Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Magic, The Pain, and The Itch of Youth Theater

Does anybody remember that odd trend in popular 90s cinema, where a movie would open or close with some inspiring school/kid-ful musical/stage performance? I believe it had something to do with the wild success of Sister Act (or maybe it was just a product of that culture wave?), featuring crowd pleasing musical numbers that managed to evoke this mythical spectatorial joy in which the audience is gratified by the performer's joy in production as well as the simple pleasure of song. It's a manipulative storytelling gesture, because these scenes either come at the gooey introduction of a film or at the height of its narrative catharsis at the end- and don't forget the sweeping shots across the players to swirl these multiple joys in a cinematographic tilt-a-whirl, enciting both inexplicable giddiness and a feeling like one could vomit up a pound or so of cotton candy.
Watch this shit and tell me that you didn't get a whiff of elephant ears at 1.35.

Anyway, at some point this generic scene had a lot of kids dropped in it and was sold as a new uplifting and nauseating moment, the inspirational/magical kiddy show performance!

Ah magic!
Some suit/evil screenwriter/hackneyed took this formulaic moment and crash landed it in the elementary school auditorium. Sappy kiddieshow moments are cerainly nothing new (old musicals abound with this shit), but as any veteran of the forced school production knows, the shit that wound up in these movies couldn't be further from the awkward unprofessional slopfest that makes up some musical reivew based on past presidents of or Halloween chintz.
You may have seen this clip I posted earlier from homo-lite stinkfest The Object of My Affection:


Apart from the overwhelming amount of insincerely sincere sacchrine sentimental trashy terrible overload brought on by the adults (I can forgive Paul Rudd because he's soooo cute and inexiplicably endearing even when he's playing an asshole/obliquely making fun of the gays with his "gay dancing" in this clip), there is a whole load of horse shit going on with the kids on stage. Have you ever seen this many kids excited to sing a song for their obnoxiously supporitve families (who apparently need to learn how to be respectful audience memebers...get a load of those endless cheers)? The answer is no...or if you have you went to some kiddie performance camp. Congrats.
The real tell is that kid who pops up around the 40 second mark, who simply cannot conceal his enthusiasm for the literal choreography.

If this moment were real this kid would be standing there bored as hell or with outward defiance of his forced performance. This is probably a more appropriate image:

Now that we set that record straight, I do have to give them credit for keeping something real- that cute little rodent of a girl who hops out to give her solo, which sends Jennifer Aniston on a joygasm she probably hasn't equaled since that very moment. That girl is totally the annoying chipmunk voiced overachieving performer that eveybody in the class totally hates. She gets the parts with the most lines, she gets to do her dumb solo in the desiree song, and Paul Rudd tooooootally loves her. Most kids hated this kind of girl, not so much out of jealousy (like her mom would have her believe), but because she is super annoying and her infantile voice makes your eardrums want to overdose on muzak to kill the pain it inflicts.

Regardless, I don't think anybody has been to such a disgustingly falsely uplifting kiddie review such as this.

Although I must admit, dear readers, that this bit is nothing...things can get a whole lot worse...a whoooole lot worse....

Ok, so this opening clip from Toys isn't actually a depiction of a school production, but it's basically the creepy uncle to that trend. I guess this is supposed to warm your cold heart for the holiday season, but it just makes me feel inexplicably uncomfortable...The tree singers? The dumb Wendy and Lisa song? The reindeer humping at 1.28? What the hell is going on?!?! This has to be stopped!

Finally I wanted to prove a point that Hollywood would also stir up the laughable fantasy that school productions had enormous budgets to lavish on extravagent sets and lighting, like the performance of Peter Pan at the beginning of the movie Hook, but I cannot find a clip of that scene on youtube. So I'll make it up to you by showing you the most nauseating moment of movie song EVER featured in that movie.

Something tells me this consistently flat breathy nightmare of a pixie might be related to nasaly jumpy pants from the Desiree clip.

So where am I going with this?
Well, an old teacher of mine sent me a DVD of a musical version of Treasure Island that my 8th grade class did. Re-watching this video made me recall all these lousy aformentioned clips, and how in actuality kiddie performances are mostly awkward low budget marathons of generally unenthusiastic youngsters powering through pieces of performance poo.
I'll be throwing together a few videos detailing the uncomfortable product of sticking a bunch of pimply mid-adolescents in pirate outfits and making them sing to a midi back track.
Before I dish out the pain, I decided to make a nice homage both to the stage magic of my youth and this terrible cinematic trend...sort of a heartwarming intro before the embarrassed tears begin to fall.


Friday, April 25, 2008

You Gotta Be Bad...Bad At Regularly Updating Your Blog...

I'm sorry, blog. I've been sort of a deadbeat dad to you lately. I've been busy, overworked, broken down, and partying too much to really give you much thought. So I figure I can make it up to you with a brief life lesson, before I can actually be a good e-parent.

Ok, kiddo...This is what its like when the mid-nineties blows an enourmous load all over your face:

I hope you have a wet nap on your person...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Get Floozed.

Behold! The newest installment of Floozy FAQ!

Got problems?
Mail them to

Friday, April 11, 2008

Alternative Musicology: Screwy Music History From Bosch on Public Transit

A few months ago I attended a concert at the Chicago Symphony with a friend, and Shostakovitch's second cello concerto was on the program. The piece is intense, using the solo cello as a representation of a semi-autobiographical figure weaving through a Russia reconstructed through memories. After a pretty tortured first and second movement, the third movement is an curious amalgam of mini-themes and musical bits that interrupt each other in an endless hunt for a cadence. Occasionally the orchestra would break from a heavy string passage to this thumping 4/4 beat accompanied by heavy bass backing and a tambourine hitting the off-beats. This enormous musical shift made my friend and I suddenly turn and look at each other- it sounded so modern, so out of place, so much like...hip hop? Could that be? Was this some practical joke? But the theme came back again, with the same familiar sound balance and stomp that sounded like it came from an old De La Soul album. I finally picked up a recording of this baffling piece, and was compelled to share this curious passage with the world in order to prove that Shostakovitch invented hip hop.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Shot of Floozy FAQ

Here's a mini episode made from the second taping session of FLOOZY FAQ tackling the sensitive subject of lisps.

Quite moving, no?
Listen kids, we're low on questions for the new episode- so you fuckers better get some problems and mail more questions to den.webber@gmail or we'll be sad and poor this April (we do get paid for this you know...).

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Taft Wasn't Just a President- It Was Also Precious

Behold, blog readers! The most amazing piece of uintentional video art ever made!

The background music, the bizarre metaphor, the masterfully modern framing, the name (my GOD, the name)- Precious Taft was an undiscovered 80s gem.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Natural Histories: Eating Habits in the Everglades

According to a report from BBC news, a non-native python exploded while eating a whole alligator in the Florida Everglades. This story is super-dear to my heart- a tale of gluttony and grotesque animal interactions set in the hinterland of my homeland, sweet sweet Florida. Plus, the snapshot of the carnage totally looks like a metal album cover.

Pretty hardcore, right? The gator got posthumous revenge and RIPPED RIGHT THROUGH THAT FUCKER!

Gator sightings are nothing unusual for me- we once had a wee gator take a dip our pool at home, you can see them on every Florida golf course, and once a good family friend was called in by the police to identify an alligator she saw while running that later attacked and killed an old man (really, I'm not joking. Alligator homicide is the real deal in the F-L-A).

This little bit of BBC "badassery in nature" is actually a bit distressing though; it is actually a hardcore Aesop fable for the ecological shitstorm of modern times. The truth is that the pythons of the Everglades are only there because the serpent pets of hick kids in the Florida swamps got loose- they were never there before- that's yet another unfortunate imbalance in an ecosystem that's suffering from all the fucked up things the state government allows to happen to the 'glades. The news story is basically a mini-metaphor for the encroachment on swampy wonderland. I remember when I used to travel with my family to visit my grandmother from the West to the East coast along "Alligator Alley", a long highway that cuts through the state which gets its name for the reptiles that litter the swamps on the sides of the roads, I would pass the time on the drive by counting each alligators I saw- it was a long-ass drive. Now, crossing the state a lot of that gator land has been lost to new shitty Florida housing developments and other insta-build shitholes. It's actually pretty sad to see your home state go from a fucked up paradise to a fucked up stripmall due to the appetite of the proverbial python of "progress".

Perhaps once the endtimes come (so soon!) the gators will burst from our bellies and reclaim their homeland. In the meantime, I suppose people on those terrible touristy airboats should be more afraid of falling into the water and getting swallowed by a snake than getting chomped by an alligators.

Qui Etes Vous, Floozy FAQ Episode 2?

Part One of Episode 2 is finally here! Rejoice!

The second part will be coming soon.
Keep mailing your problems to we're here to help.

Also! I promise I'll be doing some more serious updating on here soon. I feel like a deadbeat braindead dad to this blog.
I promise I'll make it better, son...I promise...

In the meantime I have to share my EXPLOSIVE EXCITEMENT over the upcoming criterion release (the first ever on DVD in the US...with Mr. Freedom too!!!) of classic 60's fashion satire, QUI ETES VOUS POLLY MAGOO!

I have been waiting for this moment for aaaaaaages. Please have a sneak peak at the opening scene in which French society ladies marvel at a mod mod modern "fashion" show featuring girls wearing what looks to be mangled slides from a playground-

Qui Etes one of those films that manages to both subvert the fashion scene of its time while also being undeniably fresh and chic on its own terms.

Oooh oooh oooh Polly Magoo!
I'll be sure to put on my face when I go out and buy you!