Monday, June 6, 2011

Whatever Happened to Konan the Vegetarian?, and the Sergio Leone Left Field Quiz (with photos of only real things)

Hey guys, can I play, too?

Every so often the mighty Dennis Cozzalio at the fab, recommended and much loved film blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule puts up one of his awesomely film-nerd-o-riffic movie quizzes,
and this time The National Film Board of Ivanlandia ain’t eatin’ no dust!
We have joined the fray!

But before we start SLIF’s
Professor Ed Avery’s Cortizone-Fueled, Bigger-Than-Life, Super Big-Gulp-Sized Summer Movie Quiz!,
may I take a trip down memory lane? It is somewhat germane.

Now, Dennis C. every once in a while mentions his stint of playing a Delta pledge in the classic National Lampoon’s Animal House, but while I was a member of the Alpha Gamma Sigma fraternity (AGS; “The Key & Cups”) of Pomona College in beautiful Southern California, I stole a prop from Animal House.

The Statute of Limitations is seven years, right? I hope I check before publishing this….

In the summer of 1986, our friends Cannon/Golan & Globus (come back, boys! We need your brand of entertainment again!)
were using the campus of Pomona to film portions of the Sylvester Stallone arm-wrestling truck driver flick Over the Top (nope, I still haven’t seen it—and I have no intention to either—and to see it now after all these years would be like CHEATING, right? So I won’t. Sorry, Messrs Golan and Globus).

That summer, the last before I graduated and had to work even more for real—I stayed in SoCal, even experiencing being awakened by an earthquake! (Verrrrrrrrry minor, but cool! BTW, that summer I said “cool” so much that one of my roommates, Konan the Vegetarian, called me out on it. I was shocked, but afterwards appreciated his honesty. And since then, I do try and watch what I say.)

Working as the janitor/delivery man for the school bookstore (and part-time driver for trips to the museum or airport pick-ups for the college (thank Cthulhu for work-study programs! Jeez, do those things still exist?))
I was able to get away from the office and cruise aimlessly around the campus and town.

The Over the Top film crew had taken over much of the campus, and during one of my drive-bys, I noticed that one very important prop,
the statue of the founder of the military academy that Pomona was standing in for,
was left at the top of the stairs outside the old sociology building (also a location for the infamous and Ivanlandia-loved Massacre at Central High).

Now this wasn’t just any old Hollywood fiberglass statue of a college president: It was Emil Faber.

You’ve seen it; you know who he is—and it’s his head on the front of the Deathmobile in the climax of Animal House.
In Chris Miller’s novelization of Animal House—very funny on its own, and not quite as “nice” (which I like!), there’s a brief scene at dawn the day of the parade, where the sight of the headless statue still on its college square pedestal is a bold portent of doom.

The statue was also zapped by the initial test of Val Kilmer’s laser in 1985’s Real Geniusalso filmed at Pomona, including extensive scenes in what would become my freshman dorm, Harwood (where I saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time in the dorm’s VCR).

And there the Statue of Emil Faber was:
unguarded, alone, in an empty area, with absolutely NO SECURITY, except the campus rent-a-cops random-never cruises.
At the top of the front stairs of a Roman-esque academic building with plenty of columns to hide behind.
He’d returned to Pomona, and he was destined to stay.

I roped Konan the Vegetarian into a plan to nab it, and he agreed:
We needed it more than anybody—we being AGS, our fraternity. The Fraternity.
BTW, it is pronounced Ay-Gee-Ess. Never “Ags.” Blegh

My attitude was we walk calm and cool, dumping it at the first sign of trouble, and heading in opposite directions.
Konan suggested doing it early, just after dark, when two guys calmly walking with something large—like a goddamn statue!—
might be interpreted as normal, as opposed to midnight when snoops would start asking pesky questions.
I agreed, also knowing that I couldn’t hold out too long.

And that’s what we did.

[1986; photo by Mike Larsen]

The film crew offered a meager reward for returning it, but a case of beer for THIS ARTIFACT OF COOL?
Fuck you, man.
That’s laughable.
It’s Emil “Knowledge Is Good” Faber. Make a real offer or don’t make one at all.

According to THIS SITE, “The statue of Faber College founder Emil Faber with the Knowledge is Good motto on the base was a prop created specifically for the film.”

The rest of the summer it was in my off-campus room (the house we rented was owned by a cop, and was never entered by him and his pals—you bet we paid the rent on time, sometimes early),
and when the college reopened and we could access our fraternity room (the basement of one of the dorms; Pomona’s fraternities were not allowed “houses”—not that that stopped anything),
Emil Faber’s last residence became the kitchen of the AGS room.
It was there for either five or eight years, rumor has it.
Nobody called him Emil Faber, we renamed him “The General.”

I heard that he either got smashed up by a FUBAR brother who should have known better, or that when the college outright banned fraternities for various infractions,
and started cleaning out and disposing the rooms’ contents,
The Founder of Faber College was tossed in the trash.

Meanwhile, 1988 was the last time I saw Konan:
After a heroic night of drinking where we picked up a woman on the deck of the Empire State Building, had tour guides yell at me cryptically, lost the woman to an Australian rugby team—then drove to outside Boston to crash at my aunt’s place before Konan headed north to the Maine Boatbuilding School, and points unknown….

Konan the Vegetarian: Where are you, brother? We miss you!

And now, let’s get on with
Dennis Cozzalio’s
“Professor Ed Avery’s Cortizone-Fueled, Bigger-Than-Life, Super Big-Gulp-Sized Summer Movie Quiz!”

[One final pre-quiz digression to put you in a goooood mood, Prof E: I don’t like Nick Ray’s Bigger Than Life.
Okay, let’s start:]

1) Depending on your mood, your favorite or least-loved movie cliché

Least fave: The soldier showing the pic of his girlfriend before getting killed. When I saw this in Platoon, I knew the movie was going to suck.

Fave: Fruit-stand destruction during a car chase. Gets me every time. Bill Hickman and Carey Loftin are gods.

2) Regardless of whether or not you eventually caught up with it, which film classic have you lied about seeing in the past?

A Clockwork Orange: Lied about in junior high—didn’t see it until senior year (at a midnight showing at NYC’s 8th St. Playhouse (RIP)).

3) Roland Young or Edward Everett Horton?

Brooklyn boy Horton kicks limey Young’s ass! Besides, there’s “Fractured Fairy Tales.”

4) Second favorite Frank Tashlin movie

Y’know, I don’t love Tashlin like I used to….

5) Clockwork Orange-- yes or no?

YES! And I’m glad Stanley K. ditched Burgess’ 21st chapter: that ending is a cop-out.

6) Best/favorite use of gender dysphoria in a horror film

Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (a lame horror movie—not enough gore or violence—but a genius flick about being gay and in the closet, even from yourself)
(I had to look up what “gender dysphoria” means…)

7) Melanie Laurent or Blake Lively?

Both are cute, but I hated Melanie Laurent’s character in Ingroppable Fatherless Children (why was she so mean to that nice sniper?);
and while I know I’ve seen her boobs, I’m not even sure I’ve seen Lively in anything. (Oh, she was in The Town? Sorry, I didn’t like that movie.)

8) Best movie of 2011 (so far…)

I Saw the Devil (released in US in 2011)
Followed by Insidious
And I really enjoyed Thor. I brought no presumptions, and had a great time. (I’m a Kirby fanatic—his Galactus for my next tattoo? Perhaps, perhaps—but never read the Thor comic)
I love the “Spectacle” of Hollywood product as much as anybody—as long as it’s done well.
Just make a good action/sci-fi flick about Norse Gods in contemporary America dealing with cute civilian astrophysicists and weird spies.
And they did: kudos!

9) Favorite screen performer with a noticeable facial deformity:

The dude from Sons of Anarchy with the “Glasgow Smile

10) Lars von Trier: shithead or misunderstood comic savant?

He revitalized Kiki D.’s career! How can he be a shithead? Honestly, I’ve only seen two of his flicks, and, uh…I would’ve liked Dogville more if it had only been two hours, instead of three.

11) Timothy Carey or Henry Silva?

Tough one:
Both are gods, but Carey wins for writing/directing/everythinging The World’s Greatest Sinner.

But Silva’s cameo in Ghost Dog was fucking brilliant.

12) Low-profile writer who deserves more attention from critics and/or audiences

Gustav Hasford (bring his books back into print!)
Rudy Rucker

13) Movie most recently viewed theatrically, and on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming

As of June 4:
Thor (in theaters)
Sometimes a Great Notion (bootleg DVD—damn good movie, also available on Netfliclck Stsrzzeeming)
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (streaming)

14) Favorite film noir villain

Noah Cross (and don’t try and tell me Chinatown isn’t film noir)

15) Best thing about streaming movies?

It’s like how NYC TV was growing up—a huge variety of flicks of varying formulas and genres that you can watch 15 minutes, then fall asleep on the couch and not care if you see the rest of—but better: Because if you do like it, you can finish watching it. Heaven.

16) Fay Spain or France Nuyen?

Fay Spain, because she was awesome as a victim’s mom in The Todd Killings

17) Favorite Kirk Douglas movie that isn’t called Spartacus

Ace in the Hole (I’m also a big fan of the Kirk Douglas-directed Posse)

18) Favorite movie about cars

Death Race 2000

19) Audrey Totter or Marie Windsor?

Marie Windsor, for The Killing and Freaky Friday.

20) Existing Stephen King movie adaptation that could use an remake/reboot/overhaul

Firestarter (but with a massive overhaul)

21) Low-profile director who deserves more attention from critics and/or audiences

Barry Shear (see my post about The Todd Killings)

22) What actor that you previously enjoyed has become distracting or a self-parody?

Woody Allen/Sean Penn

23) Best place in the world to see a movie
Inside my brain—where it gets FIXED

24) Charles McGraw or Sterling Hayden?

Pot-smoking madman, author and sailor Sterling Hayden. Did you know it was his “I sure picked the wrong time to quit smoking” line in the original Zero Hour that inspired Lloyd Bridges’ whole shtick in Airplane!? Add that to General Ripper (“pure grain alcohol…”) and Captain McCluskey? And that he blew off Jaws for tax reasons?
Man, that’s a rumble nobody can cool.

25) Second favorite Yasujiro Ozu film

Only seen one, sorry, and that was I Was Born, But…

26) Most memorable horror movie father figure

Jack Torrance, natch.

27) Name a non-action-oriented movie that would be fun to see in Sensurround

Pigs and Battleships (1961)

28) Chris Evans or Ryan Reynolds?

I don’t think I’ve seen RR in anything (that I can remember), but I did enjoy the Star Trek reboot and Unstoppable, so CE, I guess.

29) Favorite relatively unknown supporting player, from either or both the classic and the modern era

How come Charles Tyner never gets no love?

30) Real-life movie location you most recently visited or saw

I live in NYC, dude. Everything.

31) Second favorite Budd Boetticher movie

Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond

32) Mara Corday or Julie Adams?

Julie Adams for her incredible bathing suit in Creature: va-va-va-VOOM!

33) Favorite Universal-International western

High Plains Drifter

34) What's the biggest "gimmick" that's drawn you out to see a movie?

Sharon Stone’s snatch.

35) Favorite actress of the silent era

Brigette Helm (mmmm, sexy robots!)

36) Best Eugene Pallette performance

My Man Godfrey

37) Best/worst remake of the 21st century so far?

Worst: King Kong (2005, Peter Jack-off)

Best: Takeshi Kitano’s Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman (2003)

38) What could multiplex owners do right now to improve the theatrical viewing experience for moviegoers? What could moviegoers do?

Free beer and weed from theater owners.
Moviegoers could not be there when I show up—I love seeing movies in empty theaters.
Thanks for letting me play!

(And if today is June 6, then Happy Birthday to Damien Thorn, industrialist, statesman and religious leader!)


  1. 1. either the "hacking the password on a computer at the last second" or the "burning the evidence and dropping it into sink or waste basket"
    2. I only lie to cops and friends' girlfriends.
    3. Never heard of 'em.
    4. Who's minding the store
    5. Yes, but not as much as before (for Kubrick in general, except 2001)
    6. Psycho best, don't remember the worst.
    7. Neither
    8. Haven't seen any.
    9. Easily Richard Lynch, but he's the only one i can think of.
    10. Over-rated Eurotrash.
    11. Timothy Carey without hesitation, but i love 'em both. GHOST DOG? y'gotta be kidding... you actually remember that one?
    12. Richard Nixon
    13. A Summer Place on DVD. Arthur Kennedy is GOD.
    14. "Lazy Legs" from Scarlet Street, or K. Douglas's sleazy reporter from Ace in the Hole.
    15. Never done it.
    16. I'm uninformed.
    17. ACE IN THE HOLE! (coincidence here?)
    18. VANISHING POINT (and i betcha i saw it before Turdentino)
    19. Not sure
    20. Not sure, Carrie and Misery should NOT be remade
    21. Roy Del Ruth
    22. R. DeNiro
    23. My couch
    24. Sterling
    25. Never made through one.
    26. Cameron Mitchell TOOLBOX MURDERS
    27. Terms of Endearment
    28. don't know 'em
    29. have to get back to ya on that one
    30. my street
    31. i don't remember, but i think i've seen a couple
    32. Julie Adams (i think she's an Iowan)
    33. what you said, since i wouldn't remember which were U-I


  2. test--let's see if Blogger doesn't fuck me again--This is Ivan--
    why the hell is my "do you want to be informed of comments" button gone?!? Grrr!

    I didn't say Ghost Dog was great, I said Silva was. BTW, check out his groovy prance-walk in Ocean's 11--and it's awesome to think he was, in not part of the Rat Pack, part of the Chairman's circle--three movies with Sinatra.
    AND he was born in Brooklyn! Go team!

  3. Wonderful set of answers, Ivan. And +1 for giving the nod to Noah Cross from my fave, CHINATOWN. Good pick, too, for Beat Takeshi's Zatoichi remake. Although, that film helped usher in the unforgivable use of CGI blood splatter -- give me real fake blood ;-).

    One enjoyable read. Thanks.

  4. Leopard! Thanks for your kind words--I agree, CGI blood is lame, lame, lame.

  5. 35. Louise Brooks. There are some great gals from that era, but i don't know their names. Lillian Gish is good in THE WIND.

  6. Yaaaaay Animal House. One of the reasons to be a proud University of Oregon Alum.

  7. Ha! I remember the Emil Faber statue. I also remember the clay pigeon nights at AGS. Incredible party with awesome people. My band played some great ones. We even left the stage.

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