So once again we have survived.

Archive for the ‘Blog Post (short for weblog)’ Category

R.I.P. Kimbo Slice

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

tn_kimboThe legendary (infamous?) fighter known as Kimbo Slice died of heart failure today. Around here we know him as the guy in the opening scene of BLOOD AND BONE who tries to punk Bone in the prison bathroom but finds out that’s not gonna happen. He also returns in the end credits to have his way with the main villain of the movie, and there’s a great video on Youtube of Kimbo on set intently listening to a punching lesson from Michael Jai White.

Everyone’s saying Kimbo was kind and gentle, which is amazing if true because look at that fucking guy! He was only in a couple other movies – two low rent MMA movies that I’ll get to eventually, and SCORPION KING 3: BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION – but he obviously could’ve played a million Tiny Lister type roles if he’d wanted to.

Kimbo had a fascinating history, because he became famous originally as a street brawler, seen in Youtube videos of seedy arranged fights in backyards and parking lots, like something straight out of HARD TIMES, LIONHEART, FIGHTING or RUST AND BONE. Or BLOOD AND BONE. I like when they have be careful so as not to bump into a satellite dish or something. It’s very unskilled fighting and totally unprofessional, presented like porn – that’s because in stemmed out of him being a bodyguard and limo driver for the Reality Kings porn company. Try to duplicate that career path! (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Forever The Greatest

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

tn_aliWe can’t really be shocked to hear that the great Muhammad Ali passed away today, but it still feels wrong. The champ lived almost as long with Parkinson’s as without, so he seemed unstoppable. He’d long since lost his incredible athleticism, his quick wit, his big mouth, and yet he kept going. He was out there, showing up in public every once in a while to pass the Olympic torch, receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom, attend the inauguration of the first black president, make himself known as an American Muslim, or tweet happy birthday to The Rock.

Until today we could still call him a living legend. Even outside of professional boxing his adventures were unparalleled. He had a gold medal (which he threw into the Ohio River after being disgusted with the racism he experienced at home – some dude found it in 2014!). He inspired the song “The Greatest Love of All.” He was a Wrestlemania referee. He had a cartoon where he went to space. He fought tooth decay. He fought Superman! (Don’t worry, his mother’s name was Odessa.) But we admired him most for the true bravery of living from his conscience, putting his career and reputation on the line to oppose the Vietnam War, to go public as a Muslim, and to speak out about racism, even if it bummed out Sly Stone on that ridiculously uncomfortable episode of The Mike Douglas Show. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Well wishes to Darwyn Cooke

Friday, May 13th, 2016

parker1I would like to send out some positive energy to the great artist Darwyn Cooke, who is apparently very ill. Sadly his wife announced today that he is “now receiving palliative care following a bout with aggressive cancer.”

You comic book fans must know Cooke for a million things, but of course I know him as the man who since 2009 has been doing comics adaptations of my favorite book series, the Parker novels by Richard Stark. Although of course the change in medium requires a simplification merely by removing most of the words, Cooke (who received the blessings and input of Donald Westlake when he started the project) has been astonishingly faithful to the material. I love his clean, cartoony style, his bold use of shadows, his retro two-tone coloring and his appreciation for the graphic and architectural styles of the 1960s world he sets the books in. The man knows how to draw a good diner sign, and seems to have a catalog of the different types of faces you don’t see anymore.

I also think I must have similar tastes in Parker books to Cooke, because I love the choices he’s made of which ones to adapt. He started of course with The Hunter (the first one, and basis of POINT BLANK and PAYBACK). Then he skipped to The Outfit, possibly my favorite of the series, but he also included a prologue that’s a little mini-version of book two, The Man With the Getaway Face, so that he could include the fun fact that Parker got plastic surgery to hide his identity after The Hunter. And that way Cooke could completely change his character design after his first book.

Then Cooke went for my other possible favorite entry in the series, The Score, the one where they take down an entire mining town. I implore you to read the original novel, an epic heist story, but it’s also really cool to see Cooke’s visual translation, which is heavy on blueprints and diagrams.

Finally he did Slayground, which is one of my least favorite books in the series, but also the most ripe for this type of reinterpretation. The book has a great premise – Parker hiding in a closed amusement park being hunted while trying to recover a stash of money – but plays more like a recipe for what would be a cool action movie than a successful story in the Parker tradition. Therefore I really enjoyed experiencing it in a visual medium. (The movie starring Peter Coyote doesn’t count, because it barely has anything to do with the main part of the book.)

Finding artwork for this post led me to the fact that there are some hardcover editions of the original novels illustrated with Cooke paintings (that’s what the ad at the upper right of this post is for). I must’ve heard about that but forgot all about it. That erases any minor misgivings I had about people maybe using the comics as replacements for the great novels. I should pick those up.

Anyway, I’m very sorry to hear about Cooke and my thoughts are with him and his family. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures bud, you really know your lines and shapes.

parker2

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Vern’s Book Pile

Friday, April 29th, 2016

tn_bookpile1I don’t know about you guys, but I have kind of a hard time keeping up with all the books. I love them but I put so many of my spare minutes into watching and writing about movies (and checking Twitter, sadly) that I end up with stacks of beautiful tomes sitting around only partially read. That’s fine, that’s life, you can’t do everything. But these piles of people’s passions weigh down my soul with guilt because I know I meant to plug some of them.

As somebody who writes books about movies myself I know this is not exactly a path to riches, so I respect anyone who goes through with it. You gotta really have a passion for the subject to get it done, and there are not enough authors doing that for the kind of movies we love around here. I’m never gonna become a book reviewer, but I do want to showcase some of the ones I have here because in my opinion people are less likely to buy your book if they don’t know it exists. The chances of them accidentally ordering it are pretty slim, I have found. Most people would have to buy your book on purpose.

So I’m about to notify you of some things that exist, and I apologize to a couple of these authors for not doing so earlier. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

R.I.P. Prince

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

tn_princeCan’t believe I just wrote that subject line. I always thought Prince was an ageless immortal. I don’t know if I’ll end up writing a piece about him or not. You all know how much I love him.

It’s kind of beautiful that he died in the studio, at least. I’m glad it wasn’t in that random hospital when he made the emergency landing recently. And I’m glad I went through the trauma of worrying about him during that or I’d be blindsided today.

That guy had a talent and a drive beyond human comprehension. I don’t know what will happen with his legendary vaults of unreleased music, but even among the official releases there is more than most people can handle. So his life was a gift to us all.

I just put on Lovesexy. It’s weird, but that’s the one that really made me fall in love with Prince’s music. I mean, I enjoyed “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” and “Little Red Corvette” and everything in the ’80s. And I actually I got into Batman and Diamonds and Pearls and even the symbol album, but it was when a friend played me Lovesexy that it went from flirtation to love. These weirdly, uniquely Prince funk sounds that bleed into each other, Sheila E playing some weird super drum set, Prince singing about heaven and hell and sex and weird unexplained characters (Spooky Electric?), background voices and chants fading in and out. “And while you’re at it tell your mom about THIS!

prince (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

You can support me through Patreon now

Monday, April 4th, 2016

tn_vern

Hello friends,

Thanks to the encouragement of Clubside Chris and several of the regular commenters I’ve decided to try Patreon. (CLICK HERE FOR MY PAGE THERE.) If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a crowdfunding platform kinda like Kickstarter except instead of supporting a specific project (like a statue of Robocop, a short film about Robocop, or an epic poem about Robocop) you’re supporting the output of an artist or writer or podcaster or whatever. So you can set it to donate a couple bucks monthly and if enough people do it it adds up to bill-paying money. It’s like in Great Expectations, he has that mysterious benefactor helping him to become a gentleman, but instead of doing it because I helped you get your shackles off when you were escaping prison you do it because I recommended a good Scott Adkins movie to your or something. (SPOILERS for Great Expectations.) (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

New directorial work from Michael Jai White

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Check out the trailer for the third NEVER BACK DOWN movie. The first two were about young people in an underground fighting circuit, this one follows White’s great mentor character from part 2 into what looks more like a ROCKY type sports drama. Co-star Josh Barnett is a fighter who caught my eye by being really funny in a villain role in Seagal’s ABSOLUTION. Also you can see that the MUAY THAI GIANT and haver of perfect baby brother Nathan Jones is in there, plus at  least one cool cameo given away in this trailer. Fight choreographer is Larnell Stovall (UNDISPUTED 3, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, also part 2 of this series). I look forward to this one.

Jai alone can solve

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

R.I.P. Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

atcq

I have to say a few words about Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest (pictured center), who died last night. Rolling Stone reports that it was due to complications of diabetes, which is what you’d expect of the MC who called himself “a funky diabetic” on the classic “Oh My God” and who several years ago received a kidney transplant. It was donated by his wife, as was touchingly depicted in Michael Rapaport’s documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life.

I have to agree with the conventional wisdom that A Tribe Called Quest is one of the best rap groups ever. There was a time in the ’90s when I started to resent them as the group that every white non-rap fan would say they liked, along with Beastie Boys. But eventually I had to admit to myself that those guys were right. I liked their first album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, which they made when they were teenagers and wearing to wear goofy costumes. The album holds up due to songs like “Bonita Applebum” and “Can I Kick It?” But it’s their second album, The Low End Theory, that makes them all-timers.

I still kinda remember the feeling of hearing it for the first time. It seemed so weird and stripped down compared to the complex samplescapes that I loved at the time. The sampling of some jazz basslines and horn riffs seemed very distinct and novel at the time, but the drums seemed so simple and raw. And that’s what still stands out to me today. As much as I love their voices and words, I am hypnotized by the drum. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Lucas Minus Star Wars: What have we learned?

Friday, February 19th, 2016

tn_lucaslucasminusstarwarsThank you for indulging me these last few months as I went through all 44 years of George Lucas productions, from the one he made when he was 27 (THX 1138) to the one he made when he was 70 (STRANGE MAGIC). As you know, I’m interested in how Lucas created possibly the most beloved thing in pop culture history (the original Star Wars trilogy) and then became nerd culture’s biggest pariah when he came back to the series later in his career. The Star Wars phenomenon (both its dark side and light side) is so blindingly powerful that it eclipses everything else he’s ever been associated with. I thought it would be valuable to look at his filmography but with Star Wars removed from the equation.

Kind of. You may’ve noticed that I’m too fascinated by his idiosyncratic later work and much of the world’s fanatic hatred of it to leave it out entirely. I couldn’t help but find foreshadows and echoes of the prequels in most of his other movies. I tempted fate by bringing it up again and again, showing (as I was discovering it) that the prequels fit into a larger body of work and obsessions than just that one particular saga about the space conflicts. I want to thank all the commenters for not falling too much into another debate about prequels and special editions even though I kept leaving an opening for it. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

So long 2015, you hustlin sonofabitch

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

tn_mcqueentoastWell, it’s been a year again. 365 days of 2015ness have passed, that much I know for sure. I did not manage to become a successful or highly paid individual yet. I lost some family. The world lost Darren Shahlavi, Roddy Piper and Wes Craven. A bunch of less celebrated people got shot and blown up all around the world. I’m against it. Stop doing that.

I’m gonna focus on the positive though. My life is mostly good, and I make it through the bad days in part because of you guys and what we do here. I think I had a year of writing that I can be proud of. Let’s go over some highlights.

As is my tradition now, I started the year with Clint, revisiting THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. Later in the month I saw his AMERICAN SNIPER, which I still think is more complex than it got credit for. And if you think that makes me a war apologist, fuck you. I didn’t see you seeking out actual Iraqi films about the war like AHLAAM to write about too. That was me that did that.

Speaking of Bradley Cooper movies, I finally reviewed THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN, so I can include a link whenever I mention Cooper for any reason. In that sense I really made alot of progress this year.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.