Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dial M for Murderessness

Last night's film was "Dial M for Murder", Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 classic starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly (who would go on to be princess of Monaco, and would die tragically in a car crash or a revolution by the Monacanian peasants, I forget which story was actually true and which one I made up). Milland wants to kill Kelly, his wife, and blackmails an old acquaintance to do it, plotting every part of the murder down to the tiniest detail. Of course, it's got the usual Hitchcockian twists, and unfolds in the most dramatic and suspenseful ways, but it got me to thinking--aren't there easier ways to kill your wife?

Take OJ for instance--he figured he'd just put on some gloves, get all stabby with her and her man-friend, then go on a run from the police and still avoid a conviction because enough jurors were so mentally limited that they couldn't connect obvious evidence. (Not that it helped that the prosecution was incompetent and OJ had a top notch legal team which lacked nothing but scruples)

The other thing I noticed is that in Hitchcock films the characters tend to be upper middle class--always wearing suits and dresses, piles of fancy liquor bottles on the table and studies full of bound volumes, and all speaking with perfect diction. What if they could make a remake of Dial M for Murder, taking place in a New Jersey subdivision? Imagine the possibilities when the whole thing turns more into an episode of "Cops"!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Film Review--Million Dollar Baby

Saw "Million Dollar Baby" and if you haven't seen it, let me warn you there's no baby in it and certainly not a baby that costs (or is worth) a million dollars. This is a movie about a woman boxer, and it's a pretty sad movie from the get go because you see how much Clint Eastwood aged since the days when he was wearing a poncho and shooting Mexicans. It starts out predictably enough--a young woman wants to be trained to box, and of course Clint is all "arrgh, women don't box, get off my lawn!" and before long he takes her under his wing and learns that her fambly totally sucks so he becomes more fatherly towards her. At one point she's saying "my fambly's on welfare, I work in a diner, if I don't have boxing I have nothing" and rather than pointing out that maybe with a GED or a union job in a factory she might be able to do all right, Clint is all "okay, lady boxing, thing of the future!" Long story short, she turns out to be really good and appears to have a promising career.


Right up until she gets punched in a fight and lands her head on a chair that old man Clint left laying around! Whoops! Hey Clint, this is why you don't leave chairs in the ring! Of course, this paralyzes her and Clint blames himself for letting her get into the big fight. He also should have blamed himself for the chair, but his buddy--Morgan Freeman--doesn't point this out since that would be tasteless. The worthless fambly of course shows up to try and get money from their paralyzed daughter, and she's all "up yours, fambly" and so they leave and Clint sees that she's trying to kill herself since of course being paralyzed means no more boxing. That probably would have been a good time to point out that many paralyzed people can lead enriching lives, and since she was an up and coming boxer she might have had a compelling story to tell which could have gotten her rich off of book and movie rights, and of course with stem cells these days they're finding all sorts of ways to cure spinal injuries. But instead, Clint decides he can't bear to see her like that, and he finishes her off which teaches a valuable lesson--don't trust a crazy old man to watch a hospital patient! What kind of hospital is that, anyway?

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

My earliest memory of Michael Jackson was when I was in second grade back in the early '80s and some kids in class were talking about him and I was all like "what is he a comedian or something?" and yes they were quite brutal about how out of touch I was. (I also wasn't aware he was black, though in my defense he would be bleaching himself by the end of that decade). This was because I was a product of a family where no emphasis was put on raising me "cool" and "with it". That's a mistake I won't be making with my kids! Hell, I didn't even have a radio until I was in Junior High School.

Of course, second grade was when Jackson was releasing his big hits and would be pitching Pepsi product (he took the wrong side in the Cola Wars, but for the healing process we can forgive him for that) and showing us white folks how to moonwalk and wear a single glove. He took weirdness and made it cool, which was common in the '80s because no one had any sense of style--we were still in a hangover from the polyester hell of the '70s, and black folks had given up cumbersome afros for gross-looking jheri-curls while white folks were discovering the joys of high top fades and mullets which are thankfully part of our past except in parts of Northern Maine. Jackson also dominated the pop charts and was huge internationally.

Of course, he also had relations with young boys that could best be described as "strange"--it's entirely possible he never molested any of them, as he could just have been enough of a weird guy that he just saw no problem in a grown man having a slumber party with kids. It was speculated that since he was robbed of his own childhood he was trying to live a child-like existence as an adult and just could never grasp that such behavior is still inappropriate if not illegal. Also disturbing was the long series of botched plastic surgeries, committed by doctors who should have had enough ethics to refuse such absurd treatment.

In reflecting on his life, it's sad to see that it was such a disturbed one, in which a man of obvious talent and fame and money could let himself self-destruct over the years.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Things I Learned While Watching Crash

When I'm not plotting to take over small Central American countries and re-name them for myself, I do watch quite a few movies. Last night's film was "Crash" which for some reason won the 2005 Oscar for Best Picture. My guess is the Academy--notoriously wanting to avoid real controversy--awarded the top prize to Crash because otherwise Brokeback Mountain would have won and while nominating a film about gay sheep herders is one thing, letting such a film win would have just sparked all sorts of outrage among anti-gay moviegoers (remember, as recently as 2004 every anti-gay marriage ballot question was passed in each state where it came up). Can't say I was a big fan of Crash--if you haven't seen it, it's basically a film about a bunch of Los Angelenos of various races and social classes who are connected through a series of incidents (no, this is not Big Lebowski! Big Lebowski was far more socially relevant) that expose their prejudices and hatreds. But here is where the whole thing makes no sense, or "What I learned from watching Crash":

1) Everyone is completely racist towards other groups, with no exceptions. Even the ones who think they're not racist--yep, they're still racist.

2) Racists are also blatantly obvious about their racist. Chinese woman yelling at you? Well then just make fun of her ridiculous accent! Ha ha, take that, Chinawoman! Go Kung Pow yourself!

3) The racists are mostly right about each other. You fear the two young black men walking in the outdoor mall? You have good reason to--they're armed thuggas and they're going to carjack you. The Iranian guy who owns a convenience store (obviously! It's not as though Iranians can be doctors or anything)? He's going to get all hot in the collar, chase you down and try to shoot you in front of your daughter. The Chinese guy? Of course he has a truckload of Thai refugees in the back of his van! Who produced this thing, David Duke???

4) Even the cop you think isn't racist ends up shooting a black hitchhiker (who of course happens to be a carjacker, though he is off the clock at this point and just needing a ride) simply because the guy reached into his pocket, because when black guys reach into their pockets it's time for a lead party and you're the guest of honor.

5) Tony Danza is still in films.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

El Brando, Presidente for Life

I've read a bit about American adventurers who took it upon themselves to conquer foreign countries with nothing but a bit of pluck and derring-do. William Walker is a good example of this--he just up and decided to go take over Nicaragua in the 1850s, becoming dictator for a while (things didn't turn out so great for him, but he had a better run than being mayor of Buffalo). It got me thinnking, I could totally be a dictator of a small Central American country! All I need is to learn some Spanish, gather some ruffians with guns and jeeps, and go to town!

Pros: I do like enchiladas and whatever else they serve in the area (I'm sure it's not much different from Tex Mex), and the warm weather would be pretty neat. I can also make a play to put in an MLB franchise, which would do wonders for the country's tourist trade. I'd also get to give the country a cool new name, like "Brandonia" or "El Brandonia". I'd be a pretty benevolent dictator too, executing only the most annoying people in my cabinet.

Cons: Likely I'll be killed shortly after taking power, probably by some other American adventurer who is hired by George Steinbrenner to get rid of my MLB franchise. The El Brandonia Pelicans (that'd be our MLB team) would be no more! I'm sure Manny Ramirez will be pissed when he has to leave the country to go back to the Dodgers.
A lot of people have been asking if I was in or near the Metro train that crashed in DC the other day, and I pointed out that (a) I drive to work since I'm out in the 'burbs and (b) the crash took place on the other side of the city, in the Maryland suburbs. Understandably, a lot of people are nervous about riding the Metro after such a crash, since of course the trains were supposed to be failsafe and of course when you have corner-cutters running the show the brakes don't get inspected as often and one drowsy train-operator can take too long to use the manual brake when the system fails, and then you have a mess. But I would point out a few things:

1) Considering the sheer number of people moved on the Metros all year long, one crash like this (in how many years?) is still a safe record relative to cars, where deadly accidents occur frequently on the highways around here.

2) The convergence of events that caused the crash--a train being backed up where it wasn't supposed to be, an operator who wasn't on top of her game, brakes that likely weren't in tip top condition, and the automatic system failing--is unlikely to happen on a regular basis. This is why such crashes make the news--if they happened every week, it probably would be below the fold.

3) The main reason people fear crashes on buses, airplanes and trains far more than they fear car crashes has more to do with control. When driving, you at least feel that you have some influence over whether you crash, but when it's public transportation you're just a passive victim of whatever happens.

It's very unfortunate that a lot of people were injured or killed Monday, though hopefully this incident will keep train operators more on their toes and will prompt more frequent inspections of the train equipment--I also think it'd be terrific if they diverted some of those local highway funds towards better funding for the train systems. But I'll happily ride the Metro to get into the city going forward--after all, the safest time to ride is soon after a crash like this that keeps everyone on their toes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today's "word of the day" is "Asstard" which unfortunately has to be deployed on a regular basis when driving on Northern Virginia roads. As any DC-area resident can tell you, the suburban highways in that region are basically a zoo most of the time, with a collection of tourists, new residents, drug runners and morons making even a short drive an unsafe and frustratingly slow experience. It also doesn't help that the road system was designed as if by someone's family dog. Random lanes are blocked off for High Occupancy Vehicles (and these lanes aren't well marked until you realize you're in the wrong one) and there is constant construction to mix it up. Not to mention that the roads are not wide enough to carry the lanes necessary for the amount of traffic here (they assumed when building the roads here that the population of the DC metropolitan area would never increase beyond ten thousand people).

How to sum up the drivers, highway designers and property owners who screech like a drowned rat when anyone suggests expanding or redesigning the highway system? Asstards is all that is appropriate.

Monday, June 22, 2009


The visit from the Mainers went off without a hitch, managing to get them at the airport Friday and then on into the city for some ill-advised beer-swilling with some of the local crew. A hung over Saturday morning was looking especially grim as a heavy rainstorm descended, but by the time we could get our act together and head into town it cleared up and the extreme sun and heat and humidity weighed down on us. (Mainers aren't well acclimated to a heat index that goes over 100) Luckily we found our way to the Mexican rooftop restaurant where a nice breeze and cold drinks cooled us off, and before long we cleaned up and headed out for a night on the town including a visit to a friend's party in SW.

On the whole though I am now exhuasted from lack of sleep and getting back into work mode--but it was good spending some time with my guests and giving them a chance to see DC in the dead of summer. Now I have to plan my own trip to Maine before it gets cold there again...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Weekend Upcometh

More out of town guests are visiting this weekend, and coming from Maine they may be in for a bit of shock at the D.C. summer heat! Fortunately it's only in the '80s so not quite as brutal as it can get, but the humidity does add a certain horrible to it. The key to dealing with the heat? Dress down and just accept the fact that you're going to be a sweaty mess, and so will everyone else. That and cold beer.

They said they didn't want to do "touristy stuff" and instead just "do whatever you'd do if we weren't here, your typical weekend activity". To this I wondered if they really wanted to watch me drink beer on my balcony in my underwear and lounge at the pool for a bit. But I figured it makes more sense to get them into town, and amble through the neighborhoods, sit outside and people watch. One of my more enterprising friends is hosting a "sweet sixteen party" (nope, not what you're thinking, Roman Polanski!) where everyone dresses as they did when they were sixteen and they play music from that era (which will cover a number of years based on the guests' age range). I figure that can end the night Saturday, and there should be some brunch options Sunday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

World Events Sometimes Make it Into This Blog

I've avoided commenting on the events in Iran because this isn't a politically-focused blog, but these events are currently quite the talk among my Persian friends here who are as much elated at the thought of overthrowing an embarrassing and repressive regime as they are concerned that this could end in severe violence. Many of them remember as children when the Shah was overthrown in 1979, and what might have gone on to be a democratic revolution turned out a far more oppressive theocratic state that forced a large-scale exodus of some of Iran's most productive and educated people. A lot of the exiles blame Jimmy Carter for the Shah's overthrow, as Carter had pressured the monarch to liberalize and democratize his government, though most Americans see the former president simply as having been impotent during the whole affair that led to the taking of hostages at the U.S. embassy and a botched rescue attempt. (This was a major factor in Carter's defeat in 1980, as the hostages were still in captivity by that point).

So far, it looks like the unrest in Teheran and other Iranian cities is gathering steam, and the laughably fraudulent election may ultimately backfire on the current regime. They're in a tight spot--allow this sort of open defiance which sets a poor precedent, or crack down Tiannamen-Style, which will not just outrage the world community (which is already not thrilled with Iran's government) but possibly turn more of the country's population against them and lead to a greater uprising?

Not sure how this is going to play out--not sure anyone really knows at this point--but here's hoping for a relatively bloodless overthrow. It would be nice someday to be able to visit that country safely.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm Sick and Tired of These Player Haters!

I am still waiting to see if I can get this awesome looking movie on DVD. I of course own the original Dolemite (on VHS!) and would really like to know how things turn out for that overweight foul mouthed karate master pimp.

Blaxploitation films really got their start in the early '70s as it dawned on young, underfunded black directors that they could make a decent profit by using (a) underpaid actors of questionable talent; (b) a script that was thrown together in five minutes during a bathroom break; (c) a total lack of special effects or set design; (d) a funky score using a liberal dose of bongo drums and scratchy guitar riffs; and (e) chicks who weren't very hot but wouldn't mind taking their shirts off. Thus, we had films like Shaft (which was actually the "Citizen Kane" of blaxploitation films), Superfly, Dolemite, Foxy Brown, Coffy, Cleopatra Jones, Black Caesar, and Blackula. With a budget of about $5,000 (filmed on the streets without permits from the city, and using "actors" who just had to show up with pimpy clothes, and clearly not very good editing equipment), these films could gross $30,000 and look great on an indie studio's balance sheet. Profit!

These films were said to be about empowerment--have a black hero save the day! Even if he is (usually in these films) a pimp, hustler, or hard core gangster (though Blackula was a vampire, so maybe that wasn't such a bad image for young black street youths to aspire to). And the white folks? It doesn't matter if the action takes place in L.A., NYC, or Ann Arbor--every single white person is slightly more racist than Hitler. Except the white chick who sleeps with the black hero, and even she's only doing it because she heard that black guys are well endowed--she'll just end up trying to sell him out, but she didn't count on Black Caesar outwitting her! (Usually she gets beaten up by the black heroine, who has street smarts and can win catfights. Oh, and if you're a guy who gets turned on by catfights? These catfights won't do anything for you. They're kind of nasty.)

Of course, we live in a glorious new era where Hollywood is all enlightened and they don't need to rely on low budget blaxploitation films to get screen time for black actors. Now we have the Wayans Brothers. Errr....maybe that's not progress....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I've had a recurring debate with a friend of mine who has challenged me to go on some adventuring vacations (i.e., trips we've got about a 50/50 chance of surviving). Now my idea of a vacation is to relax on a nice beach with palm trees and clear warm water and have people bring me drinks served in hollowed-out fruit, but then I feel somewhat obliged to try these adventuring vacations since (a) I need some challenges in my life aside from the near death experiences of working in an office with all this asbestos which should really be checked out, and (b) I am convinced this friend of mine will get himself killed and I should really be there to prevent that since he does have a kid on the way. I suggested we learn how to use rifles and bring them along on some mountain trek, since there's always a chance of getting jumped by a puma. My friend scoffed at this, noting that a puma is only about the size of a dog. I countered that people get killed by dogs too, didn't he ever read Cujo? He said he didn't read Yankee literature, and that he could wrestle down a puma with his bare hands so long as he "brought enough attitude" to the arena. He proceeded to email me clips on youtube.com of people and chihuahuas successfully fighting off pumas, as though this is definitive proof that he will win every encounter with a puma. I wonder how many videos he had to scroll through that showed the pumas winning the battle before he found the ones he'd forwarded to me.

I think if we do take a mountain trek, I'll bring along a handgun--not so much to shoot the puma but to put myself out of my misery when the puma is done mauling my friend and comes after me for the main course.

Monday, June 15, 2009


A friend recently complained that her boyfriend has a habit of farting in front of the fan in their bedroom which--being upwind--carries the odor to her in a tactical maneuver akin to something truly Napoleonic. He then uses guile and trickery to blame the cat, which is a move of supreme brilliance and cleverness until you realize they don't have a cat. I'm trying to come up with a slang term for this--passing gas and blaming it on someone or something else--and so far can only come up with "fartgoating" (farting plus scapegoating).

There are many schools of thought on the issue of fart etiquette, particularly when in a relationship--one couple I know (I won't name names here! They read this blog) is perfectly comfortable blasting one out in front of one another, or trying to do the dreaded "Dutch Oven" when in bed (where you let one go, then cover your partner's head with the blanket so they get a good whiff). Another friend of mine claims you should never pass gas in front of anyone, ever. Ever. I think that's also sort of extreme.

Proper fart etiquette? Avoid it when you can in front of others (and especially those you want to remain attracted to you! Unless they're into that sort of thing). But if you spend enough time around someone, it's going to happen sooner or later--just make sure it's in a ventillated place!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Why The Hate???

Holocaust deniers are an interesting sort, if by "interesting" you mean "have their heads in their asses". The persistent theory is that the six million Jews (and about six million non-Jews, including Gypsies, homosexuals, handicapped, and political dissidents) that disappeared during the Second World War were actually just part of the masses of displaced persons that were lost in the postwar shuffle, many perhaps trapped behind the Iron Curtain. To believe this you also have to believe that the photographic evidence was all forged, that the confessions of camp guards and testimony of survivors were all part of an elaborate hoax, and that the Soviets who couldn't make a tractor work properly were capable of keeping a secret as big as several million refugees hidden under assumed names. Plus, you'd have to believe that the gas chambers found after the war were actually used to disinfect lice-ridden clothing and the crematoriums were used to burn this clothing (not sure why you'd first disinfect and then burn). Yet another theory argues that sure, a lot of Jews were killed, but not a full six million--maybe ten percent of that.

However, I don't really see the point behind the denials. Even if you were to agree with the idea that far fewer Jews were killed (or that they were merely forced into camps during the war, then displaced as refugees after the war), it still counts as an atrocity suffered by them. Would things be okay if it turned out that the numbers were off? If only 600,000 were killed, would we be able to write off that chapter of history as no big deal?

The other thing is, why pick on the Jews of all people? Last I checked, they don't riot, rarely commit violent crimes (Meyer Lansky aside), and for most of history had no country of their own so hadn't invaded or enslaved anyone (okay, I'll accept the Canaanites and Edomites hating them, but that's it). There are many other groups of people that the hatemongers could pick on with more plausibility:

1) The Italians. Christians can blame Italians for killing Christ. Jews can blame Italians for tricking the world into thinking it was the Jews who did it.

2) Russians. They embraced Communism, created really bland food and are emotionally distant. Plus, they invented Polack jokes which should piss off natives of Pittsburgh and Chicago.

3) The French. No need to explain further, but they are responsible for everything awful in history. WWI--they pick a fight with Germany and then try to drag everyone else into it, then after that they act like dicks and make the Germans go Nazi and kick their asses again, then we have to bail them out. They brought us Napoleon (though the Italians can be blamed for his heritage), who invaded and attacked everything, they messed up every colony they had and created dysfunction throughout the Third World, and they handed us Vietnam. Plus, they're the reason the whole world isn't driving on the same side of the road.

4) The Germans. They go and ruin a cool thing like the Roman Empire, they invent Protestantism which caused all that religious strife for centuries, they (Marx and Engels, two GERMANS) invent communism, and when that turned out not to be obnoxious enough they invent Nazism, and they bring us really lame music (99 Luftballoons? Ach, der crappen!).

Not that I'm advocating hatred of any groups, but with rich targets like these, why go through the mental contortions of picking on the Jews? All you can really blame them for is musical theater.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Idiot of the Day

Apparently, some dim bulb in Boston spent $300,000 to buy a parking space. Real estate slump? What real estate slump? Clearly this guy did not get the memo. No word on whether it's a covered space in a secure and well-lit lot. But what does this say when you are spending more than ten times the cost of a new car for a place to park it? At least buy a minvan (since an RV probably wouldn't fit in a city space) and live in it, spending every day that you're washing yourself in a gas station bathroom wondering why you're such an idiot. Fool!

Second Blog

My fellow blogger Don Marco and I are setting up an alternate blog, found here, where we hope to provide wisdom, revelry, and a sort of affirmation of the party lifestyle. It occurred to us that there is no group more victimized and underrepresented than the drinkers (okay, maybe there's the Tutsis in Rwanda, or the Kurds, but last I checked the former had a hit movie made about them and the latter are now represented in the Iraqi Congress, and all we drinkers have is Ted Kennedy and that guy is at death's door). Ever since our mortal enemies, the Modern Purity League (also known as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who have expanded their mission well beyond driving to now impose their reign of terror over every form of drinking enjoyment) have thrown down the gauntlet, it made us realize that someone needs to stand up for us. So join us in our struggle, subscribe to the new blog (I'll still be blogging here about creative endeavors, film reviews, and general observations of the scene), and comment frequently.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Potato Crisps

The potato chip, as it turns out, was invented in a fit of pique at some resort about a hundred years ago. A customer had requested thinly sliced potatoes with his meal, and kept sending the potatoes back to the kitchen because they weren't sliced thin enough. When the waiter came back to the chef about the third time with this complaint, the chef--being a calm and collected sort--flipped out and decided to go overboard. He got a razor, and while many hot-headed chefs would have used the razor to cut an extra breathing hole in the customer's windpipe, he decided to instead slice the potatoes as this as was possible. He measured carefully and made his potato slices about as thin as paper, then as an afterthought fried these slices up in oil and put some salt on them. He sent them back with the waiter, only wishing he could see the customer's face when he was served potato slices that were ridiculously thin.

As it happened, the customer loved these first ever potato chips, and sent word back to the chef that every time he ate there he wanted these chips served to him as a side. Little did the chef know that while trying to get back at a surly customer, he had invented a great American delicacy. And helped do his part in making us a an obese nation!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Fellow blogger Don Marco indicated his aversion to Portland's "Old Port Fest" as it basically is a big crowd of lame surrounded by weak. Chiefly, this is because it's just a bunch of food booths and trinkets and crowds and they don't sell fried Twinkies even though I've been writing letters about that for years. Perhaps it's our old age showing, but overcrowded melees seem to have lost whatever appeal they once had.

I'd go a step further--one night you don't want to be out at the bars is St. Patricks, which is a minor holiday in Ireland that American drunkards have taken on as their own. Somehow, because a Roman clergyman converted a bunch of pagans on the Emerald Isle some centuries ago, Americans of all ethnicities (yeah, they're all "hey my great great grandfather had an Irish brother in law so we're totally ethnic" but honkey PLEASE!) decide it's a good time to dye their Budweiser green and drink themselves to full puke-acity in overcrowded bars where people who can't hold their liquor will get into fights and lodge their heads into the wheel wells of parked cars. You know what's more fun than going out on St. Patricks' Day? Going out almost any other night of the year.

Another exception is Cinco de Mayo. Most actual Mexicans have never heard of this holiday, because it commemorates not Mexican Independence, or the defeat of Montezuma, or the landing of Cortez, or the discovery of the siesta. Nope, it commemorates an obscure battle against the forces of Maximillian, who was a lackey of French emperor Napoleon III. But American beer distributors decided that something was needed between the heavy drinking holidays of Easter and Mother's Day, so they decided that something in early May was appropriate. Now Americans don't even pretend to be Mexican when they barf up taco pie and Coronas all day long. Again, the bars get way too packed, and lightweights drink far more than they can handle (and these always seem to be the guys and girls who love to punch things that are tougher than the bones in their hands).

Then there's New Year's Eve. The bars get just as packed, and some of them are smart enough to charge over $100 cover to control the crowds, offering "open bar" which means maybe three drinks amid a long wait. The single guys are thinking "hey, girls are extra desperate on a night like this if they're alone!" The single girls are thinking "I can't believe I'm this desperate". And everyone in a couple is thinking "I can't believe we paid $250 for that prix fixe dinner which wasn't very good, why are we not home knitting right now?" (Yes, I'm imagining very lame couples too).

So what's the solution? For all--house parties. You can control the crowds, supply them well, and keep to the made up theme of the holiday, getting all the fun without the pitfalls. And if it's not your house, the taco-puke is someone else's problem.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Taste of The Novelization of Road House 3--Back to Basics

Dalton wanders in to a local wine bar in New York's Greenwich Village. The sound of Dido is playing in the background--if there's one thing that Dalton can't stand more than people who are too stupid to have a good time, it's Dido. Infernal sultry-voiced Dido.

The wine bar had a cutesy name--"Quit Yer Wining"--and it was clearly appealing to the lower end of the wine bar crowd. Terrific, he thought. But he wasn't here to sample a fine Bordeaux. Dalton didn't care for wine at all.

Standing at the door was none other than Dalton's old protege from his days in Memphis--yes, the town where he removed a man's throat with his bare hands in some fight over a lady. His protege was Reuben "Night Train" Parnell, a bouncer who had become legendary in his own right. Night Train had become very high demand indeed.

"See your ID," the bouncer said as Dalton tried to stride past him. Dalton looked at him squarely.

"Forget your old friends?" he asked, grinning. Reuben's face lit up with recognition.

"Dalton!" he exclaimed, "I thought you'd be taller."

Dalton never got tired of hearing that.


While Andy (who's been trying to get everyone to call him Johnny Vino) was visiting this past weekend, we worked out an outline for the screenplay for Road House 3--Back to Basics. I can say that any fan of film noir, Hitchcock-style twists, revisionist westerns and sweeping epics will absolutely love this sequel. It has a little of everything, and then some. Most of all, it has a new character who will be introduced and perhaps used extensively through montages and flashbacks--Reuben "Nighttrain" Parnell. I'd say "you can't make up a name like that" except we did just that. Andy liked the name so much he's been insisting on being called "Night Train" himself. I'd laugh but I'm crying on the inside.

Of course, this film shouldn't be too expensive to film--with the exception of the set-piece battle in the wine bar (which should be quite expensive, since we'll insist on using real wine and good vintage stuff, for realism), we don't have much expense. Lord knows we won't be spending much on acting lessons! And the frenetic pacing should help us use locations without permits. See, these are the sort of things you learn in the business.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Quantum of Solace--Worst Bond Title Ever???

Having just seen the latest James Bond film I'm reminded of the many rules that guide the films:

1) If you sleep with James Bond, congratulations--you're one of two women to do so in the film. That means you have a 50% chance of ending up with him at the end of the film, and a 50% chance of getting horribly killed. Keep in mind though this also spares Bond the awkwardness of having both women confront him in the end for his womanizing.

2) If you sleep with Bond and end up with him by the end of the film, don't get too comfortable because you'll be forgotten by the next film.

3) If you're the bad guy's top henchman, don't worry--you won't be killed in some boring way like getting shot by a stray bullet or trapped in a burning building. You'll get a long fight sequence with Bond, in which you nearly kill him before he finds some ingenious and clever way to dispatch you.

4) If you're a Bond ally, this would be a good time to make sure your life insurance policy covers getting murdered. Unless you're Felix Leiter in which case you can be sure you won't get to do anything fun because the CIA sort of plays second fiddle to the British Secret Service.

5) While the Americans may have built up the world's most powerful military and largest economy, it's the British who are handling all the world's supervillains. It's a fair trade that Roosevelt and Churchill worked out at the Yalta Conference.

6) Secret agents under deep cover often go around without disguising themselves in any way, and introduce themselves by their actual names--"Bond, James Bond."

7) When meeting James Bond--who has just introduced himself as such--the bad guy and his henchmen won't simply whip out guns and blow him to pieces. Instead, the bad guy and Bond will try to get into some game of wits and double entendres at some high school level (like "your lady friend there came quite easily....IN BED!!!") because really, why break up a nice party?

8) While most other British civil servants have had to deal with salary freezes and budget cutbacks, secret service agents have lived well on caviar and vodka martinis and drive really nice cars. This is because instead of spending their time analyzing intelligence and living among the population in hostile countries, they have to infiltrate exclusive clubs and casinos in Monte Carlo, where real supervillains reside.

9) The real threats in the world are not religious extremists, crazed North Korean dictators or oil-rich despots. The real threats are very wealthy men with groups of mercenary henchmen who are trying laughably unworkable plots to do stupid things like blow up the moon with giant laser cannons or explode a radioactive device in the world's gold supply even though the world hasn't been on the gold standard since the 1930s.

10) When Bond has located the bad guy, or his headquarters, the British don't send in the Special Air Service or the Royal Marines to blow the hell out of him. Instead, Bond has to do it himself (sometimes with the help of the remaining surviving lady friend). This is because the British spent so much on gadgets and martinis that they have no money left to support full scale military operations.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I saw Saw

Last night's film was "Saw" which as you may know involved a guy trying to make things work with his wife and kid. Sure, they had a rough patch, and he had a thing going on with his secretary, but he loves the kid and you can tell he's still got feelings for his wife. And since he's a doctor, he's also got to try and reconcile his own feelings toward mortality and how he treats others, both at work and at home.

And of course this doctor guy is chained to a pipe in some abandoned room (along with another guy) by some madman who is threatening his wife and kid, and ultimately the only way he can get out is if he either kills the other guy in the room or saws his own leg off. Now, I'm the sort of guy who probably would work real hard at sawing my leg off only to realize I sawed off the wrong one, the one without the chain on it! It would have been one of those moments I would have to laugh at, despite the pain and bleeding, because life just sure tosses some ironicality at you from time to time!

As it turns out, Saw had three sequels, which tells me two things--first, the police just aren't any good at catching this killer, which shouldn't be surprising because in the first film the police spend most of their time ignoring warrants and not aiming their firearms properly, and second, audiences love a good "cut off your own limb" movie.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time Travel

As anyone who knows me can attest, I'm a stong believer in the idea that all government money and private charitable contributions should be diverted towards the discovery of time travel. I mean, provided time machines are in the hands of good guys and not evil robots or Biff from Back to the Future (and its sequels), every awful thing about the present can be prevented. (That is, if you believe in the Terminator/Back to the Future theory on time travel, that you can change the past, and not the 12 Monkeys theory, which says "what's done is done"). We could go back and tell Henry Ford not to name his son Edsel, we can go back and tell Elvis to lay off the snack foods, and we can go back and tell the guy who got AIDS from a monkey to not have sex with humans (once you go ape, you never . . . have sex with people again. Ever.). But most importantly and obviously is the Hitler thing.

Imagine going back in time to Vienna where a teenage Hitler, who was basically the first Emo Hipster artist douchebag, was trying to get his art sold and make it into art school. Imagine saying to the young whiner, "hey dude, your art is really neat and I bet no one understands you, correct? Have you considered going into the film business? You don't even need talent to get into the movies!"

Then of course young Emo Hitler might point out that Hollywood is full of Jews, at which point we'd say baloney, Jews were never really good at show business, they're too busy being football stars and dancers, now come on you angst-ridden teen, let's introduce you to Louis Mayer and the Warner Brothers, none of which changed their names from something far more Jewish. Then Hitler spends the next few decades making weird arthouse films that only beatniks will watch, probably be one of the guys who married Marilyn Monroe (she'd famously say later that Hitler was slightly less brooding than Joe DiMaggio) and maybe end up on a Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s (I could easily see Emo Hitler going communist).

Of course, as is always pointed out in time travel movies, changing the past can have unforseen and not always terrific consequences--maybe with Hitler out of the way the Nazis would have an equally evil but more competent leader, maybe the Soviets would loom as a greater threat, who knows. But the beauty of the time machine is if what you change doesn't work out, you can always go back and fix it again. What could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I Fought the Law, and it was a Tie

So last night after work I hop over to Alexandria to visit my friend and his wife and son who just moved down (they didn't need my help with the move, as it turned out, because they lined up some random strangers in the building while I was at work), and as it turns out it was the kid's first birthday party. At this I was all "hey, jello shots for the kid!" but the parents said the strongest thing we could give him was formula. I asked if "formula" meant "kahlua" at which point they changed the subject and showed me around the complex, which has a number of pools, tennis courts, game rooms, and---A FREAKING BOWLING ALLEY. Now, my friend is Polish so I know what you're thinking--of COURSE he moves into a building with its own bowling alley. Right next to a kielbassa stand, no doubt (just make sure the German neighbors don't tresspass, if you know what I mean! Yep, Nazi reference). But it turned out to be a surprise to him as well, which wouldn't be the first time the Polish were surprised (yep, second Nazi reference).

So we bowl a few games, one of which I actually did a 109 (being only a smidgen Polish myself, that's a good score for me) and my friend who hadn't bowled in years despite his ancestral requirement managed to hit in the 130s each game. What made his rolls distinctive was the sheer violence of them--it sounded like the pins were screaming in pain when the ball sent them to their demise. The thing is, he was calm and collected while making these fearsome rolls. I asked if there was something he wanted to talk about, maybe the New Jersey Turnpike traffic got to him or something.

Anyway, I drive home on the Beltway later, and of course it's a maze of construction, blocking and shifting lanes everywhere, and I make the mistake of being several lanes away from the exit I need, so I slow quite a bit to make it and this attracts the unwanted attention of a County Cop. His thinking is--"this guy's a stewed prune, and I'm about to nab me a DUI! On a Monday night! I'll be a law enforcement hero, like Elliot Ness and the guy who ambushed Dillinger!"

So he pulls me over, and tells me I slowed too much on the Beltway and I agreed, not pointing out that there was little traffic and what's with all the construction cones, lock up the real criminals, like them Duke Boys and the fellows who thought it would be a good idea to block so many lanes of a major thoroughfare. Instead, I am agreeable, he asks if I've had anything to drink and I tell him no, but just wait until I get home. He then asks if my eyes "normally go like that" and I point out that I've had nostagmus since I was a kid, so yes. He points out that that could also be a symptom of drinking alcohol, and I simply say yes, though I had nothing to drink that night (which was true). I don't point out that perhaps he has it confused with drug use, because at this point the lack of alcohol on my breath leads him to take my word for it that I'm not drinking and driving, and I really didn't want to have to prove I wasn't on any drugs which would probably require a blood test down at the station or something. Fortunately, he let me go with a warning, which was fair--I shouldn't have slowed down so much on the highway, and would be a lot more careful next time, but really didn't need my driving record messed up over it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Word of the Day

When coming up with my new favorite "insult word" which is "fucktard" (the reason for this is all the many extra years of my life taking the extra time to say "fucking retard" which is now condensed, freeing me to do great things like paint masterpieces and huck rocks into ponds), it occurred to me that some may take offense at the word "retard" when used as an insult. After all, there are actual retarded people out there who can't help themselves because of genetics, and they end up having to go to Arizona State and take jobs in Marketing (I kid!). But when we use certain "insult words" we only really use them when we know they don't actually literally ring true.

Case in point--someone bumps into your car because they're talking on the cell phone and drinking a smoothie while driving. You want to yell at them "retard!" But on the other hand, some actual, bona fide retarded guy walks his shopping cart into your car, you won't yell "retard!" at them once you realize that you're conveying an accurate description. Or, some guy at a party tries to tap the keg and it creates a geyser of beer foam all over everyone. You yell at him, "you're so freaking LAME!" Then when you see him hobble off on his crutches, you continue, "but I don't mean that LITERALLY!"

So yeah, "fucktard" is back. Figuratively.