Thursday, April 14, 2011

Short Oh, Short Oh, Long Oh

The other night I noticed that a few things on my Netflix watch instantly were about to "expire" including some Sam Kinison stand-up. It Feels as though I've always known of Sam Kinison even though I've never watched his stand up. In fact all I've really seen him in was Back to School and a cameo in Married With Children. He also did a voice only cameo in one of my favorite episodes of Tales From the Crypt. Regardless I'd never seen any of his stand-up, so I decided to watch his HBO special, breaking the rules.

Well... I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of flack for this but... I found it mostly boring and unfunny. I suppose in the 80's it was hilariously shocking but now it's just a fat guy screaming. I once heard a comedian sum up Kinison's comedy style as being 3 key elements. Short Oh, Short Oh Again and finally a Long oh

It got me thinking about two things simultaneously. The first thing was Chuck Klosterman's book "Killing yourself to Live". The Concept behind this book is that many musicians (Jeff Buckley, Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious) benefited more from dying an early death than anything that would have happened to them had they lives a long healthy life. I also thought about Andrew "Dice" Clay. I get the feeling that one of the biggest reasons Sam is beloved and praised comic while "Who is Andrew Dice Clay" is the question to the Jeopardy answer "this comedian of the 80's became a target and butt of jokes for being untalented and unfunny", lies in one's young death in his prime and the other's seeming in-ability to never die.

Sam Kinison is definitely part of the "funny fat guy dying in his prime" trifecta. The other two obviously being Chris Farley and John Belushi.

Belushi probably would have (had he never died) gone on to make a few decent comedies (he was intended to be a ghostbuster) and I think in his later years gone the Bill Murray route of indie films and Dramedies. In all this he probably would have still be somewhat haunted by Blutto and continued to despise the people who saw him live strictly because of Animal House. That being said though, I think even with this prediction. His popularity wouldn't be NEARLY what it is today.

I have no doubt in my mind that death was the greatest asset to Chris Farley's legacy. While intensely funny, he just wasn't leading man material. Films like Almost Heroes and Beverly Hills Ninja have occasional moments of hilarity sprinkled amongst them; but Farley was always at his best doing small roles in films like Billy Madison and Dirty Work. Had Chris Farley not died it's very possible he'd have continued in non-David spade co-starring movies (basically lets face it, while both are pretty funny on their own... they worked best as a team. The 90's Abbott & Costello) until he was nothing more than "Fat Rob Schneider".

Two of these 3 comedians have proposed biopics in the making. Despite my dislike of Sam Kinison's stand-up, I find the man himself to be quite interesting. I'm definitely most interested in his biopic. If anyone besides Dan Folger is cast as Kinison that'd be a crime against nature (much like if the John Belushi biopic wasn't starring Jack Black and titled Don't Look Back in Anger).

I'm still open minded to Kinison however, I welcome all Sam Kinison fans who read this to recommend other routines or comedy specials of his that may change my opinion.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jury Duty and Other Pauly Shore Movies

Today I didn't have to Work. I had Jury Duty. In retrospect... I shouldn't have told them I had Jury Duty, I should have just called out sick. I discovered that I don't even have the benefit of getting a paid day off... it's just a day off. At least a sick day I'd have made money. Anyway... I arrived to the court house at 9am.

This is not "early" for most folks... but you should keep in mind that I work until 2am every night (and last night wasn't any exception). I was tired to say the least and arrive in a giant room with a bunch of TVs playing Regis and Kelly. I walked in with a book under my arm and a laptop in hand ready to kill some hours getting some work done... until I discovered that this particular juror's lounge lacked a wifi. So I promptly began reading my book of choice Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis. I've read it a few times before and frequently list it as one of my top 5 favorite books. Perhaps it was due to the setting but this time while there were parts I greatly enjoyed, I didn't love the book as a whole as much as I used too. As Noon approached they announced we had an hour to go out and buy ourselves lunch.

Now I've never done Jury Duty before so I was at least mildly shocked that we had to buy our own food. We're missing work and you can't even provide us some food? Surely, our paychecks (which no I will not donate to a children's charity today) will include the money we spent on food. I took in some delicious Zac's Burgers (actually the burgers were bland but the french fries and milk-shake kicked MAJOR ass)

I returned to the juror's lounge after my meal. Someone had changed the Television station to ABC Family where I watched the most DEPRESSING SITCOM EPISODES EVER (specifically the 2 episodes of 8 simple rules of dating my teenager daughter immediately after John Ritter's death). The only thing keeping me entertained at this point (due to me finishing the book and having no wifi) was text messages from my friend Jackie. Suddenly I hear my name called... ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME! I got pulled into the court room with 49 other people. I did everything in my power to avoid being picked as a juror, the judge said this trail would go possibly two days long. I'm moving to LA in less than 80 days, I can't miss that many days of unpaid work days. I do take pride that unlike some other people in the court room I wasn't shameless in trying to get out.

According to Potential Juror #11 he is a racist, owns a gun, is friends with police officers, does not believe in innocent until proven guilty and was part of a similar criminal charge. He also claimed to be mentally unstable. This could be true. He spent the rest of the selection process mumbling and talking to himself. Either he was mildly insane or extremely committed to his insanity. in the end I didn't get selected and was free to go home. But at least I was able to pick up my check... for $11.27!

Fuck you Judicial System! But furthermore fuck you Pauly Shore! YES YOU PAULY SHORE! You think I don't remember Jury Duty?!

For those of you too young to know Pauly Shore was a VJ on MTV in the 90's who somehow became the star of multiple movies (in the same vein as other confusing 'celebrities' like paris hilton and the cast of jersey shore). What's more confusing or somewhat sadder is that I also own all of his movies. The best (in my opinion) being Jury Duty.

Now Pauly Shore's movie concepts are all the same. Super cool guy everyone loves (a stretch right at the start) deals with being in an extra-ordinary circumstance. These included the south (Son-in-Law), the Army (in the army now), a bio-dome (bio dome) and of course the court system (Jury Duty).

What's confusing about Jury Duty is that this movie is basically a parody of 12 Angry Men, a movie that most of Pauly's key-demographic wouldn't see for another 10 years (if they see it at all). I remember being in a film class watching 12 Angry men for the first time and going "holy shit! It's like Jury Duty!" I realize that this connection either made me the most unique kid in film classic or the biggest idiot in film class. I'm leaning towards the former though, the dumbest kid in class was definitely the one who asked if "thelma and louise survived at the end".

For Pauly Shore Jury Duty is a great experience leading to a life of luxury for him and his adorable dog, furthermore his slacker-dumb keeps an innocent man from getting the death penalty (through a series of highly impossible circumstances). What they left out is the miserable, uncomfortable and 2 hour selection process.

The moral of the story is when you get summoned... LIE! LIE YOUR ASS OFF! You're a racist, you're a drug dealer, you're dad is dying and you're taking care of him... whatever it takes!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sex, Drugs & Cocoa Puffs - Book Review

The first book I ever read that I actually enjoyed was Stephen Chbosky's Perks of Being a Wallflower. The problem with this book however was that it basically became the ONLY book i enjoyed reading. It wasn't until my freshmen year in college when I started to sincerely start reading, I worked at a really shitty store in the mall that was across the hall from the borders books. Being an employee almost as shitty as the store I worked at, I started locking up the store for 10 minutes to walk across the hall and purchase books to keep me entertained.

My friend Shrop was constantly mentioning this book in casual conversation about a year previous. I picked up Klosterman's 3rd novel Killing Yourself to Live and absolutely loved it. I eventually ordered a copy of Sex Drugs & Cocoa Puffs. About a week later while at work my cell phone rang informing me my book had arrived. I immediately closed up shop and walked across the hall to pick it up.

Now for those of you who don't know; Chuck Klosterman is a pop culture essayist who has written 3 books of pop culture essays (SD&CP, Chuck Klosterman IV and Eating the Dinosaur), 2 semi-autobiographic books about a specify focus of Pop Culture (Fargo Rock City about Metal; Killing Yourself to Live about how death affects celebrity) and a Novel (Downtown Owl). Sex Drugs & Cocoa Puffs is probably his most well loved and well known book. I agree with this opinion.

While I sat at this shitty job reading (we made on average; 10-15 sales a day... if we were lucky; so I had plenty of time to read), it only took page 2 to decide that this may be the best book i ever purchased. Little did I know that it would join the ranks of Bret Easton Ellis' Rules of Attraction and Nick Hornby's High Fidelty as a book I've reread more than 5 times.

What's Klosterman's best skill is that he is able to write his opinions in a way that even if you 100% disagree with his assessment (for me it's chapter 12: Sulking with Lisa Loeb on Planet Hoth where he trashes the Star Wars trilogy), you basically find yourself agreeing with points that being said by any other person you'd be infuriated and screaming.

It's difficult to review a book like this because I don't want to spoil anything. So I'll just say this: If you are interested in knowing why Coldplay and John Cusack ruined love, why Billy Joel is cool because he's completely uncool (but not like Elvis Costello), or how the Dixie Chicks are the new Van Halen, then check out Chuck Klosterman's Sex Drugs & Cocoa Puffs (and then get everything else the man has ever written).

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Confessions of a Childhood Gore Hound

Geekscape is not a paying job. I hope one day it will be. But for now, it's not. That doesn't mean it doesn't have it's perks, beyond interviews with awesome guests and press passes to pretty much any convention, I also get packages in the mail of movies to review. Yesterday I got such a package, the first 22 minutes of Full Moon Features new movie Evil Bong 3D: The Wrath of Bong. It made me think about junior high.

It was the summer before I started 6th grade. Two things happened almost back to back. I rented the movie The Frightners (which was my first 'real' horror movie; although it was more of a horror-comedy)... I LOVED the movie, that same week my cousin David made me watch Scream. It was official, after years of being a pansy that didn't like the sight of blood... now i wanted to actively track down the worst of the worst. It'd start with borrowing movies from different people. Slowly I saw the classics, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street.

In 6th grade however my parent's got an account at the local mom & pops store. I remember the first day I went there on my own. I had been talking to a kid named Adam in class and we decided to hang out after school sometime. Eventually it turned into a "sleep-over" and we decided to grab some movies. Walking through the aisles of horror movies we decided on Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Demonic Toys.

I began frequenting the video store every Friday after school. Picking up everything that I could get my hands on from Full Moon Pictures, Troma Entertainment and Empire Pictures. At the time I didn't understand Troma... I found their movies cheap and stupid. I was more of a Full Moon kid back in those days. (now that's almost completely reversed; full moon is fun but Troma is down-right brilliant).

The Summer was when it got at it's up most ridiculous. I discovered that if you returned movies the day after you rented them, your next rental was free. I'd ride my bike to the video store, pick up 3 movies, pedal back home, order a cheesesteak and make a day out of it. It was then that I started discovering movies like Bad Channels, Basket Case and Evil Dead 2.

I miss those days; as I think every gore hound does. There was something special about those afternoons. You'd never fast forward the trailers, it was the only way to know what was coming next. You'd watch Troma's Lloyd Kaufman hosted intros to each movies as well as wait after the trailers of the Full Moon Pictures for the making of segments titled VideoZone. These were the hey-days of B-horror. And I miss them. You watch films like Puppet Master 3 and there's such a legitimate passion behind them, there was an art-form. As I'm sitting here watching films like Evil Bong, Terror Toons and Gingerdead Man, there's no car or passion, just a desperate money grab with shit effects and down-and-out stars.

There is a beckon of light however for Horror, it lines in the hands of people like James Gunn, Adam Greene, Gregg Bishop, Robert Masciantonio and Rob Zombie. They're out there making movies like Dance of the Dead, Slither, Neighbor and Hatchet. They show a true passion for horror, a love for low-budget "cgi-free" effects and fun stories. If you haven't seen the films of these directors, go and track them down. They're currently the only people saving horror from being nothing but remakes and sequels.