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!

18th Aug2005

So, Trekkies Are Pedophiles, Eh?

by Will

“My parents aren’t gonna do anything to you! It’s not like they’re gonna spear you…What? We’re African. That’s all people think of Africa: elephants, spears, and monkeys!”

Lawdy, lawdy, they’s comin’ fo’ us! There’s this report floating around, in which the LAPD make an interesting confession: apparently, there’s a correlation between love of Star Trek and pedophilia. Actually, it’s reported that out of 100 arrests over the past four years for child molestation, all but one of them were “hardcore Trekkies”. Let the profiling begin! “Excuse me sir, I’m gonna have to ask you to put down that phaser, and open up your attic.” Or

“Excuse me sir, do you know how fast you were going back there?”

“No, officer, I don’t. I was just trying to get home. I forgot to TiVo Star….Search. Yeah, love that Ed McMahon!”

“Star Search, eh? Well, while we’re here…does the term “Kobayashi Maru” mean anything to you?”

“Sure It’s the test given to all cadets at Starfleet Academy. The trick of the test is that it cannot be passed. But James Tiberius Kirk was the first person to beat the test because he cheated…SHIT!”

“Well, looky here! We’re gonna have to take you downtown, pervert! You’re gonna live long and prosper behind bars!”

“NOoooo! There…are…four…lights!”

End Scene

Wow, I really got carried away there.

The sad thing is that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I mean, this hits close to home, but it’s SUCH BULLSHIT. Then again, have you BEEN to a Trek convention? You know that cousin that the rest of the family’s ashamed of? Now, multiply him by about 5,000, and you’ve got a Trek convention. Sure, everyone comes with their own level of commitment, but I was more afraid at a Trek convention than I was in Russia when all of the kids were trying to touch my hair, like the zombies in “Shaun of the Dead” or something…

Some people have tried to explain how it’s all Kirk’s fault because he taught us all to seek risky, instant gratification in his quest to screw any green chick in a miniskirt. Somehow, that translates into making every Kirk-admiring Trekkie a pedophile ’cause, since there are no green chicks (yet), the next worse thing is kids. It’s the whole “exotic becomes erotic” theory (Any Bem fans out there? Man, were they one colossally screwed up family!) But, if you wanna read up on the report, try these links:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-ladowsky/pedophilia-and-star-trek_b_5857.html

http://www.corante.com/importance/archives/2005/05/04/star_trek_and_pedophilia_claim_followup.php

10th Aug2005

Go Away, Maria Menounos!

by Will

“He wants me to go to the moon with him, Johnny, and it’s really cold there, I guess, and it’s like, my least favorite planet anyway. I’d much rather go to Pluto or Star Trek or China. One of the nice planets that’s not so dirty.”

You know who I’m getting sick of? Maria Menounos! She’s frickin’ EVERYWHERE. She’s on “One Tree Hill”. She’s in “Fantastic Four.” And let’s not forget her main job, “Entertainment Tonight”. She’s like Media Herpes or something. I can’t get rid of her. She’s the Jillian Barberie of 2005.

Plus, shouldn’t it be a conflict of interest to be an entertainer (I use the term loosely) AND be an ET cohost? First, Mark McGrath joined Extra, which is OK, ’cause who really took Sugar Ray seriously? But when John Tesh started his whole New Age career, he had the decency to leave ET. But Maria’s EVERYWHERE. And it’s not like she’s that talented. She’s kinda like the Budget Eva Longoria, which ain’t sayin’ much. If you can’t afford post-“Desperate Housewives” Eva, then Maria Menounos will come to your kid’s birthday party and smile for pictures. Then, she’ll turn around and show the pics on ET, right after her coverage of Mary Kay Letourneau’s wedding. Oh, ET, when did you turn into “A Current Affair”?

08th Aug2005

DJ Tanner Says You’re Going To Hell!

by Will

What’s the deal with the Cameron family?!!! First, Mike Seaver got
Left Behind and now DJ Tanner’s throwing THIS at us?!!!

Whoa, babies! When did these kids get all Born Again? And stop making me feel like crap, Mike and Donna Jo! Don’t they know they’ve gotta have mercy? I mean, cut it out, guys. Pin a rose on your nose, ’cause I don’t like this “holier than thou” crap. I guess I’m not saintly enough to visit your site, Candace. You don’t want me there? You got it, dude!

03rd Aug2005

In Space, Only The Exploding Consoles Can Hear You Scream

by Will

Trekkie Gripe
The following is from a convo I had with Brian:

WESTMAN2K: they didn’t like to focus on it much, but by the time they made it home, the only crew left were basically the senior officers. the pesky maquis were cannon fodder. the few, loyal, starfleet officers onboard were victims of enemies or the freak overloading panel

WESTMAN2K: what is it about those panels? we can build a ship that travels faster than light, but we can’t revolutionize surge protection technology?

Shit, if I were on a starship, I’d be nervous just walking down the hallway! You never know when one of those panels is gonna overload and BOOM! There goes Ensign Jenkins!

I always loved how the conn and ops consoles would overload as a result of an attack. You see the sparks and whatnot, and Nameless Crewman would be dead. But seconds later, Nameless Crewman II has to take his place. And you just know that Nameless Crewman II is hoping the surges hold off until his shift is over, ’cause he’s got shore leave on Risa coming up, and he’s always wanted to make it with a green chick. At this point, he’s kicking himself for not taking that assignment on the trash barge, and he truly hopes to find out if it IS easy being green…

01st Aug2005

Did You Know They Reuse Sets In Hollywood?

by Will

“You gotta have blue hair!”

So, here’s an interesting bit of old school TV trivia that surprised even me:

The main living room set on “What’s Happening?!!” is the same exact set from “Sanford & Son”, without all the junk.

This reminds me of other times when shows shared sets. Let’s take a trip through the 90’s…

-The first episode of “Living Single” was in the “Family Matters” house.

-The first episode of “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” was in the “Growing Pains” house.

-The high school hallway/staircase used in “Saved by the Bell” were also used in “The Wonder Years” and “Power Rangers”.

-The dorm suite in “Saved by the Bell: The College Years” is the same suite used by the kids on “USA High”

-Actually, ALL Peter Engel shows recycle sets AND actors. TNBC was one big free for all. Watch any of them, and you’ll find yourself saying, “Hey, isn’t that Tony Wicks from ‘California Dreams’ standing in the middle of the ‘SBTB:TCY’ dorm room with that chick from ‘Malibu, CA’?” Trust me, if you’ve ever seen the second season of “USA High”, you know exactly what i’m talking about. Wow, I think I just referenced the most obscure shows in the Peter Engel teen dynasty. Half of the ones I mentioned didn’t last longer than 2 seasons…

Yup, I know I’m impressive….you scared yet? 😛

30th Jul2005

Lawdy, Lawdy! Superfly Had A SEQUEL?!

by Will

“Logan would join a limbo contest if it had a redhead in it.”

It’s back! About 6 months ago, I wrote a scathing article about The African Heritage Movie Theatre, and it’s MC’s, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. Well, much has changed in that time. Mr. Davis has gone to that theatre in the sky, and Ms. Dee is MIA. So, the franchise has been renamed. Yes, I give you the Uptown Movie Network. And get this: it’s now hosted by Ms. Shar “F you, Federline!” Jackson. But worry not, because they’re still cranking out those movies that make us Black folks feel so proud! This week’s offering: “Superfly T.N.T”

Yes, as if “Superfly” wasn’t enough, someone came up with the bright idea to give us a sequel. But this ain’t yo daddy’s Blaxploitation movie (actually, it’s from 1973, so it probably is…). Don’t look for the ghettos and the Cadillacs. No, allow me to provide you with the movie’s synopsis:

“Superfly comes out of his Roman retirement to free a tiny African nation from the grip of a cruel dictator.”

Oh, Superfly must be a hero, right? Well, for those of you who don’t know the story of Superfly, as depicted in the first movie, let me break it down for ya. Superfly, known as Youngblood Priest, was a cocaine dealer who simply realized he’d had enough of the life. But he needed one last score to provide him with the cash for his escape. So, I guess he used that cash to get to Rome. Yeah…Rome. I didn’t even think they let Black people in Rome in 1973!

Oh, but it gets better. You ever seen a 6’4” Black dude with a perm, dressed from head to toe in horseback riding gear? Better yet, have you ever seen the same guy chase a mugger down narrow Roman streets?You will if you see this movie. I don’t know if Superfly is the most famboyant pimp or the gayest ass kicker, but it certainly is a sight to see.

The highlight of this movie has GOT to be Roscoe Lee Brown, who has one of the most iconic voices in entertainment history. Screw James Earl Jones. Roscoe’s “Kingpin” from the Fox Spider-Man cartoon stomps all over Mr. “This is CNN”. Anyway, Brown plays the part of an African diplomat. Not that it takes much. In this day and age, all you had to do was show up to work. And he does that nicely.

So, why am I ranting? Well, the whole commercial nature of this franchise was to show movies that, supposedly, had a cultural and classic impact on the Black cinematic experience. I understand that there are only so many times one can watch “The Color Purple” and “The Tuskeegee Airmen”, but it’d be more honorable if someone just came out and said, “OK, we’re all out of movies.” Don’t pass this dreck off and try to make people think it means something. Hell, “Superfly T.N.T” doesn’t even come up immediately on an IMDB search. You’ve got to dig to find that bad boy. I guess that’s supposed to make me think it’s a hidden cinematic treasure. Well, I’m on to your game!

“Superfly” had cultural significance. It is one of the more memorable Blaxploitation movies. Was it a “good” movie? I’ll leave that in the eye of the beholder. But it had cultural significance. These were Black made films, for Black audiences. As deplorable as the subject matter may have been, these tales were real to many people. Can’t say the same about “Soul Plane”. But I digress…

But you can’t tell me that Superfly’s sequel holds the same meaning in time. In the words of Judge Judy, “Don’t piss on my knee and tell me it’s raining!” The fool is in Rome! Who came up with this locale? How did a coke dealer become an African savior? I mean, I’m all about redemption, but DAMN!

Everybody knows that a sequel is simply another trip to the well. Typically, you had success, and now you’re trying to milk the idea dry. The “message” was in your first movie, but the sequel is all fo’ da scrilla. With that in mind, any lesson or message to be conveyed was in the first Superfly. And I guess said message was: “if you’re gonna deal, make sure you rollin’ high, and you get yo’ ass to a safe place for the fallout.” OK, I can live with that. A lot of young folks could do well to know that message. But the only message in the sequel is: “if you take your Black ass to Rome, they gonna find you!”

Thanks, “Uptown Movie Network”. I sure am glad y’all decided to show “Graffiti Bridge” instead of “King” back in January. And I really appreciate the effort, but I think I’ll take care of my cultural education on my own. But holla back when y’all start showing reruns of “Girlfriends”…

06th Jul2005

Women: Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Drown ‘Em Like Rats

by Will

“I offered her my honor. She honored my offer. And all night long, it was honor and offer.”

Anybody remember “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis”? It’s OLD SKOOL Nick@Nite, where Dobie kept fucking up with women. Well, I’m drunk and having a similar night. How are 3 upset with me at once? I was raised by women, but can’t understand them to save my life. I just want to sleep it all away..Tomorrow, everyone will love me and I’ll be the belle of the ball…I mean…the quarterback!

Current Music: Pure Moods
Current Mood: Baby Dino…traveling through time 🙁

19th Jun2005

The Fall Guy. The Answer Is The Fall Guy.

by Will

“We like to call him ‘The Louisville Smuggler’.”

So, for some reason, my Pop Culture powers amped up to the next level. So much, in fact, that I don’t believe most people would be able to understand what’s going through my head.

Case in point, lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about character actors. All those people who “you’d know ’em if you saw ’em”, but you don’t know their names. One of my favorites is Harvey Korman. If you don’t know who he is, just find an old episode of “The Carol Burnett Show” or watch a Mel Brooks movie (hint: he’s Headley Lamarr in “Blazing Saddles”).

Anyway, like I said, my mind is kinda warped right now, and I’m only thinking in riddles and analogies. Let’s see if any of you can figure this out:

“Jeffrey Tambor is to “Three’s Company” as Terry Kiser is to _________

Hint:There are several answers.

It’s OK, kids. You CAN use IMDB for this one….

20th May2005

Arkham Loses Another Patient: RIP Frank Gorshin

by Will

“What’s black and white and red all over?”

“A newspaper.”

Farewell, Riddler. You’ll certainly be missed by this Batfan.

Frank Gorshin
1933-2005

Oh God, please don’t let Adam West be next!

You know what’s sad? Most of the Bat Villains are dead now:

Joker: Cesar Romero
Penguin: Burgess Meredith
Riddler: Frank Gorshin
Egghead: Vincent Price
King Tut: Victor Buono
Chandell: Liberace
Louie the Lilac: Milton Berle

Sure, I grew up on the show while it was in syndication, but I still feel like I’m losing my childhood. Then again, I’m sure there are a bunch of Baby Boomers who probably feel the same way, about the same exact show…