Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rags & Bones Vol. 2

I just read an article in USA Today that some astronauts just brought the lightsaber that Mark Hamill used in Return of the Jedi into space with them. The news reports that the weapon was brought along just for kicks and giggles. I’m not buying that. Sounds a bit fishy to me. I’m pretty sure that NASA is distributing lightsabers to space travelers in case there is intergalactic trouble. You never know when an Imperial Battle Cruiser could attack the space shuttle. Better safe than sorry.

Tonight, the timeless classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is on TV. It never gets old for me. If I ever find myself thinking Chuck, Snoopy and the gang are no longer funny and charming, it’s time to re-evaluate my life. Did you know that after the special aired (in 1967!) that children all over the country mailed “Charlie Brown” candy because they felt sorry for him when he got a rock for Halloween. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

The other day on the 1 train, I saw an orthodox Jew. Always a happy sight. But, this gent had a yarmulke on AND the wide brimmed hat. He was rocking double Jew headgear. I’d never seen this before. Maybe this happens more than I know. I’m going to keep my eye out. May be he is really pious and wanted to make double sure he was being faithful.

On the subway, I usually listen to more mellow music. Because I read on the train. Mellow rock, folk, jazz and a lot of blues. When walking through the city, I play more up tempo cuts. These are some of my favorite songs to listen to as I walk through the streets of New York. They make me walk quicker.

1. Acquiesce – Oasis

2. You Got To Me – Neil Diamond (I’m serious. I love Neil.)

3. Baba O-Reilly – The Who

4. I Happen To Like New York – Bobby Short. That song played over the opening credits of Woody Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”

5. Here Comes My Baby – Cat Stevens

6. Leaving Here – Pearl Jam

7. It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock & Roll – AC/DC. You have to love a rock song that employs the use of bagpipes.

8. Twist and Shout – The Beatles

9. Land of a 1,000 Dances – Wilson Pickett

10. Tweedle-Dee – Laverne Baker. That song is best known because it was used in Uncle Buck. Man, do I miss John Candy.

I caught The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford the other day. I thought it was brilliant. Now it’s not a typical Hollywood western. In fact, it’s more a period drama than a western. It’s a beautiful film and one of the best I have seen this year.

Speaking of films, if you are looking for advice on a movie to watch on Halloween, I have five suggestions. This is what I may watch.

1. The Shining; 1980 – If you have never seen it, now is the time. If you have seen it, a re-visit wouldn’t be out of line. With all the so-called “torture porn” that Hollywood is churning out – Saw, Hostel, Hills Have Eyes, Devil’s Rejects, etc. – it’s good to remember what a truly scary movie can do.

2. The Mummy; 1932 – No, no, not the Brendan Fraser one. The original classic featuring the immortal Boris Karloff. This is creepy, campy fun. You’d be okay going with any of the “Universal Monsters.” That would include Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon or The Invisible Man. They’re all great. Especially if you have never seen them. I’m choosing The Mummy here because my nephew suggested that I go as a Mummy for Halloween. His other suggestion was a “Vamp-pirate.” That would have been awesome.

3. The Thing; 1982 – In a move that contradicts my usual patterns, I am suggesting the re-make instead of the original. I do love the Howard Hawks original, The Thing From Another World, but the 1982 John Carpenter version is scary as hell. Carpenter also has other good Halloween films. See: Halloween (obviously), The Fog, Christine and They Live. The Thing will scare the crap out of you.

4. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein; 1948 – It’s on AFI’s top 100 Funniest Films for a reason. It’s hysterical. And okay for the kiddies.

5. House of Wax; 1953 – Now back to the original versions. It’s hard to pick a Vincent Price film, but I love this one. A beauty. Don’t screw up and rent the one with Paris Hilton in it. That would be embarrassing.

The other night, I went to a Halloween party. I went as “Floor of a Movie Theater.” I bought a black shirt, then pinned popcorn boxes, soda cups, hot dog cartons, candy wrappers and glued popcorn on. Bingo: Floor of a Movie Theater. Feel free to steal the idea.

Happy Halloween…

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What I Wonder About The Star Wars Universe

There are many questions that crop up when thinking about the vast Star Wars universe. How does Jabba the Hutt go to the bathroom, for example. Does he have to give a half hours notice to the staff and slither slowly to the water closet? How do we overlook that Princess Leia gave her BROTHER Luke a full-on frenchified kiss in Empire Strikes Back? That was not right. Why did the Stormtroopers wear cumbersome suits of armor at all times? Didn’t this limit their mobility in a fight? And the armor didn’t seem to protect them at all from laser blasts. Wherever they were hit, they went down anyway. Seems a wee bit counter productive to me. Like the British soldiers in the Revolutionary War wearing bright red jackets so the rag-tag American militias could shoot them easier. “You believe this Willy? Them Brits are wearing red and marching in a straight line. Fish in a barrel! Let’s shoot ‘em!”

Those and many more questions have plagued curious minds over the years. But this is what I really wonder; what are the sexual practices among all the different species in the neighboring galaxies?

We’ll start here; is there interspecies dating and mating? Is it forbidden? Or just frowned upon? Maybe it’s perfectly acceptable. For example, let’s say a male Wookie with a sharp sense of humor and who is good at sports meets a cute female Mon Calamari at the Mos Eisley Cantina. The Wookie – let’s call him Henry, I’ve changed his name to protect the innocent – he’s at the bar telling jokes and the Mon Calamari broad starts making googly eyes at him. (I know, a Mon Calamari eyes already look googly, that’s not the point.) What could happen? Would society shun them for hooking up? Would it shock the galaxy? Would their parents disown them for not being with their own kind?

In the animal kingdom, the creatures don’t cross-breed for the most part. Dogs and cats of different breeds will bone, but a dog won’t hump a cat. I’m not a scientist, but I believe this is true. Monkeys don’t mate with chickens. Frogs don’t get it on with salamanders. But the aliens on Kamino or Coruscant are intelligent life forms. Higher intelligence. They can reason right or wrong. Maybe it’s no big deal for a Bith (look it up) and a Dug to have a committed relationship.

What about aliens and humans? On earth, there is interracial dating all the time. It’s accepted in most educated societies. A Jew can marry a Kenyan. No big deal. Mazal tov, kids, good luck to ya. Only a bigot thinks that is odd. So, could Greedo have a human girlfriend? Maybe a blond from Tattoine has a thing for a Rodian. Would that technically be considered a fetish? I don’t know what the official ruling would be there? Is it fetishy (that’s a new word) for a human to be attracted to a bounty hunter with walrus tusks? Actually, that probably would be a fetish. Maybe a girl has a Cosmopolitan with her girlfriends and says, “I’m really into walrus men. I don’t care of you all think it’s gross. I like those ivory tusks, they’re foxy.”

Is there an underground band of mad scientists cross-breeding different alien species? Like the weirdoes that concocted a liger? (Was that really necessary?) Maybe there are these eccentric genius’s that talk like Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff who are breeding a half Wookie, half Rancor super warrior. Man, that thing would be unstoppable.

The sexual habits of Star Wars aliens. My mind sure wanders on the subway. I need to remember to not forget my book anymore.

I believe these questions and more justify three more rounds of Star Wars films. If George Lucas doesn’t write them, that is.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Good To Be Home

Ah, autumn in New York. Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds, in canyons of steel. They’re making me feel, I’m home.

Here’s when I first felt that I was back in New York. On the ride into the city from Newark airport, I was in the back row of the Super Shuttle. In my row were three Spaniards, the row in front of me had two woman conversing in one of the African dialects, next to them was two very pretty French twenty-something students and in the front row was two blue-haired octogenarian women that came to attend a few Broadway shows, both of whom were named Dorothy. Yep, that’s my town, kids.

For the most part, not much has changed. A few different store fronts, a few restaurants that looked new. And I have seen the NYPD riding around in those electric Leonardo-DeCaprio-mobiles. The subway smells the same, sounds the same. The city smells the same. Some of the summer funk is still lingering in the air. The strange humid-like smell that is hard to describe but is basically Manhattan itself farting through the storm drains.

You never know what you’ll see in Manhattan. While walking through mid-town yesterday, I saw a hobo with two cats asking for change next to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. I’ve seen plenty of winos with dogs, but a hobo with cats; that was a new one.

Many of my favorite buildings and streets seem like old friends. I have found myself saying hello to them in my head as I walk by. Not out loud, that would be nuts. I walked through Central Park the morning after I arrived. Though one of my favorite paths was closed for renovation, I could still make it over to Bow Bridge and look out into the Upper West Side. I made a wish, flipped a penny into the drink and felt like I was home.

I love New York.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Worst Bands of All Time

Last night The Office had it’s season premiere. Which means exactly one third of the shows I think are funny on television was on. The rest of that pie being Reno 911 and Family Guy. That’s pretty much it. Anyhoo, after The Office ended, a promo came on for the season premiere of E.R. I can now give a startling revelation; E.R. is still on the air. Shocking isn’t it?

Everyone has their own musical taste. Not everyone has good taste. In fact, America, for the most part, has atrocious taste in tunes. Case in point; American Idol is still moving products. I rest my case your honor.

(SIDENOTE – I have always hated American Idol. It’s ridiculous to me. Just a karaoke contest with corporate sponsors. I was hanging out with a girl a while back who insisted I give it one more chance. I relented because I’m a pushover and she was cute. That night’s episode had one of those jokers doing Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.” I have a bad feeling about this. The hack began singing, “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine…” He slowed the tempo in half and tried to sing it as a Barry Manilow ballad. I couldn’t take it. I didn’t through half a song.

That is similar to when a different girl tried to get me to reconsider on Sex and the City. You know, that show on HBO about three prostitutes and their mom. I hate that show, some of the worst, most corny, forced writing in the history of the telly. One bad pun after another. The episode she tried to get me to watch had the hookers going to Atlantic City. The older one with the weird voice looked at a busty restaurant hostess talking to her boyfriend or something and said, “who picked this breastaurant.” DONE! That’s it for me.

Jeez, I’m rambling way off topic with that sidenote. Sorry.)

Okay the worst bands of all time. I am not including performers that don’t play instruments and therefore are not a band but a group. This eliminates the boy bands (not bands) and TLC and Destiny’s Child. They don’t qualify. Also not included are the annoying solo artists. So, no Richard Marx, Celine Dion or Michael Bolton. And no hip hop, or Insane Clown Posse would be number one with a bullet.

The Dishonorable Mentions

Jethro Tull (they had a flute), Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Gin Blossoms, Asia, Chicago, Garbage, KISS (I’m serious), Nelson, Extreme and Marilyn Manson.

The Losers

10. Jefferson Starship – They were not bad in the 60’s as Jefferson Airplane, but “We Built This City” is one of the worst songs ever made. You know it’s bad when out of touch politicians use it as a campaign theme.

9. Poison – What the hell happened here? How did people fall for this train wreck with an extra order of cheese? Nice makeup job boys.

8. The Cranberries – Why was that girl yodeling?

7. Milli Vanilli – One of the great con jobs in pop culture history. I don’t know they got away with it at first, but I blame it on the rain.

6. Limp Bizkit – These guys were selling our arenas. If I ever do a list for Worst Lyrics Of All Time, “I did it all for the nookie, so you can take that cookie” is a candidate for number one. “Hey, cookie and nookie rhyme!”

5. The Black Eyed Peas – When a reporter asked her about what she says to those that think she can’t sing, Fergie once said something to the effect of, “gifts are from God, so when people say I can’t sing, they’re insulting God.” Fergie, I’m only insulting your band. And you peed yourself once onstage. That’s gross.

4. Air Supply – A little vomit rises when I hear their songs in the elevator at Macy’s. You know it’s bad when it seems corny for adult contemporary radio.

3. Motley Crue – Truly awful.

2. The B-52’s – If this list was Most Annoying Songs of All-Time, “Shiny Happy People” wouldn’t have any challengers. That’s the Muhammad Ali of annoying songs. That guy yelling “bring your jukebox money!” sends a shiver down my spine.

1. Creed – In a runaway win. What a load of crap. Trying to convince the red states they are a “Christian band.” Heaven help those that listened to that rubbish.