Thursday, March 29, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
When I became friends with the close friends in my life right now they introduced me to a bunch of bands that I love. At one point they played me Punchline: Action and said ‘it’s a shame that this band never made a good album after this one.’ Since they had never misled me previously I believed them and only bought Action. Then I met Jonathan London.
Jonathan sent me the trailer for his TV show Pilot Singledom and I hear this insanely catchy song in the background. It was a piano-driven pop punk song called “Somewhere in the Dark”. When I asked him about it, he informed me it was a new song off Punchline’s upcoming album. I picked up the album Just Say Yes the day it came out. A week later my girlfriend broke up with me. I’d be a liar if I said that Just Say Yes didn’t help me through the roughest patches of that break up.
When the album came out Jonathan’s website Geekscape.net wrote various reviews on the album. One particular review was written by Ben Dunn. He discussed how the album works as a perfect companion-piece to 37 Everywhere. Since Just Say Yes had made such a huge impact on my dealing with the break up I decided to pick up 37 Everywhere as well and it immediately became one of the top pop punk albums I’d ever heard.
My friends will always make fun of me for my preference of this album over Action but I don’t care, 37 Everywhere is the best album Punchline ever put out in my eyes. Over the years I’ve become friendly with the guys in Punchline (Specifically Chris) and enjoyed seeing their E.P. most recently top the iTunes Rock Chart for a few hours but as much as I love all their albums, none will hold the place in my heart that 37 Everywhere did.
Just Say Yes sang lyrics about surviving the break-up and that was nice and helpful. But 37 Everywhere spoke of the of anger which I was feeling and felt. Songs like Flashlight, The Getaway and The Fake, The Snake and the Birthday Cake all spoke of the anger and confusion of a break up. I’ve read rumors that say that the songs are actually about former guitarist Paul Menotiades but I’ve refused to ask the guys if this is true because I want to continue to believe they are about the heart-break I was feeling.
Everytime I hear this album I can’t help but think that this should have been the biggest pop punk album of all time. Sadly the band was release sandwiched between Fall Out Boy’s massive From Under The Cork Tree and after it was released Gym Class Heroes: As Cruel As School Children came out a couple months later.
Punchline has continued to remain the underdog in the pop punk game, but I like it that way sometimes. So thank you Steve, Thank You Chris, Thank You Greg and Thank you PJ. You helped a depressed 23 year old get through a rough break up in 2008.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Killer Klowns from Outer Space has been one of my favorite horror movies since I was a little kid; it’s hard to decide if you can really call it a horror movie though. I do know that as a little kid, the scene in which the little klown punched a biker’s head off used to scare the crap out of me. I have two distinct memories of the film, the first time was being little and watching it in the backroom of my house. I remember being mesmerized by the clown costumes as well as the over-all weirdness of the movie.
When I was a kid my parents got an account at a mom and pops video store. The first movie I ever got from that mom and pops shop was actually Killer Klowns. At the time it was the first time that I had seen the movie in roughly 10 years, watching in late-junior high/early-high school vs. early elementary school I saw some of the homage’s and understood that unlike most “adult films” I had been exposed to by my family, this was all about having fun.
The movie opens with teenagers Mike and Debbie camping out in the back of a pick-up truck staring at the stars when they see a shooting star seeming to crash in a near-by farm. The Farmer and his dog Pooh-bear go to investigate it but instead find a circus tent in the woods. They go to find an entrance to see the show but instead are quickly killed by the Klowns. Mike and Debbie show up as well and enter the circus tent, while inside they find a room with some bundles of cotton candy, which apparently have human bodies in the core.
They go to the police where Debbie’s ex Dave works (with the always grouchy and paranoid Sgt. Mooney). Mooney is convinced they’re pulling a prank based on Mike’s friendship with the pranksters turned ice cream truck drivers the Terenzi Brothers. They return Debbie to her house but when they arrive to the farm the circus tent is gone. Dave starts to think that Mooney was right this was all a prank.
Meanwhile the Klowns are creating chaos in the streets but Mooney ignores the citizens phone calls as all part of a giant scheme to trick Mooney. Eventually a Klown comes into the police station and Mooney locks him up. As Dave is driving Michael to jail they see a Klown capture a group of townspeople and believes Mike’s story. They rush to the police station to warn Mooney only to discover that he’s dead and being used as a ventriloquist dummy by the klown he arrested. In an attempt to defend himself, Dave begins firing his gun at the klown finally finding it’s weak spot, destroying it’s big red nose will cause the klowns to explode!
The klowns kidnap Debbie in a big balloon and take her to their spaceship (now hidden on a pier). Mike, Dave & the Terenzi brothers follow the klowns to their ship and save Debbie. Suddenly the gigantic “KlownZilla” comes out and grabs Dave as Mike and Debbie make a break for it. The spaceship starts to ascend back into outer space but Dave pops Klownzilla’s nose using his badge. Klownzilla’s explosion is so great that it blows up the ship also, luckily Mike and the Terenzi brothers are saved by hiding in an ice cream truck.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space is generally well received as a good mindless fun comedy-horror, but there are some great homages and many memorable moments in there as well. Much like the movie Tremors the film is a giant homage to 1950’s films, however while Tremors focused a little more on the Radioactive “giant monsters” and universal horror movies, Killer Klowns plays off more of the sci-fi aliens attacking a town concept. The opening with the Farmer and his dog are very reminiscent of The Blob (who’s remake was released the same year as Killer Klowns).
The Choido brothers really pull out all the punches with their concept. They manage to mix in every possible clown image into this movie and use wonderful word play to create memorable and bizarre death sequences. The klowns kill people with puppet shows, shadow puppets and pizza just to name a few. The most surreal moment (and the most vivid memory of the movie for me) comes from little pieces of “popcorn” that turn into clown heads on tentacles which explode out of Debbie’s hamper and toilet.
John Vernon’s performance of Officer Mooney is one of the most iconic “asshole” characters from the 80’s horror movies. His paranoia costs many people’s lives (including his own) and while you may feel bad for some of the people who are killed off (and there are A LOT) you’re okay when Mooney gets it in the end.
You can also thank the 80’s punk band “the Dickies” for giving us one of the greatest horror movie theme songs of all time.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
In the Spring of 2002 I came upon the strangest music video. It seemed to be stop motion lego to a fast two minute song. The video and music was unlike anything I had heard or seen. The video was for The White Stripes Fell in Love With a Girl and at the time I recalled most of my class hated the band. I however found the song (and it’s follow single Dead Leaves and Dirty Ground) to be catchy and new. Throughout the rest of the of 2002 a few more garage rock inspired ‘The’ bands came out including The Hives, The Strokes and The Vines but White Stripes was definitely the most unique of them all.
My interest in the band however remained quite minor until the Fall of 2002 at our high school coffee house. Throughout the night we had an open mic that anyone could come up and perform during. A friend of mine Rob Micun went up and covered the song Hotel Yorba and it was the highlight of the night for me. When he told me it was a song by White Stripes I went out that weekend and picked up the album and quickly fell in love with the diverse sounds of each track.
White Blood Cells takes all the elements of classic rock, garage rock and punk rock and mixes them into one crazy sound. The fact that a sound this intense comes from two people was absolutely unreal. You have the country-folk styling of Hotel Yorba followed by a punky Fell in Love with a Girl. You have a track like Little Room that’s just Jack White screaming over a pounding bass drum beat and then you have a song like Union Forever where Jack just starts reciting a song from Citizen Kane.
While my interest for bands like The Strokes and The Vines tends to rise and fall with each album and song I’ve always been impressed by the White Stripes be in their newer songs like Denial Twist or revisiting their older songs like Hello Operator.
Hotel Yorba still remains my favorite song in the bands history but there will always be a place in my heart for their cute lullaby-ish single We Are Gonna Be Friends. Listening to Jack’s simple guitar riff and cute lyrics about elementary school friendships will always touch a nostalgic part in my heart.
People always make references to albums that make you want to form a band. The White Stripes makes you realize you don’t even need a full band to form a band.
<------ 91. Punchy's Pilots: Otter Space
89. Punchline: 37 Everywhere ----->
Thursday, March 8, 2012
I don’t think anyone thought it could work. I certainly didn’t think it could when I found this gem of a film when I stayed home sick from school in the 90’s. A movie based on a board game? Really? But regardless I fell in love with it. I kept a close eye on my TV Guide waiting for the next time the movie would be shown on TV so I could record it. (I’m starting to realize that this is at least the 5th movie that I owned by taping it off TV; I’m worst than those fucking Internet pirates!)
Clue opens with Wadsworth (Tim Curry), a kind English butler as he arrives at a large mansion. He awaits his guest’s arrivals. The guests are all familiar names from the board game the widower Mrs. White (Madeline Kahn), former psychiatrist Professor Plum (Christopher Lloyd), a senator’s wife Mrs. Peacock (Eileen Brennan), a bordello owner Miss Scarlett (Lesley Ann Warren), a war profiteer Colonel Mustard (Martin Mull) and the eccentric and openly gay Mr. Green (Michael McKean) all who are being blackmailed by the seventh guest Mr. Boddy.
Mr. Boddy gives them each a gift containing various of weapons to kill Wadsworth and destroy the evidence of their wrong doings. As he turns out the lights to create chaos a gunshot is heard when the lights come back on Mr. Boddy lies on the floor dead. All the guests deny killing Mr. Boddy so they attempt to solve the mystery. As they explore the house they uncover the dead bodies of the cook and Yvette.
The body count rises when they are visited by a stranded motorist, a police officer and a singing telegram girl who are all mysteriously killed off.
Wadsworth concludes that he now knows who the murder is and frantically re-enacts the whole night.
This is where the film gets even more bizarre & interesting. Keeping in tune with the game Clue there were three different ending filmed that were sent to different theaters. On the TV, VHS and DVD releases however all three endings are placed at the end.
The first ending involves Miss Scarlett being the main culprit using Yvette (her former call girl) to kill Mr. Body and the Cook. Scarlett then killed Yvette and the other guest figuring out that were Mr. Boddy’s informants. She then tells the rest of the guests her plan to blackmail them all now. Wadsworth reveals himself to be an FBI agent and arrests her.
The second ending reveals Peacock to have murdered everyone and escapes as she holds everyone at gunpoint. Wadsworth then reveals himself to the guests as being a FBI agent and the police quickly arrest Mrs. Peacock.
The final endings reveals not one person committed the murders. Plum killed Mr. Boddy, Peacock killed the cook, Colonel Mustard killed the motorist, Scarlett killed the cop, Mrs. White killed Yvette and while everyone things Mr. Greene killed the singing telegram girl it’s revealed to have been Wadsworth (the actual Mr. Boddy), the man who Plum killed was the real butler. All the guests have killed Boddy’s accomplices and he plans to continue blackmailing them, until Mr. Greene shots and kills him revealing himself to be a FBI agent. The police arrive and arrest all the other guests.
This movie shouldn’t work. It’s not a perfect movie by any stretch of the imagination but it is far better than it ever had any business being. The casting for this movie is absolutely brilliant and perfect. Madeline Khan was one of the funniest female actresses in history and she shines in this movie however the star of the show is Tim Curry. People will say his best movie roles were Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror Picture Show or Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King’s It! but to me it doesn’t get any better than him running around this giant set piece yelling frantically and impersonality each actor’s mannerisms.
The Multiple endings and their long almost 20 minute reveal should be a joke that gets old of falls flat but instead it leads to some of the funniest reoccurring jokes and gags of the 80’s.
In 2008 Steven Spielberg & George Lucas released Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Most people found this movie to be awful (and those people are right), other people tried to fuel their denial of how bad the movie by going “well the movie takes place in the 1950s and Aliens were the big thing in the 50’s” Regardless if Crystal Skull attempted to have the 1950’s pulp feel… it failed to do it properly. Clue takes place in the mid-50’s and it managed to continue the feeling of screwball comedies and murder mysteries from that decade. If you enjoy that sharp tongued wit of the Marx Brothers or the fast pace energy of Arsenic and Old Lace then this movie is probably already on your DVD shelf.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
91. Punchy’s Pilots: Otter Space
This is the first of at least two (possibly 3) albums released by local bands. These will mostly be much shorter as the albums are harder to find/enjoy.
Punchy’s Pilots I discovered through another band. I had booked them for a show in West Chester, PA and they asked me if I could put their friend’s band on the line-up. I listened and instantly fell in love with the band. I immediately put them on the show.
At this point Punchy’s Pilots was a duo. It was also the only time I’d ever see them as a duo. I’d book Punchy’s PIlots over and over again throughout the years but from there on out it was always just multi-instrumentalist Thomas Barford with an acoustic guitar and an old accordian.
The best band to compare them to was They Might Be Giants. The songs were goofy and strange (in a musical sense) but lyrically there was always a deeper brilliance to them. I mean the album is called Otter Space for crying out loud. Look at how adorable that cover is!
The stand out tracks for me are the opening and closing songs To and Fro and Describing The Moon. In fact since hearing this album I’ve written countless unfilmed scripts, but my favorite is titled Describing the Moon. The whole soundtrack was (supposed) to be done by Punchy’s Pilots, specifically opening with Describing the Moon and closing with To and Fro.
Describing the Moon is quite literally a song about the moon. I asked Thomas once what it was about thinking the lyrics were symbolic and he simply said “once I was driving I thought ‘man that moon looks really big tonight’ and wrote a song about it”. Meanwhile To & Fro contains the lyrics like “I’ve got to find what I hid so many months ago/Did I leave it in a tree top, did I lose it in the snow/It’s too important to forget like I did three years or more/Would you aid me in my search or would you teach me to let go”. Without knowing what the songs about, I’ve always related to the words. Plus it has an awesome slide-whistle solo.
< ---- 92. Queen: Sheer Heart Attack
90. White Stripes: White Blood Cells ------>
Thursday, March 1, 2012
92. Pulp Fiction
I don’t think anyone was prepared for what Quentin Tarantino was about to drop on them in 1994. But it quickly became part of the our society’s vernacular. I didn’t see the movie until 2002/2003 but when I viewed I already knew half the movie from parodies on The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live and Family Guy. The dance sequence, the iconic clothing and the gimp I had already seen in every possible form (except the actual film).
I finally got around to watching the movie a day before going to Creation Festival for a week. So before indulging myself into a world of non-stop praise and worship, I watched 2 hours of sex, drugs and violence. I can’t tell you much about that festival, but I definitely remember watching Pulp Fiction. I curled up on the couch killing time until my girlfriend at the time arrived for our trip but quickly what was intended as ‘background noise’ turned into my full attention.
The dialogue was quick, the camera work was impressive and it didn’t feel like 2 hours at all. I had seen Reservoir Dogs earlier that year and I loved it but this film had completely grabbed my attention. This film is without a doubt the most important and influenical film of the 90’s and possibly in the last 30 years. But the film is far from perfect.
There are classic moments in the film for sure. Vincent and Mia’s date to Jack Rabbit Slim’s, any sequence with Samuel Jackson and the extreme intense needle injection all come to mind. However (and I may be alone here) but the first 20-25 minutes of Butch’s story completely bore me. It’s the only point in the movie where I start to recognize the amount of time I’ve spent watching it.
Regardless of this the film is a great example of the importance soundtrack can have on a film as well as how casting can make or break a movie. This film could have been terrible had anyone played the parts other than who was cast.
If you haven’t seen this Tarantino classic. Rent it right now.
<----- 93. Young Frankenstein
91. Clue ------>