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Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category

Summer Blockbusters

In Fun Stuff on June 3, 2009 at 12:33 am

     It’s summer blockbuster time again. I have been reading studio press releases and the Hollywood trades in hope of finding a movie or two worth attending, but have struck out. Summer flicks are all the same old same old, except bigger and louder and busier and bloodier and at least ten IQ points dumber than ever before. The one flick possibly worth seeing, coming out this Friday, is “Land of the Lost,” and that’s only because Will Farrell’s co-star in this art flick is Danny McBride. Frankly, I’d be willing to sit through a French mime convention (or undergo gamma knife surgery again) for a chance to see Danny McBride. 

     If this summer is pretty much a Prez W of a movie season, it sounds like new releases in production or pre-production for 2010 and 2011 have been planned by studio goons who’ve ingested a whole passel of mushrooms, Red Bull, nicotine gum and Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips. One thing these flicks do reflect are the more tender sensibilities of the new, touchier-feelier America that elected Barak Obama and hang on his every words. Herewith is a sampler:

     “Life Wish” – After terrorist members of a Muslim extremist group murder his wife and a distant cousin he didn’t really know very well, Dr. Mercadio Huggins, best-selling author of I’m Okay, You’re Even Better and host of video, self-help seminars shown annually during annual PBS pledge drives, finds his belief system challenged. Instead of going Bronson on us, Dr. Huggins (played by Sean Penn), recruits a rag-tag band of sensitivity vigilantes to help him plot revenge. Among the group are Angel Teitlebaum, a former nun become Buddhist monk and activist in gender politics (played by Susan Sarandon, with a remarkable make-up job by Ben Nye XXIV) and Hockney Flemm (Robert Downey, who else?), a retired Army Colonel, now vegan eco-warrior, who specializes in napalming big agro-business fields which are not organically fertilized. Rather than hunt down and gruesomely dispatch the killers, Dr. Huggins kidnaps them and forces them to undergo heart-wrenching group therapy sessions, during which the terrorists learn that their anger is rooted in unhappy childhoods and that all they need to do to change their lives is to “think happy.” Finally convinced, the terrorists repent and go on to lead useful and productive lives as florists, dog-groomers and New York City taxi drivers.

     “Robotransforminator” – Hinton Forbish (Shia LaBeouf), your average American teen, has his life tragically altered when a bizarre accident involving a back-yard trampoline and an antique washing machine wringer leaves him only a living brain. The brain is then stolen form the hospital by Dr. Reuben Goldberg (Robin Williams), a scientist terminated under dark and suspicious circumstances from the secret government program that produced the six million dollar man and woman, robocop, and every other machine/man amalgam ever to star in motion pictures. Hinton wakes up from a major coma to find his brain and, by extension, himself in a body cobbled together with cast-off parts from all those other movies. Despite rather enjoying the six million dollar woman’s naughty bits, Hinton gradually starts losing control of his parts. Mayhem ensues as Hinton’s inner conflict erupts into a fight with himself that spills across four continents and flattens Paris, Rome and Biloxi, Mississippi. Only the love of Star Magnate (Drew Barrymore), a podiatrist’s assistant, stands between Hinton and the collective force of the world’s armies under command of the UN Security Council.

     “Riverdale Dance” – Enjoy Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Betty as they become the latest comic book characters to make the transition from the printed page into fleshy heroes in a live-action film. But not only do they liven up the hallways of Riverdale High with the nifty, adolescent hi-jinks you have come to know and expect, they also dance, and they sing just as good as they walk. It’s the perfect combination of “Spiderman” and “High School Musical.” The names of cast members are not available at this time, since the leads will be chosen by audience vote in the FOX network’s newest reality show, “You Oughta Be In Pictures.” Unconfirmed rumors from the studio say the selection of host for the new show has disintegrated into a dogfight between Alan Thicke and Ryan Seacrest. During a chance encounter at Juno’s, a popular Hollywood eatery, Seacrest allegedly attempted to slap Thicke across the cheek with a fist full of limp chow mein noodles. At last report, Seacrest was still standing there sadly and ineffectively waving his hand.

     If any of you have some great ideas for summer blockbuster movies, please send them to me by posting on the blog, and I promise I will forward them to someone who will put them to good use.

     Keep the faith, Beno

P.S.

My good friend Frank Bell goes under the knife tomorrow at Wake for removal of a kidney stone the size of the Hope Diamond.  Keep him and his family in you thoughts and prayers for a few days at least.

 

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Ten Worst Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs

In Fun Stuff on April 26, 2009 at 10:24 pm

 

1. “We Built This City on Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Jefferson Starship.

– Few spectacles in life are as demoralizing as the degradation of the radical and cutting-edge into to flaccid irrelevancy. Here, the point men and women of edgy, sixties psychedalia such as “White Rabbit” and “Revolution” ooze ridiculous tripe. It’s as if the Grateful Dead had cut a commercial jingle for “Little Debbie” cakes and cookies.

 

2. “Revolution No 9” – Beatles.

– Even the greats can misfire occasionally, and for that, they can usually be forgiven. This ditty, however, is the obvious product of, on one hand, a festering brew of disarray and egomania, and, on the other hand, a need to make the fourth side of a two record album last longer than seven minutes. The result of the clash between these two forces?: the Beatles took a dump on vinyl and their fans.

 

3. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven” – Righteous Brothers.

– This burp of a record is what happens when the ghost of Phil Spector, true talent, superb production values and utterly moribund careers meet up with necrophilia. My compadre, Jim Nance, hates this song with a virulence more associated with the ebola virus. I, however, hate it only intellectually, not emotionally. Disgusting, but catchy as hell, it happens to be one of my guilty pleasures.

 

4. “Kokomo” – Beach Boys.

– There is a tradition of “list” songs in popular music that usually serve to highlight the singers’ vocal dexterity (listen to Johnny Cash or Hank Snow sing “I’ve Been Everywhere”). This bafflingly popular blob of mush plods along at the pace of, well, how do I phrase it…middle-aged sexual congress. And aren’t the rhymes just so special!! – “Jamaica, oo I wanna take ya.” Perhaps they were penned by the famous primate who shares the name of the song.

 

5. “Hotel California” – Eagles.

– My spiritual advisor and patchouli oil supplier, Dr Jessup, protests mightily the inclusion of this song on the list. All I can say is that for me it is an oil and water, Dook/Carolina, Arab/Israeli, Geraldo/Journalism type of thing. I hated the first few notes of the opus the first time I heard them on the radio, and my relationship with the song disintegrated from there. Whatever Henley and Frey thought they were saying with their incredibly trite metaphor, it ploddingly sounds like three bad hangovers combined. And, can there be any doubt that this song, by receiving the Grammy for record of the year in 1977, caused real rockers to bury their guitars for the next five years and cede the stage to jive-talkers? That’s right, folks. “Hotel California” is responsible for the disco era.

 

 

6. “Gypsies, Tramps and Theives” – Cher

– This mutation is the standard bearer for the strain of overwrought pop/rock songs that celebrate the singer’s triumph over trailer-trash beginnings to become, well, slightly more pricey trailer-trash. And Cher, with her foghorn voice, delivers the goods with all the subtlety of a flaming wreck in the third corner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

7. “Hip to Be Square” – Huey Lewis & the News

– Uh, no it isn’t!!!! Let’s be charitable and say the song is not hip, but is instead a hip replacement and about as entertaining as the medical procedure.

 

8. “You’re Having My Baby” – Paul Anka

Without a doubt, the most egregious, limp exercise in sheer narcissism ever committed to record: “You’re having my baby, what a lovely way to say that you’re thinking of me.”  Envision Hitler in his bunker, bombs falling all around, two armies bearing down on Berlin, watching Eva sip poison and wondering, “Well, maybe she really does care.”

 

9. “Do You Think I’m Sexy” – Rod Stewart

– At one time, prior to say 1974 or so, Rod Stewart was arguably the greatest rock ‘n’ roll singer alive. Then, he got distracted by greed, booze, drugs and an unceasing line of gorgeous women who were willing to lie down for him like Anna Karinina jumping in front of the train. “Sexy” is only one of an endless parade of sad, shameless efforts that have transformed a hallowed career into a mirthless joke. Then again, who could blame him?

 

10. “The Pina Colada Song” – Rupert Holmes

– Only the most cloying example of a pop/rock song that depends on reversal, with the stupid singer realizing just how stupid he really is (remember “Shihouette” anyone?). How can a song so relentlessly annoying become so popular that it ruins the entire rest of your life???

 

Top Ten Worst Rock ‘n’ Roll Song Nominees

In Fun Stuff on April 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm

     Okay, Gang:  Following are the nominees for Top Ten Worst Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs.  You should note three things:

          1)  Initial inductees into the worst Performers of All Time Hall of Shame are Neil Diamond and ABBA.  Each and every song ever recorded by these “artists” are conclusively presumed to be loathsome and are therefore removed from consideration in other lists.  You need not nominate specific songs from either “‘artist.”

          2)  Songs that make no pretense of being Rock ‘n’ Roll songs are automatically disqualified.  Therefore, songs such as “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies, “”Honey” and all other things Bobby Goldsboro, and anything written or performed by Mac Davis or Harry Chapin need not be nominated.

          3)  Despite the above rules, Alan Jackson’s pernicious and shameless attempt to capitalize on the misery is included as part of a grass-roots effort to stamp out phony and overwrought examples of knee-jerk “patriotism” wherever and however they appear.

     Administrative matters concluded, here for comment and complaint are your nominees:

 

Nominees for Ten Worst Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs:

 

Righteous Brothers “Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven”

Beach Boys “Kokomo”

Mark Lindsay “Cherokee Nation”

Huey Lewis & the News “Hip to Be Square”

Rod Stewart “Do You Think I’m Sexy”

Eagles “New Kid in Town”

Rickey Martin “She Bangs”

Elvis Pressley “In the Ghetto”

Paul Anka “You’re Having My Baby”

Eagles “Hotel California”

Beatles “Revolution No 9”

Vanilla Ice “Ice, Ice Baby”

Cher “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”

Starship “We Built This City”

Starland Vocal Band “Afternoon Delight”

Chuck Berry “My Ding-a-Ling”

Beatles “Ob-la-dee, Ob-la-dah”

Alan Jackson “Where Were You When the Lights Went Out”

Rupert Holmes “Pina Colada Song”

Fun Stuff

In Fun Stuff on April 5, 2009 at 8:33 pm

 

Okay, now it’s time to start having some fun with this blog! Send me by email or blog-comment your nominations for two lists.

The first is “Top Ten Gag-Me Moments In Movies,” first nominee being the curtain chewer near the end of “Nell,” when ignorant, inarticulate Jodie Foster presumes to lecture the townspeople on how better to live their lives in a voice that sounds like a hump-backed whale speaking Croat.

The second is “Ten Worst Rock ‘n’ Roll Songs.” With a nod to Jim Nance, the initial nominee is “Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven” by the Righteous Brothers, which really is so awful it beggars description.

Tell me what you hate and tell me why!