RVOD150 Improve Your Pronunciation

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


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

It’s amazing how little I care.

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:

The title is summary enough.


NUCULAR!Fabulous seventies teens gather on a fabulous seventies game show set to correct each other’s common mispronunciations. The fake-ly named Ned Blandford moderates, while jumping in with the occasional correction of his own.


Is it just me, or is a lot of this short’s advice overly prescriptivist? About half of the supposed wrong pronunciations have to do with regional dialects: that is, they’re considered correct where they’re most widely used. Who are these kids to say otherwise?

Q: Is it entertaining? A: It’s a bunch of teenagers correcting each other’s diction for ten minutes. Yeah, it’s dull and pedantic, no surprise there. The surprise is that it’s not actually coma-inducing, maybe because the kids on display are so self-consciously stilted, imbuing the proceedings with a measure of camp. I guess that’s what perfect pronunciation does for you.

A few favorite comments: While Blandford draws tenuous connections between shyness and poor diction, Bill further extrapolates, “People become typesetters because they hate onions.” As the mispronunciations get more and more ridiculous, Mike says, “Next they get ‘money’ and pronounce it as ‘hedgehog’.” Near the end, Kevin sums up the experience with, “This is like Sesame Street if they replaced the Muppets with ugly people.” Usually they have a vicious barb or two for the latest contestant to mess up a word. Despite the dull subject matter it’s a good, solid, middle-of-the road riff.

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Further Adventures in Rifftraxery

i.e. The Second Repackaging of Karate Kid I.Welcome, won't you?

This thread (and embedded video) announces the three Rifftrax to come, er, after the two that were announced previously.

First we have Highlander, in which Freddy Mercury wails while immortal Europeans slice off each others' heads.

Second, Karate Kid 3, in which they remake the first one in Okinawa--wait, that was Karate Kid 2. Number three was when they remade the second one using the first one's setting.

Thirdly, Birdemic, currently a legend in internet/film convention circles. It possesses a formidable, Room-esque reputation.

One would assume they're listed in order of release, but I'll hold off adding them to the guide until actual release dates are announced. Inception riff coming tomorrow, kids!

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Who Forgot? I Did Not!

Never forget.Welcome, won't you?

The latest insane courtesy short, Courtesy Counts a Lot, is just about insane as they come. Did you know that courtesy can save you from witches, ballooning accidents and angry lepidopterists? Neither did I. Review here.

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I Am a Terrible Fanboy

Snagglepuss gained some weight and got strung out on smack.Welcome, won't you?

Yes, it's true. I'll turn in my fanboy badge at the local chapterhouse. Just look at all the things I've missed:

1) Rifftrax Live in San Francisco on Thursday. Mike won't be there, but Kevin and Bill will, along with special guests Paul F. Tompkins, Adam Savage, Maria Bamford, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton. I won't be going because of the late notice. (i.e. It was too late for me to arrange a trip down there by the time I noticed.) But maybe you can! Check it out here.

2) This video, posted last Thursday, announcing the first new full-length Rifftrax of 2011--Inception on Febrary 1 and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on February 15. Also, two new DVD shorts collections on January 25, 2011. I guess they're Pooping Monkey-approved?

3) A new short, released today. It's called Courtesy Counts a Lot, and it looks like more hallucinogenic animated manners mayhem. Grab it here.

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Self-Evident Platitudes: The Movie

My workplace needs more explosive switchboxes.Welcome, won't you?

Basic Job Skills: Handling Daily Problems advises workers with problems to handle them, which I guess fulfills its mandate in a Minimum Requirements kind of way. If the rest of the shorts in the series are like this, I recommend changing the title to Wonderful World of Tautologies. Review here.

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Vivan Las Ranas!

My androgynous partner is always late.Welcome, won't you?

The Being On Game is, appropriately enough, about being on time. The unexpected twist comes at the end, when you find out there isn't a game. Not even an attempt to dress something up as one. Just a boring bit of common sense advice.

There are also, sadly, no mariachi frogs. In this installment of the award-winning* Routine Daily Task Game series, Mr. Mack's workshop features large posters of insane clowns. Review here.

*May not actually be true.

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RVOD149 Walking to School

(1950s-ish, Educational/Short, b&w)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

It’s like walking, but to school!

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

Two kids, um, ambulate to a local educational institution.


You MUST use them.Lots of children walk to school. They do it all over the world, except in places where they ski, row and/or ride burros instead.

In 1950s America, an eight-year-old boy and his six-year-old sister join hands and walk to school. They are careful to pause before every blind corner and wait for a fresh green light every time they have to cross the street. Where the sidewalk dips below the road, they descend through the tunnel. Where it rises above, they cross the pedestrian bridge. When it disappears, they balance on the curb. They do not accept rides from strangers.

Very, very, very eventually, the kids arrive at school. The narrator retraces their steps to go over all the rules of walking-to-school safety one more time.


Bad driver?  Probably.Walking to School is either dangerously naïve or the product of more innocent times. Probably both, actually. It’s a very special kind of film that makes small children traverse a densely populated urban landscape including four lane thoroughfares, sidewalk-less underpasses and narrow pedestrian tunnels without supervision. It also warns them to not accept rides with strangers because (I kid you not) “they might be poor drivers”.

A few favorite comments: During the multicultural introduction, Mike notes, “All around the world, people travel by stereotype.” As the kids stop at their fifth blind corner before using their third crosswalk, Kevin says, “Meanwhile, their classmates finish lunch.” At one point, Bill has to emphasize one of the narrator’s admonishments. “Wander into tunnels, kids,” he says. “You MUST use them.” The short is simple and tedious with the occasional bit of outrageously bad advice, but the riffers fill the spaces well, and never let it get boring.

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Alternate Title: When Coworkers Attack

Nothing ever explodes where I work.Welcome, won't you?

Instead of their usual schoolchildren-centric short, today's Rifftrax is aimed squarely at working stiffs like me and, I assume, you. Head on down and grab Basic Job Skills: Handling Daily Problems.

So, yeah. With flus and year-end worklists out of the way, I should probably get to clearing out that review backlog. Here's the first review. It's for Courtesy: A Good Eggsample, the first children's short ever (as far as I know) to feature graphic egg puppet evisceration.

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RVOD148 Remember Me

(1980s-ish, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

He has a femur collection, doesn’t he?

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:

Various service representatives ignore, harass and otherwise mistreat a customer.


He will make us all pay.Nondescript Guy is a regular customer at his bank, grocery store, garage, etc., but no one remembers him. The teller always checks his signature. The mechanic never gets his car done on time. The checker closes her line and walks away, even though he’s been standing there waiting for several minutes.

It’s like this at work too. The copy repairman is always several days late, and then doesn’t finish fixing the problem for days after that. When Nondescript Guy points this out, the repairman blows him off like it’s no big deal. When he travels, Nondescript Guy has his auto reservation misplaced, his hotel clerk refuses to serve breakfast, and then the airline ruins his luggage. Nondescript Guy finally snaps, letting out his fury with a slow-motion roar at the baggage carousel. No one pays much attention.

Nondescript Guy gets the last laugh, though, badmouthing his inattentive mechanic to another random guy at the gas station. The random guy thanks him and drives off. Afterwards, Non Descript Guy rewards an attentive gas station attendant with an oil change appointment.


I saw Remember Me near the beginning of my brief and inauspicious career as a Customer Service Representative at a Sears Call Center. MST3K was still on the air at the time. I had just become a fan, so when Non Descript Guy finally let out his yell of slo-mo frustration, I couldn’t help but remark, “This is when he becomes The Incredible Hulk.” A few people chuckled. I don’t think the trainer was one of them.

Sears did its best to train us well in the ways of customer pleasin’ actually. Too bad they never gave us any authority to do so. If you’re only allowed to say “no”, a customer will find your sympathetic tone small comfort. It felt a bit like being trained with body armor and rifles, only to be dropped on the battlefield with a loincloth and a length of string.

So yeah, the short. People can’t remember Nondescript Guy? I find that hard to believe. He’s just so memorable, with his average looks and his quiet demeanor, his inward promises to never forget every tiny injustice... I can’t believe I didn’t see the rather creepy undertones the first time I saw this, actually. He’s got “belltower sniper” written all over him. Any halfway decent customer service rep would have been eyeing him nervously every time he walked through the door.

A few favorite comments: When Nondescript Guy reluctantly shows the teller his driver’s license, Kevin says, “Your name is Dogballs McQuack?” When he says doesn’t always complain, Mike adds, “I just add them to my dark list of pain.” When he declares that “All banks are the same,” Bill says, “Except the ones run by nudists.” In the end, the commentary keeps pace with the short, but Nondescript Guy is pretty nondescript despite his sociopathic tendencies.

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I Hope It Has the Mariachi Frogs

These two are no doubt perpetrators of hideous rhymes.Welcome, won't you?

Rifftrax continues another educational short series with The Being On Time Game. Grab it here. The new year has buried me in work and viruses, so I'll review it, along with the previous short, just as soon as I can.

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