Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rock of Ages

Jobriath: "Rock of Ages"

The Overton Window: Chapter Two

Noah Gardner stands at the candy machine, his Tootsie Roll falls, and he stares, enchanted, at a young woman pinning a flyer to the breakroom bulletin board. She struggles to reach the top of the board and Noah offers to help.

She ignores him, but he's not put off.

Something about this woman defied a traditional chick-at-a-glance inventory. Without a doubt all the goodies were in all the right places, but no mere scale of one to ten was going to do the job this time. It was an entirely new experience for him. Though he'd been in her presence for less than a minute, her soul had locked itself onto his senses, far more than her substance had.

Oh, Christ. "A traditional chick-at-a-glance inventory"? "All the goodies were in all the right places"? You're kidding me, right? I guess that's what happens when someone's soul locks into your senses. Whatever the fuck that means.

She hardly wore any makeup, it seemed, nothing needed concealment or embellishment. Simple silver jewelry, tight weathered jeans on the threadbare outer limits of the company's casual-Friday dress code, everything obviously chosen and worn for no one's approval but her own. A lush abundance of dark auburn hair pulled back in a loose French twist and held in place by two crisscrossed number-two pencils. The style was probably the work of only a few seconds but it couldn't have been more becoming if she'd spent hours at a salon.

She's a free spirit, with natural beauty. Better than all that arm candy Noah had been musing over in the previous chapter. You got all that, right? I can't wait until she lets her hair down, literally, and her full radiance is revealed. I bet Gardner passes out at that moment.

The woman hangs the flyer, and it's described pretty much just like this. More or less. The eagle was my idea.

We the People

If you love your country but fear for its future,

join us for an evening of truth that will open your eyes!

Guest speakers include:
Earl Matthew Thomas-1976 U.S. Presidential candidate (L) and bestselling author of Divided We Fall
Joyce McDevitt-New York regional community liaison, Liberty Belles
Maj. Gen. Francis N. Klein-former INSCOM commanding general (ret. 1984), cofounder of GuardiansOfLiberty.com
Kurt Bilger-Tri-state coordinator, Sons of the American Revolution
Beverly Emerson-Director emeritus, Founders' Keepers
Danny Bailey-The man behind the YouTube phenomenon Overthrow, with 35,000,000 views and counting!

Bring a friend, come lift a glass, and raise your voice for liberty!
August 31st, 7:00 PM, Heritage Club

Oh my, the rally (the assembly?) is tonight! Such short notice, Noah asks. (Oh, and yay for the YouTube reference. Relevance!)

"Congratulations, you can read." Oh, she's sassy too! What a woman! She tells him she doesn't much expect anyone here to attend. And why not?

"All you PR people do is lie for a living," she said. "The truth is just another story to you."

I wonder what Beck's PR people think of this sentiment? Anyway, Noah introduces himself and the woman retorts firing off some helpful facts, more for the reader's benefit than anyone's, I imagine:

Noah has a fancy office, he's just been promoted to VP and his father owns the company. No wonder he's so existential and forlorn. Or whatever he is.

Then the sparks really start to fly:

"Hey, I have to confess something."

"I'll bet you do."

"You haven't told me your name yet," Noah said, "and I've been trying to read it off your name tag, but I'm worried that you'll get the wrong idea about where I'm looking."

"Go for it. I'm not shy."


It's like Bogie and Bacall up there on the page. Are you hawt yet? I am so engorged by this. Figuratively, I mean.

Noah checks out the name badge pinned to her chest, notes the edge of a tattoo, "a bird, or maybe it was an angel" (I call dibs on it being a bald eagle!), and learns her name:

"Molly Ross," he said.

She tipped his chin back up with a knuckle.

"This is fascinating and all, Mr. Gardner, but I need to go and service the postage meter."

Okay. Hold on. There is no way that was an accident. She has to service the postage meter, seriously? You know what? I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and suggest that the ghostwriter here knew exactly what he was doing all along and purposefully barfed up the shittiest manuscript he could, as a joke. And somehow, the thing met with Beck's approval ("Don't change a goddamned word!" I imagine Beck yelling at his editor) and got published. Like a prank that's spun out of control. And now library shelves everywhere are stunk up with this travesty.

Noah asks Molly if she's going to the rally (the assembly?) tonight. He says he might go, being how patriotic he is and all. Then Molly tells a joke. But it's not really a joke. Made some weird Dadaist/Libertarian anti-joke. I dunno:

"Noah comes home—Noah from the Bible, you know? So Noah comes home after he finally got all the animals into the ark, and his wife asks him what he’s been doing all week. Do you know what he said to her? He said, 'Honey, now I herd everything.'"

Molly walks away, telling Noah over her shoulder not to forget his candy bar. Noah is left speechless.

I know how you feel, Noah. I really do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Any Which Way

Scissor Sisters: "Any Which Way"

The Overton Window: Chapter One

Two pages.

That's how long the opening chapter is. Two pages. But hey, that's enough to meet our protagonist, Noah Gardner: "Good-looking, great job, fine education, puckishly amusing and even clever when he put his mind to it, reasonably fit and trim for an office jockey, Noah had all the bona fide credentials for a killer eHarmony profile" who had "spent a full decade building what most guys would call an outstanding record of success with the ladies."

Okay, so, I'm not most guys, but let me ask you something. Is "an outstanding record of success with the ladies" a common phrase among your peer group, most guys? Just wondering. It's nice though, to see Beck give a nod to Christian dating site eHarmony, I guess to keep relevant.

As he'd rounded the corner of age twenty-seven and stared the dreaded number thirty right in the face, Noah had begun to realize something... While he'd been aiming low with his standards in the game of love, the women he'd been meeting might all have been doing exactly the same thing. Now, on his twenty-eighth birthday, he still wasn't sure what he wanted in a woman but he knew what he didn't want: arm candy. He was sick of it. Maybe, just maybe, it was time to consider thinking about getting serious.

Noah is having an existential crisis. There. That's basically chapter one. Well, him having the crisis and seeing the woman of his dreams. All while standing at the vending machine at work. (Work, by the way is a PR firm named Doyle & Merchant.)

"Top psychologists tell us in Maxim magazine that the all-important first impression is set in stone within about ten seconds." Again with the pop culture reference. Beck will show you just how relevant he is. I'm waiting for a mention of Facebook and/or Youtube next.

Beck spends several paragraphs sort-of describing the woman (as yet unnamed; suspense!; can't wait for chapter two!), throwing in a mention of the Grateful Dead along the way. More relevance! Well, no. If he'd wanted to be really hip, he'd have mentioned Phish. I'd, again, love to just copy and paste the whole chapter here, to illustrate just how awful it is, but at some point, that would become cumbersome. Besides, if you really want to read this dreck yourself, get down to the library.

There follows more garbage about PR and art and lines and beauty and "the purest essence of a woman" (I'm rolling my eyes right now) ... all of which leads us to the whole crux of chapter one: "Unlikely as it must seem, he knew right then that he was in love."

Noah Gardner, he of the easy life of an outstanding record of success with the ladies, he of the existential crisis, he who may soon consider thinking about getting serious, just found something to give his life meaning: a woman.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stay Puft Quality Marshmallows

For real.


The Overton Window: Prologue

The Overton Window opens with Eli Churchill at a pay phone in the middle of the desert, roll of quarters in his hand, calling Beverly, and spilling the beans on a conspiracy involving a missing two-point-three trillion dollars and eleven nuclear weapons. In two and a half pages, Beck has laid out the entire plot. To hell with suspense, or mystery. No one wants that in a thriller, right? And to say this is poorly written is an understatement. The writing is clunky, stiff, amateurish. It reads like fan fiction, with apologies to writers of fan fiction.

Let's just jump right in, shall we?

He cradled the pay-phone receiver against his shoulder, glanced down the narrow, rutted Mojave dirt road he'd traveled to get here, and then up the long, dark way in the other direction.

In this much quiet your ears could play tricks on you. He could have sworn that there'd been a sound out of place, like the snap of a stalk of dried grass underfoot, even though no other human being had any business being within twenty miles of where he stood, but he couldn't be sure.

So, Churchill is in the middle of the desert, twenty miles from nowhere, on a dirt road. Using a pay phone. What? Are there lots of pay phones in the Mojave along narrow, rutted dirt roads? That seems... unlikely. And I wonder if the author has heard of this new thing they have out now called a "cellular phone." Cool thing is, you can buy disposable cell phones now, and they are completely untraceable. That's probably easier than finding a pay phone in the vast expanses of the Mojave desert.

He worked his last six quarters from their torn paper roll and dropped them one by one into the coin slot.

He had just three minutes left. In a way, it was ironic. After years of planning, he'd brought all the evidence he needed to back up his story, but not nearly enough change to buy the time to tell it.

Oh the irony. One more reason to get one of those disposable cells.

"Now where was I ..." As he riffled through his pile of photocopies a couple of the loose papers got caught up in a gust and went floating off into the night.

"You were talking about the money."

"Yes, good, okay. Two-point-three trillion dollars is what we're talking about. Do you know how much that is? From sea level that's a stack of thousand-dollar bills that would reach to outer space and back with thirty miles to spare.

Okay, as is revealed a few paragraphs down, Churchill has infiltrated this deadly conspiracy involving trillions of dollars and stolen nukes, as part of a plot to build a new "political and economic and social structure" and Eli still needs to check his notes to see if he's got this right. I mean, it doesn't sound like the kind of thing one would figure out then be unclear on afterward. Maybe he was checking his photocopies to see how high two-point-three trillion dollars would stack. And again, as if "to outer space and back" was something you'd need to reference your notes on. Not that the stacking height of great gobs money means anything. Not really anyway.

It's a lot of money, and here's what they're doing with it (just who they are will be revealed in coming chapters, no doubt):

"I've seen the place, one of the places where they're getting ready for something—something big—planning it out, you know? I got a job inside in maintenance, as a cleanup man. They thought I was just a janitor, but I had the run of the place overnights.

"I saw what they're planning to do. They're building a structure." He checked his notes to make sure he was getting it right. "Not like a building, but like a political and economic and social structure. They've been working on it for a long, long time. Decades. When they collapse the current system, this new one they've put together will be all that's left."

So, you got that? They're building a new structure. Political and economic and social. Whatever that means. It's vaguely NWOish.

"They're changing the books so that in a generation from now almost nobody will remember what this country used to be. They've got the economy set up to fall like a house of cards whenever they're ready to tap the first one at the foundation. They've got the controlled media all lined up and ready to carry out their PR campaign. And they've got people so indebted and mind-controlled and unprepared, they'll turn to anybody who says he's got the answer."

I think this is the controversial part. The part where Beck, in his author's note, implored us to think. Yes, think, because the media is controlled, the media is some great bugaboo. As if Beck himself isn't part of the media, as if Beck himself isn't a commentator on one of the biggest and most influential media outlets in the world, as if Beck's radio show doesn't pull in 9 million-plus listeners. A very influential media personality tells his audience to listen to him and not listen to influential media personalities? Ummm.... okay.

Churchill warns Beverly "they're going to stage something soon to get it all started" right before he's killed.

A glint of brilliant red light on the wall of the booth caught his attention. He turned, as the man behind him had known that he would, and let the phone drop from his hand.

Eli Churchill had enough time left to begin a quiet prayer but not enough to end it. His final appeal was interrupted by a silenced gunshot, and a .357 semi-jacketed hollow point was the last thing to go through his mind.

Oy. Really? An assassin shows up, in the middle of the desert where this phone booth is and using a silenced 357 with a laser sight, shoots Churchill dead? Because he was a janitor working undercover who made photocopies of the "new structure's" plans to use two-point-three trillion dollar and eleven nuclear weapons to topple the government. All of which he needed to tell Beverly. Whoever she is.

You know, "a .357 semi-jacketed hollow point was the last thing to go through his mind" may sound cool when Morgan Freeman says it, but on paper, it's downright silly. But then, everything about this book appears to be pretty silly.

Out of Context

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Potter Checks Out His New Crate

The Overton Window: Dedication, Acknowledgments, A Note From the Author

I know I said I was going to dive right in to chapter one today, but there's all this preamble stuff in the book I should address before we get started.

Overton is dedicated, in faith, hope and charity, to a minister, a war hero, and a philanthropist. The latter two I'm indifferent to, as dedications, but it's that first one that gets me. "Faith: To David Barton, a man who knows that the answers were left everywhere in plain sight by our Founders."

David Barton is the founder of WallBuilders, an organization whose goal is to "exert a direct and positive influence in government, education, and the family by (1) educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; (2) providing information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies which reflect Biblical values; and (3) encouraging Christians to be involved in the civic arena."

Oy, a dominionist. Swell. I guess it's good we know exactly where Beck is coming from, right there with the very first line of his book.

Then there are the acknowledgements. Beck thanks his ghostwriter, his editors, all the douchebags at Fox, including Neil Cavuto and Bill O'Reilly, (no mention of Hannity, though. Ouch!) and a slew of other people. But the best part is this:

Special thanks to ... All of the VIEWERS, LISTENERS, AND READERS, including the Glenn Beck INSIDERS. We're not racist and we're not violent ... we're just not silent any more.

[Bolding original]

Umm... Okay. I've read a fair amount of books in my time, but this is the first time I've ever seen an author go out of his way to let his readers know he's not a racist. If you (and this applies to everyone, really) have to make an effort to point out that you're not a bigot, it is time for you to stop, take a moment, take a thousand moments if necessary, and do a little introspection. What is it about your behaviour, your actions, your words that have the world at large thinking you're a racist? It could be the entire world is wrong, or maybe you've some issues to work out. Saying "I'm not a racist" isn't enough. And as for noting your followers are not violent? More on that below.

Moving on... The note from the author. I almost quoted the whole damn thing here, it's just that ridiculous. But let's go back to something I talked about yesterday. This word of his, faction.

I've been a fan of thrillers for many years. While nonfiction books aim to enlighten, the goal of most thrillers is to entertain. But there is a category of novels that do both: "faction"—completely fictional books with plots rooted in fact, and that is the category I strived for with The Overton Window.

I worked in the book business for a long time. There is no category of books called faction. Please, just knock that off. Faction is a real word, sure, but it already has a definition. See.

I know this book will be controversial; anything that causes people to think usually is. In this case, I hope that you are forced not only to think, but also to research, read history, and ask questions outside of your comfort zone. It will ultimately be up to each of us to search out our own truths.

Oh please. "I know this book will be controversial; anything that causes people to think usually is." Who says stuff like that? I mean aside from high school kids writing essays about Marilyn Manson? I've never read an author, especially one of genre fiction, who takes his work and himself so seriously. Dude, it's a thriller. Enough with the pretension. This is NOT some groundbreaking work. Hell, it's not even a new story.

"While this may go without saying even once, I feel the need to say it again" Oh, this is going to be good, isn't it?

This is a work of fiction. As such some of the characters in this book express opinions that I not only disagree with, but vehemently oppose. I included them in the story because these views, like them or not, are part of the current American dialogue. Ignoring them, or pretending that radical ideas don't exist in society, does all of us a great disservice. Silencing voices or opinions only pushes them to the shadows and darkness, where they can fester and grow even stronger.

Oh Christ. More exhortations against violence. Which, again, begs the question. Why is it necessary to state that your intentions, the intentions of your readers, are not violent? Shouldn't that be a given? Unless there's something in your work, your actions, some mound of historical evidence that might give people the notion you're maybe treading a dangerous line there. I don't know. But it seems like if "this may go without saying even once" then you really should have no "need to say it again."

When all is said and done and people look back at this time in the history of our great country, there’s only one thing I hope that everyone, critics and fans alike, call me ...


Newsflash, Beck: Most everyone (at least those with sense) are already saying you're wrong. We have been for years.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today In Giant Capsized Ship Film Reviews

The Poseidon Adventure

There once was a time when Hallmark produced quality entertainment, like The Promise, starring James Garner and James Woods as a pair of dysfunctional brothers learning to cope under the specter of mental illness. Now they churn out crap like this: schlocky remakes featuring cheap special effects and a host of B-grade actors well past their prime.

You're no doubt familiar with the premise of the original, wherein a luxury liner capsizes and the surviving passengers must escape their watery tomb. That is about all this production has in common with the original, as most every other element, including drama and suspense, has been excised wholesale in favor of crappy melodrama and crappier special effects.

Instead of a massive tidal wave flipping the S.S. Poseidon on its topside, the ship has been done in by menace-du-jour: Middle-Eastern terrorists. Though, I never understood why the terrorists were working in collusion with Chechen separatists to sink a South African cruise ship. Then again, I never understood how blowing a hole in the side of the ship caused it to capsize. Sure, it was explained once or twice, but it never seemed clear. Just because one fills a sentence with scientific sounding mumbo jumbo doesn't necessarily mean it actually makes sense.

So, that's the plot, more or less, and none of it is a surprise. The only question is who will and who will not survive. At the center of the drama is a wholesome American family, made up of Steve Guttenburg, his workaholic wife, and their two children. The marriage is crumbling, due to his infidelities and her devotion to work over all other things. (Those things being her husband and children.) So, will they all Grow and Learn and find a way to love again? Or will the family succumb to the inevitable, and drown one by one? Okay, so how many made-for-TV movies have you seen?

Also along for the ride is a rugged no-nonsense Sea Marshal named Agent Rogo (Adam Baldwin AKA Jayne from Firefly). He's the maritime equivalent of an Air Marshal. I don't even know if there is such a thing as a Sea Marshal, and I certainly don't know why he was in South Africa. For that matter, I don't know why any of these people were in South Africa to catch a cruise ship. Were all the flights to Florida booked? Big question: will he stop the terrorists and save the day? Well, no, if he did that there'd be no movie. Will he survive or die heroically saving a supporting character? Maybe.

Then there's the sniveling First Mate. Not only is he a pill popper, but he's blown Agent Rogo's cover. And Shoshanna, the masseuse, she's sleeping with Guttenburg. Will they get their Morning After? Come on, I think we all know what happens to sluts and drug addicts in movies.

Rounding out the cast are Rutger Hauer as a Catholic priest (see also), the Shelly Winter's character from the original (turning in the only interesting moment in the entire film, somewhere in the third hour), an Australian TV producer and his wife, C. Thomas Howell, Peter Weller, and a handful of anonymous crew members. It's anyone's guess which of these will make it topside.

Now, it is worth noting that this film about a cruise ship features not one single frame with an actual real live boat in it. Virtually every shot of the liner is computer generated, and quite badly at that. The one shot that isn't a CGI effect is clearly just some extras blue screened in front of a photograph of a boat.

And certainly, it's understandable that the producers went the CGI route. Surely it's cheaper than filming on an actual boat. The downside is your film looks cheap, but maybe that's the feel they were going for. In a disaster movie about a boat capsizing, who really pays attention to the boat anyway?

But what I cannot comprehend is why anyone would cast Steve Guttenburg as the lead. Was Craig T. Nelson busy or something? Guttenburg cannot act, there are no two ways about it. Watching him have "heartfelt" moments with his family is painful. One would almost feel sorry for him if it weren't for the overwhelming desire to turn off the DVD every time he appeared.

Whenever he was on screen, I kept holding out hope his character would drown, or get eaten by sharks, or something. But you know how made-for-TV movies are.

Directed by John Putch • Unrated • 2005 • 173 minutes


The Overton Window: A Book Report in 46 Parts

So, Glenn Beck wrote this new book. It's called The Overton Window. Beck describes the book as faction: "fiction based on facts." I guess Beck doesn't realize most fiction is based on fact, since we live in a world that exists, factually. Unless your book is about faeries, then yeah, it's probably based on fact. No points to Beck for pulling some ridiculous and self-important gimmick out of his ass and passing it off as if he's written some groundbreaking work. I mean, I don't get the impression Beck is trying to swing some non-fiction novel à la Capote, because this ain't no highbrow shit we're talking about. It's a right-wing wankfest espionage thriller. And not a very good one at that.

By all accounts, this book is awful. That's what all the professional critics are saying, like the book versions of Siskel and Ebert and Elvis Mitchell. Google it if you don't believe me. Anyway, my local library finally delivered me my copy. (My steadfast refusal to pay for a copy, outside of me bidding up to $2.88 a copy on eBay (that's a penny a page) accounting for the delay between the June pub date and today.) I've had it on hold since reading Joe Mande's screenplay version over at Videogum. I thought, "wow, no, it really can't be that bad, can it?" Can it? I guess I'll find out.

Over the next days, months, years, however long it takes, I'm going to wade through The Overton Window and share my reactions with you. It'll be like that dude who blogged the Bible. But with less Moses. Feel free to pick up your own copy (borrow Dad's!) and read along. Or not. I wouldn't blame you if you weren't up to it. I am not sure I'm up to it.

Tune in tomorrow for: Chapter One! Unless there's a prologue or some shit. In which case chapter one will come after that.

Paul the Psychic Octopus is Puttin' It On Wax!

The kids still say "puttin' it on wax," don't they?

News Flash! Paul the Psychic Octopus' agent (the cephalopod has an agent! (and how the fuck is it a mollusk has an agent and I don't?)) says Paul the Psychic Octopus will be recording an album of Elvis tunes. (Because, duh, what, you think his tentacled ass is gonna do a Sinatra tribute? Don't be a dumbass.)

Anyway, you remember Paul the Psychic Octopus, don't you? He predicted the world cup victory by some team. So, yay, Paul the Psychic Octopus! And yay for Elvis covers!

And before you crack wise and scoff at the idea of a singing octopus, let me remind you, that in the annals of rock-n-fuckin-roll, there have been plenty of acts who have recorded albums that might have not seemed all that possible. Don't believe me?

Exhibit A: Barbie, The California Raisins (shrivelled fruit, for fuck's sake!), The Pink Panther, Ke$ha.

Deeky the Psychic Homo predicts Paul the Psychic Octopus' first video will look a lot like this:

I'm pre-ordering this shit on Amazon. Right now!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Today In Xenophobic Films Starring Rutger Hauer

Wanted Dead or Alive

Nick Randall (Rutger Hauer, again) is a bounty hunter. He is the great-grandson of Josh Randall, the character played by Steve McQueen on the TV show Wanted: Dead or Alive. Rutger Hauer is not as cool as Steve McQueen, duh, especially since he now looks like Roy Batty with a mullet.

In addition to being a bounty hunter Randall is also a former secret agent. I assume he was with the CIA, but it isn't exactly clear. What I do know is that this group uses Gold's Gym as a front for its office in L.A. I'm not sure why they didn't pick a more low-key location, like a probate lawyer's office or something, but strategic planning doesn't seem this outfit's strong suit anyway. Years ago Randall left the agency, having grown tired of "walking around with a bull's-eye on [his] forehead." He's retired, lives on a boat, blah blah blah.

Why does every tough dude on the edge have to live on a boat in movies like this? Is that substitution for characterization? "Oh, he lives on a decrepit trawler, he must be a badass!"

Okay, so, back to the plot: Super-Terrorist™ Malak Al Rahim, played by the always annoying Gene Simmons, sneaks into the U.S. and his first order of business is blowing up a crowded movie theater. A movie theater showing Rambo, to be precise. I think this is supposed to be some sort of joke, but I can't tell how exactly it's funny. I mean, the exploding theater isn't supposed to be funny, that's super serious (there were kids in there!), but why Rambo on the marquee? Whatever.

The Feds beg Randall to come back for one last job, and blah blah blah blah blah...

Do I even need to bother? Stuff explodes, there are gunfights and car chases and lots of people die. Right? Right. You've seen this shit a thousand times before. Sometimes it's been better done. Sometimes not. If mediocrity is what this movie was aiming for, it's hit its target dead on.

Anyway, Al Rahim is planning to next blow up a chemical plant in Los Angeles, and thereby release enough toxic gas to wipe out 50,000 Angelinos. Why is he doing this? Who knows? The film never bothers to explain his motivations. The fact he's Middle-Eastern should be reason enough for the audience to know he's evil.

Every Middle-Easterner in this movie is either a terrorist or a collaborator. And when they're not being portrayed as bloodthirsty sadists, they're being tortured and killed by the film's heroes. Almost invariably these latter moments are played for laughs. And when Gene Simmons finally gets his head blown off at the film's climax, what should be a joyous moment is spoiled by the racist tone that pervades the 100 minutes preceding it.

The only enjoyment I got out of this film was the way the Middle-Easterners were constantly passing around big bundles of dynamite. The sheer absurdity of it was comical. I half expected them to be marked with TNT in big letters, and maybe even have ticking alarm clocks attached to them. The Middle-Easterners in this film are such caricatures that it might not have been too surprising. If everything about their portrayal wasn't so offensive, this film might otherwise be forgettable. Instead it stands as a testament to anti-Arab sentiment that has only grown in this country since this film's release.

Directed by Gary Sherman • R • 1987 • 104 minutes


Out Today

Lost: The Complete Collection

All six seasons of the series on DVD and Blu-Ray. 38 Discs. 5074 minutes.

Special Features:

Black light
Custom Lost island replica
Special edition collectible Senet game as seen in Season 6
Plus all episodes and 30+ hours of bonus from Seasons 1-6
One full disc of never-before-seen content
Exclusive episode guide
Collectible ankh

Monday, August 23, 2010

Today In Post-Apocalyptic Film Reviews

Omega Doom is not the story of a post-apocalyptic hell, so much as it's the tale of a man whose career has gone into the toilet. Rutger Hauer cultivated a fair amount of fame and respect in the early 80s by turning in nuanced performances in films like Blade Runner. But somewhere in the mid-80s he turned a corner. In an effort to become the next big action star, he started doing crappy films with little plot and lots of explosions. It's been all downhill since. Now he's reduced to made-for-cable movies, and shit like this.

I'm not sure how any actor of substance ends up in an Albert Pyun film. Pyun has a reputation not unlike Ed Wood (or Jess Franco) for inflicting nearly unwatchable shit on the viewing public. Personally, I think he's more a Claudio Fragasso-type, lacking the perverted charm of either Wood or Franco, instead reveling in incompetence at a more base level. Which is all the more confounding when you consider that Pyun was once a protege of Takao Saitô. I guess some things just aren't teachable.

There are things about this movie that are unexplainable. For example, the robots' breath hangs heavy in the cold air of the nuclear winter. Why are robots breathing to begin with? I couldn't figure out any logical reason for it. Nor did I understand why there was a robot saloon that served only water. Do robots get thirsty?

Also unexplained is the basic plot. The film is set after a great world war between humans and robots. This is never really made clear in the movie, but that is what it says on the back of the box. Seriously, if you have to rely on box art to explain what's going on, you've failed as a filmmaker.

Not that I am convinced Pyun actually qualifies as a filmmaker. I have come to the conclusion the whole Pyun oeuvre is the result of some sort of money laundering operation. There has to be an international drug cartel or black market arms dealer behind this. Really, it is the only reasonable explanation.

Things start badly. First, there is a quote from a Dylan Thomas poem, which, I think, is supposed to come across as deep and meaningful. But really, it's just silly in a movie about robots, especially a bad movie about robots. Then we're treated to some narration that is, honestly, just plain wrong. I mean, it is incorrect. Our narrator explains how on the last day of the war a robot named Omega Doom (Rutger Hauer) takes a bullet to the head and his memory banks get fried. But, he doesn't take a bullet, no, he gets shot with a laser. That's as plain as day, right there on the screen. Crikey, aren't you even watching what's going on? Two minutes in and the director's already crapped himself.

Cut to some indeterminate time later, and Omega Doom strolls into a Buena Park amusement park. (No, kids, it isn't Knott's Berry Farm, there will be no trip to Camp Snoopy.) Why is this film set in an amusement park? Because, throwing up a sign that says "Ye Olde Europe-land" cleverly masks the fact you've shot your film in Slovakia. What Omega Doom finds in this little makeshift town are two opposing factions of robots.

On one side are the Roms. They're all female, dressed in black with cute little haircuts. Imagine Amelie in the Matrix and you'll get the idea. On the other side are the Droids. They're older models, a bit shabby and look like they've all escaped from a Babylon 5 convention. And just so you don't forget these are robots, despite their breathing and drinking and generally acting human, every time one of them moves, there is a whirring of gears, and as they walk, their feet clunk heavily in the dirt below. When one of them falls down, or gets blown to bits, it sounds like someone is kicking the crap out of a trashcan. Yup, foley work at its finest.

Caught in the middle of this is a servant bot that runs the local saloon, and a decapitated, yet mouthy, robot head known simply as Head. Head serves two purposes. First, he delivers much-needed exposition, explaining to Doom what's going on in the town. Secondly, he is the odious comic relief. He spends much of the movie being kicked around, literally, and when he does find a body his incompatibility makes for wacky antics as he jerks, twitches and generally makes an ass out of himself.

When Doom first meets him, Head is lying on the ground chattering away. It's an effect that is achieved by burying the actor in sand up to his neck, and yes, it looks pretty silly. Head explains that there were once two large factions of robots in the town who've since managed to winnow themselves down to a small handful on either side. They are both looking for a cache of weapons rumored to be buried beneath the amusement park. The plan is to take these guns and use them to wipe out the last of the humans, who are believed to be holed up in Las Vegas.

Presumably, the robots had guns back during the war, but I guess they've all misplaced them, so now they're reduced to throwing Laser Knives™ at one another. At least that's what it looks like they are doing. Almost immediately Doom's Laser Knife Throwing Skills™ are put to the test.

By reattaching Head to a discarded body, Doom has deprived Marko, one of the Droids, of his favourite toy. Two things worth noting about Jahi J.J. Zuri, the actor playing Marko: first, he's the only one in the cast playing up the robot angle, as he walks around stiffly, elbows bent, palms flat. Secondly, he's been in nine movies, all of them directed by Pyun. This tells you all you need to know about Jahi J.J. Zuri, master thespian.

He also seems to be sporting Torque's silver robo-hand from Death Ray 2000.

Doom and Marko square off, having themselves a good old-fashioned Spaghetti Western duel, replete with Leone-type close ups and a pseudo-Morricone score. Instead of six-guns, the two have Laser Knives™ holstered on their hips, and it's your guess which one is quickest on the draw.

With Marko out of the picture, Head is a bit more self-confident, which translates into more wacky antics. Unfortunately, it's like watching Eddie Deezen on crystal, and that just isn't funny. And despite his admonishments to get out of town, Doom enters into an uneasy deal with the Droids.

Doom has agreed to find the treasure, as they keep calling it, and wipe out the Roms while he is at it. Once the plan is under way, Doom meets with the Roms, tells them his plan, but confiding that it's the Droids he's really going to wipe out. Secretly, he plans to wipe them both out. And if this at all sounds familiar, that's because it's the exact plot of A Fistful of Dollars.

So, what we have here is a Spaghetti Western, but with robots instead of cowboys. And once that's established, there isn't a whole lot more about this film to say. The story plays out much as one would expect, with Doom snuffing out his mechanical foes one by one, each kill causing the plot to twist in upon itself in a tightly coiled vortex of intrigue. Well, okay, not really.

Doom does lure one of the Droids to her death, by promising to lead her to the treasure. Doom has also told the Roms to set a trap for the Droid, that way he'll be free to show them where the treasure is. The robots on both sides end up dead, or whatever the mechanical equivalent for death is.

Neither the Droids nor the Roms trust Doom, but their distrust of one another outweighs that, as does their confidence they've each have the upper hand. I was never clear why the robot factions disliked each other so. If the goal of both sides was to wipe out the remaining humans, why didn't they just band together? Whatever motivations may have existed if these groups were human, certainly cannot be found in the robots' programming. Can it? Not logically, no. But then, watching Doom light up a cigarillo like he was Clint Eastwood makes no sense either.

While the story of a buried cache of weapons may by just a rumor, there is at least one person with a gun in town. The barmaid. She found it in the well she dug (you know, so she'd have water to serve to the robots), but thing doesn't have any bullets. Not that anyone knows that. When she starts waving it around, the robots get nervous.

It's up to Doom to save her from the rest of the bots in town who now believe she knows where the weapons are hidden. What isn't clear is why Doom gives a shit to begin with. In A Fistful of Dollars Eastwood had the motivation of money, if he played his cards right, and the opposing families against one another, he'd be able to walk away with everything. Here, Doom has no such incentive.

But, anticipating such a question, the screenwriters have concocted an explanation. It had something to with an old man on a stallion and an outpost of humans hidden somewhere in the mountains. I think. Really, I'm not too sure, it made little sense to me and I hadn't the patience to rewind and figure it out.

Needless to say, Doom snuffs all the Roms out and all the Droids, leaving only Head and the barmaid behind. His job here done, Doom wanders into the sunset and to his next adventure. Fortunately for us, there is no robot version of For A Few Dollars More in the offing.

Directed by Albert Pyun • PG-13 • 1997 • 84 minutes


What's the Deal...

...with this weird-ass looking Yoda?

(From The Marvel Comics Illustrated Version of The Empire Strikes Back, a copy of which I found while cleaning the garage this weekend.)


Friday, August 20, 2010

Michael Been RIP

Michael Been, lead singer of The Call, died Thursday in Belgium. He was sixty years old. At the time of his death, Been was working as sound engineer for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, a band fronted by his son Robert Levon Been.

On a personal note, The Call were one of the best bands I've ever seen live. I caught them a couple times in the late Eighties, at the Roxy and the Palace. The entire band were very kind when asked for autographs, seemingly humbled by people gushing over them.

RIP, Michael.

From 1983, "The Walls Came Down," from Modern Romans:

Your Horoscope For This Weekend

Leo (July 23 - August 22)
The DVD of Zardoz you get from Netflix will be scratched, causing it to skip during Zed's escape from the Eternals. At first your weekend will seem ruined, until you find a slew of quarters between the couch cushions. Chuck E. Cheese, look out!

Virgo (August 23 - September 22)
Your semi-autobigraphical short story will be published. Unfortunately, your mother will not be pleased by your less-than-flattering portrayal of her. There will not be a check in your next birthday card.

Libra (September 23 - October 22)
There is a thin line between love and hate: your significant other will dump you this weekend. At the food court. Stay away from the food court.

Scorpio (October 23 - November 21)
There's nothing sure in this world, and there's nothing pure in this world. Look for something left in this world. It's a nice day for a white wedding, it's a nice day to start again.

Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21)
If the van is rocking, don't bother knocking. Also: gas, grass, or ass: no one rides for free.

Capricorn (December 22 - January 19)
You will be surprised by how good the cover band at the bar is this weekend. Don't tip the bartender too much, you'll need that money for cab fare home. You will leave your keys in the taxi.

Aquarius (January 20 - February 18)
Godzilla will not attack Tokyo this month. It is still wise to avoid travel to Japan until well after the monsoon season. Stay home and watch the Prison Police marathon on A&E this weekend.

Pisces (February 19 - March 20)
Just because the jaw in the hardest bone in the human body, doesn't mean you should use yours unnecessarily. Don't talk to anyone this Sunday, and the Fates will reward you. Also, no leafy greens.

Aries (March 21 - April 19)
Wash your whites in cold water.

Taurus (April 20 - May 20)
Ask the person next to you on the subway their name. Get that name tattoed on your ass. If the lettering is Old English, you will win the lottery. If another font is used, you will receive an inhertance from a distant uncle.

Gemini (May 21 - June 20)
You will be found out. Either ditch your scheme or go into hiding. You will be found out.

Cancer (June 21 - July 22)
Remember, there is scant difference between Hollandaise and Bearnaise, aside from a bit of chervil and tarragon. This serves as a perfect metaphor for every relationship you have ever had. Don't you think maybe you should do something about that?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Headline of the Day

"Does America Have a Muslim Problem?" Oh, where to start?

Today in Mystery Science Theater 3000 News

Attention B-movie nerds:

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett, formerly of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be riffing their way through Reefer Madness tonight. Live.

Yes, live!

Under the Rifftrax banner, Corbett, Murphy and Nelson, will be skewering the anti-weed gem in a special show broadcast to theaters nationwide. The show is tonight 8:00pm ET, 7:00pm CT, 6:00pm MT with an 8:00pm PT tape-delayed rerun.

Click here to see if it's playing near you.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


At long last I can ditch this nelly, simpering homo voce and get me a real, he-man voice. With a great voice, comes great power. Just like Spider-Man said. Plus, I've always wanted to sound like Dolph Lundgren. "I vill breek you."


Monday, August 16, 2010

Texting! With Liss and Deeky!

Deeky: Oy. Why am I in a meeting?

Liss: Because meetings are funtimes.

Deeky: No. They are not. Playing with my b-hole is funtimes. Meetings, not so much.

Liss: LOL!

Deeky: This just sucks. I need an escape chute.

Liss: Can you use your own butthole as a wormhole to another dimension?

Deeky: I have no idea. But I sure as fuck would be willing to try it. Do I need a crystal buttplug or something?

Liss: Try to wriggle into your own b-hole and zip yourself over to my place, Dr. Who-style.

Deeky: LOL! p.s. How hilarious is it that everyone is having an in-depth and serious conversation about SFA, and I'm talking with you about my butthole?

Liss: I don't even know what SFA is, and I can guarantee with absolute certainty I'd rather talk about your butthole than whatever it is.


[Description: Camper shell with window decal of giant waving American flag (duh!) and a bald eagle (double duh!) and the phrase "Conservatism Works" (huh?) Beneath that: "Palin 2012".]

Potter Helps Pack

Friday, August 13, 2010

You Know What You Need?

A rat playing pan flute:

(With thanks to whomever sent this to me last month, my memory fails, sorry.)

Random Eighties Music Video

Oingo Boingo: "Dead Man's Party"

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Computer Generated Flounce

"I quit!"


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Today in Lost News

Coming soon: Linus and Locke!

In the tradtion of Hardcastle and McCormick, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Simon and Simon, and Laverne & Shirley, comes a new breed of buddy cop dramedy: Linus and Locke!

Watch what happens when this real odd couple must work together as both partners on the force and as roommates! Every episode of Linus and Locke! will be filled with laughs, hi-jinx, and hard-hitting issues ripped from the headlines.

Or not. Maybe Linus and Locke! will be about an archeologist and his witty man-servant. Who knows?

Well, we do know Michael Emerson (Linus) and Terry O'Quinn (and Locke!) are shopping around for ideas for a TV show. I can't wait until they're back on the small screen.


Today in Weezer News

Peep this. The new Weezer album cover:

The album is titled, appropritately enough, Hurley. In stores September 14, 2010.


Today in Max Headroom News

Out today for the first time on DVD:

Max Headroom: The Complete Series

All 14 episodes, uncut, 5 discs, 660 minutes
Starring Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays, Chris Young and Jeffrey Tambor

Four featurettes:
The Science Behind The Fiction
Live On Network 23: The Story Of Max Headroom
Looking Back At The Future: A Roundtable Discussion
The Big-Time Blanks with Morgan Sheppard and Concetta Tomei

Your guide to understanding the basic concept of Max Headroom:

Hooray for brain circuits!


Monday, August 09, 2010

One More Reason Why Hippos Are Awesome

Because even alligators are afraid of them:


Friday, August 06, 2010

Yogi Bear 3D Poster

Poster for upcoming Yogi Bear 3D movie, featuring a beaming Yogi behind an ecstatic Boo Boo, and the lone line of copy: "Great things come in bears." Click to embiggen, if you're into that type of thing.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Seth MacFarlane: Total Douche

In a charming interview with Seth MacFarlane in this month's Details, the rag asks the Family Guy creator why he thinks the queer community didn't take kindly to his "very sympathetic portrayal of a transsexual character" (his words) in a recent episode.

The interviewer suggests "Maybe the fact that Brian barfs his guts out when he realizes he's had sex with a transsexual" was the problem.

MacFarlane responded: "If I found out that I had slept with a transsexual, I might throw up in the same way that a gay guy looks at a vagina and goes, 'Oh, my God, that's disgusting.' It's just the way we're biologically wired."

Oh, for fuck's sake.

As a gay guy, let me state emphatically, I've never looked at a vagina and said "Oh, my God, that's disgusting." Regardless of how I may be biologically wired. In fact, I find them quite fetching. I've even gone down on a few (two, if you're keeping count) in my time.

So, as for the talk of biological wiring and vomiting when sleeping with one of those tricksy transsexuals, well, let me just say, Seth MacFartlane, you're an asshole and a douchebag.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Juniper in Repose

Common People

Pulp: "Common People"

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Over the Top

Somewhere between Tango & Cash, Cobra, and Rocky 4, Sylvester Stallone made this. It's a familiar spin on the theme of the underdog triumphant, but instead of being about boxing, Over the Top is about arm wrestling, which makes it really stupid.

Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) wants to patch things up with his estranged son. The boy, Michael (David Mendenhall), is a bit of a priss, and is convinced this man he's never met is a drug dealing loser, just like Grandpa always said. But Mom, sickly and dying, has a plan unite the two. She's instructed Hawk to pick Michael up at his military academy and drive him home cross country.

Nothing like a road trip to bring two people together.

But Michael doesn't like his father's rig (yes, dad is a trucker), his diet, or the way he supplements his income: Hawkes is quite a sensation on the underground arm wrestling circuit. I bet you didn't even know there was an underground arm wrestling circuit, did you? Apparently there's a lot of money to be made in slamming some guy's arm down on a table before he can slam yours. The real money is in the pros.

I bet you didn't know there was a pro arm wrestling circuit either.

Over the next few days, Hawk and Michael bond. Father teaches son about trucking, and arm wrestling, and that "the world doesn't meet anyone half way" which sets us up nicely for a Kenny Loggins tune on the soundtrack. Unfortunately, by the time the song fades out, Mom has died.

Grandpa (Robert Loggia) has lots of money and lots of lawyers. And he is Evil™ because he wants to take Michael away from Hawkes. Hawk is no match for Grandpa, the only way he'll ever be able to keep Michael is if he makes himself a whole armload (get it?) of money quick. But where can he do that?

At the International Armwrestling Championships in Las Vegas, that's where!

Hawk sells his truck, and bets everything on himself. (Oh, and you may be asking yourself why I am alternately referring to Stallone's character as Hawk and/or Hawkes. But that is how the movie refers to him. If they can't keep his name straight, don't expect me to either.) At 20 to One odds, he'll do quite well if he wins. Plus there's the hundred grand in prize money. And the winner gets a new truck too. The only thing missing is a magic pill to bring Hawkes' dead wife back to life and this contest would have everything.

The film is capped off by a very long finale (at least it seemed long, it may have only been a couple minutes) in which Hawk arm wrestles his way to the prize money, and more importantly, his son's heart. Everyone lives happily ever after, as arm wrestling truckers are wont to do.

Directed by Menahem Golan • PG • 1987 • 93 minutes

Monday, August 02, 2010

Facts About Hippos You Should Know

1. Hippos are the most dangerous animal in Africa.

2. Hippos' closest living relatives are whales and dolphins.

3. Hippos exude their own sunblock.

4. Hippos always pay by check.