Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chewsday

Chew #8 by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Random Chew page of the week (from Chew #8)

A track-by-track rundown of the current "New Cue Revue" playlist on A Fistful of Soundtracks

Shahrukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor pose with Akon at the premiere of Automan, uh, I mean, Ra.One.
Every Wednesday at 10am and 4pm and every Friday at 11am, A Fistful of Soundtracks streams the most recent additions to the station's "Assorted Fistful" library (or in the case of Akon & Hamskia Iyer's "Chammak Challo," the "Chai Noon" library) for an hour-long block entitled "New Cue Revue." Here's what's currently on the "New Cue Revue" playlist.

1. Akon & Hamsika Iyer, "Chammak Challo" (from Ra.One)
Ever since it was announced in 2010 that R&B artist Akon, best known for "Smack That," "I Wanna Love You" and the hilarious Lonely Island/SNL digital short "I Just Had Sex," was lending his pipes to an original song for a Bollywood film (like another non-Indian singer, Kylie Minogue, had done for the imaginatively titled 2009 Into the Blue clone Blue), I've been dying to hear the Akon track. The end result, "Chammak Challo" from Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan's recently released superhero movie Ra.One, finally dropped in September and is a smash hit in India. (In this latest round of one of my favorite games, Guess the American Movie or TV Show That This Bollywood Film Is a Bizarre Clone Of, Ra.One, which features Khan in the dual role of a dorky video game designer and a heroic character from his game who enters the real world, appears to be a clone of the largely forgotten '80s superhero show Automan.)

Akon acquits himself nicely as he alternates between English and Hindi during "Chammak Challo" (the song title is basically "nice-looking shawty" in Hindi slang). The catchy "Chammak Challo" proves that it's much better when Bollywood soundtrack composers enlist actual R&B or rap artists from America to do their thing on their soundtracks than when they attempt to rap or ape current American R&B trends on their own. The latter has led to several theme tunes that are as painful-sounding as the time when Prince stopped being a hater of hip-hop and attempted to incorporate rap into his Diamonds and Pearls album--for instance, go YouTube "Desi Boyz." Or maybe you're better off if you don't.



2. Howard Shore, "The Thief" (from Hugo)
The former SNL bandleader and Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings trilogy composer nicely apes the rhythms of a clock for Martin Scorsese's clock imagery-filled tribute to silent-era filmmakers like Georges Méliès (played during Hugo by Ben Kingsley).

3. Alberto Iglesias, "George Smiley" (from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
The lonely trumpet during Alberto Iglesias' effective score for the latest screen adaptation of John le Carré's 1974 spy novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy announces that "This ain't Bond. This is le Carré. No bloody invisible cars or steel-toothed thugs here."

4. Mike Skinner, "Fernando's Theme" (from The Inbetweeners Movie)
British rapper Mike Skinner has retired his stage name The Streets and entered the world of film scoring with his original music for the film version of The Inbetweeners, the Britcom about a group of Superbad-style dorky teens whose anthem would be the aforementioned "I Just Had Sex." The clubby "Fernando's Theme" is the best example of "Wow, I never knew this pasty white guy had a Latin side and maybe he should express it more often" since Michael Giacchino wrote the awesome "Spanish Heist" for the TV series Alias.

5. Alan Silvestri, "Howling Commando's Montage" (from Captain America: The First Avenger)
This cue accompanies a sequence in Captain America: The First Avenger that's a bit too short: a montage of Cap on his missions with the Howling Commandos. Will the Captain America sequel be a flashback to one of those missions with the Howling Commandos that The First Avenger glossed over? As someone who wanted to see more Howling Commando scenes in the film, I hope so.

6. Quincy Jones featuring Little Richard, "Money Runner/Money Is (Medley)" (from $ [Dollars])
As I've said before, say the following five words--"caper movie score by Q"--and I'm there, baby. This funky theme from the 1971 Warren Beatty/Goldie Hawn heist flick $ (Dollars) would fit right in with the Occupy era, except "Inflation in the nation don't bother me" would have to be changed to "Recession in the nation don't bother me."

7. Ludovic Bource, "1927 A Russian Affair" (from The Artist)
After the arrivals of The Artist and Hugo, is silent cinema making a comeback? This better not mean a return to white people stealing Asian roles from Asian perform... d'oh!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chewsday

Chew #15 by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Random Chew page of the week (from Chew #15)

Amen to "Asian American Jesus"

Her slam poetry's so wack the Vogon poets from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy wanted to commit suicide while hearing it.
I've never heard of either playwright/comedian Samantha Chanse or filmmaker Yasmine Gomez before. But now I'm interested in whatever other short films either of them will make after filmmaker and You Offend Me You Offend My Family blogger Quentin Lee posted Chanse and Gomez's amusing mockumentary short "Asian American Jesus," about the making of an Ethnic Studies class project on "Asian Americans and the Arts."

I was Googling any blog posts I could find about comedic Bay Area-based shorts made by Asian Americans--because I'm considering writing and maybe directing my own comedic short, even though my only experience with camerawork and video editing has been through vlogging--when I stumbled into "Asian American Jesus" while reading Lee's post about the theory that YouTube may be more beneficial for Asian American-made shorts like "Jesus" than the film festival circuit.

"From Yasmine, I've also learned that the short, as brilliant as I thought it was, faced some rejections from Asian American film festivals," wrote Lee. "Is Youtube our future? Perhaps Yasmine has done the right thing by putting her short on Youtube whose most bankable personality is nonetheless the Asian American Ryan Higa of Niga Higa fame."

As someone who's had to sit through a lot of Asian American poetry that's so bad Leonard Pinth-Garnell would love those poems, I got a kick out of the Gomez short's dead-on parody of crappy Asian American spoken-word artists through its pretentious slam poet character Truth Is Real, one of six characters Chanse plays in "Jesus." But my favorite of Chanse's characters is Suzette, the artsy Bay Area student who interviews Truth Is Real. Maybe it's because the lisping Suzette sounds like Drew Barrymore.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Batman vs. Wackula

'Master Bruce, why is your Batsuit covered in so much bloody glitter?'
(Photo source: Dean Trippe)
I don't care for Twilight. Neither does the Twitterer known as The Goddamn Batman. And now, here are the best of The Batman's 140-character tirades against a vampire who's so goddamn banal he makes The Count from Sesame Street look intimidating.

God_Damn_Batman from June 24, 2010
June 24, 2010

God_Damn_Batman from June 30, 2010
June 30, 2010

God_Damn_Batman from July 2, 2010
July 2, 2010

God_Damn_Batman from June 5, 2011
June 5, 2011

God_Damn_Batman from November 15, 2011
November 15, 2011

God_Damn_Batman from November 16, 2011
November 16, 2011

God_Damn_Batman from November 17, 2011
UPDATE: November 17, 2011 (this tweet appeared a couple of hours after I first published the post)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eee-O 11/11/11

He's gotta be he.
As someone who's unemployed and has been part of the 99 Percent for a long-ass time, Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Eee-O Eleven" from the original Ocean's Eleven is like the story of my life ("I nearly had me that chauffeur/And that block-long limousine/Eee-O Eleven...").

What does that song title mean? Some people think the phrase is a reference to the game of craps. Hey, Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, the lyricists behind "Eee-O Eleven," would know. Too bad they're dead. Reeeal dead.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tastes like Fresno

If Fresno were a 2011 TV show instead of a 1986 show, the raisins would be heavily Botoxed.
(Photo source: TV Time Capsule)
The craziest damn thing on TV right now is not American Horror Story. It's the funny six-part miniseries The Heart, She Holler, which is airing for six straight nights on Adult Swim until Friday. The Heart, She Holler is the Southern Gothic story of Hurlan Heartshe (Patton Oswalt, looking like a stand-in for Nick Swardson in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star), a feral man-child who must battle with his poor-white-trash sisters, the devious Hurshe (Kristen Schaal) and the telekinetic Hambrosia (Heather Lawless), for control of Heartshe Holler, the small town that Hurlan inherited from their deceased cult leader father. The inbred yokels who populate Heartshe Holler are so filthy even Cletus from The Simpsons would tell them, "Git yerself a washcloth!"

Because it's from the minds of Wonder Showzen creators Vernon Chatman and John Lee, The Heart, She Holler gets its laughs from nightmarish and meth-y imagery that would cause most of the viewers who made a hit out of Modern Family (a show Schaal once guest-starred on) to puke into their tubs of Häagen-Dazs. A man pulls from an electric outlet intestines that go on forever. Another man French-kisses a glory hole that was carved into the cover of a Bible. If this show had a Baby Lily in its cast, she'd probably be walking around with a rotting piece of roadkill as her dolly.

The Heart, She Holler's nightly miniseries format and Schaal's soapy villainess both remind me of another comedy miniseries that aired over the course of one week 25 Novembers ago: Newhart creator Barry Kemp's not-as-meth-y Fresno. From November 16 to November 20, 1986 on CBS, this spoof of wealth-obsessed '80s CBS nighttime soaps like Falcon Crest and the soon-to-be-revived-on-TNT Dallas followed the nasty power struggle between the Kensington raisin empire, led by matriarch Charlotte Kensington (Carol Burnett), and rival raisin baron Tyler Cane (Dabney Coleman). Caught up in the feud are Charlotte's dickish eldest son Cane (Charles Grodin), his unhappy nympho wife Talon (Teri Garr), Charlotte's demure adopted daughter Tiffany (Valerie Mahaffey), the always shirtless ranch hand Torch (Trapper John, M.D. star Gregory Harrison, poking fun at his '80s himbo persona), gardener-turned-corporate spy Juan (Luis Avalos), country singer Bobbi Jo Bobb (Teresa Ganzel) and her convict husband Billy Joe (Bill Paxton!).

Shot on a bigger budget than The Heart, She Holler (for example, the gowns were designed by a name I became familiar with because I'd see it pop up during so many '70s or '80s opening or closing credits: Bob Mackie of Burnett's Gone with the Wind sketch gown fame), Fresno isn't quite a classic, but it's a fun comedic soap made for viewers like me who avoid actual nighttime soaps like the plague. Maybe if each episode had been 11 minutes long like each installment of The Heart, She Holler or other live-action Adult Swim shows like Childrens Hospital, the current live-action crown jewel of the Adult Swim lineup, and its spinoff NTSF:SD:SUV, Fresno would have been a classic. When I first caught it in reruns on Comedy Central in the '90s--fortunately without the laugh track that CBS reportedly tacked on to the miniseries when it rebroadcast it--Fresno felt like it was several minutes too long at an hour per episode (with commercials).

There are so many reasons to be pissed off at Fox--besides one of its cable channels' unusual definitions of the words "fair," "balanced" and "news"--like the fact that Fox owns the MTM Enterprises library and either butchers MTM properties on DVD or Hulu (worst example: the WKRP music clearance fiasco) or doesn't take advantage of reintroducing via DVD hours and hours of great or good MTM shows like Fresno (does Fox own Fresno?--I'm not quite sure) to younger viewers who'd get a kick out of these shows that were around either before they were born or when they were too young to understand why Dr. Johnny Fever always looks so exhausted. So because of that, YouTube is all we can rely on for little glimpses of Fresno.

As you can see from the YouTube clips of Fresno (hey, it's Kramer), one of the highlights of the miniseries is Mel Brooks film score composer John Morris' original music, from Bobbi Jo's fake country songs ("Just because you're a migrant worker don't mean we got a migrant love") to the main title theme, one of the best obscure TV themes of the '80s. Morris' theme morphs from bullfighting music to Big Country score-style Americana. It's amusingly over-the-top and awesome.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This is not a sequel to "11 songs by fictional musicians from movies and TV that are surprisingly not terrible"

If The Carrie Nations are Daniel-San and Harris Allsworth is Miyagi, then that makes Z-Man the ponytailed douche from The Karate Kid Part III.
After reading my post in which I listed standout tunes by fake bands like "Find It" by The Kelly Affair, a.k.a. The Carrie Nations, from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (catch "Find It" during "Assorted Fistful" on A Fistful of Soundtracks), retroRechercher tweeted to me the title of another standout original Stu Phillips-penned song from the 1970 Russ Meyer flick. It's been a while since I saw Beyond the Valley of the Dolls on the Fox Movie Channel, so I forgot about "In the Long Run."

I'm relieved that the Fox cable channels that aren't Faux News--FX, Fox Movie Channel and Fuel, to name a few--have settled their beef with DirecTV, which I currently subscribe to (and have lately considered ditching for Xfinity). I would have hated being forced to watch the latest episodes of Justified, Louie and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia a year after everybody else would first see them on FX. Also, if I'm not mistaken, Fox Movie Channel is the only channel that airs Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The "In the Long Run" montage makes great use of the wide frame as it details Carrie Nations manager Harris Allsworth's wordless resentment of record producer Z-Man's control over the band. In pan-and-scan, the montage is the victim of a massacre that's as awful as the one during the movie's climax.



A live cover of "In the Long Run" by the Pittsburgh band The Garment District:

Chewsday

Chew #10 by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Random Chew page of the week (from Chew #10)

Filipino American History Month Painting of the Day archive

'Gintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana (Filipino Americans: A Glorious History, A Golden Legacy)' by Eliseo Art Silva
(Photo source: Filipino American Artists Network)
October 3, 2011: "Tax Dollars Kill" by Mike "Dream" Francisco
October 4, 2011: "Manny 'Pacman' Pacquiao, Fighting Pride of the Philippines" by Cristopher Nolasco
October 5, 2011: "Lotus Blossom" and "Dragon Lady" by Allison Torneros
October 6, 2011: "Skeedo" by Leo Valledor
October 7, 2011: "Beachcomber" by Alfonso Ossorio
October 10, 2011: "Why I Hate Europeans" by Manuel Ocampo
October 11, 2011: 1990 graffiti art by Mike "Dream" Francisco
October 12, 2011: "Shannyn Sossamon" by Cristopher Nolasco
October 13, 2011: "How Mali Lost Her Accent" by Pacita Abad
October 14, 2011: "The City" by Allison Torneros
October 17, 2011: "Echo" by Leo Valledor
October 18, 2011: "Five Ways to Exit a Window (Defenestrate)" by Allison Torneros
October 19, 2011: "Red Dress" by Cristopher Nolasco
October 20, 2011: "Four Seasons" by Leo Valledor
October 21, 2011: "The Conception of Bliss" by Allison Torneros
October 24, 2011: "Lou Reed" by Manuel Ocampo
October 25, 2011: "Hello Like Before" by Leo Valledor
October 26, 2011: "Gintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana (Filipino Americans: A Glorious History, A Golden Legacy)" by Eliseo Art Silva
October 27, 2011: "Dancing Couple" by Pacita Abad
October 28, 2011: 1990 graffiti art by Mike "Dream" Francisco
October 31, 2011: "Thriller" by Allison Torneros