Friday, May 29, 2009


So I hear that an old buddy of mine is moving down to the D.C. area, and should be arriving with his moving gear on Sunday afternoon. Now, this guy had assisted me with two of my previous moves, and as yet I have been unable to return the favor because his own previous moves involved psycho girlfriends having him thrown out of a house in Jersey because he was dumb enough to go on vacations with previous girlfriends while still living with the then-current psycho girlfriend, and this usually means that his stuff is destroyed so there's no chance to get some friends to help move. (As for this friend's judgment with women, yes he's a complete idiot--the rest of us were taking bets on whether one of his girlfriends was going to castrate him).

Anyway, this friend of mine is married now, and has a kid, and they're moving down from NYC and he said "you know those times I helped you move and you didn't have a chance to return the favor because my previous moves involved me being a dumbass and getting thrown out by my girlfriend in Jersey for reasons we don't need to re-hash now but needless to say there was no chance of having an orderly move without cops involved? Well, I'm calling in that favor now."

I feel like Bonasera the undertaker from the Godfather--he did me a service, and now I have to repay! Only instead of fixing up Sonny Corleone's bullet-ridden corpse, I have to help move a bunch of stuff from a UHaul. There better be pizza involved! I recall pizza at my own previous moves.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Red River

Last night's film was "Red River", a John Wayne vehicle which should provide some inspiration for "Road House 3--Back to Basics" because of course what is Dalton--the Road House hero--if not a modern equivalent of John Wayne? So yes, watching this classic western is technically part of my work and should be tax deductable.

Of course, the film was made in 1948, so among the lessons I learned were:

1) Indians just run around attacking wagon trains for no reason. No reason at all!

2) Apaches apparently were in Texas? Who knows, this might even be true.

3) Women do nothing good except force stubborn men to make up with each other at gunpoint. But then John Wayne will tell his protege Montgomery Clift "you better marry this woman!" which is nice because she also happens to be the only woman they encountered over the course of the ten year adventure. So it's "marry this woman" or "what you decide to do with the cattle is your own business, I won't judge".

4) Damn Mexicans! Always trying to keep whites from taking their land, which they only took themselves from the Mexicans (so this justifies whites taking the land--see how that works? If only John Wayne was called upon to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute).

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hollywood Rules

Being a film buff--as I have to be, if I intend to make it as a Hollywood screenwriter--I've noticed a number of rules that one has to live by in making a top notch film. Such as:

1) In the ancient world, everyone had British accents, even if they're not from Britain. This counts for Romans, Greeks, Hebrews, and Egyptians.

2) Old and Chinese? You better believe that guy's wise and to be venerated.

3) In a shootout, if you run out of bullets, you're supposed to stare at the gun as though you weren't aware that a gun could run out of bullets. Then drop the gun, as there's no chance you'll ever find more bullets.

4) In a fistfight, the guy who pulls a knife is always the bad guy. Good guys don't use knives.

5) Even the best trained dog is incredibly stupid in that you can distract him with a bit of meat. In no way can a dog be well-fed and trained to not be distracted by meat.

6) All female scientists and doctors are incredibly hot and strangely single.

7) Young annoying children in movies never get killed, even though we're all desperately hoping they will.

8) If the hero has a dog, the dog will come through and save the day, and not just act like a real dog and go around licking itself and wandering off.

9) Arch-villains never die easily, though their henchmen/soldiers seem to have rotten luck, getting hit by stray bullets, eaten by crocodiles, or falling off of things. To kill and arch-villain, you need to impale him on something, set him on fire, AND dump a vat of acid on him. They don't die easily, but when they do it's a doozy.

10) No matter how well trained the bad guy's soldiers/henchmen are, they've clearly never been trained in trying to hit the broad side of a barn with their bullets.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Weekend Wrapup

Back from Portland, and it was a whirlwind trip that tested every limit of my endurance. It started Friday with a landing in a small private plane, which is cool and all, but then of course we dropped from the sky to land at the Jetport pretty swiftly which caused my ears to scream for mercy. From that point I was thinking "some beer will put out that fire" and lo and behold, our buddies Jen and Ron--who I'd just gotten acquainted with before leaving for DC back in February--hosted a cookout at their fancy East End abode. The roofdeck was re-done, and offered a panoramic view of the bay and the city, and of course we saw our friend Tess and her gang on one of the nearby balconies and like the classy people we are we hollered at them for a while.

Stayed over at my friend Paula's (also in the East End) and the cat allergies weren't too bad--though by morning this guy was Johnny Sniffle! We did a long brunch downtown before Mark and Chole (who were in town for their pal's graduation ceremony from law school) picked me up for the trek to New Gloucester, deep in the country. We spent the day fixing up the yard and preparing delicious cake and burgers, while Mark's lil' tyke collected snakes and a frog (for the snakes to eat, even though the frog was clearly too big for these snakes, it'd be like feeding an elephant to a monkey) into a terrareum that was less than fully escape proof. Sure enough, I hear lots of sceaming and there's Chole and Mark's daughter chasing after this slithery thing on the floor. Mark loves snakes about as much as I love big spiders--or about as much as Hitler loved all the children of the world--so we didn't call him in, just used all our guile and cunning (and an empty Gatorade bottle) to recapture the beast. All went well, and we'd eventually free the animals in the yard the next day.

Sunday started a bit drizzly, but I discovered some Captain Morgan's rum and so I didn't care. It did clear up as guests started arrivinig, and before long we were grillin' like a villain and tapping some Allagash White. The night descended into the usual hijinks, and the next day it looked as though World War Three had broken out--and like any other nuclear war, there were no winners! All told though, it was good clean fun and a fitting way to get Mark safely out of his 20s.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lion of the Desert

Last night's film was "Lion of the Desert", the 1981 epic about the Arab Bedouin struggle against Italian rule in Libya in the early 1930s, starring Rod Steiger (as Il Duce!) and Anthony Quinn (as an Arab! I guess Mexicans can play Arabs pretty well). The film was a financial flop (earning maybe one eightieth of its budget) largely because it was financed by Quadaffi and we had an embargo against him at the time. But it was a pretty high quality film, with terrific performances, cinematography and great set-piece battles.

Of course, it made the Italians the bad guys--though I am a bit of a pro-colonialist myself, since frankly even the oppression of a conqueror can bring law and order, schools, roads, and hospitals and the warring desert tribes were no picnic of democracy either. Some decades of colonial power can midwife a backward country into independence where they have an educated class, experience with democracy and rule of law (usually), and some infrastructure. Interestingly, the film did present this argument from the Italians' point of view, not to mention the historical claims to the land (the Romans being there long before the Arabs--of course, perhaps the makers of the film wanted to compare the current Jewish claims on Israeli land to the Italian Fascist claims, hoping to draw a parallel and indicate that both claims are illegitimate).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Johnny Vino

Yesterday marked the birthday of our own Johnny Vino, who also answers to the name Andy but let's face it, Johnny Vino has more cache.

Johnny Vino turned 34, which is the number of the street he lives on in NYC. Coincidence?

Johnny Vino, now aged 34, which is the number of the jersey for Bo Jackson. Coincidence?

Johnny Vino's last name--Vino--means "wine" in Italian. He also claims to be part Italian. And he enjoys wine.

People, there are only so many coincidences I can accept before it gets eerie!

Happy 34th, Johnny Vino.

Hijinks that Shall Ensue

So this weekend is the big 30th Birthday Bash of Don Marco, one of Don Brando's faithful allies in the law-abiding-crime syndicate. (We just haven't figured out what crimes we're capable of, but give it time!) Over 100 people were invited, and at this writing there were something like 30-something "yes" replies and over 40 "maybes" which makes it hard to plan--after all, if you're hiring a clown and strippers (and maybe a stripping clown) you have to know whether your turnout will be closer to 30 or 70. Chole (Don Marco's wife) has been sending out some great passive aggressive notes to everyone, along the lines of "just to remind you about the party....and respond, bitches!!! I can't plan this if you don't f-ing respond!!!" Okay, maybe more like aggressive-aggressive.

Of course, it is well known Sicilian tradition that the Godfather cannot refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day, and the corrolary is that a great Don cannot refuse to drive a guest to the airport on his birthday weekend (how convenient for this guy!). Here's hoping for good weather and a lack of bugs!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Road House 3 News

Ah, Baltimore--what can be said about that city that hasn't already been said? Nothing. So we move on.

In preparing the treatment for "Road House 3--Back to Basics" I'm trying to think of the right creative influences for such an anticipated film. Lately, I've been catching up with the old Hitchcock films ("Frenzy", reviewed previously, was a great one, and "Rope" was pretty good too) so I'm thinking we might "Hitchcock" it up with this Patrick Swayze vehicle. Throw in an attack by some birds, a housewife who kills her husband with a hunk of meat and then serves the meat to the investigating officers, maybe even one of the bouncers keeps getting messages from his "mother" who tells him to kill again! All I can say is, this sequel to "Road House" will be full of twists and turns. Audiences will wonder how the tale of Dalton got so dark.

In casting news, Christian Bale won't return our letters. Fuck him. We don't need his dickheadery messing up our picture anyway. We want Oscar calibre performers only! Hellen Mirren, this is your chance for film immortality!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Upcoming Hijinks!

Sometimes there are things just too disturbing to think about, like Mark's cankles. Between that and the weird thing on his forearm, it might be time to see a medicine man, kemosabe! All those years of drinking rainwater might have taken their toll.

Looks like I'll be visiting this weekend, catching up on business and smashing some heads--is Maine ready for some southern-fried good times? Time will tell! Word on the street is there will be rum at the party (a definite must, since Maine is whiskey and coffee brandy country, and we rum drinkers have a delicate palate) and possibly volleyball so this guy is packing sneakers. A certain Russian rock singer will be entertaining (hopefully some of his trademark wisecracks will punctuate the songs) and half of Cumberland County should be in attendance (I took the liberty of posting the party info on Craigslist, under "Erotic Services" HA HA HA HA sorry everyone!).

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Shuttle" Review

Last night's film was a slasher pic called "Shuttle" which was basically about two young lasses of questionable virtue (SPOILER--turns out one of them slept with the other's fiancee--MEOW! But no catfight. : ( ) who decide to try and save money by taking an airport shuttle home after their spring break trip. Of course two frat-like douchebags angle their way onto the shuttle despite the fact that the less douchy of the two actually had his brother on his way to pick them up in his car. (SPOILER--the two dudes get mutilated and murdered, so what's the lesson here? Airport tail just ain't worth it! Stick with your ride home and pick up chicks in a bar instead) Of course, the shuttle driver is a maniac and a killer--which shouldn't come as any surprise. I once took one of those from the New Orleans airport on what should have been a fifteen minute drive and it took well over an hour to get into the Garden District, and on the way he lost one of the other passengers' laptops. Of course he was more of a goofy maniac, not the stabby kind.

Anyway, the driver in the movie takes them on a detour, and despite several chances to actually escape our somewhat-less-than-MENSA-candidate passengers instead get sliced and diced and run over, and the two girls remaining are taken to a warehouse where the driver takes snapshots of them and it becomes clear that he's planning on selling them into white slavery in Asia (the driver's not Asian himself, but much like sushi and anime cartoons, white slavery is something Asian that even white guys can enjoy!). Mind you, at the climax one of the heroines had managed to cut the driver's wrist, stab him in the leg with a shard of mirror, bash his head with some metal thing, and even shoot him, and the guy still managed to force her into a shipping crate and lock her in. I have to give the man an "A" for effort--he just wanted it more! Really, I'd like to think if even someone with an extra 100 pounds on me was trying to force me into a crate and I'd already done that much damage to him, I'd have a pretty strong chance of not going in the crate. But the upshot is she's probably off to an exciting and exotic life in the Far East.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

LOST Rant!

Warning, Spoilers! Last night's season finale of LOST (a show that I've sadly become addicted to) was one big case of Whaaaaaa??? The whole premise was retarded--for reasons that simply weren't convincing, Jack wants to do what crazy Daniel wanted to do--that is, set of a hydrogen bomb at the hatch (killing everyone on the island, incidentally) because he believed it would prevent the original plane crash by destroying the electromagnetic field on the island, and they would end up just landing calmly at LAX rather than crash in the first place. Let's see what's wrong with this premise:

1) What makes him so sure that a hydrogen bomb is going to destroy an electromagnetic field that so far has proven to be able to transport people around the globe and change the curve of time itself?

2) What makes him think this justifies killing hundreds of innocent people on the island?

3) What makes him even think that by changing history in this way wouldn't make far many more things worse?

4) As pointed out by Miles, what makes him think that the explosion of the bomb itself wasn't the thing that caused all the problems in the first place with the electromagnetic field, and that they would be better off oh I don't know NOT BLOWING THE SHIT OUT OF EVERYTHING AND KILLING THEMSELVES IN THE PROCESS???

5) Jack's whole argument when he spoke with Sawyer was that he was distraught over losing Kate. It is well established that Kate seriously sucks. Granted, this emo jive fool doctor has proven himself too much of a dick to be a prize, but really??? Kate has proven to be a murderer, liar, baby-theif and just about everything else wrong in the world. Okay, she's hot, but seriously, he's from Los Angeles. But here's why his argument made no sense--by preventing the crash in the first place, he would never meet Kate (since they were strangers on the plane and she was on her way to prison). Had Sawyer not decided (rightly, I think) to beat the piss out of Emo Jack, he might have instead pointed out this logical fallacy.

6) What makes even less sense is that he convinced the rest of the gang to go along with this stupidity. Kate knows that best case scenario is she is going to prison, as she was on her way on the original plane flight. Sawyer knows he'd be going back to his drifter conman lifestyle, Juliet knows she'd never meet Sawyer (who is better looking than her, and I'm a guy)--she justifies this by saying "then I'd never have to lose you" even though he wasn't planning on breaking up with her, what didn't she ever see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Better to love and lose than never love! Okay, I get Hurley going along with it since Emo Jack probably promised him Twinkies or something, and he goes along with everything, and Sayid had been in a dark place. Jin probably didn't understand enough English to get what they were really doing, and Miles probably figured they all had it planned out.

It just seemed a rather sloppy way to get to the point where they actually set off the hydrogen bomb. Hopefully next season the writers use some flashbacks to make more sense out of this whole thing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Last night's film was Alfred Hitchcock's "Frenzy", a 1972 thriller about a serial killer who murders women by strangling them with his necktie in hip post-Beatles London. It had all the right Hitchcock notes of suspense, such as the setup making you think someone else is the killer, and the tense moments when you think the killer is about to get caught and doesn't. One off note was when the killer is talking to a friend (who of course doesn't suspect the killer in any way) and the killer is referring to the "necktie murderer" and says "well, you know some women ask for it, of course..." and the friend doesn't pick up on this. Really? Is it an accepted belief that some women are just out there asking to be strangled to death? Did they take too long getting you a sandwich or something???

Monday, May 11, 2009

Damn Allergies

Ah, May in D.C.--while it's warm and pleasant and not yet stiflingly hot. But it's also allergy time, as Mother Nature that horrible bitch-goddess decides to try and destroy humankind (and I don't mean in that contrived M. Night Shamalyan way where the trees killed everyone except Marky Mark--the Funky Bunch we aren't so sure about). We can stock up on medications, but what did humans do before Claritin? Just sit there, runny nosed for months? Untolerable!

Allergies are just a way of natural selection getting at us, since the armies of ancient days clearly couldn't be very effective with watery eyes and sneezes. Somehow, the allergic ones must have been working the home front, or they invented gunpowder so had a natural advantage. I'll see if I can get this theory published.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Coyote Ugly 2

Well, it looks like a sequel to Coyote Ugly is on its way! For those of you who don't remember the original, it was a brilliant epic drama of a young girl's attempt to break into the world of showbusiness and going through the indignities of dancing on a bar along the way. We got a chance to see Tyra Banks try out her acting chops, and sad to say she wasn't even outmatched by the "acting" displayed by her co-stars. You could see John "Please Just Give Me My Paycheck" Goodman do a cameo, and Maria "Hot Cougar" Bello had a part as the crusty bar owner who wasn't above using sex appeal to sell watered down drinks in a rat-hole. Words can hardly describe the piece of garbage this film was.

And yet, though the Onion writes the article as spoof, who would be surprised if a sequel was in the making? Hollywood hasn't had an original idea in years. It's as though there's a restraining order out, keeping original ideas at least 1000 feet away from any studio. Everything today is a remake, a reboot, a sequel, prequel, based on a novel, based on a TV show, or pointless biopic. But don't blame Hollywood, we're the ones who fill the seats to subsidize this crap.

Anyway, this just means one thing--our Road House 3 sequel is more sure than ever to sell.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Star Track

As usual, the summer blockbusters look like a big heap of crap. Transformers 2? Really, people? It's hard to imagine having less interest in something that's going to do so well commercially. But seriously, YAWN.

There is one film I'd try to see in the theaters--the new reboot of Star Trek. I'm not much of a Trekkie--saw maybe a couple of the films and the original series, but haven't seen any of the spinoff shows of which I'm a big fan more for the '60s camp value than the sci-fi aspect. I always wanted to see a film made that copied the original series to a T--with fake looking backdrops, low-grade special effects, and a great riff on the ridiculousness of the aliens they encounter (as well as a sendup on the characters, with an overdramatic Kirk and a pompously stiff Spock, plus Scotty and McCoy seemingly always unable to do their jobs. Oh, and red shirt guys dropping like flies all the time). A spoof-homage is what I think would appeal best to me, and none of the movies managed to capture that.

However, this reboot has gotten rave reviews, and from the looks of it does the best to capture the appeal of the original while still using big budget special effects. Also, JJ Abrams is behind this, and I'm a bit of a "Lost" junkie and rather liked his monster movie "Cloverfield". Expectations are pretty high!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ask Yourself--Am I Gay?

Maine just became the fifth state to legalize gay marriage--a welcome trend, unlike so many unwelcome trends out there (like more intrusive government, idiotic drug laws, and the general acceptance of morons who really shouldn't be allowed to crowd area bars and highways). My thoughts on gays has always been "good for them, maybe they'll recruit a few more to their number and lessen the competition for the finite number of single women". (My attitude towards lesbians has been "hey, don't take the hot ones!") But I could never really understand anti-gay attitudes. If you really want to save marriage, then make it harder for everyone to marry--establish a three month waiting period or soemthing--and make it impossible to have a no-fault divorce. That way only the serious will actually go through with it.

I suppose some of it is "I don't want to see them smooching in public". Well, it's pretty nauseating when ANYONE smooches in public (except for good looking lesbians, in which case I can forgive them for taking the "hot ones", see above), so if they're same sex I don't really see the difference. Get a room, folks! But one thing I can say for the gays is that they won't be responsible for creating a loud stinky discharge that will run around screaming and feeding off the taxpayer's teat--I'm talking about children. If anything, they're more likely to adopt--meaning that they're going to take an unwanted kid away from some unfit parent and give it a better chance. Helping the situation, not hurting. So again, a net plus for society.

In fact, what I'd say is that everyone take a close look at yourself and ask--"am I gay?" Be sure, one way or another! Because if you are, then you'd be doing society a favor if you went and did your gay thing. We have enough heteros as it is, thank you very much.

RIP Dom De Luise

Yesterday we learned of the death of comic actor Dom De Luise, at age 75. This is a man who got instant Italian cred (both due to his heritage and his association with Dean Martin, the king of all things Italian American) and Southern cred (due to his association with Burt Reynolds). But his first real role was in 1964's "Fail Safe" with Henry Fonda (who also, strangely, has some Italian heritage, though one would never know it from his WASPy ways). There, Dom played a dramatic role as one of the technicians in the war room during a nuclear crisis.

He'd go on to be a favorite on Dean Martin's variety show, as a slapstick sort of goof, and had a great part in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" as a foppish dance troupe director. He'd go on to star in a number of Brooks' films, but would be even more famous as Burt Reynolds' sidekick in the Cannonball Run movies (as "Captain Chaos!"), the Smokey and the Bandit sequel, and the dark comedy "The End". Burt had a number of good comic partners (Jerry Reed, Jim Nabors) but struck gold with the ludicrous slapstick that Dom provided.

It was a sad loss for fans of '70s and early '80s comedy.

Johnny Got His Gum Wrapper

Last night's film was "Johnny Got His Gun" based on Dalton (yep, like the Road House hero) Trumbo's book about a WWI soldier who got horribly maimed in battle to the point where he had no arms or legs or mouth or eyes or ears and waited every day for death. The book was a bit more explicitly anti-war--and in the forward it explained that the book was taken out of publication during the second world war and came back out again in time for Vietnam.

I've got a bone to pick with that. Granted, the reason is obvious--WWII was a "good" war, gotta fight Hitler and all that. But the point of the book itself was that there is NO justification for war, that nothing should be worth sending the cream of a nation's youth off to kill each other. (Being written soon after WWI, the book was pacifist in the extreme) Whether you think we should have fought in WWII--even if you think we had no choice but to do so--it ignores the message of the book to suppress its publication during that war. At the end of the day, about 300,000 American soldiers died in WWII, more than the First War, Korea and Vietnam combined. And ultimately, while defeating the Nazis and Japanese was a good thing, we left half of Europe under totalitarian rule and only replaced Japanese domination of the Pacific with our own. (And while it had the incidental effect of putting an end to the Holocaust, it was the war itself that started the genocide in earnest, and don't think for a second that the Allies lifted a finger to even slow down the mass killings. This was about crushing an enemy army, first and foremost.)

But the WWII example does raise the issue that the book skirts over--is anything worth such sacrifice? Is the loss of young lives in combat terrible enough to justify peace at any price? The story seems to say yes, and in the aftermath of the first world war--where millions basically died so the French and Germans could have their little shit fit and exchange a bit of territory--that seems true. But if peace at any price means letting the Nazis or Commies roll into town and begin with the killing and the looting and the raping, then things look quite different. Still, the sacrifices shouldn't be whitewashed.

The movie was a pretty good adaptation from the book, with Timothy Bottoms (the Paper Chase, Last Picture Show) as Joe, the maimed soldier (don't ask why it's not called "Joe Got His Gun"), and though the book's writer also wrote and directed the film it did have its share of early '70s psychedelia in the dream sequences.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Glories of Independent Film

Ah, independent film--what better way to feel special because you're not watching "Transporter 2" or some other big budget romp? What better way to walk away saying "I grew a little" without having to add " . . . in my PANTS!" like a high schooler.

Seems, though after seeing a number of indie films over the years that there are certain patterns that all the films tend to follow.

1) No one in the film is all that "hot". Sure, there's "indie film pretty" which is nice, but none of the characters are the type that'd make you turn your head on the street, eyes bulding and jaw dropping. (Ah, restraining orders....) This is because the films don't waste their budgets with high tech makeup artists that spend a lot of time making the likes of Megan Fox look like some video vamp.

2) A lot of closeups on the actors' faces. I assume this is because the "set" itself is just some dude's kitchen, so they figure focus close on faces and no one has to pick up the mess.

3) Music you never heard of running between each scene. Much easier to get some up and coming band that'd be thrilled to have their music in a movie than to hire Huey Lewis to do some music for it.

4) Abrupt endings. An indie film could easily cut out at any point, at which you're expecting another scene. You're never saying to yourself "ah, this is going to be the big payout"--nope, it's more like Jimmy going to the grocery store, sees his old girlfriend, fade out. WHAT??? JIMMY, WHAT DID YOU END UP GETTING AT THE STORE??? I NEED CLOSURE!!!

5) Extras are played by members of the director's immediate family. When's the last time you saw Midge Spielberg playing a grandma in E.T., or Bertha Lucas cast as one of Darth Vader's lieutenants? The only big budget exception to this is Martin Scorcese who always casts his mom, or maybe Francis Coppola who cast his sister (and later his daughter) in his films. Maybe it's an Italian exception.

6) Camerawork is always a bit shaky. This is what happens when you hire your unemployed neighbor to hold the scene in frame.

7) Facial hair. Every indie film director has plenty of shaggy friends, any of which are happy to work in a film and be paid in pizza. Lord knows my shaggy friends would be the first I'd cast in my own film. (Unless Paramount greenlights "Road House 3--Back to Basics" in which case sorry dudes, we gotta get people with Screen Actor's Guild cards).

Brando's Rules of Etiquette

Watching the movie "The Puffy Chair" got me thinking about basic etiquette--lessons that should be obvious to everyone but clearly aren't.

1) Don't take phone calls when at dinner with someone. Like all rules there are exceptions--you have a preggers wife, for instance, and are waiting to hear how it went (though you probably should be at the hospital and not out at dinner with me). Taking a call during dinner is a way of saying "you're unimportant, and I am a slave to this ringing device". Better to turn the thing off, knowing that we survived a long time without cell phones and can just as easily return the call afterward.

2) Be on time. There's a reason we have a concept such as time. It's so that people can arrange things so that when one says "let's meet at five" the other can say "okay, since we both know what five o'clock means, that'll work". But hey, lo and behond one person shows up much later, which is a way of saying to the first party "time means little to a free spirit like me, and I don't mind you having to sit and wait for me". Here's a tip--if you don't think you can realistically make a pre-arranged time, let the other person know so they can expect you later. A simple concept that is lost on many.

3) When invited to a party, bring something. When hosting, don't actually ask guests to bring something. This one is trickier--it's expected that a guest not show up empty handed if possible, unless the host specifically says "just bring yourself" or if there's some other situation in which you can't pick something up on your way. Normally, you ask "is there anything I can bring" so all guests don't show up with the same bundt cake. As for the host, the only time the host should suggest a guest bring something is if it's called for due to the event--a pot luck dinner party, for example, since it's key to have a variety of dishes and to know what everyone's bringing. But BYOB shouldn't show up on an invitation any time after you're all out of high school, and guests shouldn't plan to just show up and mooch either.

4) Group dinners out and the cheque. This is often a clusterfuck. Ten people out, having a big dinner, then the check comes and it turns into the Geneva Conference. Sally had wine, and Bob only had a salad? How do we split that? Is it fair to split evenly if everyone had something different? This is one reason I prefer to do smaller groups, or pick places with a set price for everyone so there's no such haggling--it takes any dignity out of eating out. But when in this situation where one person ate surf and turf and Scotch and wants to split the bill evenly, and another person is acting the accountant, there should be some common rule--if the difference in the highest and lowest cost patron's meal is greater than say 10%, have the high cost patron toss in some extra cash. Otherwise, split it evenly--it's one of the costs of eating out in a group and if a few dollars of subsidizing someone else's meal is bothering you too much then don't eat out with that group again.

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Savage Abduction"--not that savage, and not that abductiony.

Last night's B-picture was "Savage Abduction", a 1972 cheapie romp that was unintentionally hilarious. The plot--a serial killer hires a gang of bikers (okay, three bikers and some biker groupie) for $10,000 to kidnap a couple teenaged girls for him to murder. Now, I checked--even in 1972 ten grand is not enough to risk going up on charges for kidnapping and being an accessory to first degree murder. But this is the setup.

So of course, how do they kidnap a couple teenaged girls? Some clever ruse? Some elaborate game of cat and mouse? Nope, two of the bikers basically drive by and see two women standing on a street corner who were trying to figure out how to get to the hospital to visit one of their aunts. (I should point out that although these girls are supposed to be 17, the "actresses"--and I use that term loosely--were at least 25 years old from the looks of things) The girls didn't really seem to have a plan for how to get to the hospital--they were just standing around on a suburban street using expositionary dialogue like "I can't believe we're in Hollywood!" and "now, how are we going to get to the hospital?" Question--did you ever once walk around some city and ask your friend "Can you believe we're in ____?" People don't talk like that!

Nevertheless, two of the bikers drive up, and offer the girls a lift. The girls confer amongst themselves--is it safe to hop on the back of some strangers' motorcycles? Well, apparently our education system was no better in 1972 than it is today (I blame the new math!) because they actually have to consider this. One says "they're kind of cute" (NOTE--these bikers were several hot showers and haircuts away from "cute" even by early '70s standards) and tells her skeptical friend "if they don't take us where we want to go we can always jump off [the motorcycles]". WHAT??? When is jumping off a speeding motorcycle a good plan??? The skeptical one agrees [!!!] and says "okay, but if you're wrong you owe me!" Yeah, it'll be some consolation to know you're the one in the right after things go surprisingly wrong at some biker lair.

So of course, they're kidnapped, tied up, forced to dance in their underwear (yeah, 1970s underwear was very disappointing, what was probably intended as a thrill was more sad than anything), and then locked in a closet. The girls' best attempts to get the bikers to let them go is to say "let us go!" and "you promised you'd let us go". I'm surprised these clever negotiating tactics didn't work!

Finally, the serial killer shows up, and starts dancing with one of the girls, preparing to do his stabby thing. One of the three bikers apparently gets a conscience, attacks his cohorts, and tackles the serial killer. Mind you, the girl who the killer was dancing with has at this point been untied, but spends the entire fight standing there--not helping the biker who's trying to save her (I guess he wasn't that "cute"--ha ha ha) or untying her friend and running the hell out of there. Finally, the "good" biker prevails, but not before getting stabbed himself; at this point (probably realizing that hanging out with a bunch of corpses is worse than waiting to see how a knife fight between a serial killer and a scruffy Easy Rider reject would turn out) the untied girl goes running to the street for help, leaving her bound friend with the corpses. Ah, friendship!

Strangely, when I try and IMDB "Savage Abduction" the movie comes up under a different title, "Cycle Psycho" (try saying that three times fast!). I'm not sure why it would get that name, since the only motorcycling was the point at which they picked up the two obviously challenged young women.

Lesson--in Hollywood, you need your own car.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bunch of Subtards

Well, just got back from the DMV, and that was pretty efficient and made me think our tax dollars are well spent. Wait, I mean NOT EVEN FUCKING CLOSE. I get there will all my documentation, and they tell me I have no proof of residency. But wait, I say--what about this envelope with my name and address and the post office's stamp, meaning it was mailed to me at that address? Isn't that about proof enough, short of letting you Nazi fucks into my home to watch me sleep there? No, they say, you need a copy of your lease.

Now, I know as well as any mildly functional human being that anyone can write up a lease, even using a fake address if they want. There's no way to verify by just looking at a signed lease that there is even a landlord, or that the property address listed even exists. Apparently, this doesn't mean anything to the subtards that run the VA DMV.

So now, after wasting time there today, I have to go back. Wonderful. More proof that government is rotten to the core.

Cinco de Swine Flu

Ah, May Day--the day that inspired the panicked shout of pilots going into tailspins. Also, a warning that we're sneaking up on the hot summer weather, which I'm not really ready for after five consecutive summers that were mild. Or, let's face it--cold! Only in Maine could I wake up in July freezing because I left the window open. It's not going to be like that here--as I recall we'd have it hit the 90s and stay there for months.

Also, Cinco de Mayo is coming up, and a group is getting together in town to celebrate by going to an Irish bar (they do the Mexican bar thing on St. Pats--it's all about beating the crowd of douchebags that fill the bars on those respective holidays). Of course, the last two years we got around the douchebag problem by hosting Cinco de Mayo parties, meaning there's now a large supply of sombreros and handlebar mustaches making the rounds. I hosted last year, and it was a pretty good time--though it sounds like no one's doing it in Portland this time. End of an era.