In all the excitement surrounding Comic-Con last week, nobody here even realized that Wednesday, July 21st marked RiffTrax’s fourth anniversary. That’s right, four years ago we released Road House. I still remember the first emails coming in from e-junkie indicating that someone had actually purchased it. Who’d have thought that four years later I’d be able to hold my own in conversations about plot points in the Twilight movies?
A lot has changed in the past four years: We got a shuffleboard table. That’s pretty much it, actually.
But no, of course there have been all sorts of great things that have happened along the way that we couldn’t have predicted. We have 17 RiffTrax DVDs. Two live theater shows down and two more coming up soon. Webcasts. A state quarter tournament that many consider the defining occasional currency based blog post series of our generation.
And oh, the characters we’ve met along the way: Tommy. Gregory. Crazy old lemon drink lady. The Schnapster. Moosebaby. Norman Spear Jr.
I’ve been lucky to be at RiffTrax since day one. The job has allowed me to work with incredibly talented, funny people every single day. So thanks for your support that has allowed it to happen. Here’s hoping we can continue to make you laugh for many more years to come.
*** KEVIN MURPHY CHIMES IN ***
While we’re getting maudlin, I’d like to make a tip of the whisky glass to everybody who’s helped to keep the riffing engines humming. That would be David D, Casey, Josh, Sarah, Erik, Chris, Jason, Cam, Rick at Lethal Sounds, David G and Barry – is this sounding like an Oscar speech yet? – and of course our crack(ed) young writers Sean and Conor; all our guest Riffers; Joco and Veronica Belmont; Paul, Storm, Adam, Wil and all our new play-pals from W00tstock; madman Lowtax; Cole and Janet; and the fine people at O’Brien’s Pub. I’m sure I’m missing people because I’m a thoughtless inconsiderate wad, so forgive me if I didn’t give you a proper shout-out, and I’ll try to make amends.
Most of all, Thanks go to you, the readers, downloaders, the people who laugh at our jokes, who keep the conversation lively, who come see us at our live events and at cons. That we are four years old is entirely thanks to you.
Ladies and gentlemen, it has been forever since I’ve written in these digi-pages. Mea culpa. A combination of too much work, too much social media, a so-called “family” and my new semi-pro ice dancing career has kept me away from the Rifftrax Blog. That, and wolves.
When I heard that Mike, Kevin and myself were invited back this year to do a gigantic night at the San Diego Comic-Con (approx. 700,000 seats!), and that our host would be none other than our good friend, the high priestess of geekery Ms. VERONICA BELMONT — well, it’s was time to fire up the WordPress.
Here is the 411:
Friday July 23rd
7PM to 8PM
Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett (RiffTrax.com, Mystery Science Theater 3000) return to Comic-Con to perform another live, hilarious riff to a classic short! The panel is hosted by Veronica Belmont (host of Tekzilla on Revision3 and Qore on the PlayStation Network). Join the riffers for fun, laughs, and the latest news from RiffTrax.com, the site where MST3K-style humor meets mainstream movies, TV shows and vintage shorts. At RiffTrax.com they don’t make movies, they make them funny!
Friends, I have nothing to add except: come join us, wolves be damned!
Now that we’re in that groggy, mosquito-infested nightless fever-dream between Memorial Day and Independence Day, isn’t it time to watch a doughy middle-aged guy offer his tribute to Liberty, freedom, faith, hope, charity and other things?
Of course it is. Here’s RC Kouba with Lady Liberty.
Earth Day is upon us, a day which has considerably more meaning and practical application than Life Day. And what better way to celebrate the day, there in San Diego and here in the Minnesota Satellite Offices, than to release our riff of James Cameron’s Brobdingnagian Planet-Buster of a movie, Avatar. Say what you will about the film, it will go down in the annals of cinema history as the most successful film to feature digitally-rendered tree-dwelling naked blue people.
Although one may find it incongruous that the DVD is being released on Earth Day notwithstanding that the story occurs entirely on another planet, prompting the urge to broaden the brand and rename the day Planet Day so as not to offend other planets with our Earthbound provincialism, and although our own planet has no fiber-optic trees or domesticated work animals with which we can commingle our tendrils, nonetheless this actual planet we live on is worth keeping healthy and in good working order.
And when we uncynically suggest that our riffs, being digital, are possibly more environmentally friendly than the six-foot-square blister pack surrounding your half-inch-square SD card, we truly hope you enjoy our enjoyment of the Very Big And Often Very Silly Film. But we’ll also suggest that if you’re looking for something far bigger, far more spectacular and undeniably breathtaking, look no further than Earth’s own blockbuster, the Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
Okay, so you’re snowed in. You have so much snow in your driveway you’re thinking of putting it in the trunk, maybe stopping at your ma’s for some meatballs and gravy then dumping the snow somewhere upstate where it won’t be missed. You’re grumbling, you’re growling, feeling sorry for yourself. Don’t lie, I see your twitters.
I say it’s time to take advantage of all the wonders winter has to offer, just like we do here in Minnesota. Hell, it’s not officially winter here until the first truck crashes through the ice. Now before you say “I thought all you had were incredibly hot world-class lady skiers,” you should know that this not exactly true, we can’t all be Lindsey Vonn. Most of us can barely be George Wendt. But we do tend to make the best of it, in fact we have so many wild and wonderful winter sports to choose from, there’s barely time for drinking! So put your boots on and follow me!
Pronounced “skee-YOR-ing,” or by a select few “She-Whoring.” You should know we do this all the time in Minnesota, in fact on weekends the city streets are packed with horses wildly cantering while avid skijorers fly off the roofs of parked cars and bus stops. It’s a sport for anyone with a pair of skis and a horse, or a couple of dogs, or maybe in a pinch several cats. You might be able to pull this off with a well-organized train of highly motivated guinea pigs, and if you are please let us know and we’ll post your picture.
Pronounced just as it sounds, this ultra-current sport replaces draft animals with a very large kite, the kind you might use to pop over waves in Australia, or perhaps drown under in Cancun. It’s not an easy sport, requiring a lot of skill and strangth, so think twice before casually “dabbling” in this or any sport that can cause your arms to rip out of their sockets.
If you enjoy looking like an ass, just put on all the clothes you own, wedge some very expensive studded knobby tires on your bicycle and get out there in traffic. Here in Minnesota we all know folks who resolutely endanger themselves and others on our increasingly slippery and narrow snow-bound streets, adamantly refusing to drive or even take the bus in any weather, opting to pretend they’re having fun as gallons of salty slush assault their backsides and their faces, all the while chanting their desperate mantra “this is good for the environment.” But they are not having fun, they are some of the planet’s most wretched creatures. For me the comforting thought is that these are the same people who in the summer wear bright, heavily branded tights so thin and taut, every wrinkly detail of their genitalia is not only on display, but enhanced.
A close cousin of tubing, traying has been practiced on college campuses in northern climes for decades. The equipment is simple: a snowy hill and a cafeteria tray, and since the trayer is already essentially sliding downhill ass-first, there’s little risk of injury. And there’s that special pride in knowing that the next day, the tray which now holds your classmate’s pancakes just hours before held your own butt cheeks.
If you’re stupid, you’re probably familiar with the nefarious act of skitching, which involves grabbing on to the back of a car on a snowy, icy street and skidding along on your feet as the car careens on, barely in control and without knowing that you’re back there. We cannot endorse this, primarily because it’s exceedingly dangerous, but also because it’s the kind of winter thing fans of Steve-O might engage in. It’s a good bet that anyone who routinely skitches also owns a Jagermeister six-bottle shot cooler and is fond of saying “whoo” as loudly as he can, indoors. So if you must skitch, we suggest you grab the back fender of the nearest winter cyclist and go for a ride. Remember to yell “whoo.”
Speaking of drinking, there’s perhaps no sport that for most people defines the Upper Midwest better than ice fishing. We need to broaden the definition of the word “sport” to include “sitting on your ass all day and leafing through the SI Swimsuit Edition,” but in fact it’s one of the few winter activities that can provide food.
SHOOTING AT THINGS
I’ve never quite understood the Winter Biathlon Olympic event, which combines cross-country skiing and shooting, and appears to wring the fun out of both. Minnesotans prefer to venture out into the deep woods in a Carhartt coverall and blast God’s creatures to pieces. There’s a season for every conceivable wild animal here short of rats, so grab your shotgun and leave your girly little skis at home.
There. Now take ‘n’ get out there while the gettin’s good, you D.C. dwellers, you shivering Mid-Atlanticans. It won’t be long until the summer humidity causes your shirt to adhere to your back, and you’ll be looking back to this time saying “why didn’t I go skijoring when I had the chance?”
We’ve had one terrific year here at Rifftrax. Lots of ups and downs, but mostly ups, what with lots of juicy, riffable movies and the unexpected triumph of our riff of Twilight. Our live appearances were all great fun: Comic-Con, Stone Brewery, Rifftrax Live in Nashville, the Shorts-stravaganza just a couple of weeks past. And helping us along, our talented guest Riffers like Joel McHale, Paul & Storm, Veronica Belmont, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Rich Lowtax Kyanka and Jonathan Coulton.
Plus fine Rifftrax Presents presenters like Janet Varney and Cole Stratton, Matt Sloan and Aaron Yoda from Blame Society, Jason Stephens, Matthew Eliot and that Guy with the Glasses. And all those smashing i-Riffs – keep ‘em coming, folks.
We happily acknowledge the formidable talents of writers Conor Lastowka and Sean Thomason, who help to make us far funnier that we really are. Plus all the people who keep the Rifftrax machine humming: The incredibly hard-working Josh Gemma, mad genius David D. Martin, always affable Erik Peterson, plus Justin Blank, Jason Martin, Casey Tilli, Diana Buckley, certified wizard Barry Sandrew and the humble yet brilliant David G. Martin. Then there are friends and artists like sound wizard Rick Bowman and illustrator par excellence Len Peralta who have added so much to the funny. And of course along the way, bacon has always been close at hand.
But it all comes down to you, who come our shows, who download our riffs, who talk back to the screen just like we do and laugh at our stuff. It ought to go without saying that we can’t do it without you, but it needs to be said now and then, because we’re grateful, we’re humbled and we’ll do our damnedest to keep you laughing.
So stand up, take a bow, give yourselves a hand. Thanks, and Happy New Year from Rifftrax.
If you’re in the San Diego area, come see us at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido for our Christmas Shorts-stravaganza! We’ll be there, up on stage, on the 16th of December. There will be many suprises, one of which I’ll spoil. I will wrestle a bear while Kevin, dressed as a cowboy, saddles up a gorilla and rides him WHILE AT THE SAME TIME Bill performs his knife throwing act on Crispin Glover!* (”Weird Al” Yankovic will also be there.)
As a bonus, we WILL be wearing the shorts pictured above.
Well, OK, let’s have some official information about out new RiffTrax Live show!!!!!
A: Wednesday, 12/16 and an encore (rebroadcast) on Thursday 12/17 at 8:00pmET / 7:00pmCT / 6:00pmMT and 8:00pmPT (tape delay)
A: Close to 500 movie theaters across the country. Find out your nearest theater and buy tickets by entering your zip code here
Q: Where is it being broadcast from?
A: The California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Escondido is a few miles up the highway from RiffTrax HQ in San Diego, and is among other things, the home of the Stone Brewery where we show movies during the summer. It’s a great theater
A: It’s the best way to get this info. We’ll try to post here, but no guarantees.
Q: Weird Al!?!?!
A: We know! It’s going to be awesome. He’s guest riffing with us for the first time since Jurassic Park!!!
Q: What’s the program consist of ?
A: Shorts! Lots of them. And the vast majority of them are brand new! Most of them are completely bizarre things you’ve never seen before.
Q: Why is The Onion’s logo on the email?
A: Because they are sponsoring our show. Awesome, right?
Q: Why isn’t the show at my theater?
A: This is not our decision nor is it something we have control over. Please contact your local theater and ask them if they’re capable of showing Fathom Events. A few people were able to get theaters to add our last show just by reaching out to their theater managers.
Q: Why is this not available outside the US?
A: Again, not our decision, that’s just how the Fathom system works as of now.
Q: Why isn’t this LIVE on the west coast?
A: Because that would be at five PM and not many people would be able to make it.
Q: Do we need to buy tickets in advance?
A: Why not? Plenty of theaters sold out last time, why risk it?
Having written more words than probably anyone (excluding Bunnicula series author James Howe) on the subject of State Quarters, I’ve received numerous inquiries regarding when I am going to tackle the newly released US Territory Quarters. My response was always the same: What?
Yes, the existence of these quarters was long considered to be a mere rumor, the Loch Ness Monster of the currency world (I covered the Bigfoot here.) But then on a trip through Oregon, I received the District of Columbia quarter and realized that I would eventually have to cover these guys to bring the Most Awesome State Quarter tournament to an official close.
Would any of the quarters have stood a chance in the original tournament? Short answer: absolutely not. Let’s face it. These quarters are going to be the first time most American’s have heard of any of these places, and as far as first impressions go, many of them don’t measure up. Could they have eliminated Ohio? Of course. Minnesota? Obviously. But Alaska? Please.
But just because they couldn’t snag a spot in the finals, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t review the Territory Quarters, (actual official name: the “2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarter Program”. Because they wanted something catchy. )
Known for: inventing the best variety of Girl Scout Cookie What they put on the Quarter instead: The Roman Colosseum and a pencil topped with Treasure Troll hair Thoughts: Do they still make those Trolls? Who owns the rights to those things? State Quarter it most resembles: The round thing, undoubtedly some structure of great historical import that was probably built before America was independent, reminds me of the wheel of cheese on Wisconsin’s
Known for: The legendary Led Zeppelin “Live From Guam” bootleg, where Robert Plant is showered with boos after he mistakenly says “It’s great to be here in Detroit!” What they put on the quarter instead: A birdbath Thoughts: Doesn’t Guam look a lot like Lake Michigan? Don’t they both look vaguely-wangish? Can you use the phrase “Vaguely-wangish” in a sentence today? State Quarter it most resembles: Michigan crossed with Rhode Island (Note: first time this combination has ever been used to describe anything)
Known for: Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente What they put on the quarter instead: A building which, though it remains unidentified, I am positive must be connected to Roberto Clemente in some way. Dude’s like Bob Marley in Jamaica down there. Thoughts: I wonder what the top of that tower looks like on Google Earth State Quarter it most resembles: New Mexico’s motto “Land of Enchantment” is pretty exotic sounding, but by adding on “Is” to the front of it, Puerto Rico’s not only gets to be more exotic, but gets them more points in Scrabble
District of Columbia
Known for: Mayor once said “Bitch set me up”. Also, capitol of entire nation. What they put on the quarter instead: Duke Ellington, emphasizing the proud musical heritage of DC, a heritage that came to a screeching halt with the advent of Go-Go Thoughts: The nickname “Duke” really ought to make a comeback. Also, in the spirit of DC vendors, perhaps they should have gone with a bootleg shirt of Calvin with “Taxation without representation” printed underneath it. State Quarter it most resembles: Alabama. Putting famous people who lived well into the 20th century is a bold maneuver employed only by DC, Alabama and California (John Muir died in 1914, but his beard lived on into the early 1950s)
Northern Mariana Islands
Known for: Surprising people that it is a US Territory What they put on the quarter instead: Paradise Thoughts: Where is this place and how do I get there. State Quarter it most resembles: Bears an eerie resemblance to Maine, though I doubt the Mariana’s have bone-chilling winters or horror authors who once wrote a short story from the perspective of a castaway who keeps a journal as he slowly eats himself. On second thought, maybe I’ll avoid any island journeys.
US Virgin Islands
Known for: Kicking the British Virgin Islands ass in softball What they put on the quarter instead: Some crap about pride and hope Thoughts: Obviously a ploy to downplay the island’s attractiveness to deter Spring Breakers. May as well have printed “Nothing to see here, Arizona State students! Keep moving! The cops at Lake Havasu totally look the other way with drinking!” State Quarter it most resembles: Bird, tree and flower are all traits shared by Oklahoma and South Carolina. This is where the similarities end, however.
While we were working on our upcoming RiffTrax for The Matrix: Revolutions, one scene in particular stood out amongst the noise and chaos of the 2-hour-but-seems-like-4 final chapter in the Matrix Trilogy. The scene comes about an hour in, when the subtly named “Bane” sneaks about Neo and Trinity’s ship and takes Trinity hostage. Bane, as you’ll no doubt recall from the mess that was Matrix: Reloaded, has been taken over by Agent Smith. If you don’t recall, this is because the architect talked for about half an hour after this happened and you probably nodded off or ran shrieking out of the emergency exit.
Neo apparently can’t piece it together either, and we came up with this deleted scene of their extended conversation:
Brit explains… the British constitution (A Guest Post by Blogger Extraordinaire Brit)
Ah, America, America, God Bless America! We British invented America, of course, back in medieval times. But, as with so many of our inventions, we couldn’t work out how to make any money out of it and in the end we got bored and let it loose to fend for itself.
When I meet Americans for the first time, they invariably ask me two questions. The first is: “What did you just say? I can’t understand your accent.” To which I always reply: “I don’t have an accent, sir. You do. Now please listen more carefully.”
The second invariable question is: “Can you explain to me, as briefly but clearly as possible, how the British political system works, and is it anything to do with the Sword in the Stone?”
To which my answer is “Yes, and Yes.” However, one of the most common misconceptions about the British constitution is that the Monarchy is hereditary. Not so. Certainly it’s true that our current Queen, Elizabeth II, can trace her ancestral line directly back to King Arthur, but so can all the rest of us, nothing special about that (Arthur was notoriously promiscuous and sired many bastards).
The little-known truth is that ever since 1066, the Monarch has been decided by a tough multi-discipline contest, known as the ‘Commonwealth Games’. Held every fifty years or whenever we fancy it, the Games follow strict rules laid down by Oliver Cromwell in the Magna Carta.
Events in the competition include Jousting, Archery, Rhetoric, KerPlunk, Horsemanship and All-In Fighting. This last event is particularly revered. Rare footage of Queen Victoria defending her sovereignty against Lambert ‘The Young Pretender’ Simnel in the 1901 Games has recently been unearthed, while Elizabeth herself claimed the throne in 1928 in an epic 22-round fight against her mother – a proper scrap that really gripped the nation.
In more recent times, here’s Her Majesty in action against the Duchess of Yarmouth in 1997:
I hope that clears up at least a few of the questions you might have about the constitution of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If you have any more queries on any matters British, just ask and I will do my best to answer them. Or if you happen to be British yourself, ask me something about the USA because I know all about that too, plus loads of other stuff.