Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Specials & The Muppets

This was the most Christmas-y December we've experienced in a while. We enjoy Christmas specials. We like old ones that we haven't seen in a while, and also more recent ones if they're weird enough. This is a more recent tradition that developed over the past 4 years. Last year, a few good ones included He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special and an old X-Files episode called "How The Ghosts Stole Christmas" where these old ghosts try to convince Mulder and Scully that they should bone.

We enjoy the nostalgia, so we might consider indulging more specials throughout future Decembers.

Here's what we saw this year:

1. Eyes Wide Shut
"Die Hard is the best Christmas movie." Okay, we get it. No one who tweets this is being original. Maybe we'll watch it next year. Eyes Wide Shut is not as heavy as we remembered, but it's a good one for sure.

2. A Muppet Family Christmas
This might be our favorite Christmas special. We've watched it on Youtube for the past 3 Decembers, and it just had its 30 year anniversary. We read into it a bit just now in the Jim Henson biography; shot very quickly in Toronto three months before it aired, this show was the first time The Muppet Show gang had been on TV or in movies in nearly 4 years. Frank Oz returned to puppeteering after a long absence, and the characters from Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show all partied in one house during a Christmas snowstorm. The Fraggles' song "Pass It On" is one of our new favorite Christmas songs. Show lit.

3. A Garfield Christmas
Also celebrating its 30 year anniversary. Haven't seen this since we were about 10, and it was one of those moments when we realized we must have had some of the dialogue memorized at one point, which is an eerily bizarre experience.

4. Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Celebration
1987 must have been the dopest year in the history of Christmas special premieres since this one also just turned 30.

5. "Mary, Joseph and Larry"
2002 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry gets caught checking out one of the ladies in the nativity scene or something.

6. Christmas Eve On Sesame Street
Curiously structured 1978 special. The main story with Big Bird waiting on the roof for Santa during a snowstorm was kinda sad. Cookie eats the Christmas tree and Oscar sings "I Hate Christmas."

7. "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
We have watched this for the past 3 years on Hulu, and it gets better every year. We are not fans of Community (at all) but this is essentially a stand-alone holiday special that doesn't require context from the rest of the series.

8. "Anatomy Park"
Earlier this year, we heard mild speculation about a possible Rick & Morty long-form Christmas special or a contained holiday serial comprising 2-4 original episodes. It was not meant to be, but "Anatomy Park" is still the shit. "Pearl Harbor."

9. "Sabrina's Christmas Wish"
We're guessing many fans of Bojack Horseman don't realize this episode exists since it was a Netflix bonus between seasons 1 & 2. It's essentially an old episode of Horsin' Around that gives some context into how bad the show actually got. There's a really good off-camera audience member who repeatedly shouts his reactions instead of laughing.

10. "Twas The Night Before Christening"
Everyone in the Fresh Prince house buys extravagant presents for the baby's Christening except for Will who buys him a "king" hand puppet, and he does this really cool pantomime record scratching beat boxing thing with the puppet. And we felt kinda bad for him since we thought that was a really good present. Will somehow figures out where Boyz II Men are recording and they kick his ass twice because he stole one of their girlfriends when they all lived in West Philly. Fun times.

11. Friday After Next
This is a terrible movie.

12. Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas
We haven't seen this since the late '80s on HBO, and there were no free streams on Youtube or anywhere else. And even if we did cough up the cash for an Amazon rental stream, HBO and ABC had different edits so we wouldn't have seen the entire show. (Apparently, the ABC version removes all of Kermit The Frog's narration.) However, someone on a torrent website was kind enough to throw together a fan version that combined everything from the two separate edits.

The juxtaposition of the River Bottom Gang might have felt more extreme had we been seeing this for the first time. It's such a jarringly surreal element taking a dump all over this sweet heartwarming Christmas story. Again, we felt compelled to read into this in the Jim Henson biography earlier tonight; sure enough, Jim's favorite song in this was the River Bottom Nightmare Band's proto-metal jam. The Jug Bang's version of "Barbecue" is also pretty lit.

13. "Christmas Caroling" and "Searching For Santa"
It wouldn't be Christmas without a couple Stella shorts.


After reading into A Muppet Family Christmas and Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas, we started to dig deeper and found a holy grail type of project that began as early as 1985. It seems like the project would have gone into production sooner had Disney not interfered with Jim Henson's affairs. Jim wanted to wait until the Disney deal was completed before starting the film, which gave his creative team nearly three years to brainstorm, throw around jokes and discuss the extent of this project's potential absurdity.

The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made actually had multiple completed screenplay drafts. Gonzo is granted permission to direct his own film, and he blows almost the entire budget on an elaborate opening sequence. The rest of his film progressively gets lower in quality until finally the last few scenes are comprised of drawings, slides and storyboards.

More info here:!

Monday, December 18, 2017

There's A New MTVZ (YAY!) And we Forgot To Post it like 2 weeks ago (BOO) And it includes King Crimson On That show Fridays (WAT!)

Youtube is trying to make it difficult to embed playlists for some fucking reason so fuck them.

We forgot to mention the new MTVZ. Highlights include:
- Multiple holiday messages from Michael Boyd and David Leibe Hart
- Junior Mafia on The Grind in 1995
- Tim Heidecker murder trial highlights
- George Corpsegrinder being interviewed by a 9-year-old kid
- WWE wrestlers in the '90s doing Chef Boyardee ads
- King Crimson on Fridays (also embedded below)

It's a Blue Christmas for Elvis Nostalgia in 2017

Woodstock nostalgia was a commodity in 1989. Boomers and young 20-something potheads could bond on something. It was great.

Elvis nostalgia was most certainly a thing during this era as well. It was considered a normal question to ask whether someone was more of an Elvis fan or a Beatles fan.

Around this time, Elvis sightings became a thing. He was spotted several times in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Elvis allegedly appeared in the background of an airport scene in the 1990 film Home Alone.

The Elvis Files was broadcast live on August 14, 1991. They take several live calls including a Captain Janks prank call on behalf of Howard Stern. The show presented substantial evidence that Elvis was probably alive. The production value and creepy images of Elvis scared the shit out of me.

Uncle Jesse was probably the most prominent mainstream anchor for Elvis-nostalgia. Here he is in 1988 on the Full House show...

That band Dread Zeppelin did Elvis / Zeppelin nostalgia hybrid jokes in the late '80s. A few years ago, ILX attempted to throw together a list of 100 Songs mentioning Elvis all from the year 1989. They did not hit 100, but 20 or 30 songs is still a lot:
3rd Bass "Brooklyn-Queens"
Alannah Myles "Black Velvet"
Beastie Boys "Johnny Ryall"
Billy Joel "We Didn't Start The Fire"
Cowboy Junkies "Blue Moon Revisited (Song For Elvis)"
Dead Milkmen "Smokin' Banana Peels"
Eurythmics "Angel"
Living Colour "Elvis Is Dead"
Marc Cohn "Walking in Memphis"
Mojo Nixon And Skid Roper "(619) 239-KING"
Paul Simon "Graceland"
Pop Will Eat Itself "Not Now James, We're Busy"
Prefab Sprout "Jordan: The Comeback"
Public Enemy "Fight The Power"
Ray Stevens "I Saw Elvis in a UFO"
Robyn Hitchcock "Queen Elvis"
The Ex "Elvis & I"
The KLF "Elvis on the Radio, Steel Guitar in My Soul"
The Wonder Stuff "Never Loved Elvis"
Tom Petty "Free Fallin'"
U2 "A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel"
Was (Not Was) "Walk the Dinosaur"
Weird Al Yankovic "Velvet Elvis"

1989-1991 also saw teeny bopper magazines prioritizing dudes who look like Elvis or James Dean like Johnny Depp in Crybaby or Jason Priestly and Luke Perry on 90210. Jim Jarmusch's 1989 film Mystery Train began with a 30 minute story about a couple travelling to visit Graceland. David Lynch's Wild At Heart starred a young Nicolas Cage as an Elvis obsessive.

There's more. We made our point though.

The point is that no one gives a fuck about Elvis nostalgia in 2017. And tbh we don't think it has anything to do with anti-boomer/pro-millennial Trump-era resentment, since Beatles-nostalgia is still big BIG business. At least one popular 2017 podcast series starred 3 millennials with discussing easily Googleable Beatles-related factoids and very insightful Beatles-related discourse such as "that song is so amazing." Beatle-clone cover bands celebrated the 50th anniversaries of both Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour over the past year.

In stark contrast, Elvis nostalgia is simply not the cash cow it once was.

With this in mind, we'd like to present "A BLUE CHRISTMAS," a passage stolen from the now long out-of-print State By State With The State (written and published in 1997) from the section about visiting Mississippi. (The passage is not attributed to any specific writer, but it feels like it was probably written by Thomas Lennon or possibly Michael Ian Black.)

A Blue Christmas
If you stray too far south from Interstate 20 into some of the more remote stretches of Mississippi, you'll notice a curious local phenomenon. Over the past several decades, Santa Claus (a Christmas icon still popular in other areas of the United States) has been gradually replaced. In this region (as well as in some parts of Europe and South America), Christmas carols, decorations, soda ads, and TV specials now impart their Yuletide tidings from a fat jolly, Vegas-era Elvis Presley (a native of Tupelo, Mississippi).

He rings silver bells on every street corner for charity, and a festive plastic King lights every snowy rooftop - his sequined jumpsuit lined with jingle bells, his red Cadillac convertible lined with presents and teenage girls and driven by eight members of the Memphis mafia.

The following is an except of a conversation we overheard in a mall between the child in front of us as we waited in line to have our photo taken on Elvis's lap and the Mall Elvis himself.

MALL ELVIS: Huaka, Huaka little boy. What's your name? Is it Cledis? I'm gonna call you Cledis. I can remember Cledis.
LITTLE BOY: My friends say you're not the real Elvis.
M.E.: Suspicious minds . . . Well, why don't you give a tug on Elvis's sideburns?
(Does. They're real.) Gosh!
M.E.: Now, have you been good to your momma?
L.B.: Uhuh.
M.E.: What's the deal with that jelly donut? Can I have it?
L.B.: Uhuh.
M.E.: Thank you. Now, you look like a good boy. Take these keys. There's a brand-new Cadillac right outside for ya!
L.B.: Thank you, Elvis! (Runs off.)
M.E.: You don't be cruel now!

Then Elvis passed out and was led away by some of Elvis's little helpers, who explained that it was time for the King to take a 15 hour medicine break.

Elvis would be 83 as of this forthcoming January 8th, which means that he is probably definitely dead. Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bod Goals 2018

Tom Petty thing

The first 3 LPs that were ever gifted to me were The Police Zenyatta Mondatta, Rick Springfield Working Class Dog and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Hard Promises. I was 3 or 4, probably sometime around Winter 1984. I barely knew how to put on a pair of headphones, but for the first time, I was a fan of modern rock bands. I examined and stared at the artwork a lot trying to understand what was happening...

Damn The Torpedoes was handed to me not long afterwards. As a youngin', both albums initially felt like showcases for "The Waiting" and "Refugee." I rarely made it past "Here Comes My Girl" on DTT, but curiosity led me further down Side A of Hard Promises through "Nightwatchman," "Something Big" and "Kings Road." Tom Petty helped me learn to love one side of an LP.

It seems like my entire family always loved Tom Petty and especially "The Waiting." Grandpa loved to flip through channels, but he never touched the remote when a Tom Petty video came on.

I was initially scared by this picture. Once that wore off, the narrative my 4-year-old self invented was that The Heartbreakers were in a classroom. Tom Petty was their teacher and has his finger up to his mouth to shush any whispering students who might be disrupting. The goofy disguise glasses used to scare me.

"Event jam" hits = when a song's popularity surpasses its artist's name. "Free Fallin'" was Tom's post-Wilburies event. It seemed larger than radio and larger than MTV. He knew how to write the kinds of songs where kids could memorize all the words without owning a physical copy of his albums. The animated video for "Runnin' Down A Dream" felt mad trippy. I was also unaware that he had co-written "You Got It" within this era until years later.

VH1 did a "Tom Petty Weekend" on a Sunday in June 1991. There was an annual town carnival and fireworks within walking distance from my grandparents house, who had no problem with leaving on VH1 for so that I could let it fill a 6 hours VHS tape. "Learning To Fly" had premiered only a week or 2 prior and aired about once per hour. His MTV Rockumentary was also shown and included the story of how he broke his hand and the segment with Eddie Murphy's reaction to the shout-out in "Jammin' Me."

No other classic rock artist (not even Neil Young) was able to unwittingly capitalize on the grunge era as properly as Tom Petty. MTV played the shit out of "Mary Jane's Last Dance" (in which Kim Basinger miraculously comes back to life within the song's final 5 seconds after being buried at sea). A few months later when "You Don't Know How It Feels" dropped, the kids on the bus were intrigued: "Tom Petty smokes mad weed now." He was officially as cool as Cypress Hill and Snoop Doggy Dogg. This mid-'90s moment might have been the pinnacle of his popularity as a rock star - enough that he received the Michael Jackson Vanguard award at the '94 VMAs (just after playing a lengthy noise-coda to close "Mary Jane's Last Dance").

And he seemed so chill and humble about the whole thing. "I never expected an award."

Weirdly, the success of Wildflowers didn't generate enough momentum to turn his 1996 soundtrack of She's The One into nearly as big of a record as anything since Full Moon Fever. But it was a huge hit for me, and the second time in my life that I immersed myself in one of his albums thoroughly. She's The One and STP's Tiny Music (both borrowed from my dad) were my Fall 1996 go-to albums while playing Myst, Wolfenstein 3D, Lemmings and various other PC games.

My first ever attempt at a "Top 900 Songs Of The '90s" list (which would be re-written 15 or 20 times in the coming years) included "Mary Jane's Last Dance" at #17. (#1 was "Maze" by Phish. #900 was "Epic" by Faith No More.)

Howard Stern's first Sirius broadcast in January included "The Last DJ" played in its entirety.

At The Middle East Upstairs, my band opened for another band that spontaneously covered "Yer So Bad," a song that I had not heard in over 10 years. In 2016, it was the only Tom Petty song to place on the 500 Hottest Jams list at #483. I'm pretty sure this is now tied with "A Thing About You" as my favorite Tom Petty song.

I woke up on October 2nd, and the first thing I thought was that something bad had happened. Within 5 minutes, Twitter had confirmed the Las Vegas shooting. A few hours later, Tom Petty was trending with no other context. I threw together a radio show that night and played all deep cuts from 6:30PM until 8PM, hours before any confirmation was announced from his family.

Country bros, grunge kids, metal shredders, little kids, old homies. Everyone fucks with TP. The story's not over. "Time to move on."

Friday, December 15, 2017

Tommy Wiseau's "The Room"

Has anyone seen this? OMg


The Holidays Are GOnna be GREAT!

When we put ourselves out there despite rejection-induced anxiety and ask kindly multiple times if your corporate blog run by writers who have had face-to-face IRL conversations with us would kindly carve out a hint of space for us alongside the legit garbage that they normally plug on the daily, what we were really asking for was to be completely ignored and to have you never respond to our email.