January 30, 2011

In the Dark.

Do you ever have those times when you first become aware of something that’s existed for a while and you wonder how in the hell you made it as long as you did without ever hearing about it before?  This frustrates me, partly because I read a shit-ton – newspapers, magazines, books (always non-fiction), professional journals, crap all over the internet, etc.  I read more than the average person anyway, am full of useless and useful information, and am a halfway-decent player to have on your trivia team as a result.  All in all, I enjoy learning new stuff, and therefore I tend to pay attention.  Or so I think.  They tell me I’m human so I suppose I can’t know about every single thing that exists or is going on in the world, but somehow this phenomenon still manages to make me feel like I’ve been in the dark and the last to know every goddamn time. 

The upside of all this is that I am now in the know about the classic documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot.  I still cannot believe that I, heavy metal lover since my pre-teens, am just now learning about this fucking awesome specimen that took place in my heyday.  In my defense, I have always freely admitted that I’m not a big movie buff.  I can’t explain it.  I don't dislike movies, but yet I've never been one to watch them a lot.  It makes no sense, because when I do see a movie I am careful about what I choose, so I usually enjoy myself and walk away saying “I’m gonna watch more movies!” but never really do it.  When I do watch one, however, I tend to gravitate towards certain types, one of which is the documentary.  I’ll watch a documentary about pretty much anything.  As I said, I like learning stuff.  Just as I prefer non-fiction, I also like my movies to be real.  Real people, real stories, real circumstances.  Something about that draws me.  What can I say?  I enjoy learning about my fellow humans.  My point being that this factor, combined with my love of metal music (and not to mention my obsession with the 80’s), makes it even more inexplicable that I am just now discovering Heavy Metal Parking Lot.  How has this evaded me for so long?  I can't make sense of it.   

Am I really the last to know?  Have you people watched this?  It is one of the most kick-ass things I’ve ever seen.  In case you are just crawling out from under the same rock as I, Heavy Metal Parking Lot is a 16+ minute short that documents heavy metal fans hanging out in the parking lot prior to a Judas Priest concert (with Dokken opening!) in Maryland in 1986.  Where do I start?  The most pronounced feeling I get from watching this is that I’m so very thankful I was born when I was, so that I was old enough to actually live, breathe, and experience this era full-on.  The expansion of metal music, the introduction of new wave, the clothes, the hair, the men in cut-off shirts – it was absolutely priceless.  Watching this is like opening a precious time capsule for me.  I was almost 17 when this thing was filmed, was well into rocking my face off and attending every concert I could, and could’ve easily been right there in that Maryland parking lot with the rest of those burnouts.  The nostalgia this movie provides me is immense.  For one, it makes me yearn for the countless baseball/jersey-style concert t-shirts I got rid of in the early 90’s, one of my biggest regrets in life and something I can’t seem to let go of after all these years.  Oh, I had them all – Dio, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, etc.  Gone.  I will never forgive myself. 

One thing that can’t go unnoticed is how it seems everyone in this flick is high as a fucking kite.  Everyone, I say.  They are proud of their wastedness, flaunt it, then talk about their plan to get even more shitfaced later.  Guys consistently overdo the obligatory “Judas Priest ROCKS!”, while those of the female persuasion talk freely and with no shame about their mission to fuck Glenn Tipton’s brains out.  You gotsta love it.  It’s also nice to recall those days when you could participate in such pre-concert antics freely with open containers and joints galore without security guards and cops bothering to bust your ass.  In the film, they talk to a 20 year old guy with his 13 year old girlfriend, who proceed to share an uncomfortable kiss that makes me wonder if this was not illegal back in 1986.  If so, no one seemed concerned about it.  Looking back, this era was rather like a free for all compared to today.  I'm so glad to have been a part of it.

Anyway, here is Heavy Metal Parking Lot in its entirety.  I implore you to watch it.  Even if you are too young or old to experience the personal nostalgia of it all, I think you will still find it highly entertaining.  Pun intended.

In addition to my exciting new discovery that is HMPL, perhaps the best part of all this is that the film’s producers are working on releasing a similar documentary called Heavy Metal Picnic.  Years ago, a guy named Rudy Childs contacted them with long lost footage he filmed at a 1985 weekend-long music festival called the Blue Moon Jamboree, which took place on a farm in ritzy Potomac, Maryland.  Think Woodstock, but way less people with just as many drugs, and a no-name heavy metal lineup that never did hit the big time.  Initially it was similar to HMPL, but then Childs started tracking down and interviewing band members and festival goers who had been there, and later the film was expanded to include this “where are they now” aspect.  I am busting at the seams to find out.  Here is the trailer for Heavy Metal Picnic.

January 29, 2011

U.S. of Lame

I came across this tidbit the other day.  Some guy created a map of the U.S. where each state is identified by some unattractive quality in which they ranked last.  Or worst at.  Or however you want to look at it.  Here's the map:

I found this mildly entertaining.  Some things made sense and were no surprise:  Alaska for highest suicide, Arizona for alcoholism, California for most air pollution, Hawaii for highest cost of living.  Oh yeah, and Utah for highest rate of online porn subscriptions (which actually is more of a "best").  Theoretically we should be shocked that the state overrun with Mormons has this claim to fame.  But yet, this is exactly why it is no shock at all.  I'm much more surprised by Minnesota having the most tornadoes.  The most mobile homes goes to South Carolina?  Who knew?  And are they sure they double-checked West Virginia on that one?  Rhode Island for highest rate of illicit drug use?  I'm not sure why that's surprising, but it is.  And what the hell is going on in Washington state?  New Mexico seems like a fine place, so why are they so anti-social?  What attracts the homeless to Oregon when they could hop down a few states and be in sunny, warmer, drier California?  Poor North Dakota got the shaft with the totally subjective "ugliest" ranking.  Although, if you read the original article, you will find that the sources for many of these rankings are far from scientific.  Still, I feel bad for North Dakota.  As I do Maine, who got the ranking of "dumbest" based on the lowest average SAT scores.  Doesn't seem fair. 

January 23, 2011

What In the GD Hell?!?

  • There is a Croatian man who purportedly can heal terminal illness by simply gazing into crowds of people and never saying a word.  His name is Braco, AKA “The Gazer”.  He attracts thousands of people everywhere he makes appearances.  His shtick is to walk on stage, stand there while his laser eyes toss out a piercing, drug-induced psychosis-type stare to the crowd for 10 minutes in complete silence, then walk right back off stage, after which people in the audience claim they were “healed” by this guy.  With a stare.  WTF?  Come on now people, really?  I believe in the power of positive thinking and creative visualization much more than I do some creepy looking dude can “heal” people by staring at them for a few.  I don’t know much more than that about this Braco fellow, but I have an inkling that he attracts people who are so desperate and hopeless that they will not only believe this ridiculousness, but they are willing to pay the guy for it.  Hey, whatever floats your boat.  I guess if it gives people hope, then no harm done.  Except that this ass clown is making a mint off others’ vulnerability, and their “miracles” probably come to a screeching halt when they drop dead later on.
Creepy McCreepster in action

  • I was at a bar Friday night that, unfortunately, had karaoke start up later in the evening.  Yes, it can be entertaining, but here at KATN karaoke night only happens by accident.  Some woman got up and sang Ice, Ice Baby.  She was unusually tall, stern-looking and somewhat manly in appearance.  She rather looked like a female basketball coach.  Sorry to generalize, but I bet now you have more of a visual, don't you?  The TWO male cross-dressers who were there (what are the chances of that?) were more feminine than this chick.  Anyway, thanks to what I assume to be a thick layer of booze, she tried overly hard to entertain the crowd and get people involved, and in doing so came up to the table my friend and I were sitting at during the chorus and stuck out the mic for me to sing it, and I didn’t, although my friend immediately swooped in and obliged.  Despite my love of music I was somehow cursed with a shitty voice.  So, unless I’m completely shitfaced, at a party amongst friends, or at a real karaoke place owned by Asians where your group has a private room that includes cheesy anime videos and microphones that light up, I typically don’t sing.  In addition, I have a naturally raspy voice which very quickly becomes hoarse when I’m in a loud environment and yapping too much.  This is what was happening Friday, and is the main reason I let my friend, who has an awesome voice anyway, take over as opposed to me further straining my vocal cords and sounding like Peter Brady in the process.  Well, after the song was over she marched over to our table with a disapproving look like I missed too many free throws, got in my face and said angrily, “You need to lighten up!  You need to have fun!”.  I tried to assure her I was indeed having a fine time, but she again yelled, now pointing, “YOU need to have FUN!”.  In my brain I began to imagine myself smacking that bitch upside the head, but since I’m not that kind of gal I instead replied all crackly, “I’m losing my voice”.  At this point she realized I had a valid excuse but I guess laughing it off or being nice about it would emasculate her, so she paused for a moment and responded, still yelling and pointing, “Then YOU need to take some NyQuil!”, and stormed off.  Good grief, can’t we all go out drinking on a Friday night and get along?  I REALLY HATE IT when people try to get you to go along with whatever they're doing, and when you don’t, they take it personally and try to make it out like you suck.  Fuck off lady, you’re not the coach of me!  Just because I don’t want to do what you, a complete stranger, is ordering me to do means I’m a bump on a log and don’t know how to have fun?  You know what fun is?  Fun is when you can go to a friendly neighborhood bar, get liquored up on the cheap, watch a cross-dresser named "Rosie" sing Unchained Melody, and enjoy your surroundings without crazy drunk people getting all up in your grill when you’re minding your own business.  If I wanted to sing, I would get up there and sing for fuck’s sake.  In the meantime, I choose to sit and listen to other people massacre perfectly good songs such as Now That We Found Love by Heavy D and the Boyz.
  Afterwards I noticed she was there alone.  I can see why.

I bet you can’t listen to this without both singing and moving your ass to some extent.  It’s impossible.

January 15, 2011

Muppets and Murder.

Here at KATN we love the Muppets.  LOVE, I say.  I own multiple Muppet movies, several seasons of The Muppet Show, a Muppet beach towel circa approximately 1980, Muppets glassware, Muppets Christmas ornaments, and the vinyl versions of both The Muppet Movie soundtrack and the Christmas album featuring John Denver.  One might say I’m Muppet crazy.  The only thing I can’t and won’t tolerate is anything involving Muppet Babies.  They suck ass.  Kermit’s nephew is an exception, but he came along way before Muppet Babies so I don’t even consider him a part of that whole mistake.

Usually a few times a year on a Sunday afternoon when there’s nothing going on, some friends and I get together, have some cocktails, may or may not smoke something, and have a sing-along watching The Muppet Movie.  These people are equally huge Muppet fanatics, so every one of us knows all the lines, all the song lyrics, etc.  Sometimes instruments break out.  It's very interactive and participation of some form is not required, but highly recommended.  If we’re really on a roll, we might have a Muppet marathon and include The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and/or Muppets From Space.  Have you seen Muppets From Space?  If not, please do.  I will admit there was a string of later Muppet movies that weren’t the greatest, but this one is a classic.  The storyline is Gonzo-centric, which right there is a positive, and it also was the first time one of the best Muppets of all time was introduced to the world – Pepe the King Prawn. 

Years ago at one of these gatherings I got called out during the finale of The Muppet Movie for having a tear streaming down my cheek.  I couldn’t help it.  I never fail to get goosebumps during that final scene after the set falls apart and, after a moment of shocked silence while they absorb the devastation, Kermit, being the glue of the Muppets that he is, begins singing “Life’s like a movie, write your own ending.  Keep believing, keep pretending..(*everyone joins in, camera pans out*)”.  That Kermit.  Always the wise one.  The eternal optimist.  Never give up.  And at that time, I was dealing with the recent, sudden loss of a dear friend, the delayed-aftermath from losing my mom, feeling stuck in a miserable job, and I was anything but a hopeful optimist.  I always loved that end scene, but that day it struck a different chord and suddenly it had different meaning and SO WHAT, I cried.  And then I took Kermit’s advice and ultimately broke out of my depression.  Here’s the final scene.  Go ahead, it’s ok to cry.

Well, after all that babbling nonsense I’m finally getting to the point of this here post.  A new movie is in the works called “Happytime Murders”.  Jim Henson’s son, Brian Henson, is the creator of this project.  He sold the Muppets to Disney in 2004, so although this movie will include muppets, it will not involve The Muppets.  Here’s the official synopsis:  "Happytime" takes place in a world where humans and puppets coexist, with the puppets viewed as second-class citizens. When the puppet cast of 1980s children's TV show "The Happytime Gang" gets murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private-eye puppet -- with a drinking problem, no less -- takes the case with his former human partner.”  Discrimination!  Murder!  Mystery!  Drunk muppets!  Supposedly it’s fairly dark, and they are expecting a “hard-R” rating.  I’m very much looking forward to this display of dysfunctional Muppets.

In other Muppet news, I’m sure you’ve all heard about the next big movie coming out Christmas day 2011.  Jason Segel is one of two creators and it will be the first Muppet theatrical release since Muppets From Space (1999).  I’ve been reading about this for a few years, and the writers’ goal is to bring back the tone and style of the classic, original Muppet movies.  There will be a star-studded cast of cameos, and if Steve Martin isn’t among them, I’m going to raise hell.  In the storyline, the Muppets must save their Muppet Theater from an evil oil tycoon.  I know more, but I won’t ruin it for the rest of you with spoilers.  Of course, they are touting this as the Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time.  I hope it is.  It will be hard to compete with the original Muppet Movie so I won’t get my hopes up, but this thing has been in the works so goddamn long that it almost has to be good.  My ass will absolutely be planted in a movie theater next Xmas day.  Mark my words.    

January 11, 2011

Animapocalypse Update.

I just read the following regarding the mass turtledove bird kill in Italy last week:  "We are fairly confident the birds died as a result of massive indigestion brought on by over-eating”.  Now, I’m no bird, but I find it hard to believe a few things here.  1)  that they don’t have some sort of internal gauge to tell them when to stop eating as humans and most, if not all, animals do; and 2) despite the fact that all beings seem to have times that we ignore said cue of fullness and continue to gorge, it seems highly unlikely that one could do so to the point of death.  The body has ways of protecting itself.  In the case of extreme overeating, that would be either vomiting or good ol’ explosive diarrhea.  So, the “experts” on this one can suck it and come up with some better reasoning, because “pigging out” doesn’t cut it. 

Thousands of dead fish washed up on Chicago’s waterfront in the past week.  Although it’s currently being investigated, it is surmised that it has something to do with an early onset of thick ice in December.  Now THIS is reasoning I can believe.  Chicago’s cold as fuck.  When that lake wind hits you just right in the face, it’s so cold it takes your breath away.  So cold it will turn balls into ovaries.  I don’t know for a fact, but I assume different species of fish have their varied high/low water temp limits, which would explain why it was only one species.  And who knows, perhaps early ice formation fucks with food supply or something of that nature and that factors into the whole equation.  Regardless, without knowing many details, this makes sense to me and is the only incident thus far with a valid explanation as far as I’m concerned here at KATN Animapocalypse Headquarters.

Carry on. 

January 8, 2011

WTF Is Going On?

I have tried my hardest for days to refrain from broaching this topic, but I can’t stand it any longer.  What in the goddamn hell is killing off all these masses of birds and fish all over the world?!?   I can’t stop reading about it.  And speculating.  And theorizing.  No matter how you slice it, it’s fucking freaky weird.  If my mental record keeping is correct, the following locations have had mass fish deaths since the end of 2010:  Maryland, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Brazil, S. Wales, New Zealand, Canada, and England (crabs).  These locations have had the much more traumatizing, freakier (in my opinion) mass bird kills:  Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, Sweden, Japan, Chile, and now Italy. 

Something is going on, and maybe this is my fascination with death and destruction speaking, but I don’t think it’s something we’re gonna like.  So far the experts have tried to quell any potential public panic by continuously saying that mass fish/deaths like this are “not uncommon”.  Really?  Why is it we rarely hear about them?  Up until now nearly all of them just happened to take place in remote areas we wouldn’t have seen nor heard about?  And even if this is true, when is the last time there were multiple mass deaths all over the world within a several-day span?  Their immediate effort to pacify was my first red flag that something was awry, and it reeked of cover-up.  Well, that last part might be a tad dramatic, but it’s certainly plausible and more fun to think about it this way so roll with it, please.

There are many theories out there.  Some are more interesting than others and I’m not 100% adhering to any of them at the moment.  Weather seems to be the most popular.  Based on the evidence I believe this could be possible, although not in all of the cases.  Lightning, tornadoes and violent, quick-changing storm fronts have been mentioned.  Fireworks were also tossed out as a bird theory thanks to NYE, but there have already been solid rebuttals on this theory.  Cold temps have been pointed at for the fish, which just doesn’t feel quite right.  As far as I know, the following have been ruled out thus far for both species everywhere except Italy:  illness, poison, pollutants.  The more interesting theories that have been raised include:  HAARP, synthetic virus(es), sonic booms, changes in water oxygen levels, a fading magnetic field, volatile fault lines, aliens, government bio-weapons/scalar weapons testing, even the End of Days.

Like I said, I haven’t decided on any one theory.  I will say I’m not feeling the alien theory on this one, and I doubt it’s the apocalypse, even though those Mayans were rather astute and perceptive for their time.  Obviously anything to do with “God” is out of the question.  Most of the others I could buy into, though.  HAARP has always raised my eyebrows, as does the government, of course.  I could also believe some weird force caused by a major fault line or shifting/fading magnetic poles.  Oxygen level changes in water have/do happen and make much more sense to me than the simplistic “cold water” theory.

I’m particularly intrigued by the fault line theory.  I’m not sure about the international sites, but all of the U.S. locations have fault lines nearby.  I do know this:  In the last 4 months of 2010, the town of Guy, Arkansas saw over 500 earthquakes.  Guy happens to be almost smack dab between the Arkansas fish kill and bird kill locations.  Interesting, you say?  Read on.  In Arkansas there is a shit ton of drilling going on. Specifically, hydraulic fracturing, which is a drilling method that pumps water and chemicals into the ground at a pressurized rate exceeding what the bedrock can withstand, which can result in microquakes that produces rock fractures.  This has been going on all over the world since the 1940’s, but current technologies now allow for horizontal fracturing, which greatly increases oil and gas collection.  When a small quake/rock fracture occurs, toxins are released into the environment.  Records show a clear correlation between the increase of drilling in Arkansas and an increase in quakes, which seemed to lead up to the fish kill, then the bird kill a few days later.  There’s A LOT more to this story, and it does possibly involve the government doing shady things in connection to the drilling and covering it up, but I think what I’ve shared here is enough to investigate any connection.  At least in Arkansas.  Which likely won’t happen.  Still, the stuck point with all this is, why would it only affect certain species?  Damn this is phenomenon is confusing and complicated. 

All I know is that I fear it’s something bad.  Too many incidences in too short of a time period in too many scattered locations add up to all kinds of wrong by my calculation.  If these mass killings continue moving up the food chain, then it’s time to worry.  In the meantime, I wish there would be some sort of mass extermination of all spiders, nasty bugs, and people that are assholes.

January 2, 2011

Random Funny Shit.

  • A few days ago we had some unseasonable, crazy-ass storms in my neck of the woods.  One of the local news websites had a gallery of storm damage photos taken by readers and I was scouring them, of course, because as you know I have a fascination with mass destruction and devastation.  After seeing dozens of photos of uprooted trees, half-standing buildings/homes, blown-off roofs, and downed power lines, I came across this….

I had to stare at it for a long minute to figure out this photo was meant to document some (tiny, unimpressive) hail that fell, NOT the steaming pile of shit you see in the right center of the photo.  I assume that the photographer probably wasn’t and still isn’t aware that he essentially took and posted a photo of poo.  This assumption is based on the following reasons: a) he actually thought this miniscule hail was interesting and news-worthy despite real, significant damage in the area, and b) his overall photography skills suck based on the fact that the first and only thing I saw was GIANT TURD, and I had to get out a magnifying glass to find the hail. 

  • I ran across this photo on some website.  It made me laugh.  And then it made me go put on Off The Wall and sing along loudly and out of tune.  Great album.  Yes, I did put on the actual album.

  • In honor of all the bowl games going on right now, here is one of my favorite crowd-signs ever (James, this is for you):

  • Since I’m on the subject of signage, here’s another great one.  Yeah, the thought bubble is a cute idea, but that guy to the right scores a HUGE WIN. 

  • Here’s some more funny shit related to football.  The Rams play the Seahawks tonight for all the marbles known as the NFC West division title.  Why is this funny?  Because if the Rams win, they do so with a .500 record of 8-8 (only the 3rd team in NFL history).  If Seattle wins, they will be the first division winner ever with a losing 7-9 record.  Quite a riveting division, that NFC West.  I’m surprised the Cardiac Cardinals didn’t pull something off here in the later weeks to get in on that debacle and shake things up.  The 49ers actually made a surprising effort.  After 3 embarrassing seasons in a row and a 1-15 record last year, the Rams have likely managed to screw a lot of people on their football pools and locks-of-the-week this year.