Thursday, February 26, 2009

The return of Beanworld

I'm not sure exactly how to describe Beanworld. I don't think you can. The creator of Beanworld, Larry Marder, has many different catchphrases for it (by the way, did you know "catchphrase" is the only English word with six consonants in a row? useful for Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy). Perhaps a video would help out....

The Chow Raid from fashionbuddha on Vimeo.

Okay that didn't help out. What happened was the Beans went on a "Chow Raid" after their spiritual leader, GranMa'Pa (the tree) gave them a Sprout Butt... after beating up on a Hoi-Polloi ring that contained delicious Chow (which the Hoi-Polloi use to gamble, but the Beans need for food) they left the sweetened Sprout Butt for the Hoi-Polloi to sing sweet songs to it and inspire it to sacrifice itself and dissolve into Chow to replace what they'd lost. Then the Beans went back to Beanworld, put the stolen Chow in the Chowdown Pool and had dinner, soaking up nutrients and vitamins in a community bath.

I know. That didn't help out either. But for me, the late 80s and early 90s were made much brighter with the addition of Tales of the Beanworld. I'm glad to say that Beanworld has returned! I hold in my hands the first collection of those comics, in HARDBACK even, and it's still as creative and imaginative as it used to be. It's not for everybody... certainly not for the super-hero crowd... but if you are into things like the Monomyth (the path of the hero), Native American mythology, independent comics, or Marcel Duchamp, you should spend the twenty bucks and buy the new hardback. It's definitely worth it. And keep up with Larry at his blog...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In the not too distant future...

I'm watching Eagle Eye right now, and basically it's a rip-off of Warren Ellis' Global Frequency, with what seems to be a crazy HAL-ish computer in charge of stuff and normal people who aren't really Agents as Agents. So now seems a perfect time to talk about MST3k.

So my interest in horror show hosts stemmed originally from reading about them in Famous Monsters. That led to interest in Elvira, mainly because she wasn't syndicated to our market, and of course the stuff you can't have is the stuff that must be good. (It wasn't until this year that I actually saw an episode of Movie Macabre, thanks to Amazon's video on demand service, and to say I was unimpressed and disappointed is a bit of an understatement. Despite what I've read in various magazines, I've only seen a monologue-driven horror movie commentary punctuated by a... random sound effect (weird) given by an emo Valleygirl prototype with big hooters. Not interesting to me.) After that was Monsterpiece Theatre, if you read my soppy, teen-angst ridden previous post. But of course after that was MST3k.

Anybody reading this doesn't need to know the background on MST3k, or a history lesson. They may need to know about its descendants. One is Rifftrax, by Michael Nelson, Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo Mk.2) and Bill Corbett (Crow Mk.2). I'm not as hot on that one, because it involves a lot of fiddle-faddlery starting DVDs and then starting commentary...a bit like watching The Wizard of Oz with Dark Side of the Moon playing. I enjoy their shorts, which you can download with the riffing, but I'm not going through all the trouble of all those shenanigans.

Cinematic Titanic, however, is another story. Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu (Crow Mk.1, Dr. Clayton Forrester), J. Elvis Weinstein (Tom Servo Mk.1, Dr. Ernhardt), Frank Conniff (formerly TV's Frank, now DVD's Frank), and Mary Jo Pehl (Dr. Forrester Mk.2, all henceforth collectively known as the Titans) got together and are again doing silhouetted movie riffing, and it's pretty damn good.

So far, there've been six DVDs released. Plus, a tour. I went to the tour both nights (different movies riffed) that they performed in Boston at the Somerville Theatre. I had originally planned to walk to the shows, as it wasn't really that far... but the inclement (cold and effing windy) weather convinced me to just Find Parking. Which I did, easily somehow, both nights.

The first night was a hoot. Except for being stood up by my friend, something which I'm not going to write about except for that one bit there. Anyway, the show was awesome; Blood of the Vampires, which was supposed to take place in 1920's Mexico but was filmed in the Phillippines, and has many actors in blackface. BLACKFACE. After the show, I did not stay to meet the Titans, as I was back into a sour mood after being entertained for two hours.

The second night I met up with a work-mate to see the show. Unfortunately, I knew this meant I was not getting Pictures With The Titans, because I knew he'd probably take off for beers after the show, which he did. But we both had a really good time; sitting in the mezzanine seats was pretty uncomfortable, but It seemed to give a better view than my seats from the previous night. The Dynamite Brothers was a cross between Kung-fu and Blaxsploitation movies. And it was glorious.

And then there was the after-show. Well, of course I managed to make a stammering mess of myself tonight at the second show when I met the Titans.

When I got to Trace he gave me A Look. I'm used to getting Looks, because I'm 6'2" and 360... I'm a very large, imposing and to some people scary looking guy. Like, this could be your typical MST3k/CT/comicbook/scifi/comedy nerd, or he could also be a dangerous stalker. I think he correctly saw that I was really nervous and was trying to lighten me up, which he did. He also commented that he liked the Superman t-shirt I was wearing.

Honestly, I've never been this nervous meeitng famous people. I actually get to meet a lot of famous people in my job. I work for the "we play everything" radio station in town, like the one Josh did a bit about; so far this past year I've met Rainn Wilson from The Office, Paul Stanley, Phil Donahue, Phil Collen from Def Leppard, Simon Pegg... none of them made me nervous at all. But I've been a fan of MST3K since season 2... this was like meeting my comedy gods.

I moved on to Josh, got a signature, complimented him on the songs. More about Josh in a moment. Mary Jo was very sweet to me and I think she could tell I was quite nervous because at this point I think I may have just been talking in vowels. I had taken one of the DVD covers out of the 20th anniversery MST3k box set to get signed, only I was using the inside of the cover, which is perfect for getting autographs, but she hadn't seen it before and when she realized what it was she said "Oh cool, I haven't seen this yet... " which kind of made me squee a little.

Frank was cordial, but I just wanted to get through so I just asked for an autograph.

Joel was also very nice. Actually I did want to get a photo with him, but my friend had to bail so I had nobody to take the photo for me, and besides that, like I told Joel, photos of me with famous people usually wind up looking like "Joel Hodgson was accosted by a homeless person for money in Davis Square today... he said he wasn't going to spend it on liquor, but he did."

So far what's really been the most pleasant surprise of CT, especially the live shows, is how great Josh is. I think the role of voicing Tom Servo probably kept his performance limited, and I never really got enough of a sense of his personality. He really shines through on stage, and was very nice to me despite me being a stuttering fanboy. It makes me glad that they're actually not doing characters like on MST3k, so they're not limited in how they can riff. Still, some kind of host segment that's not silhouetted is something I'd love to see in the future, if the budget ever allowed for it.

All in all it was a pleasant show. Probably the biggest laugh for me was their reaction to the "n-bomb" that got dropped near the opening of the movie. Well co-ordinated. I wonder how that'll translate to DVD...