The Blog Awakens

Hello neglected readers. Again, the perfect storm of procrastination, distraction, and general malaise has lead to blog atrophy. Since I’m no longer encumbered by a day job, I figure there’s no time like the present to put off the job search and give you something to wrap your eyeballs around.

The big day is on the horizon. The newest installment of Star Wars will be forcing itself on the movie-going public in a matter of days, shattering box office records and re-branding just about every consumer product in the known universe. Before it gets here and sets the new standard by which all seventh movies in a franchise will be judged, I thought we should take a moment and figure out which movie series is the current holder of the title: Best Seventh Movie. Obviously we’re not going to use any objective metric like box office gross or award nominations. In many cases, except for a couple of the ones on this list, any franchise that has gone that long is at the point of self-parody by plucky number seven. Let me point out that I haven’t actually seen all of these, but don’t let that dampen my expert-sounding tone.

7. Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond) – I’ve never been a James Bond guy. Sure, Sean Connery is the definition of cool, but when I was a kid I was more drawn to his turns in Highlander and Time Bandits. Awesome as being a super spy was, I wanted to be immortal and time travel with a group of British midgets. So, this belongs in the category of “haven’t seen,” but since this is the first major franchise to have a seventh movie (besides the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby “Road to…” movies), I figured it deserved a mention.

6. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (Nightmare on Elm St.) – While I wasn’t much of a James Bond guy, I am a die hard Freddy Kruger guy. I’ve seen all of them. The recent reboot, like most recent reboots, is sacrilege. With franchises that run this long there is a general rule of thumb as far as quality. With the Nightmare on Elm St. movies, it’s the odd numbered ones that stand out. This first is a classic, Dream Warriors is fantastic (with a cast that includes Lawrence Fishburne and Patricia Arquette), and Dream Child is one of the campiest entries, with Freddy at his catch-phrasiest. Which brings us to the New Nightmare. This was Wes Craven’s attempt to make Freddy relevant again by rooting him in the “real lives” of the people who made the original film. Freddy has now transcended the screen. He’s pissed that the series is over and the only way to stop him is for Wes Craven and Heather Langenkamp (Nancy) to make another movie. They try to up the creep factor by making Heather’s son, who looks like he just came home from the Overlook Hotel, the conduit for Freddy’s reemergence.

It mostly pays homage to the original movie and tries to recreate some of the iconic deaths. Even if it’s not close to as scary, this was the precursor to Wes Craven’s Scream series about a “real life” horror killer that you have to follow a set of cinematic tropes to take down.

5. Star Trek: Generations – Like I mentioned earlier, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to any long-running franchise. With Star Trek, it’s the even numbers. Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, and Undiscovered Country are all varying degrees of awesome. The only redeeming quality of Search for Spock was Christopher Lloyd as the lead Klingon… funny that they ended up time traveling in his ship for the next movie. Anyway, Generations had a tough legacy to overcome. Not only that, this movie was to be the bridge between the decaying original cast and the new class of Federation heroes that would carry the torch. Obviously, in order to do that, time needed to be rendered irrelevant. So, we’re introduced to the Nexus, an extradimensional realm which allows those who enter to experience their pasts over again, whenever and however they choose, to ultimate and unending ecstasy. Kirk is stuck there and Picard must convince him to leave so they can team up to stop Soran, Malcolm MacDowell, from chewing the scenery into oblivion. It’s a fun romp and we get to see Kirk get one last hurrah before taking up the mantle of Priceline Negotiator.

4. Furious 7 – This goes into the category of ones I haven’t seen. I take that back. I have seen the first Fast & Furious, so I’ve technically seen them all. Cars, guns, bad-assery, and combinations of all three jumping out of planes, crashing through skyscraper windows, and ignoring any basic laws of physics. Not a complaint, mind you. Movies like this are about spectacle and this one bugs the viewer’s eyes out like the love struck wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon…
Plus, now that I’m looking at the cast, you’ve got Tony Jaa as a henchman. Holy shit. If you don’t know who Tony Jaa is, allow me to enlighten you…

Long story short, do not fuck with this man’s elephant. Furious 7 also features the emotional goodbye to Paul Walker, who died doing pretty much trying to rehearse for the movie. Again, haven’t seen it, but I plan on giving it a looksee.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 – The first half of the last in the Harry Potter series finds Harry and his pals on a quest to destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. I think that’s the plural of horcrux. The plural of vortex is vortices, so maybe it’s horcuces. I’m not going to try to parse the grammar of made up words. I’m just glad it’s not a damn emoji or something. This movie marks the first time in the series where it wasn’t super creepy to look at Hermoine in the way that most creeps were doing since The Sorcerer’s Stone. This was also the first movie in the series that broke from the formula that was established in the first one: Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts turns out to be a tool of Voldemort, Harry figures this out, wins a Quidditch match, uses whatever object happens to be in the title to beat back Voldemort, rinse, repeat.

2. X-Men: Days of Future Past – The X-Men franchise has been spotty. It’s got two real quality entries, X2 and X-Men: First Class, and two that are widely regarded as two of the worst comic book movies ever made, those being X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Days of Future Past, much like Star Trek: Generations, serves as a bridge between the original cast (again with Patrick Stewart) and the prequels that have rejuvenated the franchise. Wolverine, who is basically just walking sinew at this point, is sent back in time to prevent the cataclysmic future that the X-Men are currently facing: Sentinels that can adapt to their mutations to take them out. This movie hinges on two great set pieces. The first is the prison break of Magneto with the mutant Quicksilver. Since Marvel and 20th Century Fox both technically have rights to the character, both decided to include him in their respective sweeping super storylines. This is the superior handling of the two.

The second awesome set piece is Magneto picking up RFK Stadium and dropping it on the White House lawn. The action in the movie is great and Michael Fassbender does a great job lending gravitas to a role that was previously inhabited by one of the best actors of a generation.

1. Creed (Rocky) – If you haven’t seen Creed, GO. SEE. CREED. When I mentioned that many franchises that go this long become a parody of themselves, this was where the Rocky franchise had gone. People forget that Rocky won the Oscar for Best Picture. Rocky II was a good movie. Rocky’s III and IV are 80s cult classics, but they’re cartoonish as hell. I need to go back and watch the boxing sequences in the first two movies, because watching the matches in Rocky III and IV, it’s a wonder how any of those fights went longer than 30 seconds. They just pummel each other in the head with no thought of defending. The fifth and sixth in the series are hot garbage. Creed brings the respectability back to Sylvester Stallone that makes you all but forget Stop or My Mom Will Shoot! Google it. It follows the story of Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son, Adonis, who seeks out Rocky Balboa to train him. I mentioned the boxing from III and IV, well they actually make the boxing look and feel real this time. The only thing that was missing was a dream sequence that could’ve brought Carl Weathers into it somehow. Sort of like in Happy Gilmore. Or maybe as a ghost Jedi.

Thanks for reading. I hope I can make a regular go at this again, but I’m easily distracted…

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Yub Nub

Hey there, ‘Redheads… Happy Star Wars Day to one and all. See, it’s May the 4th… May the 4th be with you… Get it? Sort of a Dork-o de Mayo. Celebrated in basements around the world. Dorks in brown bathrobes swatting at Death Star pinatas with a lightsaber. If you’re going to celebrate properly, remember to include a moment of silence for those lost on Alderaan. Or, if you favor the dark side, pour some Correlian Ale on the ground for the Imperial forces that perished on the Death Star…

Ok, here’s some fun obscure Star Wars stuff to quench your nerd thirst. Like Richard Pryor as the bartender in another intergalactic bar…

Or maybe a bad ass lightsaber fight is more your speed…

Or maybe you want to know what if Lucas had a French existentialist influence…

Remember, Han shot first and Jar Jar kicks puppies…

See you Thursday…

Take Two Pillows…

Good morning, ‘Redheads… It’s Day 2 of Blog-A Day in May and, so far, I haven’t missed a day (small victories, people). I’m working on about 3 hours of sleep after doing three shows at the Baltimore Comedy Factory last night, then having to scrape myself out of bed with a spatula to come to work this morning. I am formerly hausted. Normally, I try to work my schedule so I don’t have to do the day job on a Factory weekend, but things didn’t quite work out this time, so I’ll be spending today shambling around like an extra in a George Romero flick (brains, anyone?…anyone?). And that last show was a complete drunken fustercluck.

Allow me to explain. First, let me say that the Factory is one of my favorite clubs. The staff is great, the place is a block away from a Five Guys, and the crowds are generally awesome. However, the Factory does two things that alot of other clubs don’t…they have a late late show on Friday night and they offer all-you-can-drink tickets to entice patrons. This can create a perfect storm for drunken mayhem in the audience, making it a crapshoot for the comics stepping on stage. By “crapshoot”, I meant the crowd could literally begin shooting crap at you. Basically, the crowd was too drunk to want to pay attention, and those that did thought they were participating in some sloshed McLaughlin Group, with every joke being a chance for a drunk slunt (look it up) to try to make the show all about them. Oy vey. I felt like I should’ve started my set with, “We, who are about to die, salute you!” But that was just last night and I needed blog material. I’ve also been a part of some great Friday late late shows there. Just sayin’…last night’s crowd stunk out loud.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of two showbiz greats. Yesterday, Sin City lost one of it’s biggest performers, Danny Gans. He died in is sleep at age 52. I never got to see Danny Gans, but whenever I was planning a trip to Vegas, my parents would always tell me to go to his show. He was a musical impressionist…not exactly my brand of vodka, but everyone tells me he was amazing…

Also, last weekend, the world lost Bea Arthur. Instead of thanking her for being a friend, I thought I’d share a rare clip of her with the late great Harvey Korman in… The Star Wars Holiday Special. I shit you not. Stick with it, she shows up about a minute in. Enjoy.

Bea, we hardly knew ye…

See you tomorrow…

Gravy

Hey there ‘Redheads… I wanted to shoehorn one more installment into Yesvember, before the last couple days were lost to food coma. So consider this a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of gaudy, over-inflated, and poorly expressed ideas to help distract you from candied yams, Detroit Lions football, and the awkward interaction with the sap of your family tree. A big fat thank you for tolerating me thus far. And away we go…

I just got back from the bris for my buddy Seth’s new little munchkin, Ethan Perry…who will eventually be a member of the cast of the 2028 (when our already insipid retro ironic self-referential pop culture is hip again, ripping a hole in time…get all that?) revival of 90210, with a name like that. This was the second winky snipping that I’ve witnessed. Only slightly less cringe-inducing than the last one. The kid put up a bit of a fight, when he peed on the mohel right before the circumsnippage (look it up) occurred. For some reason, the mohel had a bluetooth in his ear the whole time, I guess in case of a last minute pardon from the governor.

On Saturday, I took a trip down to the newly re-opened American History Museum. The cosmetic overhaul was well done, but I found the content of the place to be a bit lacking, particularly the pop culture representation. Sure, the regular history stuff is cool, but I was looking forward to seeing Fonzie’s jacket, Archie Bunker’s chair, or Herve Villechaize (coulda sworn he was there). Well, none of that is there anymore. Here’s a sampling of what was on display…you tell me if I’m being unfair. One case was devoted to women’s basketball…you heard me. The next case over was hip-hop themed, with Grandmaster Flash’s turntable and Fab Five Freddie’s boom box. Across from that was a case with boxing gloves from Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey, and, of course, Rocky. Then there was a case that had Apolo Anton Ohno’s speedskates…c’mon, this is the American History Museum, not a silent auction for the ice capades. Next to that, was something that actually belonged there, Kermit the Frog. The next case contained another muppet, Oscar the Grouch, the puffy shirt from Seinfeld, and the ventriloquist dummy from the 70’s tv show, Soap. Then there was the centerpiece of the exhibit, the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. It was a pretty paltry hodgepodge. No mention of pop culture heavyweights Superman, Elvis, The Beatles, or Mickey Mouse. Luckily, the museum didn’t completely slight Star Wars. They had C3-P0 by the main entrance of the museum among a general sampling of historical trinkets. There was also an appearance by R2-D2, who rolled and beeped through the halls of the museum under remote control, courtesy of the DC chapter of the R2-D2 Builders Club. According to their brochure, they’re an internet based fan club (shocker) with over 5000 members…cluttering parents’ basements worldwide. The droids they had on display were pretty impressive…give ’em a click and check it out. While we’re on the subject, please enjoy this chunk of dork meat…

And while we’re at it, here’s a second helping…

Ok, enough of that. Here are some random processed joke-like product that’s been kicking around in my head the last couple days…

The inventor of the slinky died. He fell down the stairs…slowly. Actually, he got stuck with three steps left to go and someone had to push him the rest of the way down…

I have a Siamese twin-size bed. It’s two beds, connected at the headboard.

I’m bothered by the phrase “take a nap”. Like it’s not yours. Where are people taking these naps from?
“Jeez, Bill, you look like crap. You get enough sleep?”
“No, somebody took my nap.”

Thanks.