What holiday, you may say? Well, it IS Leap Day after all. And am I the only one who thinks that Leap Day would be a GREAT sequel to Groundhog Day? No? Okay, I dig it.
Another reason why I took a break in my ongoing series is to mention a couple other odds and ends. Tomorrow marks the release of Mutant Apocalypse from Opencasket Press. It features my story "Blob Tag." Links to follow. Also, if you have an "end of the world" story you want to tell, Opencasket is doing an anthology on that topic, and paying cash money for contributions. Check out the site for details.
Finally, though a short month, February has been good to me. A post of mine went over 1000 lifetime hits (my 2010 end of the year post, for some reason), and I hit an all time high with pageviews this month, topping 2300 (besting last month, which had 1931 views). So let me fix my shoulder for a minute. I wrenched it patting myself on the back.
Enjoy the holiday, all. Find some bargains out there. And back to the regularly scheduled nonsense tomorrow...
The proposed "everyone gets a medal" ending is nice (not QUITE what happens in Star Wars, as everyone's favorite Wookiee gets diddly squat. I mean, who do YOU think was the one who made the decision to come back? Not the guy who shot Greedo in cold blood!). But still, I don't know how often I would bust out this ending. It seems like it could go with the ending I discussed yesterday, combining the awards and the dance number. I suppose it would be a nice way to cap off a possible victory by the good guys (destroy a ring or a battle station? Medal time!) but honestly, anyone else who pulled this ending would end up staring at comparisons to Princess Leia anyway. So I'd say leave this one in the back-up drawer for now.
As for the "two random characters walk off into the sunset" ending, I DO dig this one. I won't spoil the ending of Casablanca if you've not seen it (and, if not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!). But the odd couple ending is pretty darn sweet. I'd love to see more of this: uneasy allies, unusual couplings. I love stories where unexpected characters end up on adventures together, and ending a story like this lets me imagine future tales of the mismatched pair. Chewie and Threepio exploring the galaxy; Tasslehoff and Tika rocking Solace; Sawyer and Eloise Hawking in a steamy sex romp... wait, forget that last one... This is a nice additional beat to an ending that could be happy or sad or ambiguous. I really dig this idea...
Next time, wins, losses or draws...
First of all, the Bollywood Dance Number idea. Now I dig dance numbers. I like musicals and I would adore a really high-quality sci-fi musical (not Starlight Express, I mean). And I think that certain realms of fantasy and sci-fi would lend themselves well to this (there is a big dance number in the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy, though it's not the final scene). I filmmakers would need to use this ending judiciously. It would only fit if there was a happy ending to a flick, I think, and then only if it seemed culturally relevant (like the episode Shindig of Firefly). Still, these movies often have good looking people, and seeing them boogie could be fun, if the dance was well designed and tonally appropriate.
As for breaking the fourth wall well, producers would REALLY have to sell me on this one. I could see a self-referential show like Supernatural trying this, but it seems to really only work well in comedies. Ferris Bueller talked to the camera throughout the entire movie and the Monty Python crew foreshadowed the fourth-wall busting ending early in that flick. But the ending of Blazing Saddles irked many and, even though it was funny and interesting (and had a dance number to boot) may felt cheated. So breaking the fourth wall in a serious sci-fi work would take a delicate hand. Perhaps fans of the Animal Man comic would agree. Still, if the movie was trippy enough, I could see it, and I'd have to judge it on its own merit.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of this series on sci-fi endings!
First of all, let me say, I've decided that this is a movie best viewed on the big screen. The set pieces, the sequences that make it quintessentially Star Wars, look fantastic in the larger-than-life format. Whether it is the podrace (and my pick, Sebulba, did not win, I'm afraid), or the space battle or the epic duel (and, really, I forgot just how great a tune "Duel of the Fates" is), they all look better on the big screen.
What, then, about the 3D?
Honestly, most of the time I did not even notice it. I suppose this is a double-bladed lightsaber of sorts (see what I did there?). It means that the technology is not distracting or off-putting, which is a 3D concern (either the director tries to be too showy if it's shot in 3D or the transfer is terrible if it's not), but on the other hand, if it's barely there, then what's the point of the silly glasses and the extra couple bucks?
Again, there were a few times when it worked well (the aforementioned podrace being one), and a couple times where it clanged (the movie IS dialogue heavy after all), but mostly I didn't notice it apart from the extra pair of specs. At least it didn't give me a headache.
I did notice a few more flaws in the movie this time, now that I am a little more sophisticated in my viewing. If Lucas had hired someone to help him with his dialogue and pacing (both of which can be painful at times), the movie would have been much better. Jar Jar, again, did not really annoy me but, as I looked desperately to see what his purpose was, I found little. There is no reason for Qui-Gon to take him out and about on Tattooine and, aside from telling everyone where the Gungan hangout is, he does little to move the plot along.
And speaking of that plot, man, Palpatine must go to the Man in Black school of scheming. His plot is WAY too complicated for its own good.
As I Star Wars fan, I enjoyed seeing it on the big screen. The 3D was barely there and the film has flaws but, for a little while, I was 22 again, tired and sweaty from living on the streets, channeling 16 years of anticipation and hope. And THAT was a pretty darn good feeling...
6 Aurra Sing
For a character that appears in only one scene in The Phantom Menace (and has no lines to boot!), Aurra Sing has gained quite a following. From cosplayers to several Facebook sites dedicated to her fandom (and a few pretending to BE her), the white skinned woman observing the podrace has had way more than 15 minutes of fame, especially considering she had less than 15 seconds of screen time.
5 Wedge Antilles
Apparently, the name Antilles is like Smith in the Star Wars Universe. The captain of Princess Leia’s ship, the Tantive IV, at the beginning of A New Hope was named Antilles, and Wedge Antilles is the name of the pilot of the one ship that survives the major battles of the first three Star Wars flicks. He’s also played by two men and voiced by a third in the first movie. He is popular enough to have his own alt.fan site. And he was so popular, he was unable to convince his nephew not to take a role in The Phantom Menace. That’s Ewan McGregor, nephew of the actor who played Wedge, Denis Lawson!
4 GONK Droid
It’s a metal box. With legs. That appear to be made from vent hose. And it makes a silly noise. It’s a power droid that appears in the background of four of the six Star Wars movies that has caught on with fans for some reason. There’s a LEGO version. And websites devoted to making a GONK costume. Did we mention that it is nothing more than a box on legs?
3 Lt. Telsij
Samuel L. Jackson grew up a fan of Star Wars. He sat on David Letterman’s show and practically begged George Lucas to put him in the prequels (he did). Chances are, Jackson was a fan of, among other characters, Lando Calirissian, a prominent black character in Empire and Jedi who gets to be a General and blow shit up. But, for all of you Asian Star Wars fans out there like my friend Don Chu, fret not. There IS an Asian in Star Wars after all (almost as many prominent Asians as females, but that is another story.) His name is Lt. Telsij, otherwise known as Grey 2 in the Battle of Endor. Heck, he even has a line. One line. “There’s too many of them!” But hey, it’s better than the representation of American Indians in the series!
2 Admiral Ackbar
Okay, this guy has lines. Several of them (some of which you can even understand through his blubber). Heck, he even holds a prominent position in the Rebel Alliance (which has Generals and Admirals, so it’s a Navy and an Army? Suuuure). But his popularity goes way beyond the flicks. From his popular Meme (“It’s a Trap!”) to his candidacy for the new mascot of Ole Miss, this Mon Calamari (yum) is quite the star.
1 Boba Fett
You know him. You have to. He’s the most overrated minor player in the history of cinema. The guy has a couple lines in Empire Strikes Back, but aside from getting Vader’s finger wagged in his face, following a guy and ratting him out (then whining about not getting paid), he doesn’t do much other than look cool. Oh, and in the next movie, he gets defeated by a blind guy who belongs in a slapstick comedy. And screams like a little girl. Not all that exciting, if we do say so ourselves. But I guess we’re not in step with EVERY CRAZED STAR WARS FAN IN THE GALAXY.
Somewhere down the line George Lucas decided to put Boba Fett in EVERY STAR WARS SCENE EVER. Well, not quite, but almost. First Lucas added him into the extra “Han Steps on Jabba’s tail” sequence in The Star Wars Special Edition where he… stands there looking cool. And we get to see him as a bratty kid in Attack of the Clones, because the bratty kid version of Darth Vader did not give us our fill. And then there are thousands of versions of him (as he was cloned from Jango Fett, source of the clone army) in Episodes 2 and 3. Thanks to all the crazed Fett fans who fawned over his action figure and spaceship that looked like a street lamp, we were doomed to too much of a mediocre thing…
First, let me remind you that I had not slept for several days the first time I saw it. Second, I'll admit that I did see it five times in the theater. I was in grad school that summer and didn't have much to do on the weekends.
I really liked it the first time I saw it. There were great fan service moments ("Anakin Skywalker meet Obi Wan Kenobi" as R2D2 looked on. Threepio's "Thank the maker!" comment being reframed, Kenobi's "When I met your father he was already an excellent pilot" remark taking on new light, etc.). Plus there were great Star Wars moments: the podrace was, to coin a phras, Wizard, the duel with TWO Jedi and a bad-ass Sith was great (though who puts those crazy force fields up in their, um... power generating place?). And the space battle was keen, too.
Some of the performances were good, too. I thought Qui Gon was a very interesting characte, and Ian McDarmid was a gem. Ewan McGregor was just okay as young Obi Wan (trying too hard to be Sir Alec, perhaps?) and both Sam Jackson and Natalie Portman seemed wasted.
The plot was, and is, unnecessarily bloated. The original flick was elegant in its simplicity: find the droids, find the girl, blow up the spacestation. This time, though, the dots are not as easy to connect and there seems to be a whole lot of discussing topics that may be interesting to the character, but not to me.
What about Jar Jar, you ask? I didn't really have an opinion on him, at first. The biggest issue was that he had no use. He was not a pilot, a warrior or a mechanic. He didn't add anything to the group. Even Threepio had utility and Chewie can do all of those. So Jar Jar just sort of hung around...
In retrospect, though, I see the genius of the character. The annoying, goofy sidekick is the one who is, from a certain point of view, responsible for the downfall of the Republic. THAT, I think, justified the character's existence for me.
Also, in hindsight, I like some of the subtler thematic touches in the story. The bogo chase, where the big fish eats the bigger fish (Qui Gon even comments on it) is a nice encapsulation of the arc of the Star Wars films in one tiny bite. And some people didn't like the midi-chlorians, but I thought it was a tiny hint at a much broader idea that underpins the universe and opens up a lot more questions to ponder. Heck, even the repeated scenes of people pleading to unyeilding monoliths of authority, while perhaps overdone, serve to tap into a thematic chord which resonates throughout.
Is the film flawless? No. Did it live up to my expectations? Ultimately, no. I didn't want to see Annie as a kid, and I never thought I would. Still, it enriched the universe a tad (we learned a lot about those Jedi, for one thing). It did give me hope for the movies to come. But, well, we'll talk about those soon.
3D review coming soon!
We were all excited and nervous about the Phantom Menace. Would it live up to our expectations? Some in the line had read the novelization. Others had studied the toys. I tried to avoid as much detail about the film as I could (aside from the images that inundated me). Still, I had the soundtrack, and there was even a spoiler on that! (a track called Qui-Gon's funeral. Grr. I figured he didn't make it out of the trilogy, but still!).
The hard core fans had been camped out for ages. We were only going to be there a few nights, but they were good nights. We played a lot of board games (including, yes, Star Wars Trivial Pursuit). I remember when Mike and I challenged the head of the line to a game of Tri-Bond. He thought no one could beat him, but we did. We should have played for his spot!
I also remember the poor people on the morning shift at the McDonald's on Connecticut Ave across from the Uptown. They certainly did not expect a lobby full of Star Wars fans hungry for Egg McMuffins. They had to call in the cavalry for that.
I didn't sleep a wink those two nights. I do remember the local TV crew interviewing me the morning of the premiere. They found it funny that I was studying to be a teacher. I didn't care. I was excited. The seats were comfy and we were all excited. We even thought the trailer for Titan AE looked good. We cheered at the Lucasfilm logo and settled in. (I nearly dozed off at one point. Several sleepless nights had taken its toll).
I am going to give you my initial review on Friday. Then stay tuned for my review of the new 3D version. May the Force be with you until then...
You probably know the site. It's got gossip and spoilers and a bunch of posters who can be rude. But I still cehck it out from time to time. And, one night in the spring of 2004, I saw a little piece about a dude who had accidentally caught a two-hour pilot of an upcoming show which was broadcast at a late hour on an obscure network in his area.
It was about a group of survivors, characters who seemed fascinating and well-drawn, stranded on an island after a plane crash. A mysterious island. The poster described the characters in a line or two but did his best not to spoil the crazier elements of the show.
Those were characters that intrigued me. I wanted to know more about them.
Then, the viral marketing grew. Bottles on the beach. Posters. TV commercials. Hey, the guy from Party of Five. A Hobbit. The dude who played Kendall on Alias. Also the guy from 24 and Angel. I set my VCR (remember THOSE).
I watched LOST and I was hooked.
And, you know what, other people I knew watched it, too. Not like Buffy, where I had to track down fans. But this show appealed to my parents. My friends. My co-workers. We discussed it, but no one was as obsessed as I was.
So I found a website: The Fuselage. I joined in season one (as my name, MaggieRyan indicated, it was right after "Whatever the Case May Be"). I adored it.
And, season after season, I kept watching. I loved it and I was hooked.
In season 6, I got an iPhone. I don't listen to music, so I found podcasts. Some on comics and other geekinalia, but most on LOST. And I was hooked again.
Little did I realize that, soon, I would be on a podcast myself. That I would join After LOST and relive the entire journey again...
First, some background on yours truly. I was born in 1976 and my parents were among the few people in America who did not know what "May the Force be with You" meant. But, when the first Star Wars flick was re-release, I got to see it (and I think I brought my TIE fighter with me into the theater). I was hooked.
And then the following year, I saw Empire Strikes Back. There were not enough seats in the theater for my whole family, so I sat on my dad's lap. We came in late, and Luke was already hanging from the ceiling of the Wampa's cave. I was hooked. Though I was briefly jolted out of the proceedings when I wondered aloud why Yoda sounded like Grover.
Of course, when the movie was over, my father assured me that Vader was lying about being Luke's father. After all, he said, the actor who played Darth Vader, Jamed Earl Jones, was black, so it could not be true. Thanks dad.
That -- along with a host of toys -- ignited a life-long passion for Star Wars. For years after Revenge -- I mean RETURN of the Jedi, I thought about the story of Anakin Skywalker. Like so many other fans, I crafted a tale in my own imagination.
I envisioned Anakin as a cocky and talented teen like his son. But I also imagined Uncle Owen as a suave pirate like Han and Beru as the woman they both loved. Obi Wan was a calm voice in between them, and Luke's unknown mother just the girl that Anakin turned to when spurned by Beru. THAT was the reason he wouldn't set foot on Tatooine and the reason the Lars homestead was torched so thoroughly.
A man can dream, can't he?
Anyway, shortly after the Special Edition, word came out that the prequel trilogy was actually going to happen and I was over the forest moon about it. Castin news trickled in: the guy who played the Emperor in Jedi was coming back. The dude from Schindler's list would play an unknown Jedi. Wedge Antilles' nephew was going to be young Obi Wan. Some dude from Stomp would be an all-CGI character. Atroo and Threepio were back. And the chick from Beautiful Girls was going to be in it, too. (also General Zod).
I could not BE more excited. I was ready to buy the book the sound track and the Taco Bell promotions. And, when it was officially announced that the Uptown Theater would be showing the flick on opening day, well, my path was clearer than Luke's daring rescue (snicker) on Bespin...
More on that in two days. Tomorrow: LOST!
The Uptown Theater in DC is awesome. One screen. Quite large. Great sound. Grand seating, even if you aren't in the balcony. In short, the best place in the District to watch a sci-fi movie.
First, a disclaimer. I hate the word "good." Not only is it subjective in this case, but it's not very specific. When I was a teacher of writing, I told my students to avoid the word at all costs. But here, I think, the vague and general nature of the word plays into the uncertainty over how to define a book as "good." (and I am going to cease using the quotes for now, thanks)
So, what, then, makes a book good? Is it the characters? The world the author creates? Is it the conflict? Perhaps it's thought-provoking themes or intense action or romance or humor. Maybe the author has a style of writing that is dynamic or creative or memorable. Can it be any of these things? Must it be all of them?
I have pondered this recently. I just finished the popular book The Hunger Games. I found the main character interesting and relatable, and I loved the world the author had built. I felt there were a few flaws in the plotting and action, but overall it was an enjoyable experience. Still, it's a book targeted at a younger audience, so how much does that come into play with the writing style and the author's choices?
And how much does style matter? Recently I found myself saying "Dan Brown is by no means a good writer, but I enjoy his books nonetheless." (especially, as an aside, Digital Fortress. Check that one out). I cannot comment on Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, as I have not read it, but some love it and some do not like the content or the writing style. But, is it a good series because of sheer adoration?
Then there's Ulysses. Undoubtedly one of the best novels of all time, but man, does it annoy the heck out of me. Stop showing off already, Jimmy! I can admire the craft, but still struggle to read it, and find that, afterward, I am not as satisfied as I wish to be. So, is it a good book or not?
I am not sure I have answers to the questions I've posed here, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. What do you think? What makes a good book?
The first point to consider is popularity. Just because a movie is popular does not necessarily make it good. Titanic was crazy popular and it won the statue. Return of the King hauled in box office and won as well. But often really popular movies are not of high quality. Transformers 3 raked in a lot of dough, as did Pirates of the Caribbean 4, but I don't think either of those can be conisdered a great film.
Now Titanic benefitted from its popularity. I think LA Confindential has better acting, a much stronger and more complex plot and great period sets and costumed, too, but the billion-dollar flick had little chance of being sunk come Oscar time (sorry).
Annie Hall is very funny and, in many ways, represented Woody Allen's departure from silly Giant Breasts Attacking You and Shooting Milk movies to more thoughtful, introspective fare which showed his neuroses to the world and made you think and laugh at the same time. Star Wars, of course, did shake the foundation of movies and change cinema forever, and it's a lot of fun (you'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger SW fan than yours truly). But, really, it is a flawed movie. The dialogue is stilted, the acting is inconsistent and it's message is good but pretty simple.
I think the Avatar/Hurt Locker duel is similar. Cameron's flick made a ton of dough and is pretty to watch on the big screen. But the plot is simplistic and it drags on forever. Bigelow's movie is, on the other hand, intense and topical.
Of course, at times marketing can overtake quality. I adore Shakespeare in Love. I find it funny, romantic and poignant. But it's hard to imagine it's a better flick than Speilberg's war epic (he did get the best director trophy, after all).
Other times, Academy voters are too conservative. Hanks' turn as a simple southerner was old-fashioned and full of nostalgia, while Tararntino's flick was bloody, violent and raw. But which one had more of an impact on the next two decades of movies?
The fact of the matter is, Academy voters are fickle, human and a small group. They try and recognize quality, but that is subjective, after all. Still, there is a difference between something that is good and something you like. Veggies are good for me, but I like Twinkies. James Joyce is a good writer, but I'd prefer to read the next Suzanne Collins book right now. So, if you want to know what America likes, check out the People's Choice Awards. If you want to know what's good, look at what the Academy selected, and then be prepared to grab your shaker of salt. You may need more than a grain or two...
Once upon a time, there was a short, bearded man from Southern California who wanted to make a modern fairy tale. He wanted the world to experience his take on Campbellian mytho-archetypes and the movie serials of his youth. He also wanted to make enough money to swim in it like a cowboy-booted Uncle Scrooge. Also, he waned the world to share his fetish for dismemberment as entertainment.
6) Ponda Baba
When you’ve got a character that looks like an old British man in a bathrobe, how do you show the audience, in a succinct way, that he is, in fact, a galactic bad-ass? To George Lucas, the answer is simple: have him cut off somebody’s arm. In fact, make that somebody a scumbag alien with a baboon’s ass on his face. Enter Ponda Baba, seen in the Cantina at Mos Eisley, and partner to Dr. Evazan. Exit Ponda Baba’s arm when he messes with Ben Kenobi. Anoint Ben as a Jedi with whom you do not fuck.
5) Darth Maul
When Lucas created the prequels, he knew he had to live up to over 15 years of fan speculation. Everything had to be more intense: better special effects, more offensive ethnic stereotypes, more bad-ass bad guys. Enter Darth Maul, whose very appearance made me shit midi-chlorians for a week. But to show how ultra bad-ass Obi Wan was as a young, virile, now suddenly Scottish Jedi, he couldn’t just cut off a limb. He cut the fucker in half and dropped him down a shaft of some kind. Take that Alec Guinness.
4) Luke’s Hand
We all know that, buried deep in George’s psyche next to his predilection for dismemberment lies his daddy issues. I mean, Anakin had no dad and Luke’s dad was a galactic fearmongering murderer. So, what’s worse than finding out that the second most evil dude in the galaxy is your dear old pa? Having him cut off your hand, that’s what. But Luke showed him. Dropping yourself down yet another of these omnipresent shafts has got to show dad you won’t take his “let’s rule the galaxy together” bs any more. Well done, Luke. Now go kiss your sister some more.
3) Anakin Skywalker
It’s only fitting, though, that Luke had his hand cut off by his father. When Anakin was about the same age, he had most of his arm cut off by Dracula. Er, Sauraman. Um, that is, some guy who is so old his lightsaber is a little bit curved, if you know what we mean (and, really, we don’t even know what we mean by that one). Good thing he got a clunky gold replacement for it right in time for his wedding. Hope Amidala had the right kind of jewelry to match, or he’d spend the honeymoon sleeping with the Jawas, if you know what we mean (and no, we still do not know what we mean).
2) Darth Vader
An arm so nice they severed it twice. This character gets two slots on our list because he had two different identities, played by different actors, when he got dismembered on two separate occasions. Lucky dude. The second time, it was payback, as his dear old son got to sever his (admittedly artificial) hand in a little bit of familial payback. Then, of course, there was the requisite shaft, though this time the Emperor was the one who got dumped down it. Nice job picking the wrinkly old guy up with just one hand. Bonus points for that, natch.
The dismembermentsIn this case, the gay British butler of the cosmos just can’t catch a break. He had no less than four different examples of being dismembered.
1) Decapitated in the Geonosis Arena: After spending most of the first flick as a kabuki puppet, weight-watcher’s version of himself, Threepio finally gets off that damn sand planet (gotta wreak havoc on his joints, right?) and, what happens to him? He gets his head chopped off THEN DRAGGED ACROSS THE ARENA by his supposed friend. Tough life.
2) His mystery leg: Which apparently got tougher in the in-between years. Not only did he get his memory wiped, but apparently at some point he lost a leg, which was then replaced by a different colored limb. Nice. Can’t even splurge on a can of Rustoleum for a brother?
3) Losing an arm: Probably a rite of passage to be part of the Skywalker clan. And, since little Annie built him, he is kinda Luke’s brother, isn’t he? (almost as whiny, and as likely to kiss him as Leia, probably). He loses an arm in a battle with the Sand People (who, it seems, really have it out for that family. You slaughter a few of them and man, do they hold a grudge on your kids!)
4) Wholesale dismantling: For Threepio, who faces all sorts of indignity, this must be the worst. Walking into the wrong place on Cloud City at the wrong time, the protocol droid is blasted and left for scrap. But the intrepid Chewie finds him, and spends a good chunk of Empire crating him around like a Yoda backpack. His best pal can’t even slow down to repair him, as he has to save the day by getting that crappy used car called the Falcon up and running. I hope Threepio gets to settle down with hot and cold running protocol lovers when he retires. Brother deserves it!
I talked a little bit about the run up to XXXVIII earlier, with the cold-weather win. That was topped by a defeat of the other co-MVP, Peyton Manning, in a performance that the 4-time MVP would probably like to forget. He was picked thrice by Ty Law and the team, which had romped through two previous games, looked flat. That was nice because it was a home victory, so we got to see the trophy presentation. Plus, it continued their win streak and gave some vindication for the then-underrated Tom Brady.
The game against the Panthers was a loopy one. No one scored for about 27 minutes, then the teams combined for 24 points in the last three. NOTHING AT ALL INTERESTING HAPPENED AT HALFTIME. Then, the third quarter was scoreless. My friend Jeff, a Panther's fan and guest at my party, was getting anxious. Finally, things got nutty in the fourth quarter. Both teams made mistakes and, in the end, Vinatieri kicked another game winner. And, for you future coaches, keep in mind that each team had the same number of TDs and Field goals, but the Panthers went for it on 2pt conversions and failed, while the Pats succeeded.
The next year, the 14-2 Pats defeated Manning at home (again) and he looked even worse, leading his team to only three points. It was the only home playoff game in Foxboro that year, because the 15-1 Steelers, who beat the Pats on Halloween to end their NFL record win streak, had homefield advantage. Brady had a fever, but he (and Deion Branch) were on fire. The Pats won that game and squared off against TO and McNab in the Super Bowl. They won that one, too, taking 3 out of 4 and suddenly, the team that couldn't win seemingly couldn't lose.
But later, they did. They lost to the Broncos, then had one of the most heart-rending losses ever in the AFC title game against Indy, when they blew a huge lead in the second half (and Caldwell could not hold onto a ball!) Then Asante Samuel missed an INT in Super Bowl XLII, Brady lost a season, then got crushed by the Ravens and Jets in back-to-back years.
And now they are back. More on the upcoming game on Sunday morning...
Why do I love it? Let me start with the traditions. I watch my favorite holiday movie (Groundhog Day, of course), a movie that I quote throughout the year. Plus, I do the Groundhog Day dance. Not as well as its innovator, my college buddy Swamp Thing, but I do it anyway. And no, there is no video.
But mostly I love Groundhog Day because, like Super Bowl Sunday, it celebrates something that IS occuring, rather than something that has already happened. Think about it. Don't most holidays celebrate something in the past? A birthday? A death day (I am looking at you Saints Valentine, Patrick, etc.)? The creation of a nation or the sacrifices of the brave? All of these happened long ago. I prefer celebrating the now. A prediction. A game. A series of jokes. That is a holiday to me.
Plus, its meaning is simple. It hasn't been taken over by card companies or candy companies or gift-sellers. There's no pressure to eat certain foods or spend time with people you either normally see or normally don't want to see. It's just an animal and his shadow and the weather. Perfect in its simplicity.
So thank you, Phil, and thank you Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. Now, I am going to limber up and get ready to dance. Happy Groundhog Day!
Well, I spent the weekend trying to figure out what to write. I meant it when I said I could write up 50 pages of mind numbing babble over Weird Al. But, I don’t think anyone would want to read it. So, I decided to limit myself on what to... say, and it was hard to do that. So, what I decided to do was re-examine the types of songs he has and give my own list. You mentioned it was mainly just parodies and original songs, but this doesn’t take into account the many different types of songs he has out there. So, I’m going to do several lists. Also, many songs would cross into many different areas, so once a song is used, it won’t be used in another category later. Here’s my lists:
The first genre would be long pointless songs. Some of these are kind of good, and some of them have a plot. But, it gets clear that Al really just wanted to laugh at his listeners for hearing a song that goes on for 11 minutes. This one I can only find 4, so it won’t be a top 5 list.
4 – Trapped in the Drive Thru
3 - Albuquerque
2 – Genius in France
1 – Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota
This next genre is songs that go through a new (at the time the album was released) movie. This doesn’t just talk about a movie series, like “Yoda,” but actually goes through the whole movie plot and several scenes. Again, I could only quickly identify 4:
4 – Gump
3 – Jurassic Park
2 – Ode to a Superhero
1 – The Saga Begins
Polka, Polka, Polka. In most of Weird Al’s albums, he has a polka mash up. He has songs that are current an popular. He will play maybe a verse and a chorus of the song, but to polka background. So, instead of changing the words, he just changes the music. It’s hard not to laugh when you here tuba’s playing to “Down with the sickness,” or accordion playing in the background to Snoop Dog.
5 – Polka Your Eyes Out
4 – Polka Power
3 – Polka Face
2 – Polkerama
1 – Angry White Polka
Weird Al has 4 best of albums. One of them is for tv related songs. Listening to Al’s music it can be clear that he’s obsessed with food and t.v. Here are the top 5 t.v. related songs.
5 – Beverly Hillbillies (parody of Money for Nothing…..on UHF)
4 – Ricky
3 – Isle Thing
2 – Stuck in the Closet with Vanna White
1 – Couch Potato
I just talked about t.v. Here are the top 5 (IMO) songs related to food:
5 – Taco Grande
4 – Lasagna
3 – Spam
2 – I love Rocky Road
1 – Grapefruit Diet
The next one is the anti-love songs. These are songs that are comforting to me right now. The idea is simple, the exact opposite of a love song.
5 – You Make Me
4 – Since You’ve Been Gone
3 – You Don’t Love Me Anymore
2 – Close, But No Cigar
1 – One More Minute
These next ones I think stem from a conversation that Weird Al had with that hottie, Martha Quinn back in 1990 or so. Apparently, some artists don’t allow Al to do a parody of one of their songs. But, there are several songs where Weird Al ends up taking the basic style and feel of a group and makes a song where it is very obvious who he’s parodying, even though it’s not a specific song.
5 – Dare to be Stupid (Devo)
4 – Germs (Nine Inch Nails)
3 – Trigger Happy (Beach Boys)
2 – Bob (Bob Dylan)
1 – Wanna B UR Lovr (Prince – who did specifically say no to Al)
So, now we get to the items Rich spoke of. These are absolute originals.
5 – Why Does This Always Happen to Me?
4 – Don’t Download this Song
3 – Stop Forwarding this Crap to Me.
2 – Christmas at Ground Zero
1 – The Night Santa Went Crazy
A special note should be given to Skipper Dan here. I love and hate that song. It makes me sad (seriously). I have actually cried on this one. I know it’s just a funny song, but I actually know people who have lived that life and are honestly working as a tour guide on the jungle cruise ride. I can’t ever get it out of my mid. And though I probably love it more than the other songs here, I also hate it more than them.
So, for the parodies that Al is known for, with all other areas taken out. I have made a top 5. And it was very difficult to put this one together. Depending on my mood and the day, these may change:
5 – Theme from Rocky XIII
4 – Yoda
3 – Do I Creep You Out (This song creeps my wife out)
2 – White & Nerdy
1 – All about the Pentiums.
LOTS of great stuff here. Stay tuned for my reaction to this reaction!
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