News Flash: Apparently Anyone Can Be A Police Composite Sketch Artist.

Pathetic Police Sketch
We’ve all seen them before.

Pencil sketches of dangerous-looking marauding thugs on the loose, created in hopes of triggering a face recognition from someone, somewhere in the public sphere; a recognition that could lead to an arrest.

Since detail and accuracy are lynchpins of the successfully-created police sketch, it is important that the results be as accurate and detailed as possible.

Therefore, it would follow that one would need to have strong technical drawing skills in order to be a success in the world of police artist sketchery. That assumption is challenged when considering the above masterpiece issued by Bolivian police in an attempt to catch a murderer.

This MoBA-friendly sketch would lead one to believe that the suspect either has hair of straw or a large cache of industrial strength hairspray, a chin that is twice the size of the forehead, strong nasal contours, substantially different-shaped eyes, and is earless.

The sketch would indeed be impressive had the artist been 6 years old. Instead, it is impressive in two other ways: one, that it ever got green-lit for release … and, two, that it unfathomably did in fact lead to the arrest of two suspects.

OK, maybe it wasn’t the subtleties and nuances rendered in the subject’s visage that did the trick but, instead, had a lot more to do with the visibility that this story got in the home country, owing to this textbook case of pathetic “art.”

Two suspects were apprehended and filmed by Bolivian TV shortly thereafter. However, because of privacy laws, the suspects’ faces couldn’t be shown publicly. Ergo, the news people simply … well, you can see their solution for yourself below.

Frankly, we think that the suspect — as portrayed in the drawing — looks like he could be a cast member from Kevin Spencer ….

For more on this story, check out The Independent‘s coverage of this Plan 9 From Outer Space of police sketches.

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JP’s Seasonal Recommendations #3: Joey Luft Singing “Where is Love?” on The Judy Garland Christmas Special (1963)

The Judy Garland Christmas Special from 1963 is Old School Showbiz at its most campy and appealing.  Judy and the kids – Liza, Lorna, & Joey – joyously hoof and holler around the mistletoe, while Mel Tormé, Jack Jones, Tracy Everitt, an unnamed vocal group, and a line of high-kicking Santas drop by, all plying their trades.

Watching this has become an annual Christmas tradition in our home.  And owing to the year-to-year familiarity, numerous moments of the show are always highly anticipated – but none more so than the Special’s undisputed pathetic turn: L’il Joey Luft trilling a wildly off-key rendition of Where is Love? from Oliver!

Every year, we watch this segment with mesmerized stupefaction.  Joey looks and sounds terrified, while a wide-eyed Judy stands by his side, willing him through it as if she’s holding his hand while he undergoes an operation.

In order to have The Joey Luft Experience, click on the screen below and fast forward to the 6 minute mark.

While on the topic of this Special … there is a segment thereafter where Liza and Tracy Everitt dance their hearts out to an interpretation of the old classic, “Steam Heat.” During one of our annual viewings, we had some friends over, one of whom was unfamiliar the tune. As he watched Liza and Tracy thrusting their crotches wide open while making a pissing sound, he could have swore that they were singing “I got — pssss! — Stink Pee!”

As he began to laugh uproariously, we asked him what the dickens was up. Needless to say, the explanation had us all in hysterics and, to this day, we still sing the “Stink Pee” line along with the performance. See for yourself …

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JP’s Seasonal Recommendation #2: A John Waters Christmas (CD Compilation 2004)

Filmmaker/writer/artist John Waters truly is the Pope of good-bad taste.

It comes as no surprise, then, that 2004’s JW-curated disc, A John Waters Christmas, really sets a gold standard in great yuletide music patheticism. AJWC is a distinct alternative to the typical seasonal music fare, exploring a diverse variety of genres — ranging from foul-mouthed redneck C&W to a delightful yuletide toe-tapper played on a Theremin — and is one of the few Christmas discs to come with a content warning label.


As expected, High Patheticism is front and centre on AJWC, particularly in the case of such questionable tunes as Little Cindy’s execrable Happy Birthday Jesus, the beyond-maudlin cringefest that is Little Mary Christmas (possibly the only Christmas song about a plucky disabled orphan, smiling through the tears), and the ludicrous Sleigh Bells, Reindeer and Snow by Rita Faye Wilson. Beware of this last one — my spouse and I routinely find ourselves aimlessly wandering around our house, compulsively singing this nauseatingly cute confection against our better judgement, driving each other nuts in the process.

Waters also includes several intentionally fun/silly tracks such as Santa Claus Is A Black Man and The Chipmunks’ spin on Sleigh Ride while wisely throwing some full-on terrific old-school R&B numbers into the mix, such as Big Dee Irwin & Little Eva’s I Wish You A Merry Christmas and Stormy Weather’s doo-wop selection, Christmas Time Is Coming.

With a cover featuring Mr. Waters looking calmly concerned as a Christmas tree bursts into flames beside him (hey, didn’t another musical act deliver a Xmas disc some time back that had something to do with a Christmas tree on fire … hmmmm), A John Waters Christmas will truly aid in making your Holiday a pathetic one — in the best possible sense.

Here are links to fan-created videos for two tracks from the disc: first, the gauche Little Mary Christmas (at least there’s a happy ending) ….

… and Little Cindy’s, ahem, “charming” Happy Birthday Jesus (this video is set to a great little clip from The Exorcist, LOL).

Finally, to complete the John Waters Christmas experience, we here at JP strongly recommend that you read his priceless essay,  Why I Love Christmas, originally published in his 1986 collection, Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters.

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JP’s Seasonal Recommendation #1: The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

This entry is the first in a series that will appear on JP over the next few weeks, offering our recommendations on some of the finest seasonal entertainment out there that is emblematic – or contains elements — of patheticism, be it accidental or intentional.

And what better starting point could there be than the Star Wars Holiday Special

If there was such a thing as a TV Patheticism Hall of Fame (and what a crowded hall that would be), surely the SWHS would deserve to receive some kind of special honour for services rendered.

It aired only once (November 17, 1978) and was probably just a quickie vehicle through which to shill for the then late-in-the-game but newly-released Star Wars toys, with many of the participants having to be strong-armed into showing up.

Regarding the SWHS, George Lucas famously said: “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.”  Lucas opined that back in the pre-file sharing days of the ‘90s, when video copies would trade hands for princely sums.  Today, it’s an entertainment car accident for all to see online; Lucas’ attempts to eliminate this irritant, now forever futile.

Unintentionally bad or pathetic entertainment mostly falls into one of two camps: the ludicrously engaging and compulsively watchable or the plain old just turn it off.  JP focuses on the much-rarer former rather than the ubiquitous latter.  With that in mind: be warned regarding the SWHS.  While there is enough incredulity in this special to recommend that everyone see it at least once, it must be said that the SWHS leans much more heavily on the latter designation than the former.  Ergo, it’s about 1/4 schadenfreude and about 3/4 Sominex — so tread lightly and carry a cherry picker.

Holiday is the key word in the special’s title, as this isn’t a Christmas special per se, but rather one focussing on the galaxy-wide-equivalent, Life Day.  Geez Louise, what a lame title.  It sounds like some New Age meta-holiday in California where people solemnly exchange crystals in between darting out to EST seminars.

The “plot” has something to do with returning Chewbacca to his family and home planet for the requisite Life Day shindig.  In the process, we lucky viewers are introduced to Chewy’s wife and kids.

I know that the Chewbacca clan are supposed to be cute and all, but good crivens they’re irritating.  There are interminably long passages of nonsensical Wookiee chatter.  His kids are the worst offenders, making a sound that is oddly reminiscent of my cat Thurston delivering to me the gift of a sock while loudly announcing that he wants lots of attention for his hunting efforts.

Chewy’s wife looks strangely like a hirsute, wookiee version of a ‘luded out late ‘70s Sunset Strip trollop.  Check out her glazed, stooopid look and the bad make-up job during her close-up shot.  All she needs is a pair of Daisy Dukes and a “Sweet Emotion” glitter-script t-shirt and she’s good to go.

And Grandpa Chewy looks eerily like Edgar Winter.

The SWHS is chock-a-block with guest stars, each bravely trying to navigate this mess.  The late, great Bea Arthur (or, more formally, Beatrice Arthur, as per the opening credits) swallows her pride and shines amidst this tomfoolery.  Her trademark timing, delivery, and acidic wit almost salvages her big number – repeat: almost.  You can practically see the wheels turning in her head as she processes the method by which she is going to fire her agent for getting her into this mess. 

Playing a bar maiden dealing with n’er-do-well muppety-type-thingys, she belts out her Brecht/Weill-via-Broadway tune, going all Weimar on our asses, probably shortly before escaping the set to go Medieval on her aforementioned agent’s.

Additionally there is Diahann Carroll sounding like a weirdly prescient version of a phone sex infomercial vixen (the only thing missing is the 1-800 number); Harvey Korman in ludicrous drag as an intergalactic Julia Child-type, teaching Mrs. Chewy how to make, um, a Baked Alaska, perhaps?; Art Carney trying not to look too mortified without much success; and Jefferson Starship — yes, Jefferson bloody Starship — in all their poodle-rock descendancy, with Marty Balin warbling through what appears to be a large, glowing, purple dildo (Grace Slick seems to have wisely given this appearance a wide berth).

Then there is the Star Wars cast who were forced into the debacle.  One has to feel for Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford: couldn’t they have been spared this indignity?  Ms. Fisher — currently knocking ’em dead with her new one woman show, Wishful Drinking — is forced to trill the nonsensical Life Day-carol-set-to-the-Star-Wars-theme, “Happy Life Day,” while rocking her Cinnabon Hair look.  No wonder the poor thing ended up with substance abuse problems!

As for the po-faced Ford, you have to resist the urge of wanting to jump through the screen to reassure him that all will be well: Blade Runner and Indiana Jones are a mere few years away.

Mark Hamill, C-3PO, and R2D2 all fall in line to take their career lumps as well.  At least the droid actors don’t have to show their faces on camera.  Part of me is amazed that there wasn’t a segment along the lines of Ice Dancing with Darth Vader! or something to that effect.  It’s about all that’s missing.

Put it all together and you have 1970s variety television at its most cringe-worthy and inexplicable.

The one thing that goes through my mind every time I watch this tripe is: just how coked out was everyone when they were working on this catastrophe?

Alas, Lucas has made sure that the SWHS has never been officially released.  However, that’s what YouTube is for.

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Rotten Tomatoes Unveils “Worst of the Worst”: The 100 Worst Reviewed Movies, 2000-2009

Following on the heels of the recently announced Top 10 biggest money losers of the decade, film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has unveiled the “Worst of the Worst,” a list of The 100 Worst Reviewed Movies of the Noughties.  Considering the dreck that often brings in big box office, the Rotten Tomatoes list — based on overall reviews rather than profit — is a much more accurate barometer of celluloid stuff and nonsense at its most, er, pathetic.

Scanning this list allows one to “relive the magic” that accompanied hearing about many of these cinematic BMs in the first place: you know, that run-in-the-other-direction while throwing-up-in-your-mouth feeling.  Who could forget such unironic juvenilia as Meet the Spartans, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and the Paris Hilton vehicle, The Hottie & the Nottie

I am not surprised that I haven’t seen most of these cinematic jewels. Battlefield Earth & Glitter are the only two on the list that I’ve sacrificed some time for – and I didn’t even make it all the way through Glitter, as others in the room were begging and pleading in earnest that it be turned off.  However, I am surprised at the sheer number that I was unfamiliar with or had clearly wiped thoroughly from my mental hard drive, especially considering how my senses tend to prick up at the very mention of particularly “special” examples of crappadoodles.

With a range that begins with a near-double digit 7% rating on the Tomatometer, and bottoms out with a series of films that score a whopping 0%, the “Worst of the Worst” list trolls from the ridiculous to the inexcusable.

The “Top” 5 Worst Reviewed Movies are (pathetically-played drumroll, please …):

1. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) (From what I recall, droves of people willingly severed themsevles from this Icks)
2. One Missed Call (2008) (Thank heavens for call display)
3. Pinocchio (2002) (Oh, right — that’s what happened to Roberto Benigni’s career outside of Italy)
4. King’s Ransom (2005) (Apparently, few wanted to pay it)
5. National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers (2004) (I prefer Gold Diggers of 1933 myself)

For the full list, visit the Rotten Tomatoes overview.

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Eddie Murphy’s Pluto Nash “Wins” as the Decade’s Biggest Flop!

As we all hasten towards the end of this millennium’s first decade, the expected “Top 10” retrospective lists are starting to appear, providing a fun and sometimes insightful look back at what has helped shape pop culture during the past 10 years.

… And if the kinds of insights that you’re looking for lean toward, say, how to lay a cinematic egg or how not to be overly troublesome to the zeitgeist du jour, then one could do worse than undertake a lessons-learned study of the persons and stories behind the “winners” of the 10 Biggest Movie Flops of the Decade.

Eddie Murphy moves to the head of the class with the little-loved The Adventures of Pluto Nash, from 2002. Costing $100 million, it grossed a whopping $4.4. Whoopsy-daisy!

I was particularly heart-warmed to see the list include this pterodactyls’ own personal choice for the most gormless travesity that I witnessed during the Noughties: John Travolta’s wooden Dianetics’n’dreads space caper, Battlefield Earth.  (Alternately, I was crestfallen by the absence of Mariah Carey’s less-than-gleaming Glitter. I guess it just didn’t cost that much to begin with.)

Battlefield Earth — this decade’s Showgirls — contains what surely must be the highest single-film quotient of “pause and rewind” dialogue from the past 10 years. It cost 75m to make, and made 21m – with chunks of the movie’s incoming cash a result of the “ironic” market eventually adopting the film via word-of-mouth recommendations about it’s unintentional hilarity.  This accidental audience helped in chewing a small hole into the flick’s large financial deficit. As it continues to be recognized as a cult benchmark of badness, it’ll probably break even – by the next millennium.

Probably not so in the case of some of the other unfortunate “winners,” — among them, that Benifer (or is it Bennifer?) punchline, Gigli; Warren Beatty’s career-ending Town & Country; & the big screen adaptation of kitschy ‘70s dinosaur show, Land of the Lost, starring Will Ferrell (who also recently “won” the honour of being ranked by Forbes as being Hollywood’s Most Overpaid Star).

The one huh? on the list has to be well regarded Grindhouse.

Visit WorstPreviews’ article for further information on these Dogs of the Decade.

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Welcome to Just Pathetic!: The Blog

Just Pathetic!: The Blog is an ongoing look at bizarre, curious, & confounding news items & links from around this wacky world of ours. JP! documents the bad but mesermizing, useless while astounding, pathetic yet rivetting, amusing & idiosyncratic, or stuff so downright out there that you couldn’t make it up if you tried.

Just Pathetic! is updated regularly, capturing the zeitgeist in today’s world of gaffes, peculiarities, and “Oh My!”s — celebrating those special qualities and achievements that aren’t merely an “oh, get it away from me”-brand of awful, but instead exist more in that rarefied realm best typified by the statement: “I just can’t help but obsess over this crap.”

Just Pathetic!: The Blog is brought to you by various members of Marcel & the Pterodacyls. Who are they, you ask? Visit our home site to find out, at http://www.marcelandthepterodactyls.com (website going live in December 2009).

Come and read about folks getting up to all sorts by visiting Just Pathetic!: The Blog.

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