23.12.09

The Little Drummer Boy as told by Fred Schiller


Sleepy Newborn Baby + Drum Solo = Disaster

(Written in the Mad Magazine spirit of Jack Davis, Don Martin and Mort Drucker.)

We open with a wide shot of the desert at night that shows a long line of people waiting to get into THE MANGER. Huge billboards (like the kind you see on the freeway—Wisconsin Dells This Way—You’re Almost at Garlic City—Only Ten More Miles To The Biggest Ball Of Twine In Alabama) announce THIS WAY TO SEE THE NEWBORN KING and YOU’RE ALMOST AT THE BABY JESUS and PLEASE FORM A SINGLE LINE TO SEE BABY JESUS. Walking up and down the line of people are vendors with carts selling FRIED YAK ON A STICK and CUP O’HUMMUS and FAR-FROM-AWFUL-FALAFEL.

Standing in the middle of the line is the LITTLE DRUMMER BOY. For some reason I picture him as a 60’s kind of British punk, with a shaggy haircut covering his eyes and a punkish stance. He’s got a snare drum balanced on his hip, hanging from a strap around his shoulder. He twirls drumsticks in both hands and looks bored. He stops twirling when he sees a sign that says PLEASE HAVE GIFTS FOR THE NEWBORN KING READY UPON ENTERING MANGER. He taps the guy in line in front of him on the shoulder with a drumstick and asks, “Oh, man! We were supposed to bring a present?” The guy he’s talking to is one of the Three Wise Men. He’s kind of a stoner. He’s the one bringing frankincense and it looks like he’s been smoking some of it while he waits. “If you know what’s good for you, you’d better bring something. The child is our new king!”

The Drummer Boy sort of recites a line from the song. “I have no gifts to bring. I’m but a poor dude too!” He thinks for a moment then he snaps his fingers and declares that he’ll just play the little baby a wicked drum solo. The kid ought to like that.

The Wise Man shakes his head and points to the very front of the line where see the LITTLE TRUMPET BOY is blasting out a trumpet solo for the baby Jesus. The baby screams so loud the Trumpet Boy’s face looks like he’s pulling ten G’s in a centrifuge. Then a dozen lightning bolts hit the Trumpet Boy, leaving only a smoking cinder of a skeleton standing there. When the smoke clears, the next guy in line, who is visibly jittery, gives his present to the baby. It’s a little kitten, and when the baby coos with joy, the guy wipes a roll of nervous sweat off his face.

Back in the line the Drummer Boy knows his goose is cooked. Or at least it will be when it’s his turn. Everyone else in line seems to have something reasonably good to give. A wooly sheep, a potted plant, baked goods, a cow, homemade toys, and such. Drummer Boy asks the Wise Man to save his spot and he’ll be right back.

We cut to Drummer Boy popping into the Jerusalem version of an AM/PM mini-mart. He scours the shelves for something good to give. There’s a tin of Camel Wax, a robe that has ‘MY PARENTS WENT TO JERUSALEM AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS CRUMMY ROBE’ lettered on it, a rack of crude baseball caps and sun visors (woven out of palm fronds), yak jerky, chunks of flint with novelty sayings on them, and stuff like that.

Then he sees it. The perfect gift. It sits on a shelf, in a glowing angelic halo of light. It’s a can of MYRRH (it’s about the size of a gallon of paint). Slogans on the can read NEWBORN BABIES LOVE IT! and IT’S THE INCENSE THAT CHOOSY VIRGIN MOTHERS CHOOSE.

We see the Drummer Boy reach for the myrrh, but at the same time another guy reaches for it. Each have a hand on it and a tugging match ensues. (The guy that Drummer Boy is fighting with should be dressed in the same sort of fancy robes as the Wise Man he was in line behind earlier. It turns out that he’s Wise Man #2)

Push comes to shove and fists are thrown, but then the Wise Man holds up his hands to call a truce. He reminds the Drummer Boy that this day isn’t about the two of them, it’s a day to celebrate the newborn king. Today is the day of all days to put petty differences aside.

While the Drummer Boy is pondering these profound words, the Wise Man grabs the can of myrrh and races off with it. The Drummer Boy chases after in hot pursuit.

We cut to later that night, back at the manger, where we see Mary and Joseph examining yet another gift that has been given. It’s a scuffed up and slightly dented can of myrrh. The note attached to the can reads, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NEWBORN KING and signed below are the names LITTLE DRUMMER BOY and WISE MAN #2. Mary and Joseph look up and see Drummer Boy and Wise Man #2 standing there, arms around each other, with torn robes, missing teeth, a couple of black eyes, bandaged limbs, and maybe a crude pair of crutches made out of a tree branch. They’ve been through hell but they still smile at the little fellow they see down in the manger.

THE END


17.9.09

I like this poster better than I liked the movie..

Here's a link to some amazing hand painted movie posters from Ghana. They would go from village to village with a generator, television and VCR and show the movies. Most of the time the posters were painted on flour sacks and were done before the artist saw the movie.

4.9.09

Facebook World!

It's like a disease, only it's fun and you get to meet up with lots of old friends and there's almost always something interesting to gab about.

It's no disease. All it does is soak up some of my goof off time. It's not like it's either go on Facebook or preform brain surgery to save someone's life. It's go on Facebook or watch an old rerun of Night Gallery or something like that.

I'm always too hard on myself.

24.8.09

One bitchin' cool boxed edition.


Buy this copy of Pixar's 'UP' and get a Luxo Jr. lamp. You know you want it. Get your geek on.

23.8.09

Facebook ate my life

I joined on a whim and now it consumes all my free time along with some pretty valuable time. I guess it could be worse. I could be Twittering.

15.8.09

14.8.09

All hail the mighty Fu King!


His food is terrible but who cares?

Fred's blood


I have a fair amount of Slovakian blood in my veins, thanks to Mom, so it would be wrong of me not to LINK to this fantastic gallery of Slovak book covers.

12.8.09

Remember the days?


Remember seeing the first Alien movie for the first time? For that matter remember what a roller coaster ride it was seeing Aliens for the first time? Is it possible to make a new Alien movie that will make us jump out of our seats in fear, rather than leap out of them in disgust and storm out of the theater? Only Hollywood knows.

10.8.09

Barking up the wrong tree...

All the dogs in the neighborhood have been barking at nothing all afternoon. It's kinda creepy. Could they be detecting an upcoming earthquake or alien invasion? Meanwhile, all five of our cats are fast asleep and don't have a care in the world. Cats can be jerks at times, but most of them are pretty smart so I'll trust that there is no imminent danger, and the dogs are just being mental.

9.8.09

GO JOE!!!


I was never a fan of the toys or the animated series, but kudos to the G.I. Joe movie for bringing in a remarkable 56 million on opening weekend. This is especially shocking due to all the bad press and word of mouth it's been getting. It looks like the perfect DVD rental for when the wife is out of town. Again, Go Joe!

Life's mysteries #355


Did we ever find out exactly why Yankee Doodle stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni? Was that the cool thing to do back then? Was there a great macaroni shortage at the time?

And why did he have to go all the way to London just to ride the ponies? If he was all Mr. USA how come he didn't ride American ponies?

At least he was handy with the girls. Gotta give him points for that.


3.8.09

Hulk angry...

Sleep eludes me once again… 

This time I got in four hours sleep before I lost hold of it. 

I was in the living room reading when I took a break and flicked on the television for a while. Val and Dakota have their ‘favorite channels’ set to all the MTV, Fuse, and VH1 channels. I have mine set for Turner Movie Classics and all the movie channels. The movie playing when the set came on was Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk movie. It struck me (ouch!) that The Incredible Hulk has been getting tons of airplay on cable.

Then it occurred to me why. 

The movie speaks to us on a level, a frustration level, that most all of us can relate to. Try and talk to your neighbor or a stranger at the supermarket about what’s going on in Iran. Or in Iraq. Which one of us are we friends with, and which ones are we fighting? Our brave soldiers are dying just about every day and for what. Oil? Freedom for a downtrodden people?

Most of us don’t know what’s going on outside of the pabulum that the news networks are feeding us, which is being fed to them by the government. Kinda frustrating, eh? Kinda makes you want to smash the military until you get some answers, right?

We are the Hulk and we want some answers. The last guy sure didn’t have any. Maybe the new guy will.

Hulk like beans. Uurrp!  

P.S. And for all those nay-sayers who say that the Hulk fought a big nasty monster in the end of the movie, I must point out that he was a government mercenary all jacked up on Hulk juice. In the end, the Hulk was still lashing out against the military--just like we'd like to. Well, I would anyway. 

2.8.09

Is it tired in here or is it just me?


  • It’s 3:36 Sunday morning and sleep eludes me..

 

  • Since sleep seems to be out of the question for the moment, there is any number of things that I could do rather than watch bad television.

 

  • I could do something constructive and write. I have deadlines that have been hovering overhead for days. Yep. I could write.

 

  • I could double up on my sleep meds and hope I don’t get a myocardial infarction or some such nastiness.  (Tried it, zero results)

 

  • I could dust all the toys and action figures that aren’t behind glass.

 

  • I could get a start on reorganizing all the bookshelves in the house. Each one is a mixture of art books, graphic novels, contemporary fiction, soft cover thrillers, and even a few music CDs thrown in for good measure. Each one looks interesting and is a nice mixture of sizes and colors, but chaos can only reign for so long.

 

  • I could wake up the cats and play with them. Or while they are asleep I could go clean their litter boxes.

 

  • It’s 4:10 and I’ve spent ten minutes in bed. Sleep still eludes me..

 

  • I could write some letters to people I owe letters to.

 

  • I could try and figure out how to add my old pal Martin Powell to my favorites list (boy is that guy busy. I should call him and ask if he needs help with anything)

 

  • I could Swifter the kitchen and bathrooms.

 

  • I could rearrange my Mighty Muggs so they don’t give the appearance of being about to fall on me.

 

  • I could find a DVD that I’ve been itching to watch, unfortunately our collection is split up between the living room and the living room closet. The door is broken so opening and closing it wakes the dead. If it wasn’t so noisy I could fix the door.

 

  • It’s 4:50 and I tried a glass of warm milk and gave sleep another try.

 

  • I could write up a dozen or so of the hallucinations I had last time I was in the hospital. Perhaps if I put them down on paper, if you will, they will stop haunting me.

 

  • I could organize and admire my pen collection—the only problem is that they’re in my dresser drawer in the bedroom and I’m certain to wake Valarie and she needs all the sleep she can get on the weekends.

 

o      It’s 6:06 and I just watched twenty minutes of the Doors movie, during which I kept switching over to watch Natural Born Killers. It’s a crap night for television.

 

  • I found something to do—feed the cats. They were out of food and I filled their bowl

 

  • I checked out the fridge and found we were lacking in breakfast foods. I could go over to our local Vons and buy a bunch. My dressing and leaving would no doubt wake Val so I’ll pass on that.

 

  • I could read the many books and magazines I have stacked on my nightstand but nothing interests me.

 

o      It’s 7:12 and I’ve just about given up on sleeping tonight. It’s probably going to mess up my alpha waves and make me a grump all day, but we’re planning on going to the movies today so I can always sleep there.

 

I hope everyone reading this has a better night’s sleep than I did.

 

 

29.7.09

Welcome back, convention attendess!

Quite a weekend, eh? I hope you had an outstanding weekend but I don't envy you.  I love going to small conventions where you can walk the room in a half an hour and then go back around looking for cool stuff to buy and talk to the dealers and creators. To me, that's fun. The controlled atom bomb blast that is San Diego is anything but fun for me. I get really creeped out being surrounded by thousands of people. Put aside all the fanboy stereotypes for the moment, I just can't stand the unwashed masses in that quantity. One of the best times I went was when my daughter was around one and she was in this cool backpack that looked up over my head. Because I had a baby on board I had no problem strong arming fans who would stop in the middle of the aisle to go through their backpack looking for a Defenders #2. I just bellowed "Moooove It!"  and made my arms like a cow catcher in front of me. Like Disneyland, having a baby on board also helps get you to the head of the lines. Next year I suggest getting your hands on one of those realistic baby dolls and a carrier. The convention floor will be yours.

12.7.09

All in all, just another Mugg on the wall...


I more or less decided that I was going to taper off/quit collecting the Mighty Mugg figures. I've got a nice collection and they make me happy to stare at them when I should be working. But there I was at Target yesterday. I made a quick pass through the toy aisle just in case some red hot new Iron Man toy hit the shelves that I didn't know about. There was nothing going on in the world of Iron Man, but in the Star Wars section there was a lonely Bossk the assassin staring at me. The only other Star Wars baddie I've got is Darth Maul and I figured if they had each other to talk about killing and bullets and such, that would be pretty cool. 

Meanwhile across the aisle were seven or eight Galactus figures. They reminded me of the last time I was at the pound and saw the old dogs that were so old and common that nobody was ever going to adopt them. Not with all the puppies to be had. I bought a Galactus months ago so I figure I did my part. If they ever wind up in the bargain bin for a buck a piece I'll buy them all and send them to people for the holidays.

11.7.09

Late for class...

Growing up I guess my family was considered lower middle class. 
-We had two cars, but both were more than a couple of years old
-There were televisions in all the bedrooms, even though they were a bit small and black and white.
-We never went hungry--although a lot of nights our bellies were full of fish sticks and Tater Tots rather than steak.
-I got a car when I turned sixteen, although it was my mom's hand-me-down beat-to-hell-Buick.

Being a member of the high school's concert choir proved to be a great equalizer. It was mostly about the music and the camaraderie and not who got a new Camero or TransAm for their birthday.

Another interest shared by a bunch of my fellow choirboys was basketball. Lots of them were on the basketball team and when they weren't tied up by some choir event they were either practicing or playing in a school game. I always liked shooting baskets with the kids in my neighbor. The Sivaks had a hoop on their garage and we wasted countless hours playing HORSE. I was a pretty good shot and almost six foot, but there was no way I dream of trying out for the team at school. I was so intimidated that I never even played with my fellow choirboys.

But then a strange plague struck the team. I first noticed the tallest drink of water on the team, Bruce Fredbloom, started hobbling around with a bum knee. Then soon afterward a few others were doing the same thing. The first one who went to the doctor came back with the diagnosis of water-on-the-knee. It didn't sound like a big thing to me; I got water in my ear and up my nose all the time after swimming, but getting water on the knee and having to have it removed turned out to be a badge of honor with these guys. If you didn't have it, well, you didn't have it

Hey, look at me. some thirty-six years after the fact, I have it. Fred Schiller has water on the knee. I'm thinking of cruising past the local high school and letting the word out.

A few years ago, back when I was still working for Stan Lee, my right knee locked up on me. I saw a specialist who told me the joint was breaking down and would have to be replaced one of these days. The other day when my left knee started doing the same thing I thought the prognosis would be the same. I saw the doctor and it was, sort of the same thing as before, only instead of a stray chip of bone causing me the pain this time, it was fluid. A lot of it. He stuck a needle in (I was already in so much pain that I didn't even feel the poke) and proceeded to drain out a hypodermic needle (the size of a fat cigar) worth of sick yellow gunk. No water. It looked more like the gravy that the high school cafeteria ladies used to ladle on our country fried steak. The doctor then filled the void in my knee with some nice clear hydro cortisone.

It's been four days and it's finally starting to feel better. Thanks for asking.
 

Feelin' kinda blue? How about visiting the most amazing website on the intenet?


Click on the word here and it will chase your blues away--or double your money back!



What's in store for Fred...


As a rule I don't buy my clothings online. When it comes to manufacturing clothings for bigger folk the manufacturers can be all over the map. I, being a big fat fattie, usually wear a 3x shirt, but I've tried on and comfortably fit into a 2x to a 4x shirt. Slacks are even more insane, so buying online isn't really an option for me. I have to be there and ignore the size tab in favor to how it feels. Fat people hoe a difficult road--but I guess if it's so hard we should probably shut the hell up. As my friend Rich Powers used to say about soda--forget about diet drinks, if you're fat you should drink water.

I ordered today from a company called Jinx and they have some stunning designers working on stuff--plus they carry large sizes and have a liberal return policy. Sounds like a match made in heaven to me. I'll let you know what the finished products feel like. They clain that most of their stuff is pre-shrinked and 100% cotton..   

2.7.09

I’m bachelor number one this weekend…


Does anyone even remember the Dating Game anymore? They keep reinventing its counterpart, The Newlywed Game, but I only ever see clips of the Dating Game on shows that feature clips of old shows that no one remembers.

Valarie is off to Phoenix for the weekend to visit her brother and his family. She took our daughter Dakota and her boyfriend Connor. I didn’t go along for the trip for a couple of reasons. Firstly, a six-hour ride in our little Yaris would be akin to torture with my bad knees and back. Secondly, and primarily, her brother has a nice big hour with a nice big pool, but there’s rarely a spare bed to bunk down on and my days of sleeping on the floor or a four-foot loveseat are long past. I like Val’s brother and his family a lot, and I like to swim more than most fishes, but the sleeping on the floor is a deal breaker.

 It’s probably just as well I didn’t throw caution to the wind and go along anyway because my left knee feels like it has a rusty railroad spike pounded into it. So I’ll catch up on my reading and episodes of Mythbusters while munching on Percocet. I have to be careful with the drugs because I don’t want to slip into drugged dialing mode and call everyone in my high school graduating class.

If anyone wants to call me, that’s cool. (This of course goes out to friends who actually have my number. It’s not that I don’t trust the majority of people on the WWW, but part of me thinks it would be a bad idea posting my home telephone number)

I’m thinking of constructing a cardboard cutout of Valarie to pacify the cats. They miss her a lot and I could prop it up on the couch or put it in bed, dressed in her clothing, and they probably wouldn’t notice the difference. Stupid cats.

I want one in my backyard.

30.6.09

Try to digest these...

When I was a kid my mom bought two magazines every month--Redbook and Reader's Digest. As a rule my interest was usually more piqued by the features in Reader's Digest. There was the monthly anatomy lesson, i.e. 'I am Joe's bladder' or 'I am Jane's alimentary canal', Improve your Word Power, and then there would be a true tale of bravery that told tales of the housewife that defends her family from a Kodiak bear with just a fingernail file, or the an who dove into the back of a cement mixer to save a kitten. All that Redbook had going for it was the 'Increase your Bust Size' ads in the back.

Reader's Digest was also big on featuring jokes. They had your everyday humor and then Humor in Uniform which featured tales of G.I. highjinks. If memory serves me the jokes were usually pretty tame and lame that would earn a chuckle at the most from me. 

It seems Reader's Digest still has the same standards for their humor. They've gathered what they consider the top ten jokes, in I don't konw, the world I guess. 

I was not put on this planet to judge, and I'm a big believer that humor can be extremely relative,, so I'll put it to you. Who knows--you may find each joke funnier than the last. You could be ROTFLing all over the place.
Enjoy...    

Crime and Punishment 

A man, shocked by how his buddy is dressed, asks him, "How long have you been wearing that bra?" The friend replies, "Ever since my wife found it in the glove compartment."

Conflict 
A ventriloquist is performing with his dummy on his lap. He’s telling a dumb- blonde joke when a young platinum-haired beauty jumps to her feet.
"What gives you the right to stereotype blondes that way?" she demands. "What does hair color have to do with my worth as a human being?" Flustered, the ventriloquist begins to stammer out an apology. 
"You keep out of this!" she yells. "I’m talking to that little jerk on your knee!" 

New Lease on Life 

In surgery for a heart attack, a middle- aged woman has a vision of God by her bedside. "Will I die?" she asks.
God says, "No. You have 30 more years to live." 
With 30 years to look forward to, she decides to make the best of it. So since she’s in the hospital, she gets breast implants, liposuction, a tummy tuck, hair transplants, and collagen injections in her lips. She looks great! 
The day she’s discharged, she exits the hospital with a swagger, crosses the street, and is immediately hit by an ambulance and killed. 
Up in heaven, she sees God. "You said I had 30 more years to live," she complains. "That’s true," says God. 
"So what happened?" 
God shrugs. "I didn’t recognize you." 

A Priest, a Minister and a Rabbi 
A priest, a minister, and a rabbi want to see who’s best at his job. So they each go into the woods, find a bear, and attempt to convert it. Later they get together. The priest begins: "When I found the bear, I read to him from the Catechism and sprinkled him with holy water. Next week is his First Communion." 
"I found a bear by the stream," says the minister, "and preached God’s holy word. The bear was so mesmerized that he let me baptize him." 
They both look down at the rabbi, who is lying on a gurney in a body cast. "Looking back," he says, "maybe I shouldn’t have started with the circumcision." 

Vow of Silence 
Every ten years, the monks in the monastery are allowed to break their vow of silence to speak two words. Ten years go by and it’s one monk’s first chance. He thinks for a second before saying, "Food bad."
Ten years later, he says, "Bed hard." 
It’s the big day, a decade later. He gives the head monk a long stare and says, "I quit." 
"I’m not surprised," the head monk says. "You’ve been complaining ever since you got here." 

Talking Dog 
A guy spots a sign outside a house that reads "Talking Dog for Sale." Intrigued, he walks in. 
"So what have you done with your life?" he asks the dog. 
"I’ve led a very full life," says the dog. "I lived in the Alps rescuing avalanche victims. Then I served my country in Iraq. And now I spend my days reading to the residents of a retirement home." 
The guy is flabbergasted. He asks the dog’s owner, "Why on earth would you want to get rid of an incredible dog like that?" 
The owner says, "Because he’s a liar! He never did any of that!" 
 
Making Sure 
Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He’s not breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls 911.
"I think my friend is dead!" he yells. "What can I do?" 
The operator says, "Calm down. First, let’s make sure he’s dead." 
There’s silence, then a shot. Back on the phone, the guy says, "Okay, now what?" 

Power of Perception 
A turtle is crossing the road when he’s mugged by two snails. When the police show up, they ask him what happened. The shaken turtle replies, "I don’t know. It all happened so fast." 

Ghostly Music 
A man is walking in a graveyard when he hears the Third Symphony played backward. When it’s over, the Second Symphony starts playing, also backward, and then the First. "What’s going on?" he asks a cemetery worker. "It’s Beethoven," says the worker. "He’s decomposing." 
 
A Dog's Life 
A poodle and a collie are walking together when the poodle suddenly unloads on his friend. "My life is a mess," he says. "My owner is mean, my girlfriend ran away with a schnauzer, and I’m as jittery as a cat." 
"Why don’t you go see a psychiatrist?" suggests the collie. 
"I can’t," says the poodle. "I’m not allowed on the couch."

27.6.09

What a dick...

I started reading the Dick Tracy comic strip in the last 60s, long after they did the really cool stuff and they only had a handful of characters. All the really racist bad guys had been weeded out by then. Luckily cartoonist Mike Lynch has collected over 200 characters/villains and some of them are doozies. Check them all out by clicking here


26.6.09

I hope everyone has a relaxing weekend...

Last night I dreamed of Michael Jackson..

I guess it's no shock. The news and prime time television last night was clotted with specials about him and Farrah. I had the opportunity to meet Jacko once. I was at Stan Lee Media at the time and Michael was in for a meeting with Stan. Within minutes of his arrival the whisper chain had spread the news. I happened to be walking out of my office when he and Stan were walking past. Stan was taking him on a tour. I don't know if I was introduced to him but I shook his hand. It was a strong supple hand. He wasn't wearing his surgical mask or his sparkle glove. He was a few inches taller than me, probably six feet, and he seemed totally genuine. 

That's all. Just thought I'd share. I also met and shook hands with Michael Bolton backstage after a concert,  but that's a story for another day. 

25.6.09

Robots and fallen idols...

Ten or twenty years from now when someone mentions the Transformer sequel, or I happen to catch it on cable or see it in my video collection, more than the movie I know I'm going to recall that two talented people died on the same day.

Everyone knows that Farrah Fawcett died of cancer. Preliminary reports are that Michael Jackson died of a heart attack. His lawyer has gone public saying that for years Michael has been overmedicated and that he predicted it would be the death of him--Michael and not the lawyer. As someone who used to take massive doses of prescription meds, and who almost died from it, I can see the lawyer's point of view.

I don't know if Jako was in chronic pain. I know he had a lot of surgery on his body, so perhaps he was getting meds from there. It didn't  take a genius to see that he was a lonely man and sometimes drugs help numb that pain or simply make us stop caring. 

Two pop icons died today and I saw Transformers: Rise of the fallen. It was a big, loud, over-the-top action movie. It was made, I think, specifically for everyone who saw the last one. Someone knew coming into the series is going to have a lot of head scratching going on, in an attempt to figure out what's going on. I know full and well what was going on and I got lost myself a few times. I don't know what this movie made, but it's all up there on the screen. Michael Bay truly shot his load with this one. It will make hundreds of millions of dollars and they really don't need to make another one. Really. That's all right. 

I forget...

What time is it is Japan again? Oh, yeah.

Who wants to watch the Watchmen?


No one was more psyched to see Zack Snyder's Watchmen movie earlier this year, but I'm sure I wasn't the only one who walked away feeling like they'd just bitten into a great big Twinkie.

 I compare the movie to a Hostess Twinkie because it looked so darn good sitting on the shelf. The packaging was just right, when then wrapper was off it felt right, but one bite was it all it took to tell that something wrong. What we got was fluffy and filled with cream--not the comic we'd come to love.

 I bring this up now because of the news of Zack Snyder’s 188 minute director’s cut of the film due out on July 17th. I’m hoping and praying for more bang and less fluffy filling. Apparently the Blu-Ray version promises to please even the most ardent fan with hours of extras. Extras are nice but I mostly like them when they’re cut into the film. 

Amazon is offering it for $23 which is down from the suggested $35. if you're into pre-ordering online. If you spend more than $25 you get free slow-boat-from-China shipping. I think I'll get mine from BestBuy because I'm more about impulse shopping than saving money.

23.6.09

I'll never look at a can of Alpo the same way again...


Ed McMahon is dead at the respectful age of 86. I grew up watching him spar with Johnny Carson and he was an amazing straight man. Most of the time he'd let Johnny have the laugh, but once in a while he'd take one for himself, leaving Carson dumbfounded. 

I've seen his signed 8x10s in local restaurants so I suspected he was a Central Coast regular. Then a few months back when I was in the hospital for a week I got to see a lot of Ed. The final room that they put me in (they sometimes move you around a lot in hospital--for instance they can't have a man and woman in the same room without a nurse present at all time as a chaperone. I needed to have my own chaperone because when I was a little off my nut I was considered a flight risk. My final room was designed to hold two patients but they ran out of room and slid in a third. I never got his name but I know he worked in Hollywood behind the cameras and he'd hurt his leg on the job. He had a lot of guests and one of them was Ed McMahon. Ed was in fantastic shape. He looked lots better than he does in the Publisher's Clearing house and other commercials he did. He seemed in very good health and he was a funny as could be. He spent time with his friend but he also worked the room. He made me laugh.

Of course I'd been hallucinating for days prior to seeing him, so I could have still been tripping balls and made the whole experience up in my mind. But I don't think so. I think I really saw him. 

Either way, R.I.P. Ed and thanks for the laffs.

Oh, and if you're too young to remember or never watched the show, for years Alpo dog food was a major sponsor of the Tonight Show and Ed would do live commercials wherein he would feed a bowl of Alpo to a starved dog while delivering his pitch. It usually went somewhat poorly.

22.6.09

I like pie as much as the next guy..American Pie, that is.


But whenever I hear it I use up a great deal of brain power (a precious commodity) figuring out the lyrics. That's why I looked them up and I thought I'd share. (They are on so many sites I don't know who wrote the original--but thanks)

Verse 1

A long, long time ago...
American Pie was written in 1971 and the time McLean is going to talk about is the 1950's. This seems like a long time ago 'cause of all the turmoil that occurred in the 60's.

I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.
McLean's favorite music was that of the 50's.

And I knew if I had my chance, that I could make those people dance, and maybe they'd be happy for a while.
In the 50's, the major purpose of music was for dancing (sock hops). He wanted to play rock & roll so people could have a good time.

But February made me shiver
Buddy Holly died on February 3, 1959 in a plane crash in Iowa. He was McLean's hero.

With every paper I'd deliver
Donny boy's only other job besides songwriting was a paper boy.

Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn't take one more step
This story was obviously on the frickn' front page and made McLean freeze in his tracks.

I can't remember if I cried
He can't remember if he cried.

When I read about his widowed bride
Holly's wife was pregnant when the accident occurred and soon after had a miscarriage.

But something touched me deep inside
I don't even wanna know!

The day the music died.
The crash took the lives of three current rock legends: Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, so now Feb. 3, 1959 is called "The day the music died." The music that died is considered the standard rock & roll songs. The crash was the final blow («--keyword) to this music 'cause these three were that only major artists left. Elvis was drafted, Little Richard (or "Little Dick") turned gospel, and Chuck Berry was arrested for screwin' a prostitute.


Verse 2

Did you write the book of love?
"The Book of Love" was a hit in 1968 by the Monotones.

And do you have faith in God above, if the Bible tells you so?
In 1955, Don Cornell wrote "The Bible Tells Me So" and there is a Sunday School song "Jesus Loves Me," with the line "For the Bible tells me so."

Now do you believe in rock & roll?
This is from the great song "Do You Believe in Magic?" by the Lovin' Spoonful, written by John Sebastin in 1965. One of the lines is like trying to teach a stranger 'bout rock & roll," and another is "the magic's in the music and the music's in me." The "magic" this Johnny was talking about is the ability of a song to stick in your head. Often times songs bring back memories of the past, this is what the magic is. This magic is especially in rock & roll, 'cause you experience it without thinking about it or trying to analyze the bloody lyrics (like some asshole is right now). Another lyric is "so just blow your mind." (Don't think about it).

Can music save your mortal soul?
Given all that, can music help you get though life? I'm sorry I can't answer that. All of these questions ask about life and if God exists.

And, can you teach me how to dance real slow?
Dancing in the 50's wasn't like it is today. If you danced with someone, you then were committed to them.

Now I know that you're in love with him, 'cause I saw you dancing in the gym.
Like I said, dancing was serious shit. McLean caught his love cheating on him.

You both kicked off your shoes
Reference to a "sock hop."

Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
He's depressed, and you listen to that kinda of music. There's a style of music for every feeling.

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
ummmm.....yeah, so was I......

With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
A pickup truck was a symbol of sexual freedom (and it rhymes with "buck" and "luck"), and Marty Robbins had a hit with "A White sport Coat (And a Pink Carnation) in 1957.

But I knew I was out of luck, the day the music died.
These old crazy things that worked in the fifty's no longer work, 'cause the 60's brought a new social revolution. Peace Out!


Verse 3

Now for ten years we've been on our own

The music died 1959, McLean more than likely started writing this song around 1969.

And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
The great Bob Dylan wrote "Like a Rolling Stone" in 1965. This was his first MAJOR change from folk music. In late 1966, Dylan was involved in a motorcycle accident, and hid in his house in Woodstock, NY for a good year, hence the "fat," and the moss shows the time change. Dylan didn't really get his muse back till 1975.

but that's not how it used to be.
McLean liked Dylan as a folk singer in the early sixties more than his folk-rock style in the mid sixties. (I wonder what he thinks of Dylan's religious phase!)

When the jester sang for the king and queen
Ok, the jester's Bob Dylan. The king is Peter Seger and the queen is Joan Baez. These were the two big names in folk at the time early '60's). During the Newport Folk Festival in 1963, Dylan was honored to play his own set and then combine with these two legends to sing his song "Blowin' in the Wind."

In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
In the Dean movie "Rebel Without A Cause," he wears a red windbreaker. On the cover of the Dylan's "Freewheelin'," he is seen also in a red windbreaker. This cover also resembles a famous picture of Dean. This ties in with the previous line 'cause this album is were Dylan really took off, with such songs as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall."

And a voice that came from you and me.
This means two things. 1. Dylan was the spokesman for the 60's (and he was) and 2. He didn't have the best singing voice in the world, and even you and me could sing like him (but you could write like him if Shakespeare «he's in the alley» himself told you what to say!)

Oh, and while the king was looking down
This could mean two things; Pete Seger remained a traditional folk singer, while Dylan was constantly reinvented himself and therefore became unbelievably popular. This could also be a reference to Elvis (the King of rock and roll), because he joined the U.S. Army and reportedly dropped his soap everyday in the shower.

The jester stole his thorny crown
While Elvis was in the army, Dylan took his spotlight and changed the whole music business. The thorny crown is the price of fame, and is referenced with Jesus's thorny crown before he was murdered.

The courtroom was adjourned, no verdict was returned
This deals with the Kennedy assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald was never convicted because he was murdered.

And while Lennon read a book of Marx
This is about the Beatles music becoming political. Songs like "Revolution" (1968) (which actually mentions Chairman Mao) were much different then "Love Me Do" (1963). Many American adults thought the Beatles were bad for the American youth, especially after Lennon's remark in 1966 about Christianity. He said "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first: rock 'n' roll or Christianity." This started anti-Beatles burnings and such.

The quartet practiced in the park
The quartet was the Beatles (there were four, not including if Paul McCartney is really dead!) and the park thing is Candlestick Park, the place of their last concert. It was practicing 'cause their music would grow after they stopped touring (their first project after this was "Sgt. Pepper" which is considered the best album of all time).

And we sang dirges in the dark, the day the music died.
A dirge is a funeral song. These songs were for the Kennedy's (John and Robert) and Martin Luther King, all who died in the mid 60's. And remember- "Dark" rhythms with "Park"


Verse 4

Helter Skelter in a summer swelter
Charles Manson is one of the most dangerous cereal killers ever (his favorite was coco-puffs). In the summer of 1968, he massacred an entire family 'cause of the Beatles song "Helter Skelter," which appeared on the white album. He thought that the Beatles were warning America about the racial conflict and it was "coming down fast." He thought the Beatles were the four angels mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Manson wrote the title of the song on the wall in blood after committing the murders. Also, he thought in "Revolution 9" that Lennon was saying "rise" instead of "right," thought the line "They need a damn good wacking" from "Piggies" was telling him to kill people and the "Hollywood Song" in "Honey Pie" was about him 'cause he lived near Hollywood. He was dropping too much acid and thought the Beatles were talking directly to him and told him to kill those people.

The Byrd flew off with to a fallout shelter
The Byrd's were a popular folk-rock group, with the huge cover of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," in 1965. One of the members was arrested for possession of marijuana and a fallout shelter was another name for a rehab program. A strange note is that Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" appeared on his "Bringing It All Back Home" record, and on the lower left corner of the cover is a fallout shelter sign.

Eight miles high and falling fast.
"Eight Miles High" was the first ever psychedelic song (it was written while high on speed, and the sound of the guitar was supposed to sound like a saxophone). The falling fast part is probably about the fact that the Byrd's abandoned folk-rock for country music with the album "Sweetheart of the Rodeo," in 1967

Then landed in the foul grass
Foul grass meaning marijuana.

The players tried for a forward pass
Here the football metaphor starts. The players are the protesters in the 60's. The forward pass was their movement to change the situation they were in, full of government corruption.

With the jester, on the sidelines in a cast.
Remember jester=Dylan. In late 1966, while riding near his house in Woodstock, NY, he briefly glanced into the sun and lost control of his bike. When he went to brake, they locked up on him and sent him flying off the motorcycle. It took him about 9 months to recover (or was he just pregnant and trying to hide it from the world????), in which time he very rarely left the house, hence the cast.

Now the half time air was sweet perfume
Flower Power, groovy baby! Drugs, man, drugs.

While sergeants played a marching tune
Sgt. Pepper, Beatles, 1967, recently named the most influencal album of all time. First ever concept album. First to have lyrics printed on the back. First to have a design on the protector of the record. Included an elaborate cover design and cut-outs. As far as the music goes, it had drug references in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, sitars, animal sounds and studio trickery. In the song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" at one point in the sound the engineer was instructed to cut the tape into small pieces, scatter them around, then tape them back together. In "A Day in the Life" (which was banned from the radio 'cause of the drug reference line "I'd Love to Turn You On"), after the piano cords die out, there is a minute of silence, followed by a high pitched sound (by the request of John Lennon, especially to annoy the family dog), then a loop of Beatles gibberish to make the owners of the LP think that the needle had stuck! What was I talking about again?

We all got up to dance, but we never got the chance
Oh yeah, American Pie!! That's a good song...anyway, the Beatles helped to start a new kind of music that was meant to be listened and not danced to (how do you dance to "Within You and Without You"?).

'Cause the players tried to take the field
Players=Protesters. In 1968, at the Chicago Democratic convention, protesters rioted, and some were beaten by the police. It is now known as the days of rage. Also in 1970, at Kent State University, four students were killed by the National Guard in response to their anti-Vietnam protests, which inspired the song "Ohio" by CSN & Neil Young.

The marching band refused to yield
The Beatles had some anti-violence songs that made protesters think twice about the way they were acting. "All You Need is Love" (1967) says there is a better way then violence, and in "Revolution" (1968) one of the lines is "But when you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count me out." The beatles were in no way pro-government (as seen in 1968's "Piggies," which is about Congressmen), but they were against violence.

Do you recall what was revealed, the day the music died.
So what was revealed? ...well look at today, the president gets more ass then a toilet seat. As Dr. Evil says in Austin Powers, "Face it, freedom failed" or more accurately, the protests failed. The government is more corrupt now then ever before. McLean wasn't a big 60's fan and here is putting down the efforts of the failed generation.



Verse 5

And then we were all in one place
Woodstock Performing Arts Festival took place in August in 1969. 400,000 of McLean's generation were there. It took place at Woodstock (actually Bethel) because that's were Dylan was hiding, and they were hoping he would come out and play. Unfortunately he turned it down for the "Isle of Wright" concert.

A generation lost in space
The moon landing was of course in 1969, David Bowie's "Space Oddity" was released (which was about 'major Tom' who got lost in space), there was a TV show called "Lost in Space" and this is a drug reference, the 60's are generalized by saying everyone in the entire world was on acid.

With no time left to start again
It took them a whole decade to get to this point, the generation's time was quickly fading. McLean thinks they wasted most of there time on drugs.

So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack flash sat on a candlestick
"Jumpin' Jack Flash" was a hit for the Rolling Stones. In this song, McJagger compares himself with Jesus. This line comes from the nursery rhyme that has the line "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumps over a candlestick."

'cause fire is the devil's only friend.
The Stones sold out to the devil. Their only comeback to the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper" was their album "Their Satanic Majesties Request." Seeing that you've probably never heard of this, you can imagine that it pretty much sucks. Also, their song "Sympathy for the Devil," proves that they were desperate to sell their records (the Beatles were SOOOOO much better!). Was it really worth celebrating the devil?

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
No, it wasn't. In December of 1969, the Stones attempted another Woodstock, this time at Altamont Speedway. This time it was a free concert, with the Hell's Angel's handling the security. The biggest mistake was paying them in advance, but instead of money, with beer and handfuls of acid. While the stones were singing "Sympathy for the Devil," a black man was beaten and stabbed to death by the Hell's Angels. They soon began beating everyone, include a member of the Jefferson Airplane.

My hands were clenched in fists of rage
He was pissed.

No angel born in hell could brake that Satan's spell
"angels born in hell" a.k.a. the "Hell's Angels!" When you have sympathy for the devil, you're asking for trouble.

As the flames climbed high into the night, to light the sacrificial rite
The stones were helicoptered out of there it became so crazy, hence the "climbed high." It's like the Stones started the living hell, and left in the middle of it...what's up with that? The sacrifice to the devil was the man's life.

I saw Satan laughing with delight, the day the music died.
This was the definitive ending of the sixties. The generation that was lost in space was now lost on earth. Before the only violence was between the hippies and the police, now it was amongst themselves. Satan had won, in one final blow.



Verse 6

I met a girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news, but she just smiled and turned away.
Janis Joplin is most the girl who sang the blues. Her big hits were "Piece of My Heart" and "Me and Bobby McGee." She died of an accidental heroin overdose on October 4, 1970. McLean is still trying to find happiness like in the beginning of the song "Maybe they'd be happy for a while," "That music used to make me smile." (Note the tone of the song is very similar in these to verses) But this time the smile isn't for happiness but regret.

I went down to the sacred store
Here he's talking about record stores that sold 50's albums.

Where I heard the music years before, but the man said the music wouldn't play
By the 70's, the 50's music was almost ignored by everyone. Hundreds of great albums were released in the 60's, and it seems that everyone has forgot about the 50's.

And in the streets the children screamed

The youth of America were beaten in the streets especially at the end of the decade. (Like I said earlier, the Kent State murders and the Chicago Democratic Convention)

The lovers cried and the poets dreamed
In Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," he says: "I met one man he was wounded in love, I met another man he was wounded in hatred," showing that love hurts sometimes as much as hate.

But not a word was spoken. The church bells all were broken.
Again in "A Hard Rain...," the line is "I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken." Simon and Garfunkel had a hit with "Sound of Silence." The church bells all were broken shows that people have forgotten God. All things are are so sacred are gone, love, faith, happiness, peace. In Dylan's "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," one verse goes: Disillusioned words like bullets bark . As human gods aim for their mark . Made everything from toy guns that spark . To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark . It's easy to see without looking too far. That not much Is really sacred. McLean isn't the only one that feels this way. He was obviously a religious man, and is very disappointed that they have abandoned God.

And the three men I admire most, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
The trinity of God, McLean was Catholic.

They caught the last train for the coast.
God has left. Time magazine even featured a cover story "Is God Dead?" The generation has failed, and "with no time left to start again." It was now up to the next generation to put things right (and they did a terrible job might I add).

The day the music died. And we were singing....
This last verse is the hardest to explain...Remember, McLean never would talk about what what the lyrics definitely mean, so it's not perfectly clear. Some people believe there were more references to the Kennedy's (him being the king and his wife the queen), but I feel his presence is felt though the songs from the 60's better. Ps, this took me forever.



Refrain

So bye, bye Miss American Pie
Pimp Daddy McLean was dating one of the Miss America contestants during one of the pageants. Also the "American Pie" part is a symbol of the American Dream (at least of the 50's), it was also the name of the plane that crashed and killed Holly (or so goes the rumor).

Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
The American automobile was the Chevy. The levee business shows that America wasn't fertile anymore (at least in the sense of music). "Chevy" rhymes with "levee."

And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye singing "This will be the day that I die, this will be the day 
that I die."

The traditional Americans are depressed with the current lifestyle (60's). The song comes from Buddy Holly's "That'll be the day," that eventually says "that I die."

Another interesting note brought to my attention by Scott Tilles, is that the Levee was a bar in Purchase, NY near McLean's hometown. There is also a Levee, NY which is about 15 minutes from the school he attended.