Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stuff White People Like But This Brown Man Can't Stand #4: Unfunny jokes about former enemies of the U.S. when they experience national tragedies

The Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear radiation crisis is useful in that it shows us which celebrities and politicians stupidly pronounce it as 'nucular.'
Joan Rivers defended Gilbert Gottfried's controversial Twitter jokes about the disaster-stricken Japanese by saying comedians cope with tragedy through humor and then using her plastic-and-adamantium-coated face as a shield to protect Gottfried from the bullets from his angriest critics. I'm all for using humor to cope with tragedy, but when someone uses it to slam the victims of a terrible situation like Gottfried, Family Guy writer Alec Sulkin, several conservatards and countless others on Twitter did, it's not funny at all.

I appreciate how The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and my favorite new podcast Sklarbro Country handled the disaster in Japan and managed to find humor in the situation without veering into anti-Asian racism. Stephen Colbert came up with the funniest bit of disaster-related humor when he described the earthquake/tsunami/radiation crisis as a "disaster-ducken."

'Henderson!'
Meanwhile, the Sklar Brothers, whose hilarious podcast pokes fun at the often odd and insane behavior of sports celebrities, elbowed New York Liberty guard Cappie Poindexter in the face for her moronic tweets about the disaster being God's payback for Pearl Harbor and the way Japan treats their own people in "there" country. "That's who we want commenting on this disaster. A guard from the WNBA. Yeah, we don't wanna hear from the head of the Red Cross or anybody from the State Department. We wanna hear from a women's professional basketball player," joked Randy and Jason, who were so appalled by Poindexter's tweets that they resurrected their discontinued "Douchebag of the Week" segment and picked "the Alexandra Wallace of the WNBA" as the segment's first-ever female douchebag, or "Douchebaguette of the Week."

"Now is not the time to blame Japan for anything, even Sudoku," said the twin brothers. "Leave them alone!"

The new Warhol-inspired Secret Identities logo
Now is the time to help Japan, so I've taken part in the SIUniverse for Japan online auction to support GlobalGiving's Japan relief fund. For the next few weeks, fans of the 2009 graphic novel Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology can bid on artwork and other items donated by Secret Identities artists and writers like myself.

I've donated a couple of pieces of artwork that will be up for bid. One of the items is a poster of an illustration of Hideaki Akaiwa, an ordinary office worker in Miyagi prefecture who was named "Badass of the Week" for refusing to wait around for rescue workers and venturing out on his own with scuba gear and duct-taped-together plastic wrapped around his legs to rescue tsunami survivors like his wife.

When I first heard about this badass, I kept thinking, "Damn, this is like a real-life Sea Hunt," as in that old TV show I've never watched but I'm familiar with from the "By this time, my lungs were aching for air" running gag during Mystery Science Theater 3000's Lloyd Bridges/Rocketship X-M episode and Bridges' own spoof of his old show during Hot Shots! Part Deux. I Googled Sea Hunt, stumbled into old covers from the comic book version of Sea Hunt and drew for the auction a sketch of Akaiwa that I modeled after those covers.

By this time, his lungs were aching for air.

Office worker and bad muthasava Hideaki Akaiwa
Like Akaiwa has done for his family members and neighbors, go lend a hand to the disaster victims now.

APRIL 9, 2011 UPDATE: Here's my illustration of Akaiwa, entitled "Hideaki Akaiwa: A Real Life Superhero," which is now up for bid. It's a 20" x 24" poster that's printed on heavyweight coated paper.

Fuck Steven Seagal. Hideaki Akaiwa is a more convincing action hero.
APRIL 17, 2011 UPDATE: Sold! To Gary in Arlington, VA!

APRIL 21, 2011 UPDATE: The other item I donated to the auction is an illustration of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle that I did for my upcoming self-published print compilation of the most responded-to posts from this blog. The title of the book--and this is the first time I've posted the title here--is I Suck at Math: A Trio of 10 Articles About Pop Culture.

Kal Penn and John Cho laugh their asses off over Joseph Fiennes' attempt at an American accent while watching Cho's short-lived TV show FlashForward.
My Harold & Kumar drawing is a 14" x 23" poster that's printed on heavyweight coated paper. It's now up for bid.

MAY 10, 2011 UPDATE: Sold! To Quentin in Concord, NH!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Simp-Bionic Titan

Here's some artwork I did for my forthcoming print compilation of posts from this blog.

Lance is basically Nelson Muntz without the laughter.
Not since the demise of Terriers a few months ago have I been so pissed about a new and non-sucky TV show getting cancelled. Sym-Bionic Titan, a giant-robot cartoon filled with nods to '80s teen movies like Say Anything... and The Breakfast Club, has been my favorite Genndy Tartakovsky-created animated series. I also liked seeing Brian Posehn in a role that's the complete opposite of the moron he played on Just Shoot Me: Octus the super-competent robot and unexpected babe magnet.

I guess Cartoon Network needs more dumb game shows to put on its daytime schedule.

Monday, March 28, 2011

14 favorite elements of songs I currently have on rotation while I create artwork for my own book

Kanye takes a minute to ogle his own reflection on the top of the cop car.
1. The cinematic-sounding French horn lines during Kanye West's "All of the Lights"
Ye is a modern-day Mozart--as in batshit crazy, but a total musical genius.



2. The military drums during Pusha T's "My God"


Fuck the cast of K-Town, that Koreatown version of Jersey Shore that MTV recently put the K-bosh on. Trebles and Blues is the kind of person Koreatown should be hyping. Unlike the cast of K-Town--or anyone who's a cast member of any reality show--Trebles and Blues has something called talent.
(Photo source: Trebles and Blues)
3. The piano sample during Trebles and Blues' "The Tempo"

4. The handclaps during The New Pornographers' "Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk"



5. The bloops that open The Chemical Brothers' "Car Chase (Arp Worship)" from the Hanna score


6. The bass line of Lyrics Born and Sam Sparro's "Coulda Woulda Shoulda"


7. The really tight brass section during The Heavy's live 2010 performance of "That Kind of Man" for KEXP

8. The "Love You Save"-esque beat of Dennis Coffey and Mayer Hawthorne's "All Your Goodies Are Gone"


9. Dres' flow during the Black Sheep track "Elevation"


The sign that Bambu is flashing is a sign that says he's a fan of The La's, the one-hit wonder band that's best known for 'There She Goes.'
10. Bambu's delivery of "I used to sit in church and look at the stained glass and wonder why none of them look like me" during "Misused"


Daft Punk provides Michael Sheen with the perfect soundtrack to chew the scenery to during Tron: Legacy.
11. The electronic bass line of Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy end credits cue "Solar Sailer"


12. Ernie Isley's smokin' guitar solo at the end of The Isley Brothers' "Summer Breeze"
I only listen to that cover of sappy Seals and Crofts just to get to that guitar solo.


13. Teena Marie (R.I.P.) leading the female half of the Long Beach audience in a playful battle of the sexes with Rick James over which gender is louder during the live 1981 version of "I'm a Sucker for Love" that's on the deluxe edition CD of Street Songs


14. "The Michael McDonald of the rap game," Nate Dogg (R.I.P.), proving he wasn't your father's Michael McDonald when he crooned "And you even licked my balls" during Snoop Dogg's "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)"

Friday, March 18, 2011

"A Fistful of Soundtracks can be a blast to listen to. Duck, you sucka!"

Every time I see this freeze frame of a puzzled Rod Steiger facing the camera, I keep expecting to hear the Scooby Gang sing 'Where Do We Go from Here?'
We interrupt my work on a drawing of the three members of De La Soul for my currently-in-the-works, to-be-self-published book to bring you this special bulletin.

I don't know what Crutchfield is--the name sounds like a Syfy Original Movie(*) ripoff of Cloverfield--but I'd like to thank the site for a mostly positive review of the Fistful of Soundtracks channel that it posted a few weeks ago.

(*) Speaking of which, Battle of Los Angeles? Really, Syfy? Next time you run out of title ideas for your original movies, how about you take a cue from your own station tagline and imagine greater?

I've seen so many blogs with kind things to say about AFOS--and I always appreciate that--but they always get one or two tidbits about AFOS or me wrong. Crutchfield's review has none of that "every now and then it plays a random old movie trailer" bullshit. The reviewer actually did his homework and took the time to listen closely and note that "they aren't placed at random. If you hear the trailer for Big Trouble in Little China, you can be sure that the next selection will be from the soundtrack of that film." (However, for some odd reason, he never once uses the word "score" in his review to distinguish between "soundtrack" and "score.")

The reviewer wishes my channel had a better-quality bit rate and is probably wondering why it's just 32 kbps. Lengthy answer: I'm broke.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coffey is the color

Here we see Dennis Coffey playing 'Scorpio' for an audience made up of the not-in-the-picture Oscar the Grouch and his homeless buddies.
To promote the upcoming self-titled album by legendary and frequently sampled Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey, Strut Records recently dropped a fantastic 45-minute mix of old Coffey tunes, hip-hop tracks that sampled Coffey's work and new material from the April 26 release. The instrumental jam "7th Galaxy," a new joint from Coffey's Strut album, starts at 04:55 in the "Constellations" mix, which was assembled by DJ House Shoes. "7th Galaxy" needs to turn up as chase music in a TV show or movie pronto.

The mix includes one of my all-time favorite movie themes, Coffey's Black Belt Jones theme, and another blaxploitation soundtrack tune that features Coffey's guitar work, Edwin Starr's "Easin' In" from Hell Up in Harlem. I was first exposed to "Easin' In" via "Nickel Bags" by Digable Planets, while LL Cool J's "Jingling Baby" introduced me to the Black Belt Jones theme.



I once saw a TCM featurette that pointed out that the Magnificent Seven montage of Yul Brynner and his crew journeying on horseback to the Mexican villagers looked really lethargic and unexciting without Elmer Bernstein's energetic main theme. The Black Belt Jones opening title sequence takes place in the dullest of settings, an L.A. parking lot--not exactly the most dynamic location to showcase the martial arts skills of Bushido Brown Jim Kelly. I guess director Robert Clouse had much less dough to work with than he did on his previous movie with Kelly, the Hong Kong-based Enter the Dragon. Like Bernstein's theme during the Magnificent Seven montage, Coffey's funky theme helps distract you from how shabby the opening title sequence looks despite the fisticuffs (ComicsAlliance editor Chris Sims noted on his Invincible Super-Blog that even the fisticuffs look compromised too: "It may SEEM like Black Belt Jones is moving slow, and that the guys he's fighting are drunk, but I assure you that's not the case. In order to get an 'R' rating they actually had to slow the film down because audiences in the Seventies could not handle that much brutal action.").

Man, they come right out of a comic book.
(Photo source: Cinema is Dope/Museum of Cinema)

YouTube comments sections are too often full of inane or racist junk, but there was one comment below the video of the Black Belt Jones opening credits that amused me and caused me to do something I've never done before in a YouTube comments section, and that's click on "thumbs up":

"Obama should enter Congress with this theme and kick some Republican butt."

Word.

There are so many hot beats in Strut's Coffey mix, which concludes with "All Your Goodies Are Gone," a terrific blue-eyed soul collabo with Mayer Hawthorne from the new album, a release that Strut hopes will introduce Coffey to a new generation of beatheads. I particularly enjoyed the mix's juxtapositions of "Jingling Baby" with the Black Belt Jones breakbeat and "Easin' In" with "Nickel Bags."

Constellations - The A to Z of Dennis Coffey: A Mix By House Shoes by Strut

[Via Potholes in My Blog]

The killer sounds of The Chemical Brothers' Hanna score are now on "Assorted Fistful" on A Fistful of Soundtracks

And now, Woody Allen movies mashed up with action flicks for no particular reason. Hanna and Her Sisters. Match Point Break. Love and Death Race. Sweet and Lowdown Dirty Shame.
I know I said I wouldn't be blogging here for a while, but a lot of great new music has made me want to temporarily break my silence and post a few items today.

Add The Chemical Brothers' richly written and often dance floor-friendly original score from the teenage assassin thriller Hanna to the list of awesome scores by electronica or rock musicians who never scored for film before. It joins a list that includes 1999's Fight Club score by The Dust Brothers (hey, for a couple of years, The Chemical Brothers recorded under that name as well) and the recent Tron: Legacy score by Daft Punk. The Hanna score, which is available only as a digital download from iTunes starting today, joins another list too: the "Assorted Fistful" playlist on A Fistful of Soundtracks.

I caught The Chembruhs' full album stream of their soundtrack a few days ago and was impressed with cuts like "Car Chase (Arp Worship)" and "Container Park." Hanna, which has the little girl from Atonement going all Hit-Girl on CIA assassins (but only up to a PG-13-level point), was made by Atonement director Joe Wright and is the filmmaker's first foray into Bourne-style mayhem. We won't know until its April 8 release date if Hanna is another Tron: Legacy-like case where the score outshines the movie, but in the meantime, pay a visit to "Container Park" (below) and check out other highlights of the score during the "Assorted Fistful" and "New Cue Revue" blocks on AFOS.

Container Park by The Chemical Brothers by Hannamovie

Friday, March 11, 2011

The audacity of Swope

That girl is Swope.The New York Times said blogging is passé, so I'm not going to blog anymore.

I'm kidding. Actually, I won't be posting stuff for a while (and haven't done so since February 28) because I'm busy working on not just one self-published print compilation of material from A Fistful of Soundtracks: The Blog but two.

When I allow myself some free time to surf the Web, one site I've been checking out lately is Trailers from Hell, which is run by one of my favorite underappreciated directors, Joe Dante (whose work for TV has been more interesting than his recent film work--I love Dante's anti-Bush Administration Masters of Horror episode "Homecoming"). At Trailers from Hell, Dante's filmmaker and screenwriter friends present trailers of their favorite films and discuss why those films are their favorites.

Trailers from Hell has been on fire lately with some nice commentary tracks about trailers for old films I like, so to keep this blog from looking like it's frozen in time, I've got Whole Wide World and Jolene director Dan Ireland's Trailers from Hell commentrak for the trailer for the 1969 advertising industry satire Putney Swope, which the site posted for Black History Month (the video also gives me an excuse to again post an Obamicon of Putney Swope that was made by me). Ireland's commentrak is followed by History of Violence film adaptation screenwriter Josh Olson's Trailers from Hell commentrak for the trailer for the late Peter Yates' entertaining 1972 adaptation of the Donald E. Westlake caper The Hot Rock. (The Putney Swope and Hot Rock trailers are particularly interesting because they don't contain voiceover narration, which makes them less like the voiceover-heavy and corny trailers of their era and more like the announcer-less and stylish trailers that are more common today and have influenced the CBS prime-time promo department to go announcer-less.)

Putney Swope is the story of an ad agency's token black employee (Arnold Johnson) who gains control of the business, revolutionizes the ad industry with frank and sexually explicit ads and winds up becoming as fatuous and corrupt as the stolid and whitebread Madison Avenue culture he initially fought against (he makes the mistake of getting high on his own supply: himself). Director Robert Downey's most famous flick appeals to my anti-authoritarian side, so I like it and will probably rewatch it when it turns up on cable again, even though the slo-mo titty-baring stewardess ad goes on way too long (it's nice to look at though), the film falls apart at the end and Downey's redubbing of his own lead actor sounds terrible. Johnson constantly bungled his lines, so Downey erased Johnson's voice from the soundtrack and inserted his own. He sounds less like an old black man and more like Cleavon Little when he pretended to take himself hostage and imitated a white thug in Blazing Saddles ("Hold it! Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!"). The elder Downey's performance is an odd precursor to his actor son's portrayal of a movie star pretending to be black in Tropic Thunder.

I like to think of Putney Swope as a spinoff of Mad Men in which one of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's rival businesses gets taken over by the militant friends of Hollis the elevator operator. I agree with Hammer to Nail that the film is dead-on about how "people will be cruel and craven no matter what side of the power dynamic they occupy," which makes it as relevant now as it was in 1969.



Rated GP for Guaranteed to Plotz.
Trailers from Hell also did an entry on The Hot Rock, which contains an enjoyable Quincy Jones score that Jones considers one of his favorites and was sampled by Eminem in "Like Toy Soldiers," as well as cameo appearances by a then-under-construction World Trade Center and a young Christopher Guest. Afghanistan banana stand.