“It’s not every day that you get to see a monster piñata killing teens on a paradise island…”*

October 19, 2011

Oh how true that statement is and, thanks to a bout of insomnia and Piñata: Survival Island, I can now rebuff anyone that uses that line as a selling point.

(the titular quote was from a long-lost review of this cinematic tour de force)

If you’re a piñata enthusiast – and, really, who isn’t? – or simply have an interest in really bad movies, Piñata: Survival Island might just be for you.

I cannot recommend it as “so bad it’s good” as I only caught the last ten minutes and that brief glimpse led me to believe that it’s so bad, it’s just bad.

(it’s the kind of movie where you mumble to yourself, “Someone actually believed this needed to be written down?”)

I was channel-surfing, minding my own business, when I was confronted with…well…it appeared to be the little tiki idol that caused so much mayhem when the Brady Bunch went to Hawaii.

This tiki idol, though, was much larger, breathing fire, and rampaging through the jungle wielding a battle axe.

Understandably, my hand froze on the remote as I watched, boggle-eyed.

Piñata: Survival Island is not without star power. There is, of course, the tiki which had burst forth from a piñata.

And, one of the survivors of the piñata creature run amok is Jaime Pressly formerly of My Name Is Earl and currently shilling for the restaurant chain Zaxby’s.

(home of the most sodium-laden chicken in the Western world)

In fact, it is Pressly who dispatches the evil spirit by quickly and deftly assembling a Molotov cocktail and handcuffing it to the creature’s ceremonial headdress.

It also stars Aeryk Egan who seemingly put more thought into making his stage name a bastardization of Eric than in choosing his roles.

(or perhaps in choosing an agent)

The fact that the film was showing on AMC, which allegedly stands for American Movie Classics, is another kettle of fish altogether.

I do feel enriched and enlightened for the experience. It’s not often that I will have the opportunity to write about piñatas and, for that, I am grateful.

And, if any of you are now filled with a sense of urgency to seek out this film and are unable to find Piñata: Survival Island, try Demon Island.

(a cinematic endeavor of such magnitude could not be constrained to merely having one title)

Sadly, my music collection is sorely lacking in piñata songs. So, here are four island songs…

Sting – Island Of Souls
from The Soul Cages (1991)

To a lot of young music fans who came of age during the mania surrounding The Police and their album Synchronicity, Sting was the paragon of cool.

(of course, there were a lot of folks who also consider(ed) him to be an insufferable, pretentious twat)

The moody Island Of Souls came from Sting’s third solo album, The Soul Cages, and, even though I own several of his albums released since, it was really the last one which I awaited eagerly and listened to devotedly.

(though our paths would kind of cross years later)

Blondie – Island Of Lost Souls
from The Hunter (1982)

Island Of Lost Souls…nothing more than a wholly transparent attempt by Blondie to duplicate the success of The Tide Is High from their previous album, Autoamerican. There are a handful of good songs on The Hunter, the trainwreck of a follow-up to Autoamerican, but I wouldn’t consider this to be one of them.

However, it is always amusing to hear Debbie Harry sing the line, “Hey buccaneer, can you help me put my trunk in gear?” and, personally, even bad Blondie is something for which I have a weakness.

Japan – Taking Islands In Africa
from Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980)

I snagged a copy of Gentlemen Take Polaroids on a whim, having read acclaim for the band from critics and praise from a couple of friends (both of whom, as I recall, actually preferred the band’s Tin Drum).

I liked the chilly, electronic music and on tracks like Taking Islands In Africa it’s not difficult to hear Duran Duran’s claim of Japan as an influence.

Megadeth – Devil’s Island
from Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? (1986)

I’ve noted that I never truly went through a metal phase as a high school kid (though I have long dug Iron Maiden), so I vividly recall seeing Peace Sells… in the record bins and being immediately dismissive and disinterested.

Oddly, over the past twenty-five years, I’ve become a fan of Megadeth’s thrash metal and gained an appreciation for their groundbreaking sound. It’s not something I listen to often, but there are times when a track like the galloping Devil’s Island is just what’s needed.

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Last Train Out Of Stubbville*

December 20, 2009

Planes, Trains And Autombiles seems to be one of those films that has become part of the fabric of the holidays. It gets a fare amount of play around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Coming across it the other night – as well as seeing the Atlantic coast getting two feet of snow – makes me grateful that there will be no travel for Paloma and me this Christmas.

Though the sun of Florida might be pleasant and there could be postcard amount of snow in Indiana, our forecast is for temperatures in the 40s, overcast, maybe rain. But we won’t be having to make like Mad Max on the highway or risk our plane plummeting to the earth in a fiery heap.

I am about as enamored with air travel as Rain Man was. Its extremely dangerous. I don’t have the exact statistics at hand, but I think something like one out of two planes crash.

It’s not the actual concept of aerodynamics that is a concern to me. It’s more a trust thing I have with everyone from the most certainly bored and inattentive people that tighten the bolts on the plane to the most certainly bored and drunken pilots.

Paranoid digressions aside, travel by train is inspired.

(and, unfortunately, not often an option for most of us in the States)

During a brief time living in London, The Tube made me giddy as a schoolgirl and I was always up for a ride on the train. I’d sit or stand contented by the motion and familiar rhythm of stops, watching the antics of the passengers while listening to headphones.

It was like having the greatest ant farm in the world with a soundtrack I loved.

Peak hours could sometimes be less enjoyable, but I do remember certain stretches and routes would have far fewer passengers, especially the line I used most, nicknamed “The Misery Line.”

(I thought it was delightful)

I’ve taken trains through jungles in Malaysia and through farmlands in Ohio and there’s no denying that watching the countryside slowly and serenely roll by outside the window adds romance and intrigue to any landscape.

But, this Christmas, the view from the couch with Paloma and the animals and a few days of downtime appeals to me most.

*In case you’ve forgotten (or never seen Planes, Trains And Automobiles), Stubbville is where Steve Martin and John Candy must depart because “train don’t run out of Wichita… unlessin’ you’re a hog or a cattle.”

Beth Orton – Paris Train
from Daybreaker

I’ve made the trip from London to Paris by train a few times and its a fantastic journey from one major capitol to another in four hours, but it is a bit strange to consider that a portion of the trek is spent under the waters of the channel.

I’ve also spent time riding The Metro, the subway system of Paris, which, compared to The Tube in London isn’t quite as sterile and has a bit more grit and character.

As for Beth Orton’s Paris Train, it’s dreamy and hypnotic and it no more than ends than I’m inclined to hit repeat.

The Clash – Train In Vain (Stand By Me)
from London Calling

I mentioned The Clash’s Train In Vain in a post earlier this year, but I never tire of hearing it.

Cat Stevens – Peace Train
from Teaser And The Firecat

All debate regarding what Cat did say, didn’t say, or actually meant to say regarding Salman Rushdie aside, although I was pretty young, I do vividly remember hearing songs like Morning Has Broken and Wild World on the radio as a tyke.

And, maybe most of all, I remember the ethereal Peace Train.

Megadeth – Train Of Consequences
from Youthanasia

Paloma and I saw Megadeth many years ago. In fact, I believe it was on the tour for Youthanasia. Fortunately, the tickets were comps as the venue was an ancient arena and the sound was dreadful.

However, Train Of Consequences is a monster. It sounds like a train, barrelling down the tracks full throttle with gear-grinding guitar and even a madcap bit of harmonica.