Monday, March 24, 2008

What’d Ya Get?! What’d Ya Get?!! What’d Ya Get?!!!

I apologize for the lack of updates on the blog recently, but I just got back from Tremendo-Con ’08 in Atlanta. Fourteen days of autograph signing, posing for pictures and verbal abuse was certainly an exhausting experience. The fans held an FGP viewing marathon and I especially enjoyed seeing old episodes of FGP from years gone by. Anyone remember the ones with Dub’s Evil Twin, Schu’s talking commode, the Phil Silvers sex tape, and Santo’s hilariously misheard double-entendres? Ah, memories. Nevertheless, I was very pleased to see my fans from all over the South. Rest assured that I have since been deloused.

Three months have passed since X-mas and I’m only now getting around to unwrapping my presents. Judging from the mountain of yuletide offerings brimming from beneath my browning X-mas tree, it proved to be a bountiful holiday. Here’s a rundown of the glorious goodies your ol’ pal Tremendo received this year:


The Star Wars Vault is a gi-normous frickin’ book filled with loads of SW-related reproductions of photos, artwork, and never-before-seen pieces of memorabilia.

Among the book's cornucopia of orgasmic Geekdom are:

  • The questionnaire for the first and only test screening of the original Star Wars, plus the Cheetos-stained invitation to attend it.
  • George Lucas' hand-written treatment for The Empire Strikes Back in the original Crayon™!
  • Lucasfilm Christmas cards. Merry Force Be With You!
  • Iron-on T-shirt transfer of Boba Fett on the can.
  • The very first concept sketch drawn for Star Wars. Thankfully, they decided to set it in Outer Space.
  • Blueprints of Star Wars vehicles and sets. The original Orangeprints are missing.
  • Original hand-written directions for ground-breaking special effects. Example: “George: Remember to take the lens cap off. Christ.”

The book is the ultimate look into the three feature films; the three nauseating prequels; two spin-off films; three television series (even Droids. Yes!); and an extensive collection of licensed books, comics, video games, action figures, and trading cards which sent me into nerd catatonia. Added bonus: no Michael Bay!


Finally, after twenty years of shitty Simpsons video games, we have received the be-all and end-all of Simpsons video games, the Simpsons Game. Playing this game is like watching a marathon of Simpsons episodes, loaded with mini-episodes between missions, hilarious vocal work by the cast, and impressive satire from the best animated show ever. While this past year’s Simpsons Movie didn’t generate a whole lot of enjoyment (much like Michael Bay), this video game surely makes up for it in its unrelenting self-parody of the show, other games such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, Dance Dance Revolution, and the traditions of gaming itself. Not only is the game play easy, fun, and re-playable, the cut-scenes are hilarious and indicative of direct creative involvement by the current writers and even Groening himself. My only problem is that game is too short and given the breadth of the satirical territory it covers I don’t think they’ll be able to top it with a sequel. Both hardcore and casual Simpsons fans will love it and wish to be in the Land of Chocolate. Oh, and my ass is sore and I need a life. Thanks, Matt.


I couldn’t find time to make it out to the multiplex, so I rang up my old tag team partner Tim Burton (who wrestled under the monikers ‘The Pink Fiend’ and ‘Lucky Pierre’) and asked him to give me the gist of his recent film. He hung up on me. Maybe I shouldn’t have called with my Pee Wee Herman voice. Film stars Johnny Depp, Helena Bohnam-Carter-Underdunk-Burton, and Ubiquitous Alan Rickman and is based on a play of some sort where dialogue is sung instead of bellowed, Sweeney Todd is a revenge tale with lots of slashing, darkness, clown-makeup, and Burtonesque Emo-fueled angst. Seriously, it turned out to be a rather solid Burton outing and I was surprised by the singing abilities of the multi-talented Depp who I don’t doubt can walk on water, heal the sick, and choke the living shit out of Michael Bay with a thought. So I considered Sweeney Todd a little gift from Burton, who has finally not burdened a film with his tired trademarks and overwrought art school pretension.


Henry Hathaway’s 1946 Dark Corner is a superb film noir bringing into play the aesthetic hallmarks of the genre: seedy, stark cinematography; a down-on-his-luck private eye (Mark Stevens); his ever-loving moll (a shockingly hot Lucille Ball); a shadowy, sinister heavy (Clifton Webb); and a sharp, taut script with plenty of twists and turns. The film's title refers to the Sam Spade-ish main character whose tough-guy exterior is worn down by a past pock-marked by multiple frame jobs: "There goes my last lead. I feel all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner and I don't know who's hitting me."

Gumshoe Bradford Galt is forced to solve the murder of his former slimeball-of-Michael-Bay-esque-proportions partner who framed him and sent him to prison. The film starts out slow but eventually evolves compellingly and suspenseful as the myriad mystery unfolds. Director Hathaway imparts the film with a succinct style that reflects the material, and the script is accented with hard boiled dialogue that’s gleefully emblematic of the genre ("I'm clean as a peeled egg!"). The characters are patently dark and brutal, especially William Bendix as a thug slob and Webb as the villainous aristocrat. But it’s the chemistry between Stevens and Ball, coupled with the inclusion of genuine plot twists that ensnares the viewer and ensures The Dark Corner as an excellent example of noir.


I really like alternate histories, mostly in the “What If” style where an already established series of fictional events have been tweaked and retold. Favorites include “What if Hulk went berserk?”, “What if Spider Man was evil?”, and “What if Michael Bay was good?”. The premise of the graphic novel Superman: Red Son plays upon an alternate scenario for the origin of the Man of Steel who is re-envisioned as the last son of Krypton who crash lands in Russia instead of the Midwest. Supes becomes a super-powered dirty Commie. In this alternate world, Russia is strong and prosperous under Superman's protection, while the U.S. decays from outdated ideologies and paranoia. The antagonisms between East and West are played out not so much as an arms race, but as a struggle to find the American equivalent of a national super-powered hero, and in doing so retells other superhero origins such as Green Lantern. For the most part, the narrative is gripping, especially when the focus is turned to Lex Luthor’s obsession with eradicating Superman in a re-telling of the Cold War, comic book style. But the storytelling fails when the subject matter is not fully explored. Lacking is a meaningful examination of the impact Russian and Communist ideology upon Superman born and raised in this environment. He’s essentially the same do-gooder school boy as in the regular continuity, only with a hammer and sickle as a chest emblem. Also, the book loses itself when it fails to decide whether it’s a parody of 1950s propaganda, a deconstruction of the Superman character, or just another cartoon-ish comic book epic.

The inconsistent tone fluctuates between morality tale to absurd satire to action-packed superhero punch-up, forcing the reader to wonder just what’s the point of a Russian Superman. However, the artwork is top-notch, and despite its lack of depth and unrealized potential, I’m tempted to recommend the book because of its unique idea, alternate vision of an American icon, and a knock-out ending.


The last gift I unwrapped had been wriggling and moaning in the corner for several weeks. In my absence, the housemaid had ignored the sounds, thinking we had yet another bout of horny mice.

I unwrapped the muscular, sweating, 6’ 2” gift and discovered to my widened eyes that it was none other than Action Jackson himself – Carl Weathers! What a surprising treat on a merry March 20th morn. We promptly shared a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and oxygen and he regaled me with tales of his fabulous career. Tale after tale was spun, such as:

  • The jig he had to dance to get cast as ‘Hambone’ in Arthur Marks’ Bucktown.
  • Making out with Ester Rolle to get a bit part on Good Times.
  • Walking in on William Conrad taking a dump during his Cannon cameo.
  • His legendary fight with producers to cast Chino “Fats” Williams as Kid Sable in Action Jackson.
  • His soliloquy from Assault on Death Mountain. Get me a hanky!
  • Rocky IV’s production nearly collapsing due to Dolph Lundgren’s obsessive sock-sniffing.

Oh, the stories are endless. In fact, they haven’t stopped. But I don’t care! To hell with Michael Bay! I’ve got a new friend to pal around with.

My man Carl Weathers. He’s got time to bleed.

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