Posted tagged ‘minnesota’

Remembering Eyedea…

October 16, 2011

I couldn’t attend the park bench/picnic table dedication in St. Paul today, so I made this tribute.

Classic Chaz: My Favorite Christmas Flicks!

December 24, 2010

Yeah, I'm not writing about any of these.

Way back in the year 2006 A.D., a midst the Hyphy movement and Tower Records liquidation, I wrote a little somethin’ somethin’ about my all time favorite Christmas films. I had forgotten about this until a few weeks back when I saw National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation for the first time. Yes, I know, I had no business making a list of favorite Christmas movies with such a blank spot in my catalog. Well, here’s the thing, I *thought* I had seen it. The deal is, my Dad’s been a Timberwolves season ticket holder since before the team existed, so during my grade school years while my parents were getting divorced, if the night I was with him fell on the night of a game we spent quality time by cheering them on together. As Christmas approached, they would play clips from Christmas Vacation in-between plays to get us all in a festive mood between Christian Laettner moodswings. After a decade of Clark Griswald repetition, I could have sworn I saw the film. This was not the case. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to agree that it’s a good movie, even if now I think it suffers from not enough scenes of Wally Szczerbiak dunking.

Regardless, I stand by my four-year-old feelings feelings toward the following films. All holiday classics, all warm the 36 chambers of my heart. So let’s look back together on the Christmas movies I could make it through before I was legally old enough to drink Egg Nog!

Killa Season’s Greetings!

Your loyal Facebook friend Chaz here. Tis the season, between Christmas and New Year’s, where the B and C list of Christmas films get shown. Most of these atrocities suck in the worst way, as any combination of the words “christmas,” “deck,” “holiday,” “snow,” “winter,” “Santa,” “present” or “Toyland” usually results in something truly vile to get that Christmas Ca$h.

But some of these are truly wonderful little gems who only see the light of day this time of the year. OK, perhaps that is stretching it, BUT, I can promise you that each of these are worth at least one viewing. So, let’s begin this sleigh ride through the septic tank! Jingle balls!

John Waters' Favorite Christmas Film!

Christmas Evil (1980, Lewis Jackson)

I’ve never really been a huge fan of holiday themed horror films. While there are some certain gems that require annual viewing, but for every Charles Kaufman’s Mother’s Day or William Lustig’s Uncle Sam, there’s a dozen Valentines or April Fool’s Days. Christmas horror films are often the worst of these, with colossal wastes of time like Bill Goldberg in Santa’s Slay and the 1990’s VHS shot Santa Claws.

However, the first two starting off this list are legitimate “entries” in this genre. Christmas Evil, originally titled You Better Watch Out is far and away the best film on this list. A legitimate dark comedy about a toy-maker who has been obsessed with Santa ever since seeing a man in a Santa suit go down on his Mom as a child, he takes his double life as Kris Kringle a tad too seriously, bringing toys to the good unfortunate kids and slaughtering those who are naughty! F*** your miracle, this Massacre on 34th Street brings me FAR more cheer! Mostly because I love seeing a**holes get their come-uppens.

It’s also worth noting that the Santa figure here is played by FIONA APPLE’s father Brandon Maggart! Plus, “Home Improvement” guilty sexual fantasy Patricia Heaton has a cameo as an abusive single mother who SMACKS THE F***ING S*** out of her son! Those fun facts aside, this is a legit great film. Why aren’t you ordering this on Amazon right now? Probably because you are too busy watching…

Jack Frost (1996, Michael Cooney)

Everyone has that one moment in their life they wish they could revisit. For some, it’s their wedding night. For others, the birth of their first child. For me, it’s the cold December night my Freshman year of High School when I first watched Jack Frost.

NOT to be confused with the equally absurd Michael Keaton career killer about a boy whose father is reincarnated in the body of a snowman to help him get r-r-revenge on some bullies, this classic tells the tale of a serial killer who, on the truck ride to his execution, is part of a huge chemical accident where his DNA molecules are fused with snow. This leaves his standard physical form as manipulable as a snowman.

I vividly recall that wonderful night. The blizzard of 2000. Stars in my eyes as this waddling clunky snowman took his revenge on the family and friends of the cop who sent him to the chair in the first place. While Christmas Evil hones most of the truly clever inventiveness in terms of plot and character development, Jack Frost opts to keep concept simple with diverse execution. Christmas lights, Christmas trees, sleds, and just about every icon of the season is utilized in the barrage of over-the-top Mortal Kombat style Christmas fatalities. Did I mention Shannon “American Pie” Elizabeth is in this?

Cooler than 'Tomcats?'

Yessa, she plays the Police chief’s daughter who meets her hilarious end in one of Cinema’s all time greatest love scenes:

This image also happens to be my family crest.

Long story short, see this film! Even if you can only get the VHS with the fabulous hologram cover. But if Snowman-Rape is a little too intense for you this holiday season, than may I recommend:

Season's Beatings!

Santa With Muscles (1996, John Murlowski)

Cabin Fever, the fine people who brought you Hulk Hogan as a toy store owner/assassin in Secret Agent Club, comes the immortal Santa With Muscles. Here, Terry “Hulk” Hogan stars as an evil billionaire who suffers memory loss, believes he’s Santa Claus, and befriends an orphanage that stands on the verge of being shut down by another evil entrepreneur and his evil team that even includes (their words, not mine) an “evil geologist.”

SNL alum Garrett Morris appears, as does Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake in YELLOW FACE as a kung-fu sumo. But the celebrities don’t stop there! Inexplicably, half of the future cast of “That 70’s Show” appear, including a cutie sexy 11-year-old Mila Kunis. Not-to-mention megastar Clint “Ice Cream Man” Howard. There’s some resolution at the end involving exploding crystals beneath the orphanage, but this flick is pretty brutal and I honestly doubt you will last that long. You’re more than welcome to prove me wrong, but please remember the tagline was “He went from Naughty to Nice, and now he’s putting Bad Guys on Ice!”

But perhaps you survive Christmas with the Hulkster and need some more steroid guzzling holiday entertainment, well then let me remind you of probably the most known film on this list:

LOL, Foreign!

Jingle All the Way (1996, Brian Levant)

Like everyone else who grew up in the Twin Cities, I claim to be in this film. Here, the unfortunate governor of California stars as a work-obsessed terrible father whose wife wants him to get the latest hottest toy, “Turbo-Man,” for his son as the most important Christmas gift of his young life. Putting off the shopping until Christmas Eve, Arnold becomes competitive with a rival father, a mailman (Sinbad, who won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for his performance) and hi-jinks ensue!

As an added bonus, Phil Hartman plays Arnold’s neighbor who covets his wife HARD. You’ve never seen such Christmas coveting! Martin Mull also appears as the racist bigot host of KQRS-92 FM, Tom Bernard. If you’re from Minnesota (and if so, please bring me some Davanni’s) you’ll see this film as the perfect snapshot of what downtown Minneapolis looked like in the mid-90s.

Just remember as you watch Arnold stumble and bumble around, that this man gets to decide who lives and who dies in California. Yep, that guy punching out a reindeer had the final say in whether Tookie Williams was executed or not. That in mind, this film could someday be used as the greatest anti-voting propaganda ever created. That is, except for:

McRibs Hath No Fury!

The Clipse’s Christmas in McDonaldland (2003, Craig Witte)

OK, this film doesn’t exist. I just really wanted to post this picture. But until you NYU film cadets choose to create this masterpiece, our only hope for some crack-centric Holiday fun is:

I swear, by the moon and the stars and the sky, this is real!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964, Nicolas Webster)

Every Christmas film on this list owes a debt of gratitude to this, the grandpappy of all questionable Christmas flicks. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, involves the martians kidnapping Santa so he can bring Christmas to the children on Mars, until Santa (with the help of two small children) finally conquer them.

Originally introduced to me via the homies as Mystery Science Theater 3000, this film is astronomically bad. If any station you watch chooses to air this, you’re better off cutting your cable provider and committing suicide as you were born into a world no child deserves to live in. The aliens are annoying, the polar bears are CLEARLY people, and I think the select few who think Christmas should be about that Jesus guy may have the right idea.

The score is the only saving grace/final blow. “He’s fat and round and jumpin’ jimminy / he can fit down any chimminey!” goes “Hooray for (sic) Santy Claus.” Future star Pia Zadora also appears as a martian child, so if Pia Zadora’s your thing, I’d give this film my full recommendation. The MST3K version mentions my fallen mecca the Apache Plaza as well.

At any rate, I hope this exercise in season favorites has proven enjoyable for you. Please savor these season treasures while you’re still on Earth, because in Heaven they just play the first three Jaws movies all the damn time.

paz,
chaz

Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas…and other MST3K X-Mas fun!

December 16, 2010

Christmas on the Satellite of Love!

Being a Minnesotan, I’ve had the tremendous fortune to grow up surrounded by the unhinged awesomeness that is my state’s contributions to the arts. Believe it or not, my Midwest abyss is home to Prince, the Replacements, Louie Anderson, The Mighty Ducks and X-Pac. I’ve also been lucky enough to grow up at the perfect age to have my entire cognoscente understanding of the world around me shaped by a show called ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000.’ If you aren’t familiar, it’s a program about a guy and his two robot pals who make fun of actual movies while you watch them in their entirety. A brilliant concept, I came for the puppets and stayed for the web of pop culture references I’m half-certain only I get. Also catering to me is their delightful Christmas specials where they hurled insults at the Mexican film where Santa Claus fights Satan known as Santa Claus (available to watch RIGHT NOW on Netflix streaming by clicking here or anywhere in this sentence) as well as the self-explanatory Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Along with the fun in the theater were the host segments that featured some of my new favorite Holiday standards.

Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas

Having seen Road House twice in the past week, this song is particular relevant to my topical interests. It’s catchy, fun and uplifting, everything a seasonal carol should be.

Merry Christmas (If That’s OK)

Like I mentioned, MST3K hit its stride as a product of the 90s, a time of overbearing political correctness. Now, I know the past decade has seen the backlash to “political correctness” become tied to people who want to feel justified in any xenophobic comment or unfounded argument they would like to believe as an undisputed fact, but let’s remember that the mid-90s had things getting really out of hand. For example, and I’m not making this up, my grade school was worried the red checkmarks by incorrect answers on tests were hurting the student body’s self-esteem so they were replaced with red “L’s” and the motto “we don’t make mistakes, we make learnings.” Wretched, eh? Well, this sentiment is perfectly captured and made the best of with a Seasonal romp that’s sure to delight you no matter what you celebrate, which I fully respect and support.

MST3K Christmas Essays

I’m convinced this one sketch where the everyone shares their Christmas essays is the precursor to Tumblr.

It’s always good to spend Christmas with some guys in space!

We give Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Christmas Endeavors a Five Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

R.I.P. Eyedea – My Top Ten Favorite Eyedea songs (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

November 8, 2010

Rest in Peace - Eyedea

Michael “Eyedea” Larsen was one of the most beloved figures in both the Twin Cities music scene and the worldwide underground soundscape. A passionate artist, compassionate thinker and genuine soul, his work was as varied as it was experimental. First rising to national prominence by winning the 2000 Blaze Battle, he soon ran to the opposite end of the rap spectrum and made some of the most complex conceptual rap music the genre’s ever heard. As a native Minneapolitian, it was great growing-up with Eyedea in the world. He was always an accessible, excited figure and really inspirational and influential on countless levels. He was our one-man Good Life Cafe. His numerous exploit across genres are too numerous to name, and for this special installment of Chaz’s Arbitrary Top Ten List Extravaganza, I’m just going to let the music speak for itself.

10 ) Eyedea & Abilities – “Music, Music”

9 ) Eyedea & Abilities – “One Twenty”

8 ) Eyedea – “Weird Side”

7 ) Eyedea – “Big Shots”

6 ) Eyedea f/ Sage Francis & Slug – “Embarassed”

5 ) Eyedea – “Even Shadows Have Shadows”

4 ) Eyedea – “Step by Step”

3 ) Eyedea – “Bottle Dreams”

2 ) Eyedea & Abilities – “Smile”

1 ) Eyedea & Abilities – “Now”

BONUS: Eyedea vs. RK – where Eyedea’s closing punchline is arguably the greatest moment in the history of rap battling.

A Fantastic, Raw interview with Chilly S

R.I.P. Michael “Eyedea” Larsen 11/9/81-10/16/10

Chaz’s Best of Rap-A-Lot Compilation – FREE DOWNLOAD & HISTORY LESSON!

June 7, 2010

A Symbol of Quality

As I’ve stated many times on this site, rap music is awesome. It’s a subject I’m passionate about and will gladly discuss for hours on end. Among my favorite topics of that of Houston’s Rap-A-Lot Records. Formed in 1986 by then-car dealer James “J Prince” Smith, it has honed Hip-Hop to some of its highest heights. Along with breaking the regional glass-ceiling that plagued southern rappers throughout the 80s, the label’s been home to some of the genre’s most respected and beloved artists such as Scarface, Devin the Dude and UGK’s Bun-B. It’s a label whose catalog is deep with a roster full of artists that each bear a distinct sound while maintaining the label’s standard of quality output.

In recognition of VH1’s Hip-Hop Honors acknowledging the label tonight, I’ve decided to share my Best of Rap-A-Lot Compilation I made back in 2007 at the height of my Rap-A-Lot fandom. I’ve always felt the Houston sound is perfect for this time of year, with the entire country being baked by a brutal sun the label provides the perfect soundtrack for anything from backyard barbecues to after-hours antics. I tried to not include more than one song from each album and I know there are some glaring omissions whose albums I didn’t have at the time as many of the label’s releases are either out-of-print or inaccessible depending on where you are, so I’ve decided to add the five most regrettable cuts at the end.

His awesomeness, J. Prince

I know there’s also some of you who never have/wanted to give any rap music south of the Mojo Nixon line a chance. This mix and entry is also for you to hopefully provide some context and level with you as to why these artists are praised and why their music is dope. Enlighten yourself, fool.

DOWNLOAD THE ENTIRE MIX HERE: http://www.4shared.com/file/USpWvM1G/Best_of_Rap-A-Lot.html

Tracklisting:

1) Seagram “2 For 1”
– Starting things off we have the late Seagram. A Bay Area favorite, Seagram is most known for being the first in rap to use the “Double Dutch Bus” ‘izzle’-speak, predating E-40/Snoop Dogg/Missy/Fran Drescher with 1992’s “Straight Mobbin.” I opted instead to open this collection with “2 For 1,” to help ease in those of you not familiar with country rap tunes by having Seagram utterly destroy a medley of classic breaks (re: samples) for five minutes. Welcome to Rap-A-Lot

2) Convicts “Peter Man”
– One of the most sought after records in the RAL catalog is the debut of (future-Geto Boy) Big Mike and (future-Blac Monk) 3-2 as The Convicts. Their self-titled release is a concept album from two, you guessed it, Convicts behind bars. An industry favorite, it’s constantly eluded to on several certified rap classics. One listen to “Peter Man,” and many moments of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic are going make a lot more sense.

3) Geto Boys “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”
– The label’s biggest hit and an canonical rap song, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” is truly one of the genre’s biggest triumphs. It also lead to a popular viral Star Wars video and one of the best St. Ides ads of all time.

4) Poppa LQ “South Central Soldier”
– In the early 90s, the label expanded with Rap-A-Lot West and one of the best releases from the imprint was Your Entertainment, My Reality by Poppa LQ. Under-appreciated even in Rap-A-Lot circles, this reinvention of the one-time “Native Son” Laquan was one of rap’s most dramatic metamorphosis resulting in the perfect implication of the Rap-A-Lot aesthetic in the West Coast soundscape.

5) Geto Boys “Crooked Officer”
– When Willie D left the Geto Boys, he was replaced by aforementioned Convicts member Big Mike. The result was the trio’s darkest album Til Death Do Us Part. A midst a much more brooding production, one of the album’s highlights was the scathing “Crooked Officer,” one of the best corruption songs ever recorded.

They know how to play 'em.

6) OG Style “Catch ‘Em Slippin”
– Dearly departed duo OG Style consisted of ‘Original E’ Eric Woods and producer DJ Woods (UGK’s “One Day”). The first single off I Know How to Play ‘Em,, it features my favorite usage of that Meters sample ever. Love this song.

7) Geto Boys “Gangsta of Love”
– The ORIGINAL version that appeared on their 1989 Grip It on that Other Level album is among the most savagely “ig’nant” sex songs ever recorded. Steve Miller caught feelings and had the sample replaced (with “Sweet Home Alabama”) when it reappeared a year later on their 1990 Rick Rubin produced self-titled American debut.

8 ) DMG “Psycho”
– The FIRST Minnesotan rapper to break national*, St. Paul’s DMG put the Twin Cities on the map with 1992’s Rigormortiz. Short-but-sweet, “Psycho” at first listen sounds like the best Scarface song that Face didn’t make. Midwest represent.

9) Geto Boys “Do It Like a G.O.”
– Label president J.Prince does the intro on this jump off that expresses the frustration of being a Southern voice that gets largely ignored by the media at large. This features the infamous DJ Ready Red “at’cha/statue” line Mr. Lif referenced in the Revenge of the Robots documentary, as well as arguably the absolute angriest Willie D ever sounded.

Bushwick Bill AKA Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir

10) Menace Clan “Kill Whitey”
– Perhaps the most famous obscure rap group, made highly Googled by unintentionally hilarious white-supreamicist websites for their leading examples that rap music as a whole is racist, Menace Clan’s 1992 album Da Hood features some of the glossiest production in the label’s catalog. Yes, it’s possibly the most explicitly racist rap song you’ll ever hear, but if you can listen to Wagner, you should be able to divorce the message from the music and appreciate Menace Clan too.

11) Odd Squad “I Can’t See It”
– Off Fadanuf Fa Ery’body, the album Scarface considers the label’s best, comes Devin the Dude’s first group the Odd Squad. Tied for my favorite rap album all time, it features “I Can’t See It,” the solo-cut from member Blind Rob Quest that remains rap’s best anthem for the vision impaired.

12) Scarface “I Like P***y”
– If “Gangsta of Love” was notable for its brash explicitness, “I Like P***y” off Face’s solo debut stands out for its Epictetus-level stoicism. Off a haunting bassline, Face flexes his storytelling ability to almost-realtime describe an average sexual encounter.

13) Big Mike “Havin Thangs”
– Produced by UGK’s Pimp C, Big Mike’s debut solo single is one of the most revered cuts in the RAL catalog. The sleeper hit off the Dangerous Minds soundtrack, it’s also the song a girl I dated in college believed should be McDonaldland character Grimace’s theme music when the fast food chain decides to finally toughen up their image.

14) The Terrorists “F**k the Media”
– One of the earliest recorded responses to how rap is viewed in the media, this song off the duo’s impossibly titled Terror Strikez: Always Bizness, Never Personal makes the argument that rap shouldn’t be subjected to such particular scrutiny and that the music should stand for itself, best articulated with the line “Ask why I rap about violence and not peace, ho get out my face before I burn you with some hot grease.”

"Come and take a ride with the Bradster."

15) Scarface f/ Ice Cube & Devin the Dude “Hand of the Dead Body”
– Off my other favorite rap album of all time The Diary, Scarface’s “Hand of the Dead Body” sees him joined by Ice Cube to offer the best response from an artist perspective to the critiques of rap’s violent nature. What makes “Hand of the Dead Body” special is that it’s a reactionary record that by-passes the media itself to speak directly to the listeners as to why these allegations are frivolous. It dissects the arguments from both sides and stands the centerpiece of one of the most honest albums ever released.

16) Devin the Dude “Do What You Wanna Do”
– Alleviating the pressure is Devin the Dude’s “Do What You Wanna Do,” a relaxing smooth cut that oozes cool. It’s as uplifting as laid back gets.

17) Geto Boys “Damn, It Feels Good to be a Gangsta”
– Yes, the song from Office Space, implemented into cinematic immortality by fellow Texan Mike Judge. Enough’s been written about this song, so instead I’d like to use this time to stress how awesome Face was in Judge’s follow-up Idiocracy, stealing the show in the greatest post-credits scene in movie history.

18) Devin the Dude f/ Snoop Dogg & Andre 3000 “What a Job”
– Closing things out is the recent cut from the Dude that celebrates the realities of the rap life instead of bemoaning it. The passion on display here really captures what later-RAL releases have been about – a love for the craft doing whatever possible to offer something fresh and unique to the Hip-Hop nation. At a time when it’s been easier than ever for music to become homogenized in oversaturation and a career in the field seems as unstable as ever, “What a Job” is a testament to the label’s passion and quarter-century of quality.

We give Rap-A-Lot Records a Five Out of Five

Oh, and here’s another live five –

(also noteworthy – Do or Die, Ganksta Nip and UTP)

For further reading check out Andrew Noz’s Top 25 Rap-a-Lot songs and his 2004 Rap-A-Lot Week coverage.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*MC Skat Kat DOESN’T COUNT!