Monthly Archives: January 2010

Conan O’Brien made the right choice

Last week was the end of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. I don’t think I need to go over the details of the departure, as everyone seems to be reporting the story continuously. I just want to offer my thoughts and explain why I believe Conan O’Brien matters.

Right from the start Conan is disarming. With his goofy hair and broad smile, the writer and host has made a career of off-the-wall humor and genuine esteem. His contributions to SNL and the Simpsons honed his wit, but it was the Late Night show where he made his greatest efforts.

I loved every episode of Late Night that I saw. It was an after school tradition for me once Comedy Central started airing the previous night’s episodes in the afternoon. Conan and his partner (I don’t think of him as a sidekick) Andy Richter were two of the funniest, and more importantly, likable people on TV. You felt that these were real people, doing something they loved and wanting nothing more than to share that with you. It was a quality that bonded me, and probably all his other fans, to Conan in a way that a hack like Jay Leno never would.

Conan and Andy, this time the guests on "Between Two Ferns"

Upon taking over the Tonight Show last year, seven months ago, Conan had some difficulties. I think it was the shock of living in L.A. and attempting to grab all those midlife Leno drones who would otherwise just turn off the tube rather than watch that cranky old Letterman. So, yea a little spark was gone, a little fire that just couldn’t quite grab the embers. I wanted to love the Tonight Show as much as Late Night, but we didn’t quite click.

So then comes the terrible news about dropped ratings and nervous executives threatening time changes and cancellations. And this was about Leno’s show! Let’s remember, the trouble started when Jay was consistently in last place at 10 pm. Sure Conan was getting beat too, but not like this. No. The new Leno show was a complete and utter disaster. A failure, a bomb. It had to go. But where? You can’t just cancel Leno like that. You owe to the man. So, let’s just bump Conan (a twenty year employee at NBC by now) back to basically the same time slot he just left, so Jay could not continue to look like such a pathetic loser. The executives were so busy trying to hold Leno’s hand, they were fine with asking Conan to basically compromise on his own life long dream by moving the Tonight Show into early morning.

And then Conan did something I don’t think anyone expected.

He told NBC no.

It’s a move that surely caused the split, the leaving and ending of the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. But it was a decision that Conan had to make. And that is why we love him.

You see, America loves values. It loves sticking to your guns, standing up for yourself and what you believe is right. Unfortunately, the last decade has seen the very worst of these qualities. But Conan showed us something else. In his letter of dissemination he fought for himself, his staff (who follow this man with a samurai like dedication), and the tradition of the Tonight Show. It’s not often we get to see this.

Conan and friends going out in style. U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

And though the last week of his show displayed a lot of hostility for the network, from Tarantino’s revenge movie idea to Adam Sandler’s “you can’t say that on NBC” acronym to Robin Williams just all out giving it the finger, Conan ended things in his trademark style, with humility and humanity. His closing speech and especially his advice against cynicism of all things was some of the best TV you’re going to see all year. Through this personal ordeal, I just want to say that Conan has also acknowledged the relative triviality of his situation in the context of real crisis, such as in Haiti. The man is simply a class act all the way.

So why does Conan matter? He very much embodied a hero in the last month. In a time when the little guy is getting kicked around a lot, Conan stood strong. He sacrificed a lot to keep, for him, a relatively sacred tradition alive and well. And he lost his job. Just about everyone can relate to that. In doing so, he became one of us, a real person, just like his old self again. And through all of this, he was able to do what so many of us want to be able to do, he had fun.

You know what? Conan’s going to be ok. He went from simply Tonight Show host to the most sympathetic and equally popular man in America. I would seriously advise Leno NOT to go back to the Tonight Show, he’s going to be facing an uphill battle for every fucking chuckle. I will be one of many who plan on officially boycotting the show in Conan’s honor. I can’t wait to see Conan back somewhere on TV or even somewhere else. I go where Coco goes.

-Charlie

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Glen W. Bell Jr. 1923-2010

Fast Food pioneers come and go, but no loss has hit so close to me as the passing of Taco Bell Founder Glen W. Bell Jr.

From Bell's 1999 biography.

Weirdly, I just referenced Taco Bell in my last post and I just had “the Bell” on Saturday, a perfect conclusion to a night out on the town. I will always be indebted to Mr. Bell for his contributions to fast food. Without his vision, we’d all be stuck inside the bun. He will be missed.

One of Bell’s greatest gifts, the Mexican Pizza.

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The Futurialist

It now being 2010 and all, I was tempted to do a “decade in review ” type of article.  Well, looking back, I don’t really want to live in the past right now. The last decade wasn’t really my favorite on a lot of fronts. A mix of good and bad times about sums it up for me, and trying to compare films and music 8 to 10 years apart from each other seems pretty pointless.

So instead of all that nostalgic remembering, I’m looking ahead to the next ten years. Oh man, the teens are shaping up to be fan-fucking-tastic. From the flying cars to the ultimate domination of Taco Bell (the only survivor from the impending fast food wars), this is going to be my kind of decade.

And what am looking forward to most you ask? Why, the fashion of course. And what better way to know the upcoming fashion trends of the next decade you ask? Why, watching sci-fi movies from the 80’s of course.

On the Street… Hill Valley 2015.

Marty McFly is unable to properly fit his self-fitting jacket.

Note the inside-out pockets and multi-colored baseball cap.

These shoes are still referred to as “kicks” surprisingly enough.

On the Streets… Detroit 2015.

Part man. Part machine. All style.

Note the ED-209 in the background. An essential accessory for any mega-corporation honcho.

Note the scarf and vest and coat layering of the group. Sadly, Male Pattern Baldness is still a problem in the future.

On your televisions… 2019.

Arnold shows off the latest in athletic wear. Spandex, spandex, spandex.

Hey, Christmas tree!

Also, in the future, people will still look ridiculous working out at the gym.

On the Streets… Los Angeles 2019.

Rachel passes the test.

Note the high collar on Rick Deckard’s jacket, a must for any Runner.

Pris shows off her playful side at Sebastian’s swank uptown apartment.

Unfortunately for Replicants, invisible raincoats don’t make you invisible too.

On the Streets… Neo-Tokyo 2019.

Kaneda with his racing gear (from the original source material).

These kids are fearless. Pink polo shirts, Bermuda shorts with an aviator jacket, high water trousers. A veritable melting pot of periods and style. Kudos.

Tetsuo is bringing back the cape. Would you like to tell him no?

(If you didn’t quite get what I’m satirizing, check this out. Then this.)

-Charlie

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Fun Run Salutes Michael Edwards

It has been a year this month since Fun Run Films & Records began. I have greatly enjoyed every post I have written, and looking back on this year, some where big hits. By far the most viewed entry was dedicated to the Terminator Franchise’s number one hero, John Connor. Indeed, every day I got and still get hits based on one Google search over any other, and now I proudly salute that search term and its owner, Michael Edwards.

As John “the man” Connor in  T2:JDay, Edwards cemented his place in one of the greatest  roles of the last 25 years. Without delivering a single line of dialogue, Edwards stuck in people’s minds like few character actors can. Perhaps it was the steely gaze, the shock of hair, the huge painful looking scar, we all have at least a little fascination with this mysterious and great warrior hero.

Ever since Christian Bale tried to take on the character of adult JC, people’s interest has been renewed in this small glimpse of the future as James Cameron, the creator of the Terminator, saw it; a much darker and more desperate land where big speeches are useless. Where every man, woman, and child is a fighter in the grim war with machines. Only in this, the most devastating of possibilities, would Michael Edwards be able to undertake the saving of all mankind. It says a lot when your character is more demanding than even the Batman could accomplish.

Jeez! Sorry, man. Take it easy!

Yikes. Well, anyways… um… right. Michael Edwards. That dude’s awesome!

And he's even great with children!

Some fun run facts about Michael Edwards: He was a male model. He’s also acted in shows like Beverley Hills, 90210 and Silk Stalkings. He was once the boy toy of Priscilla Presley. He …

Wait, what? Priscilla Presley, as in Elvis Presley’s wife?! He lived with her for six years. He even wrote a book about it called Priscilla, Elvis, and Me. Damn. Michael Edwards is up there with the King!

So, thanks Mr. Edwards. Without you, this blog, and indeed this world, would be a sadder place. Cheers, Mike. And get back into acting. We haven’t seen a thing out of you for over a decade now. All the best.

your friend,

Fun Run Charlie

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Sequel or Remake?

Have you ever had Deja Vu for an entire year? I feel like 2010 will be a year of films like few others, destined to be remembered as a mixtape of recycled ideas, icons, and classics. It will also be another huge year for sequels and franchises through and through. We are about to see a staggering number of reboots, adaptations, and continuations the likes of which has only been glimpsed in the past. It will be a dizzying conglomeration, sure to muddle the minds of future generations. In preparation, I’ve devised a little game: Sequel or Remake? Let’s start.

The Wolfman-Sequel or Remake?

Remake!

Yes, they are the classic Hollywood monster, Lon Chaney’s iconic beastie. Points for the casting and period setting, and although director Joe Johnston has mucked up some other franchises (Jurassic park 3 anyone?) he looks to provide a decent, if not familiar, monster movie. I remember watching the original movie one Saturday afternoon at nine years old. Great atmosphere, here’s hoping they forego too much CG fog and claws.

Alice in Wonderland-Sequel or Remake?

Sequel!

Believe it or not, this movie is a supposed third part to the Alice in Wonderland story. Now, ever since Tim Burton remade Planet of the Apes, I have been decrying his tinkering of with perfect classics. Same went for the awful Charlie and the Chocolate blah blah blah.

So when I heard this was a sequel, and NOT a remake, I guess I thought that I would feel some relief. But this film looks like it’s still going to squash any beloved childhood memory I may still hold for the Disney or even literary versions (I have read the books you know). And this poster above I chose simply because all of the others look so ghastly I can hardly stand them. How I am to watch two hours of Johnny Depp and Helena Carter looking the way they do is beyond me. Yikes!

Clash of the Titans-Sequel or Remake?

Remake!

Based on the flying dirt and bland metal soundtrack, this movie looks too manly for its own good. I still blame Gladiator. While the monsters and shit look cool, I get the feeling I’m going to be let down that Sam Worthington isn’t  a Terminator or Avatar in this one. Sigh.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps-Sequel or Remake?

Sequel!

No poster or trailer yet, but this pic tells us three very important details about the upcoming Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.

1) Michael Douglas looks ooooold.

2) Shia LaBeowulf still looks 17, even with a suit and hotdog shoved in his mouth.

3) Oliver Stone loves the 80’s, or cashing in on current financial collapses. One of those two things.

A Nightmare on Elm Street-Sequel or Remake?

Remake!

From a classic monster to a modern classic! This one has potential. The trailer makes this film seem to be following the original almost too closely. Could this be a shot for shot remake deal? I’m intrigued.

OK, this is going on too long. There’s just too many movies to keep it up. A partial list of this upcoming year of remakes looks like this: The Crazies, Piranha 3-D, Robin Hood, The A-Team (maybe more like an adaptation of the TV show), The Karate Kid, Footloose, etc.

Not to mention sequels like Iron Man 2, Sex and the City 2, Toy Story 3, Shrek 4, Predators, Step Up 3-D, another Meet the Fockers movie, new Twilight movies, new Harry Potter movies, and even a sequel to the CG animated Cats & Dogs.

For fairness, here are a few non remake 2010 abominations-in-the-making of note: An action comedy with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Another action comedy with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. A full length film adaptation of the SNL skit MacGruber. A Jennifer Aniston rom-com entitled The Baster, as in turkey baster. Is it just me or will this be the worst year in movies ever?

If you need me I’ll be busy re-watching the trailers for Kick-Ass, my most anticipated film adaptation of the year.

This next one is red band.

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Fine Art for the Discernible Nerd

This is Robert Burden’s Battle Cat Statant, showing at L.A.’s Gallery 1988. It’s one of many pieces reflecting the He-Man characters in the new show Under the Influence: The Masters of the Universe. Now, I find few things more satisfying on this world than my cherished childhood heroes depicted as proper works of art. It never fails to mesmerize me as I drop all activities to stare relentlessly at these amazing artistic creations. Here are a couple more that I can’t get enough of…

Both of these are by Kiersten Essenpreis. Genius!

These two baddies come from actual, honest to God, real live “Garbage Pail Kids” artist Layron DeJarnette. How cool is that?

Oh man, even that little floating Jawa looking freak Ortho gets the artsy treatment courtesy of Project Detonate. Suddenly, I wish I was in L.A. for just an hour or so. And I never wish I was in L.A. Ever.

Check out Gallery 1998’s website to see more.

And to really boggle your feeble mind, here’s a time-lapse film of the Battle Cat painting in progress. Although, it’s exactly this kind of unbelievable talent that makes me all too aware of my own artistic shortcomings. I can’t even draw a straight line, so I will continue to be awed in the presence of such Masters.

What’s that you say? You want more? Well, on a separate, but equally nerdy topic, check out this blog featuring dozens of interpretations of beloved X-Man Shadowcat, aka Kitty Pryde. These pieces all showed right here in Portland! Yayy! And it was for a hemophilia benefit! Umm… Yayy!

-Charlie

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Top Ten Reasons Why the Cure Does Not Suck!

Nine hours in to the new decade and I just got dissed. What’s worse is I had zero comeback. Nothing. I was stunned, not only because someone was calling me out on New Year’s morning, but dude. Nobody, but NOBODY says the Cure suck. And here’s why:

10. Boys Don’t Cry

Yes, I see the irony in acting like a whiny little baby, and then start off with “Boys Don’t Cry,” but that’s just how it’s going to be. One of the catchiest pop riffs ever, the song is simple, yet wholly memorable, tapping into truth and insight in two and a half minutes. And Robert Smith was barely 20 when he wrote that. It only gets better from here.

9. the hair

Oooohhh, the hair. Good God, it’s just so… so… big. I guess once you go Aquanet, you can’t go back. I don’t know, for me the hair is awesome. All of that effort, so many hours and curlers and shit, just to look like that. You know what that is people? It fucking dedication to the cause! You know what? Same goes for the eyeliner! You go, goth!

8. the year that was 1982

Besides sporting one of the best title/cover combos in music history, this album defined the Cure as a post punk innovator and pioneer in 1982. Nobody sounded like this when the album hit our shores (maybe Joy Division), full of tribal drums and brutal wails, its almost like an early 80’s precursor to today’s black metal.

And now for something completely different.

No this video itself is not from 1982, but the song is. Two reasons to post this video. Not only is “Let’s Go to Bed” a critical point in the bands time line and growth, but DAMN! look at Robert Smiths short short haircut! Holy Geez.

So after Pornography, there was a bit of a detox that needed to happen. The band was in bleak states, almost breaking up in the process. Smith, on his own, set out to “write the antithesis for what the Cure stood for ” at the time. What emerged was a highly energetic, danceable, and goddamn fun as all hell song. It became so popular that Smith would feel comfortable in the future to write such greats as “Why Can’t I be You?” “Friday, I’m in Love” and “In Between Days,” all amazing songs.

7. Robert Smith’s awesome F-Bombs

It doesn’t happen often, in fact it’s quite rare. But once in a great while Robert Smith will just drop the most amazing F-Bomb in his lyrics. Most notably on “The Kiss,” the opener to Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me.

Oh, it’s a dark intro, building and building. You can tell things are bad as Smith starts in with “Kiss me kiss me kiss me/Your tongue is like poison/So swollen it fills up my mouth”

But when he really gets into it, you just want to stand back, give the man some room, and he needs it as he explodes with “Get it out get it out get it out/Get your fucking voice out of my head.” It’s probably the single most satisfying F-Bomb in music. So good.

6. Cult Hero

A quick little side band to show you. Cult Hero was formed briefly in 1979, right before the Cure became known for Three Imaginary Boys. The Cure was basically joined by Smith’s sisters and a local postman, and released two incredible songs, “I’m a Cult Hero” and “I Dig You”. Just listen to ’em. You’ll love it.

Tracks 11 and 12.

While you’re at it, just listen to the whole Seventeen Seconds album. I am.

5. Simon Gallup

When you think of the great duos in history, Batman and Robin, peanut butter and jelly, Donald Trump and his toupee; few things go together as well as Robert Smith and Simon Gallup. The Cure’s bassist for most all of their thirty years, Gallup was even Robert Smiths best man. That, and he’s one of the most imitated, influential musicians out there. Make no mistake, more than one of your favorite bassists had Simon Gallup in the back of their mind when they bought their first four string.

4. Close to Me


Speaking of Simon, how ya like that bass line from “Close to Me?” My personal favorite video of theirs. It speaks for itself.

3. 4:13 Dream

That’s right assholes. I love the latest Cure album. The most common complaints about the group usually focus on their recent output. For some reason, starting with Wild Mood Swings and Bloodflowers in the 90’s, the Cure sound was no longer cool. WTF?

I love that Smith and these guys (by the way the current lineup is maybe the best for outright musicianship) are still at it. If the Rolling Stones or motherfucking KISS with their stupid as fuck FACE PAINT AND HIGH HEEL BOOTS are still cool in their old age-and they’re not, really- then the Cure, who have never tried to retire only to come out of it and play for more expensive ticket sales, are still cool.

The band still sounds just like the Cure on this highly underrated album, from the pretty, sappy pop of “The Only One,” the heavy use of chimes and the rock solid riffs on every track. It’s at least worth checking out, sure this isn’t a masterpiece, more just a minor work from a master, but whatever, whatever. It’s good.

2. that South Park episode


You know that episode where Mecha Streisand is terrorizing South park? And the only man who can save us is Robert Smith. Apparently, Trey parker and Matt Stone would agree with me that…

1. “Disintegration is the best album ever!”

It is you know. Combining the early gothic stuff with a melodic undertow and sublime songwriting, there is nothing, not one second of this album that I don’t cherish. Please, please listen to this album once in your life, preferably in a dark room with the sound turned all the fucking way up. Superb. This is why I like music.

So there you go mean girl who thinks the Cure suck. Take that. You have successfully revived my complete and utter devotion to a group that I had sort of stopped thinking about for awhile. Thank you for reminding me why I proudly wear my hoodie, and by the way, you suck!

-Charlie

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