Friday, January 22, 2016

Page 184: Men in Black

Long before they were the name of a hit sci-fi hit comedy, the Men in Black were a fixture in UFO mythology. According to lore, mysterious men clad in black suits and driving an unmarked black car would visit people who have witnessed a UFO…often well before they ever reported their sighting. The purpose of the Men in Black was ostensibly to harass and frighten eye-witnesses into silence, and—failing that—to discredit their testimony. My favorite portrayal of the Men in Black is beyond a doubt the X-Files episode “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space.’” It’s my absolute favorite episode of the series, and a brilliant send-up of every UFO cliché out there. [As I post this, Fox is preparing to air the first of its six-episode X-Files revival this Sunday: if you watch only one episode to prepare yourself, make it Jose Chung!]

For these reasons, the Men in Black Nightclub seemed like the perfect name for a bar in Roswell. So perfect, in fact, that it has its own Facebook page. You will never find a more wretched hide of bad puns and obscure sci-fi references. Here’s a guide to the entries:
  • February 26: Links to the Hot Tormato website, the band that you read all about in yesterday’s post.
  • February 24: Drink special: the “Lost Time.” This references another key detail of UFO mythology, that those who have had a close encounter with a UFO often report “lost” or “missing” time, that is a period of time that they cannot account for because their memory has been erased or has suppressed the incident.
  • February 22: The Voigt-Kampf machine isn’t a bar game, but actually a device from the movie Bladerunner, Ridley Scott’s classic adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • February 19: “The Band Who Fell To Earth” is a pun on the David Bowie-starring film by Nicholas Roeg, The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976).
  • February 17: The “Face Hugger” drink special is a reference to Ridley Scott’s other classic sci-fi film, Alien. I thought that the idea of the face-hugger as a beer-bong was hilarious. Apologies for the crude photoshop work, I promise not to quit my day job.
  • February 12: Triple-breasted ladies’ night is a reference to the movie Total Recall, originally starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (1990), with a 2012 remake featuring the model in this post.
  • February 11: Weekly karaoke contest sponsored by Captain Jack Rum. The sponsor is a fictional pun on Captain Morgan Rum, with the titular pirate replaced by Captain Jack Harkness from the BBC Doctor Who spin-off, Torchwood. The background of the label, rather than showing a pirate map, is the floor-plan of the Torchwood Institute in Cardiff. This week’s winner is a reference to my wife, who owns a copy of the sheet music to “Ewok Celebration” from Return of the Jedi…thus proving that I married the right woman.

  • February 10: The White Walker refers to the snow zombies from Game of Thrones i.e. George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Its alternate name, Wampa, refers to the abominable snow creature in The Empire Strikes Back.
  • February 5: The warm-up bands tonight are references to Alien (the planet they land on is LV-426) and its prequel-of-sorts, Prometheus (in which the creators of the human race are called The Engineers).
  • February 4: “Where There’s A Whip” is a song from the Rankin/Bass animated adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King (1980):
  • February 3: The “Soylent Green Mojito” refers to the movie Soylent Green (1973)…which is not made of any of the ingredients in the drink.
  • January 29: The name and logo for Aeroway is supposed to suggest Aerosmith, except Aeroway is the name of the lead character in Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel, Contact (portrayed by Jodi Foster in the 1997 movie adaptation). “Tannhäuser Gate” comes from Rutger Hauer’s classic improvised monologue at the end of Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner. And “All These Worlds” is a reference to the message that HAL transmits 93 times at the end of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010. To the best of my knowledge, none of these are the names of actual bands.
  • January 28: The Brunnen-G fight song comes from the oddball sci-fi television series Lexx.
  • January 27: “Blue skies on Mars” is a reference to the film Total Recall.
  • January 22: Another trio of made-up band names. “Poulsen Treatment” refers to Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. “Barsoom” refers to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fictionalized Mars from his classic John Carter of Mars series. And “Outpost 31” is the name of the Antarctic research center in John Carpenter’s movie The Thing (1982).
  • January 21: This refers to Bill Murray’s classic lounge-singer version of the Star Wars theme song from Saturday Night Live (1978).
  • January 21: Vogon Poetry Slam is a reference to Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • January 20: “Brown Coat Stout” refers to Joss Whedon’s Firefly.
  • January 15: “Bennie and the Jets” is from the Elton John song of the same name. The rest are the names of actual bands.

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