Monday, September 27, 2010

Perfunctory new post

'Sup, mouthbreathers!

If you haven't seen it already from some other, more popular blog or website, here is a fan-made opening credits sequence for The Walking Dead.


THE WALKING DEAD "Opening Titles" from Daniel Kanemoto on Vimeo.

Personally, the show sounds a little pedestrian to me. Get it? Pedestrian? 'Cause they're walking?

Oh, who asked you anyway?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: My Interview With Pumpkinhead!


Pumpkinhead graciously agreed to be interviewed for this article.
Although Pumpkinhead may not technically be an according-to-Hoyle "zombie," so to speak, he certainly understands the problems of the living impaired since this demon of vengeance spends his time between gigs buried in a cemetery plot waiting to be called into action yet again. After portraying the title character in Stan Winston's classic 1988 film, PH went on to appear in a 1994 straight-to-video sequel and two more made-for-TV films in 2006 and 2007, not to mention being immortalized in comic books, model kits, and action figures. I recently sat down to chat with this legend of horror cinema about his notorious past, his plans for the future, and other topics. I do hope you will enjoy this little interview.

WK: Wow, Pumpkinhead himself! So good to finally meet you. 
PH: Grrarrrggggh.... raaarrrgghhhh...  
I must say, you are looking very trim. Do you have any diet or exercise tips you'd like to share with my readers? 
Urrrraaaaaggghh... gaaahhhhhhhh... Atkins.... Raaaaaahhhrrr.... Tae Bo.... Gaaahhhrrrrr... 
I see, I see. Now let's talk a little about your movie career. How did you get started in the business? 
Well, it's interesting.... Grrrrrarrrgghhhh... Arrrnnnnggghhh... My agent at the time.... Urrrrarrrrrggghh... Mike Ovitz.... Guuurrrrrrarrrrrr...
Fascinating! So tell me, what's on the horizon? What does the future hold for Pumpkinhead? 
Aaaauuuurrrrr... hhhhrrooowwwwrrr.... (devours a small child)... Grrraarrrgghhh... Reality show... Urrrraaaaarrgghhhh....
Well, Pumpkinhead, I really haven't understood a single thing you've said, and to be honest you're scaring the crap out of me, so I'm going to run for my life if you don't mind. 
Grrrraarrrr....
So there you have it. Once again, I'd like to thank Pumpkinhead for taking the time to chat with me, and I wish him much success in the future.

This video is all kinds of awesome



Oh, man, where to begin with this?

Okay, first of all, it's the 1976 Grammys, so everyone in attendance is probably high on one kind of chemical stimulant or another. Uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... Even Andy Williams probably downed a fifth of psychotropic Geritol before heading out on stage. California is not a place known for good taste and restraint even in the best of times, and in the drug-fueled Seventies all bets were off. I'm sure if you were to go backstage at this event, you'd see something akin to the "golden calf" scene from The Ten Commandments going on.

Anyway, here are some things to look for and listen for throughout the clip:

(00:00) Mysterious Japanese subtitles (they watch this stuff in Japan?) and the kind of distortion you only get on old VHS tapes. Now that the VHS era is pretty much over, I'm going to miss that distortion. Really, I am.

(00:01) Andy Williams' lapels. His tux looks like a wearable prototype for the Stealth Bomber.

(00:06) A Muzak-y, big band arrangement of "Good Vibrations." Classy.

(00:19) Shaving was definitely out in the 1970s, apparently. These are the brothers Wilson, but even in formalwear they look like Larry, Darryl, and Darryl from Newhart. Two of these three men are now dead, and who'd have guessed that Brian of all people would be the one to make it?

(00:25) Brian seems disoriented, as you might guess, and appears to have some difficulty reading the cue cards. Considering what his life was like in the 1970s, it's amazing he's standing upright and speaking even semi-coherent English.

(00:37) For some reason, Dennis -- the handsome drummer who costarred in Two Lane Blacktop and was BFFs with Charles Manson -- is the one who gets the biggest applause, but either he's speaking unintelligibly or the microphone doesn't pick up what he's saying.

(00:57) Success! They've managed to make it through one of those lame awards-show-presenter jokes! And greater success! Mike Love is thousands of miles away!

(01:02) Hmmm. Something's gone wrong, based on Dennis' mock-frustrated (or genuinely frustrated) reaction.

(01:06) Awesome vintage chroma-key special effects!

(01:16) Check out the afro on the guy from Boston! That thing has its own Congressman! But seriously, of the five nominees, Boston is the act that went on to have a long, successful career. They've got this award in the bag, right? Right?

(01:29) The members of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band seem to have come in costume. Let's see here, we have Latin American Dictator, Old Timey Gangster, Juan Valdez, Another Old Timey Gangster?

(01:40) The Brothers Johnson are semi-obscure today, but I'm sure you've heard "Strawberry Letter 23." And whaddya know? Wikipedia says they're still at it today.

(01:52) Ah, the Starland Vocal Band... America's semi-successful attempt to out-ABBA ABBA. Who knows? This might've been the very night that Homer Simpson decided to get that infamous tattoo of his.

(02:02) Oh, come on, Grammy voters. Wild Cherry? Did you really think they were going to come up with a follow up to "Play That Funky Music, White Boy"?

(02:12) And the winner is... BOS-- oh, no, wait. It's the Starland Vocal Band. Incidentally, you can see in this clip how pervasive the Farrah Fawcett hairdo was back then. Even Dennis Wilson had it. He reads the names of the winners with no enthusiasm whatsoever. Maybe he was pulling for Dr. Buzzard.

(02:22) More awesome, low-tech FX as the words "Starland Vocal Band" float down from video heaven. These were only the 19th Grammys? Really? It seems like the Grammys have been around forever, but I guess not. It's funny to think that the Grammys weren't even old enough to drink yet.

(02:38) The group's second-cutest girl (out of two) is elected to speak.

(02:42) John Denver helped make it magic? Apparently, he invoked some kind of dark sorcery to aid the fledgling career of the Starland Vocal Band.

(02:46) Your mother was right when she told you not to quit your day job, honey. It's gonna be a real short ride. Enjoy this moment, Starland Vocal Band, because you're on stage with some talented people right now. And I mean the Beach Boys, not each other. Nimrods.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. With Wayne. Catch ya later.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Living Impaired & Hipsters: How to Tell the Difference!

Hipster Wayne Kotke
Hi- ho, true believers! It's your old pal, Wayne, again... and this time I'm here to deliver an important social message that will actually help you in your daily life! In your adventures on the Internet, you have probably heard stories, legends, and fables about a mysterious beast known as The Hipster. What you may not know is that these odd creatures really do exist, especially in urban areas. I work in the great metropolis of Chicago, and I see these inviduals all the time. At first, their appearance, behavior, and mode of dress is baffling and upsetting, but eventually you get used to them. Hipsters are part of the great mosaic of life to be found in the city. As you can see, I am so fond of them that I have drawn this little self-portrait I call "Hipster Wayne."

But here, unfortunately, is where it gets confusing. The Living Impaired and Hipsters actually have several traits in common, and you members of the general public may have trouble telling us apart. And that's just where it pays to have a buddy like me who can spell it all out for you.

Let's start with the traits that Hipsters and the Living Impaired have in common:
  • Dark circles around the eyes
  • Either pale or grayish skin tone
  • Scrawny physique
  • Tendency to move slowly and awkwardly

Yes, the confusion is easy to understand! UNLESS you know the traits specific to hipsters:
  • Sullen demeanor
  • Fondness for skinny jeans and ironic t-shirts
  • Terrible, depressing music leaking from headphones
  • Cigarette dangling lethargically from mouth
  • Chuck Taylors

Remember this simple list, and you'll never confuse Hipsters and the Living Impaired ever again. Til next time, this has been your friend and benefactor, Wayne Kotke.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A plea to aging, fragile celebrities from Wayne Kotke

"I got 99 problems but a bench ain't one."

Ah, celebrities... every worthy charitable cause needs them. Where would the homeless be without Comic Relief? Or America's farmers without Farm Aid? Or whatever the heck "We Are the World" was for without "We Are the World"? I think by now you can see my point: charitable causes need famous people! And the living impaired rights movement is no different. Yes, sir, we need stars and we need 'em now. Of course, I have thrown my questionable, Internet-based semi-fame behind this desperate cause, but I think Dead 2 Rights really needs someone with a more broad-based appeal, i.e. a star you might actually see on TMZ or at least the Enquirer.

But here's the rub! It's not enough for a celebrity merely to wear a Dead 2 Rights t-shirt, participate in a Living Impaired Rights rally, or plaster a "Wayne Kotke" bumper sticker on the back of a limo. While those things are all great and would be most welcome, what I really want is for an aging, fragile celebrity to actually die and come back as a living impaired individual. I think that would really help change people's minds. People run from us now, but they might be more inclined to stop and listen to what we have to say if they recognized our faces. So come on, aging and fragile celebrities, what do you say? When your time is up, we'd love to have you on our team.

WAYNE'S CELEBRITY WISH LIST


1. Abe Vigoda


Anyone for a second helping of Fish?

2. Cloris Leachman


Here's your chance to show up Betty White once and for all!

3. Hugh Hefner


It wasn't like you were getting into Heaven anyhow. Why not spend your afterlife with us?

4. Zsa Zsa Gabor


We're ready when you are, dahling.

***

So there you have it. Please, celebrities, climb aboard the Dead 2 Rights bandwagon. You won't regret it. In any other cause, you'd be just another star latching on to a trendy issue, and you'd have to fight for valuable camera time with a bunch of other A-List hotshots with raging egos. But you wouldn't have that problem with Dead 2 Rights. We have no celebrities on our side yet. Think of the possibilities! You'd be right up front, in the limelight, center stage! This is a brilliant way to continue your career even after death.

Think it over. I'll be waiting.

Monday, September 6, 2010

They're a modern, post-apocalyptic family...?

Were the Flintstones a reflection of our past... or our future?

Happy Labor Day, boils and ghouls! (Sorry, couldn't resist a little Crypt Keeper impersonation there.)

On this great American holiday, I've decided to pay tribute to two of our country's greatest traditions: cartoon shows and post apocalyptic fiction. You might think that these two are mutually exclusive, but that's where you're wrong. In fact, one of our most beloved animated institutions might secretly be a fictional post-apocalytpic scenario! Which one is that, you ask?

Why, The Flintstones of course! Yes, the familiar saga of Fred, Wilma, Barney, and the whole Bedrock gang might well be a terrifying glimpse of Things To Come!

I'll let an expert discuss it. Here is teletherapist Dr. Will Miller describing the venerable cartoon show in his brilliant 1996 book, Why We Watch: Killing the Gilligan Within:

See That Mushroom Cloud? Meet The Flintstones!

Ironically, one of the most futuristic shows of all time was
The Flintstones. many viewers assume it depicts an ancient past. Nonsense! The Flintstones is actually a show about a terrifying future! The program first come on the air in 1960, at the very height of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Every citizen lived in dread fear of being annihilated in a nuclear war. School children participated in drills hiding under their desks while homeowners built bomb shelters in their backyard. It was a terrifying time.

What if the worst happened? Suppose there was a full exchange of missiles with Russia and indeed the earth was laid waste -- the entire country was leveled by the blasts! Now imagine that a tiny remnant of people surived in small numbers across the land. As they picked themselves up and began the daunting task of rebuilding their lives, it is certain that they would re-create a middle-class life out of the primitive materials available to them from the now scorched earth. The civilization they would construct would look astonishingly like -- Bedrock!

Thus
The Flintstones is actually a fantastic dream vision of a post-apocalyptic American community that survived the nightmare of a nuclear holocaust! Next time you watch, you should feel profoundly grateful that The Flintstones did not become a reality for us! in fact, have you written anyone in authority to express your thanks? Why not send a note to the government and say "thank you for saying 'NO' to the Flintstones!"

(Miller, pgs. 88-89)


Pretty strong stuff, right? What do you think, readers? Is Miller correct in his theory about The Flintstones? Are there perhaps other "hidden" post-apocalyptic stories lurking in American popular culture?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A fresh perspective on death from Kurt Vonnegut and Wanda June


Pamelyn Ferdin as Vonnegut's doomed "Wanda June"

Kurt Vonnegut's Happy Birthday, Wanda June is a story that has existed in several forms (novel, play, film), but you needn't feel obligated to investigate any of them too soon. Vonnegut himself has dismissed this tale in all its incarnations. But there is one scene from the play and film which has stuck with me for years because it offers a startlingly unique perspective on death and dying. A little background: the story's title comes from the words written in icing on an unclaimed birthday cake. In the following monologue, the cake's intended recipient, ten-year-old Wanda June, tells us her story. Take it away, Mr. Vonnegut...

SCENE FOUR

MUSIC indicates happiness, innocence, and weightlessness. Spotlight comes up on WANDA JUNE, a lisping eight-year-old in a starched party dress. She is as cute as Shirley Temple.

WANDA JUNE
Hello. I am Wanda June. Today was going to be my birthday, but I was hit by an ice-cream truck before I could have my party. I am dead now. I am in Heaven. That is why my parents did not pick up the cake at the bakery. I am not mad at the ice-cream truck driver, even though he was drunk when he hit me. It didn't hurt much. It wasn't even as bad as the sting of a bumblebee. I am really happy here! It's so much fun. I am glad the driver was drunk. If he hadn't been, I might not have got to Heaven for years and years and years. I would have had to go to high school first, and then beauty college. I would have had to get married and have babies and everything. Now I can just play and play and play. Any time I want any pink cotton candy I can have some. Everybody up here is happy -- the animals and the dead soldiers and people who went to the electric chair and everything. They're all glad for whatever sent them here. Nobody is mad. We're all too busy playing shuffleboard. So if you think of killing somebody, don't worry about it. Just go ahead and do it. Whoever you do it to should kiss you for doing it. The soldiers up here just love the shrapnel and the tanks and the bayonets and the dum dums that let them play shuffleboard all the time--and drink beer.

Spotlight begins to dim and carnival music on a steam calliope begins to intrude, until, at the end of the speech, WANDA JUNE is drowned out and the stage is black.

WANDA JUNE
We have merry-go-rounds that don't cost anything to ride on. We have Ferris wheels. We have Little League and girls' basketball. There's a drum and bugle corps anybody can join. For people who like golf, there is a par-three golf course and a driving range, with never any waiting. If you just want to sit and loaf, why that's all right, too. Gourmet specialties are cooked to your order and served at any time of night or day...

Sudden silence.

WOODY WOODPECKER VOICE
Ha ha ha ha ha!
(pistol shot)You got me, pal.
Silence.
I do believe Wanda June's perspective on death is even sunnier than mine. Way to look on the bright side of things, WJ!

P.S. If you missed that link at the beginning, here is a clip of that scene from the film version in which former child actress and current animal rights activist Pamelyn Ferdin gives a rather brilliant reading of Vonnegut's monologue. Useless trivia: Pamelyn almost got the lead role in The Exorcist but lost out to Linda Blair. No foolin'.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Have YOU caught "Dougie" fever yet?


Hello once again, my precious readers.

This summer, your humble blogger Wayne Kotke has come down with an illness of sorts. Yes, like millions of others, I have come down with a bad case of "DOUGIE" FEVER!

What's that, you say? You haven't caught on to the "Dougie" trend yet? Your ears have yet to be graced by the Cali Swag District and their unstoppable hit, "Teach Me How to Dougie"? Well, let's fix that right now. (WARNING: Some NSFW language.)



(If you insist on hearing the "clean" version, here it is. If you watch the "official" video, keep an eye out for the height-challenged young lady who looks like a Mini-Me version of Sweet Dee from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. If there's any justice in this world, that mysterious woman will play Smurfette in the upcoming Smurfs movie.)

By now, you can probably see and hear exactly why I'm so excited about this song and the dance it promotes. The "Dougie" seems like the first big dance geared especially for the Living Impaired since Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. As far as I can tell, you need no particular skill, coordination, talent, or rhythm to do the "Dougie." I don't even think you need to move your feet at all.

So let's jump on the "Dougie" bandwagon, everybody! A great way to get started is to visit the official Teach Me How To Dougie website which contains this handy explanatory comic.

Now get out there and "Dougie" already!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Let's all demand more dignified-looking horror movie books

Notice a difference? So does the rest of the world.

Books about horror movies -- as both a Living Impaired individual and as a movie buff, I love to read them. But here's the problem with these books: the gory, deliberately ugly covers, 99% of which feature that stupid red blood-drippy font. I know, I know... you hardcore horror fans want the book covers to be all scary and gory. I can sympathize. Yet think of the poor devils like me who do most of their reading on public transportation. Reading one of these books in plain sight is like carrying around a neon sign that says "I'm a Sociopath! Keep your Mace handy, ladies!" The woman next to me is probably reading Eat, Pray, Love and is convinced that I am the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper. Look, I have enough problems fitting into society as it is. I don't need this extra aggravation in my life. So what do you say, publishers? Can we design more tasteful, dignified covers for these books? Ot at least cut back on the drippy letters? Thanks a bunch.