Category: Folk/Outsider

Best Worst Movie, Troll 2, and Nilbog finery

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photo courtesy of Kelly Sepulveda

For those of you who haven’t been blessed with at least one viewing of Troll 2, allow me a brief introduction: it’s a mesmerizing, god-awful, hilarious, bottom-of-the-barrel budget film of rare form. As kids, my brother Aaron and I screened it over and over, rewinding the tape to review favorite scenes of unspeakably bad acting, wardrobe malfunction, and the remarkably “special” effects. There are countless bad movies out there, but few are as captivating and bold. We felt we had discovered a secret little nugget of inept genius and that no one else had ever seen this movie; and yet, as it turns out, many, MANY kids had a very similar experience. Over time they indoctrinated others into the fold. And so began the rise of Troll 2 to cult status.

This past weekend, my pal Jen and I attended a screening of Best Worst Movie – a documentary about Troll 2 directed by its young star, Joshua (Michael Paul Stephenson). We were unaware that we’d be treated to appearances by members of the cast so were happily surprised to meet George Hardy (the dad) and Jason Steadman (Drew). (See photographic proof below.) At the center of the movie is Troll 2’s father figure George Hardy, a super friendly and likeable guy who has a successful dentistry practice in Alabama. He and some of his Troll 2 cohorts ride the wave of notoriety that’s kicked off by a Troll 2 screening at the Upright Citizens’ Brigade in 2006, and we witness their unlikely celebrity. The movie truly was very touching and inspiring in addition to being incredibly funny, and I feel confident in saying that viewers new to the trash masterpiece will agree.

George Hardy a.k.a. the dad in Troll 2!Jason Steadman a.k.a. Drew from Troll 2

We also had the pleasure of meeting Kelly Sepulveda and Kris Lozanovski who made these AMAZING goblin costumes based on the creatures in Troll 2. They became a part of the documentary as well after attending a Nilbog Invasion event in Morgan, UT in full regalia. Kelly was kind enough to share some information about how and why the goblins came to be.

Troll 2 replica Goblin masks

I was surprised to hear that the soon-to-be pharmacists had never sculpted anything before this ambitious undertaking (though Kelly does some embroidery, sewing, and scrapbooking). They started their journey with a mask-making kit from Monstermakers.com that included basic instructions. Using still images from the movie for accuracy, Kelly tackled the heads and Kris made the hands using plasteline clay. Here are some excerpts from Kelly’s note about the process:

As far as a technique for figuring out the sculpting process, it was basically trial and error…The sculpting tools I had never used before, so I just had to get used to which tools would be best in working with any particular part of the masks I was currently working on. I am pretty anal about my art, so I did want the masks to look as close as possible to the originals with the time I had to sculpt them…I actually sculpted one of the ears and then cut it off in order to sculpt the other ear so they would both look similar. The hair, eyes, and teeth were all purchased from ebay. The hair is goat/llama hair, eyes are real WWII prosthetic eyes, and the teeth are real shark teeth. I also sewed two burlap sets of shirts and pants and a pillow-case sort of stomach that you could strap around your waist to help complete the costumes. We made spears from some fallen tree branches and bought spearheads from ebay.

The pair met while interning together during college and found that they shared a passion for B-movies, and so Troll 2 came to play a role in their developing romance. When they heard about the costume contest at the aforementioned Nilbog Invasion, they got to work.

I’m all for tackling totally new mediums and am inspired by their story. And their artistry! In addition to the trolls, the couple has also made a board game called Alley Cat inspired by a cat they adopted from the streets. If the pharmacy biz doens’t work out, I’m sure you guys will have plenty of other options.

The goblins are touring the country to help promote the doc and have been seen in Austin and NYC with an upcoming stop in LA. Go see this movie!!
Awesome process shots of the goblin masks below courtesy of Kelly Sepulveda.

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Sondra Prill = Godmother of Bad Karaoke?

Sondra Prill is a Floridian public access diva with a sassy vision of stardom. She was the star of “My Show,” which aired between 1987 and 1992. Most of the show’s content appears to have been music videos in which she covers popular songs in her distinctly drunk-in-a-karaoke-bar manner, often grunting or yelling for emphasis. At other times she seems to be ad-libbing off-key, sometimes drawing unsuspecting victims into her circle of shrill (see the woman in this clip.) Perhaps most brazenly, she appears green-screened in front of the American flag, attempting a very serious rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.

I submit the following provocative clips for your diligent consumption:

NASTY

Pump Up the Jam

The Star-Spangled Banner

Unidentified Duet w/Piano Tie Guy

Wikipedia link.

Oddly, I discovered Sondra while on a google search for Carol Bove images…I had just listened to an episode of This American Life in which a woman named Carol Bove spoke about her mother, and I was wondering if it was the same Carol Bove. And that led me to look up some images of her work. Anyway, I was led to this blog where Sondra came to life.

Jailhouse Rock

Many of you probably saw the amazing video on Youtube recently of prisoners in the Philippines doing a choreographed dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. If you’re curious about the background story, check out this 20 minute documentary about the phenomenon.

Below is the original Thriller clip, uploaded by prison warden Byron F. Garcia. The female role is played by an inmate who is a transvestite; her partner is a fancily jacketed inmate portraying Michael.

Thanks to Paul for posting this on Myspace.

It reminds me of an episode of This American Life chronicling a production of Act V of Hamlet by a group of inmates at a high-security prison. Listen to it HERE.

Blank Dogs + Oceanic Art

There are only 4 comments thus far on Blank Dogs’ video “Leaving the Light On” on youtube, and they range from “extremely pretentious” to “blank dogs are the cutting edge shit!” I’d have to side with the latter. The video itself isn’t terribly exciting but it fits the song like a glove. I came across their music on myspace when I saw an image of a masked figure (see below) in someone’s top friends and clicked on it.

The music is smart garage-y pop with heavy guitar and vocal distortion that’s catchy despite the amount to which the content is obscured by the noise. Different moments in the tunes offered on myspace brought to mind Ariel Pink, Animal Collective, and Joy Division. A quick google search yielded results describing the band as “death pop” and wondering whether they might hail from Brooklyn (rather than Madagascar, as their myspace profile states). Neither the music profile or the video offer a glimpse of the band member(s) faces, leaving us only with the images of the masks to draw upon. Luckily the masks and the music go down well together.

mask main mask 1

Thinking about the masks while writing this reminds me that I want to check out the New Galleries for Oceanic Art at the Metropolitan Museum. I haven’t been there probably since a field trip in my youth but the NY Times review and amazing slideshow of the new gallery piqued my interest. The reviewer (Ken Johnson) was quick to point out that the Native American art collection is in need of some serious lovin’ but at least we can marvel at the Oceanic collection for the time being.

Blank Dogs – “Leaving the Light On” below

BJ Snowden at The Slipper Room

Just to follow up…
BJ’s show at The Slipper Room did not disappoint. Can you tell how much I enjoyed it?

BJ Snowden at The Slipper Room 11 10 07

Wearing a sparkly silver top and shiny pants, BJ began her set by asking if the people in the audience liked to watch court TV. Without further ado, she launched into “Judge Joe Brown,” a catchy tune I was unfamiliar with but must now have.

The following are some of the highlights of the show:

– BJ announced that she would play a techno song, and the bass on her keyboard started thumping. Not sure of the name of this one but it was a pretty complex instrumental. Though the song technically didn’t have any lyrics, BJ leaned into the mic at one point and cackled extremely loudly like a witch….twice. It was great!

– BJ’s 85-year old mother Virginia Snowden sang along on “Disaster and Tragedy.” Virginia wrote the lyrics for the song, a tribute to 9/11, and BJ wrote the music. Virginia was wearing a BJ Snowden t-shirt and shiny pants that appeared to match BJ’s. Her energy and agility were impressive!

– During the performance of “School Teacher,” Virginia once again chucked hard gumballs into the audience. We giddily ducked and then gathered our booty.

– Laminated lyrics cards with pictures of BJ and various Canadian flags were passed out so we could sing along with “In Canada.” The lyric cards indicated that in the last chorus the words break down to la-de-de-de-de-dee etc, and indeed BJ started scatting up a storm toward the end of the song. This went on for a good 40 seconds or so before I realized it wouldn’t end anytime soon and began videotaping it. Another minute later and she was STILL scatting and her mother had gone up to the stage and pulled down a mic so she could join in.

-BJ’s son Andres Wilson joined the party with, as BJ called it, a Slayer-like solo. He did admittedly have some fancy fingerwork going on and it was heartwarming to see the whole Snowden clan united in musical harmony (pictured below).

BJ Snowden at The Slipper Room 11 10 07

See more pics on my Flickr page.
Go to BJ’s myspace page.

BJ Snowden LIVE Tomorrow Night

If you’re in the NYC area, you might be interested in seeing BJ Snowden play tomorrow night (Saturday 11/10) at the Slipper Room. Her performances are AMAZING. The first time I saw her she opened for Daniel Johnston (along w/Kimya Dawson) and I was just blown away. I had never heard her music before but it was so catchy in its buoyancy and simplicity. The main effect of her music is that is just makes me feel incredibly happy and fulfilled. She’s so full of life – such a diva of a different ilk – and her energy really rubs off.

You may have heard her most popular song “In Canada,” in which she pays homage to the friendly, welcoming people of our northern land mass neighbor. She was so inspired by her time in Canada that she actually composed a number of tunes about her experiences there (they appear on her album Life in the USA and Canada). My favorite is “Oh Nuffy,” a song in which we learn a few tidbits about Newfoundland (e.g. the fact that it’s an island and its connection with the Titanic.) The highlights are BJ’s spooky ghostly “oohs,” presumably referencing the victims of the Titanic, and a particularly otherworldly segment where her vocals are slowed and pitch-shifted and then suddenly racheted back up to normal speed. (Some other fave tunes by BJ: “Drug-Free” and “Conspiracy.”)

Anyway, after the show, I tried to track her down to buy a CD and she sent me to find her mother, who was in charge of the merch. BJ’s mom was a good-natured energetic older woman donning an intense wig – not your typical merch saleswoman. She was great though – it was a pleasure to, um, do business with her.

She came into town again some time later and my friend Fionnuala and I went to check it out. Fionnuala didn’t know too much about her but became a fan instantly. We had so much fun that night watching BJ in her sequined shirt hammering away at her keyboard that we literally had tears in our eyes. Her mother threw individually wrapped gumballs into the audience during one of the songs. And then BJ gave us B&W headshots and signed them. Yes!! I gave one to my Dad for Christmas that year (he had also recently become a fan).

So…if this sounds appealing to you, definitely come check it out! Judging by her myspace page, it seems that BJ’s most recent compositions are in homage to the Red Sox pitcher (?) Daisuke Matzusaka.

Pictured below: BJ, in a photograph from her website.

BJ Snowden

Star Trekkin’

I was searching youtube for items tagged “star trek dance” for an upcoming project on the theme and I came across this gem. Kirk Incorporated, a group of guys aged 14 to 30, performs the classic novelty song “Star Trekking” (with the addition of a few extra verses) on a local Minnesota station during a holiday fundraiser. Though not all members of the group come across as hardcore fans, several of them are animated and/or dedicated in their delivery. The teen portraying Uhura utilizes his most general female impersonation, but he couples this with falsies – a bold move for local TV! Spock’s stand-in demonstrates a firm commitment to his muse, and Scotty turns out to be a bit of a spotlight hog. And all the while, ads scroll across the bottom of the screen….Sauk Rapids Plumbing and Heating Services $10, etc.

It’s worth watching through to the end if you can bear it. You can always skip ahead – but some of the natural (?) rhythm is lost. I made it through, but just barely, and I can tolerate (and rather enjoy) those things in life that live on the high end of the cringe factor scale.