Video Breakdown – ‘Til Tuesday, (Believed You Were) Lucky

Before I get into this crazy-ass video for what really is a great song, let me lament that there aren’t more Aimee Manns in the world. There was a time, not long ago, when female singer-songwriters covered the earth in thick herds visible form space. Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and scores of others…there was Lilith Fair, there were the Indigo Girls on commercial radio…it was glorious. Now we have Taylor Swift. And Gods love her, she’s fine, but…she ain’t no Aimee Mann. Taylor’s simply not as talented. She’s not as deep. And no, she’s nowhere near as enthralling and sexy. Sigh. It’s true: I have harbored a crush on Aimee since the Voices Carry video, through her cameo on Rush’s Time Stand Still, continuing with I Should’ve Known and shit, even up to ’til now.

But let’s be honest, in this video…she’s a little wacky. But then, the whole thing is wacky. This track was co-written by Jules Shear, and fun trivia fact: he’s the “Jules” in ‘J’ for Jules, another brilliant song from this under-achieving album. Both ...Jules and our featured song for this Video Breakdown used to be part of a mixtape my old roommate Marcus would play in the room we shared in college. He’d packed it with soothing melodies to facilitate soundly sleeping, even if sometimes each of us would actually be quietly shagging our female companions in our respective twin beds. Hey, man…college.

So, let’s begin by watching the actual video, shall we? Open it in another tab if possible, because you may want to flip back and forth. Ready?  In the words of Fred Schneider,here it ’tis…

Away we go.

00:00 – Oh! Lindsey Buckingham?

00:09 – Surprise! It’s Debbie Harry! Or…wait…

00:16 – Is that a picture from The Haunted Mansion? A saw? A bow? A bow-saw? (Also, Aimee? Aimee! We’re over here!)

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.18.19 PM

Camera one, Aimee. Camera one. Camera ONE.

00:33 – And this was your father’s lightsaber…

00:49 – I think they could only afford greenscreen for the top third of this shot.

1:04 – Magic 8-Ball getting’ mighty preachy.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.20.36 PM

The new ones just say “Reply hazy. Fuck you.”

1:08 – Robo-hand has sweet knuckle tats like Robert Mitchum or Jake Blues.

1:10 – ILLUMINATI CONFIRMED!

1:13 – “Crap, guys. I couldn’t find a clover or horseshoe graphic. Let’s just spell out ‘lucky’ if it’s all the same to you.”

1:20 – “Aimee, show ’em the thing!”

1:23 – Birds: We’re free! Free from 8-ball enslavement!

1:30 – Black hole sun.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.22.55 PM

Are those…birds? Or did someone drop a bunch of Playtex gloves?

1:34 – Aimee? Hey! Over HERE!

1:40 – Wherein Aimee steps in a hole or something, and domino doors, because…um…

1:49 – WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.25.11 PM

Memories. Memories were in the box, asshole. And what looks like a spider.

2:00 – Took me a minute to realize that the shadows were from the objects still falling, ostensibly, from the previously-mentioned box. Nice touch. I guess whoever was in charge of continuity earned their paycheck on this shoot.

2:08 – What is that shit? Ash?

2:10 – Oh! Bubbles! We’re underwater with goldfish. That is lucky! (But goldfish can’t read.)

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.26.54 PM

|AT LEAST IT’S NOT MONOPOLY! HAHA!| (Translated from goldfish.)

 

2:13 – “Say, I wonder what my fate holds?”

2:14 – “FUCK! That can’t be good! Aw, man…”

2:18 – So we’re doing this again? This ‘Twilight Zone’ crap?

2:23 – Zoom in on young Peyton Manning.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.28.34 PM

He’s just patiently waiting for his chance to yell “OMAHA!”

2:30 – The Australian ‘Watership Down.’

2:40 – Finally! Dr. Who!

2:43 – Finally! The Doors!

2:45 – Aimee, open your eyes all creepy-like.

2:46 – Nice touch with that ‘Spock’ thing you’re doin’ there.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.30.00 PM

Actually, it looks more like a Dr. Evil move…

2:48 – The ‘Infinity Ticker-Tape” thing never really took off.

2:52 – Kids, that is a nice transition. Seriously, good match-dissolve.

2:59 – “ARE YE READY, KIDS?” (Because life. Life. In a pineapple. It’s de bubbles. Under the sea.)

3:03 – Those have to be snooker balls or something. Stupid English people gotta make everything fancy.

3:07 – “Lucky” is a great white-trash baby name, FYI.

3:12 – Time-lapse rose to symbolize…patience? I guess?

3:16 – Aimee puts her band on a pedestal. (No, fuck YOU!) Except…she’s up there, too…and Peyton does’t have his damn drums! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR DRUMS, PEYTON?!

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CAMERA ONE! GODDAMMIT, AIMEE!

3:22 – It is ALWAYS camera one! ALWAYS!

3:31 – ILLUMINATI!

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.33.16 PM

Laugh all you want, and then tell me what other reason there could possibly be for this. Huh, smart guy?

 

AAAAAAAAND SCENE.

So, to recap: Aimee Mann is a very talented singer/songwriter, but has no idea which camera to look into. The drummer for ‘Til Tuesday would grow up to shill pizza for Papa John’s. And in the 80’s you absolutely HAD to have a video. For every song you released. Sometimes your director had just depleted his last ounce of creativity trying to get Whitesnake to go in a more creative direction and, failing to do so, had gone on a three-day coke and alcohol bender before showing up on the set screaming “EIGHTBALL! WE’RE DOING THE EIGHTBALL SHOT!” (Double-meaning totally implied.)

Thanks for reading, and check out “Everything’s Different Now” by ‘Til Tuesday if you ever get a chance. Good stuff.

 

 

When Bad Guys Were P*ssies.

Maybe it was 9/11, you know? Like, maybe the horror and shock of that day forced us to ‘grow up’ for better or worse. We got tougher, a bit more wary and jaded. I don’t know. Maybe it was something else; Western Culture catching up a tiny bit with our European brethren, psychologically speaking. Whatever the case, the fact remains that back in the 80’s and early-90’s, we were soft, pink, mewling little kittens. 2015 us could wipe the floor with 1988 us.  Fact.

Here’s what led me down this particular path of discovery.  Recently I was doing an image search for actor Lee Tergesen.  I’d considered putting together another “That One Guy” blog, with a slight difference in focus:  I’d concentrate on one particular actor. Perhaps make a series of such posts, one for each iconic character actor. Lee is one of those guys who’s been in a lot of films and TV shows, usually sort of disappearing into his role, which is what makes him such a great actor.  The same guy who played Tobias Beecher on HBO’s prison drama ‘Oz’ also played one of Wayne and Garth’s metalhead buddies, thrashing along to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ before appearing as Evan ‘Scribe’ Wright in ‘Generation: Kill’ and so on and so forth.  Anyway, one of his earliest roles was that of Rosie in ‘Point Break.’

Rosie was the archetypical scary biker tough guy.  Bodhi’s muscle, in a very real sense. (Note to self: consider a blog entry that examines how Bodhi, Utah, and Rosie were all manifestations of the Super-Ego, Ego, and Id.) Rosie was frightening, and supposedly capable of gutting someone with nary a concern other than trying to avoid getting any ‘on his shoes.’  I remember seeing the film when I was not quite twenty years old and thinking he was fairly intimidating. Rosie wasn’t a surfer, he was ostensibly some sort of biker.  An outsider, even among the outsiders. He was a savage, and hey, remember that scene at the bonfire?  Remember?  The others are out surfing at night, but Rosie is back on the beach, drinking, and spitting booze onto the fire, making it flare up.  Remember?  I wonder what sort of wickedly potent, liver-pounding rot-gut booze he was slugging?

Wait…seriously?  He’s drinking…

KICK THAT FIRE, ROSIE!  YEAH!  KICK IT!  KICK IT AGAIN!

KICK THAT FIRE, ROSIE! YEAH! KICK IT! KICK IT AGAIN!

CORONA?!  Are you fucking kidding me? A beer?! I mean, don’t get me wrong: beer is great. And Corona is easily one of the top-fifty beers from Mexico. But, c’mon. Rosie is a terrifying monster in bike leathers. He should be drinking moonshine or whiskey…maybe 151…ANYTHING approaching 100 proof. Beer? BEER THAT ONLY TASTES GOOD WITH A STINKIN’ LIME IN IT?! Might as well have been a Zima. (Actually, Zima was a malt liquor beverage with a higher alcohol content than most beers, so it would have been MORE manly.)  A kid that had never actually (up to that point) been to an illegal beach bonfire or nearly incinerated a friend while spitting and igniting grain alcohol and other things that maybe I should stop talking about right now might have been impressed with Rosie.  Shit, I was.  Now I realize he’d get his ass kicked in any place outside of Malibu.  Perhaps his ending was the most realistic part of the film.  It happens off-screen, but Utah tells Bodhi that Rosie apparently got knifed to death in Mexico.  What if that was Rosie’s first trip outside of his home county?  He thinks he’s a tough guy, orders a Corona ‘straight up’ and the Mexicans beat the living shit out of him with bottles of Pacifico and Modelo.

So, R.I.P Rosie and his tough-guy image. I sat there thinking about him, and my mind flashed on another badass that maybe wasn’t. Bennett.  The bad guy from ‘Commando.’ the actor’s name is Vernon Wells, and yes, I could do an entire ‘That One Guy’ on him.  The dude’s appeared in everything from ‘The Power Rangers’ to ‘Innerspace’ and has no fewer than twenty-one projects due to be released this year alone. But the role you will probably remember him from was from the iconic Mad Max sequel, ‘The Road Warrior.’  He played a character named Wez and holy shitballs, was he scary.

Even the Kurgan would turn tail and run from all that crazy.

Even the Kurgan would turn tail and run from all that crazy.

Wells would go on to almost exactly replicate that performance as a party-crashing biker/euphemism in ‘Weird Science.’  Again, an impressively crazy, wild-eyed psychopath on a motorcycle.  Jesus, I almost crapped my pants just thinking about him.

When the guy from 'The Hills Have Eyes' is your sidekick, you are officially a bad-ass.

When the guy from ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ is your sidekick, you are officially a bad-ass.

So when you learn that Vernon Wells is playing the nemesis in an Arnold Schwarzenegger action-adventure flick, you think “AW, YISSS!!  MOTHER FUCKING BAD-ASSERY!” and then you get to the theater and see…

Hey, nice tactical sweater-vest!

Hey, nice tactical sweater-vest!

Freddie Mercury?!  What the actual fuck, man?  What happened?  Is that vest made of old pop-tops or just nasty grey yarn that his grandma didn’t want, because seriously, who wants an olive-grey tea cozy?  Nobody, that’s who. Good call, grandma. While I’m talking about relatives, Bennett looks more like your weird uncle Gary that collects Thomas the Tank Engine stuff even though he doesn’t have any kids.  Maybe that’s more unsettling.  Could the makers of Commando been deliberately trying to give off that pedophile subtext?  After all, the main point of the ‘plot’ is that Arnold’s daughter has been kidnapped…were the studio types making a statement?  A subtle, veiled threat to the virtue and physical well-being of the girl in order to make moviegoers even more uneasy?

"Hey, kids...wanna see my Percy?"

“Hey, kids…wanna see my Percy?”

Or had Wells simply let himself go between roles?  Like, the casting director didn’t request an up-to-date headshot, and when Wells rolled up to his trailer on the first day of shooting, the director was all “Well…huh.  Fuck it, we’re on a schedule people.  Keep the mustache.  We’re rolling in five.”  Occam’s Razor makes that seem like the more likely scenario.  Either way, though, you’re never truly convinced that this doughy, sweater-vested, Bob’s Burgers cosplay guy is going to be able to physically match up with Arnold’s character.  They may as well have cast Kevin Spacey as the bad guy, although holy shit: Kevin Spacey in a mustache would be a GREAT Bob’s Burgers cosplay.

A really smug Bob 'Keyser' Belcher.

A really smug Bob ‘Keyser’ Belcher.

The point is, we were seemingly much more easily intimidated back in the day.  I won’t even get into how the Friday the 13th movies look so dated compared to modern horror films and television.  Seriously, the Jason Vorhees flicks remind me of old 50’s Martian invasion movies.  But initially, they were terrifying enough to spawn a generation’s worth of sequels.  I guess that’s sort of comforting.  The things that scare us often turn out to be not so bad after all.  Laughable, even.  (Gene Simmons used to terrify people.  Let that sink in for a second.) There’s a lesson there somewhere.  Sleep tight, America.

A Little Walking-Around Music…

I have theme music.  No, really.  I often have music playing in my head as I walk around.  While I do things.  Cleaning the garage, walking through an airport terminal,  mowing the lawn,  playing hockey…there’s often a soundtrack accompanying me as I go about my business.  (It’s actually more of a “score” but you get the idea.)  The great news is that YOU can have the SAME SOUNDTRACK!  Primarily because the score I use comes from motion pictures, and it’s a sincere compliment to the composers themselves that these little instrumental gems have lodged themselves so firmly in my subconscious.  This is also a great peek into the inner machinery of my head, a place that most people would find unfathomable.  Yes, it’s absolutely true:  if you see me walking through the mall any given day, chances are that one of these tunes is churning along in my noggin.

I’ll start with my number-one piece of go-to all-around-awesome music.  It’s from the incredible soundtrack to the equally incredible 80’s flick “Beverly Hills Cop.”   The shocking twist?  It’s NOT the most recognizable piece, “Axel F” by composer Harold Faltermeyer.  The main theme is compelling, even if it is completely ripped-off from Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit.”  (Rumor has it that the studio wanted Herbie’s song, but he wouldn’t grant the rights.  The producers thus hired Faltermeyer to write a theme that  ‘sounds like Hancock.’)  Anyway, this one is hard to find, as it was left off the original motion picture soundtrack released for sale.  It’s known as “Shootout” and features bits of the main Axel F theme.  It’s  a great all-around life accompaniment, starting around 1:11 in.  Enjoy.

 

Next up is another Harold Faltermeyer masterpiece.  It’s a little more subtle, and also more synthed-out.  (Hand-claps like a MUHFUH!!)  I give you the main theme from another great 80’s  movie.  It’s “Fletch.”

 

The Fletch theme is a bit darker than the “Cop” movies, and I think that’s by design. The filmmakers were going for a more sleuthy, sneaky sort of sound, one that matched the playful-yet-dangerous theme of the movie.  But when I need something a bit more sinister or mysterious, I go with our next selection.  Again, it’s not the main theme from the featured soundtrack, but it’s my favorite in terms of mood.  It’s tension, drama, and a hint of menace.  This one would be right at home in an Agatha Christie story, but for some reason I employ it when I’m walking through the airport.  It’s good walking through the airport music.  I don’t know why.  From John Ottman’s wonderful, classic soundtrack to “The Usual Suspects” it’s a piece called “New York’s Finest.”  Enjoy.

 

This one here, though.  This one is your go-to action/adventure theme.  Hell, this gets stuck in my head when I visit the rainforest exhibit at the zoo or when I pull up in front of Menards.

Seriously, though: tell me there ain't a T-Rex through those doors.

Seriously, though: tell me there ain’t a T-Rex through those doors.

Yes, I’m talking about the theme from “Jurassic Park.”  Technically, it’s not the ‘main theme’ but a track called ‘Journey to the Island.’  You hear the hook a few times throughout the flick, but it’s first experienced as the helicopter descends to the landing pad near the end of the first act.  The entire soundtrack is superb, as you’d expect from John Williams.  It’s pastoral, majestic, frightening…but it’s the anthemic part of this track (starting around the 1:21 mark) that makes your heart start thumping.

 

Last, but not least, is an obscure favorite.  It sounds to me like a mash-up between the Jurassic Park music and the Usual Suspects.  It’s by the incredible Michael Giacchino, who is prolific and diverse.  I’ve sung his praises in the past, and the man’s catalog spans everything form “The Incredibles”  and “Up” to the JJ Abrams “Star Trek” reboots.  But this score was the one where he cut his teeth, drawing the inevitable comparisons to John Williams.  It was a video game on the original Playstation called “Medal of Honor” and both the game itself and the well-thought-out soundtrack were awesome.  The follow-up MoH titles “Underground” and then “Frontline” also featured brilliant Giacchino compositions, but this one right here is hard to top.

 

There you go.  Some theme music for your daily life.  There are surely others, and I welcome suggestions!  Leave a comment below and tell me what you putter around to. (As long as it’s not disco.  Please, no disco.  Unless it’s like Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ or something.)

 

 

 

You Need A Montage!

I was on a trip with my amazingly beautiful and alluring Sweet Baby recently when a Howard Jones song came up on the radio.  I believe it was “No One Is To Blame” but hell,  I don’t know if that’s the proper title or not.  Ol’ Howard is one of those guys that you sort of forget about or end up confusing with Bruce Hornsby or Simply Red, so I’m sort of out of my element.  I do, however, remember looking him up on the interwebs and having a Eureka! moment when I realized that this was the genius behind one of my all-time favorite movie montages.  And that got me thinking (a rarity, I’ll admit) and I waxed nostalgic with the old lady about the wonderful bounty of montages in 80’s cinema.  Sure, the montage is still used today.  Tony Stark assembling his first suit in Iron Man is a great example.  But that particular bit of fast-forwad exposition (which is really all a montage scene is) lacks something special:  the montage song!  THAT is what makes the 80’s scenes so great (or not-so-great, as we’ll discover below)…it’s (almost always) all about the SONG!!

The problem for me, the blogger, is that many of these songs are under strictly-guarded copyrights, and thus many of the YouTube videos end up being bad bootlegs.  But for the sake of evidence, we’ll do the best we can, eh?  My first example is a great example of how a weak song can render the montage unremarkable.  This clip (taped via camcorder, apparently) is from one of my all-time favorite movies, Real Genius.  The setup:  Chris Knight and company have finals looming and a laser power-source problem to fix and something about a crooked professor and his toadie, and well, here we go…

That song is horrible.  You can tell it wants to be Howard Jones…but it ISN’T.  No, that’s Chaz Jenkel, which sounds like a villain that Peter Parker might square off against in Chaz’s secret identity as The Magnicutioner or somesuch. Chaz is all actuality a guy who used to play with Ian Drury.  “Who?”  Exactly.  An otherwise decent storytelling device ruined by THE MAGNICUTIONER!!

Now THIS is how it’s done.  Again, apologies for the weird sound of a guy hammering tent stakes (or something) in the background.  Ladies and gentlemen, another of my favorite flicks, the classic Better Off Dead.  Cusack’s Lane Meyer gets help from the foreign-exchange hottie (who was one of Bill & Ted’s princesses, no less!) and ends up with some self-esteem and a case of the IN-LOVES!!!

That song?  Howard Jones.  Not one of his “hits” on radio, mind you, but that’s not the point.  It fit.  Lyrically tied to the events on-screen, a tempo that suggested a sense of urgency…it fits.  It works.  That’s why this scene is near the top of any 80’s montage list (and there must be DOZENS of such lists!  Right?  Hello?)  But it ain’t the tops.  Nor is this one from Over The Top.

Okay, now we have the opposite problem.  The Real Genius clip had a mediocre song that kept it out of contention.  This clip, however, features the stirring “Winner Takes it All” by the Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar.  Good stuff.  However, the scenes depicted during the montage?  Fucking stupid.  There’s no variety.  The lighting is all rather dark.  I can’t tell who’s who. There’s WAAAYYYY too much lens flare for a movie about arm wrestling.  Sure, I get that the bad guy is big and wears a red sleeveless t-shirt, but the other–WHY IS THAT KID DRIVING A TRUCK ON THE FREEWAY?!?  The prosecution rests.

Now, this next scene is the runner-up in my book.  A lot of folks have it at Number One, but I’ll explain my logic after you watch this bit of genius from Rocky IV.

See, this one has EVERYTHING!  A great juxtaposition of the hero getting gritty whilst the enemy relies on fancy gizmos and steroid-filled needles.  And it culminates in Rocky LITERALLY climbing a peak!  THAT’S INSPIRATIONAL, MOTHERFUCKER!!  And the song “Hearts on Fire” by none other than John Cafferty (of the Beaver Brown Band!) is decent, hopeful, and compelling.  The problem?  Take a gander at the length of this clip.  It’s almost seven minutes long.  SEVEN MINUTES!! It’s roughly one-seventeenth of the whole movie!!  Hell, Cafferty doesn’t even start singing until three-plus minutes in!  Stallone movies often have a decent montage or two, so maybe he just wanted this to be his magnum opus.  And it’s close: pare this baby down to a good four-minute cutscene and you’ve got the best montage in movie history.  But that title, my friends, belongs to Daniel-san.

This montage is brilliant in that simply by watching it, you want to go back and sit through The Karate Kid it its entirety.  It’s really a mini-movie in and of itself.  So wonderfully directed and acted.  The reactions of the players involved, including the sometimes TERRIFIED look that Ralph Macchio wears through most of the scene. Pat Morita’s quiet disapproval.  The shock on the faces of the Cobra Kai as they are eliminated.  And that’s another nice touch:  you really get to see the entire tournament play out, and it would be easy to depict the Cobra Kai as a totally unstoppable crew of bad-asses that Daniel must hack his way through on the way to an epic boss battle.  The filmakers wisely take a more realistic approach, and we see several of the bad kids fall in the preliminary rounds.  That makes it seem so much more real (real enough to feature a sort-of-fat Cobra Kai get trounced) and as we all know, the more realistic the scene, the more real and tangible the danger.  It’s brilliant.  It’s perfect enough that the Cartoon Network’s delightful Regular Show used the same song by THE Joe Esposito (?) for their own training montage to hilarious effect.

So, kids…what did I miss?  Leave a comment and point out any other brilliance I may have overlooked!

Stuff I Used to Do

Last week, I solicited ideas for new blog topics.  Thankfully, you’re a creative lot, so I received several good ideas.  Choosing randomly, I have decided to address this suggestion from TopazVonZ:

“How about an occasional “Back in my day” blog about crazy crap you did while growing up, or the wonders of playing Atari for the first time (yanno, because you’re old). ❤ you Turner!!”

Ah, yes. Crazy crap from when I was growing up (because I NEVER engage in ill-conceived tomfoolery these days.)  But where to begin?  Well, any good story of childhood shenanigans must involve my younger brother.  And perhaps the prank that we were always most proud of, a prank we actually learned from my father.  A prank we called “The Sucker String.”

***WARNING: DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT DO ANYTHING I AM ABOUT TO SHARE WITH YOU.  SERIOUSLY.  DON’T.***

Here’s how it goes down.  You wait until nighttime.  You find a road/street with moderate traffic.  You get yourself some kite string or twine and stretch it across the road.  Upon this string, right in the middle, you hang a sign that simply reads “SUCKER!”

Then you wait.

Eventually, a car comes along.  This car’s headlamps light up a seemingly floating-in-midair object.  Is it debris?  Swamp gas?  A pelican?  A misplaced street sign? Jesus?  Whatever conclusion the driver comes to, it happens very quickly.  Imagine the driver humming along doing about 40 in a 35 at night, when suddenly SOMETHING IS IN THE ROAD!!  Brakes squeal, the steering wheel is jerked suddenly to the left or right, groceries in the backseat are thrown to the floor, open soft drinks in cup holders spill.  Once the vehicle comes to a halt, the driver exits, walks to the middle of the street, searches for the random object that nearly caused a rollover, and then there it is…gleaming white, a few feet away.  The driver stoops to retrieve the white paper, and the driver’s mind strains to comprehend the meaning of the letters scrawled in Magic Marker.  Why?  Why did someone put “SUCKER!” on a sign…in the middle…who…god damn it.

The amazing Nic Cage film "Drive Angry" was inspired on events from my childhood or something.

The amazing Nic Cage film “Drive Angry” was inspired by events from my childhood or something.

Now, the real trick for the pranksters is waiting it out.  Staying concealed, usually in a ditch by the side of the road, watching.  You, your little brother, maybe a couple of other street urchins.  Holding your collective breath. Anticipating.  Seeing the look of confusion turn to one of anger, hearing the paper crumple in the furious fists of a soccer mom or Cub Scout dad as they look around, knowing they’re being watched, sensing that a laugh is being had at their expense.  Hopefully it ends with the driver returning to their vehicle, mad at the sticky Tab-soaked dashboard, even madder at the punk-ass kids that almost caused a serious accident.  Usually, that’s how it works.  Usually.

BWAHAHAHAA!!! DUDE ALMOST DIED!!

BWAHAHAHAA!!! DUDE ALMOST DIED!!

Sometimes your brother is cackling with glee at the chaos you’ve sown, and one of your cohorts has to literally clamp a hand over your sibling’s mouth.  And sometimes the angry driver spots you, and you have to dart from cover, high-tailing it through back yards, dodging clothes lines, hurdling fences, inciting the frenzied barks of a dozen curious dogs.  This is much more difficult when your brother is laughing so hard he can barely stand, much less run.  One person on either side, holding him up as he lurches along.  It’s like he’s been gassed by the Joker and hell is chasing behind us in the form of a guy with a mustache and a flashlight and hatred in his glowing eyes, just visible beneath the bill of the dirty Reds cap he always wears when framing houses.

There’s a different kind of fear when you’re a kid.  On one hand, it’s a much more innocent fear.  You know nothing of lawsuits or bail bondsmen or metal-pipe beatdowns (baseball bats and padlocks?  Sure, but that’s a tale for another time.  True story.)  But there’s another fear that kids experience in such a situation.  Fear of the unknown.  What happens if this dude catches us?  What if one of us breaks his ankle stumbling through somebody’s garden?  What if he knows our parents and he’s WAITING AT OUR HOUSE WHEN WE GET BACK?!?!  What if he’s an off-duty cop?  Or a killer?  (When I was a kid, we really didn’t fear kidnapping or abuse or any of the real-world horrors of today.  Nope, getting killed.  That was really about the worst thing a guy could do to you.  Imagine how much nicer X-Box Live would be if that were still the case.  “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU, NOOB!”)  That fear was so awesome.  It was sort of a drug, and I’ll admit that my brother and I would probably be labelled “adrenaline junkies” had the title existed back in the early-80’s.  It was the fear you get from riding a really well-designed roller coaster.  You KNOW you’re going to be okay.  That damn thing has been running all day, every day, for a dozen summers in a row, and nobody’s been killed whilst riding it.

Yet.  Nobody’s been killed yet…

Possibly the biggest buzzkill in the history of this blog. Damn.

Possibly the biggest buzzkill in the history of this blog. Damn.

There are a million other wonderful stories of my brother and myself getting into misadventures and, yes, trouble.  But I wanted to share this one so you’d have some idea of how things used to go down.  Was this as bad as nearly burning up a friend with our homemade napalm? No.  Was it as destructive as the time my brother pulled a “Carthage” on a mean old neighbor’s lawn?  No.  Was it riskier than simple tee-peeing?  Yes.  A better story than the time my high-school pals and I attempted to re-enact the taking of Grenada by literally stealing the Grenada Ave. street sign?  Oh, very much so.  There are many more tales of larceny and near-escapes, because I had a hell of a childhood and a brother to share it with.  And now that I have kids of my own, it’s time to pass on what I’ve learned.

Watch out, Ft. Wayne.  There are two new Watson Boys almost old enough to begin wreaking havoc.  May God have mercy on your souls. (And drive safely!)

Discotron and On, Mon!

I’m in a silly mood.  And when I’m in a silly mood, you get a silly blog.

Recently my kids have been on a TRON kick.  Specifically, they’ve been on a TRON: Legacy kick, watching it every day.  EVERY. DAY.  They’ve made Identity Discs out of paper plates and Frisbees, every toy motorcycle is now a Light Cycle, the Android tablets are full of Light Cycle games and TRON videos on YouTube, and TRON: Evolution has taken up permanent residence in the Xbox 360 tray.  It’s a phase, and I’m aware that recently they were in Iron Man mode, and Batman mode before that, and of course hockey is always a go-to obsession, so it’s all good.  But I took it upon myself to further their education by downloading the demo versions of the original TRON coin-op game and even found an Xbox Arcade demo for the classic “Discs of TRON.”  (It turns out that this game is not nearly as fun as I remember, but maybe that’s because I’m not playing it inside one of those enclosed sit-down cabinets that the original game employed.)

I seriously doubt my big ass would even fit in there.

I seriously doubt my big ass would even fit in there.

Anyway, word association and rhyming are two ways my addled mind uses to distract me from doing real work, so here’s the way my runaway brain train took off on me…

Instead of “Discs of TRON” I started thinking “Discotron.”  Now, Discotron can be a lot of different things.  A tune by Alex Metric which sounds an awful lot like some of the Daft Punk soundtrack to TRON: Legacy, ironically…

A disco-techno-house hybrid band…

A record player…

I'm guessing it looks like this.  Just spitballing here, but with a name like "Discotron" it has to be pretty close.

I’m guessing it looks like this. Just spitballing here, but with a name like “Discotron” it has to be pretty close.

A “Heat Digital Transfer Machine”…

transfer

Or this weird German party truck.

Das auto!

Das auto!

And actually about 4,000 other things.  In fact, if you add alternate spellings like “DiskoTron” or “Disco-Tron” the results from Google explode exponentially.  And goddammit, we don’t NEED more explosions!  My lord, didn’t you SEE that footage of the meteor in Russia?  THINK, PEOPLE!!  This world would be so much better if people would just learn to be responsible with their Google searches.  And don’t even get me STARTED on that Bing crap.
Anyway.
“Discotron” led me to think of Robotron 2084, another bad-ass arcade classic that was sooooo much better than “Berzerk.”
One of the few home-console versions that looked pretty much like the coin-op.  It's all we had, people.

Berzerk: one of the few home-console versions that looked pretty much like the coin-op. It’s all we had, people.

And “Berzerk” was infinitely better than “BirdZerk” the cut-rate San Diego Chicken rip-off that infiltrates minor-league ballparks around the United States every summer.
KILL IT!  KILL IT WITH FIRE!!

KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!

And “BirdZerk” is head-and-shoulders above that Myron Noodleman buffoon.  Seriously, dude:  looking and acting like Jerry Lewis has never been funny, even for Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis cosplay is the absolute worst.  Stop it.
KILL IT!  KILL IT WITH...ah, never mind.

KILL IT! KILL IT WITH…ah, never mind.

But Discotron also reminds me of Gravitron.  The Gravitron is the single-greatest carnival ride in history, equal parts fun and vomit.  It’s amazing.  Sometimes you sprawl all over the place like a confused Stephen Hawking, and sometimes you hope that the centrifugal force keeps that dude next to you’s puke right on top of him where it belongs.
Or you sack up and make gravity your bitch.

Or you sack up and make gravity your bitch.

In closing, here are some other things that Discotron reminds me of.  Thanks, kids.  Thanks, TRON.  Thanks, Google.  And thank you for making it this far.

ron-jon-41heymondon-juan-demarcowrath of khan 46

Incredibly Distracting…

Hey, gang!  It seems I’m blogging in fits and starts of late.  Sort of catch-as-catch-can, if you will. (That’s for you long-time readers!)  Sorry about the inconsistency.  Trying to get back into the rhythm of blogging, even though I am currently distracted by Rush playing tonight in Indianapolis.  In fact, I just heard “Mystic Rhythms” in my head as I typed that.  Damn it.

 

Anyway, today’s blog will be a quick one, and basically only exists to introduce you to something.  Like the spectre of Dave Bowman said in 2010, “Something wonderful.”  See, there’s this guy.  We’ll just call him “Vex.”  He’s an old-school geek like me, even though that word (geek) has been somewhat over-used of late.  The fact remains:  Vex and are are about a year apart age-wise and have similar tastes.  For example, he and I enjoy repeated viewings of “Buckaroo Banzai” and “Real Genius” for starters.  Recently, Vex read a book that I’d checked out last year called “Ready Player One.”  Here’s the site for said book:

http://www.readyplayerone.com/

 

Anyway, everyone told me the novel seemed to be  written with me in mind.  It’s chock-full of old-school computer game, comic, RPG (that’s Role Playing Games, not Rocket Propelled Grenade) and sci-fi references.  I found it  entertaining but, well…not the absolute greatest thing ever.  It was okay, and miles ahead of crap like the “Big Bang Theory.”  Vex, however, found it to be the epiphany he’d been waiting for, and went on to create his own game based loosely on the parameters set forth in “Ready…”  And he’s done a bang-up job.  Hell, the only thing missing is an OASIS rig, and I’ll bet Sexy Vexy is working on that as I write this.  I’m having a lot of fun with this little trivia endeavor.  So much so that I’m thinking of re-reading the book. And so much so that I’m about to do the worst thing (for me) possible:  give you the website and leaderboard so that you, too, can get in on the fun.  Why is this bad for me?  BECAUSE I WANT TO WIN, GODDAMMIT!!  The more people who play, the less my odds of winning.

Now, when you check out the scores, you’ll be intimidated.  Don’t be.  I was totally stuck on the first question until my lovely wife gave me a different perspective.  Now we’re only a little bit behind, and you can catch up FAST in this game.  yes, you may team up.  Yes, you can share with other players…but that is terribly risky.  Will others burn you to get ahead?  Absolutely.  That’s part of the fun.

Ain’t gonna stay this way for long.

 

So without further ado…strap on your haptic rig and follow this link.  And good luck. Any spare resources your mind had available are now considered forfeit.

 

http://poptopiamadness.com/

Ooo, That Smell…

Mmmmm!  Cookies!

There aren’t really any cookies, mind you.  It was a trick.  A ruse.  I wanted you to start imagining fresh-baked cookies.  Sugar cookies, chocolate chip…those peanut butter ones that mom used to kind of press down on with a fork to make the crisscross hashmarks…doesn’t matter.  Because odds are you did think of cookies and there’s a chance that you thought of specific cookies.  That’s because the sense of smell is one powerful motherfucker and we totally take it for granted.  Also, smart people claim that it’s the sense most keenly tied to memory.  That girl you fell for that one crazy spring break?  You know her smell.  And it’s not just perfume and hair conditioning cream and fabric softener…it’s the sum of all of that and more.  It works the other way, too…that bitch from accounting that thought Obsession was the greatest fragrance EVAH?!?!  ERMAHGERD!!  You know, the one who you could literally smell as she got out of her car in the goddam parking lot?!  Yeah.  Now, no matter who’s wearing that particular perfume, you somehow know upon meeting them that you hate them a little bit.

Unless they look like this. I mean, c’mon…it’s just horrible, eye-burning, nostril-scorching perfume, right?

It works for things, too.  Things like tequila. You have a bottle of it, puke your guts out, and then the next time you’re out someone offers you a shot and you respond with (all together now!) “Dude, no.  I can’t even SMELL that stuff without puking.”    See, it’s science!  Your body has conditioned itself to avoid certain harmful substances, and tequila is certainly a harmful substance.  You’ll smell it before you taste it or even see it, because your sniffer works pretty damn good despite being less important now than it was six million years ago.  Good job, nostrils!

So here, then, are some of my FAVORITE smells.  Good ones.  Happy ones.  Scents that take me immediately to a happy place.  Like the beach, for example…

Surf Wax

Specifically, Sticky Bumps original surf wax.  Sure, Sex Wax is the one everyone talks about because the 80’s.  But this is the stuff, along with the occasional Mrs. Palmer’s, that made it onto my deck all the time, especially on the longboard.  The way it bumped up (hence the name) without having to go over it again and again was, well…magic.  But the SMELL!!  Imagine a tropical drink that featured coconut, vanilla, and blueberries.  Imagine your truck being filled with that awesomeness on the way to the beach, and then on you after laying on it and rubbing against it all day.  Wow, I just turned myself on a little bit.  Awesome.  I had some friends send me a few bars of this stuff a year or so ago even though I am currently land-locked with NO chance of surf.  But when I want to take a break and hit the beach, I take a good long pull off o’ one of these babies and I’m instantly there, even if only for a moment. 

Seriously, these stickers and that ‘Oakley Thermonuclear Protection’ shit…everywhere. The 80’s kinda sucked.

On the other end of the spectrum…

Ice Rink

This is one of those “greater than the sum of its parts” deals.  Yes, the actual ice itself is amazing.  Remember Doug Dorsey smelling the ice in The Cutting Edge?  That shit is legit, yo.  But it’s more than that for me.  The mouldy foam flooring, the hockey pucks…a new roll of hockey tape…the slightly sickening burning smell of someone heating up their stick blade along with the singed smell of the glue as it pops free…beer…all of it.  Any hockey player knows how comforting it is to get to a new rink in a new town and instantly know you’re at peace as soon as you walk in.  It’s a little like heaven.

These, however, smell HORRIBLE.

Patchouli (Yes, Patchouli) and Leather

I know.  Trust me, I know.  Hippies have ruined this for sooooo many people.  That’s because hippies don’t know that you’re only supposed to put a tiny pinpoint of this stuff on each wrist then rub them together.  That’s it.  That’s plenty. Those dirty bastards ladle it on by the gallon.  When so applied, it smells much like I imagine the Devil’s asshole must.  Horrible.  However, when I was a lad, it was the general scent of the counter-culture.  You’d smell it at punk shows, at Lollapalooza, the cool alternative bookstore (COUGH! The Abyss COUGH!) and so on.  The cool thing is, we all wore the standard Ramones-issue black leather motorcycle jacket.  Now, leather smells really good, especially new black leather.  Add just a hint of that hippie-juice and marinate for a few shows and smell your jackets wrist-holes.  Holy Mary, but that shit’s good.  It also happens to be the perfect example of how two different cultures can compliment each other in the right proportions.  But seriously, fuck you, hippies.

I seriously had to scour Google images to find a stock photo of a hippie and a punk together. Now to crop out the confused sick boy…

Murray’s Pomade

Let’s just address the elephant in the room right now.  This smells like black folks.  It does.  I’ve always loved this baby-powder-meets-honey-and-vanilla scent, but until I got older and started actually using it, I was just always envious of black folks and how good most of them smelled.  (Like any of us need to be any MORE envious of the fact that our Nubian brothers and sisters will ALWAYS be cooler than white folks, Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins excluded.)  But man, I don’t care if I’m using this stuff on short hair to mess it up (like white folks do) or part or pomp it up (like white folks used to do) I love the smell.  No lie, I’ll sometimes open the orange tin (a lifetime supply!) and get a big whiff of it to carry me through the day.  There are other great-smelling hair care products…Dax Wave-n-Groom smells a bit like Murray’s, and if you add a topcoat of Tres Flores Brilliantine, you get a sublime mish-mash of powdery, waxy, wonderful-smelling awesomeness.  Good God, I want to eat my own hair now.  It’s that fucking good.  I’m waiting on a response from Jan Hella over at The Rebel Rouser to hear what his favorite pomade scent is.  If Murray’s doesn’t finish in the top-three, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

Ladies and gentlemen, something most of us will never see: the bottom of a tin of Murray’s. It’s…it’s beautiful…

Chicks, man.

Over the past weekend, VH1 Classic ran both of the “Fletch” movies back-to-back.  I fondly recalled how funny Chevy Chase could be back in the day. I also remembered how my teenage years were made considerably easier by the likes of Dana Wheeler-Nicholson playing the part of Gail Stanwyk.  Soooo gorram cute.  And then POOF! She all but disappeared until she showed up in the amazing “Tombstone” as Wyatt’s common-law wife. (She looooved the laudanum.  Loved it!)  And then, BAM!  “Fletch Lives” hit me right in the pelvis with Julianne Phillips, Bruce Springsteen’s ex-wife.  A model-actress!  What a concept! So, yes.  The eighties were a great time to be a young man who had an overabundance of hormones and tissue paper and for whom no internet had yet been invented.  Here, then are my top-seven 80’s Screen Queens (read: masturbatory material.) They’re not the best-selling or highest-grossing actresses, mind you…most of them fall into the “Oh, yeah!  I remember that chick!” category.  But they’re all mine, bub.

#7. Kelli Maroney

Did SoCal cheerleaders wear...sweaters? Really?!?

She was in that one movie: Specifically, she was in “Night of the Comet” which remains one of the best (and most-overlooked) post-apocalypse survival style movies ever.  It was funny, it was sweet…and it was the only movie to land TWO ladies on this list!  Kelli played a submachinegun-wielding cheerleader wayyyyy before it was cool.  (Eat it, “Sucker Punch!”  Oh, and as cute as she was in “Comet” she also looked like this in real life.

I don't think she's a real cheerleader...

Schwing factor: ***   She would’ve garnered more, but her on-screen sister, Catherine Mary Stewart upstaged her (while showing less skin!)

#6. Corrine Bohrer

The sexiest "DERP!" you'll see all day.

She was in that one movie:  Speaking of skin, Corrine makes the list on the strength of her performance (ahem…full frontal) in the craptastic golf flick “Dead Solid Perfect.”  Don’t worry, nobody else has seen it, either. If you remember Corrine, it’s probably from “Vice Versa” or the short-lived “Flash” television series.  But she didn’t get naked in those.

Schwing factor: ****  Cute body.  And pubic hair. (Hey, it was the eighties.)

#5. Kimberly Foster

She looks great considering her co-star was Bobcat Goldthwait.

She was in that one movie: Everyone remembers Kimberly from John Cusack’s second-best 80’s teenage romp, “One Crazy Summer” and she was pretty damned hot in that one.  Her not-as-vacant-as-you’d-like-to-think Cookie Campbell makes a teasing play for Hoops and has a douchebag for a boyfriend.  A blond douchebag.  That’s the only flavor douchebag they had in the eighties. However, the reason she makes the top-five is a little-known movie from 1988 called “It Takes Two.”  In that one, she plays a femme fatale that cons a groom-to-be into buying a fancy sports car that ends up being a lemon and he has to go and confront the blah blah blah wedding day blah blah Barry Corbin from “Northern Exposure blah blah…anyway, she’s hot.

As beautiful as a late-eighties Gretzky backhander.

Schwing factor: ***  She’s just fucking beautiful.  Cute hair, sexy glances…she should’ve been a major star.

#4. Catherine Mary Stewart

Eat your heart out, Cynthia Gibb!

She was in that one movie: Well, pick one.  Catherine was a B-movie mainstay, appearing in everything from “The Last Starfighter” to “Nightflyers” to the amazing Bruce Dern post-apocalyptic masterpiece “World Gone Wild”.” Ah, but THEN she appeared in a little film called “Weekend At Bernie’s.”  In the aforementioned “Night of The Comet” she set the standard for beautiful women in peril, and Hollywood has been riding that train ever since.  That chick from “LOST” would not come across as tough-yet-nurturing (and hot) and that chick from “The Walking Dead” who had to shoot her own sister down when she got all zombiefied (oops…meant to type SPOILER ALERT) would be just another woman trying to find her way in a “World Gone Wild.” See what I did there?  Also, Catherine gets bonus points for A) Pioneering the big-hair/teal blouse/pushed-up-sleeves look that you saw everywhere in the eighties and B) Being one of two chicks on this list with a three-part name that includes a variation of the name “Stewart.”  Oooo!  Who else?  Tell us, Uncle Turner!  Who else!

Patience, my children…

Schwing factor: ***   She’s beautiful, smart, and tough.  That’s a woman, right there.

3. Deborah Foreman

She's also smart. Perhaps tooo smart...

She was in that one movie: Everyone discovered Deb in the Nicolas Cage classic “Valley Girl.”  Sometimes, when I want to feel ancient, I remind myself the movie came out in NINETEEN-EIGHTY-FUCKING-THREE.  Deb also starred in her own vehicle, the rom-com “My Chauffeur.”  (Get it?  Her own VEHICLE!  I can do this all day.)  But the main reason, other than being one of those rare ladies that can pull off what I call the “innocent slut” routine, is her performance in a movie that literally changed my life:  “Real Genius.”  Her part is limited…but when she asks Chris Knight “can you hammer a six-inch spike though a board with your penis?” well…that’s it, boys.  Game. Set. Match.

Schwing factor: ****   Pouty lips, sparkling eyes, a cute little overbite…and a dirty mouth.  Meee-yow!

2. Lea Fucking Thompson

She totally looked into her son's underwear. In a bad way.

She was in that one movie: Let’s just pretend that Lea DIDN’T star in one of the best-loved sci-fi comedies (a trilogy, no less) of all time.  She still gets credit for the original “Red Dawn” as well as, oh, I don’t know…how about Space Camp, All The Right Moves, Some Kind of Wonderful, JAWS 3!?!? and the reason she makes it to the runner-up spot on this list: ladies and gentlemen, I give you the STAR of the epic George Lucas-produced masterpiece…”Howard the Duck!”  And by “star” I mean, of course, LEA’S ASS!!  My God…it isn’t the roundest or shapeliest.  And it’s not even naked.  Just a pair of cotton panties as she slinks across the bed.  But Gott DAMN could she slink. Gott. Damn.  A friend of mine once remarked that he wore out the “pause” button on his VCR because of that one scene.  Again, people, remember:  Teenage boys.  No internet porn.  We made do.

Go ahead and pretend you don't remember this. It's okay.

Schwing factor:  *****  Dat ass.

1. Mary Stuart Masterson

Okay, so...maybe she looks a little like Ricky Schroeder. I LOVE HER ANYWAY!!

She was in that one movie:  Along with Lea Thompson, her co-star in “Some Kind of Wonderful,” you could say that she has been a gainfully employed actress ever SINCE that 1987 classic.  But let’s be honest, most of her roles have been in chick-friendly fare like “Friend Green Tomatoes” but she did show up in the girls-with-guns western “Bad Girls” with Madeline Stowe, Andie MacDowell, and Drew Barrymore, so she proved that she can still do the sexy.  As Watts, the craps-shooting tomboy sidekick-turned-girlfriend, she made dudes want to cut their girlfriend’s hair off.  They wanted their chick to wear fringed fingerless gloves.  They wanted a wise-cracking, beer-drinking, rock-drumming girl that would have their collective backs when things got rough.  They wanted Watts.  You can hear her echo in iCarly’s Sam, “Firefly’s” Zoe, and Vasquez from “Aliens.”  She was bad ass.  She OWNS the number one spot as a result.

Schwing factor: N/A   It’s tough for me to assign a “sexy” factor to the woman I once fantasized about marrying.  No joke.  Had I been in Hollywood in the 80’s, there would’ve been a stalking charge filed against me.  I’m telling you, it was LOVE!!  AND I KNEW SHE’D LOVE ME IF SHE JUST GOT TO KNOW ME!!  WE’D BE HAPPY FOREVER!!!!!