villains Mister Sinister, Sabretooth, and Apocalypse, and expanding with The New Mutants, X-Factor, Alpha Flight, Excalibur, and even a solo Wolverine title, as well as events such as Mutant Massacre and the fall of the Mutants, the 1980's was the decade of the X-Men.

Y is for Yoda - Come on, you didn't think I could get through this post without bringing up Star Wars, or more specifically, The Empire Strikes Back, or even more specifically, Yoda. Nowadays, in those so-called prequels (not that those films actually exist!!) Yoda is done all digitally, but back in 1980, he was all puppet baby, all freakin' puppet. Handled by Frank Oz, the guy that spent thirty years with his hand up Miss Piggy's ass, Yoda was the master Jedi who taught Luke Skywalker everything he knows. He's also the Jedi who changed Luke from whiny little bitch to master Jedi knight. Good for you. Oh, and Weird Al Yankovic (who could've easily fit into this slot as well) even did a parody song, riffing off of The Kinks' Lola. Ah, the nostalgia for an all puppet Yoda.

Z is for Zippers - Yeah, zippers. I toldjya I was going to get back to these at the end. You see, zippers were a big thing in 1980's fashion. All my pairs of parachute pants had multiple zippers up and down the legs, serving no purpose other than to be zippers. There were no pockets when you unzipped them. Just zippers. I owned a couple of Michale Jackson replica jackets as well. These were also full of zippers. I also had this one pair of pants that were a medium blue, with two zippers down each leg, when unzipped, showed a bright red or orange or yellow (I forget which) inside. So you could wear these as standard blue pants or striped pants. See how versatile were were in the 1980's? Yeah, anyhoo, zippers were everywhere back then. It was kinda crazy. But enough about all these zippers. This may be the end of this post.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. Now here's a pic of Max Headroom, because I felt bad leaving him out of this post. En-en-en-j-j-joy!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Random Fraudish Monkeyshines: An Introduction to Tumbling

So here's the dealio. Last year, sometime around my birthday (July 2nd, btw), I opened up a fresh new Tumblr. site. The name of said Tumblr. site? Random Fraudish Monkeyshines. The purpose, or theme if you will, of said Tumblr. site? Nothing much. Seriously, nothing much at all. Just a random series of images that I found around the internet. That's all. No big deal. One can find anything from Superman to Rita Hayworth to The Velvet Underground to Mr. Spock to Taco Bell to Zippy the Pinhead to Boris Freakin' Karloff. Yup. Like I said, random. Random Fraudish Monkeyshines, actually. To the right is a sample image from the aforementioned site. Tom Hiddleston and Cookie Monster sharing a snack. Like I said. random. Anyhoo, the reason I am even mentioning this right now (other than having nothing else to post about today) is that I thought ya'll might wanna check the thing out. So here's the link to the place. Go ahead and have your way with it. 

Well, there ya go. How'd ya like it? Oh, you didn't click over yet? Okay then. You can do it some other time. But don't wait too long. The fun is waiting for you, but it will only wait so long. Well, okay, it'll probably last for a while, but still, you should get on over there as soon as you can. Lotsa fun stuff. Trust me. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web. Now here's an old Mad Magazine doodle from Sergio Aragones. Why? Because it's random, that's why.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Bart's Comet

"Let's go burn down the observatory, so this'll never happen again!" - Moe, upon hearing about a comet heading straight for Springfield. 

Yup, that's right. This week's Heavenly Body comes from Matt Groening's Simpsonsverse. Ya see, Bart, he done found hisself a comet, and it was headed directly for the poor hapless residents of Springfield, Wherever. I won't tell you how the episode ends, for fear of people yelping out Spoiler Alert!!! in the comments section.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Guest Post: The Dangers of Being The Dangerman, Part IV

ed. note: The below diatribe/semi-incomprehensible rant was written by All Things Kevyn foreign-esque correspondent, Rufus Dangerman.  The opinions in said rant do not necessarily reflect those views held by the owners of this blog, but then again, maybe they do.  So, without further ado, here it is...


Hey bitches and bros, I'm back! Yeah, that's right, ya thought ya could get rid O' me, but you was wrong. Wrong like Donkey Kong, baby! I ain't been around since God was a boy, and ya might've wondered why. Or maybe ya just didn't give a rat's ass, and you've already closed this page, and moved on to something else. maybe a cat video or some good old fashioned porn. Anyway, it is true my peeps, I have been AWOL for a while. My last guest posting here at All Things K-Dogg, was ways back in April. So yeah, I've been away for a while. Travelin' the open roads of this great fucking land of ours. Basically bummin' around like Cain on Kung-Fu, or Jules in his post Pulp Fiction phase. So that's where I am bitches. Now ya know. Now we can move the fuck on.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again. I have no fucking idea why Kevyn even let's me write these guest posts. Yea, we've been friends for like ever, but still. The fact that he allows me to come into his home, as it were, and ramble on and on about bullshit and any ole fucking crapola I wish to, amazes the shit outta me. But who the fuck am I to argue? If Kevyn's a big enough idiot, or should I say, forward thinking enough, to allow me to come back here and make an ass out of myself, so fuckin' be it. Last time he censored all the so-called fucking dirty bird words, but I don't think he's gonna do that this time around. Anyway, that was just for satiric comic effect, and all that. But enough about me, let's talk about me.

So so so, now that I'm done yakkin' about all the introductory bullshit (all that David Copperfield crap) what the fuck should I write about? What what what? Let's just toss it all out there, and go with whatever kinda stream of consciousness nonsense we can spew out. See if Kevyn likes that. Yea, I'm talkin' to you Knox! So, stream of whatever is the thing. Let's start off with my travels, or as the blog's owner would say, and insufferably so, my aforementioned travels. As I said, I done been travelin' about this grand old nation of ours. I've been everywhere man. Seriously. I've been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocapillo, Baranquilla, and Perdilla. Yea, I'm a killer.

Okay, I may have ripped that last riff off from a certain man in black. Otherwise, let's move on. And speaking of Johnny Cash. See how that stream of everything works? And speaking of Johnny Cash. I'm kinda out of it. Cash, that is. Well, I was outta cash, which is why I halted my travels and headed back here to Harrisburg, PA, my home base of sorts. I figure I find a job here and gather up some more moola for my future days on the road. Sure, I been doin' some odd jobs on the road, but I still figured I'd head back home, and hunker down for the Winter. Head back out on the road in da Springtime of next year. So yea, any of those local Harrisburg yokels that wanna hook up and have some drinks - you buyin'? Yea! But let's move on to another topic. The topic of me! How's that for a fucking segue?

Yea, me me me and more me. If K-Dogg is gonna let me rant, then I'm gonna rant. So let's talk about what bugs me me me and me again. Ya know what grinds my gears, as that big fat Peter Griffen would say? Pretty much everything. I mean, I had fun on the road, but even bein' off the so-called grid, can't stop the real world from poppin' in, and pissin' me off. Back when Kev and I were on the road together. This was way back before he gots all married and shit, and settled down with the little missus, who incidentally I do not think is much of a fan of the Dangerman. When we were on the road with cats like Hank, aka the fake Dean Moriarty, and Cherry and Robbie and German Billy and that skinny kid from Modesto, the times they was a-groovin'. This was before the interwebs and all that fuckin' bullshit. No interference. Just the road and sex and drink and drugs and more sex. Yea! Now, it sems I'm worried about the planet and all the jackasses that are tryin' to a-ruin it all. But hey, I probably should just shut the fuck up and get on outta here. I really never know what to say here.

So that's it for this time around. See Kevyn, I didn't get all controversial on things like religion and politics and all that fucking shit. Maybe I'll be back sooner than last time. Oh yea, one last thing: Christians suck, and so do Republicans. Fuckin' morons. All of 'em. Take that!


The man known as Rufus Dangerman can be found elsewhere on the world wide web as well, such as at his website, The Dangerman Blog; his Tumblr site, It Ain't What it Used to Be; and, of course, just like every other mo-fo on the planet, on Facebook as well.  That's it for now.  Be back for more next time...if you dare (insert maniacal laughter here, please).

Monday, September 22, 2014

The 10 Best White People...No, I Don't Mean it Like That

Okay, okay, calm down people. Just calm the fuck down. Stop the harassing phone calls and all the goddamn protests. This is not some white power kind of post. No way. All it is, is a look at my ten favourite white people. How can a thing like that be construed as racist? The best white people, I don't see how...oh, wait a I get it. Well that's just silly. But then isn't everything. So yeah, this is a list of my favourite people who also just so happen to be, I mean White, with a capital W. You know, as in really white, or White, as it were. Is any of this helping? No? Okay then. Just scroll down and read the list. You'll get what's going on soon enough.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

10. White Fang

Okay, technically, White Fang is not so much a people, or person, as he is a dog/wolf-like beast of lore. Nonetheless, he is starting off our countdown. The main reason is because this Jack London creation is a beloved character from literature, and I remember him fondly from my childhood. Another reason is that I could only come up with ten actual white people, and E.B. White pisses me off because of his creating that bitchy spider, Charlotte, and her oh so precious web. So yeah, let's hear it for White Fang. Woo hoo!

9. Perry White

Great Caesar's Ghost!! The quintessential comic book newspaperman. Tough but fair, this editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet is a mainstay of DC Comics and Superman lore. In so-called real life, and by that, I mean in movies and on TV, Perry has been played by such actors as John Hamilton, Jackie Cooper, Michael McKean, Frank Langella, and Laurence Fishburne. And, just like Lois, an investigative journalist, this hard-hitting newspaperman, with a background in investigative journalism himself, still can not figure out that the guy wearing the glasses is actually Superman. Great Caesar's Ghost, indeed!!

8. Mrs. White
Professor Plum has the brains, Colonel Mustard, the chutzpah, and Miss Scarlet, the ooh la la, but Mrs. Blanche White has something else. She is a conniving black widow played by the always fantastic Madeline Kahn in the film version of the classic Parker Brothers board game, Clue, or Cluedo as it was originally called. Granted, in the game she's just a boring old white playing piece, sometimes referred to as a maid, but Kahn makes her grand in the movie. Mrs. White, in the conservatory, with the lead pipe. Yeah!

7. Snow White
Most people only know Snow White from the classic animated Disney film. Everyone has seen the 1937 Disney version, but that is just a tiny tiny part of the story of this rather dark classic German fairy tale character. Created by the Brothers Grimm, Snow White is a complicated, sordid tale of lust and intrigue, revenge and more revenge. My favourite filmed version is the 1933 Max & Dave Fleischer animated short, featuring Betty Boop as Snow White. This version was made just before the Production Code began censoring Hollywood, and is rather sexually provocative, like many a Pre-Code Betty Boop was. Meanwhile, in Bill Willingham's Vertigo/DC comic book series, Fables, Snow White is kind of a bitch, but a well-meaning one. So forget Disney, and get with the program.

6. Gandalf the White
 A (sometimes) powerful wizard in J.R. R. Tolkien's epic-y Lord of the Rings trilogy, the character was originally known as Gandalf teh Grey, but once he came back from the dark reaches of death, he became Gandalf the White, the guy we are honouring in this list. Most of today's kids (and we adults, as well) have a certain image of Gandalf in our heads. That image is, of course, Sir Ian McKellen, in Peter Jackon's equally epic-y movie trilogy. I think that image works perfectly fine.

5. Carrie White

They're all gonna laugh at you. Poor Carrie White. The poor little thing gets her first period in the showers after gym class and all the other girls mock her and laugh at her, and even throw tampons at her. What a bunch of bitches. They deserve what they got at the prom. Fucking cunts! Personally, I like Carrie, and think she is cute as a button. I would have gladly taken her to the prom, and without being guilted or forced into it. Then again, look what happened to the one guy that did do that. Now her mother is a different story, and she got what was coming to her as well. But poor Carrie White. She never meant any harm.

4. Barry White

See, they're not all "white" White people.  The late great Barry White was not only a great soul, funk, and even disco, musician, singer-songwriter, keyboardist, arranger, and producer, but he was the man with that voice. That deep, sexy voice. back in the day, if a gentleman wanted to woo a lady into his arms, and into his bed, he would use the sounds of Barry White to do so. According to The Simpsons, White's voice can also be used to attract snakes. In Ally McBeal, the voice of Barry White is used for some erotic dream sequences. Yeah, baby.

3. Betty White

Whether she was the snarky housewife in the 1950's forgotten hits, Life With Elizabeth and Date With the Angels, or the bitchy perfectionist, Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or the sweet but dumb-as-dirt Rose Nylund on NBC's 1980's hit, The Golden Girls, or the sassy octogenarian Elka Ostrovsky on TV Land's Hot in Cleveland, or even the foul-mouthed, often times inappropriate talk and game show guest (check out one of my favourite quotes above), Betty White is one of the best White people around. Um, know what I mean.

2. Walter White

He is the one who knocks. I actually came late to AMC's Breaking Bad, having waited (for some unknown reason) until after the show's final episode had aired, to begin binge watching the show. And ya know what? Everyone was right, the show rocks, and the especially rockin' thing about it is Bryan Cranston as Walter White, or Heisneberg, if you will, the undisputed king of blue meth. Cranston's portrayal of Walter White, which won him four Emmy Awards, gave the character added depth. Walter White is someone you can despise and feel empathy toward, all in the same scene, even in the same moment. You will be missed old friend. Oh, spoiler alert. Sorry.

1. Jack White

How can any self-respecting list of the best White people, be complete without this modern day musical genius sitting atop the proverbial mountain. Whether it was with his ex-wife/sister Meg, in The White Stripes, or his solo work, or his work with other musicians, especially Loretta Lynn, Jack White is the bee's knees baby! Seriously, if you are not a fan then you are either someone who has never listened, and therefore needs to get with it and begin listening to the man, or you are a complete idiot, with no ear for music whatsoever, and therefore need to be punched in the face, immediately. So there.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Oa

"The protection of life and liberty within the assigned sector." - The first principle from the Book of Oa

The world of Oa is the planetary citadel of the Guardians of the Universe, and the headquarters of the Green Lantern  Corps. As a comic book reader and collector, I have been a lifelong Marvel kid, only recently delving into the world of DC Comics. One of these new DC loves is Green Lantern. I suppose this shows in my choice of this week's Heavenly Body. The only thing left to say is In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight, let those who worship evil's might, beware my power, Green Lantern's light!!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Not So Long Time Ago, in a Neighborhood in New York City: Our Star Wars Poll Results and the Start of A New Marty Scorsese Poll

So here we are again, at the end of another poll. You were asked to pick and choose your favourite Star Wars character. Simple as that. You had eighteen characters from which to do this a-pickin' and this a-choosin'. Yeah, and none of this prequel nonsense either. These are original trilogy characters only. So, like I said, you had eighteen characters from which to choose. I even tossed in some unexpected peeps like Greedo and Wedge and even Wicket the Ewok. Anyhoo, there wasn't much of a surprise in the results. The expected character won, and the expected silver and bronze medalists did indeed come in second and third, with a tie for the Bronze, but really, all four characters were the ones I expected to finish at or near the top.. But enough of this, let's get on with announcing these results.

Coming in at that aforementioned expectant top spot is, or course, everybody's favourite lovable roguish space pirate, Han Solo. Out of the 109 votes cast over the last five weeks, this scruffy looking nerf herder managed to grab up 17 of them, for his inevitable first place finish. Coming in right behind Han, appropriately enough, is his best bud and co-pilot, Chewbacca. Chewie garnered 12 votes, and was in second place from day one all the way to the end. Then, sharing the third spot, also expected, was that scoundrel bounty hunter, Boba Fett, and that Sith Lord, Darth Vader, with 10 votes each. Just between these four guys, we have 47% of the vote count, and we still have another fourteen characters to look at. Needless to say (or needed, who knows) these other fourteen characters are all bunched pretty close together.

To breeze through these fourteen characters, they finished as follows. Brother sister team of Luke and Leia tied for fifth place, with 7 votes each. In a four tie for seventh place are Obi-Wan and Lando, and those not served at mos Eisley, C-3P0 and R2-D2, each with 6 votes. Coming in at eleventh place are both Yoda and Greedo. This green-skinned duo each grabbed up 5 votes. In thirteenth place, all by himself (It's a trap!!) is Admiral Ackbar, followed by Wedge, Tarkin, Wicket, and Jabba, each with just two votes. And then filing in at a last place finish, with not even a single vote cast his way (that's right, a big fat zero!), is that evil-doer extraordinaire, Emperor Palpatine. Sucks to be him. And that, ladies and germs, are the results of our Star Wars Character Poll, courtesy of everyone here at All Things Kevyn, which is pretty much just me, myself, and I, and maybe De la Soul. Anyway, I digress.

Which brings us to the part of the program where we announce the brand new poll, whose topic incidentally, was chosen my lovely wife. This one is a cinema-related poll. About as cinema-related as you can get. You are now asked to choose your favourite Martin Scorsese picture. That's right folks. I've gathered up all 23 of Marty's feature films (sorry, I had to leave the documentaries and shorts out, or else we would have close to fifty films in the poll) and now it is your job to pick which one is your favourite. And I'll let ya in on a little secret. You can actually vote once every 24 hours, and at different servers, so if you can't choose just one, just vote again. As they say, vote early and vote often, but you did not hear that from me.

Now all you have to do is head on over to the poll and get your vote on. This poll will run for seven weeks, ending at midnight EST the night of Wednesday, November 5th, with the results (and the announcement of a brand new poll) being posted on November 6th. As for how to vote, let me tell ya. So get on over to the poll, which can be found oh so conveniently near the top of the sidebar (really, ya can't miss it) and do what you must. It's easy peezy, lemon squeezy. You can also check out the running results over there as well. Then after you vote, feel free to hop back over here and comment away. So, with all that said, get on over there and get your vote on, and tell everyone you know to do the same! That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Comic Books With Which I Share a Birthday & Other Geeky Stuff

Before I get going on my inevitable comic book rantings and ramblings, I should probably mention that this post is a blatant rip-off of a post done recently by Bob Bretall, comic book collector extraordinaire (and freshly minted Guinness Book of World Records holder), over at his blog, ComicSpectrum, for which I have written a number of comic book reviews. Actually, it would probably be better if I said this post was inspired by Bob's post, instead of a rip-off, but let's face it, it's a blatant rip-off. Anyhoo, the whole idea of this ripped off post, is to take a look at the comic books with cover dates that match my own birth date. Below is an image, of my own making, with a collected cover gallery of some of the bigger named comics that share a birthday, or at least birth month, with yours truly. Below that, is more of my story (please remember, it's all about me), so be sure to keep scrolling down, for lots more really cool stuff.

So that's the whole idea. You see, Bob checked out the comic books published during his birth month (March 1962) and wrote about what he found, so I, I mean I was inspired, and followed suit by checking out the comic books published during my birth month (July 1967). Now actually, these comics are not necessarily the ones published during my birth month (comics are typically published several months prior to the date on their covers) but the ones with cover dates that match my birthday. But you get the idea. And yes, you can do the same thing by heading on over to Mike's Amazing World of Comics, and searching their database for any specific month in comic book history. Anyhoo, back to me, and those July '67 cover dated comic books.

There are some fun titles in here, but only one stands out as being a seminal part of comic book lore. That is the Amazing Spider-Man #50, the "Spider-Man No More" issue. I read somewhere that one of these, in mint condition mind you, once sold at auction for in excess of $600,000. Even one in good or very good condition, we are talking $100+. Not that I am trying to put a monetary value on the comics, for I do not like that aspect of collecting, I am just trying to say that I probably could not afford to buy one of these today, unless it is in not so great condition. Now, in his post, Bob talks about owning several of the comics from his birth month. I, on the other hand, do not own 94,000 some comic books (I did say he was in the Guinness Book of World Records), and have not been collecting non-stop since I was 8, so I don't actually own any of the issues in the above slew of July '67 titles. The oldest comic book I own is Lois Lane #105, from October of 1970. I am sure I will add older comics to my collection (the bulk of my back issue pile-up, hail from the late 1970's through the 1990's) but for now, none of these are mine. Perhaps I will pick and choose a more reasonably priced issue from the above pictured batch, and track down a copy of it for my collection. Somehow, that one issue will make me feel better about not having a big a collection as some people.

And speaking of old issues I do not own. The first comic book I ever remember reading and getting into (there were no doubt, many a Disney of Gold Key comic before this) was X-Men #98, waaaay back when I was but a lad of eight. I found this issue on a spinner rack in a local grocery store, while shopping with my mother. Yeah, this was back in a day where you could still find comic books on spinner racks in local grocery stores. This was the comic that got me started in my love of the comic book, and my love of the superhero. If one were so inclined, one could read about this love at this post. As for the comic book itself, I read the crap out of that thing. I remember the cover coming off at some point. Yeah, I did not know how to treat my comics back then. I am not sure whatever happened to that copy of X-Men #98. Back in the 1990's, I sold a bunch of my comics, but that one was gone long before that. Who knows? Maybe I will replace it someday. I could probably get a relatively good copy for around $50 or so. Probably. Then again, perhaps there is some mystery benefactor who will secretly buy me a copy. Yeah, okay. I digress.

To close this birthday comic post out, let me switch up topics, and talk about a brand new collection. You see, comic books are not the only thing I collect. I happen to have close to 2500 Pez dispensers at home. Yeah, that's right. The little missus and I have even attended several Pez conventions. So there. I also collect old timey movie star cards, some from as far back as 1919 even. There are also several binders full of business cards on my shelves. I used to collect TV toys, a collection that includes, among other items, a pair of Fonz tights, a Welcome Back Kotter chalkboard, and a Love Boat toothpick holder (yeah, that's right), but I had so many different collections, I had to cut some of them off, so now most of these toys sit in bins in my attic. My Welcome Back Kotter trash can does still sit next to my desk though. There also happen to be a bunch of shot glasses, snow globes, and other various cheezy souvenirs hanging out on a shelf at home. So yeah, I have other collections, though it is the Pez and the comic books that reign supreme. And now, I have a brand new collection. Well, it's kind of related to the comic collection, but it is still a new wing of said collection.

Just the other day, while at my LCS (local comic shop, for those not in the know) I picked up an Eaglemoss DC Comics figurine of Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man. But what are these Eaglemoss figurines of which you speak? Glad ya asked. Eaglemoss is a UK company that has released many a superhero and fantasy figurine. These are lead figurines, hand-painted, and are mostly 4 inches or so, but there are larger ones like The Hulk, and then even larger ones, such as Galactus or The Watcher. These were put out over the past decade or so, released fortnightly, with an accompanying magazine. There are over 250 Marvel figurines and 150+ DC ones. Due to the relatively cheap prices of these (granted, some of the limited edition figurines are a bit pricey), and how cool looking they are (check out my Animal Man above), this is a fun collection to get started. I'm sure it will take me a long time to get 'em all, but that is the fun of collecting. I hope to add a couple more to my budding figurine collection soon. I have my eye on some on e-bay as we speak. Anyhoo, that is my new collection news. Wish me luck, or whatever one might wish someone when embarking on a new collection quest.

And now, before I sign off, and tell ya'll that I will be seeing you around the web, I would like to once again make mention of Bob Bretall, and his influence on this post. Well, at least the first half, before I started rambling on about my new Animal Man figurine. Bob is not only a Guinness Record Holder (check out the hoopla right here) but also the most knowledgeable person I know, when it comes to the subject of comic book history. As far as his record shattering collection goes, I hope to one day have even a fraction of what this guy has. Seriously, check out all the great photos of his collection over at his website. Great stuff. I have recently been a bit lackadaisical in my comic book reviewing duties at Bob's site (working on my book has been taking up a lot of my time) but hope to get back to a ready stream of reviews very very soon. Right now though, I am going to head over to e-bay, to see if there are any reasonably priced copies of those July 1967 comic books. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My 2014 Early Bird Oscar Nomination Predictions

Hello my faithful readers and true believes, and welcome to that annual event of mine, called the Early Bird Oscar Predictions, or Oscar Nomination Predictions, to be a bit more concise and/or accurate. For those of you in the know, please allow a quick bit of explanatory boiler plate stuff for those not in the know. You see, every year in January, I come up with my Oscar predictions, those films, actors, writers, and directors, who I think will be getting nominated for Oscar gold. I usually post these the day or evening before the nominations are announced, and then follow that up with my final for-the-gold Oscar predictions, the night before the blessed event. But hey, that's not what we're doing here, now is it? Today is the day for rather early predictions, early bird, if you will. Usually, I do these early bird, earlier, like sometime during July, one year I even had the cahones to do them in April, but this year, September it be.

Now please remember, that a few of the films mentioned here may end up not opening by the end of the year, and therefore not being eligible. There are always a few to which this happens. Mostly though, these are the films and performers and such, that will be in the running. Granted, some may end up being not that much by year's end, but hey, I actually usually do relatively well at these early birds, so here we go. Enjoy. Or don't. What do I care? Ha, I kid. Now let's get on with this, those in the know have been waiting very patiently for us to finally get started. And take note that within each category, I have listed my predictions in order from most likely to least. Have at it! Oh, and by way of an editors note, the above Inherent Vice poster is not the official one, but it damn well should be!!

Best Picture
1. Foxcatcher
2. Inherent Vice
3. Birdman
4. Boyhood
5. Gone Girl
6. The Theory of Everything
7. Unbroken
8. The Imitation Game
9. Into the Woods
10. Fury

Spoilers: The Grand Budapest Hotel and/or Interstellar
Wild Card: Rosewater

The tricky thing with BP is that the amount of nominees can run anywhere from five to ten. So, with that being the case, I have predicted ten. Ya know, just in case. Then again, the last three years have seen a nine nominees each, so who knows.Now since this is so early, none of these are real shoo-ins, or anything like that. Most of the other folks who do these kinds of predictions (and there are a bunch of us) keep saying the same five films over and over. Foxcatcher, Birdman, Boyhood, Gone Girl, and The Theory of Everything. First off, I love that Boyhood is getting so much love and buzz. Secondly, even though it has no real buzz (yet!!), I had to throw Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice into the fray. Trust me, it will get the required buzz once it opens in December. Though this one may be a bit too weird for Oscar's tastes. We'll see. Meanwhile, both Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie and written by the Coen Brothers, and The Imitation Game, should be smart bets as well, though both could have backlash once they open. Into the Woods and Fury are both rather debatable. Our two spoilers could also be in play, but who knows. As for the wild card...would love to see that, but who the Hell am I kidding? Other possibilities include Selma, Mr. Turner, A Most Violent Year, Big Eyes, Wild, and, in a perfect world, Love is Strange.

Best Director
1. Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
2. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman
3. Richard Linklater for Boyhood
4. Paul Thomas Anderson for Inherent Vice
5. Angelina Jolie for Unbroken

Sixth Man Award: David Fincher for Gone Girl

Spoiler: Chris Nolan for Interstellar, Mike Leigh for Mr. Turner, or Wes Anderson for Grand Budapest
Wild Card: Jon Stewart for Rosewater

I'm not sure about the order here, as any one of these six directors (yeah, six) could be considered the frontrunner at some point. Jolie is probably the one wild card in the top five, and theoretically should trade places with Fincher, but I gots me a feeling. And yes, Linklater could get his first Best Director nod. Leigh or Wes Anderson could spoil Jolie or even Linklater's chances though. And then there's Jon Stewart. Will people take the comic seriously? One could maybe see either Rob Marshall for Into the Woods or James Marsh for The Theory of Everything, sneak in here as well.

Best Actor
1. Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
2. Michael Keaton in Birdman
3. Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher
4. Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice
5. Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Spoiler: Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
Wild Card: Bill Murray in St. Vincent
In a Perfect World: Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood

Between Redmayne playing Steven Hawking, Keaton making one hell of a comeback, and Carrell going deep and dramatic, this one is still quite up in the air as well. Fiennes may be a stretch, and it would make more sense to replace him with current golden boy, Cumberbatch, but that ain't happenin'...yet. Other possibilities include David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner, and Gael Garcia Bernal in Rosewater. In a perfect world we might even see Ellar Coltrane for his 12 year long performance in Boyhood. There is also Alfred Molina and John Lithgow as potentials for Love is Strange, but gay themed films being what they are in Hollywood, one of these two leads may end up going supporting, and that is usually the bottom (think Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain) so Lithgow may end up in a different category. And let's not forget that Michael Fassbender is playing Macbeth this year...if the film is ready in time.

Best Actress
1. Amy Adams in Big Eyes
2. Reese Witherspoon in Wild
3. Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
4. Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
5. Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars

Spoiler: Michelle Williams in Suite Francaise
Wild Card: Angelina Jolie in Maleficent

Eventually they are going to give the Oscar to Amy Adams, right? If they don't soon (this would be her sixth nomination) they may never do it. Then again, it is a Tim Burton film, and his films are never big with Oscar. I think Shailene Woodley might surprise here, unless Michelle Williams' small arthouse pic hits it big with critics over awards season. There is also the possibility of Julianne Moore in Map to the Stars, and maybe even Meryl Streep, unless her Into the Woods witch goes supporting, which is more likely. Then there is Jessica Chastain, who once again, seems to be in every film out later this year, but her chances are better in supporting (see below). There are also a bunch of actresses (Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Carey Mulligan, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Mia Wasikowska) whose chances depend on their respective films opening in time. Oh, and while Angelina Jolie may be getting a Best Director nod for Unbroken, her Disney character may get a nod for acting. Okay, probably not.

Best Supporting Actor
1. Edward Norton in Birdman
2. Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher
3. J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
4. Tom Wilkinson in Selma
5. Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher

Sixth Man Award: Robert Duvall in The Judge

Spoilers: Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice and/or Christoph Waltz in Big Eyes
Wild Cards: Albert Brooks in A Most Violent Year or Ethan Hawke in Boyhood

It looks like this one might be a six or seven man race. And yes, you read that right, I have Channing Tatum as a predicted Oscar nominee. So there! Then again, his co-star Ruffalo may end up splitting the votes with Tatum, or may end up taking all of them from him. As for Waltz, he seems to only get nominated (and wins) when he is directed by Tarantino, so who knows if he can get the traction here. There is also the possibility of Benico del Toro in Inherent Vice and Johnny Depp in Into the Woods.

Supporting Actress
1. Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year
2. Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
3. Emma Stone in Birdman
4. Emily Blunt in Into the Woods
5. Katherine Waterston in Inherent Vice

Spoilers: Anna Kendrick and/or Meryl Streep in Into the Woods
Wild Card: Marisa Tomei in Love is Strange

Yup, Jessica Chastain. I told ya. As for Miss Arquette, she is probably the best bet for an acting nod from Linklater's brilliant magnum opus. And Blunt is probably the best bet for an acting nod from Into the Woods, even moreso than La Streep. We could also maybe see Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game or Carmen Ejogo in Selma. and Tomei is probably a better bet than mere wild card status. We'll see.

Original Screenplay
1. Birdman
2. Boyhood
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Mr. Turner
5. A Most Violent Year

Other Possibilities: Selma, Big Eyes, St. Vincent, Begin Again, Love is Strange, Interstellar

Adapted Screenplay
1. Gone Girl
2. Inherent Vice
3. Foxcatcher
4. Unbroken
5. The Imitation Game

Other Possibilities: Into the Woods, The Theory of Everything, The Boxtrolls, Wild, Rosewater

Nominations will be announced on Jan. 15, 2015. My final predictions will be posted the evening prior.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let's Not Let the Terrorists Win: A Brief Patriot Day Post

Today is the anniversary of a day that will live in infamy. A Pearl Harbor for the Millennial set. Of course, we had to take these tragic events, and create a brand new patriotic holiday out of them. So, with that being the case...Happy Patriot Day. To celebrate the terrorists not winning, or whatever rah rah rhetoric one wishes to espouse on such a day, here is a picture of Captain America punching Hitler in the face. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Poor Little Pluto

"Members of the Society for the Preservation of Pluto as a Planet are dedicated to the proposition that Pluto has been and always should be considered a planet." - From the society's mission statement (and I agree!)

When I went to school, we learned about all nine planets in our solar system. That's right kids...nine! Discovered back in 1930, Pluto was named the ninth planet in our little gaggle of a solar system, and for teh next 76 years, it stayed that way. Then came 2006, and the demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status, and even a reclassification, to hitherto be known as a Plutoid. Bullshit!! That's right, I call bullshit, people!!In my heart of hearts (the one hidden behind the main one) I now, and forever consider Pluto to be the ninth planet, a full-fledged planet mind you, not some dwarfish outcast. It's just like when those other eight reindeer wouldn't let poor Rudolph play in any of their reindeer games. Bastards!! Let Pluto play, ya big bullies!!

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Two Faces of Swedish/US Hybrid, Welcome to Sweden

Welcome to Sweden is a strange horse. One might even say the sitcom is a bit on the bipolar side. The show was originally made for Swedish television, by an American writer/actor, who wanted to tell the real life story of how he left New York to follow his girlfriend to her homeland of Sweden. After its success there, NBC decided to buy the show and air the ten episode first season here in the states. The only problem is that the show is half in Swedish and half in English, and therefore is subtitled on NBC. Yeah, just what American audiences like, reading their televised entertainment. Not to sound too snobbish or haughty or whatever, but when it comes to subtitles, the typical US TV or movie watcher isn't what one would call, um...let's say enthusiastic. Face it, that is the sad sad truth of it all. Therefore, Welcome to Sweden, and its bilingual ways may have a rather hard time finding an audience on NBC. Most Swedes speak English, so it is not a problem on Swedish television. The show aired as a Summer replacement series on the Peacock Network, and did about as well in the ratings as one would expect a little known, little advertised, semi-subtitled sitcom to do. Nonetheless, NBC being the place where quality programming can still find a friend, even without big ratings (think Parks and Rec, and at least for a time, Community), the network has given the show a second season, to air probably in early 2015, after first airing on TV4 in Sweden. Hooray for integrity in network broadcasting. It happens rarely, but it does happen.

As for the show itself, as I said before, it could be considered rather bipolar in its existence. Half Swedish, half American, starring both American and Swedish actors, and spoken in both languages, the show already has the whole two-faced thing going, before you even get to the style and storyline, which also can be seen as two-sided. Much of the comedy we find in these ten episodes is on the sardonic, sometimes satiric side of the so-called spectrum, but at the same time, we are handed a sentimental love story as well. Granted, these sentimental moments may get a bit drippy in their sentiment, but the aforementioned sardonic nature of the show, thankfully keeps us afloat. And all this is done by comic Greg Poehler. Oh, did I forget to mention that the show is the brainchild of Amy Poehler's baby brother? Yeah, perhaps such a connection did help in NBC's decision to pick up the show from TV4, but Poehler, Greg, not Amy, has done a good enough job with the show, to wipe away, at least part of the notion of nepotism. still though, let's be realistic, being Amy Poehler's baby brother could not have hurt any. And get this, guess who has guest starred on the show? Yup, one Miss Amy Poehler. Again, I do not mean to demean the show by saying it does not deserve praise in its own right - because it does.

Poehler, who will someday play Greg Kinnear's brother in a movie, is a talented writer, and once one gets past the drippy over-sentimentality of his love story (which granted, usually only rears its ugly head during each episodes final tag), it is a quite smartly written sitcom, indeed. The story follows Poehler's on screen doppelganger, Bruce Evans, as he quits his cushy gig as an accountant to the stars in New York, and follows his girlfriend Emma, played by Josephine Bornebusch (a regular on Sweden's version of Saturday Night Live), back to her Scandinavian homeland. Most of the comedy revolves around Bruce's inability to fit into Swedish life. This fish-out-of-water premise may get tiring after awhile, but so far, so good. And judging from how season one finishes, it looks as if the second season may be doing less of this, and possibly more on the comedy of relationships themselves. The show also features the Academy Award nominated Lena Olin as Emma's passive aggressive mother, and Swedish writer/director/actor, Claas Mansson, as her sometimes clueless papa. We also get Emma's slacker brother (Christopher Wagelin) and her American pop culture obsessed uncle (Per Svensson).

The most intriguing part of the show is the meta referencing and coinciding guest stars. Poehler's big sis has appeared in both the first episode and the season finale, playing an over-the-top version of herself. The show has also seen Gene Simmons as himself, Swedish-American actress Malin Akerman (the titular Trophy Wife from last season's unfairly canceled series of the same name), Patrick Duffy and Illeana Douglas as Bruce's visiting parents, Will Ferell as an ex-client (Ferrell too is married to a Swedish woman), and even some members of ABBA. The best guest gig though, belongs to Aubrey Plaza, playing a rather sociopathic version of herself, who stalks Bruce at the bequest of pal Poehler, who wants him back as her accountant. Plaza steals the show whenever she is on screen. Sure, Welcome to Sweden may not be quite up to the par of those other aforementioned NBC comedies Community and Parks & Rec, but the show still has a lot of laughs, and I am looking forward to season two coming, whenever that may be. Hopefully American audiences will pick up on it as well, even if they may have to "read" half of what is going on. As they say in Sweden, Hejda. That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Friday, September 5, 2014

People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face - Vol. 1

Not that I am advocating violence or anything like that (well, okay, I guess I kind of am) but there are just some people in this world who need to be punched in the face. Simple as that. It doesn't have to be me that punches them. There are women on this list, and I would not hit a woman, but if any other woman wishes to step up and do the punching, I am more than alright with that. As for the men on the list, I can always take care of that myself, but really, the invitation is open to anyone, so punch away. As for all you mamby-pamby pacifists, or those of you who think we should try to love everyone...well, you're probably on this list too. So there. Now here, in no particular order, are the people I believe should be punched in the face. And as you can surely tell from the title of this post, this list is so long, and ever-growing, so more volumes are sure to come. Now get to punching. Oh, and as a disclaimer, if any of the people on the following list do get punched in the face, I take no responsibility. I mean really people, take responsibility for your own actions. Don't blame me because you are too weak willed to think for yourself. I only told you these people need to be punched in the face. You are the ones who went out and actually punched them in the face. So yeah, don't blame this guy. Disclaimer over, now on with the punching show.

People Who Need To Be Punched in the Face
(in no particular order)

Tim Gunn
Wolf Blitzer
Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas
will i. am of the Black Eyed Peas
The rest of the Black Eyed Peas
Ann Coulter (obviously)
People who call apes, monkeys
Larry the Cable Guy
People who think Larry the Cable Guy is funny
 Joe the Plumber (remember him?)
Kevin Sorbo
Henry Rollins
Lori from The Walking Dead
Adam Levine
Tom Brady
People who say irregardless
Cee Lo Green
Kanye West & Kim Kardashian (aka, Kimye)
Anyone who calls them Kimye
The person who came up with the term, Appeteasers
Alex Rodriguez
Fans of Maroon 5
Rufus Dangerman
 Toby Keith
Robin Thicke
Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham
Jeff Dunham's ventriloquist dummies
Pretty much anyone who is into ventriloquism
Joel Osteen
Paul Ryan
Every member of the Tea Party
Anyone who hates The Princess Bride
Elisabeth Hasselback
The inventor of salt & vinegar potato chips
The Honey Badger
John Updike
Meg Griffen
Kirk Cameron
Victoria Jackson
Michelle Bachman (a no-brainer, indeed)
Larry Fortensky
Bob McKenzie, but not Doug
Dennis Rodman
Eddie Van Halen
50 Cent
Those Duck Dynasty douche-bags
Lena Dunham
Gene Simmons
People who wear flip-flops outside of the beach, pool, or locker room
Dustin Pedroia
Taylor Swift
Stand Your Ground supporters
Stephen Baldwin
Skeet Ulrich
Suze Orman
The tourist guy in those old Hawaiian Punch ads (see pic above)
The Baha Men
Marcia Brady
Bradley Cooper
Leif Garrett
The Houston Astros
Woodward, but not Bernstein
People who use the terms man cave, bromance, or manscape
Andy Dick
Baseball umpire, Jim Joyce
Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan T. Cathy
Fannie Flagg
Film "director" McG
Paula Poundstone
Arthur Spooner
Michael Vick
Guy Fieri
Mark Vedder
Meeno Peluce
People who invite me to play Farmville
Ayn Rand fans
Chriss Angel
The Zoom Kids
Ted Mosby
People who say literally when they mean figuratively
Coldplay and/or Train
Mary Lou Retton
Perez Hilton
Nicki Minaj
Sarah Palin (of course)
People who do not tip, or those who tip cheaply
My old boss (he knows who he is)
Kate Gosselin
Al B. Sure
Fans of Reo Speedwagon
Lena Dunham
 Richard Elfman
Cathy Guisewite
Michael Scott
Shawn Mutchler (added at Shawn's request)
Larry from Three's Company
The Crash Test Dummies
The Pennsylvania Bar Association
Parents who allow their children to act like animals in a restaurant
Those aforementioned mamby-pamby pacifists
People who do not like Marty Esworthy
Marty Esworthy
That goody-two-shoes Superman
People who make lists of people they want to punch in the face
Lena Dunham

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Heavenly Body of the Week: Apokolips

"Thus let him suffer the wrath of Darkseid." - Darkseid, from Crisis on Infinite Earths

Created by Jack Kirby, the planet of Apokolips, with its gigantic fire pits, is the homeworld of the maniacal despot Darkseid, as well as the barrier between the Fourth World and the rest of the known universe. I would not recommend making vacation plans there. But if you do, make sure you go through Priceline when booking your Apokolips hotel reservations.

Check out the Heavenly Body of the Week Space Database
That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It Was 30 Years Ago Today: The Best Films of 1984

So, to coincide with Forgotten Film's blogathon, neatly called the 1984-A-Thon, I give to you, my ten favourite films of 1984. Previously I had done a best/favourite films list for 1967, the year of my birth. That too was a blogathon contribution. Gotta love the blogathon. Anyway, as much as 1967 was an important year in my life, though I really only have fuzzy memories of that year, 1984 was also a somewhat monumental year in my so-called upbringing. In case you're as bad at math as I am, 1984 was the year I turned seventeen. It was also the year I got my first car - via my parents buying it for my seventeenth birthday. It was a gigantic green 1976 Grand LeMans. A real boat of a car, but I loved that beast. But that wasn't the most significant happening of 1984. No sirree. The most significant thing for me was the first major purchase I made with my own money. That would be a VCR. Kids, go ask your parents what a VCR is. I'll wait. Anyway, this led to me really digging into my cinephile ways in 1984. Sort of the birth of a die hard cinephile.

I'm not sure why I just regaled you all with that story. Most of the first films I watched on my new VCR, were older, sometimes classic films. Sure, I rented new releases too, but it was mainly my introduction to the cinematic past. None of this really has anything to do with the movies of 1984, nor which ones happened to be my favourites. But nonetheless, the story stays, and we move on to the year that was 1984. But before we get to the inevitable countdown, please allow me a moment or two, to list some runners-up and/or honourable mentions. These films, in no particular order, are: Amadeus, Places in the Heart, Choose Me, Beverly Hills Cop, A Soldier's Story, Romancing the Stone, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, A Passage to India, Purple Rain (for the soundtrack only!), Repo Man, A Private Function, Broadway Danny Rose, Gremlins, Starman, The Times of Harvey Milk, and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. So there ya go. Now on with the countdown.

And awaaaaaaay we go...

10. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven, who had already given the cinematic world such neo-classical horror films as The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, turns his talents toward the world of dreams...and manages to make them quite terrifying. Yes, the series would get quite ridiculous as the sequel numbers grew higher and higher, but the original film is actually quite good and quite intense. A classic horror film done in a modern style, Nightmare may very well be one of the best damn horror movies of the entire decade as well.

9. All of Me

When the New York Film Critics surprised everyone and awarded Steve Martin its Best Actor award in December of 1984, it pretty much blew everyone away. Rex Reed, the misanthropic asshat that he is, smugly called the organization out for doing such a thing. But a surprise or not, Martin deserved the honor. All of Me, a film wherein Lily Tomlin's soul has taken over half of Martin's body, was kind of a revelation. It was the first time we saw Martin doing a more mature type of comedy. Granted, the film is still full of the silly antics we all loved from the comic, but it also had a sophistication as of yet unseen in Martin's film work. Martin himself claims that this was his first mature work, but that his mature period would end a few years later with L.A. Story. Ha!

8. Love Streams

Love Streams is the penultimate film of auteur John Cassavetes storied indie filmmaking career. It is the story of a hedonistic alcoholic man and his relationship with his long-suffering sister. The brother and sister are portrayed by real life husband and wife, Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. The film actually looks less like a Cassavetes film than any of the director's previous films, as his voyeuristic, hand-held camera style is dropped for a more straight forward, almost mainstream (or at least mainstreamy), but this does not make the film any less powerful. 

7. Stranger Than Paradise

Jim Jarmusch's second film, and basically the director's breakout work, is an absurdist comedy done in the deadpan style that has come to define the oeuvre of Mr. Jarmusch. Shot in crisp black and white, this road film follows a pair of hipster layabouts, an the one's Hungarian cousin, who are bored with their lives. The film stars Jazz musician John Lurie and former Sonic Youth drummer turned actor, Richard Edson. This early Jarmusch film shows many of the stylistic flourishes that would make the filmmaker one of the best indie filmmakers working today.

6. The Killing Fields

This film was nominated for a slew of Oscars in 1984, including Best Picture, Director, and Actor, and would win non-professional Cambodian doctor, Haing S, Ngor an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The amazing part about Dr. Ngor's performance was that he was pretty much playing a part that he actually lived, as a refugee from the Vietnam War. The film, with the performances of both Ngor and leading man Sam Waterston, is a powerful  beast, without ever delving into the manipulative drivel that Hollywood tends to turn such stories into.

5. Ghostbusters

Who ya gonna call!? I think we all know the answer to that one. At first sight, one might think of a movie such as Ghostbusters, as just another silly 1980's comedy, but the film is actually a deftly written satire, and should be thought of as so. A veritable laugh riot, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis are all kinds of hilarious in their roles as the titular spook hunters. So much so that I have actually tried to live my life as Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray's character for those not in the know) would. That's an okay thing, right?

4. This is Spinal Tap

Still to this day, my wife and I cannot look at the number eleven, without doing Christopher Guest's classic line, "These go to eleven." Last year, while we were visiting Las Vegas, we stayed on the eleventh floor of the Paris Hotel. Every single time we got in the elevator, either my wife or I would say the line. Every. Single. Time. It would crack us the hell up, but our fellow elevator riders tended to just give us strange looks, as if we were crazy. Well, I guess we were crazy, but it was still fun...and so is this movie. On a scale of one to ten, I think I would rate this...well, I'm sure you can guess what number I would give to the film. Yup.

3. Paris, Texas

The unanimous winner of the 1984 Palme d'Or, at the Cannes Film Festival, this is my all-time favourite Wim Wenders film. Starring Harry Dean Stanton, one of the most underrated actors of his day, model turned actress Nastassja Kinski, daughter of madman Klaus Kinski, and Dean Stockwell, just at the start of the former child actor's independently-minded resurgence in Hollywood. Beautiful and tragic, Wenders film envelopes the viewer with an overwhelming sense of both dread and hope. It is a unique film experience indeed. 

2. Blood Simple

This is the debut film of brothers Ethan and Joel Coen. It is also the debut film of Frances McDormand, the then new wife of director Joel Coen. Blood Simple is a neo-noir story of deceit and deception and all that kind of stuff, and stars McDormand and Dan Hedaya as a husband and wife, and John Getz as her lover. Highly stylized, this was the film that put the Coen Brothers on the map. The highlight of the film though, is the bravura performance of M. Emmet Walsh as the private dick who is hired by Hedaya to track down his wife and her lover.

1. Once Upon A Time in America

The late great Sergio Leone made some of the best westerns in film history. A Fistful of Dollars, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in the West, are easily three of the best westerns ever made. Now cut to 1984, and the film that would end up being the great auteur's final work. This time though, Leone left the West behind, tossed in Robert De Niro, James Woods, and Tuesday Weld, and gave us one of the finest gangster films ever made. Originally running at 229 minutes, the studio cut and slashed the film down to 139 minutes for its US release, and the film was panned for being too chopy and not making much sense. Once the film was put back together, it was suddenly heralded as the rightful masterpiece it damn well is.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.