An Annotated History Of Never Realized Book Projects (2002-10)

This Music Leaves Stains is the first book I’ve had published but it is far from the first book I’ve tried to get published, or thought about trying to get published. Here now, an annotated history of never realized JG2 works.

Untitled Dead Kennedys Biography (2002) – Stalled during the research period thanks to several factors (college course load, punk rock politics, my debilitating lack of experience). I covered the nuts and bolts of this failure for Crawdaddy! in a feature called “Give Me Convenience, Give Me Death, Just Tell Me Your Real Damn Name.” The most interesting aspect may be that I put a letter in the mail addressed “East Bay Ray, San Francisco” and it actually reached the correct guy. Your tax dollars at work.

Star Wars Ruined My Life (2005) – Ten chapter essay collection covering the weirder aspects of Star Wars fandom, including my own struggles with George Lucas’s intergalactic money printing machine (#firstworldproblems). Hired a literary agent but no publisher on Earth was interested. I didn’t have a “built-in audience,” which meant my blog statistics were not impressive enough to warrant anything. This era was the beginning of “co-opt every popular thing from the Internet to stave print’s death!” I’m sure my medium talent was also an issue (I know the manuscript lacked punch/direction). I absolutely cannot remember why but for some reason I e-mailed Jay Mohr about this book; he sent a very encouraging reply peppered with some of his theories on Boba Fett, which justified my struggle.

Untitled Oral History Of My Middle School Experience (2005) – An interesting twist on the adolescent memoir (I think): interview a bunch of people I grew up with to see how their worldview around that time differed from mine, turning the whole thing into an oral history with several narrative tracks. My lit agent loved this idea and really ramped me up about it, but then Star Wars Ruined My Life didn’t go anywhere. Representation cut me loose and without a cheerleader I cooled on the concept. Compiled about a chapter and a half, though, and several people I hadn’t spoken to since 1994 taught me a lot about where we grew up and life in general.

Untitled Field Guide To Discontinued Soft Drinks (2007-08) – New Coke, Pepsi AM, OK, DnL…I thought the world needed a comprehensive encyclopedia of every soda that’s ever fallen off the figurative/literal map. Unfortunately, the stories behind these drinks are all more or less the same (they failed because they were bad and nobody bought them), and when it came down to pitching this book few people understood what exactly what I was talking about. “Oh, like a coffee table book with pictures of the sodas?” No, a field guide. Like for birds. Maybe this idea is terminally flawed.

Untitled “Gong Show” Episode Guide (2006) – An excuse to track down average weirdos and hear about their experiences on the greatest televised competition of all-time. I think I concluded too many former “Gong Show” contestants/employees would be dead, and I also worried about the book’s marketability. Chuck Barris was hot in ’06, but how long would that last?

Untitled “Simpsons” History (2009) – At the time a lot of rumors were swirling about “The Simpsons” finally coming to an end. That didn’t happen, but I abandoned this idea mainly because I heard Morgan Spurlock was making a “Simpsons” documentary. Had I known his end product would be some gimmicky forty-five minute nonsense instead of the in-depth feature length “Simpsons” doc we deserve maybe I wouldn’t have jumped ship.

My Life Is A Screenplay! (2010) – The high school teacher who semi-successfully sued 20th Century Fox for plagiarizing his Christmas comedy script read my post about Jingle All The Way being a cursed property and e-mailed me with an offer to co-write a book about his life. I had just started work on This Music Leaves Stains so I had to turn him down. There also didn’t seem to be much else in his life aside from “I sued a movie studio and won but then they took the money back.” Also, that title. Woof.

Naturally I reserve the right to resurrect any of these properties at a future juncture. You never know when Chuck Barris might be hot again.

Dave Brockie: 1963-2014

Shocking news: band management has confirmed the death of Gwar mastermind Dave Brockie, the brash Virginian who under the guise of barbaric alien Oderus Urungus lead rock music’s most infamous horde of interstellar invaders for three riotous decades and through thirteen studio albums. Although his character was allegedly 43 billion years old, Brockie was a mere fifty.

Gwar (GWAR for maximum effect) could only have been spawned in the mid-eighties, a bizarre, bombastic mutation of the Sam Raimi horror movie aesthetic and Judas Priest. Part of the reason they lasted so long was Dave Brockie’s charm. He made this hulking pig-like creature named Oderus a fun and funny character, a robust yet occasionally confused conqueror who could make you chuckle even as he threatened to disembowel all of your relatives. Brockie excelled as ringmaster during Gwar’s live performances (think “Krofft Superstar Hour” meets Dante’s Inferno); his quips were often just as impressive as the giant foam rubber penis spraying fake ejaculate.

I feel exceptionally fortunate that Dave Brockie let me interview him “out of character” for This Music Leaves Stains. He proved just as rollicking and comical as himself, and out of all the people I spoke with he probably had the greatest passion for the Misfits. Dave was emphatic in his love for all the Misfits albums, everything the band had ever done, and seemed to just marvel at their very existence. This was the only point of the book process where I wished I was making a documentary, because I knew there was no way I’d be able to convey Dave’s special brand of enthusiasm via print.

Dave Brockie’s death is more surreal than any other in a long time. I hope he’s at peace. My condolences to his family, friends, and every other Gwar-lovin’ scumdog on the planet.

The Case For Ghostbusters 3

Rocky Balboa turned out pretty good, at least good enough to crush the endless Rocky 5,000 jokes. Stallone of all people managed to concoct a satisfying bookend to a decades-old property with a skeleton crew of the original talent. I’m putting my faith in Sony/Aykroyd/Reitman to do the same.

That said, if the climax of GB3 gives us another giant thing walking through NYC I will put a voodoo hex on all involved. No one will be spared, not even the innocent Aykroyd children.

Unsolicited Hyper-Local Post-Grunge Radio Stunt Memory

“Playing a song on loop is a common publicity stunt to mark a radio station’s format change,” SFGate assures its readers, many of whom might fear Latino Mix 105.7′s decision to go non-stop Nelly is actually some sort of Trilateralist/Illuminati signal aimed at Zeta Reticuli/the Lizard People to let them know the time for full global invasion/permanent McRib reintroduction is nigh. I’m taking that over the more depressing “some of our readers might be too young to have any kind of understanding of terrestrial radio practices.” Oh, you young people and your companions! I vex you!

When I was a high schooler in Central Florida this alt rock station popped up called 93.1 (the) KRO (have always assumed they were trying to snag some of that dark heat from Brandon Lee’s Crow). KRO announced their arrival with twenty-four (plus?) hours of Pizzicato Five’s “Twiggy Twiggy,” a.k.a. that “out there” Japanese song Beavis & Butt-head ripped into on an episode of their show. You remember. Beavis & Butt-head cracked a lot of jokes about the one guy in the video looking like Chip from “My Three Sons.” Is any of this even registering as English to you dumb kids?

KRO did several other Twig-a-thons before turning country in 2000, to ring in the New Year or Halloween or an event of real significance like Larry the Cable Guy’s birthday. I remember my friends and I being all a-titter a week in advance of one of these broadcasts. “Twiggy Twiggy” was considered by many at that time to be one of the most annoying aural properties ever created, and I think we reveled in the fact that it would be inescapable to a certain extent. Of course, anything is annoying after twenty-four hours, even Larry the Cable Guy (I know, heresy).

Hats off to the fearless broadcasters who keep this practice alive. I could barely commit to anything past eight minutes when I was a college radio deejay. I think I faded Black Flag’s “Process of Weeding Out” halfway through every time I put it on.

You kids have to know Black Flag. I’ve seen you Photopasting with the logo on the e-mails! THE E-MAILS!

YOU DAMN KIDS, GET OUT OF MY ROCK GARDEN!

Q: You’re An Only Child? What’s That Like?

A: Frustrating, because I can’t live out the sitcom trope of invading the life of my very successful brother/sister in some city previously foreign to me (Scottsdale? Wichita?). There are no nephews or nieces to indoctrinate with my wild, carefree ways. Don’t worry, kids, your goldfish will love this root beer I’m about to pour in his bowl.

It’s not the same when you do this kinda thing with your friends. They’re not blood, so they can just throw you out in the street when they’ve had enough of your shit. Sorry, dude, I didn’t think little Billy would be able to hear me singing selections from the DMX catalog in the shower on Christmas morning. In my defense, the walls in this place are like paper.

Totally Sane Clown Posse

This gem was taken outside the American Clown Museum & School in Lake Placid, FL (click photo to experience full mirth). Not sure I’d want to study clowning in a state with such a severe humidity index but who am I to question the logic of these joyful grease-painted souls?

Unsolicited Thoughts/Notes On John Candy’s Going Berserk

- even though this 1983 comedy was meant to be some kind of breakout for Candy and his fellow “SCTV” co-stars Joe Flaherty and Eugene Levy, it is established within the first several minutes that Going Berserk takes place in the same fictional universe as “SCTV”; this is odd because the majority of the film’s events occur in Los Angeles and none of the characters these men made famous on “SCTV” make appearances (unless you want to count Candy’s admittedly hilarious impression of Jerry Mathers)

- I suppose placing Going Berserk in the “SCTV” canon allowed Candy et al a license to bend reality in the same manner that garnered them so much acclaim on the small screen, but the movie (which centers around Candy’s pending marriage to an influential politician’s daughter) never commits to being a total bonkers spoof or something grounded in reality that’s simply decorated with wacky elements (it’s sort of like Rock n’ Roll High School in that respect)

- whatever issues GB has (tone, budget, script) the nucleus of Candy, Flaherty, and Levy is potent enough to make it work; watching these guys mine hard laughs out of what is often thin air made me upset they didn’t get a chance to put something like this together in the early ’90s after Candy had become comedy royalty

- even if our Canadian heroes had failed (yes, I know Joe Flaherty’s from Pittsburgh, shut up) there is plenty of nutso window dressing to justify this movie’s existence: we have the Ernie Hudson sex scene; the Dixie Carter make-out scene; the Alley Mills nude scene; Lee Ving attempting to parody punk rock/himself with the song “Mom Is Dead”; the rap that describes the entire plot of Going Berserk and plays over the opening credits; the movie-within-the-movie, Kung Fu U, about a college for martial arts experts; and of course mustache-free Pat Hingle (never a safe bet)

- according to the Internet Movie Database, at one point Going Berserk had the working title of Numbnuts; maybe this film would be better known today had they stuck with that moniker

- press me to grade Going Berserk and I’ll give it a solid B (which does not actually mirror my intense fascination/obsession with this project)

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