02nd Apr2006

A Simpsons MOVIE? For REAL?

by Will

“He’s the kinda guy you hate until he’s inside ya.”

“The Simpsons Movie”, eh? July 2007, eh? Only got one thing to say about that: Worst. Idea. Ever.

26th Mar2006

V For Vendetta: The Comic Book Movie As “Art”

by Will

“Are you like a crazy person or something?”

So, last night I saw “V for Vendetta” and I must say that I wanted to cry. I know there are people who panned it, but there are also those who thought it was quite good. I thought it was beautiful. When it was over, I was shaken, but in a profound way. I wanted to cry.

Now, before you go all off on me, as internet trolls are prone to do, allow me to explain myself. You see, I am a comic book afficienado. I’m not a “fanboy”, per se. I’m not obnoxious like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. I am one of those people who would like comics to be elevated and accepted as an artform. To me, the term “funnybooks” is a slur a few notches below “nigger”. Yeah, I’m sure that might seem outlandish to many of you, but that is simply how I feel. Comics have meant a lot to me over my life, and they have been some of my best friends at times. As sad as that may be, it pains me when people fail to take them seriously. There ARE more to comics than Batman and X-Men. Sure these are what people think about, but there are entertaining, yet moving tales to be found, such as Art Speigelman’s “Maus” or even Terry Moore’s “Strangers in Paradise”. In the world of comics, just as with music, there is truly something for everyone. But so few people are willing to give them a chance.

I never had any interest in seeing “V”. I’ve never been a big Alan Moore fan, and while I loved “From Hell” since I have a Jack the Ripper fetish, I could never bring myself to watch the trainwreck that was “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. As Jenn has pointed out, the main gist of the movie was “It’s that flick where Natalie Portman had to cut her hair.” But as the release date neared, people began talking about its political message. The next thing I knew, people were worried about the message this movie might be sending. Would it spawn copycats? Was it antipatriotic? I mean, this was a MOVIE based on a COMIC BOOK. Have you ever heard anything like this? Spider-Man didn’t cause journalists to fear that people would try to swing from buildings. Batman never inspired the fear that rich guys might take the law into their own hands. Most of those concepts were deemed too farfetched to matter. But here was a tale which, people felt, hit close to home. Was V a hero or a terrorist? For whom were we to root? This movie got people to thinking. And as I sat there watching it, it got me to thinking, too. I mean, REALLY thinking. And it wasn’t “Could V kick Batman’s ass?” kinds of thoughts. Instead, I thought about politics, about ethics, about religion, about truth. SO\ome might say that it’s sad it took a MOVIE to make me think, but there are others out there like me. And to think, this is nothing new. This story is over a decade old, but is poignant today.

So, when the movie ended, I wanted to cry. In fact, I wanted to weep. Not because it was a sad story. It had its sad parts. Not because it was a happy story, although it had those parts as well. I wanted to cry because I was proud. I was proud that this artform, this literature, was ascending to new heights. I was proud that the medium had the capacity to inspire such thought and emotion. I was proud that the medium had succeeded in hitting “close to home”. And I was proud that this might result in comics finally getting their due in modern society.

12th Dec2005

RIP Richard Pryor

by Will

“…Dead Honky!”

It’s a sad weekend in the world of comedy, for Richard Pryor has died. Yeah, I could go on and on about how he was a pioneer for Black comedians, yadda yadda. But I’d rather point out that he was the only redeemable part of “Superman III”. And now Gene Wilder will never work again. It’s kinda like what happened to Spade when Farley died.

Anyways, I hate that all of these relics of my childhood are passing. First, Mr. Miyagi/Arnold, and now Richard Pryor. I swear, if I hear that Sloth from “The Goonies” is dead, someone’s gonna have to talk me down from a ledge!

04th Dec2005

The Concept of Manhood, Through The Lens Of Glengarry Glen Ross, Taps, and Thundercats

by Will

“I just MAKE plans. I don’t stick to them!”

So, the other night, I ended up having a themed movie night without even realizing it.

First off, I watched “Glengarry Glen Ross”. If you’ve never seen it, it’s essentially about a group of guys trying to make a living in the real estate game. But the underlying gist of it is that they don’t make men like they used to. Rather, there are no “men” in the world anymore. Back in the day, a salesman had his gimmick, and he could turn a buck, and provide for his family. He knew his job because he WAS his job. A man was his job. But by the time of this movie, that concept was outdated. Those men were dinosaurs because the world no longer responded to their sales techniques, while they, in turn, never really adapted to the changing world. The basic question of the movie is “Where have all the men gone?”

Next, I followed it up with “TAPS”. If you’ve never seen that, it’s about the closing of Bunker Hill Academy so that they can use the land to build condominiums. The cadets rebel against this idea and decide to take the school by force until their demands are met, and the school is allowed to stay open. But under all of this, there’s still the question of “What is a man?” and “What is a soldier?” These cadets thought their mission was fueled by a sense of duty and honor, but these were concepts that the world no longer seemed to understand. While they were taught to glorify war and that death in battle was noble, they came to find that even career soldiers had fear. The main goal of war is to stay alive not to die a noble death. Their idea of “manhood” was obscelete, as they found out at the end of the movie.

Then, for some strange reason, I decided to watch Season 1 of “Thundercats”. Sure, Lion-O was a grown man, but that was only physical. Because they were in suspended animation, his bdy aged, but his mind didn’t. So, he’s a grown man with a 12 yr-old mind. So, in essence, the show is about him finding himself as he develops into a man. Lion-O must fully understand what it means to be both an adult AND the lord of the Thundercats.

So, subconsciously, I guess I’m struggling with the whole concept of “what does it mean to be a man?” All of these media projected different opinions on the topic, but none of them provided an answers. In any respect, it was still an interesting and coincidental study…

04th Dec2005

Entertainment Tonight, You Ignorant Slut!

by Will

“It’s as if Disney’s trying to say to the kids, ‘Screw your parents, just run off into the woods and sing Hakuna Matata and everything is going to be alright’.”

You know who I’ve pitied for quite some time? “Entertainment Tonight” reporters. Why? Because they have to pretend to be excited about a project even when they know it’s going to be a piece of shit. The best evidence of this is watching an episode WAY after the fact.

I once went through this phase where I’d put a tape in the VCR, hit “record” and just walk away. On days when boredom struck, I’d put in the tape and see what I’d recorded. There’s nothing worse than seeing Mary Hart or Bob Goen on the set of yet another Tori Spelling TV movie or yet another 80’s tv show reunion, knowing they couldn’t give two shits whether or not JR Ewing was meaner than Boss Hogg.

I remember when they were on the set of Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie”. Now, I don’t like flaunting this around, but those close to me know I watched PR WAY longer than I should have. I was an uber-fan, but even I knew that movie was gonna be a steaming pile of shit. But Bob Goen just wouldn’t come correct. He was determined to tell me, ME, that this movie was going to reinvent the wheel with it’s colorful costumes and high-flying martial arts antics. That movie went on to gross about 2 million dollars. If you know anything about entertainment, you’ll know that equals “bomb”.

Don’t placate me, ET. We know when something’s going to suck. Trying to make us believe otherwise only outs you as the entertainment whores that you are.

25th Oct2005

A Look Into The Minds of Today’s Hottest Black Actors

by Will

“Snakes on motherfucking plane?!”
So, you ever wonder what goes on in the casting process of a movie? Like, what exactly occurs in the relationship between an actor and an agent? Well, the West News Team has left no stone unturned to bring you the true story behind Hollwood’s “casting couch”. No, we’re not focusing on starlets. We go behind the scenes of the casting of some of America’s hottest Black actors. Let’s see what’s inside!

Morgan Freeman

Agent: So, we’ve got this movie we think you’d be good in.

MF: Is there a script?

A: Yeah, there’s a script, but don’t worry about that.

MF: Is Ashley Judd in it? You know how I like Ashley.

A: No, Morgan. No Ashley.

MF: *downtrodden* No Ashley?

A: Sorry, not this time.

MF: Well, who IS in the movie? This ain’t that Timberlake thing y’all were telling me about, is it?

A: No, this is something…different…

MF: Well, who’s in it?

A:…penguins…

MF:Penguins?!! *pause* Well, is there a paycheck?

A: Isn’t there always?

MF: Then, sign me up!

Samuel L. Jackson

Agent: So, Sam..we’ve got this movie we want-

SLJ: IS THERE A BLACK DUDE IN IT?!

A: You bet your Black ass there is! Why do you think –

SLJ: DO I GET TO TALK REAL LOUD?!!

A: Of course! The studio wouldn’t have it any other way.

SLJ: DO I GET TO BE A BADASS?!!

A; SLJ, you’ll be the Baddest Ass in movie history.

SLJ: WELL, SIGN ME UP!

A: Really? Just like –

SLJ: MAN, QUIT TALKING. YOU HAD ME AT “BLACK DUDE”.

Sean Patrick Thomas

A: Hey Sean. Sorry about “The District” getting canceled. Anyway, we’ve got this script-

SPT: Do I get to sleep with a White girl?

A: Umm…not this time around, Sean…

SPT: Do I get to kiss a White girl?

A: Umm…no, Sean. We’ve been here before. This movie takes place in a Black barbershop. How many White girls have you seen in Black barbershops?

SPT:Maybe…she’s visiting her Black boyfriend.

A: Look, Sean…maybe this was a bad idea.

SPT: Fine, but can’t we have a scene where I, at least, dance with a White girl? I mean, I DO have a reputation to uphold…

25th Oct2005

Jaye Davidson: Stargate’s Drag Queen Baddie

by Will

“Earl, I think you’re trying to sell a cat to a man who fancies dogs.”

So, today it was announced that Sci Fi is picking up “Stargate:SG-1” for a 10th season, making it the longest running US sci-fi show in history. Kinda amazing for a show based on a movie that BOMBED. Then again, I guess the same could be said for “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”. Anyways, this development made me think of that movie, which I loved, and specifically, Jaye Davidson.

Jaye Davidson played “Ra” in Stargate, and as far as movie villains go, was the pussy to end all pussies. I mean, I don’t think he even had a line. He just kinda slinked around, being all androgynous. I think their reasoning was that Ra wouldn’t speak English, and the whole “Goau’ld” aspect wasn’t introduced until the TV show. As a result, we’re left with a big old menacing drag queen for a villain. But he was a scary drag queen, I’ll give him that. Not in a RuPaul kind of way, but more like, “this drag queen might cut me if I look at her the wrong way”. And nobody wants to be cut by a drag queen. Imagine having to report that, and having the cops laugh at ya the whole time…

But you see, Jaye didn’t HAVE to act. He’d already proven himself in the indie classic, “The Crying Game”. You see, he was the source of the movie’s BIG REVEAL. In case you haven’t seen it, the chick is a man! And that man-chick was Jaye Davidson. Mofo earned an Oscar nomination for that thing. So, when Stargate came along, he netted a cool million, essentially playing the same character, without all the awkward sex and Boy George soundtrack.

But after Stargate, it was over. He returned to his prior career as in the fashion industry. He only made 3 movies. 3 movies! I’m not saying the guy was Carey Grant, but even Fran Drescher made more than 3 movies (anybody realize she was in “Saturday Night Fever”, and might I mention, HOT?) Apparently, after Stargate, the acting bug’s sting just wore off for Jaye. I guess I can respect that. Instead of lining up for another failure, like “Evolution” or “Battlefield: Earth”, he returned to his home on the runway.

Well, I was on IMDB today, and there were a few Jaye quotes that I honestly found inspirational. I dunno, maybe it’s the drugs, or my current state of mind, but he reached out and touched me with the following:

“Some people are so precious — all this hoo-ha about bad role models and positive images! Of course gay people are murderers, bigamists, drug addicts and nasty people — just as much as heterosexual people are all of these things. What it all boils down to is, we are all people, and we all have the same human desires. It just happens that some desires go this way and some desires go that way. It’s sad when people are oppressed. But it’s a question of rising above it. Personally, mentally and, if you have to, physically. ”

“The most important thing in my life is to live my life and enjoy it–to do what I think is right and what I think is good.”

So, that’s Jaye Davidson. While he may be considered a B-movie actor, today he served as a wise prophet. He might not have survived Stargate, but he’s found a way to survive in this world…

06th Oct2005

Cornell’s Sorority System, Described Using Celebrities du Jour

by Will

“I’m not above putting out for cash!”

So, to show you just how bored I tend to get at work, the following is a little project I gave myself the other day. With the help of my good web friend, Wikipedia , I set out to take a trip down Cornell memory lane. While doing this, I began to think of the fun times, the party times. And sometimes these involved crashing some kind of Greek mixer. In fact, I remember a Sig Ep/Kappa Delta mixer where the guys spent most of the evening sneering and me and Lip from the staircase as we took over the party. You know it was a lame party if Lip and I were the main event, but that was what happened some cold nights in Ithaca.

Anyway, while looking back, I began to remember the distinct personalities of the houses. There are different frats (yeah, yeah, “You wouldn’t call your country…”) and sororities because they’re all into different things. Yes, kids, it’s the high school cafeteria all over again. So, instead of trying to describe these different social mindsets, I decided to use examples instead. Yup, I went through all of the sororities on Cornell’s campus, and then found an actual celebrity alumnae from those specific houses, some Cornell alums, some alums of other schools, that best illustrate the general “theme” of the house. By “theme”, I’m basing it upon looks and personality. You may find some of these to be harsh. You may find some to be spot on. But all I can promise is that this is one guy’s Cornell-centric opinion, and these are all true alums of the houses. And if you don’t know a particular name, don’t be afraid to Google that mofo. So, away we go!

UPDATE: I simply love commentary too much to list names without explanation. Let’s see how much I can offend some people…

Delta Gamma – Ann Coulter
Bunch of blond, rich, White Republican girls. In my best James Lamb voice, “They wanted nothing to do with me.”

Chi Omega – Joyce DeWitt
Sure, in the South, “Chi Ho” is the shizzle, but not where I’m from. On the hill, this house is nothing but a breeding ground of “Janets” for the rest of the world’s “Chrissies”.

Pi Beta Phi – Jennifer Garner
Hottie hot-hot sporty spicers. You want a hot chick who could also take you down in a fight? This is your house. Buyer beware, some of them are “beautifully musculine”. Just sayin’…Anyway, I like to refer to this as The House of Tarek.

Kappa Delta – Ellen Dow
Sure, they all mean well, but…

Delta Delta Delta – Katie Couric
Cute, but deadly. Unassuming, but that’s just what they want you to think. Sleep with one eye open.

Kappa Alpha Theta – Jenna Von Oy
Ahh…Theta. Now, this was a house of those “rough around the edges” chicks where you have to ask, “Are you SURE you wanna be in a sorority?”

Alpha Phi- Kimberly Williams
She’s got the look. Nanananana, nanananananana, nanananana!!!! In all seriousness, this was the best house of groupies EVER. I mean, these girls ate, slept, and breathed a cappella. Sure, it was a Hangover house, but that seemed to change over time…

Kappa Kappa Gamma – Sophia Bush
Every girl in Kappa looks like this girl. And they all work for Morgan Stanley. They will stab you in the back if there’s an internship in it for them. Sounds like some kind of “One Tree Hill” plotline. In fact, I can’t look at any of them anymore without Gavin DeGraw popping into my head…

Alpha Chi Omega – Dawn Wells
The girl who used to be cute and sweet during orientation who’s now cute and a bitch. Wow, it’s amazing how Rush can change a person. Plus, y’all know that Ginger was the movie star, but Mary Ann HAD to have a chip on her shoulder!

Sigma Delta Tau – Joan Rivers
A bunch of loud Jewish girls. Yeah, I said it. And I loved how all their sweaters and crap said “EAT”.

Alpha Omicron Pi – Courtney Kupets
A bunch of girls with NOTHING in common who really just wanted to tell their friends back home that they were in a sorority. Honestly, you couldn’t find a larger, more motley group. These girls had NO business being together, as they were all gymnasts or ecologists looking for something to do over breaks…

Wow, this post came off really bitter, like they all rejected me or something. Nothing could be further from the truth. In all honesty, the Greek thing wasn’t really my scene. We did the parties when we had jack nothing else to do. But these were my observations from our “away team” missions. Anyway, it’s not like anybody from these houses is even gonna see this post…

27th Aug2005

Looking Back On Buckaroo Banzai

by Will

“No matter where you go, there you are.”

Soon the leaves will change, and I will be reminded of the tool that I was, growing up. Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my antisocial status. My Saturday’s were planned to a T. I’d wake up, partake in some TNBC action, and then I’d hunker down and watch whatever craptastic movie Channel’s 5 and 20 had to offer. But out of their entire film libraries, there are two movies that always put a special feeling in the air:
Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension . Today, I had the pleasure of revisiting the latter.

Let me try to somehow explain why I ever liked this movie. It’s like the producers went up to a 7 yr-old and asked, “Hey, kid..what do you wanna be when you grow up?” And the kid responded, “I wanna be a super hero, and a rock star, and a rocket scientist, and kill aliens, and have a flying car…” Why do I say this? Because all of the above describe the title character of Buckaroo Banzai. He is all of those things, and I’m not being metaphorical. He is an alien-fighting, rock star, comic book hero, with an advanced degree in physics. Plus, his band doubles as his superhero support team. Yeah, on my most imaginative day, I can’t believe some studio greenlit this, even in 1984.

Just looking at the cast, you get the picture that it’s not gonna be an easy stroll through the park. Peter Weller (Robocop) as Buckaroo tips ya off, but anytime you have John Lithgow AND Jeff Goldblum, you’d might as well send the thing straight to video. Lithgow’s most sane role was the crazy preacher in “Footloose” and “Goldblum” is Hebrew for “hope you’re ready for weird”. And we round it all off with the great Christoher Lloyd. Yeah, it’s no wonder this thing only has a cult following.

But these lameass reasons are the same reason I love it. I can’t believe a studio greenlit this movie! It’s that simple. It’s not even one of those films where you’re like, “I’ll bet this rocks when you’re high.” No, if you watched it under the influence of something, you’d probably go on a killing spree. It’s that much of a mindfuck.

I don’t know what touches more. Is it the bubble-wrap safety goggles? The cowboy named “New Jersey”? Or is it the irresistable “Pretty Tommy”, who surprisingly is NOT a pimp? The aliens disguised as Rastafarians? The fact that they willingly endanger that 11 yr-old kid AND give him a rifle to shoot at people? It makes no sense on paper, and it makes even less sense to watch.

The beauty of the whole film-making process in Buckaroo Banzai is that you KNOW they’re trying to weird you out, but not in that artsy Tim Burton-esque way. There’s no real method to the madness, just a balls-out “why not?” approach. Sure, you could ask, “Why is Buckaroo ALL of these professions?”, but the movie subtlely puts forth “Why NOT?” And once you accept that, all bets are off.

My experience today was just like it’s been the past 2o-odd years I’ve watched this masterful train wreck. The thing comes on, and the events unfold like this:

Minute 1: “Oh, man! ‘Buckaroo Banzai’ is on! Well, got nothing else to do today…”

Minute12: “OK, I think I’ve had about all I can handle.”

Minute 22: “Wow, is Robocop really singing ‘Since I Don’t Have You’? I’m gonna have to see where this is going.”

Minute 37: “I really can’t do this anymore. Fucking Goldblum in that cowboy outfit makes me wanna hit somebody.”

Minute 62: “Man, no wonder Ellen Barkin’s career went nowhere.”

Minute 70: “Guess I’ve gotta ride out this storm.”

Minute 103: “I can’t believe I just sat through that whole thing. Oooh…’Baywatch’!”

Well, the Baywatch part didn’t occur to me today (God rest its bouncy slow-motion soul), but it never fails that the same exact thoughts go through my mind. And I just find it touching that a movie can make me feel the exact same way, each time, over the course of so many years. I think THAT’s what keeps me coming back for more. I go for years without seeing it, and I come back older and wiser, yet I still ask the same questions.

And after 20 years, I still don’t know what the fuck this movie’s about! I’m serious. Something about an “overthruster”, and I know Lithgow looks like he needs a bath…and there’s some guy named “Bigbootie” (Awww….Big booty, big booty, big booty!). But in the whole “how much shit can we possibly cram into this movie?”, the creative team behind the film gave plot a back seat. I’d be so bold as to say there is no plot. These were the 80’s. A time when some bastard created “Toxie, the Toxic Avenger”, and somehow spawned a cartoon out of that. My point is that in the “Me Generation” no idea was too farfetched, and “Buckaroo Banzai” is one of the best examples of that.

Well, that’s enough sharing. Once again, I’m pretty sure that Austin’s the only one reading this who’ll even have a clue as to what I’m talking about, but he’s my target audience for the pop culture throwback posts, so i guess I’m doing my job if he connects. Stay tuned for my next post, which will be a milestone in the Westverse: post #450!

20th Aug2005

Truck Turner Is HILARIOUS!

by Will

“She’s gratuitously hot. Like ‘even if she was a parapalegic I wouldn’t care’ hot.”

You’ve never seen an All-Star Pimp Funeral until you’ve seen Isaac Hayes’ “Truck Turner”. One of the lesser-known Blaxploitation flicks, it’s probably the only place you’ll see cocaine sprinkled on a finely dressed corpse and, and here’s the clincher, Lt. Uhura as a hardass Hollywood Madame.

Let’s see…you’ve got the one-eyed White cowboy pimp. You’ve got the standard issue street corner pimp. But my personal fave is the Yafhet Kotto-from-Homicide pimp. “What could be wrong? I’m rich. I have money. I’m cute. I’m handsome.” He steals the show!

And who knew prostitutes would grieve so over their fallen daddy? It truly is an enlightening thing to watch. And I leave you with this nugget of wittiness from Lt. Uhooker:

“She’s called ‘Turnpike’ ’cause you’ve gotta pay to get on and pay to get off.”