Rocky, The Terminator, Dolph And A Wacky Little Guy Named Jong Il

August 14, 2010

So, from what I understand, the action flick The Expendables arrives in theaters this weekend. I know because I’ve been suckered into the commercial on numerous occasions the past few weeks at the first notes of Guns ‘N Roses’ Paradise City.

(I’ve often wondered if it is true that the titular city is a reference to Indianapolis, Indiana)

The first time I saw a commercial, I was surprised as it was made to appear that – aside from bringing together every action star dating back to Johnny Weismuller – the movie featured the testosterone-laden trio of Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Sylvester Stallone, and Bruce Willis.

Assuming that the movie industry is populated by the same jet-fuel geniuses that burned down the music industry, I couldn’t help but picture someone at the studio giddily punching all of the grosses from all of the films by the three into a calculator and, with great glee, declaring, “If we cast them all, we’ll make this much!”

Of course, each time I have seen the commercial since, the Schwarzeneggar/Stallone/Willis triumvirate seems to be less touted and, from what I’ve read, it’s Stallone’s flick with the other two making mere cameos.

I have no plans to see The Expendables, though. I will staunchly argue that the original Rocky was an amazingly inspired bit of filmmaking and numbers II and III retain a certain charm rooted in childhood, but I don’t think I’ve seen one of Stallone’s movies in the theater since Cobra.

(an, admittedly, regrettable decision)

But the release of The Expendables made me realize that the US is missing an opportunity to calm tensions with North Korea.

Reportedly, Kim Jong Il is movie buff and an action movie enthusiast.

And he craves attention.

We call on the aging action stars of the world for a diplomatic mission thus giving them something to do that will still keep them in the limelight.

We send Stallone, Lundgren, Van Damme, Seagal, and whoever else is willing to go to North Korea to meet with Kim Jong Il. Dear Leader would undoubtedly be willing to take a meeting with the stars of the movies he loves.

Essentially, we appeal to the egos of the action stars to appeal to the starstruck fandom of a daffy little dictator for a little time out on shenanigans.

A shot to hang with Rambo and Ivan Drago, knowing that the images and stories would be beamed around the world, would scratch Jong Il right where he itches.

He so wants to be a rock star.

He so wants to be cool.

Kim agrees to stop dabbling in nuclear rocket projects and get some sandwiches to his people and Schwarzeneggar and friends agree to spend some time being his buddy – taking him to movie premieres or for walks on the beach, going clubbing, or hitting the links.

We turn the whole thing into a reality show and the ratings go through the roof.

Everybody wins.

In the meantime, here are four songs with heroic implications…

David Bowie – Heroes
from The Singles Collection 1969-1993

It’s classic David Bowie. What more could there really be to say?

The Kinks – Celluloid Heroes
from Everybody’s In Show-Biz

Of course, there’s the downside to fame and notoriety which The Kinks capture wonderfully in the melancholic, wistful Ray Davies-penned Celluloid Heroes.

Foo Fighters – My Hero
from The Colour And The Shape

Sure, I understand the importance of Nirvana as agents of change in the musical landscape, but I’m considerably more likely to pull up something by Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters especially if it’s from 1997’s stellar The Colour And The Shape.

Kiss – A World Without Heroes
from Music From “The Elder”

Aside from a handful of songs, I’ve never been a Kiss fan, but I do find A World Without Heroes to be compelling.

(probably as it sounds so out of place compared to the band’s catalog)

In a bid to reverse declining album sales and gain some artistic credibility, Kiss reunited with producer Bob Ezrin, who was coming off of the massive success of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, for a record that was intended to be a soundtrack to a movie that was never made.

Though it did garner some positive reviews, the album baffled long-time fans and bombed. The sparse, spacey A World Without Heroes is atmospheric, but it’s not surprising that it wasn’t embraced by the group’s fans.

I recall seeing Kiss perform the downbeat song along with a couple others from Music From “The Elder” on the late-night comedy show Fridays not long after the album’s release.

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…And Perhaps Metallica Can Help Us Sort Out This Global Warming Thing

July 29, 2008

Eighteen months ago, Ryan Crocker was confirmed as US ambassador to Iraq and, I confess, I’m not really sure what he’s done during that time period. I mean, I can’t recall reading anything about him (and, probably to my detriment, I try to read a lot on current events).

I also might have just overlooked anything I’ve read about Crocker because when his name pops into my head all I can think of is Iron Maiden. One of the earliest things I ever read about him mentioned his love of Iron Maiden.

So, now when I hear/read “Crocker,” my brain spits out “Iron Maiden” in an involuntary reaction that surely would make Pavlov smile. I wonder if the collected works of Iron Maiden have had any influence on his decision-making (Maiden did draw upon historical events and military conflict a lot for imagery and inspiration). Someone could be basing a thesis on this theme even as I type?

That person shouldn’t be me. I never had a metal phase as a kid, but I did like Maiden. One friend had a younger brother who worshipped the band and my good friend Chris – who skewed more toward Devo, The Cure, and Robyn Hitchcock – truly endeared me to them.

As I recall, Chris had The Number Of The Beast recorded onto one side of a cassette (Maxell, I’d guess) and, on the other, in typical fashion for him – Men Without Hats’ debut. If Men Without Hats had ever influenced foreign policy, there would be a lot more thatched homes, lute-playing little people, and villagers fascinated by maypoles (if you’ve seen the video for The Safety Dance, you understand).

Of course, a part of me is suspicious and wonders if this confession of Crocker being an Iron Maiden fan is nothing more than an attempt to win my heart and mind.

And, I just saw that bizarre 9/11 coin commercial again – would it be possible to buy an Iron Maiden t-shirt in Liberia?

Meanwhile, because sometimes you simply need a little Iron Maiden…

Iron Maiden – Run To The Hills
The song from The Number Of The Beast that hooked me. The song gallops at breakneck speed as Bruce Dickinson wails a lyric about the slaughter of Native Americans. I somewhat remember us chancing across the video on MTV’s Headbangers’ Ball a handful of times.

Iron Maiden – The Trooper
I’ve seen no Maiden while scavaging for vinyl, save for one mangled copy of Piece Of Mind. I couldn’t remember The Trooper, but Paloma has been pushing me to buy a pair of Van’s adorned with the logo for The Trooper. Not as memorable as some of their songs to me, but it is possibly the only song I know with the word musket in it.

Iron Maiden – Two Minutes To Midnight
Suposedly, Ambassador Crocker has a poster from this song hanging in his office. I’m not sure what to make of that as Two Minutes To Midnight is about The Doomsday Clock used by the Bulletin Of Atomic Scientists to denote how close mankind is to nuclear armageddon. For those keeping score, the clock is currently set to five minutes to midnight.

Iron Maiden – Wasted Years
It caused quite a hullabaloo when Maiden used synthesizers on their album Somewhere In Time, but none are to be found on Wasted Years. Lyrical, it fits well with Nike’s slogan of “Just Do It,” and, if Motorhead can be used to sell cell phones, Iron Maiden could certainly sell tennis shoes.

Iron Maiden – The Wicker Man
For something of more recent vintage, The Wicker Man is from Brave New World, which saw the group’s most successful line-up reunite in 2002. Like much of my favorite Iron Maiden songs, it’s more fun than killin’ strangers.