Monday, January 30, 2012

Stuff I Don't Get

Can’t the conservatives see it: when the one person on your slate of possible presidential nominees who comes off the least batshit crazy is Mitt “I Gots My Magic Underwear” Romney, you are in serious trouble.

The Iowa Caucus
It’s a completely meaningless exercise in civic masturbation that exists for no other reason than to make Iowa think it’s a real state, and Iowans think their opinions mean diddlyshit.

Death Penalty Proponents
Don’t these atavistic mutants realize that they are the very people who, by being killed, would benefit society the most?

Drunken Facebooking
There’s a new app out there for smart phones that allows you to cut yourself off from all social media during those hours when you think you might get shitfaced and post something stupid for the world to read. Oh come on, you pussies! You wrote it, you thought it. Period. And being drunk is no excuse. Take a little responsibility for fuck’s sake.

Gay Bashing
If god really does hate homosexuals why is it that, per capita, the gayest burg in the union is Salt Lake City?

Classic Cars
How come in period movies that, with few exceptions, the cars are always clean, shiny and dent free? A shiny car looks better on film, sure, but having pretty cars all over the place lends a level of nostalgia to the picture that most of them don’t need or benefit from. Plus they make me feel like a slob…

On the subject of cars in movies, why is it that people always park like 100 yards from where they want to be, and then walk, when there is plenty of driving room still available for them to use? Unless, of course, the movie is set in New York City, in which case they miraculously find parking right out in front of their building.

Spiritual Athletes
Do people seriously think that an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent god, who is capable of monitoring, instant by instant, every particle in the universe simultaneously, really gives a shit if somebody scores a touchdown?

World’s Biggest Douchebag
Bob Marshall, this waste of mass and density from Virginia, recently said that god punishes women who have abortions by later giving them deformed children. With a mind so full of hate and stupidity how does this sick cunt even manage to button his overalls in the morning?

My New Cause
While we’re on the subject of birth defects… Conservatives and Liberals are so at odds with one another over so many different things, that it seems at times that we must be two different species of hominid. Interestingly, some neurological studies now show that we might actually be wired differently on a foundational level. So: conservatism might just be a birth defect. I’m gonna start me a telethon.

Prison Break
Another pair of inmates recently escaped from the prison near the shitty little town where I used to live. When questioned by the local paper the warden said: “Well, they were there at 8:30 when we did a head count, but they were gone when we did one at 4:30.” Dude, when you are talking to the press and the community about how your prison regularly leaks prisoners, at least try to sound like you aren’t a complete fucking Gump.

This guy is so radioactively homophobic he simply must be gay. His dog too.

Disco Pills
Not long ago I came into possession of a handful of real-and-for-true, 1970s vintage Quaaludes. Taking them led me to wonder this: how in the hell were they the archetypal party favors of the disco era? Never in the history of drugs or music have a high and a soundtrack been more mismatched. Weird.

Shakespeare vs. God
OK, so the Bible is the written word of god, transmitted straight from his mouth to the prophets’ quills, with perfect, dare I say divine, fidelity, right? And, rumor has it, god created Shakespeare. So how can it be that Shakespeare is such a better writer?

Climate Change
I’m done trying to change anyone’s mind about the veracity of human-induced climate change. Know why? Because even of all the worst shit from The Day After Tomorrow happened, well, tomorrow, they wouldn’t learn a thing from it. They’ll just start praying, ranting about homosexuals, and looking for a way to gas up their F150s. Let em freeze.

Mass Prayer
Why do religious people gather together in huge groups to pray? Is there network latency between here and heaven? Is it so god can hear them if he’s driving under a bridge?

Beats me.

And there you have it. A bunch of stuff I don’t get.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Recombinant Whack-A-Mole

I am not a fighter. I’m not a lover. I guess primary skills are rising my wrist and being an impenitent smart-ass. And the two have been known to join forces, thereby ensuring my participation in situations that, while off-the-charts stupid, can occasionally be quite diverting.

Sense a tale looming on the horizon? Bully for you.

Not long ago I was goofing around with my brother, who was in town on one of his too-infrequent leaves from the military. We ate lunch at a Mexican place, a meal comprised of a burrito and six or seven beers each, then decided to swing by Best Buy on the way back to my place—me in search of a wireless mouse and my brother wanting to price 70” flatscreens.

It being a Saturday, the parking lot was crowded, and we had to navigate around a bit looking for a spot. We were approaching the front end of a lane when oncoming cars forced us to pull in behind an idling sedan of some early 90s vintage; a dirty brown turd on four treadless Goodyears hugging the side of the thoroughfare. Two passengers, or their shadowy outlines at any rate, were visible through the vehicle’s grubby windows.

We sat motionless for a tick or two before my brother—in whom the Army has instilled a certain paucity of patience—said, “What are these dipshits doing?”

“Just sittin' there,” I responded. “There’s room. Go round em.”

This my brother undertook, pulling out into the lane and easing forward. Only to come to a rocking stop about five feet into the maneuver, when the Turdillac suddenly leaped violently out into our path. My brother laid on the horn and started screaming at the other car through the windshield. For my part, I stuck my head out the window—the passenger side, I should mention, was nearest the other party—and did a little bellowing of my own. Digging deep into my reservoir of witticisms and bon mots I yelled at the driver:

“The fuck are you doing, ya fucking retard!”

To which the driver rejoined—and I swear this is true:

“Ya wanna make something of it?”

Yes, I decided, I did want to make something of it.

“OK. Pull over, fuckface.

From there things degenerated into a short period of mutual shouting. The operative word was fuck, and it flew as fast and wild as a covey of startled quail.

As my brother drove I took off my sunglasses and removed stuff from my pockets—change, keys, wallet—just in case events actually did devolve into fisticuffs. I also remember thinking how profoundly glad I was that my brother was along. Everything I lack in fighting skill and general toughness, J.P. makes up for in spades. I’m seven years older than he is and I didn’t even beat him up when we were little kids. He’s a tough motherfucker.

“If I get my ass stomped,” I asked, “you got my back?”

“Of course,” J.P. said.

And there ensued a few minutes of Keystone Kops bustle, as my brother and the Turdillac took off in opposite directions—we hadn’t settled upon exactly where our little throwdown was to take place—and thus proceeded to circle each other about the parking lot, still hurling invective. But, finally, we arrived almost simultaneously in the lot’s south forty, on an open patch of asphalt suitable for parking and/or a street fight. We parked facing each other.

I climbed from J.P.’s pickup while the passenger across the way exited the Shitvrolet, and we got a good peep at one another. He was about 5’4”, and wiry. And he was dressed like the Caucasian reject from a housing projects pick-up game—Nylon NBA shorts that dangled down below his knees, a Miami Heat jersey over a white wife-beater, and an LA Lakers cap on his head, twisted sideways, ‘80s-style.

“Hey, Flavor-Flav,” I said. “Where’s your clock?”

My brother burst out laughing, and the kid’s face to go all twisty like one of those demon thingies in Jacob’s Ladder.

“Fuck you, you fat fuck,” he answered, giving me a serious dose of the hates, glaring, hands on his hips. “What’s yer fucking problem?”

“Hey, you pulled out in front of us, pal.”

“No we didn’t.”

“Jesus Christ. Yes you did,” my brother corrected him, matter-of-factly “Stop acting like a pussy.”

“Yeah, well, we were there first.”

“All we were doing is going around you, man,” I said. “You were clogging up the lane. What are you, fuckin stupid?”

By this point the kid had given me a good once-over. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting me, I’m a little better than 6’4” and tip (well, demolish actually) the scales at about 320. NFL size. These facts all by themselves usually serve to keep me out of most physical altercations. People have this mixed-up idea that big guys are somehow automatically meaner than normal sized folks. Might be true in some cases, but it’s not at all true in mine. I mean, I can take a punch, but where’s the fun in that? Hay bales can take punches, for fuck’s sake. In any event, I absolutely towered over this kid, a fact he was well aware of, but I could tell by the nasty little gleam in his eye that he was more than willing to come to blows, if it came to that. Shit.

“We were waiting there, and you cut us off,” the kid said, rather too petulantly. No way was he on his high-school debate team.

“You were just sitting there,” I said.

“We were waiting on our friend.”

“And he couldn’t walk an extra ten feet?”


“But wha—” I began, then stopped, hit with a brainwave. “You guys were stealing shit weren’t you?”

“Fuck you, fat ass! We weren’t stea—”

“You were the getaway drivers, right? Ha!”

“You fat fuck! Fuck you!”

(Side Note: It was about here, though I wouldn’t learn of it until later, that the driver made to join the fun. He only got his door open a couple of inches however, before my brother blocked it, leaned down through the guy’s open window, and said, “If you get out of that car I’ll put my foot on your neck ‘til you fucking die.” The guy closed his door again. And locked it. And rolled up the window.)

“Jesus,” I chuckled, throwing my arms wide in as scenery-chewing a way as I could muster. “The whole world of smack open to you and that’s all you can come up with? I’m fat? Dude, Helen Keller knows I’m fat, and she’s blind and dead. You probably didn’t finish school, did you.”

“Go to hell.”

“And that’s why you’re out here stealing TVs.”

“We didn’t steal any TVs, motherfucker.”

“Well, not you personally, no. I get that. You’re the getaway team. Your buddy inside did the actual stealing. Am I right? Oh, please, tell me I’m right.”

I have no idea if the kid was swiping electronics from the Best Buy, and I don’t give a solitary shit, but the longer I kept hectoring him about it, the less control he seemed to maintain. That and, by this time, there were about fifteen people arrayed about the open space near by brother’s pickup, each and every one of them brandishing a camera-phone and diligently videoing the scene, probably to be immortalized (for eleven seconds) on You Tube.

“Shut the fuck up and throw a punch fat-ass,” the kid grumbled, speaking to me but not looking at me. He was looking at the gaggle of iPhoners.

When he said that I realized that there was very little chance that he was going to try to hit me, so my let’s-fuck-with-this-guy troops sallied forth ­en masse to the front lines.

“You started this stupid shit,” I responded, giggling. “Punch away.”


“Excuse me?”

“I can’t throw the first punch.”

“Why the fuck not?!” I was, I must confess, momentarily knocked off center by this.

He didn’t speak for a second or two, and then said, “I’m on probation.”

My giggle dialed up a notch into actual laughter. “For real? Like from jail? Were you caught stealing TVs?”

Fuck YOU!” he screamed. “Fuck you and hit me!”

“Well, which will it be? Fuck you or hit you? Cuz from the way you’re dressed I’m worried it might be the former.”

Laughter now from the iPhoners. The kid’s face went the color of a cherry Slurpee.

“Did you experiment with man-on-man sex while you were in jail?”

He actually screamed so loudly that a great streamer of saliva shot from his mouth, and came at me like a 3D movie snake. “FUCK YOU MOTHERFUCKER!”

“I recommend getting a job,” I said, calmly. “Hasn’t your parole officer explained that to you?”

“Go to hell!”

“Cuz if he’s the guy telling you to steal TVs, I think you got the shitty end of the stick, officer-wise.”

“Are you gonna throw a punch or not? Huh, you faggot?”

“Faggot? Wow, another quality zinger from the reality TV camp. No, I’m not going to throw a punch. I’m not going to waste any more time with you.” I turned to my brother. “Let’s go inside. I don’t have time for juvie offenders and their ball caps.”

“Pussy!” the guy yelled.

And I started laughing again.

“Jesus, kid. Just stop, OK? Seriously. You’re making a fool of yourself. Take your stolen TVs and go home.”

J.P. and I climbed back inside his truck. The kid, his supply of trash-talk depleted to nil, kept up a flow of “fat” and “pussy” comments. “Fat pussy.” “Pussy fat-ass.” “Fat pussy fuck.”

We drove back up the lane, found a space and parked. As we walked toward the store, an elderly woman approached. She was grinning her geriatric head off.

“You should’a kicked his skinny ass,” she said.

“Maybe,” I answered.

“Would’a been hilarious.”

“Maybe. Who knows.”

She shrugged. I shrugged. My brother bought a new TV.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The 10 Best & 10 Worst Movies of 2011

The 10 Best (In No Particular Order)

No one working today mixes comedy with other genres like Simon Pegg and his frequent partner, Nick Frost. Throw Kristen Wiig into the pot, and you’ve got comedy heaven. More movie references and inside jokes than one flicker-show should reasonably be allowed to hold. And I learned a little something about Seth Rogan, too: when he’s doing voice-overs he’s not half as annoying as he is the rest of the time. This is some of his best work.

Red State
This is Kevin Smith’s best movie. Hands down. It’s mature, surprising and confrontational. And here’s hoping the two public showings it received prior to its DVD release are enough to qualify it for Academy attention, because Michael Parks blew my fucking mind. There are ways to play heavies and ways not to. Parks give a clinic in the correct way to go about it.

Absolutely superior action movie, with some real thought behind it. But as good as the writing and direction is, it wouldn’t be half the movie it is without Saoirse Ronan. She is mesmerizing as Hanna. It’s so rare in action movies to find a hero you actually give a shit about. It’s even rarer to find yourself pondering an action movie days after watching it.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

It’s the story of how a mother copes with the knowledge that her son went on a high-school killing spree. Tilda Swinton, who seems simply incapable of being anything but incredible, no matter the movie or the role, knocks this one all the way into the cheap seats. And man, it was sure nice to see John C. Reilly, one of our best character actors, do something besides that Will Ferrell, Dewey Cox, Talladega Nights shit he’s been wasting his talent on over the last few years.

Bobby Fischer Against the World

Paranoia doesn’t root itself much deeper than it did in chess prodigy Bobby Fischer, and this excellent documentary, the first to tell the Fischer story, demonstrates that in completely certain terms. Fischer was paranoid, depressive, occasionally mean-spirited and every inch a genius. The never-before-seen footage of the 1972 World Chess Championship, and the so-called “Match of the Century” between Fischer and Russian champion Boris Spassky, makes the movie worth a gander all by itself. How much did I like this movie? I fucking hate chess, and thought this movie rocked.

Written and produced by Kristen Wiig, the funniest woman on the planet, and the best thing to come out of Saturday Night Live since the original Not Ready for Prime Timers, Bridesmaids is giggle-til-ya-piddle funny, one of those movies you want to repeat lines from at work the next day. Special kudos go to Melissa McCarthy, as Megan. The Oscar people never nominate enough comedy performances. McCarthy’s is one that should not be overlooked.

Midnight in Paris
Anyone who thinks Woody Allen has lost a step is flat misguided, or way stupid, or both. This is his best movie since Mighty Aphrodite. Not only is it a magical Jazz-Age love story, set in contemporary Paris, it’s a delightful meditation on literature, art and the creative impulse. Best performances: Kathy Bates as Gertrude Stein and the heavenly Marion Cotillard as Picasso’s lover Adriana. The movie is so good I was even able to enjoy Owen Wilson for a change.

Project Nim
This documentary about a chimpanzee stolen from his mother and taught to “speak” in sign language gives a laudable answer to the question “Who is more noble, humans or animals?” (hint: it ain’t us). Named Nim Chimpsky, after MIT linguist and political gadfly Noam Chompsky, he was taught to sign as a young ape, only to then be shunted from place to place, and imprisoned in an endless series of “foster” homes. It’s a rather sad movie about human desires being foisted upon one of our unsuspecting and undeserving cousins.

War Horse
When humans go to war we have, more often than not, reasons for doing so, however dimly spelled out they might be. When animals go to war, on the other hand, they have no reason for being there, other than doing as they have been trained, true examples of “just following orders.” This is Spielberg at his best—unabashedly sentimental and brimming with hope. The action sequences are spectacular, and the final shot is so beautiful it beggars the imagination.

A Dangerous Method
I thought for a while that it was my imagination, but it isn’t. David Cronenberg just keeps getting better and bolder. The movie confronts the turbulent relationship between Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Sabina Spielrein, as Jung attempts to cure Sabina of her intense psychoses. Christopher Hampton’s screenplay (based on his play) is marvelous, as are Viggo Mortensen as Freud and Keira Knightley as Sabina. The best performance though, and the one sure to get Academy attention, is Michael Fassbender, as Jung. The movie resonates for days after viewing.

Honorable Mention

Attack the Block
Street kids vs. alien invaders. Smarts, comedy and wicked-cool monsters. Huzzah.

Super 8
It’s a delightful homage to the 1980s and a cinematic tribute to Steven Spielberg.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part II
A nicely executed conclusion to Harry’s epic

So I’m the only person in the world who liked it. Fuck you.

And, the 10 Worst (In No Particular Order)

The Rite
What’s far scarier than this stupid-ass movie is the fact that exorcisms are on the rise world-wide. Superstitious Catholic codswollop.

Drive Angry
Just when you thought Nicholas Cage couldn’t get any more pathetic…

The Green Hornet
This travesty is high on the list of the worst movies ever made.

Red Riding Hood
It’s almost as nightmarishly bad as Green Hornet. Twilight horseshit running amok in werewolf country.

The Smurfs
I hate those little blue fuckers. I want to see the dark side of Smurf society. Where is Rapist Smurf, or Arsonist Smurf?

My kingdom for Dudley Moore. And, Dame Helen…WTF?

Your Highness
I want Danny McBride to die. I really, really, really, really, really do.

The Beaver
Finally, Mel Gibson with a co-star that matches his intellectual and artistic agility.

Soul Surfer
Girl goes surfing. Girl gets arm eaten by shark. Girl gets all spiritual. I was pulling for the shark, all the way.

Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Heaven, I guess, for a certain sliver of the movie-going audience—like 13-year-old bulimics and 45-year-old roofie addicts.

And that's all she wrote, folks. Happy viewing.