"The way the legend goes is he was executed shortly after midnight. Some witnesses say he seemed to be enjoying himself. One witness said he died with a smile on his face. He was one bad, bad man."
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, 2000 Volts
Because I love to say words.
"The way the legend goes is he was executed shortly after midnight. Some witnesses say he seemed to be enjoying himself. One witness said he died with a smile on his face. He was one bad, bad man."
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, 2000 Volts
“Naruto 2009” is a rap album about the anime Naruto. It’s not just a retelling of the story, though. It’s a concept album where Eddie Rath is inside the world of Naruto and describes himself sword-fighting and fucking the different characters.
Oh Jaysus why.
Villains songs are awesome. If you have a musical, and that musical has an antagonist, and you do not give that antagonist a song, you are doing something very wrong. Pretty much the only exception to this I can think of is Mulan, where Shen Yu singing would’ve ruined the character. But everywhere else? My statement holds.
This is not a singing man.
This is my only problem with Disney’s Hercules. Hades is pretty much one of Disney’s greatest villains of all time. James Woods nailed every single line he was given. Dude was basically a sleazy used car salesman in a movie with a bunch of very soulful music. And then you don’t give this character a jazz number? WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!?
Indeed, it seems that for every few great villain songs Disney has, they also have a tragically missed opportunity. For example, did you know that their animated comedy, The Emperor’s New Groove, was originally going to be a more traditional animated musical called Kingdom of the Sun? In it, Yzma, still played by the late great songstress Eartha Kitt, was going to be a witch who tries to put out the sun instead of a mad scientist who tries to turn the ruler of a kingdom into a llama. Why would she do that? Just listen to this.
That’s right. That’s a complete, fully orchestrated, fully vocalized (both lead and backup vocals) villain song for Yzma from Kingdom of the Sun. Now don’t get me wrong. The Emperor’s New Groove is a fantastic movie. It’s probably my favorite comedy. Everything in it is wonderful, especially the voice acting from David Spade’s Kuzco and John Goodman’s Pacha to Eartha Kitt’s Yzma, and of course, Patrick Warburton as Kronk, which is arguably Warburton’s finest work to date. Outside of the Cheese and Burger Society, that is.
Although really it’s not hard to imagine Kronk saying all of that stuff anyway.
But the thing is, it’s not the same. Snuff Out The Light is an amazing song, and for it to never have seen a theatrical release is sad. In a perfect world, both The Emperor’s New Groove and Kingdom of the Sun would’ve gotten made. Sadly, we do not live in a perfect world. Now, Yzma did eventually get a couple of official villain songs in the sequels, notably the pretty good Feel Like A Million from Kronk’s New Groove, and the barely-decent Yzmopolis from the TV series.
However, deleted songs seem to be par for the course for Disney. Take, for example, this lost song of Shere Khan’s from The Jungle Book:
I can see why this was cut. It’s pretty bad, and the content is kind of extreme for a kid’s film. All I know is that a singing voice like that deserves some kind of song. And the Jungle Book’s story is pretty weak. In fact, the whole movie kind of sucks. When you get down to it, it’s got three good songs, so it needs all the help it can get, and a voice like that would’ve helped a lot.
And now I come to my favorite Disney villain. Jafar. I’ve always thought that Jafar needed a villain song in Aladdin. And he does have one, in the sequel, Return of Jafar. It’s really good. Say what you want about the movie. Dan Castellaneta isn’t an adequate replacement for Robin Williams, the animation’s inferior, the story’s weird, whatever. But you diss this song and I’ve got a bone to pick with you, because before the days of the Internet, I watched the VHS of this movie a thousand times just for this song alone:
And think about it. If that one song makes an otherwise lacking movie something good, imagine what a villain song for Jafar in a high-quality theatrical movie would’ve been like! Well, as it turns out, there IS a cut villain song for Jafar, a duet performed with Iago, an early test without the proper voice actors (or at least without Gilbert Gottfried). Still, I’ll bet that the song itself is good. Let’s take a listen!
Oh… wow. Ok. So maybe some things deserve to get cut.
So I’m finally going to be watching some live-action TV for the first time in years. The CW is airing a couple shows that I’m interested in soon. First, as anybody familiar with this blog can guess, is “Arrow”, the show about the Green Arrow.
I like the costume, but I really think they should bring back the domino mask.
Next up is a sequel series to Joss Whedon’s self-funded musical short film, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
It actually took me a really long time to get around to watching this. Still, I love it.
At first, my reaction to the news that Dr. Horrible was getting a TV show was something along these lines:
And then I started thinking about it, and now I’m not so sure I’m into the idea.
For those uninitiated, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is a musical starring Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible, a mad scientist trying to change the world. Basically, Dr. Horrible is a beleaguered nerd, fairy well-known supervillain, and arch-nemesis of Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion), a douchey super-jock that everybody loves. He has two goals in the film: Get into the Evil League of Evil, the ultimate council of supervillains, and impress Penny (Felicia Day), the love of his life. Basically, it’s a 40-minute high school drama with a superhero theme and singing. You can watch it for free on Netflix. It’s also uploaded in full on YouTube.
I’m not going to get into all of the details, but basically, the end has Dr. Horrible win a tragic victory. He finally defeats Captain Hammer and gets into the Evil League of Evil, but at a great cost. Dr. Horrible becomes a very dark, menacing figure, a supervillain who’s basically unstoppable. Our protagonist is the bad guy, and after years of getting kicked around, the bad guy wins. And that’s a great ending.
But it doesn’t really allow much for a sequel, does it? See, when I try to think of a show with a villainous protagonist, the first thing that comes to my mind, and probably the minds of a lot of other people my age, is Invader Zim.
For you younglings who don’t know what I’m talking about, Invader Zim was a TV show that ran on Nickelodeon from March 2001 to December 2002. Because it ran for such a short time, it’s kind of a cult hit, mostly discussed among nerd circles and Hot Topic customers. I’ll probably go more into detail about it at another time, but the basic premise of the show is that there’s an intergalactic alien empire called the Irkan Empire, who send out invaders to conquer worlds and expand the empire. One of these invaders, Zim, is a power-hungry screwup who the rest of the empire, including its leaders, would rather not associate with. So they trick him into going to what they believe is an isolated corner of space, but is actually the planet Earth. With the help of GIR, a defective and goofy Standard-issue Information Retrieval unit, Zim goes undercover on Earth as a schoolboy, and frequently tries to take over the world.
The thing is, while Zim is evil, at least in spirit, he’s also horribly incompetent. In every episode, he had a scheme, and the scheme would play out in one of two ways.
1. The scheme would backfire horribly, and Zim would actually have to reverse the consequences of what he put into motion, thus returning everything to the status quo.
2. The scheme would work, but because it was so stupid, it didn’t actually change anything. These were usually stories happening in the background of episodes in which Zim’s archenemy would try to expose him.
Invader Zim was a show that, for the while it ran, worked, because Zim wasn’t actually capable of getting anything done. He was a loser, plain and simple. Dr. Horrible, however, is not. All throughout his movie, his plans are, for the most part, competent, and Captain Hammer is the only obstacle standing in his way. Once that obstacle is gone, he’s clearly a winner, and we even see that he’s basically unstoppable, being initiated into a group of the baddest bad guys (and horse) in the world and robbing banks in broad daylight facing no resistance. Even some of his screw-ups can be turned around, like stealing gold with a transporter ray. The ray doesn’t reconstitute the atoms, and he only has liquid gold to show for it, but hey, gold is valuable no matter what form it’s in, and as he points out, the theft wasn’t about making money (which is still possible), but taking money, so he accomplished his goal.
But how will that work for a TV show? It’s hard to say. The thing is, I’d like to say that the superhero/supervillain stuff takes a backseat in Dr. Horrible, but really, I’m not sure how true that is. A lot of it is allegory for what basically amounts to high school drama, and that’s cool, but how good of a show can you make about a character, who in universe, is now the successful popular kid? I imagine there’s some drama and politics you can do with the Evil League of Evil (and I’m really excited to see how they characterize the ELE’s leader, who’s an evil horse), but I don’t know how far you can take that. And Dr. Horrible needs to still be the protagonist. He’s a very relatable character, especially for the film’s target demographic (nerds), and really, we all want to see as much of Neil Patrick Harris as humanly possible, because everyone loves NPH, even soulless machines.
So, I’ll be keeping an eye on the show when it comes out. A wary eye, but an eye all the same. After all, it is the creation of Joss Whedon, who the Internet informs me can do no wrong. And the Internet wouldn’t lie, right? Right?
Lucky you! You get two posts in one day! Consider it my 4th of July present. To America. And also all you non-Americans who happen to stumble across this.
So today I saw The Amazing Spider-Man, and of course, I have opinions on it. I mean, who wouldn’t have opinions on it? See, even though he’s arguably Marvel’s most popular character, Spider-Man just hasn’t really been enjoying the hype and attention that The Avengers and Batman are getting this summer. Of course, I think we all know why that is. We’ve all seen Spider-Man in a major production already. So when we’re seeing him again, rather than compare him to the other stuff happening this summer, we have to compare him to his past incarnations. And so, I come here to answer the major question on everybody’s mind: How does The Amazing Spider-Man hold up to Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark?
You know, I can swear there was a video game level where Spider-Man fought Mysterio in a theater just like this one.
Yeah, yeah, I know, you were probably expecting a comparison to the Sami Raimi Spider-Man films starring Toby Maguire, but to hell with that. Everyone’s expecting that. And we’re all about two things here at the Magical Word Palace: Defying expectations, and chewing bubblegum.
And we’re all out of reference jokes.
So let’s get started.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN AND SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK.
You know what’s really fucking eerie? The stories to these two productions are completely fucking identical. I mean, there’s a couple differences, but I swear, I’m not making this up, they’re like, 90% the exact fucking same. And I mean, sure, you expect a few things to be similar: Spider-Man gets powers, Uncle Ben dies, Peter gets the girl, supervillain battle, but it just goes so much further than that.
In The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker is your average high school nerd. He’s handsome, has great hair, is really good with a skateboard, and flirts with pretty, intelligent blonde girls. You know, normal geek stuff. Anyway, while looking into the reason his father left him, he comes across his father’s science notes and the name of an old acquaintance: Dr. Curt Connors. Peter goes to visit Connors at Oscorp, where he gets bitten by a genetically-altered spider and gains amazing powers. After he goofs off a bit, his uncle dies, and he dedicates himself to using his new powers for good as the superhero Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Dr. Connors gets desperate with his research, and uses himself as a human lab rat, turning himself into the Lizard. He now plans to turn all of Manhattan into lizard-people just like him, and only Spidey can stop him.
In Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, Peter Parker is your average high school nerd. He’s handsome, has a nice singing voice, is really good at making you hear him in the cheap seats, and flirts with the pretty redhead next door. You know, normal geek stuff. Anyway, during a school field trip to OsCorp, Peter meets his idol, Norman Osborn. He also gets bitten by a genetically-altered spider and gains amazing powers. After he goofs off a bit, his uncle dies, and he dedicates himself to using his new powers for good as the superhero Spider-Man. Meanwhile, Normal Osborn gets desperate with his research, and uses himself as a human lab rat, turning himself into the Green Goblin. He now plans to turn all of Manhattan into freaks like him, and only Spidey can stop him.
Now, Turn Off The Dark came out first, by a wide margin. Sure, Amazing was in production in Hollywood for years, but I think it’s pretty clear who had the stroke of genius, and who’s just copying the other guy. But, I mean, yeah, ok, you can argue that Amazing did it better, so I guess it’s a tie.
Next is the acting. The cast in Amazing Spider-Man was a treat to watch. Andrew Garfield really showed his acting chops and gave us a believable, likable Peter Parker, one who does make the normal screw-ups that most teens do, and was very relatable. Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy is a girl that anybody would want to have as a friend, if not date. Dennis Leary’s George Stacy is one of the best and most well-written examples of police not liking a superhero I’ve ever seen, one that was actually believable and not just jealous of the hero doing better than the boys in blue. Rhys Ivan’s portrayal of Curt Connors excellently chronicles a sane man’s descent into madness. And Martin Sheen’s Ben Parker dealing with Peter is clearly based on his own dealings with his manic crackhead son Charlie, which makes it so believable.
But Turn Off The Dark’s actors can also sing and dance! They’re triple threats! And as we all know, a Spider-Man that can’t dance is a Spider-Man who ain’t worth jack.
So we’ve got the story and the acting down, but what’s a superhero flick without some good action? In Amazing Spider-Man, the action is great. The fights are pretty intense, whether they’re between Spider-Man and the Lizard or just Spider-Man and some goons. They’re fun to watch, and done really well.
But in Turn Off The Dark, actors in Spider-Man costumes swing around a Broadway theater, flying over the audience! And breaking character for a second here, that’s actually really fucking impressive.
Great job to both productions. Batman approves.
So now we need a tie-breaker. Something to help us decide which is the better Spider-Man production. And if I have to pick something, I think it really comes down to the most important thing in the world: Ass. I mean, The Avengers was amazing, but would it have been half as impressive without us getting to see Chris Evans’ jiggling buttocks in the beginning? I say nay.
Just look at that glorious jiggle. Godspeed, Captain.
And this is where Amazing Spider-Man falls flat. I think there was but a single shot in the whole film in which I could make out the curvature of Spider-Man’s buttocks. And they weren’t even jiggling!
I know. I KNOW.
Conversely, I had balcony seats during Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. I was seated right behind a platform where one of the Spider-Man doubles lands while swinging around the theater. Indeed, I got a glorious face full of Spider-Ass. For but a moment, there was no rest of the world, not even my beloved aunt who I was seeing the musical with. Just me, Spider-Man, and Spider-Man’s butt inches away from my face. And it was glorious.
Broadway: A million and six
Clearly, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is the superior production.
Now in all seriousness, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is actually a lot of fun. It’s not good, but it’s a spectacle, and well worth seeing at least once if you ever get the chance. Amazing Spider-Man, however, is a wonderful film. It certainly lives up to its name. The story, acting, and action are all great, far surpassing the old Raimi trilogy, and you’re really doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see it.
Also? That story about Spider-Man’s butt in my face? That’s 100% true. It was both glorious and horrifying at the same time.
One of the things I like to do in my spare time is marathon TV shows. Recently I spent a week and a half watching all 6 seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire, and for the past couple days I’ve been watching Phineas and Ferb.
This guy right here gets all the bitches.
Phineas and Ferb is an amazing show. It’s very formulaic, to the point where there are about 5 catchphrases that have to be said in every episode, but the humor is really clever. One other thing they have is at least one song per episode. That said, let’s talk about Batman.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold is really unlike any other superhero show I’ve ever seen. It’s not all that serious, and has a very tongue-in-cheek attitude about itself, but still manages to have great stories, characters, and writing. Another interesting thing it has is great songs. Indeed, somewhere along the way, the creators of the show realized that they could really do whatever goofy thing they could come up with in it, and started adding in musical numbers, starting with one of the greatest episodes of the show, “Mayhem of the Music Meister”, starring Neil Patrick Harris as the titular new villain. The episode was a full, 20-minute musical with a lot of great songs, and then in seasons 2 and 3, they added in a bunch more songs.
So, because I feel like it, here are my top 5 songs from Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
5. Grey and Blue
From: “Night of the Batmen!”
Episode Premise: This actually isn’t the episode, but one of the pre-opening segments in which Batman quickly teams up with another hero to end a confrontation with a villain. In this case, it’s The Vigilante, one of the DCU’s cowboy heroes.
The Song: The entire segment pretty much comprises of the song. It’s a showdown at high noon on a Gotham City street, with Batman facing off against some Gotham Mob goons. During the fight, Vigilante pulls out his guitar and sings an Old-West ode to the Caped Crusader, singing about his crime fighting methods and what he stands for. Vigilante even saves Bats from a sniper at one point. It’s just a fun song, really good and really catchy. Also, Vigilante is played by John DiMaggio, who does a great job of it.
4. Birds of Prey
From: “The Mask of Matches Malone!”
Episode Premise: While Batman has a confrontation with Catwoman, Two-Face steals a magical cat-cloak that’s supposed to give the wearer 9 lives. Batman teams up with Catwoman, The Huntress, and Black Canary to go after it, himself going incognito as the criminal Matches Malone. After taking a blow to the head, Batman genuinely believes that he is a crime boss, with Matches Malone becoming the most powerful mobster in Gotham City. Catwoman, Huntress, and Black Canary have to stop him, teaming up to form “The Birds of Prey”.
The Song: This song is great because not only is it a catchy show number, but because it’s filled to the brim with sexual innuendo. The Birds of Prey sing about how good other heroes are at their jobs, “their jobs” meaning “sex”. Among other things, jokes are suggesting that Aquaman’s endowment is lacking, Plastic Man having erectile dysfunction, and and Flash always finishing too soon. And then, of course, Batman is a master of sex. Kids won’t catch any of this at all, and having adult jokes hidden in children’s programming is nothing new, but it was actually fairly uncommon for this show, and they went all-out on it. The writer of this episode is Gail Simone, one of the comic book industry’s most beloved female writers (who has a tumblr you should really be following), and while I don’t know if she wrote the number itself, I’d like to imagine that she did.
3. Where’s The Fun In That?
From: “Emperor Joker!”
Episode Premise: Based off the classic Superman storyline, Bat-Mite shows up during a confrontation between Batman and The Joker. When he tries to aid Batman by giving Batman his powers, but accidentally gives them to The Joker instead, who quickly abuses his new god-like reality warping abilities to turn Gotham into his own personal playground.
The Song: This just shows Joker abusing his new power, as well as giving us insight into the Batman-Joker relationship. See, lots of people have different ideas of what exactly Joker sees in Batman, but it’s universally agreed that the two acknowledge that they’re foils to each other. Some people argue that Joker just wants to spread chaos in general, while some think that Joker wants to break Batman and drive him insane. How does he want to break him? In more adult theories, people postulate that Joker wants Batman to kill him, as it would be the ultimate corruption of what Batman stands for. In lighter versions, such as this song, Joker just wants to crack Batman by making him finally laugh, shown here in the lyrics when Joker repeatedly yells to “Smile, darn ya, smile!” In addition, the song is pretty catchy. I can honestly say that I never thought that the Joker would have a rock and roll villain song, and if I did, I never would’ve expected it to be good.
2. Drives Us Bats
From: “Mayhem of the Music Meister!”
Episode Premise: The Music Meister, a villain who has the ability to hypnotize people with his singing voice, steals a communications satellite to project his voice to the whole world, gaining world domination. He hypnotizes every hero and villain currently in the Gotham City area, leaving just Batman and Black Canary to stop him.
The Song: Picking a song for this was hard, because the whole episode is a musical starring Neil Patrick Harris, and I decided to pick just the best song from it. There are a couple more lackluster songs in it, but overall, I had to go with “Drives Us Bats”, a song in which the Music Meister sings about how annoying Batman’s hyper-proficiency in crime fighting is. But one of the things that drives this over the edge is the number of mythology gags in the song, including multiple references to the Adam West show, such as mentions of “Bat Shark-Repellent” and “The Batusi”. It’s also probably the catchiest song in the episode, and it really shows us just how serious the threat of this new villain is, as he mind-controls heroes, villains, and even civilians into giving Batman a hard time.
Unfortunately, I can’t find a version of this song that can be embedded, so just open this link in a new tab or something and return when you’re done.
1. Aquaman’s Rousing Song of Heroism
Episode Premise: Captain Atom joins the Justice League International, but the other members can’t stand how he looks down on everybody just because of his great powers. When Captain Atom suddenly finds himself depowered into a normal human being, he must learn a lesson in humility, as well of the measure of a true hero.
The Song: This song is just a treat. Aquaman, played by John DiMaggio, was by far the best character on the show. Just having this guy onscreen means you’re going to have a good time, so when music starts and he breaks out into song, the experience can really only be described as pure euphoria. Aquaman basically lists a ton of superpowers, all while being shown wearing various heroes’ costumes (many people were both amused and disturbed by Black Canary Aquaman), but the underlying message of the song is about the power an individual can have, and the strength of their spirit. This song really gets you into a good mood just from listening to it, and is by far my favorite song from the show.
Children of the glade, I have a confession to make. When I was a teenager, I had suicidal tendencies. The reason for this was because of middle school. If anybody reading this is in middle school, I weep for you. And I want you to know that it gets better.
That said, I did not become an emo kid or a goth. Because fuck those guys. Emos weren’t appealing, because I wanted to kill myself, I wouldn’t just cut my wrists in non-fatal ways, I’d go and actually try to fucking end it. I’m not just saying that, either. I tried once. As you can tell, it didn’t work. Incidentally, kids, don’t kill yourself. It’s a shitty fucking thing to do, and everybody will hate you for it.
The goths weren’t appealing either, because while I certainly like black, I don’t’ like it that much, and I don’t like their music. Really, it’s funny, because being a member of either subculture is basically the most passive-aggressive cry for attention imaginable. You intentionally distance yourself from everybody while wanting to be loved and accepted, even if you won’t admit it yourself. The delicious irony of this all is that while I saw goths and emos doing this, I didn’t recognize it in myself, and I was doing the same thing, just under the banner of being a unique weirdo instead.
So kids, the point is, there’s nothing wrong with being different. But if you try to make yourself different on purpose for no other reason than being different, you’re setting yourself up for misery. See ya later!
Wait, fuck, that’s right, I was going somewhere with this. While I never sought out trying to be part of an alternative culture, I love Voltaire. No, not the classical composer (my roommate “violently and justly” informs me that he’s an actually an author, but as my older brother is fond of saying, “details”) the goth musician. Like most people of my generation, I was introduced to Voltaire on the genius cartoon The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, in which he was the sung the “BRAINS!” song in the episode Little Rock of Horrors as an evil meteor from outer space. It’s ok, go ahead and watch it. I’ll still be here when you get back.
Man, I love that episode. Anyway, the point I’m making here is that Voltaire is pretty much the only part of goth subculture that I actually like. Or rather, many of his songs are representative of it. The horror elements. The stuff about skeletons and the like. In fact, I’d say Voltaire’s best work are the songs about monsters, zombies, devils, and other creepy stuff. Honestly, if you censored a bit of it, I could see it being performed on The Muppet Show. And honestly, how fucking awesome would that be? It’s not like if the Muppet Show were running, they wouldn’t have him either. They had Alice Cooper on it, and that’s one of my favorite episodes, even though I didn’t know who Alice Cooper was beforehand.
But another thing about Voltaire’s songs is that, in general, they have an element that I think most mainstream music doesn’t have; storytelling. And no, I’m not saying mainstream songs don’t tell stories. I’m saying that most of those stories are just shallow generic love bullshit, or songs about getting drunk and going to parties, or songs about life in the hood and being a badass. None of them tell stories just for the sake of telling a story, or being funny, or just exploring a theme that hasn’t been manufactured and sold a thousand times for corporate interests and is indistinguishable from every other Tom, Dick, and Ke$ha making albums right now.
That said, he’s also got the whiny, boring, goth bullshit, like the song “Bomb New Jersey”. But, you take the good with the bad, and I’d say Voltaire is about 70% good. And even more astonishingly, he’s fun. His songs are “Dark Macabre”, and some of them are a real blast to listen to. Just goes to show that you can find a diamond in pretty much any rough, even if that rough wears lots of black makeup.