Category Archives: Humor

Summer School

So I’m driving toward Longport on Tilton Road for my family’s annual pilgrimage to my childhood beach community down the shore, and we pass the Shore Mall movie theater. I was instantly transported back to my adolescence, and in particular, one jaunt to that theater occupied my thoughts on this passing. After all, it had been pretty much 30 years to the day when two of my favorite guilty pleasure movies were released. Because I was 14 and did not have my license yet, getting a ride off the island to one of the two Cineplexes (Cineplexi?) in the vicinity happened pretty infrequently (i.e., when my friends’ or my parents wanted quiet, or when any of them were headed to the movies themselves due to rain). We were otherwise confined to the limited selection at the Margate and Ventnor Twin theaters, but more often than not, had seen all four of the movies offered in pretty short order.

Summer_school_poster

Summer School and The Lost Boys came out the very same weekend during the summer of 1987. At the time, I wasn’t entirely over my childhood fear of horror movies (I went to see Poltergeist with an older cousin when I was 9 years old and had nightmares for a full year). So despite the fact that pretty much everyone I knew was talking about TLB…especially the girls…and I was at an age where I definitely preferred to go places where girls might be present…I made the difficult choice to see Summer School, a movie I knew little about and which proffered a B-list cast (other than one of the stars of my then-favorite television show Cheers). As an aside, I had no idea who Mark Harmon was at the time, and would see the movie Stealing Home later that summer for the first time. Melrose Place wouldn’t put Courtney Thorne Smith onto the map for a few more years.

To this day, I am not disappointed in my decision. Summer School was great. Mr. Shoop, roller skates, Wondermutt and all, saved the day, against all odds. Ana Maria was great (and would go on to play Alotta Fagina in Austin Powers). And the dude who spent the entire summer in the bathroom was, put plainly, my favorite character in the movie. Summer School did highlight a great deal about why America’s education system is so horrific…from the emphasis on standardized testing, the tenure system, the lack of resources in the public school system and of course the complete neglect of those students, whom for whatever reason (and this particular film highlighted a multitude), failed to grasp the basic skills to move forward in their education, as determined by a Scantron test. But nevertheless, it was a fun summer movie chock full of classic quotable lines and characters, and is a movie I will seldom turn off if I happen upon it flipping through the channels.

It wasn’t until The Lost Boys made it to the premium cable channels the following year that I finally found the courage to watch it. And watch it again and again and again. This movie featured a cast of mostly male youngish actors who were heartthrobs. This was not the reason it resonated with me. I did not subscribe to Seventeen, Tiger Beat nor Teen Magazine. I did not find any male member of the cast dreamy, not the Coreys nor Jason Patrick nor Jack Bauer nor William “Bill” S. Preston, Esquire, for that matter (I did have a thing for Jamie Gertz for a hot minute, but it wasn’t a love that was pursued after the credits rolled). The movie won me over because its script was well written, its plot was intriguing and suspenseful and its soundtrack…all I can type is wow. In the opinion of IDROS, whatever that is worth, TLB has a Mount Rushmore level soundtrack for movies not about music or musicians (this idea alone is worthy of another post sometime in the near future, so stay tuned).

TLB is one of those movies that is sneaky good in so many ways. Among the many reasons it is nearly impossible to turn off whenever I happen upon it are the fact that its themes are timeless (brotherhood, being the new kids in a strange town, family dynamics, the dangers of love and how clueless we can be when falling under its spell, etc.) The movie also offers plenty of comic relief throughout, be it from the Frog brothers or Grandpa, to cut the horrifying tension and counteract the overarching evil that lurks beneath the seemingly innocuous teen romp the movie often appears to be. And finally, at the base of it all, TLB is a Vampire movie. Before True Blood, the Vampire Diaries, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blade, and a generation before the Twilight saga, one could argue that TLB was one of the first (no, IDROS did not forget Anne Rice) to successfully expand upon Bram Stoker’s themes and package them for teens and young adults thirsting for a blood-sucking Brady Bunch story…or at least a more modern twist on Vampiric lore.

Anyway, during a recent viewing of TLB, which spawned the idea for this post, IDROS began to see Max’s family of undead in a new way. My epiphany occurred during the most unpleasant scene in the entire movie, IMHO, which is when David and his Lost Boy brothers take Michael out to “hunt” for the first time, and they horrifically feed on a group of partying young adults around a bonfire. As I watched the awful scene unfold for the umpteenth time, I realized that Vampires, particularly those in this movie, are a terrorist organization not unlike ISIS, or Al Qaeda. Think about it…they kill innocent people in gruesome ways; they recruit others by promising eternal youth (a trip to heaven surrounded by virgins); they blend into society, even having jobs such as the friendly town video store proprietor; they use caves as a hideout/lair/home; they are vengeful; and the greatest connection of all – Kiefer Sutherland who plays David, arguably the most fearsome terrorist, I mean vampire, in TLB, would basically reinvent himself more than a decade later playing the foil to terrorists worldwide as Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) superman, Jack Bauer.

If you want to know how this post came to be…the truth is it was on a dare. Someone who reads IDROS gave your author four themes, and threw down the gauntlet. “You seem to be posting less and less frequently. Here’s some motivation. Combine the themes ‘Summer,’ ‘Education,’ ‘Terrorism,’ and ‘Tina Turner’ in your next post and I will bestow upon you my own version of a Pulitzer” (when pressed for details on said prize, IDROS was told that it involved a ticket to an upcoming concert).

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Oh, and as for Ike’s ex-wife: The shirtless, long-haired saxophone dude who plays on the amusement pier in TLB (“I Still Believe”) is none other than Ms. Turner’s chief of brass on tour. Check him out here basically pleasuring the venerable pop star with his horn in an amazing version of Private Dancer.

Happy Summer all.

IDROS

Trivia:

Did you know that TLB was originally written to be an updated take on Peter Pan, in which Peter (which was David’s original character name) was a vampire? It’s true. There are a multitude of Easter eggs from that storyline that remain in the movie, including the title itself, that point to that original theme. IDROS is glad Joel Schumacher, who directed, insisted on removing the overt Peter Pan references.

There is one actor/actress who appeared in both movies referenced above. Can you name him or her?

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Humor, Movies, Music, Politics, Uncategorized

Things

1) Pretty sure I saw the big DJ from Maloney’s circular bar a few weeks ago when I was at the shore…I did a double take and may have even stared a second or two too long…but that guy played Bon Jovi and Bruce and kept the party going until hours I only see when my baby cries in the middle of the night (because my two year old woke her up crying and I am useless).

2) Where in the world did Tia Carerre (her real name is Althea Rae Janairo, BTW) go? First off…her real name is Althea. I love the name Althea. But she was one the hottest actresses on the planet for a hot cup of coffee in the early to mid-90s…almost ubiquitous. Then she took a wrong turn with Pauly Shore and a second misstep with Eric Roberts and then found herself mired in B-Movie hell with a veritable who’s who in the netherworld of straight-to-video C-Listers from Stevie Baldwin to the pro’s pro, Steven Seagal…

3) A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus. That’s right…look it up (or just click this link). Not only that, Venus is the only planet in our Solar System that spins counter-clockwise…so the sun rises in the West and sets in the East. Talk about an Axis that’s Bold as Love

4) These two guys:
Things 1 and 2

5) I just finished watching The Wire, which was tops on my list for shows to be snarfed down like a box of Bugles or Thin Mints or anything else that it is extremely difficult to stop eating/drinking/doing once you start…binge watching at its finest. As promised, the show now rests firmly in my own pantheon of top five dramas of all time (where, exactly, I am still not sure)…but I can say this unequivocally: Whereas The Sopranos and Lost had endings that irked and disturbed me because they were executed somewhere between questionably and poorly (for Lost, that might be kind)…David Simon’s opus (vastly different than Mr. Holland’s) disturbed me at its end because the subject matter is just incredibly frustrating and vexing and well, disturbing…from beginning to end and everywhere in between.

6) I recently learned that Quentin Tarantino has the exact same IQ as none other than Steven Hawking…yeah, I wasn’t sure what to do with that either, but on some level it just makes sense. You will all get a kick out of this link

7) And lastly, there is a time when you and your partner/spouse/significant other are pregnant, but you are mired in the delicate period of “loose lips sink ships,” unable to tell anyone but the closest of relatives for fear of jinxing everything. It’s a weird couple of months, and as the safe zone approaches, I find it more and more difficult to keep the secret. Recently, in our eleventh week, I ran into a couple while out with friends (wifey wasn’t with me)…the woman was probably eight months preggo…it was so obvious I felt comfortable breaking rule number one for men when speaking to women…assuming (or asking) if she is, in fact, knocked up. I was excited as a father-to-be and so I found myself blurting it out to these two complete strangers just because of the bond of pregnancy.

Anyway…that’s my show for today. Enjoy the day and fruits of your labors.

Love and peace,

IDROS

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment, Family, Humor, Movies, Music, Philosophy, Science, Uncategorized

White Trash

ImageI walked out of our house today to jog and almost tripped on a disgusting white bag covered with ants and a reddish brown substance I really hope was ketchup. It was crumpled up near our mailbox in the street. Around it were two yellow cheeseburger wrappers, also crumpled up. My first thought was that the garbage must have fallen out of the back of the garbage truck yesterday, which was trash day. But then I remembered that when I got home the previous night from work, the trash had already been picked up, and there was no nasty waste strewn about the street in front of our home. I was angered, of course, at the fact that the sanctity of our home and neighborhood had been violated…but I was not at all surprised.

For the past few months, during my morning jogs through our neighborhood, I have unfortunately encountered a similar sight far too often (and by the way, once is far too often). We seem to have a serial litterer in Weston, or a few of them (perhaps copy-cat litterers?), and the culprit(s) use(s) white McDonald’s drive thru bags along with yellow cheeseburger wrappers as their exclusive suburban DE-beautification devices of choice.

I have wracked my brain on these runs, set to whatever random musical soundtrack my Shuffle spits out that morning, thinking about litter – don’t judge me.

First the obvious stuff, like the word litter itself. I mean, how can a word with such a dirty and even criminal definition also have such a beautiful, adorable and joyous meaning? Image

Then I think about these particular incidents/crimes like a detective…as if I am going to find the hooligans responsible, and…and…and what? Wring their necks like Homer does to Bart? If only…but back to the facts. Always McDonald’s. Always thrown to the side of the road, by the curb or on the shoulder, as if it were the murder weapon tossed out the window of the getaway car fleeing a crime scene. Throughout my life I have unfortunately seen my share of litter. I would say the majority of it has been fast-food related. Not once have I ever seen litter from “The Palm,” or “Joe’s Stone Crabs” or even “P.F. Chang’s.” I know, I know. Millions and millions more people eat at fast food joints every day than at nicer restaurants, so the stats are skewed. Plus, a good percentage of people use drive-thrus at fast food restaurants, while most upscale diners eat in, and when they take out, they certainly don’t eat the food in their cars. Fun facts, but nothing that will lead to a break in the case.

So where I really have been focusing with this sudden rash of littering that has invaded my otherwise pristine suburban neighborhood is on the who and the why. While the who could be anyone (no, not Townshend, Entwistle, Moon and Daltrey), I am pretty confident it is someone (or a couple people) under the age of 22. Yes, I am profiling there, so call me an ageist, but I just don’t see the perpetrator(s) being property owners, or even renters. The crimes have a juvenile air to them, and strike me as being munchies- or alcohol-induced as well.

I also don’t see the asshole(s) responsible for using suburban Weston as his/their personal dumpster being from out of town. Nope, I seriously doubt someone from Parkland, or Cooper City or Hollywood is driving to Weston just to rid their cars of their fast food remnants…and because Mickey D’s has locations pretty much everywhere, I also refuse to believe they are coming here to eat their burgers and fries and then tossing the waste as they head back to their own town.

Furthermore, I don’t see the troglodyte(s) being female. The nature of the crime just strikes me as being male. Feel free to disagree if you must.

The why is a bit more complex. I don’t see a situation where littering is something even an adolescent would do to impress his or her peers. I also don’t see this being a reaction by a kid or young man getting grilled (no pun intended) by his girlfriend or mother about the filth accumulating in his car (“Your car is disgusting! I refuse to set foot in here ever again if you don’t clean it up. Call me when you grow up”…Or…”Clean up your car Billy. If you don’t, not only will you lose the car, but you will no longer be welcome in our home…that’s right Billy. Clean your car or move out. The choice is yours. Your father and I didn’t raise you to live like an animal.”).

Nope…this is a douchebag (or a couple of them) all the way…but the motivation is unclear.

What I do know is this…and it is clear as day:

THE PRIDE ONE HAS IN WHAT HE PUTS IN HIS BODY IS DIRECTLY CORRELATED TO THE PRIDE ONE HAS IN HIS OWN NEIGHBORHOOD

If you have any information that leads to the arrest, or at least the public humiliation, of the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, please call me…I will reward you with a happy meal, and Mayor McCheese will present you with a key to the city of Weston.

As always, thanks for reading. Enjoy the Super Bowl tonight.

IDROS

My pick for tonight: Denver will cover, as the Broncos capitalize on a few key turnovers and win big in New Jersey, 31-20.

1 Comment

Filed under Humor, Philosophy, Uncategorized

It’s Howdy Doody Time

I apologize for my recent hiatus. You all count on me for overly-long, trivial and generally self-serving posts on a regular basis, and for the past several months, I have let you, my faithful readers, friends and family down (most of you probably didn’t even notice…so there’s that).

But the good news is, I’m back. Back with what will certainly be my crappiest post yet.

You’ve all heard the term “back in a flash,” but after an absence that can only be categorized as literary constipation, I suppose you could say I am back in a “flush.”

The theme of this welcome back post, as you may have already guessed, is a topic I happen to know a thing or two about. And to celebrate the finale of one of my favorite television shows of all time (said show’s end-game inspired this disgusting entry, so thanks Vince Gilligan and Dean Norris and the great Walt Whitman), I am going to list some of the more memorable number twos in pop-culture history.

That’s right, you read correctly. In the immortal words of Taro Gomi in her children’s book read the world over, Everyone Poops. And for the purposes of this “made for the toilet” super-list, the more significant the poop, the higher (actually lower) on this list it will appear. As always, IDROS is not omniscient…there are bound to be omissions. Please, readers, add any that are glaring, or any that you feel are appropriately inappropriate.

20)   The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover – if this entry means nothing to you, ignore it. Trust me. There are a few people out there that know why this movie made the list, they know who they are, and all I can say is we should have gone to see I Love You to Death…or even Ernest Goes to Jail (both released the same weekend).

19) Summer School – Did the kid who went to the bathroom for the entire movie and still scored highest on the aptitude test play a significant role in Mr. Shoop’s classroom farce? No. Did he really spend an entire summer on the can? Probably not. In fact, he may not have gone to bathroom at all after absconding with the hall pass. But the sentiment was there.

18)   Me, Myself & Irene – In all fairness, Charlie repeatedly asked his neighbor not to let his dogs defecate on his lawn before resorting to this.

17)      Sixteen Candles – Did Grandpa Fred’s deuce have anything to do with the plot? No. Was the scene funny? Of course.

16)   Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – Tom Arnold’s scene in the bathroom stall beside Austin (“Who does Number Two work for?”) was classic, but like the scene above, really had no effect on the plot;

15)   Jurassic Park – Not a bad idea to find a toilet in the middle of a prehistoric park when having the crap literally scared out of you, but when T-Rex comes a knockin’…well there are better ways to go.

14)   American Pie – Gotta’ love Finch and his issues with going in school bathrooms. We’ve all been there.

13)   South Park – Who doesn’t love Mr. Hankey?

12)   Along Came Polly – Two classically uncomfortable scenes, neither of which really had an impact on the plot. Stiller’s predicament in Aniston’s bathroom after spicy Ethiopian food was high comedy. Capote’s matter-of-fact statement that he just sharted and needed to leave was almost as good as his work in Lebowski.

11)   Speaking of uncomfortable, the unspeakable horrors of Trainspotting somehow got even worse in the scene to which you all know I am referring.

10)   Thank god for John Hughes. While Principal Vernon was duking it out in The Breakfast Club, Bender was telling a joke as he made his way back to the library through the air duct. We are getting closer here. This scene did allow the plot to advance toward its hokey RomCom ending from its teen angst roots.

9)   The Karate Kid – Daniel san’s costume inspired him to “shower” perennial 80’s cretin, William Zabka, aka “Sweep the Leg” Johnny Lawrence, whilst he took a crap at the Halloween dance. There were many scenes in this movie that required suspension of disbelief. A “cool” high school jock taking a crap at a dance in the school john may have taken the cake…but it definitely amped up the rivalry between John and Dan.

8)   The Help – I like to think Octavia Spencer’s secret pie recipe helped secure her Oscar.

7)   Bridesmaids – Nasty but effective scene by McCarthy and gals.

6)   Lethal Weapon 2 – The bad guys rigged a bomb to Murtaugh’s toilet, creating a scenario where Glover really was too old and too scared for this shit…hilarity ensued.

5)   Can’t Buy Me Love – Maybe the crap in the brown bag was dog poop. Maybe it wasn’t. Either way, metaphorically, McDreamy took a crap on one-time bestie Kenneth Wurman’s house. But the way Donald, or Ronald, apologized at the end certainly merited an 80’s slow crap…er clap.

4)   Dumb and Dumber – The Farrelly brothers clearly know their way around potty humor. Seeing Will McAvoy pay the price for betraying Lloyd Christmas was both funny and satisfying.

3)   Seinfeld – Costanza, drawers around his ankles, clutching a newspaper, emerges from Jerry’s can screaming “Vandelay Industries” as Kramer botches his whole unemployment scam. Maybe not the best Seinfeld scene, but this clip is definitely in the top five.

2)   (Mild spoiler alert…if you haven’t watched any of the final season of Breaking Bad, do not read this) Look. We all know Hank’s discovery in Walter’s master bath can is the most significant pop-culture crap of all time. (There are memes, gifs and even a website dedicated to this). But in keeping with the theme, the best dump belongs at NUMBER TWO…duh.

1)   Second prize is no set of steak knives here. Vincent Vega’s poorly timed twosie in Pulp Fiction made things a little easier for Butch. Little did he know what awaited him in Zed’s dungeon moments later…but that’s for another list.

Whatchoo got kids?

As always, thanks for reading. Hope you enjoy tonight’s grand finale. Hope Vince finishes this thing as well as he has executed this entire final season, and the four before it.

All the best,

IDROS

2 Comments

Filed under Entertainment, Humor, Movies

Everyone’s A Critic: The Advantages of Being A Product of the 80s

https://i1.wp.com/vecto2000.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Cinema_Movie_Film_Vector_Stock.jpg

I’ve been meaning to work a Movie Review segment into this blog for some time now, but really haven’t found the right moment (or movie, for that matter) to kick it off.

Well move over bacon…it’s SizzleLean. Um, I mean, welcome to “Everyone’s a Critic,” a forum in which I take my zero years of film review experience, zero combined classroom hours of film study and zero authority on anything related to cinema, directing, acting, producing or editing, and aim them, concurrently, at some unsuspecting cinematic production just like Peter, Ray, Egon (and Winston) targeted all things phantasmagorical with their proton packs. So with apologies to the likes of Gene Siskel (RIP), Roger Ebert, Anthony Lane, David Edelstein and their ilk…

After graduating college, my roommate and I kept Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia on our coffee table as a reference while we watched movies and television. We would eagerly thumb through this cumbersome tome whenever we came across any actor or movie that triggered a “have to know and won’t be able to fall asleep tonight if I don’t” moment in either one of us, which occurred at least once a day. This burden was thrust upon us, by the way, because our cohabitation took place in a time just before Al Gore unveiled the Internet (actually, that’s not really accurate, but it was before IMDb, Wikipedia and other Internet sources for all sorts of cinematic arcana were available, if you can wrap your mind around that).

Said roommate was (and still is) a huge film buff.  He would likely list Scorsese, Spielberg and John Hughes among his heroes. He did attend film school, logged hours of classroom credits in all things cinema, and secretly wished (perhaps still wishes) something akin to the plot of The Freshman occurred to him while innocently going about his own NYU curriculum.

I hereby dedicate this first installment of “Everyone’s A Critic” to that roommate and lifelong friend, who is currently on his Honeymoon after a literal storybook wedding. Congratulations to him and his beautiful bride.

Friendships we make during our adolescence can be powerful. And now I can’t help but think of Mrs. Smith in Better Off Dead grabbing poor Monique’s face as she says: “Friend. You know, Friend?” (I really wanted to attach this clip here for reference, and was shocked to find that in the entirety of the Interweb, nobody has uploaded this treasure.  I mean, Laura Waterbury is priceless in this film playing Dennis Blunden’s, er, I mean Ricky Smith’s mother…but all I could find were her “Christmas” and “International Language” clips. If any of you can find the “Friend” clip, please let me know or post in the comments section). But, as usual, I digress.

We share our most awkward and fragile times in our lives with our middle and high school friends, and often rely on them as sounding boards, confidantes, comic relief, and vital companions as we fight tooth and nail to find our way in a world that can be cruel, confusing and overwhelming at times. I think Richard Dreyfuss’ adult version of Gordie LaChance said it best in Stand By Me: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”

With that in mind, it brings me joy to announce The Perks of Being a Wallflower as the first movie I will review. After John Hughes passed on (actually, after he inexplicably stopped making movies about teen angst), my generation has been craving a good coming of age cinematic storyteller. Sure, there have been some valiant efforts over the years to fill Hughes shoes: Can’t Hardly Wait, American Pie, Donnie Darko, Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Juno, Superbad, etc. But despite some brilliant one-off efforts, there is a gold standard when mining the high school experience for cinematic exuberance, and in the mid 1980s, John Hughes set it…over and over again. (Sidebar: Cameron Crowe, with a distinguished oeuvre that includes Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Say Anything, as well as Almost Famous, which does focus on teen angst and insecurity as a primary theme, certainly has earned a reserved seat at this exclusive table).

Stephen Chbosky adapted his own highly acclaimed novel for the big screen. His tale is ambitious. Perhaps too ambitious in tackling a seemingly large number of issues that plague modern youth, and if I had any complaint at all regarding this film, it would be rooted in that over-zealous ambition.

That said, the story works and the acting is far beyond any expectations one could have for a film comprised of characters primarily in their mid to late teens.  In fact, some of the performances are brilliant. Even the cameos and bit parts played by familiar “adult” actors add welcome, innocuous accompaniment to the stellar cast.

Some will argue this film (and the book it is based upon) offers characters and plot resolutions that are too good or too neat for the powerful and ugly (at times) storylines that are explored. My answer to that is people are jaded. You can’t accept the hokey tabletop birthday cake scene with Jake Ryan and Sam Baker at the end of Sixteen Candles (or Farmer Ted waking up in a Rolls Royce with the prom queen for that matter) without a desire for a neat, Hollywood ending. That’s what audiences want. That is why Claire can kiss John Bender and wrap her giant diamond earring in his hand as the credits roll, and why Ferris successfully eludes Rooney and his parents. It is why we not only accept Lloyd Dobler getting on that plane with Diane Court, we expect it.

Sure, perhaps elements of Charlie’s relationship with his new friends, and with Sam in particular, seem forced and unlikely at times. But we want things to work out favorably for Charlie…and for Sam and Patrick. We enjoy seeing Paul Rudd as a friendly, inspirational role model for our protagonist despite every cliché and tired action his character is seemingly forced into by the script (his performance is strong nonetheless, and his character has perhaps the best non-comedic line of the entire film). Like with Noah Wyle and Drew Barrymore in Donnie Darko, we really don’t care how ridiculous or forced their dialogue may be – we just respect them for finding a worthy script and joining the cast of a special film, even if it is a small role outside their comfort zone.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower has its warts, just as all adolescent students have theirs. However, the script is witty, unique and at times, moving. The characters are likable and generally plausible. And the music, as with any teen angst movie worth watching, is terrific.

Because I was a senior in high school myself when this film takes place, the soundtrack certainly resonates with me (and likely my contemporaries) even more. Music plays a huge part in our formative years, often setting the mood for how we interpret, participate and adapt to the world around us. You can actually witness and feel the impact music has on the characters in this film, at times cringing in disbelief and at times smiling and nodding and tapping your feet as appropriate lyrics and emotionally relevant melodies envelop us along with our on-screen companions.

As previously conceded, my resume fails to empower me as an expert authority, or even an amateur wannabe, on anything film-related. So please bear with me as I briefly discuss the cinematography. I thought it was great. Scenes flowed together effortlessly, and crafty dialog and cut-aways allowed our imagination to create some of the film’s more graphic, unpleasant and violent scenes and images in our heads rather than on screen. The director even used some creative filming and editing techniques to seamlessly fade unrelated images into one another as scenes began and ended, as well as intelligently used music lyrics to help tell his story or to reinforce images and themes.

My favorite element of TPOBAW was its focus on friendship, and how important friends can be to our survival during our adolescence and while navigating the pitfalls of high school. And there are many such pitfalls: from parental pressure to hormonal changes, from our first job to dating woes, from sexual experimentation to maintaining our eligibility for athletics, from college prep to our first car, from fitting in to finding a date for the prom, from cigarettes, alcohol and drugs to problems at home, from peer pressure to acne, for most, high school is fraught with horrifying potential.

At the base of this film’s plot is a story of friendship, and how it profoundly affects the trajectory of the primary characters’ lives. Despite what the overwhelming majority of Hollywood’s teen movie genre may indicate, high school stories center on much more than the jocks and cheerleaders, than the popular kids. Every one of us lived through high school and have become who we are today from the unique experience we had during those crucial years. John Hughes knew this, and gave us a balanced account in most of his films. Judd Apatow and Paul Feig also knew this as they delivered their masterpiece, the television drama Freaks and Geeks, which unfortunately was axed after only one brilliant season, far too early.

Bottom line, Chbosky put forth a worthy effort in exploring teen angst; and considering he had to edit, and in some ways, compromise his own novel to do so makes it even more admirable. J.D. Salinger, the undisputed master of teen angst prose, never breathed cinematic life into his opus. I am in no way drawing a comparison to The Catcher In The Rye here for TPOBAW, though I would not be the first to do so (click this amazing piece and this book review for a sampling). I am saying that Chbosky tells a poignant and powerful tale of teen life in early 1990s Pittsburgh that resonates today with people of all ages, of all geographies, males, females, gay and straight, and that is an accomplishment worthy of praise.

Tying in with the theme of TPOBAW, I attended my aforementioned roommate’s (and lifelong friend’s) wedding this past weekend. Many of our high school friends were there. It was so incredible to celebrate with all of them, to relive our youth and also fill in the gaps of life since high school for those we don’t see or speak to as regularly anymore. Reuniting with my own companions and support system, my friends, who made my high school years manageable, memorable, and fortunately for me, four generally fun and carefree years in my life, was incredible, but also bittersweet.

Why, you might ask? Well I keep hearing Dreyfuss’ voice echoing in my head. No, we never do have friends like we do during our adolescence. A lot of this certainly has to do with nostalgia for our own youth and innocence. Maybe all of it does. Even if we are lucky enough to retain those friends from our youth, life changes. We don’t see these people every day like we used to. We don’t have the free time we used to. We may not even live in the same state or country as these people.

But those friends we make in high school are not diminished by our changing lives. Whether they remain our closest friends or have drifted away, their importance at the crossroads of our personal development dictates that they remain part of us forever, woven into the fabric of our very essence.

And those are the Perks of being part of whatever group of friends you happened to make and fall in with in high school. They are meaningful and profound, and if you are lucky, they are eternal.

I thank you all for reading and for your friendship. It was great to reminisce with those of you I saw in New York.

IDROS

Everyone’s A Critic Grade:   The Perks of Being a Wallflower –  A    94/100  “EAC It” (Yes, I decided I needed a hokey tagline)

1 Comment

Filed under Entertainment, Humor, Movies

100 Guitar Riffs Tells a Bigger Story Than History of Rock Music

https://i1.wp.com/b.vimeocdn.com/ts/301/495/301495523_640.jpg

Let me begin by stating that Alex Chadwick’s recent viral video is amazing.

In case you haven’t yet seen it (because you are incredibly busy and don’t have 12 minutes to spare; or, you have been living under a rock, or, in the words of the late great Nora Ephron, spoken by Billy Crystal, trapped under something heavy; or, perhaps you just don’t love music…or Rock & Roll in particular)…please do yourself a favor and click this link.

Hypothesis: Alex Chadwick’s 12-minute amalgamation of 100 of the greatest Rock & Roll guitar riffs throughout history and its viral aftermath seem a telling metaphor of everything that is wrong with American society today.

(A quick aside: The last time someone named Chadwick remotely caught my attention was when this guy coached pretty boy Dean Youngblood against violent goon Racki. You may be wondering what that piece of trivia has to do with this post, or with anything for that matter. The truth is, not much. But I can offer you this: The three most notable actors in Youngblood – Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze (RIP) and Keanu Reeves (yes, he was actually in that flick…seriously…watch it again if you don’t believe me) – all have at least one guitar related credit on their respective resumes.

Rob Lowe is known for his wielding of a different instrument…that sax he laughably pretends to play as Billy in St. Elmo’s Fire. But he also played a role in the movie version of Wayne’s World, which features two guitar playing teenagers…better still, Alex Chadwick and his NPR interviewer, David Greene, reference the classic SNL movie in this recent interview.

The late Swayze, who appeared with Lowe in The Outsiders as well as Youngblood, played a memorable cooler in Roadhouse to a live soundtrack provided by slide guitar phenom Jeff Healey. Many of the artists and songs featured in Alex Chadwick’s 100 licks were played by Healey in that film as well as in Healey’s set lists as a touring musician.

And finally we come to Neo Johnny Utah. We all remember him as Theodore Preston, trying to play the guitar in the cult classic Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure alongside the Lost Boy that Edgar Allen Corey Frog killed in the cave coffin in that great 1980s Vampire flick. (Sure, we know…according to the late George Carlin, Bill and Ted’s guitar music would become crucial to the survival of future generations.))

But I digress…as usual. Wow did I digress this time.

As I postulated, Alex Chadwick’s 12-minute amalgamation of 100 of the greatest Rock & Roll guitar riffs throughout history and its viral aftermath seem a telling metaphor of everything that is wrong with American society today.

We live in a hyper-critical world, and just as talented people across all walks of life now have countless platforms to reach an audience in the blink of an eye, so too do masses of talentless, ignorant, lazy and gutless drains on society have the ability to sit on their couches (or, likely, their parents’ couches), inhaling thousands of calories of high-fat snacks while they peruse endless media outlets such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, et al. Anonymous people, with a veritable smorgasbord of soapboxes at their fingertips, are free to comment on and critique anything they want, voicing opinions on subjects spanning politics, entertainment, finance, society, sports, medicine, etc.

I love that Chadwick’s video went viral. I love that I can turn on my computer and within seconds, have access to something as beautiful, creative, intelligent and thought provoking as this 12 minute stroll down memory lane via modern rock history. And the vast majority of the populace loved it too, which is echoed in the video’s massive reception throughout the interweb in recent days. Even the comments have ranged from emoticon rich smiles to glowing praise. “Love this,” is one of the more frequent comments associated with the link.

Unfortunately, for as much love and praise as Chadwick rightfully received, there were and continue to be far too many “buts” lingering just beneath the love and praise. People repost the link, or comment on the link because they truly believe it is noteworthy and deserving of additional views by their friends and loved ones, but so many of those re-posters and commenters take the opportunity to critique Chadwick’s journey through rock history.

Sure, my own video would have included riffs from artists such as Bob Marley, Jane’s Addiction, The Clash, Elvis Presley, Lou Reed, Steely Dan, Prince, Peter Frampton, The Kinks, Phish, Radiohead and the Talking Heads…and my version likely would have also omitted some of the artists included or repeated in Chadwick’s list.  I may have even chosen different licks from certain artists. But that’s the thing. For one, I can’t play the friggin’ guitar. But even if I could, criticizing Chadwick for his own taste and hard work is inexcusable and unacceptable.

Go out and create your own musical list. Or create something in your own wheelhouse that might be similarly beautiful and inspiring. And if you must criticize, if that itch just has to be scratched, then save it for those who deserve it…those who never even tried, or who completely failed when everyone…or anyone…was counting on them.

Petty criticism is far from a new phenomenon. People criticize what celebrities wear to movie openings and award shows, and how coaches and players execute down the stretch in games. People criticize how their politicians behave in and out of office and how stupid the endings of groundbreaking television shows are (Lost, The Sopranos).

You know why American Idol and Dancing With the Stars and shows like them are so popular today? It’s because most people alive possess little or no talent in what are deemed to be glamorous fields (music, acting, athletics, art…even cooking, inventing, writing and politics). So today, even the vast majority of us have access to those fields…as critics. These shows empower us all to participate, unqualified as most of us are, and we relish the opportunity. We fork over money to vote, we rant and rave in chat rooms and all over the blogosphere, and we feel it imperative to comment all over the social media world, wasting our own time, and likely the time in lost productivity of our employers, to feel like we are part of something glamorous for a brief moment in time.

This 12-minute viral video captures it all in a nutshell. Alex Chadwick invested thousands of hours learning and practicing the guitar, and then had an idea to compile a list of his own personal favorite 100 rock guitar riffs. Then he practiced his musical list, making sure everything flowed, until it felt right. And then he rehearsed. And when he felt ready to capture his list on video, I am sure he played quite a few takes before getting right, or at least error free enough to publicize.

What took Chadwick a lifetime of practice and countless hours to assemble, posted to the general public in seconds. And hours later, it was simultaneously praised and ripped to shreds. Sure, most people genuinely enjoyed, praised and recommended it to others. But a vast majority if not all of those who have watched and listened to the video all had at least one criticism. For some, this was their first thought upon watching it. For many others, it was perhaps the second thought, shortly after “cool,” or “wow.”

Criticisms primarily centered on what was omitted from the list, in terms of a general who (which artists and bands were not included but should have been), and even entire genres of music that were left out or at least were unfairly represented relative to others. Some criticisms I came across thought the list was too evenly distributed across decades and eras of rock music, others complained about which particular songs by certain artists were and weren’t included. Some found sexist and racist issues with the list and still others felt Chadwick played certain riffs longer than others, which discriminated against certain songs unfairly.

The point is, nearly everyone had a complaint or criticism of some sort. And the tragedy of it is, this is someone else’s list and hard work. There are 300 million people in the United States. All have different tastes in music. And when it comes to rock music, every one of us has a different take on what defines it, who should be included and what eras and artists were/are more significant.

There is a big election coming later this year. Let Chadwick’s incredible video be a lesson to us all. Don’t sit on the sidelines and critique. Listen to the music; appreciate the hard work and personal choice that went into its arrangement. Then take his video as inspiration to create something on your own…to affect change, to get involved, or even simply to get off the damn couch and vote in the upcoming election.

There are more problems than solutions in our world today. I promise these problems will not be solved by people (or even by government candidates and officers) who do no more than criticize others and their efforts. The era of passive criticism must end.

Thanks for reading,

IDROS

2 Comments

Filed under Current Events, Entertainment, Humor, Movies, Music, Politics

Karma’s a B for TT (You Can’t Drink That Bitches Bru Without A Cup)

Karma’s a B for TT (You Can’t Drink That Bitches Bru Without A Cup).

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor, Politics, Sports