.The Set Up…

Welcome to piss and vinegar. Would you care to pull up a chair? It’s going to be a long while before you’re done with this sucker. Originally this column started out as a vent, and now it’s kind of in a weird place because I manage to piss off someone either on purpose or by mistake each time I do one. It’s amazing how this gets around. It’s amazing who reads this, or better yet who reads it that I piss off.

So if you’re a Hollywood type and you read this, send an email my way. I’d love to eventually create a nice rapport here on the site with folks wanting to offer their P&V. Maybe I can really piss you off one of these days or God forbid… avoid it.

Either way, this is my column and it’s here to stay. Thanks to you guys who give a damn.

On with the Leak.

Barbed Wire.

.Allow me to get all racial and shit for a moment.

Showtime has a Barbershop show about to hit the waves and while I think it’s about time some network other than BET realized that there’s roles for people of all sorts in a major cable show, why did it have to be this one?

It’s as if executives are only willing to gamble if it’s something that won’t challenge audiences in the least. The Barbershop films have been a lot of things (granted, I couldn’t stomach seeing part 2), but bold and creative aren’t among the words I’d use to describe them. That said, if I were ever to make a Fantastic Four film, it’s there I’d definitely go to find my director and you can quote me on that.

Barbershop. Soul Food. How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Diary of a Mad Black Housewife (oh, if I just uninvent one hit from last year). These are the kind of non-crime films that define the African-American filmmaking community unless your name is John Singleton or Spike Lee or if you just make "films" like F. Gary Gray and Antoine Fuqua do. See, ideally they’d all be just "films" but people on both side of the color lines won’t allow for it. I’ve complained about the separation in book stores and some video stores with what is borderline offensive to me. Why shouldn’t fiction stay with fiction, mystery with mystery, and history be organized by the time peroid or region to which it addresses? Now, I’ve not stumbled across a black mystery section and I’ll probably never have the priviledge to browse black science fiction but I always find it a little too weird to see black fiction separated from all the other fiction. Now, I’m sure that the reason it exists is more because of politically correct white executives than because of proactive black executives but it paints a skewed picture. On one hand it’s justice and another it flies in the face of the amorphous term "equality". Fiction is fiction. The subject matter should dictate whether people read it, not the ethnic, sexual, or gender specific demographic the author exists in. It’s fucking fiction. Fake stories we read to be entertained, moved, or inspired. Black text on a white page. Or pulp. That’s where the color issue should end.

Back in the day there were colored water fountains and now there’s an African American specific section at the bookstore. They’re nowhere near the same thing, but what does that tell us about our progress if the end result still has people divided?

In regards to Barbershop, it’s not about that. It’s innocent. It’s a simple lowest common denominator thing like Friends or any other sitcom. My concern is that it’s what we get when it comes to shows created by black people for a primarily black audience. Not something like a Sopranos or The Wire or even Life as a Goddamn House. Not something substantial that will wake up audiences and executives to striking new voices in filmmaking. It’s this lowest common denominator crap. It’s safe.

It’s insulting. Who really needs more Barbershop in their lives that TWO feature films didn’t address?

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If Only it were 1992…

.Here’s what we need.

The Batman and Robin origin AGAIN.

I don’t care who is doing the art and writing, that’s just tired. Additionally, though I don’t dislike Jim Lee’s art and he draws one heck of a scantily clad redhead, what purpose does this serve other than to keep Frank Miller in front of the eyes of the new batch of comic book buying public?

One of the big deals at Comic Con this year was the arrival of issue one of Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #1 by the Frank Miller/Jim Lee creative team and one thing stuck in my craw:

This would be awesome if it were 1992.

But in the wake of the Tim Sale/Jeph Loeb Batman books, the amazing Greg Rucka/Shawn Martinbrough Detective stuff, and even Lee’s own Hush series… we’re not as desperate for good Bat-books as we used to be. Plus, I’m of the belief that Mr. Miller is best suited marching to his own beat with 300 or Sin City or whatever else it is he wants to do.

The hubub about this rings hollow. It seems like a trip to the ATM for these creators and while I certainly can see that (I wish I had a cash cow of my own), I don’t get why people are so rabid for it. The first issue is fine, but there’s really nothing fresh enough about it to warrant its existence and Robin may be the most overblown character in comic book history. I mean, look at those boots! He’s boring! Especially in contrast to Batman. It works for network cartoons and the team books but Batman wasn’t exactly hurting for good material in the 2+ books he already has and I just don’t think that this pairing on this book makes for such major news.

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The Fact This Exists is Hilarious.

Not a good likeness of Osama, says I. He’s a little fatwa than that in real life.

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To Your Stealth!

.OK, it’s a giant failure in the box office, but I had a blast watching Stealth. It was to me the modern day high water mark for that hated but vital segment of cinema known as VAPID ENTERTAINMENT. Now that Jerry Bruckheimer’s managed to deliver a great franchise with meat on its bones (Pirates, duh) and Michael Bay is a magnate who sometimes directs, I think Rob Cohen delivered the thing that represents what Top Gun would be if it were made in 2005. Totally cheesy, thoroughly manipulative and stereotypical, but polished as a Marine’s boot and with some pretty nice eye candy to boot.

And Jessica Biel’s Valhalla ass.

That people didn’t see it doesn’t surprise me. It was marketed for too long without really making it seem like the cool flick to see this summer. The stars aren’t young and fresh faced as marketing folks want and Jamie Foxx’s recent Oscar success doesn’t translate to his fans wanting to watch him crash into a mountain in slow-mo.

But, it’s a hearty piece of junk food that actually had a solid Josh Lucas performance considering what he had to work with and there were some really nice effects. The musical choices were ass apartment, but still… if I was the age I was when Top Gun came out now, I’d be sort of wishing I could play with some Stealth toys in my backyard if I were only a little younger and if my backyard had a hill I could slowly crash Jamie Foxx’s action figure into.

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Hard to Believe We Don’t Get Along.

Some of my favorite people in the world are so because of relationships formed on the CHUD message boards and I’m not even including Don Murphy in that equation. It’s funny, message boards are usually the most pure evidence of what the internet’s worth qualities are but somehow we’ve managed to cobble together some really special relationships. Marriages, trysts, and untold other scary romantic interludes are just the tip of the iceberg.

That said, there’s been a tangible drop in both the friendliness between posters old and new as well as those new arrivals who stick and become long-term buddies. A glimpse at recent signees yields what seems like pretty damning evidence:

I Love Andy
Cowabunga Dude
Bart Simpimp
Evil Monchichi

While I would prefer everyone on the boards to just owe up and use their real name (honestly it does more for your identity and uniqueness than any pop culture reference), I understand while some can’t do that. With that in mind, by coming up with some silly or random name you immediately create a barrier between you and the other folks. More often than not there people tend to be defined by their attention grabbing nickname and never outlive it.

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The Storyteller.

.Comic books have the respect of the mainstream thanks to the trade paperback market and the constant barrage of 100 million dollar films, but there have always been heroes in the business who have set the bar and been idolized for their words and pictures. These days, it’s folks like Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Azarello, Grant Morrison, and Warren Ellis and for the most part they are truly deserving of the praise as they are all excellent writers. Bendis might be spread a little thin and Morrison may be too obtuse for some, but they are the guys that pull in the handsome coin and writers who sell copies in a medium driven by pretty pictures.

But, look a little deeper and you’ll see other legends other than the high profile names like Whedon, Straczynski, and Kevin Smith.

And for my money there’s a guy who may be my favorite above all of them, a bearded portly guy who gained big fame in his day but one who is churning out what may be the best comic book on the market that few people still are aware of.

Kurt Busiek.

His Astro City comics are the perfect blend of the old and new and a warm, unpretentious alternative to the grittier and more aggressive books on the market. It’s so good that I not only grew to accept Brent Anderson’s unique and unshowy art but I actually love it. Originally, the art was almost a dealbreaker [like I still feel Eddie Campbell’s From Hell work is], but when married to Kurt’s words and Alex Ross’s covers it’s perfect.

Busiek is something special, but he gets very little of the love that his contemporaries do. His recent The Arrowsmith is a good example of a terrific little comic that slipped under people’s radar. Also, how many folks are aware that there hve been two Astro City miniseries’ in the past short while?

I’d put Busiek against most anyone and though he specializes in smaller stories and old fashioned themes, he’s a master storyteller who is pretty much at the top of his game.

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If CHUD.com Ran the Movies

Bastardization by Nick Nunziata. All apologies to the makers of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

News Attack #21

Give me a hand. What’s more depressing, seeing everyone you love eaten by insects or watching the nightly news? For me it depends on if the insects are arboreal. To save you the heartache, I browsed the US news section of CNN. Here’s a quick rundown…

1. The Headline: Teen’s Navel Piercing Lands Mother In Jail

Nick’s Take: From that headline, it sounds like some kiddo got their hands on the Cosmic Cube. I mean, naval piercings are strong. They get get old men hard at the sight of exposed shiny lint. They can get other men to gawk at a girl young enough to get carded at the ice cream shop. They can do a lot but to menopause and menofastforward some lady into a cell is a bit much. Stay tuned, but don’t be surprised if the Beyonder is somehow involved.

2. The Headline: LANL Sends Contaminated Package To Pennsylvania.

Nick’s Take: Well, sure. I mean, why take it someplace free of contamination? Drop that sucker in Pennsylvania where it’ll blend right in.

3. The Headline: Police: Man’s Testicles Locked In Padlock

Nick’s Take: You know some cop cracked a Nadlock joke. The gist of the story is that a guy’s buddy locked his gentlemantalia in a padlock and then left, something that I find odd. I mean, you have to get pretty close to do that and I don’t care how much liquor is doing time in your gullet, most guys would get lucid real fast. The moment someone comes at me with cold steel while my pants are asunder you bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to fire some chaff and hightail it into the garage or something. That this guy got caught and then couldn’t will his nuts into smalldom tells me it’d have been better to just saw the whole region off. I feel bad for the guy, though. "911, yeah I have a padlock around my balls. No, I’m not saving myself for the right woman, I mean my testicles are incarcerated. If I don’t get SAFE soon, I’ll never INMATE again!".

4. The Headline: Naked Driver Dies In Strange City Crash

Nick’s Take: Is it possible to have a normal crash when you’re naked? It’s pretty hard to be involved in any situation that’s not bedroom or shower related and not have your birthday suit be the focal point. I mean, if you appeared in the middle of a heist and foiled it and saved every life and returned every penny to its rightful owner and were naked… that would be what folks remembered. If you dove in front of the Pope to prevent a bullet from entering his overrated chassis… and were naked, yep, that’s pretty much what they’d remember. That said, this guy is sort of my hero because aside from the fact that it was a relatively low impact crash, the fact he was naked and most likely being serviced is as good a way to go as any. That said, nudist colonies are silly.

5. The Headline: Police: Suspicious Suitcase Shuts Down Lincoln Square

Nick’s Take: If you’ve ever wondered where the B-list superhero The Suspicious Suitcase is, he’s been in Lincoln Square shutting it down. Ever since he detached from the Nocturnal Six, he’s been kind of absent from the public eye, hasn’t he? I know that Play-Doh Guy died from an allergic reaction and that Mr. Inviso-Knees is in prison, but Suitcase was a guy who we thought might be wise enough to form a new team. Nope. He, Captain Salad, Barnacle Eater, and The Living Deoderant all but washed up. Shame about Lincoln Square, though.

6. The Headline: Woman Rescued From Burning Valley Mortuary

Nick’s Take: By James Karen and Thom Matthews, no less!

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You Trust Me? Trust These!

Here’s some flat-out recommendations for you. Stuff I’ve already seen, read, heard, or clicked on and found to be utterly lovely. I’m going to try not to choose obvious things like The Watchmen or Fight Club or Faith No More’s Angel Dust, ’cause you ought to know by now! Have at. If you like this, it’ll continue:

DVD: Big Night. Just plain great. The Campbell Scott/Stanley Tucci team is one that doesn’t work enough but this is their best moment, a small but delicious film about food and the business that tries to ruin it.

Book: Gil’s All Fright Diner – A. Lee Martinez. Trust when I say to buy this thing. A werewolf and a vampire on the road stop at a shitty diner and battle armageddon. Classic.

Album: Rollins Band – Weight. Henry Rollins is great, but it’s not because of his soothing singing voice. This is he and his band at the top of their game. Just plain great.

Website: Todd Barry’s Reciepts. Todd Barry’s great, though his laid back approach may surprise people weaned on more aggro comedians. His receipt collection and commentary is priceless.

Video Game: Archon (PC). Old school, bitch!

Trade Paperback: Age of Reptiles: The Hunt. No words, just dinosaurs. If I had clout, this would be a film I made with 200,000,000 of some studio’s dollars.

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The Nick Edit #9

There was enough interest in this idea that I decided to make it a regular part of this column. My edits on existing films. I’ve already said a few times that Denzel Washington should have been "wearing" one of his own personal assbombs in the climax of Man on Fire, so his death would have had an explosive punctuation mark for his enemies and also have the audience leaving the theater in a state of numbness (the good kind), but alas…

I also have mentioned that I turn off Michael Mann’s Heat a short time before the ending because I feel that DeNiro’s character is the hero of the piece. He’s the one who needs to win. He has the most ahead of him. In my cut of the film the smart and resourceful Vincent Hanna just misses getting his man, leaving us to wonder if some time down the line the two may again cross paths.

So now, I will attempt to come up with proposed edits of films that I think would make a world of difference.

Hulk (The Nick Cut) – I love this film to death. It’s possibly my favorite comic book film in terms of how it recreates the medium and the sheer joy of watching the green bastard wreak havoc in the desert. Sadly, it doesn’t connect on an emotional level at all, so my cut would be to eliminate the character stuff from the film and turn it into a surreal action/horror flick about a mysteriously green character who shows up and busts shit up. I’d cut out ALL the dialogue and just have it be this weird 30 minute art flick that culminates with Nick Nolte getting turned into clouds. Weird? Effective.

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Today’s Photo(s) from Life.

A Lego Chewbacca or vertical diarrhea? You decide.

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The Speed Round, #12

Here’s how it works. Ask me ANYTHING. Do it either through THIS EMAIL LINK or on THIS MESSAGE BOARD THREAD. That’s the complex nature of this section.

Q: What three movies are you most looking forward to this fall/winter?

A: A History of Violence, All the King’s Men, and King Kong.

Q: Is Sharon Waxman’s Rebels on the Backlot worth reading?

A: I’m not a fan, but I would suggest to take any opportunity you can to wax men.

Q: What do you think of GIANT magazine’s new look (very good magazine- at least until the new issue- I don’t like the new look)?

A: I like the old look better/

Q: Moulin Rouge: love it or hate it?

A: Nothing but love.

Q: Will Brett Ratner actually be able to make a good movie out of X3 or will he fail miserably?

A: It’s all vapor right now, I’d be an idiot to assume.

Q: How’s Meg going? Still in pre-production?

A: It’s going well. Should be seeing the sexy finished Shane Salerno script in the next few weeks and then it gets interesting.

Q: What have you thought of the Harry Potter movie series so far and will you see the PG-13 rated Goblet of Fire in November? (hopefully Devin will convince you)

A: I think they’ve gotten better with each installment and yes I will see the new one.

Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

A: Starbucks Light Latte or whatever it’s called.

Q: Favorite movie critic?

A: Dev or Dave.

So, do you hate Revenge of the Sith now or something?

A: After seeing it that last time… YEAH.

Q: What makes time travel possible?

A: A really strong arm. And a clock.

Q: Where have all the flowers gone?

A: Bill Murray broke the fuckers.

Q: Can I get a what-what?

A: Go watch MTV or something.

Q: How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?

A: Questions like these are so clever!

Q: Why does my fiancee relentlessly pursue me to watch wedding shows on the Style Channel?

A: She keeps seeing if you’ll turn by seeing how you react when those grooms’ hot packages are front and center.

Q: If there’s no future, how can there be sin?

A: In there future there is Jared-Syn.

Which was better: The Drac Pack or Gravedale High?

A: Neither? I dunno, never heard of either.

Q: Why did Google move you down the list when searching for "chud"?

A: Because we are admittedly shite.

Q: Who has the better beard: Devin, Hagrid, that fat tie-dyed shirt guy from Survivor or you?

A: Me, because it’s not a marketable skill.

Q: Did anyone have intercourse within 30 miles of Comic-con?

A: Yes. Scarily so.

Q: Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, or that foreign dude from The Drew Carey show?

A: Conan. The rest blow. Even Dave.

Q: Does the Atlanta Hawks owners suing each other over the right to overpay Joe Johnson make them the dumbest ownership group in history?

A: Nah, too much competition on that front.

Q: NCAA 2006, Madden 2006, or Blitz: Playmakers – what is the must own video football game this year?

A: Tecmo Bowl.

Q: Blogging or Podcasting – which forum will get you noticed faster?

A: Judging by the downloads for our podcast, blogging.

Q: What is your favorite line from a movie to utter while drinking with your buddies?

A: We mutter our own lines.

Q: On a deserted island (or space station) you can have any three movies by the same director. What are they?

A: Mann’s Heat, Collateral, and The Insider.

Q: What was your first kiss like?

A: Double Platinum.

Q: Excluding Meg, what would be the one property that you would personally love to adapt for the screen?

A: I can’t really say, because I’m trying to make it happen.

Q: If you could have a chance of owning any three movie props/costumes/sets, what would you choose?

A: The functional stuff Cameron had created for The Abyss, the rest I have no clue. Unless you consider Monics Bellucci a prop.

Q: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

A: I went to school with a guy named Charlie Wood.

Q: If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, what color is the tree?

A: Nine.

Q: ‘We Built This City’ by Jefferson Starship?

A: My first CD ever. I almost punched my dad when he showed off this newfangled audio format with that hunk of holes.

Q: Have we been to space?

A: You and I? Nah, I’d remember that.

Q: Who can see you right now?

A: Two lounging dogs and the cutest girl ever on the video monitor.

Q: Love or hate for Starship Troopers?

A: Love, but with an asterisk.

Q: What’s your favorite T-shirt?

A: I really wear my Sum of All Fears shirt a lot. It feels perfect. As for appearances… I like my ‘Fween’ shirt a lot.

Q: Sandals with jeans (for men) – good look or fashion nightmare?

A: I hate sandals, so screw that outfit in the face.

Today’s Chewer Obituary.

Gander, New Jersey - Onlookers in Gander took a gander at an odd sight this past weekend as legendary drug kingpin/drug czar Jacob Singer offed himself in city square in an act of defiance against the government that empowered him and proved as his most constant foe. After seeing his drug empire almost go to ruin, Singer sent in an application and was surprisingly hired as the nation’s drug czar thanks to a comment he wrote about how much he feels Jesus hates drugs. Singer built his empire on the back of the now-banned video game series Grand Theft Auto, based upon the Ron Howard comedy. After being sued by upstart game firm Rockstar, Singer changed his focus to leather apparel and struck gold with his line of rawhide swimwear and jogging gear. He then parlayed that fortune into a short stint as a stunt pilot of top secret experimental stealth vehicle built around the chassis of the Segway. After being freed from military prison in Saigon where he was ridiculed by the likes of Diem Nhing and his band of cartwheeling guerillas, Singer learned how to make what he liked to call "the drugs". Success followed as well as a short stint as the host of Tic-Tac-Dough: The Next Generation. Finally, he was outed as a drug baron when he accidentally answered his government cell phone with his signature drug dealer intro "I am a drug kingpin, please hold". After narrowly escaping capture he decided to make a statement by riding a stealth segway into a crowded place and detonating himself in a crescendo of pot leaves and dollar bills. Bored, he chose Gander out of convinience. Singer is survived by "the drugs".

Read the Obituary discussion here.

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Today’s CHUD Fact

More people aware of the new Deuce Bigelow film than of CHUD.com.

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The Movies I Watched While Writing This.

NONE, which is why it took a 2 days and not five.

A few shout-outs:

John, I hope your elbow is bruised.
Keri, nothing wrong with teaching.
Dillon, next time you won’t have a knife.
Cliff, I’m still keeping an eye out.
Dave, should have dumped that bitch.
Gary, check the grip of the Reaper already.

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And that is the end of Steady Leak #111.

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