Calendar Knuckles

So, the calendar presenter that's blue on top and yellow on the bottom is racist against the presenter that's yellow on top and blue on the bottom?Welcome, won't you?

Here's my review of the Rifftrax for The Calendar: How to Use It, the short so remedial, its target audience hasn't been born yet. I've added it to my imaginary Top Ten Shorts list, alongside such greats as One Got Fat, Drugs are Like That and an undetermined number of others. Grab it here, if you haven't already.

Also, Strategy First appears to have gotten its act together and dropped Darkstar's price to a more reasonable $29.99, matching the cost of a boxed copy from the Darkstar Store.

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I Hope They've Upgraded to Fire-Proof Servers

Rifftrax Live Online: Underestimating it's own popularity since 2008.Welcome, won't you?

On December 16, 2010 at 6 p.m. PST, Rifftrax is jumping back into the world of live internet broadcasts for their 2010 Christmas show. Unfortunately, I won't be able to watch it, as it has been scheduled on a work day during my commute home. I'll happily attend the live riffing of the show's short subject, which one can attend online for only 99 cents on Friday, December 3 at 1 p.m. The title of the movie they're going to mock on the 16th will be announced at that preview. Get all the details here.

Also, I'm hosting Thanksgiving for my family this year, and thus will be unavailable to the internet until next Monday, which is the earliest the review of The Calendar: How to Use It can be posted. I've already watched it though, and it's one of their best.

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Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

So, the calendar presenter that's blue on top and yellow on the bottom is racist against the presenter that's yellow on top and blue on the bottom?Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax wonders if you know what day it is. If not, their latest short, The Calendar: How to Use It ought to clear things up for you right away. Or maybe they just wanted to subject us to more aimless folk guitar. Grab it here.

Also, it looks like Darkstar is finally available as a download from Strategy First. Currently, they're charging $39.99, $10 more than what you'd pay for a physical copy from the official Darkstar Store. I've only found one review online thus far, and it's pretty glowing. Of course the reviewer's a die-hard MST3K fan. As far as I can tell, we're the only people Darkstar has been marketed to. I don't pay full price for games on general principle, so I won't be reviewing it until someone has a sale.

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(Oh Please Let This Be) The Last Shyamalan Film

AKA The Thing With Two HeadsWelcome, won't you?

My review of the riff for Shyamalan's latest crime against moviegoers has been posted. The riff is pretty funny, but the movie, well... It's common among creative types to look at a someone else's work and say to yourself, "I could have done that," as if even a bad movie didn't require huge amounts of work and a great deal of skill. In the case of The Last Airbender, though, it might actually be true. Hell, given $150 million and a crew of professionals, my six-year-old daughter could have come up with something more interesting, probably with ponies in it.

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RVOD141 Unto the Least of These

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

The most effective method, according to our consultant Wile E. Coyote.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell

Texas conservationists go to way too much effort to rescue wild chickens.


Booming all over the place.Wild prairie chickens boom their way through the booming outskirts of Houston. Planes boom to and from their destinations at the local airport, located right in the middle of the chickens’ traditional booming grounds. (Yes, the narrator really talks like that.) Lacking even the most basic of survival instincts, this ultrarare breed of poultry refuses to flee—more than just an annoyance, as chickens and jet engines in close proximity tend to destroy one another. There is only one possible solution: attach a huge net to the front of a helicopter and scoop up the errant birds one by one. The chickens get packed into lasagna boxes and airlifted to a storm-devastated bit of countryside that no one else seems to want. Because of St. Matthew, I guess.


The lasagna boxes show that at least someone was thinking frugally, but I bet I could have saved the state at least five million more dollars by swapping the helicopter and private plane for a dart gun and pickup truck, respectively. The fuel costs for this operation alone must have been staggering.

Except for the odd bit of “booming” nonsense, the short starts off pretty boring. I got kind of antsy after the first few minutes content-free narration, but then they bolted an enormous butterfly net to the front of a helicopter, and I couldn’t stop laughing. Seriously? A state agency spent taxpayer money to do this? Guys, I work for a state agency, and uh, wow... I’ve never been in a position to do something like this, but let’s say I did. Let’s say I had access to state funds, a reasonable amount of authority, a lack of immediate supervision and a directive to save some wild chickens. Now let’s say I went on to spend even more state money to make a film obliquely extolling my Rube Goldberg-esque plan as the will of the Almighty. I would get called into someone’s office. I would have some splainin’ to do.

A few favorite comments: While the net/helicopter combo zooms just a few feet off the ground, Kevin says, “I’m pretty sure a cartoon dog catcher could do this in less time.” The narrator reveals that the relocation area has been devastated by several consecutive natural disasters, and Bill adds, “It’s not a plan we’ve thought through. At all. At any phase.” When the narrator warns that these chickens might become extinct by the year 2000, Mike adds, “Don’t get your hopes up; they’re not.” It’s a dull, dry, staid little short, depicting serious men doing things that must have seemed like a good idea to their five-year-old children at the time. With the commentary, it thankfully ends up with more hilarity than boredom.

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Time to Bend Some Air

Mr. Shyamalan wants our air to get bent.Welcome, won't you?

As predicted, a riff for The Last Airbender has been released. So has the movie, by the way, but that's not nearly as worthy of celebration. I'll be watching it tonight, no thanks to Blockbuster, which apparently doesn't get movies on their release dates anymore. Grab it here.

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Hail Hubcap, Full of Grace

And here I thought the Wachowskis had cornered the American Market on tedious fantasy kung fu.Welcome, won't you?

I'm away from my computer for two seconds... er, four days, and the internet happens without me. I'd be upset if the issue wasn't so trivial.

Anyway, here's the rundown:

1) Here's my review of Values: Understanding Ourselves, a short that, ironically, doesn't appear to understand itself.

2) This Youtube video outlines the Rifftrax Master Plan through early December. Release day riffs for The Last Airbender (November 16, 2010) and Twilight: Eclipse (December 4, 2010). More big announcements for December have been hinted at... Well, you probably ought to just watch it yourself. That date for The Last Airbender release is tomorrow, by the way.

3) Strategy First finally has a passing mention of Darkstar on one of its revolving ads. For right now, it's listed as "Coming Soon".

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Did Someone Forget to Tell Strategy First?

What, no token Asian?Welcome, won't you?

It's Tuesday, which means Rifftrax has a new short. This one's Values: Understanding Ourselves. Naturally, it's about hubcaps. Grab it here.

Also, is it just me, or is Darkstar not actually out yet? They've got their own store that will probably take your money, and perhaps, maybe, possibly, just maybe send you a box with two DVDs in it someday. I'd try it myself, but seeing as how no one else on the web has acknowledged their existence, not even their publisher, I can't quite bring myself to pursue the experiment that far. I'd love to be wrong about this. Somebody please tell me if I am.

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Rifftrax Video On Demand 131 to 140

RVOD131 Seven Little Ducks

RVOD132 Cops: Who Needs Them?

RVOD133 You Can Do Something About Acne

RVOD134 Safe Living at School

RVOD135 Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig-Park

RVOD136 Monkey See, Monkey Do: Verbs

RVOD137 Don't Be a Bloody Idiot

RVOD138 Magical Disappearing Money

RVOD139 Values: Understanding Ourselves

RVOD140 The Calendar: How to Use It

There are four really awesome shorts in this section: You Can Do Something About Acne contains the reassurance of the title and squirm-inducing biological facts, but no actual advice. The insanely capitalized and punctuated Behavior of Domestic-Pigs in a semi-natural Pig-Park is also insanely narrated in an only partially intelligible Scottish accent. Magical Disappearing Money offers terrified shoppers upon the altar of the bemused and careless Grocery Witch. The Calendar: How to Use It, doesn't think you know what numbers are. All of the above are kind of insane even without riffing, which leads me to believe that short selection is getting a little better down there at Rifftrax.

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Now Available, I Guess

The classic 'we bad' pose.Welcome, won't you?

Darkstar's out today, but as far as I can tell, the only place to order it is from the Darkstar store. I guess the download's supposed to be available from Strategy First, but thus far their site has no mention of it.

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Vote Christine O'Donnell!

Christine O'Donnell was Delaware's Republican candidate for the Senate in 2010.  In an interview she said she'd briefly practiced witchcraft as a rebellious teenager.Welcome, won't you?

Magical Disappearing Money has magic (of a sort) and peripherally discusses the subject of money, but the only thing that overtly and permanently disappears is a rather surprised milkman. Accurate titles have never been the strong point of any of these shorts, however, and this title's own failure to mention breaded zucchini and floral print capes do not prevent the short from being one of the funniest they've done. Review here.

Also: Darkstar is scheduled for release tomorrow, but I'll probably hold off until it goes on sale. They make me wait, I make them wait.

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Next Halloween I'm Dressing Up as Breaded Zucchini

Moments after accidentally consigning an unlucky milkman to the fires of hell.Welcome, won't you?

I know you've all been clamoring to know what I thought of last Thursday's Rifftrax Live show. (In case you're wondering, the sound of my readers clamoring is all but indistinguishable from the soft chirp of crickets.) Clamor no more. The event report has been posted here.

In related news, a studio version of the first (and funniest) short from that show has been released. If you haven't gotten it already as part of your Rifftrax Live show goodies, go ahead and pick up Magical Disappearing Money and join the Grocery Witch in the fires of powdered milk hell. Grab it here.

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RVOD140 The Calendar: How to Use It

(1970s-ish, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Thirty days hath September / I’m someone you want to dismember...

Rating: ****

In a Nutshell:

Oddly dressed calendar models teach youngsters how read the date.


While reading a calendar, please remember to breath.A little girl shows up a day late to her friend’s birthday party. Embarrassed, she goes home and sits on her bed staring at the calendar. The lustrously-clothed calendar models spring to life and explain how to tell what day it is using common abbreviations, a previously unknown system of counting known as “numbers,” and a confusing, knuckle-based mnemonic device. They vanish at odd intervals to make room for a sleeveless rocker, who strums arbitrary notes on his electric guitar while repeating the models’ instructions in song.


A word about the calendar rocker’s calendar songs: they are calendar tuneless. I mean, you may have calendar thought that the songs calendar from Monkey See Monkey Do: Verbs were tuneless, but calendar believe me, you calendar ain’t heard nothin’ yet. After sitting through the calendar songs in this calendar short, you still won’t have heard anything.

Beyond that, The Calendar: How to Use It is an odd little film with no real target audience, as surely a brain that needs instruction this basic also lacks the capacity to imbue sounds and images with meaning. Add this to its unabashedly awful soundtrack and relentless cheerfulness and you’ve got a film made in riffer heaven.

Given such low-hanging fruit, the riffers could have phoned in just about anything and made it funny. Fortunately, they appear to have found the rich source material inspiring. A few favorite comments: When the really, really white calendar people appear, offering to teach the time-ignorant child the wonders of calendars, Mike says, “But first, we’ll make you a lettuce and mayonnaise sandwich on wonderbread!” When the calendar rocker appears for the musical recap, Bill says, “This guy could easily win a Make Everyone Hate You contest.” As the songs and instruction grow more annoying and remedial with every word, Kevin complains, “He is actually pushing information out of my head.” At one point, the models attempt some of the stupidest wordplay ever conceived, causing all three riffer’s heads to explode. An unnamed third party appears to announce the Rifftrax’s cancellation due to mass death, but fortunately they get better less than a minute later. This one goes on the “Riffs Absolutely Everyone Must See” pile.

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