Thursday, November 19, 2020

Movie: Ashens & The Polybius Heist

I'm taking a small break from the Junq Tour to do a movie review! I haven't done one in quite some time, mainly because Youtube doesn't like me uploading other people's crap onto their servers which they scan daily using evil robots to find nonsense like fart noises that sound identical to toots from a Miles Davis album. Fortunately for me, this movie hasn't even been officially released yet as of this writing and I had to sign a contract that I wouldn't pirate it or post a review until November 19th. Take that, Classical Gas Emissions!

For those who know nothing about the movie from looking at the title, you're going to need a bit of background as to why this movie exists.

Who is Ashens?

Ashens is a Youtuber who reviews mainly useless or vintage junk on the seat of his brown sofa. Sometimes he'll also taste-test expired food, leaving his audience in suspense wondering if he died at least until he posts his next video. I've been watching his Youtube channel for around a decade or so. You should watch it too because it's quite entertaining!

What is a Polybius?

The "Polybius" was a rumored arcade machine from 1981 that was used as a government psychology experiment. The images, colors and animations would supposedly cause addiction to the game along with some side-effects along with occasionally causing death. I honestly had never heard about this urban legend until maybe a year ago when I watched a documentary about it on Youtube. Just by looking at video game graphics at the time, you can tell it's bullshit. Do you really think this can cause psychological damage?

Okay, maybe emotional damage from spending $60 on a crappy game.

Anyway, it turns out this whole Polybius thing was made up by some guy on an internet forum. Remember hearing about John Titor the time traveller? Same kind of horseshit.

So this guy Ashens (Stuart Ashen) has gathered a large group of friends, many of them being fellow Youtubers and has made his second movie using crowdfunding to help complete the project. His first movie was about tracking down a device called the "Game Child" which is just a cheap knock-off of the Nintendo Gameboy. As you can see, movies about knock-off junk and bullshit posted on the internet is a good fit for this blog.

The basic premise of the movie is that Ashens discovers that his father was the person who invented the Polybius and abandoned his children to develop the brain-altering arcade machine in question. Ashens then assembles a team of people to go steal the arcade machine, partially to get answers as to why his father left and partially because he collects useless technological junk.

Half of the budget was likely spent on the lengthy James Bond influenced animated opening which was done very well. It almost looks like a real movie! Also, there are enough dumb jokes going on to make a couple of modern Simpsons episodes. Fortunately, there are enough GOOD jokes in this movie to make it an enjoyable watch.

First, allow me to point out the things I didn't like about the movie...

The Bad:

The Polybius seems to be there solely because of it's name. Ashens' dad could have been working on any kind of an evil machine which could have easily been dropped in place of the Polybius: an evil refridgerator, a man-eating robot woman, an Amazon Echo, etc. With so much apparent mystery that surrounded the Polybius machine, it's a bit unfortunate that the movie failed to take advantage of it. It's so insignificant that I didn't bother taking a screenshot of it.

There are two uses of terrible CGI that I could have done without: the flies chasing the Greece man while the heist vehicle was being purchased, and the clothing iron plowing right through the chest of a security guard. However, these could be references to other movies that I just don't understand since I generally live under a rock when it comes to watching full length films. Maybe they'll be funny to you.

Also, why wasn't there a "free candy" reference with regards to the white van? My only guess is that "free candy" is an American phenomenon and this movie was make in the UK. Perhaps one of my European readers can clarify this for me.

An inconsistency I found is this Amstrad PPC 512 from 1988 being used to develop an arcade machine that came out in 1981. A TRS-80 or an Apple II would have probably been more appropriate, but perhaps I'm only nitpicking due to my massive vintage computer collection (yes, it's a problem).

And lastly, the best thing about the movie has nothing to do with Ashens nor the Polybius. More on that in a moment...

Now I don't want to give you the impression that this movie is shit, because I really did enjoy watching it. There are a lot of good laughs to be had throughout the entire thing. Here's some of the best things about the movie:

The Good:

They needed a "grease" man for the heist who can get out of "slippery situations". Instead, they got a "Greece" man (Yiannis Vassilakis) who spends much of the movie listening to linguistic cassettes on his walkman in order to improve his English. Will he be fluent by the end of it? You'll have to watch it to find out!

The "eye in the sky" was played by NerdCubed (Daniel Hardcastle) who most certainly comes by his alias honestly. He has his own Youtube channel and opens strange Advent Calendars with Ashens every Christmas (yes, you should watch those too). Anyway, NerdCubed is a bit quirky and I wasn't sure about how well he could play a part in the movie, but he's probably the best damn actor out of the whole lot of them. He absolutely OWNED his part and played it very well.

The best fucking part about the whole movie was Ashens' sister (Joanna O'Connor) having a fierce sexual fetish for lawnmowers which stems from the trauma of her father leaving when she was a child. This one running joke is the most memorable thing you're going to take away from the movie. If you need one reason to see this movie, THIS IS IT. Your pants will be soaked in a yellow substance unlike apple juice from laughing so hard!

For those who are wondering about the part played by Barry Lewis (who is another Youtuber), it's a very small part. Eli Silverman plays a much bigger role in the movie as Ashens' sidekick. Ashens, Barry, and Eli all partook in a Youtube channel called "Barshens" which was basically a cross between a talk show and a game show. The earlier episodes are also worth watching. With all these Youtube suggestions I'm giving you, you'll have your TV time booked for the next year.

The movie is coming out on November 19th which is the day I'm allowed to post this. You can watch it here. They're probably not very happy about me requesting a screening copy on Betamax, but apparently a DVD release will come sometime down the road if you're into non-tape formats.

So yes, the movie has a few imperfections, but it's more enjoyable than 95% of the stuff I post on this blog. It's certainly worth watching at least once.

Stand by for the continuation of the Junq Tour!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Junq Tour 2020: Neepawa

 Neepawa really vomits out the gems when I visit their thrift store. It took a lot of time to go through this stuff, so here's what we came out with...

A Six Pack of Sam: Sam from Sales Greatest Hits Vol VI

This tape was a lot of fun. It's made up of clips of some radio show's guest appearance. It's very enjoyable and I would have no problem searching out the other five volumes. I really don't have much to say about this album since I know nothing about the station these recordings came from. All I can say is give it a listen because it's pretty damn funny!

Listen to Marlin, The Zoo Vet

Download the whole album

Joan McKay - When You're Smiling

Joan McKay really likes to make appearances on my blog, but it's not because she's a shitty piano player. In fact, she's a really good piano player. The albums where she's just hammering the hell out of the ivories are pretty damn good. The bad ones are when she surrounds herself with less talented people, but this is not one of them. After giving it a listen, it sounds like she banged off this album in one take which is amazingly impressive. When I'm recording myself playing guitar, I usually fuck up and need to re-record it multiple times. If Joan fucked up on this album, you wouldn't even notice. Rock on, Joan!

Listen to Bad Bad Leroy Brown

Judy Cook & Swingset

I go through quite a bit of independent children's music and almost all of it is annoying and shitty. This one is a bit different though. Judy's voice is kind of annoying, but the band is strangely interesting. It's like they found whatever shitty and cheap instruments they had lying around and recorded an album, except it's one of the most entertaining things I've ever listened to! Lyrically, it's not that bad either. It's certainly better and more fun than Mr. Environment (Aaron Burnett) and his guitar that sounds like a banjo. I don't know who mixed this album, but they must have had fun doing it. Don't get me wrong, the production work is really good for what they were working with. I would compare this album to an early T.Rex album or even Kimya Dawson's Alphabutt which is also a very enjoyable children's album. Judy's card was enclosed in this sampler CD and her website is still functional, so if you want some interesting music for your kids that isn't horrible trash, feel free to check it out.

Listen to Raiders of the Night

Manitoba Choral Association presents Provincial Honour Choirs 2018

Sometimes when you replace instruments with human vocals, you can get some pretty cool stuff. When you replace them with teenagers going through puberty, you get garbage. I only know one song on here, and the performance is akin to shoving a playboy model into a tree shredder. Also, Johnny Nash died recently, so I might as well get him spinning in his grave while the corpse is still fresh.

Listen to I Can See Clearly

Te Mokai - Totara Tree

Do you like reggae music? I don't. This tape sounds like the soundtrack to a night of passionate love making between Bruno Mars and Kenny G, fudge inclusive. Anyway, Te Mokai sings a lot about crying. He knows how I feel listening to this piece of shit. Also, the album's producter was Ngahiwi Apanui. What the hell is a "producter"?

The cassette itself barely has Te's name on it and instead boasts in big bold letters "See Inlay For Details". If you lose the inlay, you might as well throw out the cassette. I mean, how else would you know if it's a Dolby system or not? We assume whoever made this cassette has no clue what a "Dolby System" even is. If you turn on the Dolby noise reduction, it cuts down about half of the volume on this cassette, so maybe that's a built in feature.

"I'll cool my hard on, get the fuck on the road" are the lyrics I'm hearing in the song "He Whakaaro" who's title is quite suggestive in itself. Feel free to try and prove me wrong. The song ends with a bird dying in the ocean. More on dead birds a bit later...

Listen to He Whakaaro

Adi The Yodelling Woodcarver - When It's Springtime in the Rockies

I would rather listen to wood carving than this yodelling shit. If I found this guy yodelling in the rockies, I'd probably throw him off of them. This is probably the worst yodelling album I've laid my tear-filled ears on.

On this album, you're greeted by a lot of German songs, accordion music, and this blithering asshole who sounds like his balls are caught in a pasta maker. Pardon me, but I'm off to take a bottle of Tylenol for my headache.

Listen to Glacier Yodel

Rewind - Let's Go To The Hop

The Hop? These guys are lucky if they can walk, let alone hop. About half of the band is over age 70. Also, they should be called "Fast Forward" because they're worth skipping. Everyone in this group sounds tone deaf as hell, but that could theoretically be blamed on their need for hearing aids. There's four instruments in the band and eight members. The four other members are just there to stand by in case the first four die of old age.

They mainly perform songs from the 50s and 60s, including The Twist. I'm pretty sure that modern hip replacements don't allow for twisting. The song "Shout Live" isn't live, and instead of beating the shit out of the drums like the drummer on the original version does, this drummer barfs on them. We also have a plethora of problems on these songs including wrong lyrics, inability to sing and play in time, and an overall problem with most of the vocals. The only bright spots are the female vocals on "The Locomotion", and "Hit The Road Jack" isn't half bad. The rest is terrible.

Listen to So Much In Love

Listen to Only The Lonely

Download the 121 megabytes of terribleness!

Aarvy Ardvark Finds Hope

Well doesn't this shit look messed up! This video almost needs an entry on it's own. This is a puppet show featuring the "incredible" Bonnie Blue puppets. Incredible is an understatement. I think "absurd" is a better word to use. I did a Google search and found nothing about Bonnie's puppets, so I'm guessing these are the only ones she ever created. 

First of all, let's look at the cover. The "aardvark" is in the background and looks like a deformed horse with the skin of a hot water bottle. Second, the rabbit who is front and center on the cover looks like a white tarantula which has been chewed up by a dog. Shouldn't the aardvark be the focus of the cover? Anyway, let's move on...

This video is based on a book by the same name which features the aardvark front and center on the cover. If you want a copy of the book, there's one on Amazon for thirty three fucking dollars. I guarantee it's less creepy than this video. Anyway, the purpose of this video is to help children cope with loss. I guess it's logical to give children nightmares which would take their minds off their loss. This video is an EXTREMELY LONG 45 minutes in length. If I didn't actually time this thing, I would swear I had lost two hours of my life on this. 

The story is about an aardvark who's family is taken to the zoo. A rabbit named Ralphie hangs around and watches the aardvark mope and whine about his lost family which takes up about 30 minutes of the video. Then, the rabbit dances the "Wild Irish Carrot Jig" which is done by flopping your deformed rabbit puppet from side to side. After the rabbit dances, the aardvark finds a dead bird laying on the ground and waits a week to see it fly. The ugly rabbit FINALLY informs the stupid aardvark that the maggot-filled bird is actually dead. Then, the aardvark declares his love for the dead bird because he's a fucking necrophiliac. He then names the bird after his lost mother and sings a song about the dead bird with the rabbit joining in. THE END. My apologies for giving away the ending.

Clarice, Clarice, You flied, you died.


Yes, this video is THAT FUCKED UP. I would have expected a video dealing with loss to be about 15 minutes long. Instead, we have to watch a depressed aardvark and hear a song about a dead bird. Hell, I could have done that in five minutes.

Listen to the song about the dead bird

And that was Neepawa! A fun time as usual. Next stop: Brandon.