Despite how much I loved Weird Al, I turned up my nose at this album when it came out. I distinctly remember seeing it in the Ridgewood books and records store (records in the basement) where I bought my vinyl and dismissing the platter. It’s a little unfair to have dismissed it based on the cover since Al was all about the accordion but I thought it was a serious polka album and I was too cool by half for that nonsense. Interestingly, the album sold very very poorly, and I’m not sure if it was because of the cover.
As a result I don’t really know these songs all that well. Those first three discs I listened to all the time but I didn’t get this one till much much later. And it seems that four albums so quickly may have sapped some of Al;s creativity or at the very least eroded the good songs to parody (his more recent releases come every three years or so and they are really solid).
“Living with a Hernia” I like because the video is funny, although I did not care for the original. ”Dog Eat Dog” is a Talking Heads style parody and it’s really good–sounds a lot like the Talking Heads, although I’m not sure it’s all that funny (at least not any funnier than a Talking Heads song). Sometimes the original songs that Al parodies are so bad that I don’t want to like the parodies. ”Addicted to Spuds” is one of those songs. The parody is very funny, but I hate the original so much that I can’t entirely enjoy this song. ”One of Those Days” is another of his earlier generic rockers (piano and simple structures that don’t lend itself to a lot of fun) and lyrically, it’s a little blah. ”Polka Party!” is what the album was named for and it’s another medley of tracks. Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” sounds so different here, totally removed from it’s original music. It’s amazing, though, how many of these original songs I didn’t know (what was going on in 1986?). I do like the little sneak of INXS. This song is also the first one where Al’s lyrics became racey because of the songs that were so popular (“Nasty,” “Venus”).
“Here’s Johnny” is parody of a song I don’t know at all although I can tell immediately that he sounds just like the original–he manipulated his voice perfectly. ”Don’t Wear Those Shoes” is another blah song. Al tends to use really over the top violent imagery but it’s unfortunate when it seems to be the only thing funny in a song like this one. ”Toothless People” is a parody of “Ruthless People” which I don’t even remember being a song. I don’t even remember the movie being all that popular. I couldn’t even tell who the original was by even though Al is putting on a good voice (it was Mick Jagger). ”Good Enough for Now” is a decent country song–pretty funny, and yet really not that far from country songs that you hear now (and maybe then, too–I’m not much of a country fan).
The lackluster side 2 is utterly redeemed by the fantastic and awesome “Christmas at Ground Zero” a stellar and hilarious song about nuclear panic it even includes a sample from Ronald Reagan (in the video). Outstanding.
Overall this disc is pretty disappointing Al took two years to make the next one and whatever he did on the break certainly worked because the next album was Even Worse!
[READ: January 22, 2013] The Adventures of Ook and Gluk Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future
This is a pretty surprising book. It is drawn by George and Harold who made the hilarious Super Diaper Baby which was based on an incredibly childish premise. But this book, even though the spelling is awful like when George and Harold make comics, is book is pretty smart and intense. And very Zen.
So Ook and Gluk are cavemen. They are in a tribe whose king is King Goppernopper (the fact that everyone gets his name wrong cracks me up, I love that kind of juvenile joke). Goppernopper hates Ook and Gluk (the fact that he gets their names wrong and his minions help him to pronounce it is very funny as well). Ook and Gluk rescue a dinosaur who is trapped in quicksand (and yes there is a scientists disclaimer that cavemen and dinosaurs did not live at the same time, but George and Harold offer a disclaimer that the scientist is dumb and their story tells the truth). And the dinosaur and her baby (Lily) make the King look foolish. The King promises revenge.
Which he gets in Chapter Two when a Goppernopper from the future comes back in a time machine to 500,001 B.C and steals natural resources from the cavemen (to sell at a huge profit in 2222 AD. Future Goppernopper traps Ook and Gluk in the future and King Goppernopper promises to bring the rest of the cavemen to the future to work as slaves.
Ook and Gluk escape with the help of Mr Wong and his school of Kung Fu. The kids stay with Mr Wong for years trying to be more zen. There’s some heavy philosophy on this book and I wonder if Clark got any of it. Mr Wong teaches them the way of peace”Those who kick butt are weak for violens has no mind (sic)”. Also: “Those who truly desire peace must not carry weapons for the simple knife that cuts bread also cuts flesh. The lowly axe that chops wood also chops bones. And the common spear that kills fish also kill man. Yet a man of peace must not be weak. So every finger must become a dagger…every open hand an axe and every arm a spear” It’s pretty deep stuff for a book with so many intentional spelling errors.
Ook and Gluk want to earn black belts, but can’t seem to master that final question “Who is the greatest man.” When they do, they are free to go back and face Goppernopper. But Goppernopper has robots, including a mechasauraus with facial recognition software (which Ook and Gluk use to very good effect in the end). Not to mention in the future Goppernopper has kidnapped Mr Wong and his daughter and is holding them captive.
The resolution comes swiftly and it explores the “if you kill your grandfather you yourself will die” paradox. (See, told you the book as deep).
I really enjoyed this book–it was quite deep and thoughtful and probably some kids’ introduction to Eastern thinking. It wasn’t all that funny, although there are some great broken sign jokes and a whole mess of Flip-O-Rama.
The end of the book offers lessons in Cavemonics. The book promises that the next Ook and Gluk will be Ook and Gluk JR. According to Wikipedia, it is due out next year.