November 23, 2010

One week until my talk with Nathan Rabin! Volunteers needed!

CCLaP Presents: An Evening with Nathan Rabin

Wow, only one week to go before my big talk with Nathan Rabin, head writer of the AV Club! And you know what that means -- namely, it's time for the CCLaP Army (i.e. you) to rise up and start spreading the word, especially important in this case since this week we Americans are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, making it even more difficult than usual to capture people's attention. The center is relying completely and exclusively on word-of-mouth to promote this event, so your mention of it at your own blog, Facebook account or Twitter account can and does have a profound effect on its eventual success. Feel free to steal the above image for use in your own mention, and don't forget to direct people to the URL when telling them about it. I really appreciate whatever help you can provide in getting the word out.

Also don't forget, I'm still in need of a handful of volunteers to help out with various aspects of the show itself, including a decent photographer to get some good shots, and two or three "house managers" to do things like dim the lobby lights during intermission, help pass out and collect question cards from the audience, and generally help with whatever last-minute complications that may arise. You will of course get a free ticket to the show in exchange for your trouble, as well as a free cocktail afterwards, so please drop me a line at cclapcenter [at] if you're interested in putting in a little gruntwork for a good cause.

For those who don't know, the whole reason Rabin is out doing live events these days in the first place is because of a new book he has out, a bound collection of the "My Year of Flops" essay series he's been doing at the AV Club over the last three years, in which he takes a look at a hundred films that were commercial bombs and then examines how they fit into the general culture of their times, reaching astute and often hilarious conclusions about whether they were indeed a failure, turned out to be a secret success, or were so awful that they became complete fiascos. (And yes, it was this essay series among others that directly inspired my own CCLaP 100 series on literary classics.) I'm a big huge fan of these essays, and have read literally all 175 of them that Rabin has now written (he has continued them long after the original year-long, 100-film deadline was over), so thought as an enticement to get more to come out to next week's live event, I would point you today to some of the best write-ups of the series, and pass along some of the great quotes that are found within them...

Regarding 1987's Ishtar: "Nobody ever laughs harder at a clown because he's wearing diamond rings the size of golf balls."

Regarding 1978's The Wiz: "As a director Lumet's primary goal seems to be to show off just how f-cking huge his sets are. Seriously, folks, they're really f-cking huge!"

Regarding 1994's It's Pat: The Movie: "Simultaneously intriguing and repulsive, a would-be cult curio not even the most indulgent cult could love."

Regarding 2006's Lady in the Water: "Night set out to make an E.T. for his kid's generation. Instead he's made a bloated, alternately dour and crass exercise in self-homage that suggests what might happen if Dylan and Clapton and Springsteen and Eminem and Kanye West and Miles Davis and Bonnie Raitt and Joan Armatrading and Jerry Garcia and every musician you've ever loved joined George Harrison in hitting the same bum note together simultaneously."

Regarding 2003's Gigli: "Affleck and Lopez were just like us, except for being stalked by the paparazzi and having mind-blowing celebrity sex on giant piles of thousand-dollar bills, then calling their famous friends on diamond-encrusted cell phones while riding cryogenically-preserved wooly mammoths the non-famous know nothing about."

Regarding 1995's Waterworld: "[The film] immediately throws down the gauntlet by introducing Costner's mysterious water-drifter urinating, then gulping down his own sweet elixir. It's possible that there are more off-putting ways to introduce the hero of a giant would-be blockbuster...but until some Costner-level auteur of the future develops the testicular fortitude to introduce a hero raping a nun, defecating on an American flag, or attending to painful hemorrhoids, Waterworld's record for queasiest introduction of a stoic hero appears secure."

And regarding 1977's Exorcist II: The Heretic: "The stakes were abundantly clear in [the original], but I had a hard time figuring out exactly what [evil spirit] Pazuzu was aiming for this time around. Re-possession of Blair's soul? Renting out Studio 54 for a super-decadent Satanic disco orgy? Spreading bad mojo indiscriminately? Bringing down Warner Brothers?"

Anyway, I hope all you Chicagoans will have a chance to join Rabin and myself this coming Monday, November 29th, at Stage 773 at 1225 W. Belmont (just a five-minute walk from the Belmont el stop), as well as opening guest Ben Tanzer, who will be reading a brand-new 15-minute story about bad movies himself; tickets are $6, and can be purchased either at the door or in advance at the Stage 773 website. And like I said, I do hope you'll have a chance to tell all your friends about it as well!

Filed by Jason Pettus at 3:46 PM, November 23, 2010. Filed under: Arts news | CCLaP news | Chicago news | Literature | Profiles |