Saturday, August 14, 2004


May The Schwartz Be With You

LONE STARR: But, Yogurt, what is this place? What is that you do here?
YOGURT: Merchandising.
BARF: Merchandising? What's that?
YOGURT: Merchandising. Come. I'll show. Open up this door. Ha, ha, ha, come. Walk this way. Take a look. We put the pictures name on everything. Merchandising. Merchandising. Where the real money from the movie is made. Spaceballs - the T-shirt, Spaceballs - the Coloring Book, Spaceballs - the Lunch box, Spaceballs - the Breakfast Cereal, Spaceballs - the Flame Thrower.
DINKS: Ooooooo.
YOGURT: The kids love this one. Last, but not least, Spaceballs - the Doll. Me.

Yu-Gi-Oy. Ninety minutes of the most incomprehensible gibberish I've had the misfortune to see since my mother-in-law handed my wife and me tickets to see "Cats". The obligatory cute kids, a character named Pegasus who seems to serve no purpose other than comedy relief in a Charles Nelson Reilly / Paul Lynde vein, a vague Egyptian plot with a couple of visuals that look like storyboard rejects from "Raiders Of The Lost Ark", and that game. The rules of 43 Man Squamish make infinite more sense than the chazzerai I sat through.

The plot basically involves some infinitely powerful Egyptian types who create this cockamamie game, and the bad guy gets locked up after losing some titanic battle. OK, so we've got touches of "Stargate", "Gamesters of Triskellion" and "Aladdin" not five minutes into the flick. Cut to the present day, and Yugi (the Good Guy, who is in touch with the spirit of the good pharaoh) is in a fierce rivalry with the Bad Guy, who is going to channel the spirit of the bad pharaoh. Cue some horrid animation of various monsters that look like Toho rejects, and a bunch of cute Pokemon rejects. Yugi and Bad Guy throw cards around, generate lots of smoke and noise, and there seemed to be some attempt at explaining the strategy and rules of the game to the audience. To make the long story short, Yugi and the good pharoah's combined entity takes a serious ass-whupping from Bad Guy, but they manage to do something devious to trick Bad Guy and Bad Pharoah (with an ending battle scene that's definitely been inspired by the bit in "Aladdin" where they trick Jafar into turning into a genie) and ensure the safety of the world for additional merchandising.

Fortunately, Loew's decided to only run 15 minutes worth of coming attractions and commercials, so the overall misery wasn't prolonged egregiously. The promotion did give out "limited edition" Yu-Gi-Oh cards to the attendees, which of course led to several fights amongst various broods over who got the best card (apparently the one with the pyramid is the best one). And I'm sure that this will lead to some extended card sets available at your friendly retailer, which will be demanded by the kiddies just as surely as a politician will lie.

Today's interesting CD is actually an out of print offering from The Kaisers called "Squarehead Stomp". The Kaisers sound is pure Cavern, an affectionate pastiche of the beat groups. Lots of Cavern standards like "Some Other Guy", "Money" and a dynamite version of "Soldiers Of Love". As for the original songs, well, no worries for any major chart toppers here, but it's just a fun offering touching not only on the beat groups, but with a touch of Joe Meek and the rest of the pre-Invasion English scene. Nice touch naming the group after the Kaiserkeller, the Hamburg dive that gave a lot of Liverpool groups a real lesson in honing their craft.

Finally, the absolute last word on the Thunderbirds movie comes from the great Mark Steyn. I can only disagree with him on one point, saying that "Marina" was a cut above most contemporary ballads (ahem, do the words "Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble" ring a bell?), but he does hit the nail on the head that Barry Gray did some absolutely fantastic original music for the various Gerry Anderson series. This compilation looks like a great sampler of Barry Gray's work, and it looks as if his "No Strings Attached" album will be released on CD (in England) in two weeks. Alternately, if you're willing to spring for a Fanderson membership (not cheap, unfortunately) you can get Anderson show soundtracks here.


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