Origin-AL-ity Is Independence

This Friday and Saturday, comedy music maven and pop music parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic makes a stop in Chicago for his new Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour, a series of concerts focused on his catalog of original songs. If you only think of Yankovic as the “Eat It” guy, you’re missing out on a wealth of hidden gems that provide the real meat of his discography and act as a better demonstration of both his songwriting skills and the impressive range of his band. With that in mind, here are my favorite Weird Al originals, one from each of his 14 albums.

“Weird Al” Yankovic (1983) – “The Check’s in the Mail”

“Weird Al” Yankovic in 3-D (1984) – “Buy Me a Condo”

Dare to Be Stupid (1985) – “One More Minute”

Polka Party (1986) – “Dog Eat Dog”

Even Worse (1988) – “Velvet Elvis”

UHF (1989) – “Generic Blues”

Off the Deep End (1992) – “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”

Alapalooza (1993) – “Frank’s 2000″ TV”

Bad Hair Day (1996) – “Everything You Know Is Wrong”

Running with Scissors (1999) – “Your Horoscope for Today”

Poodle Hat (2003) – “Genius in France”

Straight Outta Lynwood (2006) – “Pancreas”

Alpocalypse (2011) – “Skipper Dan”

Mandatory Fun (2014) – “Mission Statement”

Credit: alyankovicVEVOCasey DeckerjedbaddaSWBattlefrontGuruRWappinAlbinoBlackSheepoenthusiast

They Don’t Call It Tragic-Con

The four days of the San Diego Comic-Con are almost upon us, so with that in mind, let’s take a look back at Comic Book: The Movie, a 2004 mockumetary filmed on location at the 2002 Comic-Con. Starring and directed by Mark Hamill (you know, that clown from that space movie), the comedy features interviews with geek culture bigwigs such as Stan Lee, Bruce Campbell and Kevin Smith, as well as the talents of several prolific voice actors including Billy West, Jess Harnell and Tom Kenny. Although it’s a little choppy, I recommend it just for the novelty of seeing top-notch voice actors plying their craft in a live-action production.

Here’s my favorite deleted scene with Harnell and West performing a lovely song called “Four Color World” to a group of Comic-Con attendees.

Credit: thedvdupdate

Modal Node to Joy

In May of 1977, an innovative motion picture was released that forever altered the way we understand and create films. It depicted a fast-paced, fantastical adventure that has fueled many imaginations and taught many important life lessons. Of course, I refer to the Hal Needham opus, Smokey and the Bandit! Just kidding, you know what I’m talking about.

There’s no denying the immediate impact that Star Wars has made on the pop cultural landscape, especially in the franchise’s early years. A wide variety of products were made to capitalize on the film’s widespread popularity, ranging from exciting new stories based on the universe, like the early Marvel comics and Brian Daley’s Han Solo Adventures (which I highly recommend), to other movies and shows that took their cues from George Lucas’s modern-day space serial. Even John Williams’s iconic orchestral score became in vogue, with Meco’s various disco remixes of the leitmotifs from the films being the most famous example.

One of the more obscure tributes to Williams’s work on the films is double bassist Ron Carter‘s 1980 album, Empire Jazz, an easy listening homage to the then-recent music of The Empire Strikes Back, including the themes for Darth Vader, Yoda, and the Leia/Han romance motif. Here is my personal favorite track on the album, the underrated theme of Cloud City kingpin and Rebel general, Lando Calrissian.

Thanks to Andy Lindemann for finding this album.