There’s something strange in theatres this July…and I don’t know why…

Everybody else has offered their thoughts on the new Ghostbusters movie…so here’s mine.  TL:DR version: After watching both trailers, I’m opposed, and I wanted to break down the reasons point-by-point.

  1. It’s not gender based.  I don’t feel like I should have to defend that statement.  I’m well-known for being a supporter of equal rights and for being egalitarian.  I don’t think anyone who knows me needs to hear me defend why the all-female lead cast isn’t in and of itself the issue for me.  I’m for gender equality (regardless of the gender).  I’d like to think the way I live my life speaks for itself.  I’m only putting this statement here for people who stumble upon the blog blind and wouldn’t know better.
  2. Well…  It’s KIND OF gender based.  Okay.  Everything I said above still applies…  But I guess it’s not so much that there’s an all female cast, as it is that it seems like that’s the ONLY reason they’re doing it.  It seems like the planning meeting took less than a paragraph.  “We’ll remake the Ghostbusters.  But this time it’s all women.  That’ll sell.”  And for some reason no one took a second to say, “Are you sure this isn’t just exploiting an otherwise good cause?” (I’ll flesh this out further below.)
  3. I don’t like remakes as a general rule.  Especially remakes of movies where I can remember the originals being in theatres.  Now that’s bound to happen as I get older, anyway…but I’m 35.  It’s not like I’m an old man and people have forgotten the movies I watched when I was a kid.  Or like those movies aren’t regular parts of everybody’s viewing as we speak.  Every year, some high school kid says, “Have you guys seen Ghostbusters?” to their friends, and they watch the fucking thing.  (And then they do the same with Animal House in college–I’m sure that remake is a couple years or less away, too.)  Plus, it wasn’t a little-known flick that didn’t get enough attention.  It’s a classic. People know it and watch it.  This may be over-stating it, but why not remake Citizen Kane, while you’re at it?  Just seems like movies that had toys on the shelf that I played with are still a little too recent to be remade–and I’m also of that same mind with the Ninja Turtles.  For example: Regardless of any individual feelings on any of the Star Wars flicks, at least every one has been a continuation instead of a remake.  And they’ve all had new toys associated with them, too…
  4. If you’re going to remake something, you’ve got to answer the question of “why?” and I don’t think they’ve done that.  (In fairness, few remakes ever do.)  I can’t think of any reason other than, “Because we can make money off the fact that people want women in Hollywood to get paid more.”  Why is it a REMAKE?  Why isn’t is a sequel?  If it were Ghostbusters 3, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this post.  I don’t think there would be so significant a backlash.  In fact, I think making it an all-female cast was a manipulative move to make the backlash on the concept of a remake SEEM sexist, when we’d be against it no matter the cast.  Nice way to make women equal, Hollywood…make them the fall guys (err…fall girls) for the whole bad idea.  If it were a third entry rather than a remake, the all-female cast wouldn’t get even a blink out of me (or many others).  It even makes sense for the sake of cohabitation of the headquarters–no objection to the logic of that at all.  It could even suck and I’d think, “well, at least it wasn’t a remake.”  My main objection is to the IDEA of the remake in general.  There’s just no need.  The manipulation of political issues surrounding it just adds more voice to that when they were obviously hoping it would reduce it.
  5. I saw the original in the theatre about a year ago (or so) on a re-release.  It still holds up.  Still hilarious and looks great.  No idea why anyone would need to change it.  And that’s coming from me–a guy who ends up accidentally cosplaying the EPA guy every time I wear a suit.
  6. I don’t like the new cast.  Again, not because they’re women, but because of the specific actresses.  Person by person:
    • I’ve never gotten it with Melissa McCarthy.  Seems like she’s going for Chris Farley, but somehow even louder?  Or maybe your aunt who thinks she’s funny because she quotes stuff that was kinda funny ten years ago?
    • Kate McKinnon has her moments on SNL, but they’re usually moments that could’ve ended three iterations of the joke she’s making sooner.  She is indeed NOT ready for Prime Time…
    • Leslie Jones on SNL plays one note and keeps hitting it until you can’t even sing along to it anymore.  (Although her twitter feed can be entertaining–if extremely angry.)  The “I don’t know if it’s a race thing or a lady thing but I’m mad as hell” line in the trailer seems to be a complete summary of her career for me.  Don’t get me wrong, that type of character can be used well…but if that’s all I’ve ever seen you do…so what?  Tell a joke.
    • Finally, I never really liked Kristen Wiig on SNL, but in her case I’m willing to consider that there might be something I’m over-looking.  I did enjoy her a lot in Skeleton Twins–she did really beautiful work in that movie and you should really seek it out if you haven’t seen it.  It may be that I don’t enjoy her writing, but if she’s playing a character she didn’t write, I’m on board.  She is the one actress I could go either way on.
  7. Why, yes…I HAVE thought about who I’d cast if it were up to me!  Since it’s happening anyway, why not do some dream-casting, even though I don’t care for the idea?
    • First of all…what the hell is Tina Fey not doing in this flick?  She’d be a make or break for me.  If she said no, we wouldn’t storyboard a frame.
    • And I’d put in Sarah Silverman (she’d piss people off, but she’d sell tickets).
    • I’d probably KEEP Wiig, because people like her and like I said, she could go either way.
    • And I’d go off-center and put in Morgan Murphy.  (Look her up if you don’t know her.  She’s great.)
    • Or if we need to have a woman of color in the cast–is Rain Pryor doing anything?  She’d be fun.  (I admit though that I’m woefully unaware of black female comics.  Seems like there’s not a lot of attention being cast on them as a group–and maybe that’s worth examining a little closer, since we’re clearly on an equality trip on this whole thing.)
    • I’d also look at Maria Bamford, Kristen Schaal, the ladies from Garfunkel & Oates, and a few others.  I’d go a little more counter-culture than they’ve done in this cast.  That’s part of what made the first one work–let’s not forget that SNL was more underground back then than it is now.  Most of those guys were not necessarily household names yet.  Murray was your biggest star at the time–and that’s why I’d probably keep Wiig.  You need someone like that.
    • I feel like we’d need at least 2-3 strong personalities that have established comedic careers that can carry the flick on their good will.  Right now, frankly, they’ve only got Wiig.  (Arguments can be made for McCarthy…but is Mike & Molly really what you want to hang your hat on in a feature film?)  If two or all three of the others were on her level, maybe we’d have something salvageable, but we’ve only got who we’ve got.  Unfortunately, they made several “love her or hate her” choices and I almost unanimously fall to the latter. I’m not alone, either.
    • And no…I wouldn’t go anywhere NEAR Amy Schumer–for the exact same reasons I wouldn’t cast Ricky Gervais if we were doing a male cast.
  8. It’s got nothing to do with “my childhood being destroyed” by this particular remake.  My childhood seems in tact…whatever.  The only people I’m seeing talking about “childhoods being ruined” online are the people DEFENDING the movie, like they think that’s the only argument anyone’s making.
  9. I have watched the trailers…and I didn’t laugh.  Nothing has appealed to me.  Some of the effects look okay, but they don’t have the same charm as the original–it looks like a video game, not a movie.  Sometimes technology actually hurts the flick, and when that happens you need to have a warm cast to fall back on…and I’ve made my feelings on the cast clear.  I don’t see a strong cast.  I don’t see strong effects.  I don’t see a strong joke in the trailers to date.  And I’m not going to see the movie.
  10. Ultimately I’m not only left wondering why this movie needs to be made, but also who in the cast is going to benefit from it.  I can only see it hurting some of the smaller careers, like whoever the guy is that is cast in the Janine roll in the flick.  “What ever happened to the guy from the Ghostbusters remake?” seems like something we’ll be saying in five years.  (Either that or, “Did you know that guy was in that Ghostbusters remake? Yeah, there was a Ghostbusters remake!”)  Wiig will be fine.  She’s got enough good will to last her a few dozen bad movies.  McKinnon will be fine on SNL, but it’ll be a toil for a while.  Jones is teetering on having to be Googled to remember her name as it is–if the movie were getting positive buzz it could make her, but it’s almost bombed before even hitting the theatre.  From what few public statements I’ve seen her make, she’s taking it pretty personally too, and that’s not going to serve her well, either.  And McCarthy is on the downward slope of being a fan favorite already–this won’t help.  As for the guy in it…I already don’t know his name, and since I’m not going to see it, this movie isn’t going to make me learn it.
  11. In the end, I think it’s going to have a big opening weekend.  People who WANT it to be good are going to be sure to see it just to prove a point and play the, “well you didn’t even SEE it, so you shouldn’t judge it!” card.  People who want to see how big a train wreck it is will go for exactly that reason.  And then a massive drop-off will happen in week two and we’ll all forget about it just like we did the remakes of 12 Angry Men, The Fantastic Four (that was just last year kids!), Arthur, Friday the 13th, Poseidon, Robocop, BOTH Godzillas, Red Dawn, and a dozen Robin Hoods.  You’ve got a movie here that most of your target audience has rejected before the second trailer dropped.  On the plus side, at least it’s bringing those of us who loved GB2 out of the woods to defend it when people say, “This thing’s going to make the second one look great!”  Fuck you, man…the second one is already great!  🙂
  12. …and on a side note, I’m not exactly excited about the Rocky Horror remake either. (Why is it made for TV? Why is Frank-N-Furter a woman*** singing about being a transvestite yet dressed as a woman? Why do it at all when it’s never left theatres?)  But Tim Curry’s involvement means I’ll at least give it a look–the beloved member of the original cast taking an on-screen part makes me trust it.  Something that maybe the Ghostbusters should’ve noted.  (I know Aykroyd is producing, but if any of them are in it, they’re keeping it too closely guarded a secret cameo.)
    • ***EDIT — Following publishing, I did what I should have done beforehand and Googled Laverne Cox, who plays Frank.  I was unaware of her backstory.  Laverne Cox is transgender, which does alter my initial feeling on it a little.  However, I’m still not sure the casting is correct.  Frank-N-Furter identifies himself as “TRANSVESTITE” which is not the same as transgender, which many if not most transvestites would be quick to point out.  (Cross-reference Eddie Izzard.)  Additionally, Frank is regularly referred to with MALE pronouns throughout, whereas Cox does identify as female, so I feel that point still sticks to some degree.  However, I do better understand the choice now, and regret any accidental insensitivity to the Trans community.
Sorry for ranting.  But I wanted to.  Now call me a sexist all you want…but I’m not.  I just don’t want to see a movie that doesn’t appeal to me with a cast I don’t like, man.  I also make it a habit to avoid anything with either Russell Crowe, Jim Carrey, James Franco, or Andy Samburg in the lead role, if that helps.
If you made it that far, my hat’s off to you.

Stuff on My Coffee Table

Cleaning up a little around the house.  My coffee table has become a CD catch-all lately, and I thought it might be fun to list the stuff I’m putting away today.  Here’s the list.  It’s a weird combo, but I think it serves as an interesting documentation of the different “kicks” I’ve been on in 2016.

  • Dave Alvin -King of California
  • Dave Alvin – Ashgrove
  • Dave Alvin – Blackjack David
  • Anti-Flag – The People or the Gun
  • Anthrax – Worship Music
  • Anthrax – For All Kings
  • Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light
  • Antony and the Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now
  • Antony and the Johnsons – Cut the World
  • The Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made the Radio
  • The Beta Band – The Three EPs
  • Big Star – #1 Record
  • Bottle Rockets – South Broadway Athletic Club
  • Derek Brink – Trigger Warnings & Sunshine (It’s still a free download, y’know…)
  • David Bowie – Blackstar
  • Cake – Showroom of Compassion
  • Johnny Cash – Bitter Tears
  • Johnny Cash – Live at Folsom Prison
  • Johnny Casy – 16 Biggest Hits
  • Johnny Cash – American Recordings
  • Johnny Cash – Unchained
  • Johnny Cash & Willie Nelson – Storytellers
  • Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man
  • Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around
  • Johnny Cash – Unearthed
  • Johnny Cash – Love, God, Murder
  • Johnny Cash – Life
  • Johnny Cash – American V: A Hundred Highways
  • Johnny Cash – Personal File
  • Johnny Cash – American VI: Ain’t No Grave
  • Johnny Cash – Out Among the Stars
  • Cheap Trick – (Self Titled from 1997)
  • Cheap Trick – Music for Hangovers
  • Cheap Trick – Authorized Greatest Hits
  • Cheap Trick – Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello
  • The Chieftains – Best of the Chieftains
  • The Chieftains – Voice of Ages
  • Coheed and Cambria – The Color Before the Sun
  • Elvis Costello – The Very Best of Elvis Costello
  • Elvis Costello – The Delivery Man
  • The Cure – Disintegration
  • The Cure – Wish
  • Def Leppard = Pyromania
  • Def Leppard – Hysteria
  • Dream Theater – The Astonishing
  • Drive-By Truckers – It’s Great to be Alive!
  • Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
  • Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies
  • Flogging Molly – Speed of Darkness
  • Ben Folds – Rockin’ the Suburbs
  • Ben Folds – Songs for Silverman
  • Ben Folds – Way to Normal
  • Ben Folds (and Nick Hornby) – Lonely Avenue
  • Ben Folds – The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective
  • Ben Folds – So There
  • The Get Up Kids – The EPs
  • The Get Up Kids – Four Minute Mile
  • The Get Up Kids – Something to Write Home About
  • The Get Up Kids – Eudora
  • The Get Up Kids – On A Wire
  • The Get Up Kids – Guilt Show
  • The Get Up Kids – Live!
  • The Get Up Kids – There Are Rules
  • David Gilmour – Rattle that Lock
  • Godspeed You Black Emperor – Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada EP
  • Godspeed You Black Emperor – Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven!
  • Godspeed You Black Emperor – Yanqui UXO
  • Godspeed You Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
  • Husker Du – New Day Rising
  • Husker Du – Candy Apple Grey
  • Husker Du – Warehouse: Songs and Stories
  • Mark Lanegan – Field Songs
  • Mark Lanegan – Blues Funeral
  • Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood – Black Pudding
  • Mark Lanegan – Has God Seen My Shadow?: An Anthology 1989-2011
  • Los Straightjackets – The Further Adventures of Los Straightjackets
  • Nick Lowe – Jesus of Cool
  • Michael Manring – Thonk
  • Michael Manring – The Book of Flame
  • Michael Manring – Soliloquy
  • The Mountain Goats – We Shall All be Healed
  • Bob Mould – Black Sheets of Rain
  • Bob Mould – Silver Age
  • Bob Mould – Patch the Sky
  • My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
  • My Morning Jacket – Circuital
  • My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
  • Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral
  • Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
  • Nine Inch Nails – And All that Could Have Been
  • Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero
  • Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I-IV
  • Nine Inch Nails – The Slip
  • Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks
  • Over the Rhine – The Long Surrender
  • Over the Rhine – Meet Me at the Edge of the World
  • Pet Shop Boys – The Complete Singles Collection
  • Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
  • Prince – The Love Symbol Album
  • Prince – The Very Best of Prince
  • Prince – 3121
  • Prince – Plectrum Electrum
  • Prince – Art Official Age
  • Prince – Hit N Run Phase One
  • Prince – Hit N Run Phase Two
  • REM – Eponymous
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack – Remastered “Absolute Treasures” Version
  • Slayer – Repentless
  • Still Little Fingers – Inflammable Material
  • Yes – Classic Yes
  • Yes – Big Generator
  • Yes – Union
  • Yes – Talk
  • Yes – Keys to Ascension I

There you go.  I’ll write more as the week goes on, I bet…

“I swore never to read again after To Kill a Mockingbird gave me no useful advice on killing mockingbirds. It did teach me not to judge a man based on the color of his skin, but what good does that do me?” – Homer Simpson

Let’s do a random post, whaddya’ say?  By the time you’re reading this, there’ll be some random Simpsons quote in the post title.  But–Derek Brink Fun Fact–I never choose them until the last moment before posting…

  1. I did end up going to Jeff Moody’s wake.  I figured that I’ve talked about the time we worked together pretty often over the last 15 years, so it was the right thing to do.  I met his dad, who seemed a very sweet man.  I got there early enough that the family wasn’t weary of talking to people yet.  His wife said she remembered me, but I think she must’ve been thinking of someone else–we’d only met once.  When I first walked into the room, I bumped into someone I knew who sort of directed me toward Jeff’s dad, sitting next to the casket.  I introduced myself and said, “I worked in your son’s band for about three weeks 15 years ago…but I still wanted to come here and pay my respects, because that’s the kind of guy he was.  I knew him for 3 weeks 15 years ago, but had to come say goodbye.”  His dad seemed moved by that and we spoke for a little longer than I might’ve anticipated.  I won’t be writing what he said to me here.  If there are any sacred words, they are the words a father speaks of his dead son to a stranger.  But suffice to say they’ve stuck with me.  And I want to give you one piece of advice…  If you go to a memorial and meet the deceased’s parent for the first time; if they give you their hand to hold while you talk, you take their hand and you DO NOT allow yourself to be the first to let go.
  2. On a related note, I want to apologize if my previous post painted Jeff in a way I didn’t intend to.  I think it might’ve sounded more negative than I meant it to.  I mean, the couple of stories I told were true, but I feel like I should’ve spent more time focusing on saying he was a very good, warm, well-intentioned guy.  I was trying to paint a picture of a guy who was serious about his work and ministry, but that it was a seriousness that was informed by wanting people to feel the same joy in their hearts that he did.  Sometimes that kind of seriousness can come off abrasive, and sometimes describing it is difficult…  I’m sorry if I didn’t underline his warmth enough.  I didn’t get to reconnect with Jeff again before he died (except for the one brief meeting at SLCC) and I regret that, especially because I think I understand him better now than I did then.  I stood by the casket quietly a little longer than I do at most wakes.  He was 56.  That’s too damn young. Unless I’m very mistaken, I think he was the first musician I’ve been in a band with who’s died.
  3. Sorry this post is sort of a bummer so far.  I thought I’d be writing something fun by now when I started it.  They don’t all live up to the Simpsons quote–which, again, I have not chosen as of this point in the writing.
  4. A friend has introduced me to the writing of Dennis Lehane.  If you haven’t read his stuff before (like me, this time last week), you’d likely be familiar with him as the guy who wrote the books that the movies “Shutter Island” and “Mystic River” were based on.  I’d heard his name a few times, but hadn’t investigated him.  Brandon (my aforementioned friend, who I for some reason opted not to name in that sentence, but did in this one) highly recommended him and I picked up his first book, “A Drink Before the War.”  Enjoyed it a lot.  It’s gritty and funny.  The racial-theme of the story could’ve easily been set in St. Louis instead of Boston.  I totally got it and read it cover to cover in roughly three sittings.  Looking forward to reading the rest of his stuff.  Glad I’m late to the party…there are a dozen books that are just THERE–no waiting!
  5. I’ve been watching a lot of old-school pro-wrestling matches and interviews lately.  I’ve also been listening to podcasts and present day interviews with guys who’re pissed off that it’s not still the old territory days.  I largely wasn’t aware of the old territory system.  I never got to experience a “Wrestling at the Chase” show, although I’m more than aware of its legacy both in the business and also in St. Louis history.  The “golden age” was just a few years before my time.  I came along when Hulk Hogan and Sting were the big names for their respective companies.  Watching the old stuff is a blast though.  I don’t know who won those old matches and it’s a kick to see some of those guys young and in their peak.  Sometimes YouTube is a wonderful place.
  6. I’m still kind of ticking on Prince.  I think a lot of people are…  I watched Kevin Smith’s “Fat Man on Batman” show on YouTube just today and watched him and cohort Marc Bernardin talk for an hour, when they thought they were going to do 20 minutes.  Kev is well known for a dispute with Prince, where he made light of the Artist’s well-known excentricities and kind of tore him a new one…  But as Smith himself pointed out, even in that footage, you can see that Smith has a genuine love for Prince, but that the story was so specific and unique he told it anyway.  A sweet moment happens around the 40-minute mark where Kevin tells a story about Prince dancing with his daughter Harley. Kevin visibly and audibly tears up at the memory.  I’m sure it had more to do with thinking about his kid than about Prince, but it was really touching to see.  There was a moment where Marc referred to Prince as being to a young black man what Bowie was to a young white man that made me pause and say, “Oh.  I get it.”  It’s a good watch/listen if you want to click that link.  Kev ends his thoughts obviously thinking back over the video where he sort of trashed Prince–clearly about to break again–and then saying, “…and I’m a dick.” Marc corrects him, “You WERE a dick.”  Sometimes when you’re young enough, you forget that things are temporary and you regret some of the things you say.  Kev’s reactions throughout the video speak to that…  And it’s something I’m trying to do a better job to remember myself.
  7. I think everyone knows my obsession with records–particularly vinyl now that it’s back.  After seeing the Who, I’ve decided I’m going to collect all of their albums on vinyl.  Specifically, though, I’m looking for old copies on the thinner vinyl with the old mixes/masters.  Not necessarily EARLY copies, but the copies I would’ve been familiar with as a kid.  80s mixes.  I recently picked up and have listened and relistened to “Who’s Next” a number of times.  Hearing “Baba O’Riley” on vinyl is like hearing it for the first time.  Records open up songs in a way you haven’t heard them, even if you’ve heard them a million times.  But of course, I’ll always love CDs too.  Just last night I was at a small indie store (of which I’ve never caught the name, for some reason!) and picked up a Los Straightjackets CD.  They’re fun too.  I love a good music store…and fortunately there are about a half-dozen of them in a reasonable driving distance.
  8. It’s May.  My birthday is this month on the 29th.  I will be 36.
  9. There’s been a ton of rain in St. Louis lately.  Earlier in the week, we had a day that was genuinely frightening outside.  The kind of day where you consider telling people you love them just in case.  (Actually…that was the same day as Jeff’s wake now that I think of it.  Huh.)  Last night it was raining so hard I could barely keep my car tires on the ground–scary driving.  Today, there was hail all over town, up to ping-pong-ball sized.  Give me snow any day, I say…  I’ve never feared for my life with snow quietly falling with a warm cup of tea or coffee.

That’ll do it.  Go watch the Kevin Smith thing I linked to.

Current Listening:

  • Los Straightjackets – The Further Adventures of Los Strahtjackets
  • Prince – The “Love Symbol” Album and assorted other works
  • Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet – Oh I Guess We Were a Fucking Surf Band After All