December 4th, 2008

Tom Lehrer is Smug

Zap first, ask questions later

In spite of some pretty serious pain recently, I did have the good fortune to watch a hilariously awful science-fiction film from 1967 called THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE and the title right there should be your first clue as to the quality of the film. Oh, it's presented in all seriousness, mind you, with none of that pesky irony to deal with, and that's what makes it all the funnier.

I mean, seriously: THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE. It's a classic B-movie title if ever there was one. Now nobody in the film actually takes the opportunity to dramatically declare "These invaders, Jim... they're not from space... they're from BEYOND space!" but you can pretty much tell that's the feeling they were going for. So when it's finally revealed that the aliens involved in this film's invasion are coming from the moon, it's a bit of a letdown. The moon isn't beyond space! It's not even beyond Mars! Sheesh!

Golly, I hope I'm not spoiling this cinematic masterpiece for anyone who's just itching to see it but haven't found the DVD in the $1.00 bin just yet. Anyway.

The story of the film involves mind-controlling moon meteorites which get into the heads of a group of scientists and then most of a small town, who then build an impressive mod bunker around the crashed stones complete with a rocket ship which we eventually learn makes round trip visits to the moon once every few days. Then we have a small but dedicated group of scientists who eventually learn to thwart the mind-control rays by, and I swear I'm not making this up, wearing colanders on their heads. (Okay, they're custom-made colanders made out of silver, which is the only metal which can apparently block these mind-control rays, but HELLO, IT'S A COLANDER.) They can also spot the aliens by wearing special goggles that make the Archie McPhee X-Ray Specs look like high-end sunglasses. As you can probably guess, the end result here is absolutely ludicrous, even moreso since it's not tongue in cheek. The scientists look like they're trying out for DEVO. If this video ever got out, these costumes would be a hit at cons.

But even better was the ending to the film. Oh, my! What an ending! What a deep climax of incredible emotion and pathos, and who am I kidding? It's a stinker. I'll summarize like so. If you really don't want spoilers, turn to page 74, where we'll determine which Brady Bunch character our true love would be. For the rest of you, here goes:

SCIENTIST HERO: I've chased you and your mind-controlled minions all the way back to the moon. Now tell me why you've been turning humans into slaves.

MASTER OF THE MOON (swear to god this is his name, honest): We are an advanced race, more highly evolved than you primitive savages on Earth. However, we evolved so much we lost our corporeal bodies and now exist as pure thought. We are also far far away from our home planet. We needed actual bodies to perform physical work on a rocket ship of our very own, so that we can blast off and return home to die. We would never have slaves. These human bodies would be returned to their rightful owners once work is complete.

SCIENTIST HERO: You just want to fix your rocket and go home. If that's all you wanted, why didn't you just ask?

MASTER OF THE MOON: Why... didn't... we just ask...

(It's so crazy it JUST MIGHT WORK!)

SCIENTIST HERO: We'd be happy to help you build your rocket... but by our own free will.

(The MASTER OF THE MOON takes a few moments to mull this over, and then approaches the SCIENTIST HERO. He suddenly RELINQUISHES CONTROL of the HUMAN BODY he was in. This NEW GUY and the SCIENTIST HERO then SHAKE HANDS while the music swells to a dramatic climax. "THE END" is superimposed over the shot of the handshake. SPATCH howls so much the CAT jumps off the bed and makes a beeline for the door.)

My god! Why didn't they just ask?! No science-fiction alien ever just plain asks! Except for like John Valentine, and look where it got him. No, if heroes were to try this tactic in other stories, it'd go like this:

SCIENTIST HERO: If all you want is to gather up Plutonium to feed to your offspring, why didn't you just ask us for it?
ALIEN GUY: Silence!! (disintegrates SCIENTIST HERO's head with his ray gun)

or maybe

SCIENTIST HERO: If all you robots want is freedom and the right to exist autonomously and not as mechanical slaves, why haven't you just asked?
ROBOT GUY: Beep boop bop borp boop (explodes SCIENTIST HERO's head with his atomoblaster)

or even

SCIENTIST HERO: If all you Martians want is some of our women for your breeding purposes, why don't you just ask? I'm sure we have some with loose enough morals around here who'd join you just for kicks.
MARTIAN GUY: WAK WAK WAAK (vaporizes SCIENTIST HERO's head with eye lasers)

Nobody ever asks. They just take. On the other hand, if ever I see a film where a giant irradiated termite walks up to the likes of John Agar and says "Terribly sorry, old chap, but my colony and I are simply famished and we sure could use a good nosh; might you know of any large collection of wooden structures which you don't need?" then by golly I'll totally keep that one close to my heart forever.

The MBTA Follies

"Every time they make that announcement that says 'We rely on your eyes and your ears to protect the system' I keep expecting them to say 'We rely on your eyes, your ears and your nose.' They never do."

"That's because the Smell Something, Say Something campaign wouldn't work."

"People would be calling in 24/7. Yeah, I'm smellin something pretty foul over here. Somebody peed over here. And there's burning. Okay, I'm smelling hobo urine and burning brakes. What? I'm just saying something is all."
Tom Lehrer is Smug

thank you frank


Joe has just worked himself into an imaginary frenzy
during the fade-out of his imaginary song.

He begins to feel depressed now. He knows the end is near.

He has realized at last
that imaginary guitar notes and imaginary vocals
exist only in the imagination of the imaginer
and ultimately, who gives a fuck anyway?

Who gives a fuck anyway?

So he goes back to his ugly little room
and quietly dreams his last imaginary guitar solo...

December 21, 1940 - December 4, 1993