January 6, 2005
2004: What Pop Culture Taught Me: More than you need to know, more than you care to know, brought to you by Josh Jabcuga, who only wishes he paid this much attention to something, anything, during all those years of schooling.
1. Forget about labeling Bono and U2 as the saviors of rock in 2004. Velvet Revolver were the saviors of rock in 2004. All hail resurrected Gunners and recovering junkies in glam get-up!
2. I’ve also realized that I’m still sick of U2 from the promotional blitz surrounding their last album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. It’s like getting extremely sick on a certain brand of liquor. I’m just not sure I’m ready to stomach them for a second round just yet.
3. After watching THE AVIATOR, featuring a superb effort from Leo DiCaprio, I am almost at the level of buying into the roles that cast him as the seasoned, mature protagonist, and not seeing him as the baby-faced boy-actor trying to fill the shoes of a man. Although, essentially, isn’t that the plot of THE AVIATOR, - a Peter Pan-like character in dire need of a strong dose of Paxil?
4. Like everyone, I’m not certain how well the film adaptation of FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY will turn out. Might this be the one that director Robert Rodriquez finally hits out of the park, nailing the perfect one-two punch of style and some really juicy substance? Only 2005 will reveal the answers to that. I did learn, however, that the few minutes of the trailer I did see made me want to see this movie ASAP, regardless of whether or not the final experiment works as a whole.
5. In 2004, I’d learned that the color pink is the new black, at least according to a T-shirt I read at the local Hot Topic. Here’s hoping that in 2005, the color black will be the new black. Or would it be more accurate to say, black will be the new pink? Or the old black?
6. If you were looking for Bush-bashing in 2004, I came to the conclusion that there was no better place than Rolling Stone magazine. Unfortunately, I usually read music magazines like Rolling Stone to, like, you know, read about music.
7. In 2004, it became more apparent than ever that I’d rather watch Gwen Stefani sing than actually listen to her sing.
8. There was an R-rated puppet movie released in 2004. You may have heard of it. It was called TEAM AMERICA. Despite Matt and Trey of South Park crafting a mostly hilarious and dead-on send-up of politics and Jerry Bruckheimer films, as well as making themselves available to every talk show imaginable to hype their latest effort, the movie still somehow managed to do disappointing numbers at the box office (given that it was one of the most original mainstream films to play theaters all year).
What I learned from this was never to make a puppet movie. Besides, TEAM AMERICA is widely considered to be the CITIZEN KANE of marionette movies by, uh, people like me. There’s no topping it.
9. I’ve learned that I should probably not skip the halftime show of the Super Bowl anymore.
10. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, solo artist and member of the rap group/small black militia known as the Wu Tang Clan, didn’t live long enough to really deserve the “Ol’” portion in his name, now did he? I said, hey, Dirty, guess baby don’t have to give you back yo’ money, don’tcha worry.
11. 2005 will mark the tenth anniversary of my all-time favorite movie, Michael Mann’s HEAT. I watched it recently, as I do about every three weeks, and I learned that the movie holds up just as well today as it did the first time I saw it. In 2005, I hope to learn Warner Brothers realizes a special edition version of the DVD is in order.
12. I have Al Pacino’s autograph. I have DeNiro’s autograph. Both signed “To Josh.” Both actors starred in the film HEAT, my favorite film of all-time (Have you caught on yet?). At the Comicon in San Diego this past July, I learned for fifty bucks, I could get my photo taken with Val Kilmer (also from HEAT), and then have him sign the Polaroid, “To Josh.” In 2004 I realized that I still need to get Michael Mann’s autograph (the God, I mean, director of the cinematic masterpiece known as HEAT).
I’ve also learned that I’d love to get Danny Trejo’s autograph, since he was part of the crew, too. I won’t count on getting Tom Sizemore’s autograph since, well, I don’t plan on doing rehab or prison-time any time soon.
One more thing I learned is that, in some other life, maybe my next one, if I’m lucky enough to come back as a Hollywood movie star, I’ll make a personal vow to never charge a fan for an autograph or a photo. If I did do such a thing, that would maybe imply that I’m ungrateful of my success, it would reek of desperation, and it might imply that I’m really greedy and/or hard up for cash, and maybe, just maybe, I should get a real job, one where I’ll work a billion times harder for not even one-one-hundredth of the payout or recognition that a Hollywood movie star like Val Kilmer gets.
13. In 2004, I realized that there are many people who will hold your education against you. Also, maybe I should start praying harder about coming back in my next life as a famous movie star.
14. In the year 2004, I learned that a lot of very well-connected and even famous people read the work here at www.moviepoopshoot.com.
15. That, plus ninety-nine cents will get me a yogurt parfait at McDonald’s.
16. 2004 taught me that I could force you to watch as I glazed your daughter’s Krispe Kreme doughnuts all night, right in front of your very own cataract-stricken eyes, and I would still receive fewer death threats than if I were to make fun of your idol, Clay Aiken, in my weekly column here at Moviepoopshoot.com. Secretly, in 2004, I wished that the Claymates would hurry up and die already.
17. This year, I learned that when I grow up to be a man, I want to be just like Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps.
18. I came to grips in 2004 and moved on. No more crush on Naomi Watts (although I hear she’s available these days); instead, I’m concentrating my voodoo magic on Kate Winslet and Elisha Cuthbert.
19. I’ve also learned that the best loud and dumb cock-rock I heard all year came from a chick, someone not even in possession of the first ingredient in the “cock-rock” combo, who goes by the name Auf der Maur. On the flipside, I found Melissa Auf der Maur’s lyrical ability is unintentionally hilarious and on par with the little loose-leaf paper love notes my niece in the ninth grade composes in study hall to give to her boyfriend during lunch period. “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now / It’s just a spring clean for your May queen.” Now those, those are smart lyrics, man.
20. This year taught me that I’ll probably never write an episode of television anywhere near as good as what I saw on ABC’s hit series LOST.
21. After 2004 I started to believe that Elliott Smith was born to write really good songs about death, dying, and personal demons like addiction. Sadly, part of orchestrating that symphony may have involved the artist taking his own life.
22. 2004 taught me that Brian Wilson’s long-delayed album Smile, while remarkable, was still not as earth-shattering as the decades-old bootlegs I heard of the original album sessions. And maybe Brian shouldn’t have mucked around with the song “Good Vibrations.” It was gooder the way you had it, Bri.
23. At the 2004 Comicon in San Diego I learned that a bunch of grown men would rather wait in line to meet some actors from the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Stargate SG-1, than mingle with a couple of honest-to-God Playboy Playmates, who sat there with no one in line waiting to press flesh with them, bored out of their tiny little brains. Do you wonder why you’re thirty-two and still haven’t gotten any? Word of advice: Lose the Star Trek necktie, player. (Who am I to talk? I paid fifty clams to get a photo with the dude that played “Madmartigan”.)
24. After watching Martin Scorcese’s THE AVIATOR twice in one week, I realized that the man, possibly the greatest living American filmmaker, really needs to start chopping his films down by about thirty minutes.
25. MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, the conclusion of the MATRIX trilogy was a real drag, sure. 2004 taught me that one of the Wachowski Brothers really took those sentiments to heart. Note to self: Hanging around Keanu Reeves for an extended period of time can seriously fuck people up.
26. After watching THE PUNISHER in theaters and seeing STANDER, released on DVD in 2004, I learned that Hollywood’s best kept secret, next to Sam Rockwell, is actor Thomas Jane. Unfortunately, THE PUNISHER missed the mark by a mile, and STANDER was a fascinating but very much flawed film. All were redeemed by Jane’s confident performances. This year I learned that it would be worth my time and money to keep an eye on Thomas Jane’s work. There’s so much talent and potential there, and I could easily see Thomas Jane in the same league as an early Chris Walken (circa DEER HUNTER and THE DOGS OF WAR, before Walken’s bizarro bit got a little too bizarre).
27. Pimp Juice: In 2004 I learned the truth the hard way. I attended the Comicon and confirmed something many of us suspected for a long time. George Lucas is not a filmmaker, but a businessman who will gladly suck the blood dry from your babies for a quick dollar. Drink up, George, you’re almost there.
28. Likewise, I learned that to get an autograph from Luke Skywalker in person you’ll have to shell out something like seventy-five clams. Of course the forty-year-old virgins in line didn’t realize that for the same price they could get the closest thing to female companionship they’ve ever experienced (aside from their mother’s company) in the form of a really tasty lap dance from a pair of hot sisters who are "paying their way through college" just a few blocks down from the convention center.
29. I’ve learned in 2004 that I probably shouldn’t make fun of people just because they still like the Star Wars franchise, regardless of how much George Lucas has bastardized it. So for everyone I’ve offended with my comments in #28, I apologize. Take none of it personally; I’m really just a bitter, cynical one-time fan of STAR WARS. Maybe I should have been watching STAR TREK all those years.
30. Just a good ol’ boy: In 2004 it came to my attention that Nick whatever-his-last-name-is and Jessica Simpson and Ashlee Simpson jumped the shark before they even made it to the beach. Even so, I’m still looking forward to seeing Jessica in those Daisy Dukes, Bosshog!
31. Kill ‘em all!: 2004 taught me that Metallica is my generation’s equivalent of The Rolling Stones, in the sense that both groups haven’t put out a decent album in decades, yet they still get praised by diehard fans and sell oodles of tickets to their concerts based on past accomplishments.
32. 2004 revealed that Moviepoopshoot.Com’s co-conspirators Chris Ryall and Scott Tipton are really robots-in-disguise. They apparently don’t sleep. Ever. (I swear I even saw a little Decepticon logo branded on the back of Tipton’s neck when I met him briefly this past summer.) More than meets the eye!
33. Drugstore Cowboy: I’ve learned that my drug of choice in 2004 was Provigil.
34. I’ve learned firsthand why the numbers were down for the summer concert tour business: While concert goers have always known ticket prices are too high, the thrill of embracing nostalgia for the cost of two whole, hard-earned paychecks has worn off (e.g. KISS).
35. Not all audio books/books-on-tape/books-on-CD are lame. Sean Penn reading Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Volume One? I’m all ears.
36. Marvin Gaye was right: “War is not the answer.”
37. Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk is the coolest, most level-headed artist I’ve ever interviewed, and makes it really easy to root for all his success.
38. One Head in a Duffel Bag: I’ve learned that actors can pop up in nearly every movie for a few years straight, then poof!, vanish into thin air and the world will be none the wiser. Calling Joe Pesci. Joe Pesci to the lobby phone please. (And if you think his absence is a good thing, go back and watch GOODFELLAS. There was more there than Leo Getz, pal.)
39. After seeing COLLATERAL this past summer, I’ve learned that Tom Cruise should play the baddie more often.
40. I’ve learned that, allegedly, Wesley Snipes isn’t too well liked by his colleagues. How many times do you see press junkets (BLADE 3) where costars are all but bashing the lead in the film for being an egotistical prick? Not often enough. Score!
41. I’ve learned that Blockbuster Video is feeling the sting from Netflix, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
42. 1984 or OU812, Not Right Here, Not Right Now: After seeing a reunited Van Halen, I’ve learned that some sure-fire musical reunions can be totally botched. And 90% of bands will never relive their glory years. On one final Van Halen note, I’ve learned that the band itself should probably hire new publicists. Have you ever seen a more anticipated reunion so under-hyped? (And again, ticket prices? Go ahead jump.)
43. The Gunslinger: Retirement? Pffft…right out the window. After releasing several novels, a non-fiction collaboration about two fans’ undying commitment to the Red Sox, penning a monthly column in Entertainment Weekly, even a damn pop-up book, I’m thinking maybe Stephen King has a different idea of retirement than you or I do.
44. 2004 also taught me that 97% of the rap music being produced today is complete and utter shit, all of it trying to mimic a time gone by (and the lifestyle of said time: gangsta). The other 3% is still really good, but tarnished as a result, and still not good enough to get me to wade thru the piss-poor 97% coming from people trying to imitate N.W.A.
45. I’ve learned that if I never read another “blog” on the internet, it’ll be too soon. Unless you’re an astronaut setting up a colony on Mars or some far-off planet, I have no desire to read an hour-by-hour update of your life, or lack thereof. While it may be a very unique (although not exactly new) form of writing, it can also be pretty damn lazy and self-indulgent. (Go ahead and accuse me of being self-indulgent. I’ll give you that one. But lazy? Shit no.)
46. 2004 taught me that studio publicists and press agents judge you based on what you can or can’t do for them and their “products.” Fair enough. Except these people are some of the most disorganized, incompetent “un”professionals I’ve ever dealt with.
47. In 2004, I’ve learned that there’s good “pushing the envelope” (Brian Wilson’s album SMILE), and then there’s bad “pushing the envelope” (Bjork playing the skin flute or making fart noises with her armpit, or whatever she’s doing on her latest album, and WILCO’s latest CD, which showed a complete lack of artistic courage by making every attempt to sidestep what made Yankee Foxtrot Hotel so inspired, and that was the willingness to just play what they felt, fearlessly).
48. I’ve learned this year that comic book creators are some of the most personable and gracious writers and artists on the face of the planet. (Simon Bisley is fookin’ cool, man.)
49. I’ve also learned that some people trying to break into the comic book business are slimeball hustlers who will barrage you with e-mails until you cave-in. Determination and persistence is one thing, learning to take a hint is another.
50. I’ve also learned to hope for the best in 2005. To use my favorite line from THE AVIATOR (albeit out of context):
I hope that 2005 is the "way of the future, way of the future, way of the future, way of the future"….