Tank Girl

Last year was the 30th anniversary of the British comic book Tank Girl. There wasn’t much mention of it in the press, that I remember. It is a classic cult comic. So, why not? Admittedly, the 1995 movie stunk.

It only made $6 million against a $25 million budget. That is an apt metaphor for the post-Nirvanamania alternative craze of the 1990’s. Mega-corporations foolishly believed that they could reproduce “the next Nirvana” by slapping “grunge” or “alternative” on everything. They bought up hundreds of independent labels and signed artists left and right, regardless of any talent or experience they may possess. It doesn’t work like that. Mostly, they failed spectacularly.

But, nonetheless, I liked the idea of adapting this comic into a movie. Comic book movies are HUGE now, compared to the 1990’s. Can’t somebody else give it ago? Hey Hollywood, throw some money my way! I’ll do it!

One thing that I actually LIKED about the original movie was the animated sequences. So, firstly, animate the entire thing. Co-creator Jamie Hewlett went on to form the virtual band Gorillaz. It would be a natural fit for him to direct. And don’t wimp out with a PG version. Go for a solid R-rating. It could be badass as Heavy Metal (1981).

Second, it needs better casting. Lori Petty? Blecchh! Stay true to the source material and get an Australian cast. This takes place in a post-apocalyptic Australia. Maybe include a few Brits or Americans in certain roles. But, c’mon, Ice-T as a kangaroo? Are you shitting me? Eddie Izzard plays a great villain. Get him. I kinda liked that the fascist water company ruled everything in the original. Keep that. Put Eddie in charge. Make him a middle management Darth Vader for a multi-national monopoly.

The original soundtrack had a few good tunes. I could see staying with that sort of tone; punk rock, hip-hop, metal, indie pop, etc. Courtney Love chose songs for the original. Get Quentin Tarantino’s music supervisor to do the reboot.

If Hollywood insists on bombarding us with reboots, don’t ruin perfectly good movies PLEASE! Reboot movies that had a good premise, but were shit produced, and fix them. There is no shortage of them. Comic book movies are BIG now. So, it isn’t even much of a gamble anymore. I bet that any independent studio could do a decent job of it with a small budget. Jamie Hewlett’s success with the Gorillaz could almost guarantee a bigger budget with a few well-known actors. Someone make this happen!

2019… So Far, So Good… I Guess.

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Almost done…………………….

Time still flies when you aren’t having any fun. I am absolutely certain that time speeds up as you age. That is why old people wear clothes that are out of style. It was still in fashion just a minute ago, for them.

I was planning to include a vlog today, since vlogging is meant to be half of these posts. But, honestly, I don’t have anything worth videotaping right now. I also don’t have any new paintings to show.

2019 is speeding by, just like the past few years have. WTF is wrong with me? Besides the usual shit? Things actually are going pretty okay right now. I had a few rough months between December and February. That mess is finally settled, notwithstanding my growing piles of debt.

I have a list of folks waiting for Theee Urban SpaceCat cassette-zine. I have been digging through stacks of demo tapes and gigabytes of incomplete data trying to finish it. I have enough material already done for a complete issue or two… or three. But, I have spread it out over several zines. I didn’t like the way it was when I compiled it all together. So, I am filling each issue, finishing each song, one-at-a-time. A friend suggested that I do this to get myself focused, instead of hopping all over the place like I usually do. Get one thing done. Then, move on to the next thing. This approach seems to be pushing the process along, I suppose. Creating the equivalent of two double albums every few months is kinda hard when doing it all alone and you keep shooting yourself in the foot. Everything is absurdly late getting it out.

I asked around about getting my mixes mastered. But, I cannot afford to do it, not entire albums anyway. I might have one or two singles mastered for radio… maybe. The rest will just have to be a raw mix.

I am waiting for the government to process some of my tax shit, so I can finish setting up the business side of things. They’re still catching up from the Trumptard shutdown a few weeks ago. It has delayed everything. I’m never happy dealing with that sort of stuff. But, I anxiously want to get it done and out of the way.

Here is a Daniel Johnston song from my record collection for you. I get the same feeling myself sometimes. I am always starting my life over again… and again… and again… and again….

Vlogging Update: May 2017

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Hey y’all,

Sorry for the long absence.

My computer died.

I gave it to my aunt to work on.

She does IT work for the local school district.

Unable to fix it, she gave me another one that a school was getting rid of.

I tried to salvage what I could from the old one.

But, most of my programs and files were lost.

I’ve been searching for the missing software and restoring what I can.

My scanner/printer didn’t want to cooperate with the new computer.

I tried replacing it.

But, the replacements didn’t work either.

After a couple of days messing with it, I finally got it running.

My van has a million problems.

But, at least I got the front tire fixed that kept going flat.

I’ve replaced that tire THREE TIMES and it still kept going flat.

I thought maybe the rim was bent.

I had it looked at and they found a piece of metal lodged inside.

They patched it up.

Now, it shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

Only cost me $15 bucks (thank God)!

I tried to repay my grandmother $700 dollars I owe her.

She forgave some of it.

My ex forgave the $200 I owed her, too, since I’ve been helping her relocate and move her stuff.

Not sure how I’ll get my other debts paid.

But, I try not to get stressed out about it.

That really fucks up my creativity.

Spring Has Sprung

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I was watching some YouTube videos lately.

I got very annoyed.

Other bands are doing stuff that I wanna do.

But, they keep beating me to it.

I hate when that shit happens.

Maybe it is just that everything has already been done to death and we keep repeating and reinterpreting what came before us.

I dunno.

I know that, financially, I am gonna be screwed for the foreseeable future.

I am robbing Peter to pay Paul for as long as I have to.

I seriously doubt that I will break even before summer begins.

I keep putting off working on and publishing the zine until I can get ahead a little.

But, that doesn’t look like it is going to happen very soon.

I may do a cheaper version, than what I had in mind, until it begins to pay for itself.

Just a thought.

I will probably raid my boxes of old tapes that I have in storage and dig around for some incomplete material to finish.

I have a lot of it, going back nearly forty years.

Since I have been tinkering with the analogue multi-track machine, maybe I will include some fresher stuff with it, too.

I dunno.

A guitarist whom I have not played with in years contacted me and is eager to jam again.

So, maybe he can give me a morale boost and help me get my shit done.

Maybe.

I am always willing to jam with other people if they are interested.

I need to find somewhere that I can paint and make loud noises too.

Maybe somebody can help me with that.

Valentine’s Day

Super Action Kung-Fu Power Rock & Roll!

beatles toon

In the 1990’s, there were a number of bands who styled themselves as cartoonish action heroes, complete with a theatrical image and fictional backstory (GWAR, Supernova, The Aquabats, The Cocktails, The Amino Acids, Man or Astroman?).

I am not sure if this is the legacy of KISS or The Monkees.

The nice thing about these groups is that they are fun, for starters, and make additional income for the artist through merchandising. I wrote about merchandising before. Yes, there is a dark side to avoid. But, there is also potential to have a lot of fun with it. Comic book culture thrives on it. Go to any comic-con and check out the mountains of stuff available for almost any property. I cannot help that the inner geek in me likes collecting things. I blame Star Trek and record collecting for getting me started on that.

Mog Stunt Team were one of these groups, and were also close friends of mine.

I liked their music and whole schtick. But, I always felt like they put most of their energy into an image and not their music. I believed that I could write better songs, for sure. Bassist / vocalist Kenny Mugwump must have sensed this on some level, because he often asked for my opinion about stuff and wanted my input. I regret that I never asked to join their group. But, I was a bit intimidated. These were old pros with management, years of experience in a number of bands, touring, getting signed to labels, etc. I was just this weird kid who hung around a lot and helped when they needed a favor.

I kinda forgot about these sort of groups for awhile, then realized that The Aquabats were still kicking, and had their own TV show for two seasons! Christ, how did I miss THAT? I did a little research and discovered that the lead Aquabat, Christian Jacobs, was a former 1980’s child actor. He tried making a go of The Aquabats band for a couple of years in the 1990’s, unsuccessfully. In 1998 they made a failed Aquabats TV pilot with Bobcat Goldthwait. In 1999, he tried pitching Yo Gabba Gabba! to the networks instead. After belatedly appearing on the internet for a few years, it was a big success. Afterward, he was asked what his next project would be. So, he simply dusted off his VHS recording of The Aquabats! Super Show! and tried that again 15 years after it was originally made. Ta-Dah!

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to make The Island of Misfit Noise sort of like these groups. The IOMN movie certainly shares some of the same influences. I don’t want to wear costumes onstage or anything like that. But, I think that I could create different characters that we could make toys out of and stuff like that. Sorta like The Archies or Josie and The Pussycats. That could be fun.

This abomination actually had a TV show!

As a kid growing up in the 1970’s-1980’s, I knew even then that most of the cartoons on TV were just half-hour commercials for toys. It was a little annoying, sometimes. I mean, c’mon, they made a TV show about a talking Rubik’s Cube! Really?! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were one of these shows. Literally, the show was only made so they could make toys. But, damn if it wasn’t still a good show! I think the fact that they had already developed it as a successful comic book for a few years gave them the chance to flesh out the characters more.

Anyway, I still look forward to writing songs with anyone who wants to add them into this. Not sure what will come of it. But, we will see.

Robert Creamer: Time to Just Say No to Giant Corporate "Parasites" — and Recognize Them for What They Are

Robert Creamer: Time to Just Say No to Giant Corporate “Parasites” — and Recognize Them for What They Are
from The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com by Robert Creamer
1 person liked this
Sounds like a movie script. Giant parasites stalk the American landscape disguised as benign upstanding participants in the “free market.”

The dictionary defines parasite as:

“An organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.”

In fact, there are a number of major corporations in America who do very little productive work — never making products or delivering services that benefit their consumers. Instead, the profits they earn and the big CEO salaries they pay are derived by sucking or skimming a portion of the dollars they have convinced the Government to send through their corporate accounts — generally to perform a function that is or ought to be an inherently governmental function.

Ironically, many of these corporate parasites are the loudest defenders of “free markets” and the most vociferous opponents of “government takeovers,” when in fact they exist by feeding off the taxpayers.

Three examples have been in the news of late:

1). Banks that provide government guaranteed student loans. The house voted yesterday to end its four-decade practice of subsidizing private lenders to make student loans. Since the 1960s, the government has subsidized banks to lend students money and guaranteed lenders against loss if students defaulted.

But since the early 1990s the government itself has done direct lending for many student loans and avoided paying the subsidy to the banks. Why, after all, should banks take a percentage of every dollar to generate loans if the taxpayers guarantee the loan in full? In fact, it turns out that the government – which, after all, has a responsibility to provide higher education to its citizenry — can provide loans directly at a much cheaper price than it can through the banks.

In fact it’s estimated that eliminating the subsidy to the banks will save $40 billion that can be transferred into the Pell Grant program that provides college grants to moderate and low income students.

2). Private military contractors that provide security services. One of the things that defines civilized society is that the government has a monopoly on the use of lethal force. Yet over the last decade private military security firms have exploded. They have been hired with increasing frequency to do essentially governmental security functions. We’ve seen the results in the murders of civilians by Blackwater operatives in Iraq. And the growth of free-standing, mercenary armies that are available for hire by governments around the world is a danger to international security.

But these contractors are also economic parasites, since they charge a great deal more to do functions that could otherwise be performed by the government. In fact, most of their personnel are trained by the American military. After they leave the service and go to work making much more than they would if they re-enlisted for another turn with the Army or Marines. Then, the Blackwaters of the world turn around and bill their people out at huge markups so that the taxpayers — who paid for their training in the first place — have to pay a corporation for the privilege of hiring them back at much higher rates.

3). Private health insurance companies. These are the granddaddy of all parasitic operations. Remember that every other industrial society has long since decided that financing the health care of its citizens is an inherently governmental function — that it is cheaper and much more consistent with our values — to provide health care to all as a right.

With that approach, every other industrial society pays 50% less than we do per person for health care and, according to the World Health Organization, 36 countries have better health care outcomes than we do in the U.S.

Remember that health insurance companies don’t provide an iota of health care services. They do hire an army of claims agents to deny claims for coverage, and another army of salesmen and admen to sell you policies that you would automatically have in most other countries. They simply take your money, skim off profits and CEO salaries and then — once they get their end — pay for your health care.

We know that the one thing government does very well is managing insurance pools. Medicare and Social Security are two of the most successful programs in history. And the health care financing authorities in countries like France and Spain are pretty good at it too.

The so-called “Medicare Advantage” program is a great example of a side-by-side comparison of how the private insurance companies compare with government run insurance programs. Medicare Advantage was set up by the Bush administration and Republican Congress to allow private insurance companies to skim off a share of Federal Medicare dollars. Originally, the private insurance companies claimed they would provide these services more efficiently than the “government.” But it turned out they required a 14% to 19% subsidy above the normal costs of Medicare.

As the Economic Policy Institute has pointed out, “In a nut shell, Medicare Advantage plans are private plans funded through Medicare to provide similar benefits, but at a 14% higher cost on average, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency. Eliminating these overpayments would free up $157 billion over 10 years, a substantial down payment on health care reform.”

Now the private insurance industry is battling tooth and nail to prevent a public health insurance program from competing for its non-Medicare business. They want to continue to skim their share off of every health care dollar they can.

In fact, they hope that the final insurance reform bill will require people to buy their products without any competition from a public plan or rate regulation to limit the amount they can skim into the hands of Wall Street investors and CEO’s.

That’s why President Obama has proposed that the final health insurance reform bill include a robust public health insurance option that doesn’t leave us with a mandate to buy insurance from a monopoly of private insurers (that are, by the way, also exempt from the anti-trust laws). That would just guarantee a government-mandated stream of revenue on which the private insurance companies can feed.

Of course, corporate parasites like these have always existed. But they have burgeoned over the last several decades as some of the best and brightest graduates of our universities have been convinced that they would be “chumps” to go out and create products and services that provide value to the economy. Much better to work for a corporate parasite that can make huge sums of money simply by convincing government to keep directing huge streams of revenue through its corporate coffers and then slicing off its share as the money comes by.

It’s time for the age of the corporate parasite to come to an end — otherwise, we’re the “chumps”.

Robert Creamer is a longtime political organizer and strategist, and author of the recent book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com.

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