Sometimes on the Operation Kino show podcast, someone asks about the ending song “1000 Pieces of Light,” and I have to tell them they have heard the entirety of it. It’s a song by my friend Jess that she made randomly one day for who knows what reason.
I used to have a High School joke band that played some shows and had practices like a normal band, but unlike the history of stupid bands and friends making music up to that point in American History, somewhere in between the band’s first “album” recorded in a traditional studio and the band’s extended work which was recorded on a laptop, the process of making music became very simple.
Creating good music is still hard, creating goof music became something you could do in a night or afternoon.
Fast forward to the post-college experience and all of us have this worm implanted in our mind that songs come for various reasons and they don’t all need to be product, they just need to be a method of having fun with your friends.
Hence Jess and myself deciding to try our hands at hip-hop songs and simple drum machine production. “Why not?” we thought. Most modern rap is about having sex with women in dirty ways or having a party or getting money these days. And we didn’t have any money, but we as filthy-minded individuals did have a bit of experience in partying and sex (though not with each other, which is a long and complex story for my autobiography).
We did an EP under our made up Fraternity name Eta Theta Beta (because the greek letters spell HOB and we could enter parties yelling: “HOB HOOOOUUUUUSSSEEE”). It was all about sex and sexism and how we were better than everyone. Sales were middling.
So the EP dropped off iTunes and Amazon (I think, maybe there’s stuff there, who knows) and our lives continued. Jess met John, her boyfriend (black boyfriend, if you see race) and he ended up being into making beats and stuff. We were able to absorb him into our weird world of making music for fun.
Skip forward to now and there have maybe been three years of us compiling these joke tracks where we’ll either write wraps or freestyle or hum a loop on a smoke break one of us makes into a reality. I’ve thrown together a “greatest hits” of sorts, which probably falls more under the definition of a “mix tape” because we made it, it has a ton of our friends on it and there’s no way I would ever tell anyone to buy it in good conscience.
I’ve named this Mix “Post-Racist Narcissexism” because that’s what it is: disgusting songs about sex or weird things that actually happened to us manifested through weird, made-by-the-seat-of-our-pants music.
I’m working on turning this mix into a ZIP file for those involved, but I thought I’d dump some of the more interesting/WEIRD stuff here under the #NARCISSEXISM tag.
Here is one of the weirder entries in the mix: “NO SURPRISES” which is about how I grew up being a nerd but it more egregiously mashes Radiohead’s “No Surprises” with Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” and attributes what I think is a Jackie Gleeson bit to Groucho Marx.
Point being, it’s silly. It’s all silly. There’s a lot of sillyness, but it runs about 40 minutes and I’ve been having a bunch of fun listening to it. Maybe you will too.
If not - Haters to the left.
NOTE: This article has been published from the future, where we still confuse fan service with plot and character identity with actual characters.
Man, I didn’t think they would really have the balls to do it, but the JJ Abrams Star Trek franchise, launched in 2009, continued in 2013, 2016, 2017 and concluding now somehow figured out a way of becoming an ouroboros of continuity. And as a Star Trek fan, still (amazingly), I can’t decide if this is great or the most empty iteration.
First, like we have since INTO DARKNESS, the obligatory paragraph where me, the critic, busts open the mystery box like a Piñata. Yes, this is a hybrid of the original Trek’s Final Frontier and the original Trek Episode “City on the Edge of Forever.” Yes, this will be the last Trek with this cast. Yes, there is extensive use of the original cast as digital models (though it avoids the uncanny valley of aged-down-Sigourney-Weaver-construct in Avatar 2) and YES - it all gets reset.
I guess I can milk the SEO here with a few other tidbits: Yup Sulu bites it in a mid-movie explosion modeled after the one that begins “City on the Edge of Forever.” There seems to be no reason why this happens other than to give the CGI Sulu made from footage of the Original Series a chance to emote and for JJ Abrams to say: See, this technology has once again become a tool for performance. Granted, in my youth when we saw Fred Astaire dance with a vacuum, we didn’t fully grasp the concept that this could allow the newest Trek cast to wrap around to the old Trek cast, but it’s happened, so we can either accept it or feel like we’re using corpses as marionettes. I’m still about half and half, EXCEPT for the first five minutes in this movie when Chris Pine comes face-to-face with an about-his-same-age William Shatner. This is the sort of technology that could have spared us a shitty action scene in Generations all those decades ago.
Mostly, though, the new crew is kidnapped by strange young bald man as they enjoy some time off Earth-side. The strange young bald man hijacks the Enterprise and heads to his God Planet, but instead of this bald man beng related to Spock, he’s a alter-dimensional Young Picard (begin eye rolls now) who found the Guardian of Forever in a dystopian future. Here he discovered “the twist” where Nero’s actions in 2009s Star Trek (namely blowing up Vulcan) caused a future over-run by Cardassians and The Borg.
We don’t SEE the Cardassians and The Borg, because for some reason JJ Abrams keeps using Star Wars looking aliens in Star Trek (except that one Easter Egg character I won’t spoil. Let’s just say, Watch Episode VIII’s Raider scene again before Star Trek V), but the only way the world can be set right is by retro-actively fixing the 20-something year gap in the first film between when Nero kill’s Kirk’s father and destroys Vulcan.
This leads Young Picard to erase himself in order for the TOS crew to be summoned to the same point in time to battle Nero (an interestingly NOT-de-aged Eric Bana) with the Abrams Enterprise C and the TOS Enterprise in a huge space battle that mostly works because it keeps the casts separate.
In the end it’s the bond between the two Kirks, Spocks and Boneses that’s supposed to anchor us, but at this point in the franchise, that’s like trying to keep hold of a sandwich board in a wind tunnel. There’s so much going on here.
I get that we need to have action sequences in huge tent pole movies and I’m happy that there’s a more complex mythology that revolves around these moments rather than moments floating free without any real connection but - 2009’s Star Trek worked moment to moment and previous Star Trek movies worked because we had years of television to provide backstories to these characters we love.
We’re now Five movies into this cinema-only franchise and what we’ve learned is new Star Trek is great for being thrilling but hard to hold together because most things we thought we loved about these characters got undone.
There could be a masterful moment at the end of this STAR TREK 5 where the Chris Pine Kirk sees the man he could have been and finds him somehow more complete and mature, but the script falters when it should choose a side and we get an “All Good Things…” approach to time by the end.
Look, this series did the best thing it could have possibly done: It got people talking about Star Trek again, it made a ton of money, it got JJ Abrams on the Star Wars and - finally - it wrote its own timeline out of existence.
Yes, the last scene is a clever lead in to the original pilot “The Cage” after Pine & Co cease to exist (by reverting back to the TOS Status Quo). After four Star Trek movies with stupid non-sensical plots, I’m happy they saved the Guardian of Forever as a giant re-set button. This is one of the few examples of “It was all a dream” I can get behind, because I enjoyed watching JJ Abrams blow stuff up, but…ugh. Once the Tribbles showed up in the movies, the bottom of the barrel started being scraped way too early.
Maybe more Trek on TV now?
Seems like I only come to this blog to dig deep into genre movies or be depressed these days. Which, actually, isn’t that different from whatever blog I’m currently blogging on. So - good on me for being consistant.
I took in a second viewing of Iron Man 3 this week, this time in glorious 2D so I could keep my eyes on the edges of the frame without getting motion sickness.
I enjoyed it…AGAIN! Much to my surprise, I might even have enjoyed it more this time, letting the mechanics of the screenplay get glossed over by the performances in the film. And, when you get down to it, it’s a movie of really meaty performances. That’s not something I usually expect from Marvel Studios movies (come back, William Hurt! We’ll let you be RED HULK!), especially ones that get kicked around by the fans like Iron Man 3 did in those internet forums that people pay way too much attention to.
Guy Pearce is having fun. It’s more than just a good performance, it’s actual fun, or that’s what I feel when I see the glow in his eyes when he plays the physically handicapped, Edward Nigma version of Aldrich Killian. Rebecca Hall doesn’t really have much to do when all is said and done, but that’s not obvious while you’re watching the movie. When she makes her pointless gambit towards the end of the film, you believe she believes it’s important. Which is all we can ask from the performer in this case.
OK. SPOILERS START NOW.
Upon a second viewing, here are the things that appear in Iron Man 3 that I think we haven’t seen/heard the last of. This is based on heavy speculation, and though I’ve known things about Marvel movies in the past, these are just educated guesses:
SHIELD - Duh, but the absence of S.H.I.E.L.D. here isn’t something thats glossed over, it’s something that is missing on purpose. One, us asking ourselves “where’s SHIELD?” during this and Thor 2 is going to do a bit of marketing for Cap 2: Winter Soldier and two, Iron Man 2 was entirely about where S.H.I.E.L.D., Stark and the US Government are willing to overlap. And that’s not here. Although…
AIM - AIM, you see, is serious business. AIM made The Mandarin, AIM has Extremis and AIM is huge. When Guy Pearce is standing over Tony and saying he’s been “The Mandarin” from the beginning? That means that Guy Pearce stranded Tony in an Afghan cave. Guy Pearce set Whiplash on the Stark-Family revenge trail. All those “hints” that the 10 Rings were behind all three Iron Man movies really means ONE MAN was secretly getting back at Tony Stark after one new year’s eve. Basically, Tony’s mistakes of the 20th Century have kicked off his growth as a character into his “Heroic Age.”
EXTREMIS - Marvel Studios have already confirmed that we’ll see more of Extremis, and watching the film a second time, it’s almost in the actual dialogue that Tony gives himself Extremis to remove the Arc Reactor from his chest. I’ve made the argument that Tony could have removed the Arc Reactor at any time, and I DO believe that, but the way it’s phrased in the closing voice over implies that he helped Pepper AND himself, which would mean whatever he did to fix Extremis was at least part of the motivation to finally take that thing out of his chest. Really, Extremis is the way to keep Iron Man around without having Tony go back to making suits as a “distraction” from his relationship with Pepper. I’m guessing this goes in the direction of the reveal at the end of The Incredible Hulk, where it’s implied Banner has control over his transformations. It’s a single shot that might have been a throw-away, but the reveal is used AGAIN at the end of The Avengers, this time as a character reversal point. So, something like this could happen with Iron Man again - i.e. we think Tony’s in trouble then he manifests a suit via Extremis. There are literally no limits to Extremis in the comics, so this could also be the “magic science” Marvel’s Phase Two needs to make sense across character universes with different rules. In Phase One, this “magic science” was Thor’s Rainbow Bridge/Wormhole that was explained enough to let people let the existence of Ice Giants and Norse Gods not ring as bizarre ways for aliens to classify themselves.
ALDRICH KILLIAN - I think the dude is still alive. There’s this thing in movies where if you define how much damage something can do in the text of the film, you have to hold yourself to that, because it’s a rule you made up. That’s why I was flabbergasted to learn that Two-Face was dead after falling a few stories mere hours after Falcone was told that being dropped from that same height would just break his legs. Why keep contradicting physics about falls that kill you in a movie where a fall is going to kill someone? Makes no sense and really bugs me about The Dark Knight to this day. So by that logic: If Killian can regenerate from being blown up while trapped inside armor, there’s no way that setting a tiny missile off in front of his face kills him. We saw Extremis soldiers walk away from blasts that INCINERATED normal people instantly, and I’m supposed to believe Pepper tossing the comparative equivalent of a water-balloon killed him? Not buying it. Here, especially when the last thing the character does is announce he’s been behind the whole trilogy, the comic book rule of dying applies: No body = Absolutely still alive.
TURNCOATS - Here’s an “out there” theory: does it seem like Aldrich Killian has some serious Daddy issues? He keeps bringing up his Dad’s weird turns of phrase that helped inspired his crazy villainous life. How long has this trojan horse of insanity been stalking the world? Piling on top of recent news that Robert Redford has declared himself Cap 2’s fourth villain in a script that’s been described as akin to a political thriller. Where’s S.H.I.E.L.D.? Dealing with some shit that apparently will also see Nick Fury’s superior (played by Redford) as an antagonist. But if Fury only takes orders from the Shadow Council we saw in Avengers and The President and Vice President are in Iron Man 3, what shadowy parts of the government are left to go evil under Redford? Is it simple like Redford’s character replacing Luskin from the comics and eventually becoming a second incarnation of the Red Skull, or is it more complex than that? Like AIM has been fucking with the Marvel Heroes since Iron Man complex? Like Aldrich Killian and Robert Redford look like they could be related complex? LIKE THEY’RE ALL SKRULLS COMPLEX?!?!?!
IN CONCLUSION - The more I go around the internet and see comics fans or comic book movie fans getting all butt-hurt over Iron Man 3 for “what they did to the Mandarin” or “not succeeding in what they were trying to do,” the more I want to ask the simple: ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Didn’t we learn ANYTHING as a fan base over two decades of hit-and-mostly-miss superhero movies? We’re just starting to get to this cool blend between adaptation of a comic and the personal visions of directors like Joss Whedon and Shane Black that is turning out entertaining movies. If you’re in the fandom to see The Dark Knight Rises win an Oscar, fucking give up now, that’s not what I want. I want entertaining movies. And I’m getting them with great consistency from this massive, inter-connected cinematic universe.
Oh jeez, here we go.
It’s Friday, May 3rd. I’ve been unemployed since mid-February (since before then, but I took a vacation immediately after the company I was working for was bought and dissolved).
I just have to blog a little to process this. Basically because I tried doing this whole jobless thing with some dignity this time and am horribly (HORRIBLY) failing at that in my mind. Outwardly, I think I did okay. People were aware that I was looking for employment and people sent me opportunities I applied to all of them and…well, we’re still in this blog post.
This happened years ago, right after college. Except the last time this happened I was coming out of blogging at several sites and realizing that the pay was no way to move up the lifestyle ladder. So a few weeks before I would have been cast out of NYC and back to my parents basement, the current girlfriend of my lesbian ex-girlfriend put me in front of a fellow Coloradan and I shuttled myself over to MTV to work in reality television.
I worked with great people making a product I didn’t hate (and occasionally, that product reached greatness…compare teen birth rates from when the show started to now), but I was convinced I was going to get bigger, so I expanded in all directions at once. In hindsight, the time I was busiest was also the time I was trying to produce different things for a few people and be on-site for a half-dozen edits at the same time. No wonder I wasn’t dating.
And instead of re-focusing my efforts and saving or maybe better budgeting my time, I kept expanding. I was going to make a comic book, I was going to write three pilots, I was going to start a podcast- NO TWO PODCASTS - no, maybe a video series where I review scripts, or a video series where I take-down movies through really primatie animation like Zero Punctuation. Oh, did I mention 3D BiPolarBear? Yeah, I’m not sure what music I didn’t make in 9 Citizen Nowhere albums that made me think starting another music project would be worth my time.
Blah blah blah, obviously none of it worked. Or some of it worked. Or it all worked, depending on what level of success is supposed to be applied to things that technically got done but nobody bought.
So now the question: do I sit in Bed-Stuy whittling away at my unemployment, continuing an entire summer of ramen noodles and instant oatmeal, clawing against gravity, not letting New York “beat me?” Or do I sublet my place to someone who might want to give NY a shot for a summer, duck home to rent-free Colorado and take two-or-three shitty jobs for three months so I can re-claim my apartment and take another run at the dozens of editorial and production jobs that just aren’t calling me back for an interview?
I’m telling you, I go back and forth every fucking day. Some days, leaving feels liberating. Because it’s failure. It’s liberating because it’s failure. Because once you wash out, no one has any expectations of you, so all the pressure is off. If I find myself living in the basement of a relative this time next month, I will feel shame. But I will feel shame from all of you who saw me fail, and you won’t be there. The reality is I’ll have less responsibility, pressure, friends and things will probably be easier. There will just be that crippling shame. But that’s on me.
I DID graduate from High School in 2003. Which means this summer there will be some sort of reunion event that I will most likely be attending as a dual McDonalds-and-Baskin-Robbins employee living out of my parents basement. I will be going, because I always said I’d be going, because things were going pretty well there for the better part of a decade. Now…fuck. At least I have Facebook so anyone I cared about knowing that I was doing okay got to see me do okay for a little while.
I’m potentially the last Gonzales. My grandfather is the first legally-born American Gonzales of our line. He had two kids, on being my dad. My brother is only going to have kids if he adopts because he loves men and my cousins are all women. Maybe there will be some last-name swapping with my Uncle’s girls, who knows, but I think about this a lot. Which is why I came out here and made a production company that I owned and operated with Jess. And we put our last names on it and called it Brillhart/Gonzales Productions LLC. And we made movies, shorts and music videos. And I got to show those things to my grandparents. And they’ll never see me have a kid and they’ll never see me buy them a house and they’ll never understand the internet, but for one moment every few months, they got to see a credit: “Brillhart/Gonzales Productions” and the name lived on.
In that sense, I’m happy. I was able to make that. Not out of nothing, but out of a pinnacle of The American Dream. My grandfather, born to illegal immigrants, got to see his grandson go to a good college, make a company and make things with that company. I don’t know if I gave that gift to him or he gave that gift to me or if we gave that gift to each other, but GOD DAMMIT at this exact moment, I’m so happy I got to do that.
Because now, if I fail, I haven’t always been failing. I did something, right? I did something.