Pop Culture Gadabout
Monday, January 17, 2005
      ( 1/17/2005 05:08:00 PM ) Bill S.  

"SOMEONE SAID THEY MADE SOME NOISE; THE COPS HAVE SHOT SOME GIRLS AND BOYS" – We're digging back into the CD vaults to get today's opening gun ref (courtesy of the Mothers of Invention), though somehow Frank Zappa's evocation of cultural war casualties has renewed relevance this week. Anyhoo, here's a round of opening week bullet points:
  • Is it too late for me to add to the chorus of voices opining that the inaugural plans seem especially tasteless and insulting to the world at large – and that if George W. wanted to really make a significant positive historical statement, he'd have cancelled all the festivities and announced that whatever moneys could be saved from this would be sent to the tsunami-ravaged countries? It is too late, you say? The blogosphere has already moved on to other matters? Okay. . .

  • I know some Simpsons fans have already abandoned the show (Michele Catalano wrote a heartfelt breakup letter on her blog last November) after so many years of good laffs, but last night's episode showed (for the first time all season) that the gang from Springfield still have the capacity to surprise. The ep, which largely centered around Homer and Grandpa Simpson's plans to smuggle prescription drugs over the border from Canada, was one of the show's sharpest satiric entries in ages, and it led to a great punchline, too. Definitely worth checking out – if only for the moment when Monty Burns gives Smithers mouth to mouth – when Fox reruns it any one of eight times over 2005. . .

  • As has probably become obvious from all the follow-up reviews, Sunday a.m.s have unofficially become one of those times when yours truly pulls out DVDs of old psychotronic movies and re-watches 'em. This weekend was no exception, the flick in question being the early 70's horror pic, The Abominable Dr. Phibes. The two Phibes films (the follow-up is Dr. Phibes Rises Again), starring Vincent Price in a role that forced him to do all his vocal performances in voiceover, are reportedly favorites of Tim Burton, and you can see the influence in his first Batman movie. Slyly directed by Robert Fuest, who had earlier honed his talent for staging arch murders on The Avengers, the movie is a splendidly campy period piece with some genuinely squirmy moments. Vengeful madman Phibes, angered over the botched medical procedure that killed his wife, proceeds to kill members of the surgical team responsible adhering to the biblical plagues that were visited on the pharaohs. The idea of thematic killings was carried into Price's greatest horror comedy, Theater of Blood, and, of course, more recently has also inspired psycho killer flicks like Se7en and Saw, neither of which possess one iota of the visual elegance (love that set design!) and wit of these low-budget British gems.

    I was able to find both Phibes DVDs recently at a Wal-Mart, incidentally – released as part of MGM's "Midnite Movies" series, they can presently be had for as little as five bucks. Definitely a bargain. . .

  • Contest Alert! Contest Alert! Comic Book Galaxy is running the Ultimate Street Angel Contest and it's muy sweet. Check out the details here. . .

  • I'm in the midst of the second volume of CMX's From Eroica with Love, and I've already seen that those commenters who wrote in following my exploratory review of volume one were right. Within two pages of the first of two chapters (the book has two eighty page "chapters" that are individual stories, plus an irrelevant bonus that features none of the series' characters), the Achilles statue from volume one disappears from the storyline (art thief Eroica simply loses interest in stealing it for now; NATO agent Klaus gets reassigned elsewhere), while our trio of youngsters are nowhere to be seen). The focus narrows completely to a battle of wits between Eroica and Klaus – and on the basis of the first chapter, at least, I'd say the series is more fun for it. Lovelorn skinflint accountant James becomes a more overt comic figure and the stories become tighter, too. In retrospect, the first volume shows creator Aoike Yasuko still feeling her way with her material, though from the way that CMX packaged the first volume, you would never have known that art professor Caesar was gonna be so tangential a figure. . .
(Background Music for This Round of Bullet Pointing: Well, I was listening to We're Only In It for the Money on the way to a funeral this a.m., but I actually wrote this to the MC-5's Back in the USA in the afternoon. Am I feeling dire about the "American Ruse" or something?)
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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