Category: Random Queue

So…What Happened?

Well, hello there! How are you? Me? Well, busy and…really absent from this sight. It’s been over three years since I’ve posted anything of real relevance here. There have been a number of reasons for that, first and foremost being other work, both writing and otherwise. I’ll have more on the writing side in later posts (provided I don’t neglect this site again, which is always possible), but for now I’m just trying out this blogging thing again. Flexing the muscles as it were.

If I’m being completely honest, being busy is only part of the reason I’ve been away so long. After six years of pouring everything I had into running Pop Culture Zoo and making an effort to make it into something real, it basically failed in a pretty spectacular fashion. That is a hard truth that has probably taken a long time for me to come to grips with. I renamed the site and had fully intended to make it more of a personal blog, but, as has been evident, that didn’t really go to plan.

So, here I am, once again making a go of it. I have no idea what I will write about, other than talking about the various projects I have coming out and possibly posting some excerpts for other things I have in progress. We’ll see. For now, even just this one post feels good to write and I think regular blogging will help with regularly writing in other areas. Practice is a good thing. Welcome back again to What Joe Writes!

Random Queue 03: They Live

This week Fate has provided me with a goodie that I haven’t seen in few years. They Live is a strange combination of sci-fi, horror and comedy written and directed by John Carpenter. Starring Pro Wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as “Nada”, a nobody working construction in LA, who stumbles upon a pair of sunglasses that change his entire perception of the world around him. Upon wearing the sunglasses he finds a black and white world where all media including TV, billboards, and magazines contain subliminal messages to “OBEY”, “CONSUME AND REPRODUCE” and more. Soon after, Nada discovers the existence of aliens in our world, most of which are in places of power and wealth. The rich, politicians, and police are in fact aliens disguised as humans. They Live features a few well-known and memorable scenes including Nada shooting up a bank. Like The Empire Strikes Back‘s “Luke, I am your father”, this scene also features a quote that (Thanks to Duke Nukem) is often said incorrectly instead of the proper “I’m here to chew bubblegum and kickass…and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

Another of the more memorable scenes in They Live includes a fight scene between Piper and Keith David, who plays Frank. A knock-down drag-out fist fight ensues in an alley as Nada attempts to force a pair of sunglasses onto Frank, who only believes him to be a fugitive after he shot up the bank. The fight is one of the best and hardest hitting fights I’ve ever seen in cinema with hard punches thrown, blood, and weapons. Aside from being an entertaining action/sci-fi film, They Live really showcases John Carpenter’s intense dislike for the 80’s commercialization of EVERYTHING. The film bluntly shows you how Carpenter believed that TV and movies of the time were only trying to sell you things as the aliens in charge look like humans who are decomposing from their own corruption. Looking for a classic story that you’re going to remember for years? They Live is it. To use some non-subliminal messaging.

Random Queue 02: Craig Ferguson – Does This Need To Be Said?

Sometimes the best way to find something to watch is to close your eyes and point. In my case that means closing my eyes, letting my fingers go crazy all over the remote control and let it land somewhere in my Netflix. Every other week, I’m going to randomize my viewing and bring you a title straight out of the Netflix Instant recommendations. They will never be from my queue or recently watched to avoid anything I’d actually want to watch or anything I’ve already seen. Whether they be new films, old TV shows, classics or giant dog turds I’ll watch ’em and pass them along to you! So with that in mind I bring you Random Queue.

This week my randomness has brought me to the stand-up special of Craig Ferguson called Does This Need To Be Said? My previous experiences with the comedian from Scotland are limited to a few clips from “The Late Late Show” which he’s hosted since late 2004 and his time on The Drew Carey Show, but I didn’t know how I would take an entire hour of his stand-up. I’m weird about stand-up performances as I often get bored around the halfway mark, but this time would not be one of those times. Opening with a short musical bit, Ferguson goes on to compare his accent to that of the southern audience as the most widely believed accents that other people think they can do better than the people who actually live there. Touching on topics like the Pope, his marriage, alcoholism, and his past life in bad punk and metal bands I was surprised with how personal and even serious the subject matter of Ferguson’s routine was. Ferguson tells jokes and uses language that, as he puts it, he “can’t use on network TV.” Leading him to comment on the lack of censoring flags and sound bites over his mouth as he speaks, which is the norm on “The Late Late Show.”

With his show in a constant back and forth ratings battle with Jimmy Fallon, I find Ferguson (especially after viewing this special) to be the funnier of the two and hopefully the man to take Letterman’s place whenever that old codger decides to quit. Not simply a stand-up special you can leave on in the background to listen to, Does This Need To Be Said? needs to be viewed as Ferguson’s mannerisms just add to the laughter along with his jokes. If for nothing else, you need to watch it just for one of his “patented” Craig Ferguson lip syncs as he dances to “Oops, I Did It Again” by Britney Spears. If you like humor that doesn’t take itself too seriously, even when talking about serious things, then Craig Ferguson may just be your cup of tea! As always, Does This Need to be Said? Is available from Netflix Instant for your viewing pleasure in wonderful HD!

Random Queue 101: Ink

Sometime the best way to find something to watch is to close your eyes and point. In my case that means closing my eyes, letting my fingers go crazy all over the remote control and let it land somewhere in my Netflix. Every other week, I’m going to randomize my viewing and bring you a title straight out of the Netflix Instant recommendations. They will never be from my queue or recently watched to avoid anything I’d actually want to watch or anything I’ve already seen. Whether they be new films, old TV shows, classics or giant dog turds I’ll watch ’em and pass them along to you! So with that in mind I bring you Random Queue.

Ink is a 2009 independent sci-fi drama written and directed by Jamin Winans. After we all go to bed, the Storytellers come and bring us dreams and fantasies to make our slumber pleasant. However, at the same time the Incubi also come and bring us nightmares. That is thrown out of harmony when one night a lost soul named Ink kidnaps the soul of a little girl named Emma and whisks her away into the dream world where he hopes to trade her soul for a job as an Incubi. The Storytellers must save her and return her to life while in the real world, her body lays in a coma and her estranged father must come to terms with being the father he should be.

Ink failed to be picked up for a widespread theatrical release but caught on as it was illegally downloaded and shared on the internet. When I randomly came across it I was interested because for an independent sci-fi film it had a pretty good rating of four out of five stars on Netflix. The synopsis caught my attention and I was eager to jump into the title. After about 20 minutes of confusion, the story finally started to take shape and I began to understand what was actually going on. The quality of the effects and acting were impressive as I really didn’t have high hopes for either. The cinematography wasn’t anything to be in awe over most of the time, as it visually looked like a made for TV movie. About midway through the film it shakes off a lot of the corniness that is evident of the characters, story and writing and actually seems to take itself more seriously. By the end I was completely captivated by what was happening, even if I did call the end of the movie before it ever happened.

Ink sort of looks like something you’d expect from college students studying film. It has a decent story and even finds the effects and acting that it needs, but tends to suffer in certain areas that make it easy to pick out as an independent film. If you’re expecting a big budget sci-fi flick you will be disappointed, if you open your mind for a bit and let the movie find its pace you’ll be pleasantly surprised with Ink. There were times I was legitimately creeped out and if I had watched this at night, nightmares would surely follow. Never the less, Ink brings you into another world that eerily borders on our own and manages to entertain after the initial slowness. Check back in two weeks when I turn out another random viewing from Netflix and share my thoughts on what you may, or may not, find interesting and entertaining!