Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Collection of the Worst DVD Covers Ever.

Last weekend I was hungover. Like, seriously hungover. One of those hangovers you absolutely swear up and down that you don't deserve. You boozed all night, sure, but you didn't booze that hard. Or did you? Hell, it's all a blur and I'm gonna puke.

These days, my body can't handle itself anymore after a night of boozing. Anything more than a few drinks and I can expect the next day to be a full twenty-four hours on the couch in front of the TV. I practically set my shcedule by this. And usually, if it hits the hardest, I can feel the after-effects well into the second day of my Party Redemption. My skin is tender to the touch and my bones ache, but at least my brain is kinda functional.

Damn. What the hell am I putting into my body?

Now, I really can't explain my hangover. I try to act special and unique by complaining that my hangover is worse than your hangover, but I'm sure it's all the same. Do you feel like you have the flu? Is your stomach rotting from the inside out? Do you swear to all that is pure and holy that you'll never drink again?

Through all this praying and whining and crying, nothing is ever gained. My experience is quickly disregarded as nonsense sas soon as I feel better and I'm always back to square one. "Square one," of course, meaing "the bar." Oh well. At least for all the partying leading up into near dying, I can always find comfort and solitude in the next chapter of this horrendous cycle:


When I'm hungover, I pretty much cut myself off from the world. My apartment is my fortress, no one enters, no one leaves. I'm eternally camped out and you will not see or hear from me in those painful twenty-four hours. I feel like I'm some kind of caterpillar, wrapped up in a cocoon for a whole day, just waiting to emerge as a beautiful butterfly. Unshaven, disgruntled and greasy, but beautiful, nonetheless.

Point of my rant? I like to watch movies when I'm sick with the booze. Well, let me rephrase that: all I can do is watch movies. I'm sure everyone who's ever been hungover can agree with this, because watching movies doesn't take a lick of skill at all. It's the perfect plan in helping you to alleviate the sadness while curled up on the floor. My only hangover cure, thus far, has been time, so popping in a grip of DVDs is my only hope. And last weekend, I managed to do just that. You know what else I managed to do? I watched two films with the worst cover art ever.

First up: "The Gate." A total classic, and our first glimpse into the acting world of Stephen Dorff. I can only ever recall seeing him in "Blade" years later, which, really, means nothing to you and not even really to me. Am I still hungover?

Take a look:

Now, if you've never seen the film, this means nothing to you. So for those who have seen it, I respectfully ask...WTF?

"The Gate" was one of those films that only existed on VHS for years. The only times anyone's ever seen it was at a friend's house when they were younger or years later on late night TV. Until "Monster Squad" gained such a huge following, this was a solid film to one-up cheesy film buffs. If you haven't seen it, you weren't total shit, but, like, you were still kind of shitty.

It's about two friends who uncover a portal to hell in their backyard, allowing weird creatures to pass on through to mess everything up. It's fun, entertaining and heavy on keeping it completely un-PC. There's nothing like a ten year old muttering "fag" to his older sister's jerky friends. It's just so raw. I like it.

Well, finally, they put it on DVD. Pretty accessible and simple to find, so everyone could shut the fuck up already. I remember it had a decent cover, which is to say, original cover art idea that tied in to the film. This? This is an abomination.

This new version, their "Monstrous Special Edition" came out pretty recently, years after the last, making it's way into bigger and better stomping grounds like Target and Best Buy. "The Gate" has finally garnered some steam! Everyone will be able to see this!

I can't argue with that, because every fun and almost forgotten film from the 80's deserves a second chance. Now, unfortunately, they decided to muck it up. I assume they're catering to the clueless and impulsive buyers, because with it's flashy new art, you may think this was a fairly modern film, or at best, another film altogether. Looking at the cover right now...hell, it could be anything.

I'll try to break it down.

You see those weird little monsters surrounding our young hero? They were in the film. You see our young hero holding whatever the fuck kind of flashlight in his hand? The little fucker was not in the film.

Everything about it is so wrong and bizarre and a little bit insulting. Assuming they had zero promo photos of little Stepen Dorff, they could have at least attempted to find some teeny dude that looked vaguely like him, right? Well, I gotta hand it to them for being so ballsy, but yeah, they decided to go the exact opposite route.

Hip new haircut, plaid shirt from Mervyn's, cargo shorts that only Charlie Sheen wears on "Two and Half Men," and the worst...sandals. Not regular sandals, oh no. But those hideous kind that...that I don't even know who wears! Business savvy hippies? Beach bums? Dads? Fuck!

Whatever. The movie is still great, but with my unconventional embarrassment, I'll definitely have to hide it behind all the other crap littering my shelves. Which, today, will be a Boglin.

Next up: "Maximum Overdrive."

Earth falls into the path of a meteor, machines go apeshit. I love it! Let's watch it! I'm hungover!

I'm more hungover now. Right now.

Why? Why did they do this? I understand it's tactical trickery, but the computer designed shit is too much for me too handle. This is a little less offensive, since the film is about killer big rigs running people over, but yeah. It gets the point across, but...I dunno. It looks like a crummy film with a crummy cover. Not to say "Maximum Overdrive" is going to move you in ways you never thought possible, but again...yeah. I dunno. Am I just being cranky?

At least the back of the DVD keeps you up to speed. If you had no idea before, you now knew that yes, this was "the movie with that truck that looks like Green Goblin." For years I thought this film was related to Spider-Man. Seriously.

Actually, watching this again, it rekindled my love with Emilio Estevez. "Repo Man," "Mighty Ducks," hot damn.

Do two movies count as a "collection?" Because that's all I've got. I'm sure if I start combing through my junk I'll find equally disturbing covers that will keep me up at night, but I don't wanna do that, 'cause it'll keep me up all night. Seriously.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Big Fat Vampire Book.

Through my life, I've experimented with a wide range of the worst fads and obsessions the world has ever seen. Most can be blamed on age, the others are the fault of no one but my own. I grew up and wore the lamest clothes, collected the most uncool toys and my hair, for a short and regrettable time, could only be described as "the penis haircut." Like Harry from "Dumb and Dumber." That was a bad time in my life.

For example:

During my preteens, I remember I liked Garfield one year. There was absolutely zero interest in Garfield, but I think I liked how his fur was orange. I bought little figurines, a hideous wristwatch and the Sunday comics were considered prime gold. Another year I really thought tie-dye was cool. Turns out, through vigorous trial and error, that no, tie-dye was not cool.

Don't even get me started on Beanie Babies.

Though, the worst I've sunk was when I actually and legitimately attempted to become a vampire. Of course, the height of my experiment never reached a point of actually going out and drinking human blood, but I still did a lot of stupid stuff.

For one, this was a time of witnessing my favorite and most lasting impression of vampire flicks. In my mid-teens, I was enamored with "Near Dark" and "The Lost Boys." At this time, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to become one of these characters. Because, secondly, everyone was always having a good time, doing whatever they wanted to and, yeah, getting really hot chicks. I wanted to be this. I wanted to hang out with a bunch of dudes doing wild and crazy things. This was the ultimate fantasy for any male youth, and once you threw in the neck-biting violence and rad motorcycles, well, you can see the appeal.

My first step was to complete the look. Now, my wardrobe doesn't usually consist of tattered pirate vests and gaudy jewelry, and it didn't back then, either. So off the bat I was failing.

My next best bet was to invest all of my time in finding the coolest sunglasses and perfecting the stoic, deep stare one must acquire to fully bring a sense of vampirism to a crowd. I probably looked like I was having a stroke, but behind my shades I was an animal. A fifteen year old beast of a man, just ready to pounce. I looked good.

The look, or at least half of the look, was only just the beginning. My transformation would only be complete when I was to completely and utterly become deathly pale.

It's an absurd notion, I know, but it entered my head and I couldn't shake it. I was, and still am, very pale, but I needed to goth my shit up times ten, people. I wanted to see the veins in my face. In comparison to my ghostly flesh, I wanted my lips to look Kool-Aid red, pouty and desirable.

I really cannot believe I just wrote that.

So, during this one summer, my carefully laid out plans would dictate that I was never to leave the house. It's not too hard living in the Arizona heat, since everyone hides in their caves anyway, but the months spent in secluded hibernation was to be of utmost importance, and not because I didn't have any friends.

This time, isolation was for keeps.

See, I wanted to reverse the effects of the evil sun by dying my skin with eternal darkness, morphing my body into the ultimate Dracula Machine. Which really means I hid in my bedroom, lights turned off and watched movies all day. It kinda makes sense, but yeah, it was pretty dumb, and I quickly realized this after about two days in. I watched enough viewings of "The Lost Boys" to realize Kiefer Sutherland's lily-white skin was truly unattainable, and the best I could ever do was keep a fine layer of stubble and make really weird grins after everything I said. Easy enough for me.

I never got over the vampire stuff, which, I assume, is pretty apparent to all. It's impossible to not find a fun fascination with the monster, which I've totally and undeniably carried into music and beyond. I've since given up trying to look the part, but every so often I get the urge to buy a cape or own a pair of those really solid and legit looking vampire fangs. Goth chicks dig that kinda stuff.

So, to my delight...a got a big fat vampire book.

Our good friend and regular attendee at nearly all of our southern California shows sent me this in the mail over the weekend. It might be out of love for the band, or a carefully laid out book-bomb laced with anthrax, I dunno. But her name is Shasta, and she's totally awesome.

Not gonna lie, I thought it was one of those vampire role playing books that you'd take to the graveyard, act out a dramatic vampire scene and kill your friend over. Turns's so much more!

I skimmed though it (I don't know how to read) and found that it's an incredible encyclopedia on all of the best and greatest vampire films of all time. They missed a bunch of rare and hard to find flicks here and there, but you can't necessarily blame them on that. They did manage, however, to include an incredibly elaborate and in-depth section dedicated to "Twilight."


Ah-ha! Just the kind of book I like...a book with more than meets the eye!

Included on every other page is either a small poster, various postcards or fake letters from vampires to other vampires. Something like that. There's enough junk to thumb through it's almost intoxicating. It makes for a really great coffee table book, assuming you don't mind people bending and tearing everything up inside to take a look at. Which I do mind. So it has forever been firmly placed in the closet.

Um, I guess that's about it. I kinda left it all up to the opening paragraphs to get me through this, since I don't have too much to say about a thick book I only sorta looked at. But I like this book. I like it a lot.

But if the book truly and utterly ended up sucking (har-har), all was not lost:

The box-cover-thing makes for an excellent fort. I'd like to call it a "home base," but a handful of Luke's deserve a better home base than that. At the very least, they'd need a kitchen. And at the very most, a delicately laid out Zen Room.

Thanks, Shasta. You rule!

Friday, September 9, 2011

My couch has stains on it and I hate it.

Take a look at my couch:

There's nothing fancy about it, really. It was purchased from IKEA, not nearly big enough for me to lay horizontally on and strikingly inoffensive. It's neutral, safe and moderately effective. I pretend to use it while watching movies, because I much prefer the floor two feet from the television. It's a couch. It's my couch. But give me a few big fluffy pillows in place of it and I can throw the damn thing in the trash.

But since other human beings occasionally enter my living space, I figure a general seating area is a good idea. Unfortunately, it's horribly uncomfortable and no one likes to sit there. I've seen it with my own eyes. To put sole blame on the couch is unfair, since the coffee table is so close to it, it forces you to maneuver your way through, only to have your legs bunched up and cramped. Very impersonal and frustrating, almost as if it was planned that way. Maybe I purposely positioned the coffee table in that manner? Maybe I booby trapped my own apartment in a clever way to fend off social gatherings and get-togethers? The world may never know yeah I did it on purpose. Stay outta my shit.

And do you know why I did this? Do you know why I cringe every time people come over to hang out and converse? Why my biggest fears lie in someone carting over food and drink into my secret hideout?


That. THAT THING. I hate it and it drives me up the wall.

I hate stains. It really bothers me to know that what once was is now all wrong. I remember going to the movies when I was younger and partaking in what is known as "a giant tub of greasy fucking popcorn." This experience has since evolved into my current phobia, because ever since then I haven't been the same.

You see, movie theater popcorn is wet. Wet with grease, butter, salt, whatever. Blame it on age or lack of experience, but I never failed to lose control of this buttery beast and spill at least a few popped kernels on my clothes. You can wipe away the initial evidence, but as soon as I got home...stains were present. It ruined my self confidence, toyed with my emotions and turned my wardrobe into leopard skin. And this is just example #1.

I can go on forever, but it would be quicker to let you know that all these experiences and more, through my life, have transcended into a greater and grander neurosis. Which really just means I hate it when someone drops burrito juice on my couch.

Looking at my poor couch, I can't quite tell you what each individual stain's origin is and what it represents (aside from crippling pain and infinite sadness) but I'm positive that they're all food related. If you look closely, you'll see they even come complete with an outer stain-shell created by all the weird chemicals and stain removers I've doused the infected area in. In my eyes, it's even worse than the stain itself, but during those fervid moments of frantic scrubbing, I truly thought I was doing the right thing. I was drunk with rage, eyes and mind blurred by tears and violence! It's not my fault!

Today, things would change.

What could I do? I can't very well start over with a new couch, nor am I about to run out and buy replacement cushion covers (well over a hundred bucks, if you can believe that garbage) so my mind raced to the next best option.

Blankets. A great and grand blanket the size of a circus tent that can be draped over the couch, concealing the sins and follies of the last two years.

I went out. I hit all the stores. I surfed the web, did the research and tweeted help. Surprisingly, not a whole lotta cool blankets floating around these days. I was only lucky enough to find what I found on a "rock and roll" website, amidst Bob Marley gear and U2 junk. I did not choose either one of those options, for I chose this:

A KISS blanket!

Authorized and approved merchandise by KISS themselves! And only twenty bucks! Say it ain't so!

Well, I can't say I'm a big KISS fan, but I like to live my life in bewildering lies, so yeah, if anyone asks...I'm a big KISS fan.

To be fair, I like KISS's aesthetic. I like the act, the stage show, the merchandise, the look and feel of it all. Now, the music? It's tough to say. They have, undoubtedly, some incredible songs, but the rest of their catalogue is so far removed from anything that can be remotely "cool" it's ridiculous. Don't argue with me, people. Because I seriously have no defense against these claims. I've only heard two KISS songs. I can shut up now.

In all seriousness, I really do like the idea of having a fuzzy blanket of all four members in colorful attack-mode. My couch was once covered in pizza, but today, will now be covered in pizazz.


I feel calm inside. Knowing that deep down underneath Paul Stanley's ass lies a buffet of food shit is mind numbing, but Paul Stanley's ass eases this pain. I'm truly an "out of sight, out of mind" kinda guy, so for the time being, I'm satisfied with this solution.

I think what sucks is that I bought this online, only to find it with a cheaper price tag in a used record store a week later. Oh, and it didn't smell like cat piss. Because the one I got smells like cat piss.

Hey, at least I have something new to complain about.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

"Cappuccino" is a weird word to spell.

If there's one thing I want the world to know about me it's that I love coffee. It's been a passion of mine for years -- the constant goal to achieve the perfect cup has, for a very long time, been pursued and thoroughly sought out. I think about coffee all the time. The simple smell of a classic roast can set a wild animal loose inside of me. The way it makes me feel, think and move are all intoxicating. I'm just plain ol' addicted, people.

There's hundreds of other things I don't want people to know about me, but out of all the weird and creepy things I say and do, this one is pretty acceptable. Because no one needs to know I really like the way chalk feels.

I'm not sure when I became so interested in coffee, but I know it was definitely at an earlier age. Maybe I was around fourteen or fifteen, so it's not that young. But movies have always painted coffee as the go-to morning ritual, the first thing you must do after rolling out of bed. It looked so calming and relaxing, I couldn't help wonder what miracle liquid was being consumed. It looked and felt like hot chocolate, too, so, naturally, we were off to a pretty good start.

Growing up, my mom drank a lot of coffee, as well as my older sister, but I vaguely remember my older brother, Jimmy, drinking coffee, too. Which pretty much sealed the deal.

Older brother > everyone else.

So I had to do what I had to do. I had to emulate the best, evolve into a higher lifeform and totally load my weak and frail body with heart pumping caffeine. People on television and film drank coffee. The people around me drank coffee. I had to have it. IT WOULD BE MINE.

Old Memory Alert:

In high school, I really dug indie comics. Anything about depressed and gloomy loners was great reading, but one series in particular, though, really hit home and made me do stupid things.

It was called Too Much Coffee Man. I kinda stumbled into it when I found a few copies at a used bookstore, took them home and got hooked.

In accordance to my reading agenda, it was sorta depressing and maybe just a teensy bit gloomy. Not really sure. Because even back then I didn't really understand what I was reading, but I'll try to sum it up -- it was about a chubby dude in spandex with a coffee cup for a head. Lots of sarcasm and dry humor with what I assume to be a hopped up superhero based around coffee, but I'm not sure why I read it or what I found entertaining in it. A lot of it seemed abstract and artsy, but if it did anything well, it was to make me want hot coffee. The comic transformed me into a maniac craving this unique brown water. I needed it and I needed it bad.

So, one night I decided to steal my mom's coffee maker, set it up in my room and had at it. I shoveled in spoonfuls of grounded up Folgers, pressed "on" and never looked back. Of course, it was disgusting. I listened to music, read comics and did not go to bed at fucking all. Although everyone else in my age group were dry humping and smoking pot at the park, I learned the power behind coffee during this strange teenage experience. I learned to vaguely comprehend the bewitchment of caffeine. I also learned that, because of this late night undertaking, I truly did not have any friends. At all.

I really did stay up all night, thoughh, completely wired and plugged in. It was pointless and absurd, but it was, like, really awesome.

So here I am today! Time has passed and I've become more mature in my quest for coffee. I've been around the block a few times so I know what's good and I know what I want. Example:

A fantasy of mine is to own one of those massive contraptions that pump out the grandest cup of brew one could ever imagine possible, usually reserved for classy coffee joints and Italian playboys. You know those ones? High end, completely immaculate and destined to create a solid cup of coffee every single time. I'm looking and pining for the kind of beautiful appliance that's the size of a gumball machine and costs over five thousand dollars.

Well, fuck if that's ever going to happen.

In the past, I've tried different versions of Mr. Coffee coffee makers, French presses from all over the Internet and anything that's inexpensive and will easily replicate the silky smooth flavors of an overpriced tower of chrome and steel. So...

I found this:

First off, "this" is that thing above, a Bialetti Mukka Glass Stovetop Cappuccino Maker. I found it online and thought it looked like a direct route to my Happy Place. The name is Italian based, the reviews are favorable and "mukka" sounds playful and fun. Actually, a bunch of reviews complain that the entire product has a high tendency to blow up all over your kitchen, but that's neither here nor there. Because I already spent a hundred bucks on the damn thing.

With all the negative feedback behind us, this looks pretty fancy, like a cross between a teapot and a lantern you'd bring on a camping trip.

It comes in three pieces, which is just the right amount of assembly for me to not be on the edge of tears every time I had to wash it. You add water to the black thing, espresso in the middle thing and a bunch of milk in the glass thing. Through my travels, I suggest you use good espresso beans. I'm unable to point you in any sort of direction in acquiring these great and powerful beans, for I simply use the ones that come in a really shiny can. This technique works for me on so many levels.

I'm not sure how the Bialetti Mukka Glass Stovetop Cappuccino Maker actually works, but you set it up on the stove to heat up, hit that switch in the center and in under a few minutes, the sounds of loud popping and sucking noises hit the air. It's all quite dramatic, and completely unnerving after literally just reading product reviews of "watch out it blows up in your kitchen."

Within a flash, you've got cappuccino! The milk is flooded by cooked up espresso, topped off with a small helping of foam, all in one flick of the switch. Truthfully, now that I think about it, it's more of a latte, but it tastes good and I didn't do a lot of work. Also, to create the perfect balance of taste and flavor, I've been experimenting with using half-and-half versus whole milk, which has done nothing to further my desperate research and everything to make me fart like a motherfucker. At least me bones be strong.

Besides the foam not being that foamy, I suppose my only complaint it that it only makes a single cup, and even then, it's the smallest version of any cup I've ever seen. Yeah, I know it's meant to be sipped from those cute little espresso cups (and a quick Wikipedia check reveals that cappuccino, or "Capuchin," literally means "small cap," ha!) but I'm too used to pots of coffee and mugs bigger than my head. I can always get used to smaller portions and practicing moderation, but then again, I can always starve to death. You'd like that, wouldn't you?

Anyway, check it out. If you like cappuccinos that aren't, like, the best in the world but are still pretty damn good, then the Bialetti Mukka Glass Stovetop Cappucinno Maker is for you. Affordable and easy, you can't go wrong.

Well, unless you used decaf.

Seriously, never use decaf.