Archive for June, 2007

I think this place is going to end up becoming “Let Me Trash Your List” central. Which is better than “another boring home improvement story” I suppose.

I’ve got a slew of links to lists at various sites (retrocrush, cracked, maxim, etc.) that people want me to write about. If you have a list you would like me to peruse/make fun of/bitch about, send it on over.

I saw a couple of “best cult movie” lists and thought I’d sink my teeth into that one today. Alas, my time here is running out. I need to stop at 7-11 and arm myself with the proper weapons to ward off nicotine withdrawal. I don’t think I can get an uzi at 7-11, so I’ll settle for some gum and sunflower seeds.

Rather than make a full list of my favorite cult movies, I’ll just write about one of my favorite ones. We’ll tackle the list later.

Over the Edge

Teens gone wild. Matt Dillon. Need I say more?

I do? Ok.

Scenario: A planned community is built. Think Stepford community. Perfect little suburb, away from all the other dirty little suburbs. Everything you need in one place. Or is it? Because while the adults seem to have decent jobs and lives – lives which include pretty much ignoring their children while trying to make their little slice of heaven attractive to investors – the kids are kind of bored. And what do bored teenagers in the late 1970’s do? That’s right, they turn to the holy grail of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Well, I don’t remember a lot of sex in this movie, but I do remember the drugs and rock and roll: Ramones and Cheap Trick on the sound track and evil, evil marijuana being passed around and chased down with booze. And everyone knows that the rock music and the maryjane will turn any normal, suburban kid into a ticking time bomb of petulance, anger and rebellion. Really. You didn’t know that? See, this movie doesn’t just entertain. It teaches.

Eventually the booze and drugs and boredom lead to anger. And anger leads to violence. See Yoda had it only half right. Anger may lead to hate and suffering and all, but if you grew up in a stagnant, sterile suburb, then you know that anger leads to violence. Ok, we’re not talking about blowing up a Death Star here.ote.jpg Maybe breaking a few windows, stuff like that. But in this community, that’s almost like destroying Aalderan. Parents looking at their kids, saying “why the hell did you do that? We gave you everything you wanted!” And the kids looking at their parents like, “But we just wanted your attention, man!” Yea, that screws up my Star Wars analogy, but my brain is fried and when that happens I screw up my metaphors, which makes me remember scenes in movies that weren’t really there, like Matt Dillon standing up at the meeting in the rec hall and saying DO IT FOR JOHNNY!

Did not happen.

But what did happen was someone got shot. Because really, the movie would have went nowhere if the worst these kids could muster up was some underage drinking and a few broken windows.

But wait, there’s more! The kids get super pissed when they find out the town wants to sell the land their rec center is on to some investors to make an industrial park. The rec center is all they have. And that place even closes at 6. So without it, there would just be more hours in a day for the kids to fuck off and well, it won’t be long before the cans of piss beer turn into bottles of gin and the nickel bags turn into lines of coke and the broken windows become, hell, I don’t know. Drive by shootings. There ya go.

Of course it all comes to a head and it’s parents vs. kids vs. the community planners vs. kids vs. society vs. growth vs. parents…..well, it’s just a big old gang bang of conflict going on here.

And Matt Dillon.

He’s the reason you need to watch this. The whole teen rebellion thing is cool and the soundtrack is awesome and there’s a bunch of conflict and drama and all, but…Matt Dillon. He was 14 when he made this movie. I was 16 when it came out. This was my first taste of Matt. Before he made it with Tatum O’Neal in Little Darlings. Before he played the bully in My Bodyguard. Before Dally.

I spent many a night thinking about how I’d show Matt Dillon some of my own brand of teen rebellion.

Forget the social commentary here. Forget the lessons about suburban sprawl or paying attention to your children’s needs or greed or the inner turmoil of the youth of America.

Matt Dillon uttering the infamous line: “A kid who tells on another kid is a dead kid.”*

So cool.

Hey, I was 16. At that age, you’re allowed to think Matt Dillon in a half shirt is cool.

Now it’s one of those movies I’ll watch just to remember how cool it was to watch it the first time.

And to make sure he doesn’t really say DO IT FOR JOHNNY in that one scene.

*Which is also a song by Nation of Ulysses that I don’t have time to upload, but you can listen to here.

What’s your favorite cult movie? (You know me and my strict definitions. You can find one, and a list, here).

Here’s a few of mine. By no means a complete list.

The Warriors
Repo Man
Evil Dead (by definition, a cult movie)
Dead Alive
Big Lebowski
Red Dawn
Doom Generation
Monster Squad
Reefer Madness
Drug Store Cowboy
Basket Case

And my time is up here. I may or may not finish this list later. But remember, I’m always looking for more lists to take on. The quirkier, the better.

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I got a few emails from people saying things like “if you like lists so much, why don’t you do…..” Well, ok. Eventually. That was to all of you.

One person wanted me to do a favorite movie quotes list. I think I might have covered that already, not sure and can’t check because I closed all that old stuff off. But I will tell you this – back in the day, when I first got online, I was using AOL. And I frequented (well, lived in) an AOL chat room called Movie Quote Trivia. So if I was going to do a movie quote thing, it would be long and rambling and probably pointless. Besides, I still have to get to the BEST cover songs list before I do anything else.

About the favorite movie list – it seems I left off one particular movie which the boyfriend, for whatever reason, thinks is a classic. A work of art. A stroke of genius. A god damn good movie (you have to bang your fist on the table and grit your teeth when you say that).

I love Todd and all, but love does have boundaries. Even though my list contains things like Super Troopers, that doesn’t mean I have to include Roadhouse just on his say so. After all, this is MY list. If he wants to make his own list, he can have the keys to this blog and go right ahead. I just can’t, in good conscience, put that on mine. What is it with guys and this movie? I don’t know any chick who will go to bat for Roadhouse like a guy will. As if saying something bad against this movie is saying something bad against their manhood. Hey, if your self worth as a man is all wrapped up in a Patrick Swayze movie, you might want to give a little thought to therapy. And don’t think we don’t know that you have a copy of Dirty Dancing hidden in the bottom drawer underneath the Big Butts Bonanza magazine.

That’s not to say I won’t include Patrick Swayze in my best of list, because I would like to add Red Dawn. Damn, I miss the cold war.

I’d also like to add Master of the Flying Guillotine. And Towering Inferno. And Monster Squad. And Big Trouble in Little China.

Would I really be pushing it if I added Killer Klowns From Outer Space?

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tick tick tickin’ in my head

24 hours without a cigarette.

I have yet to kill a co-worker today. Or a hobo. But I really didn’t see any hobos and I can’t say what would have happened if I did. My co-workers are just lucky I have headphones and the entire Anthrax catalog to keep me from standing on my desk, screaming out random lyrics from “I’m The Man” and then dropping them all with lethal Glare O’ Death. I can shoot lasers out of my eyeballs, man! GET OUTTA MY WAY!

Oh yea. I have reached that phase of nicotine withdrawal where my mind tends to lose its already tenuous grip on sanity. Next come the hallucinations. “I swear officer, I thought he was a hobo.” It’s legal to kill hobos, right? Someone at work today said I was one candy short of a pinata. WhatEVER.

You know how easy it would be for me to right this very second reach not five inches in front of me and grab that pack of cigarettes I purposefully left there, pull out a smoke, light it, suck in and exhale deeply, with satisfaction? So easy. So very very very easy. So tempting.

But I am not a weak woman like Eve. I will not be tempted by your low hanging nicotine fruit.

I was going somewhere there. Something about Todd wearing nothing but a tobacco leaf around his waist.

Anyhow. I need to get back to work and hone my death-stare skills. Peace be with you. Unless you’re a hobo.

*i really have nothing against hobos. it’s just a funny word and i like saying it.

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(17 hours smoke free and counting)

Robert Berry of Retro Crush read my take on his cover songs list yesterday and commented that I have too many rules for list making.

I own up to that. I know I do. It’s the OCD in me.

I’m about to do it again.

I mentioned yesterday the new AFI 100 Greatest Movies of All Time list. Let it be said that I rarely agree with any list the AFI puts out. I think of the American Film Institute people as a bunch of 80 year old men in derby hats and seersucker suits, sitting in smoky room, nursing glasses of warm bourbon and crying about how the film industry just ain’t what it used to be. You know, back in the day when people didn’t have to talk in films! Back in the day when they didn’t have all this fancy schmancy color stuff. Simpler times when there were no gizmos and gadgets to make special effects look real! And then the nurses come in to wheel them back to their rooms, where they watch The Maltese Falcon on an old RCA tv and whisper “Rosebud” in their sleep.

Here’s what irks me most about this list: Calling it the GREATEST films of all time. When you look through the list, you just know why some of these movies are on it. Cinematic achievement. Setting standards. Technical breakthroughs. This is the same problem I have with any music list titled GREATEST songs/albums of all time. “This album changed the direction of rock and roll” does not make it great. It makes it important. Influential. But not necessarily great.

Greatest movies should be ones that you would watch over and over again. Films that bring you joy, make you cry, give you your money’s worth in entertainment. Yes, they should have good acting and good directing and all that, but that is not paramount to making it great. A great movie is one that makes you leave the theater saying “Holy shit. I have to see that again.” Or one, like Apocalypse Now, which makes you sit in the darkened theater for fifteen minutes after the credits have rolled, jaw dropped, still trying to process what happened.

This is why GREATEST anything lists are too subjective to be touted as definitive. It’s so damn smug of the AFI to present this list to the public with all this fanfare and snobbery as if they were revealing to you the only true movie list that matters. I picture one of those cranky old men sitting in that smoky room, handing an envelope to a courier. “Quick, boy. Deliver this list. The people need to know what movies they should be watching!”

Obviously, I disagree with the list. But my own top 100 list would include zombies and severed hands and cursing cartoon children, so maybe my opinion shouldn’t count for much.

Which is really my point. I don’t need the opinion of a bunch of film snobs to tell me what the greatest movies of all time are. Who cares what they think?

You know what? I HATED Forrest Gump. I left the theater feeling like I’d just been mind-raped. I’ve never seen Gone With the Wind or Titanic or Lawrence of Arabia and I really don’t care if I ever do. I could go down this list and scratch off at least half of their choices. 2001? Boring. Annie Hall? Mind numbing. Star Wars? Yea, I LOVE Star Wars to death but everyone knows that Empire Strikes Back was the better movie of the two. The Sixth Sense? ARE YOU SHITTING ME? How in bloody hell can that movie be included on a list of 100 GREATEST? What made that movie great? Just because it had a surprise ending that I saw coming two hours earlier? That film should be taken off the list for the sole reason that it made us have to endure the career of M. Night Shamalamawhatever. Hell, I’d rather see a Uwe Boll movie up there than that piece of excrement.

I’m a little cranky today.

I’m sure you are saying right now, “Gee, Michele, if you think this list is such crap, then why don’t you tell us what YOU think the 100 greatest movies are?”

Well. I don’t really have time to write out a list of 100. And even if I did, that list would probably change from month to month. But I’ll tell you what. Because I still have a little time left before I have to leave for work, and because I am jonesin for a cigarette right now and need to keep my hands busy before they reach for the pack sitting within five inches of me, I’ll throw down some of my favorite movies for you, just so you can see that the AFI and I differ immensely on what makes a great movie, therefore my opinion of their snobby old men in nursing homes and their lists really doesn’t matter much.

Remember. “Great” means I got a lot of enjoyment out of it and I’d see it again and again and could probably repeat a ton of quotes from the movie, if not recite the whole thing verbatim and I may or may not have little action figures from the movie lined up on my desk. Great, in my mind, does not mean “set the industry standard for achievement in sound effects.” Great means “that’s a damn cool flick.”

No particular order.

Empire Strikes Back
The Big Lebowski
Spirited Away
The Phantom Tollbooth
Army of Darkness
Cemetery Man
Night of the Living Dead
12 Monkeys
Fifth Element
True Romance
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
The Sting
Star Wars
The Godfather
The Fly (original)
West Side Story
Slap Shot
Apocalypse Now
Winged Migration
Snoopy, Come Home
Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring
Bad News Bears
Interstate 60
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Super Troopers
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie
Toy Story
A Christmas Story
Nightmare Before Christmas
Edward Scissorhands
Dog Day Afternoon
And Justice For All
Real Genius
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Dawn of the Dead
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
Nothing to Lose
The Last Boy Scout
The Longest Yard (original)
Office Space
Blazing Saddles
Young Frankenstein
The Muppet Movie
Dead Alive (Brain Dead)
Session 9
My Life as a Dog
Princess Bride
The Sandlot
Evil Dead
Heavenly Creatures
Jesus Christ, Superstar
Smokey and the Bandit
Revenge of the Sith
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Lost Boys
This is Spinal Tap
Strange Brew
South Park, Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Dead Again
Good Burger
Starship Troopers
Shaun of the Dead

I need to stop now. I still have no idea what I’m wearing to work today. This list is not complete, but you get the point anyhow.

Now, for those of you who actually read through the list, you can see from my inclusion of cinematic legends such as Good Burger and Power Rangers, that my list is far superior to that of AFI. Plus, it’s more fun. Really, if you had to sit through a marathon viewing of the old fogey’s list or my list, whose would you choose? Maybe you would get more intellectually out of the AFI list, but you’d be missing out on some good zombie action.

This is going to be a long, cigarette-less day. I need to go find a random hobo to stab before I get to work, or I’ll end up with a bloody co-worker on my hands.

Feel free to mock my list or give me your own.

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here i go again

I’m about to smoke my last cigarette.


I still have ten left in the pack, but I decided to not wait until the pack was done before I quit. I have to do it now.

Wish me luck and stay tuned for incoherent, rambling rages against the world.

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If you know me, you know I love lists. I love them so much I make lists of my lists.

I received not one, not two but three!! links to lists yesterday from people who like to feed my obsession. One is the new AFI 100 greatest movies, one is the RetroCrush worst covers songs list, and one is some list of annoying songs voted on by British people, meaning I have no clue what some of those songs are. But the number one song was James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful, so I’ll just put that list aside as “things some Brits and I agree on.”

Now, I’ve written about cover songs a billion times on both ASV and FTTW. But it’s a timeless subject, one that changes and evolves each time someone puts up their own take on the matter. What are lists for if not to disagree with?

I started scrolling through the RetroCrush list and immediately saw that I would have to dismiss half of their choices, as my rule for debating cover songs is “no novelty tunes.” By novelty, I mean anything sung by someone whose day job involves pretending to work on a spaceship. I’m looking at you, William Shatner. And your buddy Nimoy, too. This means I also dismiss anything done by actors or actresses who don’t normally sing for a living.

So I read through the list again, ignoring Bill Cosby and Burt Ward.

I ran into trouble at #78. Vanilla Fudge’s cover of the Supremes’ You Keep Me Hanging On. Whenever I’ve done a list of favorite cover songs, this one appeared on it. In my eyes (or ears), this tune represents what a cover song should be about; taking someone else’s song and making it your own. Otherwise, what’s the point of covering it? Take the Lemonheads cover of Mrs. Robinson, for instance. They did nothing different with it. Why bother? If you are going to use someone else’s material, whether in tribute or jest, you need to leave your own personal mark on it otherwise you give me no reason to listen to it.

Vanilla Fudge took this song and ran with it. They changed the sound, the pace, the entire essence of the song. The took a pop hit best heard at parties and turned it into an emotional, heavy song best heard while laying on your bed with your headphones on, wallowing in misery and engulfed in a cloud of bong smoke. I’m not saying that’s a good thing for everyone, but it certainly set the standard, for me, for what a cover song should do.

Time to scroll the list again. I have no problem with the rest of the first page (I had no idea Winger covered Purple Haze and I am not going to make any effort to hear it).

Let’s add a new rule to perusing cover songs lists: American Idol renditions of tunes do not count. Just on general principal.

At #37, we come upon Ugly Kid’s Joe version of Cats in the Cradle, which happens to be my most hated song next to Paradise By The Dashboard Light, so I’m going to say that it sucks no matter what. Plus, it’s Ugly Kid Joe. It has to be bad by default. I could go into a whole rant here about depressing, overwrought songs, but I’ll save that for another day.

#28. Blue Monday by Orgy. Now, I love New Order. I love Blue Monday, if not for the song itself, but for the good times memories associated with it. And I like this cover. Then again, I’m one of the 12 people on earth who loved that whole Orgy album, so I may not be the best judge of this.

As I’m scrolling down, I’m wondering what the number one song is going to be and I’m crossing my fingers that the fine folks at RetroCrush and I agree on the worst abomination of someone else’s song in existence. We’ll see.

#19: Kidz Bop songs should not count. Otherwise, we could take their whole catalog, print it out and call the list done.

#18, The Cure’s Love Song by 311. I used to love this band. What the hell happened to them? The first time I heard this cover I nearly cried, both for what they did to a great tune and for the apparent demise of what used to be a pretty cool band.

There’s a lot of Celine Dion songs on this list. But she’s Canadian, so she doesn’t count. I’ve been musically mad at Canada every since Bryan Adams.

#4 Brings us to what I was hoping to be number one. Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit. Granted, I hate this band and I loathe Fred Durst so I may be biased, but seriously. Durst either has huge balls or suffers from delusions of grandeur for even attempting to cover this one. And I’m pretty sure he has no balls.

And here is the number one worst cover song at RetroCrush:

Layla, as covered by……Eric Clapton?

Really, guys. How can you put this on the list at all, let alone at the top spot? I’m not a huge Eric Clapton fan and I’ve been sick of Layla since Steve Malone played it 16 times in a row on a road trip and we finally had to rip the cassette out of the deck and throw it out the window on the Jersey Turnpike, but cut the guy a break. It’s his song and he can do what he wants with it, no matter how much of a trainwreck it turns out to be. YOU CAN’T COVER YOUR OWN SONGS. You can rework them, remix them, give them a whole new feel, but I don’t think, in the true definition of cover songs, that you can take an artist’s new version of his own song and put it on this list.

Maybe I’m just disappointed Behind Blue Eyes wasn’t first.

My short list of songs that are missing from that list:

Guns N Roses – Live and Let Die
Mick Jagger and David Bowie – Dancing in the Streets
Billy Idol – LA Woman
Scissor Sisters -Comfortably Numb
Guns N Roses – Knockin On Heaven’s Door
No Doubt – It’s My Life
Motley Crue – Anarchy in the UK
Twisted Sister – Leader of the Pack
Those three hobags that did Lady Marmalade
Elvis Presley – In the Ghetto (I didn’t even know this was a cover song. I’m glad it is so I can put it on this list because that is one of the most godawful songs in the history of music)

I’ll try to tackle the AFI greatest films list later, if I get a break from renovation stuff. And I’ll do a “best cover songs” list later in the week.

Meanwhile, because I can’t resist posting it again, the worst cover song ever by an unknown band.

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spinnin the hits

circa 1971

My sister bought this off eBay for her kid. We didn’t even wait for Robbie to be around before we opened it and played the record. I’m thinking she really didn’t buy it for him, per se, anyhow. Nostalgia trip.

She had one of these when she was little. I was already listening to Black Sabbath records at that point, but I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the little colored discs that played simplistic notes. I remember her listening to the records over and over and dancing to them. No, they didn’t have great dance beats, but it doesn’t take much to entertain a two year old.

Then again, I can’t imagine that my kids, at two, would have been as enthralled by this thing as we were. When my son was two he was already listening to the Offspring on his own CD player and mastering Sega games. My, how times have changed.

It’s such a foreign concept to my kids to have grown up without computers and video games and DVDs. They looked at this little record player and said “yea, but what does it do?” They don’t know what “simple times” meant. Hell, my childhood was like living in Little House on the Prairie compared the theirs. In fact, they’ve often asked me what times were like in the “olden days” before fire was invented. That’s when I tell them about walking to school in eight feet of snow uphill, both ways. Barefoot. Because shoes hadn’t been invented yet.

(Insert rant here about how we used to play with nothing but wooden spoons and rocks and liked it. And then something about an onion belt).

You know what? I’m still fascinated by this thing.

little dog gone

Then again, I’m fascinated by fire. Probably because I didn’t have it growing up.

Get off my lawn.

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