Monday, August 23, 2010

The Expendables

I saw two of the best movies of the year over the weekend. I also saw The Expendables. Sylvester Stallone didn't put a lot of effort into the script so I think I'll return the favor with this review. It's nothing personal.

The Expendables was fun when shit was exploding, but a tedious, one-dimensional bore in the more "dramatic" moments. I was pulling for Stallone because I liked Rocky Balboa and Rambo, despite their flaws. He's my generation's John Wayne and I'm predisposed to root for him even when I probably shouldn't (am I the only person on earth who likes Oscar?)

Still, Stallone earned my respect for the scene that's probably going to be the most talked-about moment in the film: the three-way hamfest between him, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's a confusing, preposterous (maybe even unnecessary) moment, which is just barely saved by Stallone's willingness to let his co-stars run roughshod over him. It was an inspirational act of humility. I just wish the scene had something going for it beyond the star power.

There were other strong moments in the film. The fight between Jet Li and Dolph Lundren was a hoot (and possibly the most unbalanced fight since Bruce Lee when toe to toe with Kareem Abdul Jabbar.) I also got a kick out of Terry Crews automatic shotgun, and the scene where Stallone and Jason Statham blow the hell out of a dock. But there just wasn't much of a movie to connect these moments into anything cohesive.

And what was the deal with Mickey Rourke's hair? Was he filming this at the same time as Iron-Man 2, or is this just his new look?

Meanwhile, here are some theories from mc chris about the subtext of The Expendables. Read the original post here. Spoilers abound.

1. the CIA is heaven
2. church, bruce willis, is the CIA front
3. Eric Roberts was the CIA drugrunner that got kicked out. He is Satan.
4. Satan corrupts the hearts of men THE GENERAL and his SOLDIERS
5. the soldiers all wear red berets that have five five pointed stars. they are SOLDIERS OF SATAN
6. the general's daughter is the pure soul good and evil fight over.
7. right before dying the general asks for forgiveness.
8. when asked if he'll be back stallone says, i'm always here. He is GOD/JESUS.
9. jet li forgives dolph, the SINNER, at the very end.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Murder by Numbers

Stallone remains on top, which is no surprise ... but how would Schwarzenegger have fared had he been included on the list? The Terminator franchise might skew the curve in his favor, not to mention the final 20 minutes of Commando.

EDIT: I had a reader this weekend point out that I'd misread Stallone and Lundgren's numbers. I'm going to let the post stand, though, so it doesn't look like I'm trying to hide my error. Maybe I should have labeled this IDIOT instead of EDIT.

R2-D2 smart phone is coming

A limited-edition R2-D2 model Droid phone is coming next month from Motorola. Available Sept. 30, the new smart phone will be loaded with Star Wars related goodies and be limited to 50,000 pieces. The website for the phone is now live, and you can get updates on the product at the Droid Twitter feed.

From the press release:
Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the original trilogy's beloved middle chapter by bringing home one of its most iconic characters. Announcing the limited edition Star Wars™: The Empire Strikes Back™ DROID R2-D2 from Verizon.

With all the features of the new Droid 2, including a Mobile Hotspot, intuitive QWERTY keyboard and Android 2.2, plus exclusive Star Wars content and applications.

This collector's edition, limited-run device will be as rare a find as R2 himself. Watch for further email updates to get pricing and availability info, and to be sure you are among the few who this R2-D2 will faithfully serve.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sucker Punched

The website for Zach Snyder's 2011film Sucker Punch has been live for only a few weeks but has already amassed an interesting collection of marketing material. In addition to an amazing trailer are these little beauties: individual posters for the film's main cast.

Trailer for "WTF?! The Motion Picture"

OK, the the movie's really titled I'm Still Here. Personally, I think my title better captures whatever it is Casey Affleck and Joaquin Phoenix are trying to accomplish here ... regardles, they've got my attention.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The 2010 Coney Island Cockabilly Roadshow @ Columbia, SC

Hick'ry Hawkins and the Panty Sniffers.

The rain would not be denied.
Just as the sun began to set Friday the skies opened and dumped a month’s supply of rain on the city in a few hours. A wet patch in a four-lane highway was so deep it almost stopped my car dead in its tracks. The visibility was measured in inches instead of feet and the red and blue lights of emergency vehicles blurred through the streets as the gods arbitrarily decided to test everyone’s driving skills at once. It was goddamn miserable.

Jason and the Punknecks
So, I wasn’t all that surprised when I got to New Brookland Tavern and saw an extensive collection of buckets scattered around the club to collect errant rain water. But that’s the thing about these kinds of clubs: they exist in a Bizarro World that inverts our otherwise Christian standards of decency. Nobody really wants to go to a club that’s classier than they are. In fact, we kinda want to drink in a place that’s 15 minutes away from death because it makes our own personal finis seem that much more distant. And if the acts have lives shittier than our own, so much the better.

Using those criteria, New Brookland Tavern is a well-designed club. Which is to say it’s horribly designed, but it perfectly meets the needs of a dirty, chaotic night of rock and roll. The stage is shoved into a corner and has given many a musician a taste of vertigo as they try to figure out to whom, exactly, they’re playing. The area designated for the audience isn’t much larger than the stage, while the bar area is spacious, open and parallel to the performers. It divides the club’s patrons into two distinct social classes: those who want to mingle and those who to see the band. And they’re standing next to each other just a few feet away from the performers.
The Holy Roller Sideshow
But that’s not the best part of NBT. A lot of clubs are built like churches of celebrity, carefully constructed to keep the artists and the audience from seeing any more of each other than absolutely necessary. There’s no such caste system at New Brookland Tavern. Any artist that doesn’t want to talk to their fans has to go wait in the van until the show begins. When the mens room door broke last Friday, we (artists and audience, men and women) even had to piss in front of each other. How's that for a level playing field?
Have I mentioned yet I love New Brookland Tavern? Because I don’t think I’m making myself clear enough. I love New Brookland Tavern. Love it.
Patron-created wall art at NBT. I Heart New Brookland Tavern.
Here’s the difference between a place like NBT and going to see, for instance, Bruce Springsteen. With the Boss you buy a ticket for about $150, sit in the nose bleed seats and watch him perform on stadium monitors because he’s too fucking far away to see with the naked eye. Then you go back to your car and spend another hour getting out of the parking lot wondering why you didn’t just stay home and listen to the CD instead.
At New Brookland Tavern last Friday I paid $10, saw a guy offer to let the audience staple his balls to his thigh for $100, got invited to a strip club and had June Carter’s satanic love child feed me half of her cinnamon roll. I left the club damp, drunk and pretty damn satisfied with the night.

Hick'ry Hawkins.
Appearing at NBT last Friday was the 2010 Coney Island Cockabilly Roadshow, a tour that comes close to defying description. It feels like a much more intimate version of Lollapalooza’s golden age, combining rockabilly, outlaw country, a burlesque review and … well, I don’t want to use the term “Freak Show” because it understates just how fucked up the entire tour really is. But yeah, a freak show.
Let me put it this way: It’s like an Andy Hardy movie directed by David Lynch, scripted by Iggy Pop and scored by an orchestra of the damned. I wouldn’t have been surprised had I seen a 20-year-old Jerry Lee Lewis come staggering in with the rest of the crew.
The whole thing definitely has a “Let’s Put on a Show” vibe, one that matched the sometimes tactile NBT environment to a tee. One minute you’re having a drink next to a guy with his whole life literally tattooed on his face, the next you’re pissing in a urinal in full view of beautiful burlesque models.
On the bill, in no particular order, were The Squidling Bros. Circus Sideshow, Guitar Bomb, Jason and the Punknecks, Viva Le Vox, Hick'ry Hawkins and the Holy Roller Sideshow. To illustrate how fast and loose this tour is, arguably the night’s main attraction – Hick’ry Hawkins – didn’t have his own band and was backed by an assortment of musicians taken from the night’s other acts. And IT ROCKED.
It helped that Hawkins had an amazing talent pool to pull from for his temp band (called The Panty Sniffers, if you must know.) As we like to say here in the South, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a profoundly talented musician. And yes, we really talk like that.

Viva La Vox.
My two favorite musical shocks of the night were members of Guitar Bomb and Jason and the Punknecks. First up is Polly Punkneck of, naturally, Jason and the Punknecks. Picture if you will (and you don’t really have a choice … I’m the one writing this fucker) the product of a Star Trek transporter accident involving June Carter and Wendy O. Williams. This crazy, beautiful bitch was born for the stage like nobody else I’ve ever seen.
Guitar Bomb’s Mikey Devigne also made an impression on me. The two-piece outfit made an unholy amount of noise and had a kineticism that was equal parts bluegrass and speed metal, minus the corny fetishism that goes along with those genres. In a lot of ways Guitar Bomb was the most “real” act of the night … just two guys in street clothes who were more interested in music than image.

Guitar Bomb.
All in all, though, I dug the whole show. Strippers, birth defects and dirty, dirty rock and roll … what’s not to like? And Hick’ry Hawkins wore his Johnny Thunders coat for the event, which was a plus. I fell asleep later the next morning reminded that rock isn’t dead, despite the long-term assassination campaign waged on it by mainstream radio and television over the last 60 years. What happened at New Brookland Tavern last weekend was nothing less than an underground resistance movement. And I’m ready to sign up for duty.

NOTE: All photos by me.

The Illustrated Penguin.

2010 Coney Island Cockabilly Roadshow DATES
August 20 : Milestone (Charlotte, NC)
August 21 : Plaza Bowl (Richmond, VA)
August 22 : The Taphouse at Ghent (Norfolk, VA)
August 24 : Sidebar (Baltimore, MD)
August 25 : Asylum (Washington, DC)
August 26 : North Star (Philadelphia, PA)
August 27 : The Abbey Bar (Harrisburg, PA)
August 28 : Asbury Lanes (Asbury Park, NJ)
August 29 : Lady Luck (Black Rock, CT)
August 31 : The Dover Brickhouse (Portsmouth, NH)
September 1 : Middle East (Boston, MA)
September 2 : Club Hell (Providence, RI)
September 3 : Sideshow by the Seashore (Coney Island USA)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?

Jon Stewart not only interviewed George Lucas at this weekend's Star Wars Celebration ... he also got a gift: a custom action figure depicting the Daily Show host as a stormtrooper. And no, you can't have one.

From the press release: Earlier this afternoon at STAR WARS Celebration V in Orlando, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart sat down for a one-hour interview with STAR WARS creator George Lucas in what was billed “The Main Event.” Hasbro is proud and honored to create a special gift for Stewart, which Lucas presented to him during the event – a one of a kind (NOT FOR SALE) 3.75-inch Jon Stewart Stormtrooper action figure! The figure, which is packaged on a unique blister card, includes a removable helmet and two interchangeable heads sculpted in Stewart’s likeness – one with a clean shaven face and the other styled with Stewart’s recent goatee.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What's white and sells hambugers? Part 3

One last post about last weekend's screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Charleston, S.C.:
Tom Steenhuysen (who you can find at got some terrific photos of the cast. An album of his pictures can be found at BackRow Productions' Facebook page. Tell them I said hello!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blackstar Warrior trailer

Heroes and Villains

I really hate that I missed this event. It's not like I didn't have ample warning, but I was running on fumes last night and wasn't always entirely sure what planet I was on. I would have bet Golgafrincham. I would have lost that bet.

Anyhoo, Big Mammas House of Burlesque held the Heroes and Villains show last night at the Visualite Theater (a place better known as Unknown Hinson's home away from home.)

Lucky for us, the Carolina Ghostbusters were there and took a lot of photos of the Charlotte, N.C., event. They've got dozens of shots posted at their Facebook page, which you can find here.

What's white and sells hambugers? Part 2

Me, with the Charleston, S.C., Rocky Horror "shadowcast."
Or the cast of Watchmen: The Next Generation. I forget.
I finally saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show with an audience this weekend and had a blast. I wasted a lot of bandwidth this year writing about my past frustrations with the film (which date back to 1986) but you can catch up with those posts by clicking here.

I caught the film at the Terrace Theater in Charleston, S.C. Despite the punishing thunderstorm that hit Friday night it was reportedly a record turn-out for the monthly performance. I met the "shadowcast" troupe outside before the show and grabbed a few photos with them. I'm tempted to call them a "motley crew" but that shitty, shitty hair band has ruined that term forever ... so let me call them "a bunch of uninhibited badasses" instead. You can find them on Facebook here.

The volunteers sold a Rocky Horror Survival Kit which was really helpful seeing as how me and my photographer/personal assistant* never got around to buying any props for the show. Among the items inside was a page from the Charleston Post and Courier for use against the "rain" ... and I soon saw how much times had changed since the first audience participation bug took hold back in 1979. In the golden age of RHPS the crowd used hand-held squirt guns. Last weekend we were hit with supersoakers.

Rocky Horror "virgins"show the audience what they REALLY learned in college.

While the shadowcast didn't look much like the movie's cast (except the woman playing Columbia ... HOLY CRAP did she nail it) they were a lively lot that never let the movie get boring. I had such a good time that I wasn't even disappointed when the storm knocked out power during the final minutes of the film. It just added to the chaotic fun of the evening's entertainment.

Riff Raff see through your bullshit.

So, if you live in South Carolina and want to see Rocky Horror, visit the Terrace Theater the first Friday of every month. I traveled about 5 hours for last weekend's screening and wasn't disappointed.

* I just want to see if she actually reads this thing. She took all of the photos on this page ... I was way too drunk to operate a camera.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Buffy the Enamel Slayer

Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer figured out a long time ago that the show is dead, never to return. There's an outside chance that Sarah Michelle Gellar will someday come to terms with her Shatneresque relationship with the character, but by that time she'll be more concerned with osteoporosis, menopause and a conflicting offer to star in a revival of Murder, She Wrote.

Until then, fans will have to content themselves with the Dark Horse "Season 8" comic series, as well as a new series of drinks from Jones Soda featuring characters from the show. The bottles feature art from the great Georges Jeanty, who's made a few appearances at G33K4L1F3 since we launched earlier this year.

Head on over to the Jones website to check out flavors like Willow's Green Apple Witch's Brew and Buffy's Blue Bubblegum.

The Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense

The Periodic Table of Irrational Nonsense: Guaranteed to offend everybody. I'm Mulder in practice, but Scully at heart ... so this bit of art both delights and angers me. LEAVE MOTHMAN ALONE!

Random Awesomeness

Nico and Andy Warhol as Batman and Robin

San Diego ComicCon teaser for The Avengers

 Star Trek/Firefly mash-up via.

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