Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Quote of the Day

Today's quote(s) (of the day) come from yet another Nicholas Coppola vehicle, the 1999 Joel Schumacher-helmed cautionary tale 8MM. Both are flying high at the box office right now with Cage's Ghost Rider and Joel's The Number 23. It is thoroughly, utterly baffling that Schumacher continues to be allowed to make movies, as he's made more than a few of the worst ever. But as that opinion is shared by many and has been widely noted, it's hackneyed to even bring up at this point and I'll leave it there. Suffice to say that he must have some REALLY serious, potentially career-snuffing dirt on one or more Tinseltown ballers.

Perhaps his worst (after the Batmans) is 8MM. An even dumber, sleazier homage to Paul Schrader's laughable Hardcore, it's about a P.I. who is hired to find out if a snuff film in which a young girl is murdered onscreen is the real deal or not. His investigations take him into the seedy extreme-video underground in L.A., lorded over by Max California (Joaquin Phoenix). Cage's Tom Welles (the P.I.) finally finds and views the tape, and his histrionic reactions while watching (gasping, biting his fist, weeping - he falls just shy of firing his handgun at the screen) have been much laughed at by Liquid Metal, when recalled.

One of the main sickos involved in the snuffderground is George Higgins, a devout Danzig fan (see his posters) who prefers the terrifying nom de plume, "Machine." Welles finally nabs Machine, who turns out to be pure, undiluted evil, through and through. OR DOES HE?

Machine delivers these lines at gunpoint, in the pouring rain:

[after removing his mask for the first time]
George Higgins: What were you expecting? A monster?

George Higgins: You know the best part of killing someone? The look on their face. It's that look. Not when they're threatened. Not when you hurt them. Not even when they see the knife. It's when they feel the knife go in. That's it. It's surprise. They just can't believe it's really happening to them. She had that look, the girl, when she knew it wasn't just porno.

George Higgins: There's no mystery. Things I do, I do them because I like them! Because I want to!

See what Schumacher and screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker have done here? That's right - shattered the barrier between good and evil.

We're all Machines.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Manhattan Special

I'd like to take time today to express my boundless enthusiasm for the Manhattan Special espresso coffee-soda, which helps me to start my day at a point ever-so-slightly further from completely intolerable (I work a block from the Hudson River; a leap is not out of the question).

As detailed at the company's fine website, Manhattan Special is the result of a "unique blend of the world's finest coffee beans (which are hand brewed to perfection), along with the use of pure cane sugar," a formula brewed "Since 1895" by the descendants of Neapolitan expats ("We are proof that the American Dream does exist" boasts a winning sepia-toned intro video, replete with simulated "arrival at Ellis Island"). And, put frankly: Manhattan Special's century-plus path to perfection makes NKOTB upstarts like Coca-Cola Blāk seem like a fucking joke.

Best of all, the bottle epitomises class, at least inasmuch as a soda bottle can--there's an iris-like image of some starchy be-tuxedoed fellow (one assumes, titled aristocracy) staring down at some lithe jazz-age cutie who's leaning in, velvety Mediterranean eyes closed, for a kiss, while a big fucking cup of coffee rests, in extreme deep-focus, in the foreground, all of this superimposed before the well-articulated silhouette of Manhattan from some impossible perspective with the Chrystler Building, Empire State, and Brooklyn Bridge clustered together and evenly-sized. The entire affair sets in an Italian tricolor frame, the bottom corners decorated with some obscure medallion that assures you the soda won a medal of some kind in Rome, circa 1925.

Apparently the good people at Manhattan Special also released a novelty record (cover art attributed to Paul "Teardrop" Ciaurella/J. P./Al Passaro) sometime in the 70's, described thusly:

"Promotional record produced by/for famed NYC coffee soda company with fantastic "Aunt Carmella" comedy skit (shown in wig, glasses front), some Italian restaurant/lounge fare and one un-credited, low-fi teen garage tune. Fun album and as New York as it gets for local vanity LPs."

Could this soda get any cooler? No, evidently, it could not.

Their bottling facility is a short walk from my front door, on Manhattan Ave; I don't discount the possibility of arranging a field trip. Oh, and evidently they make a bunch of other bottled drinks aside from their flagship product, including a recently introduced "Diet" line; I really haven't had occasion to delve into them. Suffice to say that in a world of ever-constricting horizons, faced with creeping Coke-Pepsi hegemony, Manhattan Special is an invaluable resource of deliciousness and independence and American dreams and whatnot; you need only glimpse at their Guest Book (it really is oddly moving) to see that this is a beverage that instills people with a sense of well-being and community.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

You Don't... Wanna Fuck With Audie... ('Cuz Why?)

Here's a picture of the great American hero Audie Murphy, credited with killing 240-odd German soldiers and destroying 6 tanks during WW II, in which he served with the infantry from 1943 to '45 (he enlisted when he was 16!). A few choice chestnuts from Audie's wikipedia entry:

"Following its participation in the Italian campaign, the 3rd Division invaded Southern France on August 15th, 1944. Shortly thereafter, Murphy's best friend, Lattie Tipton (referred to as "Brandon" in Murphy's book To Hell and Back), was killed while approaching some German troops feigning surrender. Murphy went into a rage, and single-handedly wiped out the German machine gun crew which had just killed his friend. He then used the German machine gun to destroy several other nearby enemy positions. For this act he received the Distinguished Service Cross (second only to the Medal of Honor)

(from his Medal of Honor citation) Second Lt. Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to prepared positions in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery by telephone. Behind him, to his right, one of our tank destroyers received a direct hit and began to burn. Its crew withdrew to the woods. Lt. Murphy continued to direct artillery fire, which killed large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. With the enemy tanks abreast of his position, Lt. Murphy climbed on the burning tank destroyer, which was in danger of blowing up at any moment, and employed its .50 caliber machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but his deadly fire killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back. For an hour the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position and wiped out a squad that was trying to creep up unnoticed on his right flank. Germans reached as close as 10 yards, only to be mowed down by his fire. He received a leg wound, but ignored it and continued his single-handed fight until his ammunition was exhausted. He then made his way back to his company, refused medical attention, and organized the company in a counterattack, which forced the Germans to withdraw. His directing of artillery fire wiped out many of the enemy; he killed or wounded about 50. Lt. Murphy's indomitable courage and his refusal to give an inch of ground saved his company from possible encirclement and destruction, and enabled it to hold the woods which had been the enemy's objective"

Lest you think Audie was but a well-greased killing machine, upon returning to civilian life he not only sat down to pen his autobiography, the bestselling To Hell and Back, but he also lent his somewhat weak-chinned, plasticine presence to dozens of Hollywood oaters and other assorted genre pictures (including, yes, To Hell and Back: the movie). Was he also a country music songwriter? Fuck yeah he was!

Audie's career of creating art and conducting state-sponsored mass-murder was tragically cut short by a plane crash in 1971, but feel free to see him live again this Friday at MOMA, where he appears in John "Book of the Month" Huston's 1951 adaptation of The Red Badge of Courage, which is being presented by The New Yorker mainstay Lillian Ross, who may very well have (in fact, let's just take this supposition as a given) succumbed to the legendary Murphy Charm a half-century ago when penning her on-set classic, Picture.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Monday, February 5, 2007

Quote of the Day

classic exchange from Mike Bay's The Rock:

John Mason: Are you sure you're ready for this?
Stanley Goodspeed: I'll do my best.
John Mason: Your "best"! Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.
Stanley Goodspeed: Carla was the prom queen.
John Mason: Really?
Stanley Goodspeed: [cocks his gun] Yeah.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Album Cover/Title of 2007 (so far)

Rapper Lupe Fiasco went ahead and called his album Food & Liquor, and put himself on the cover hovering in space in some sort of Dark Side of the Moon-ish color spectrum, surrounded by an iPod, a Blackberry, some little Japanese robot toy, a few books, a wallet, a DVD, an NES game (in black slipcase), and a bunch of other fantastic stuff. Good work.