Saturday, July 16, 2005


The Indistinguished Gentleman from Pennsylvania takes the Top Prize! Senator Rick Santorum, come on down...By an exceedingly large margin, Crushed by Inertia readers have voted you the


Oh, come now, Senator...surely you can manage a bit more excitement than that. Come on! You received a full 3/5 of the TOTAL VOTES for Worst Person Alive. The BTK Killer only got two votes, man! He fucking murdered families!

It seems to me that a big man might be able to accept a little criticism.

THAT small? Really? Okay, so you're not exactly a big man...but can't you accept that most Americans oppose your virulently intolerant, mean-spirited and theocratic ways? I mean, shit, man, just accept the award with some dignity.

That's better!

After receiving his award, Santorum was escorted off by the friendly Nation of Islam guys I had hired as personal security. I'm sure they'll take excellent care of him.

Just for the sake of trivia, that's the first time Santorum has allowed a black man to touch his person since a friendly carnival employee helped him off the Tilt-a-Whirl at age 11.

So, there you have it, folks. The very 1st Braffy Awards are officially over. Thanks again to everyone who voted and to all the blogs kind enough to give me a shot in the arm, traffic-wise.

Lauryn Hill, take us home!

Um...Lauryn? You there? Oh well...

Zach Braff took the stage to present Fox News correspondant John Gibson with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Unfortunately, Braff didn't have any prepared remarks. So he just stood around looking befuddled for a few minutes, bugging his eyes out as he does every week on his mystifyingly popular TV disaster "Scrubs," before it was announced that Gibson would not appear. Then he left the stage to hang out with his model friends and discuss the subtle nuances of Garden State with one of the film's biggest fans, Satan, backstage.

So, without has cooperation, and being unable to find any quality pictures of John Gibson on the Net, I will provide you with a photo of his mental equivalent.

As Gibson was unable to attend the show, Mustard Man graciously accepts the award in his place.

Then it was time for the rousing musical number, before the presentation of the Worst Person Alive Award. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Black Eyes Peas! They've got some songs to sing about how we ought to all stop fighting and love one another and, once that's been taken care of, how we ought to get retarded in here.

I have to say, even though her band completely stinks, that girl Fergie has some amazing abs. I'm hoping she'll let me, like, touch them or something back stage. If she isn't already hooking up with Satan. Don't ever invite that guy out on a Saturday night...he steals all the ladies' souls and bogarts all the weed. He's like the Dark Prince of Party Fouls.

Only one more update to go...and it's the big one. The Winner of the 2005 Braffy Award for the Worst Person Alive!

Satan really killed with his dynamite opening monologe.

Greetings, Fallen Ones. Prepare for the delightful torment of the 1st Annual Braffy Awards, brought to you by famine, pestilence and new Mountain Dew Ultra X-Treme Warm Caffeinated Flavor Beverage. It's pee-tasting-tastic!

I see that the girl from "Veronica Mars" is in the audience. Let's give her a hand. Later, I will slowly devour her soul over the course of centuries, her every excruciating wail inciting the razor-sharp fangs of a vicious hellhound to sink further into her tender flesh.

We have some great nominees this year. I see the BTK Killer has been nominated. Should your country's government decide to violate your so-called Ten Commandments and kill him for his "crimes," he will join me on a gilded throne, presiding over the torture of millions in my sulfur and brimstone-fueled labyrinth of terror for all time. Or maybe I'll have him run my fast-food division, I haven't decided yet.

But enough time has been wasted by theis petty monologue already. These one-liners didn't work at all! I'll get that bastard Bruce Vilanch for this! I'll see his colon used as sausage casings before this night is out! Now, on to the awards.

Inside the amphitheater, the Braffies are just moments away. I'm out here now with director Joel Schumacher, a finalist for the Braffy nomination who just didn't make the cut. Joel, thanks for coming out.

My pleasure, Lons. Always happy to meet a fan.

I hate you.

Yeah, everyone pretty much does. I guess I deserve that.

So, tell me, what is it like to be a film director and have every single fan of the cinema worldwide hate your guts?

It's pretty great. I mean, I drive a nice car, I've slept with lots of hotel models, and I live in a palacial estate. So what if fat nerdy losers don't like my Batman movies?

Yeah, but, I mean, doesn't it bother you that your craft, your life's work, has all been for nothing? That you've toiled for over 30 years now advancing a career that will forever be synonymous with rejection and failure? That even your relative triumphs, the Lost Boys or Falling Downs, are nothing more than light, disposable entertainments, likely to be forgotten by the mainstream while you are still alive?

Not really.

Come on...

I guess a little.

Let it out, Joel...this is what the Braffies are all about...

I can't take it any more! You win! I'm a hopeless miserable failure, alright? Maybe the worst director working today! Fine! I admit it! You happy now?

Thanks, Joel. You've been great. Hey, I'll see you inside, okay?


Lons here, commenting live from Crushed by Inertia Central here at the Los Angeles Arrowhead Verizon America West Wells Fargo Pond of Anaheim, live-blogging the 1st Annual Braffy Awards!

The stars have all started to assemble for the big show, which will be kicking off in just a few hours. So let's head right over to the Red Carpet and see who's here...

Why, it's Braffy namesake Zach Braff!

Zach, I see you've brought an entire harem of nubile young women along with you. Care to comment?

"Well, one is my date, and the rest are chaperones. I wouldn't want the girl to think I was just bringing her here to get in her pants, right?"

Why would she think that?

"Well, I mean, you've put on an entire award show to honor me, right?"

Oh, did I say that? Because these are the awards for the Worst Person Alive.

"You voted me Worst Person Alive? Just for being on 'Scrubs'?"

No, we'll reveal the actual winner in a short while (although it should be patently obvious by now...) I just named the award after you.


Well, come on. Garden State really sucked.

"No, I think it was...Okay, yeah, but don't tell anyone, alright? Most idiots think it's really good."

But I'm posting this on the Internet.


Still, I'm looking forward to hearing you introduce the Lifetime Achievement Award later. It's going to John Gibson of Fox News.

"Oh, I love that guy!"

Yeah, great, move along.

Now, let's go live to the Artist's Stage for a rare performnace from Lauryn Hill!

I said, let's go live to the Artist's Stage for a rare performance from the notoriously difficult Lauryn Hill!

Lauryn? Are you still getting dressed?

Oh, I guess she's stuck in heavy traffic. Maybe we'll catch up with her later.

So, anyway, the show will be getting underway in just a little bit, so be sure to refresh this page later on today for more, Live from the Braffies!

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Ben Bin

[NOTE: This article is satire...Please do not show up to Laser Blazer expecting to see Ben Affleck...It's just a joke...We do, however, have a new bargain DVD bin, featuring current films on sale for $4.98 and cheaper! Some don't even star Ben Affleck! No, seriously, there are a surprising amount of newish films in there. Come on by and check it out, why dontcha?]


Laser Blazer is pleased to welcome Ben Affleck, who will be appearing at our bargain Used DVD Blowout Bin!

"So many of my films are in circulation because no one will buy them," Affleck said. "The only way to move any of these units is to charge next to nothing for the DVD's and also make outrageously generous offers on top of that for personal favors, such as car-washing services or even erotic massages."

Ben will be publicly apologizing for appearing in so many shitty movies, followed by a Q&A, and then an autograph signing all of his films available for under $5.

These ice-cold titles, permanent fixtures in Used DVD stores all across America, include

Pearl Harbor
Jersey Girl
Changing Lanes

The Sum of All Fears

Reindeer Games

And that's not all! Three lucky attendees who buy at least 3 of Affleck's unsellable overstock items will get to write and produce a movie in which Ben will then produce and star!

"I figured, any amateur should be able to produce a film of higher quality than Surviving Christmas," Affleck theorized. "That film was so ineptly made, I'm surprised the reel itself even fit in theater projectors."

The line for the autograph signing will form tomorrow morning at the dumpster behind Laser Blazer. We ask that you not park in the parking lot, or make a lot of noise, so as not to disturb the actual customers buying real movies.


Don't read this. It's gross.

Seriously? You still want to keep going?

Okay, fine, whatever...perv...

You remember how I was talking before on the blog here about bestiality? And that weird Neitschze guy kept challenging my belief that so-called "petism" is wrong? Well, it appears that, courtesy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (linked helpfully by FARK), there may be some new insight provided into this case.

King County sheriff's detectives are investigating possible animal cruelty at a farm near Enumclaw that apparently has attracted "a significant number of people" to have sex with animals, a sheriff's spokesman said Thursday.

So, already, you have to be wondering...a significant number of people? How many people have to fuck a goat in order for that number to be considered "significant"? Is it more than 1?

Okay, so, now here's the part that's so disgusting, I suggested you just skip this article and re-vote for the Braffies or something...

The investigation was launched this month after authorities discovered the July 2 death of a man who suffered internal bleeding after engaging in anal sex with a horse at the farm, Sgt. John Urquhart said.

Authorities are not releasing the man's identity because the King County medical examiner has ruled his death accidental. The victim was in his 40s, Urquhart said.

Oh, sweet Lord, no!

See, a man dying of internal bleeding after having anal sex with a horse seems to indicate that...he was on the receiving end of that particular transaction.

I mean, seriously, this is the sort of story for which the very concept of the Blog was invented.

I love that the coroner then had to rule the death "accidental." As if there were any remaining doubt about that. I guess they had to determine whether the horse knew he was hurting the guy, or just thought the guy liked it kind of rough. Oh, and from what I understand, the horse actually competed in equestrian events, so this sort of embarrassing incident will definitely affect his endorsement deals.

Bestiality is not illegal in Washington state.

"Just sex with an animal per se, you'd have to prove some sort of animal cruelty out of that and that's why we've got more investigating to do," Urquhart said.

I mean, allowing a horse to have sex with your pooper, I suppose, is kind of close to the line on this one. My argument has always been that sex without consent constitutes cruelty, and since an animal cannot provide a human with proper consent, one should not make love to it. But, there's very little chance the horse didn't enjoy this particular sexual encounter...let's face it.

The Humane Society of the United States intends to use the case during the next state legislative session as an example of why sex with animals should be outlawed in Washington, said Bob Reder, a Humane Society regional director in Seattle.

I must say, I am kind of surprised this is still an issue. I had assumed bestiality was illegal everywhere in the US.


[ABSOLUTELY FINAL UPDATE!: Voting closes down in about an hour for the 1st Annual Braffies. And it appears we have an overwhelming winner. We have such an overwhelming winner, it makes even tabulating the votes or holding a garish award ceremony kind of anti-climactic and silly. But I already paid the caterers, SO IT'S ON!

I'll be proudly live-blogging the actual Braffy ceremony tomorrow. Unfortunately, Sean Hannity found out who was going to win the actual award and has declined to attend, so I had to scramble and find someone equally evil, who also had the afternoon free. So our new host will be my personal hero and a close friend, the Dark Lord, the Anti-Christ, Lucifer, Satan, the Prince of Darkness. So be sure to look out for that! And thanks to everyone who voted, and all the below-enumerated blogs for their kind support!]

[UPDATE THE THIRD: First off, special warm thanks to the whole team at the delightfully-entitled "I Got a Boner for Blogger" for the link. Oh, and also E-Lo over at Squirrel Stories. Check out all of these people's sites! I demand it!

Santorum keeps racking up the votes...But I'm not even ready to call this fucker yet. Your official voting deadline will be Friday July 15th at midnight. Then, I'll tally these bastards and get you your official results! As promised, I will be doing my best to contact the winner and present them with some sort of an appropriate prize.]

[UPDATE #2: And on and on and on we go. Santorum continues racking up an impressive lead, but the BTK Killer also gets his very first vote. Amazing the kind of animosity we're seeing towards Rick Santorum...Right now, he has easily outpaced a man who has admitted to strangling entire families to death.

Also, a big big shoutout to Sloth, who has graciously linked this post on her blog. Welcome, Slothvillains!]

[UPDATE: The voting continues! Special thanks to Horsey for really drumming up some traffic for the contest. It is really really really really like totally appreciated. Just wanted to thank everyone who voted and urge all those readers who haven't voted to vote. You can do so anonymously! Even though this shoots to hell my whole "one man one vote" concept!

Anyone not wishing for Sen. Richard "Sticky Dicky" Santorum to take the prize better get off their ass and vote, like, 30000 times.]

[NOTE: I am still updating The Inertia, below this post. I am leaving this up top in order to encourage everyone who visits the blog this week to please please vote below for the Braffies!. It's your blogic duty.

And if any of you happen to own your own blogs, hey, why not mention the Worst Person Alive awards to your readership? The more votes I get, the better chance I have of Fox picking up the broadcast rights next year...]

Braffy season is coming to a close. All 8 nominees have been announced, and so this column will provide a quick recap. Then, you will all vote below in the comments for the winner. I'm going to keep this post at the top of the page for a few days, to give everyone who wants to adequate voting time, and then I'll tabulate the winners and announce them in the official Braffy post, where I'll be live-blogging the awards as they happen!

But first, we'll announce the recipient of Crushed by Inertia's Special Achievement in Assholery Award, which will be presented at the Braffies.

To announce the winner of this special award, live via satellite all the way from the Eighth Circle of Hell (named Maleboge, and reserved for the knowingly fraudulent), Former President Richard M. Nixon.

Thank you, Lons, for having me on your show. There have been some issues I'd like to discuss with the American people, and...

Um, Mr. President, this isn't a show.


It's a blog.

A blog?


What the hell is a blog?

Well, it's a website where I write about...

Website? I don't have time to natter on about nonsense words! Nixon's already been dead for a decade, he's got important stuff to say.

I'm sorry, I just thought...

Isn't enough they try to impeach me, but then they've got to resurrect me just to fuck around with some Jew bastard on his Blob or whatever...I'm just sick of it. Well, that's it, I'm never leaving Hell again. You won't have Richard Nixon's amorphous, disembodied spirit to kick around any more.

Mr. President, don't be that way. Please, just read the name on the card I sent you.

Oh, that thing? I used it as scratch paper. I've been writing up a new enemies list. Wanna hear it?

Not really.

You're on it.

Oh, fine, I'll just announce it myself. The honoree for the 2005 Special Achievement in Assholery, to be presented at the Braffy Awards, is none other than Fox News' own John Gibson!

Oh, man, that guy is such a turd. Just look at that picture. He's barely human! It looks like someone shaved a chipmunk and then turned it over to the GOP for intensive brainwashing.

I'm not go to get into a whole thing about what an asshole John Gibson is, because we'd be here for a year. I'm just going to show you this link to his columns, and let you figure otu what a complete and utter douche this guy is all on your own.

Oh, fine, okay, here's one quote from Gibson that made it to the cover of Maclean's Magazine:

"Canada is a vast ice-encrusted wasteland dedicated to beer and America bashing."

John, I'm sure our Canadian readers are going to love you!

Okay, so he'll be getting a special award. I wonder if he'll show up in person to receive it? After all, those Fox News guys, they love encountering people with differing viewpoints, and engaging in fair, frank and honest discussions about issues of public policy.

So, now, on to the nomimees. After having Nixon introduce John Gibson, it was really hard to think of another guest to come on who could top him in terms of pure villainy. I mean, I'm pretty sure our current Commander-in-Chief wouldn't stoop to hosting an entry on my little old blog..........

Would he?

[Faint sounds of Hail to the Chief play, growing louder by the moment]

Oh my goodness, folks...You're not going to believe this...

[Enter five Secret Service agents scanning the room for evildoers]

It's actually happening...

[Lons is forcibly removed by some of the President's personal security squad, and removed to a secret location for his own protection]


Can we get a picture of me?

Yeah, lookin' good, George.

The kids love me.

Anyway, what am I doing here? Oh, yeah, I remember...We're gonna read us a story called "My Pet Goat."

Once upon a time, kids, there was a pet goat and he...

What, Andy Card? You say something terrible has happened? Oh, you say I'm supposed to announce award nominees and not read "My Pet Goat"? But I really like "My Pet Goat"! Okay, fine, you can read it to me later, before naptime.

Hey, wait, do you even still work for me?

Anyway, my fellow Americans, let me get serious with you for a minute. The Braffies are a treasured yearly tradition here in Amurica. Why, I remember, as a little boy, growing up in Texas, tuning in to watch the Braffies, thinking about what a wonderful country we live in that we can give prizes to folks just for being themselves.

Right now, Amurica is involved in a fight for liberty and freedom throughout the globe, and I hope you'll join me in sending young people to die in a fiery blaze in a far-off desert to defend these abstract cliches.

Our first nominee this evening hails from my home state, which is Texas, and I'd like to remind you once again, please, not to mess with it. It's just a bad idea.

Pastor Joel Osteen

"This guy's barely a religious leader. He's building a cult of personality, using religion to make himself famous. This guy is doing exactly what the Bible (the Old Testament) warns about...he's making himself a false prophet, convincing people that he's got all of the answers to life's really hard questions, building up his own glory rather than God's."

Our next nominee resides not far away from Crushed by Inertia headquarters, in Los Angelses, California, where my good friend Arnold Schwollenszenagger is Governor. Arnold, you're an inspiration to dirty, disgusting foreigners everywhere!

Brett Ratner

"This guy directed Rush Hour and Rush Hour 2. His idea of funny is jokes about how black people be all listening to the radio really loud and shit. He thinks Chris Tucker making fun of peopel with Asian accents, and Jackie Chan falling down repeatedly, is the height of comic genius. I look forward to the stream of Cyclops fart gags, and Rogue's incessant mugging. It's gonna be quite a summer!"

This next guy has been the favorite basically since the very beginning. He's a professional poker player by trade. I like cards, but I don't really play poker very well. I think it's all them numbers on the cards, throws me off. Also, what's a "jack." I know about Kings and Queens. I've met a few of them since I been President. But I ain't never met a Jack. Except that guy who calls Bill O'Reilly...Jack Mehoffer.

Antonio Esfandiari

"Words fail me. In the face of 'pluckworthy honey,' what can you do but close down your blog for the night, curl up in the fetal position and pray for the future of our nation?"

I have a close personal relationship with this next nominee. Not as close as my personal relationship with Jesus. Cause let me tell you, that guy and I are close. If he weren't the Lord, and I weren't a married man, people might think we were one of them gay couples what wants to get hitched, you know what I mean? I'm just saying, that if Jesus actually came back to Earth and wanted to meet up with me, I'd probably be willing to teabag him.

If that's wrong, fine, them I'm just wrong. It will be the one thing I've been wrong about since becoming President.

Anyway, this nominee is my good friend, and a Senator from Pennsylvania.

Rick Santorum

"But Little Ricky Santorum takes it so much further than voting incorrectly on every major issue. He's possibly the most outspoken ignoramus in America. No one who knows less feels the need to pontificate publicly more than the Indistinguished Gentleman from Pennsylvania."

Who haven't I done yet? Man, am I getting confused. Someone come in here and help a brother out.

Okay, fine, I got one. This guy was the BTK Killer. That's a pretty funny name. If I were gonna be a serial killer, I'd want a really cool name, not something dumb like BTK. Like the Ultra-Secret Stealth Super-Dynamo Killer. And, yeah, I'd leave some awesome symbol at the site of all my killings, so people would know that the Ultra Secret Stealth Super Dynamo Killer had been there. Like maybe the Presidential seal or something!

Oh, but then they'd know it was me...Dang...I'll think of something else.

Dennis Rader

"Is that how serial killers think? I always imagined something more like...'The voices in my head command me to kill this girl and feast upon her duodenum! I'm covered in ants! STOP LOOKING AT ME!!'

It's way more scary if these guys are fully self-aware. Like, they're walking around, thinking about being a serial killer, observing their own behavior with emotional distance, recording their actions like data. Chilling..."

The next nominee has written some of my personal favorite songs. When I released the names of all the songs on my iPod last year, in a desperate attempt tog et people's minds off the war in You Know Where...(irak)...he showed up on that bastard more than once. I'll just say this about my taste in music...if the guy is about 40 pounds overweight and wears a cowboy hat about 3 sizes too big for his head, I'm gonna like his stuff.

Toby Keith

"But, man, country music just sucks so badly now, just represents everything ugly in the American character - it's taste for oversimplification, it's fear and hatred of progress and displays of intelligence, its prejudicial and exclusion-oriented religiocity and its tendency towards really big, stupid looking hats."

I don't get a lot of time to watch TV, cause I'm busy running the nation. Plus, I try to get like 16-18 hours of sleep per day. Just to stay fresh. ALERT.

But I sure do love that Donald Trump. He represents everything that I love about America - our greed, our vanity, our taste for Eastern European models. This next nominee was a failed contestant on his TV show.

Tana Goertz

"She isn't really a massive clueless dolt. She's a shrewd, calculating bitch who genuinely thinks this whole bumpkin act is charming and endearing. It's all this bullshit "can-do" attitude, mixed with the tendency to cop out whenever a task becomes too cumbersome because, after all, I'm just a simple housewife from Iowa."

I can't really say too much about the next nominee. Just allow me to assure you, my administration is doing everything it can to protect all of America from the dangers represented by Mr. Von Doom and his Latverian armies of the night. We must stop these terrorist killers. I will personally smoke Dr. Doom out of his hole, wherever that hole may be. Hopefully, it's in Irak, cause we already got a whole mess of guys over there.

Victor Von Doom

"This is a guy who once condemned his girlfriend to Hell, convincing her he had given up on his evil experiments, and then used her skin and bones to make new armor for himself. I mean, that's pure concentrated evil. (More evil than Zach Braff, the very namesake of the Braffies? I'm not's close...)"

I know it has been a long afternoon, and I will unfortunately not be able to take any questions. So allow me to just wish you all a pleasant evening, and encourage any of you who are not paralyzed from the neck down or mentally retarded to please, please join the military. Please. Seriously. You probably won't even die, honest.

[Everyone exits except a half-naked and bound Lons, lying atop a urine-soaked Torah]

Wha...What happened? Oh, the Braffy nominations column is done? Sweet...

So, okay, everyone be sure to vote in the comments of THIS VERY COLUMN. Only votes left in the below comments will count towards the Braffies. VOTE! VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!

Location, Location, Location

I'm gonna just go ahead and declare that the #1 Worst Possible Business to be Placed Next to a Chinese Restaurant. Thanks to Attu for the photo, and racists everywhere for laughing at it.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Unfaithfully Yours & Palm Beach Story

Unfaithfully Yours came near the end of Preston Sturges' remarkable yet brief Hollywood career. By 1948, Sturges had written and directed all of his most notable and famous films, including 1941's unbelievable one-two knockout The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels. At the height of his powers during WWII, he was the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood. And it's not hard to see why - Sturges' best films are timeless classics, comedies that remain as fresh, energetic and engaging and any contemporary film.

By the late 40's, Sturges had left the Hollywood system to produce his own films independently, and he had become known around town as something of a difficult, perfectionist alcoholic. His last films, including Unfaithfully Yours, are frequently remembered as missteps, a slow unraveling of a once great talent.

Well, there may be some truth to that. Yours isn't quite up to the standard set by the best Sturges' films, including 1942's immensely sharp satire The Palm Beach Story. But it's still a pretty fantastic and very funny film, a jet-black comedy with a surprising amount of edge for 1948 and a great lead performance from Rex Harrison (best remembered today for Doctor Doolittle).

Most Sturges films reflected his somewhat cynical view of marriage (he would marry four times in his life). Though the films always wind up on the side of true love and happy matrimony, the characters frequently exhibit a certain amount of casual recklessness about their partnerships, sometimes even veering on contempt.

Unfaithfully Yours opens on an almost ridiculously happy couple, Sir Alfred De Carter (Harrison) and his lovely wife Daphne (Linda Darnell). He's a conductor preparing for a large recital, and she's his happy and devoted spouse. Right before the concert, De Carter is visited by his brother in law (Rudy Vallee) who has some earth-shattering news.

There has been a terrible (and highly unlikely) miscommunication. De Carter asked his brother-in-law to "look after his wife" while he was out of town on business, which the brother-in-law misinterprets, causing him to hire a private detective to physically "look after his wife." And what has the private detective found?

Evidence that the Lady De Carter visited a young man in her nightgown late one evening for a full half-hour.

Though De Carter throws his brother-in-law out, angry at even the insinuation that his wife has been unfaithful, the charge eats away at him during the concert. The concert itself provides the climax for the film - as De Carter conducts, and we hear the orchestra play a variety of pieces, he fantasizes about the different ways he could handle his cheating wife.

In the longest and most outrageous scenario, he plans a complicated scheme to murder his wife and frame her lover. It's actually a pretty clever plan, albeit unreasonable. In another scenario, De Carter imagines himself forgiving Daphne, coming to an understanding about her need for a younger partner, and even providing her with funds to go and start a new life without him.

These are masterful sequences, with Sturges keeping the classical music running constantly in the background (and even lining up with the on-screen action occasionally) to keep a distinct sense of time and place within the fantasy. And much of it is very funny, with Sturges using Harrison's naturally proper and somewhat cooly stoic British manner to great comic effect.

The film's strange final act, which probably causes most of the controversy about its level of quality, is composed entirely of a long slapstick sequence featuring only Harrison. De Carter attempts to genuinely enact his murderous plan in reality, but of course nothing goes the way it is supposed to, and he winds up nearly destroying all of his home furnishings in the process.

And the film ends on an unexpectedly dark note. Even though De Carter finds out his suspicions were wholly unmerited, he resolves never to tell his wife anything about this dreadful day. She's so wonderful and pure, there is no purpose in sharing anything so twisted and dark with her.

This is an odd conclusion. It seems to insist that these feelings will linger, unresolved, forever within De Carter's mind. He resolves that he will no longer think ill of his wife, but it's reasonable enough to expect that, should this same situation repeat itself in the future, he would once again consider at least the possibility of her commiting adultery.

In other words, nothing much has been learned or gained through the experience of the film, and considering that it almost all takes place within the protagonist's head, you could almost say nothing happens in the film at all. It's a pretty remarkable feat, really, to make a film that's at essence so inconsequential, and that remains so unresolved at the end, but I guess that's why Sturges is one of the greats.

One of the other pleasures in watching Sturges films is seeing his stock company of actors take on multiple roles. Much of the cast of Unfaithfully Yours, including Rudy Vallee and Torben Meyer, likewise appeared in 1942's The Palm Beach Story.

That film, like Unfaithfully Yours, explores a marriage on the rocks. In this case, it's Tom (Joel McCrea) and Gerry (Claudette Colbert). Yeah, I know, Tom and Gerry. I'm almost positive this film pre-dates the cartoons, so it's probably just a coincidence.

Anyway, Tom is an inventor with a wacky idea about an elevated airport to be constructed over a major city. It seems screwy, but he insists that with a donation of $100,000, it can become a reality. Of course, Tom has no way of actually getting his hands on that much scratch.

But maybe Gerry does. She's a pretty good looking girl, and has already trained herself in the art of taking rich suckers for a ride, so she thinks that by divorcing Tom and marrying some wealthy schlub, she can earn the money.

Which brings us to Palm Beach. Gerry has run off and gotten a quickie divorce from Tom, to kickstart her financial plan. Tom, of course, follows her down there to win her back. It's there that they meet John D. Hackensacker (Vallee) and his sister (Mary Astor), heirs to a massive fortune who happen to also be unlucky in love.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out where this is going. Hackensacker falls madly in love with Gerry, and his sister likewise goes nuts for Tom (whom Gerry has introduced as her brother, the oddly-named Captain McGlew).

This is vintage Sturges. It's a wild farce, highlighted by falsely-assumed personalities (as in The Lady Eve) and unfortunate coincidental mistakes (as in Unfaithfully Yours). It's obviously shares a somewhat cynical view of marriage as an institution, and includes a good deal of class-conscious satire.

But it's really the dialogue that makes the movie. I think that's what Unfaithfully Yours is missing. I love the style, the music, the tone and the central Rex Harrison performance, but at times the language is a bit forced or awkward (although there is the occasional well-turned phrase). But all the characters in Palm Beach Story express themselves in interesting, clever and amusing ways. In particular, Mary Astor's fast-talking heiress is a delight, possibly inspiring the Maude Lebowski character (played by Julianne Moore) in the Coen Brothers Big Lebowski.

Most notable in terms of social commentary is the long travel sequence, when Gerry tries to get to Palm Beach despite having no money. She hitches a ride with a group of millionaire hunting enthusiasts known as the Ale and Quail Club. These rich old bastards are completely insane drunks, who cavalierly begin firing their rifles throughout the train after having too much to alcohol, with utter disregard for passenger safety.

At one point, they start harrassing a black porter (played by an actor unfortunately referred to be the nickname "Snowflake") and firing their guns at him. I bring this scene up, and the actor's race, because the scene carries a different dynamic than most other scenes involving black servants of the time. Usually, the black character is held up for scorn as a simpleton, but in this case, we're meant to sympathize with the unfortunate porter and to laugh at the self-involved, drunk and foolish old millionaires.

It's a rare instance in an old film of class consciousness (the average member of a 1942 movie audience could relate better to the day-to-day reality of a train porter than a millionaire) over racial consciousness. Interesting...

Anyway, these are both great movies. Sturges is among American comedy's absolute finest filmmakers, and now that Unfaithfully Yours is available on a pristine Criterion DVD hosted by ex-Monty Python member and overall smart guy Terry Jones, there's pretty much no excuse for not having seen it.

I Got Bros in Different Area Codes

While doing my laundry tonight, I've been catching up with friends all over the US, and even the world. My friend Tim called from Chicago, and we did the usual intensive 2 hour discussion on all things movie-related, followed by an equally intensive 5 minute discussion about what was actually going on in our personal lives. Then, I spoke with my friend Brooke, who's presently deep in the heart of Texas. She's having trouble falling asleep, it seems, so of course, she naturally thought speaking with me would do the trick.

I think it worked.

Anyway, I was just thinking about this because of Konrad, a very friendly German blogger who has taken to regularly visiting my blog. (Check out his own blog, Caballito del Diablo, right here!)

While I was speaking to Brooke, Konrad left a sympathetic comment on the below story, about how I accidentally washed my wallet along with a pair of pants a few hours ago.

Here's what kind of blew my mind about the whole thing. Konrad writes out of Nuremberg, Germany, and yet here he was, providing me with insight about an incident that occured only a few hours ago! Right here in LA, CA, USA! My wallet's not even dry yet, and already people in Germany have read a post about it and responded. That's kind of simultaneously a mundane and incredible occurance.

I mean, I don't even know Konrad. And yet, through the magic of blogging, we've made this connection across an ocean and 2 continents (if you count Germany as the Eastern portion of Europe). We both occasionally wash things accidentally (me a wallet, him a cell phone, and possibly a baby). Just kind of weird is all.

Maybe I just need to find more people in this city to talk to.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Wet Ones

On the Master List of Moronic Shit I Have Done, tonight's escapade of idiocy doesn't rank terribly high. I've told the readers of this blog before about the incident in which I dropped the only key to my company's new office down an elevator shaft. I talked about running out of gas on my way to a movie, and having to push my car up La Brea Blvd. Hell, for some bizarre reason, I even related the ludicrous drunken Christmas party anecdote.

Tonight isn't quite that stupid. But I did do something rather bumbling and idiotic, that for most people, would surely classify as among the stupider things you could do.

Tonight, I have placed my leather wallet, containing money and other important personal items, into a piping hot washing machine.

I'll back up a little. I'm always aggravated when trying to do laundry in my apartment building, because the other tenants like to take several days to complete a single load. Every time you go into the laundry room, there are clothes in both machines, but neither machine is running. People just go in, turn on the machines, and then don't return at the end of the cycle, essentially hogging the machines for 24 hours at a time, or more.

Now, I don't like to be rude. And I really don't like rooting through other people's semi-dirty underthings, like some fashion-conscious racoon. But, hey, I've got to get some laundry done. My room is starting to develop that odd inexplicable "dirty clothes funk." And once that shit appears, it lingers.

So, in my haste, tearing through the offending haberdashery and replacing it with my own personal clothing, I forgot to remove my wallet from the jeans I was wearing earlier today. I changed out of these jeans specifically so I could wash them. I haven't cleaned them in a while. A long while. In such a long while, the stains on them were beginning to exhibit signs of consciousness, and even personalities.

I thought of it about ten minutes later (while watching the documentary extra on the Persona DVD I had rented from Laser Blazer). Unfortunately, my roommates were in the front room, so I could not go about investigating my potential gaffe in secret, as I would have preferred. I had to announce officially: "I think I left my wallet in the jeans I just started washing." So, of course, when I retrieved my sopping wet accessory, I had to hold it up for all to see.

I have it in front of the fan now, hopefully drying out, though I suspect the wallet itself will not survive this incident. Fortunately, I'm not one of those jackasses who keeps all of my personal information in my wallet, so my Social Security Card remains safely stowed away in my room. (Although if asked to identify its actual specific location, I might find myself at a loss).

I do fear that my Proof of Insurance card will not make it through the night. Some of the ink has started to bleed.

In all honesty, I'm sort of amazed I've never made this particular mistake before. I guess it's because I don't do laundry too often, so I've just been postponing the inevitable.

Double Fantasia

My friend, who goes by the online pseudonym C. Babbitt, has ventured to Montreal this week for the FanTasia film festival. It's one of the many international film festivals I've always wanted to attend, a yearly gathering in Canada focusing on genre cinema (including anime, action, sci-fi and even some more straight-ahead dramas).

You can check out his coverage on Ain't It Cool News here, or the more extensive coverage from Mr. Babbitt and his lady friend on Cine Geeks. In particular, I'm curious about a film they have both reviewed entitled Mind Game. Any anime that earns comparison to David Lynch sounds good to me.

As I said, I've always wanted to go check out one of these film festivals, and just hang out for a week or so watching entirely too many movies. I've been to the Santa Barbara Film Festival, and attended some films from a variety of LA events, but I've never wanted to actually spend the money and the time to travel, just in order to see some movies.

It's this lack of commitment that keeps me from being a true full-blooded geek. I know people going to the San Diego Comic Convention this week as well, another event I'd probably enjoy if I could just get past my distaste for crowds and overall lack of enthusiasm for leaving my apartment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bush's Brain, or Lack Thereof

They call Karl Rove "Bush's Brain," but that's too kind. For one, Bush already has a brain in his head. It's just small and mushy from years of hard-living and substance abuse. And, let's be honest, it probably wasn't terrificaly large to begin with. Look at Jeb.

And the name likewise implies that Rove is some sort of mad genius, a behind the scenes Svengali figure who's got the whole system nailed. This is really too kind. Sure, Rove's kind of clever, in a sneaky, underhanded way, but he's hardly the Emperor Palpatine-like figure the press makes him out to be, planning his moves 5 steps ahead of everyone else like some sort of political Bobby Fischer.

Let me put it this way. Imagine when you go to the bar and everyone decides to play darts. Even if you're good at darts, you're not playing your best game at the bar - you're getting drunk, trying to talk to girls (or guys, as the case may be), deciding whether you'd prefer "Evenflow" or "Porch" on the jukebox, and so on. Except for that one friend who always takes the competition angle too seriously. That guy probably wins every time, because while everyone else is goofing off and having a good time, he's planning a strategy and working on his wrist movements.

Okay, Karl Rove is that guy. He's a cheater, and he's lame, and he'll do anything to win, and he's been studying demographics statistics since he was 16 for lack of anything better to do. Hey, maybe that's a low blow, but look at the guy.

You know he wasn't getting any action in high school. It would be like going out with Winnie the Pooh, except instead of searching the 100 Acre Wood for honey pots, you're organizing Voter Suppression Drives in Mobile, Alabama.

At this point, it's pretty obvious what Rove has done. Divide the country on social issues, and then convince the insane half to back his guy no matter what he actually does. That's it. Simple as that. Cause, you know, God hates fags and their attempts to intermarry.

This week, all those of us to detest Karl Rove has been treated to a rather delightful news break. It seems Karl, after nearly two years of denials, has finally been identified as the Valerie Plame leak.

A paragraph to bring you up to speed: Valerie Plame was a CIA agent investigating WMD's (an important topic, no?) Her husband was a former ambassador named Joseph Wilson. Wilson was sent on behalf of the CIA to do some research in Africa, as to the possibility of Iraq importing yellowcake uranium (for use in WMD's) from Nigeria.

Wilson came back and said that there was no interest from Iraq in this uranium. That went against Rove and Bush's plan to bomb the living fuck out of Iraq. So, they tried to discredit him by leaking to the conservative press the fact that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent and that she got him the job.

I guess they thought it would be embarrassing for Wilson to have everyone know that his wife got him a job. What's more embarrassing is that Karl Rove thinks scoring a cheap point off of a political foe was more important than protecting the identity of an undercover CIA agent. And what's even more embarrassing was that he was doing this as retribution for Wilson filing a 100% truthful report that went against Rove's plans to fund an illegal war.

I mean, man, that's evil. That's just pure unadulterated evil. Karl Rove is motivated by a strong lust for wealth and power and nothing else. Nothing. Most of us are motivated by a variety of factors, one of which is a lust for wealth and power. But Rove's missing all those other parts, like concern for his fellow man, or a desire to help those less fortunate, or, you know, sanity.

I think the White House assumed it could slither out of this fiasco no problem, as they always do when Democrats start telling Americans about the horrible stuff they do. It's always the same. It seems like this news may actually remain in the public eye for more than 24 hours this time, though, which has got to be of some concern to the Bushies.

My friend Matt called me this morning and stated unequivocally that Bush would have no choice but to fire Rove. He did, after all, promise to fire whomever was responsible for leaking the identity of Valerie Plame to the press way back in 2003. So now that we know it was Rove, Matt theorized, Bush has to fire him. It can't be spun.

Isn't he sweet? I wish I could be so optimistic. There problably was a time in America where, when the country was presented with convincing proof of a man's guilt, that he might be fired from a presidential administration. But those days are long gone. I fear the Republicans' strangehold on the American media dialogue will prevent anything from going to far.

Suffice it to say, I can't see Rove actually going down for this. He'll blame some underling or just continue to deny it in the face of all available evidence. I mean, Andrew Sullivan's still arguing on his blog that there was a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda! If he can still try to make that case stick, anything's possible.

But the best thing about this whole case? The press conference with Mouth of Sauron Scott McClellan the other day. Here's a complete transcript! Thanks, White House.Gov! Or you can check out the handily abbreviated version in Salon, that highlights the truly insane and egregious parts.

Scott's kind of been put in a corner now. For two years, he's been freely commenting on the Valerie Plame leak. He's said things like, "Karl Rove wasn't the leak," and "whoever is the leak will be fired" and so forth. Now that we all know the leak was Karl Rove (and, yes, we all know...they found dated e-mails from reporter Matt Cooper telling his editor he'd spoken with Karl Rove and confirmed his information that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent...), Scott obviously has nothing to say on the issue.

But he can't very well just say that he won't comment on the investigation, because he's been commenting for two years!

Q. At the very least, though, Scott, could you say whether or not you stand by your statement --

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I'll come back to you if I can.

Q. -- of September 29th, 2003, that it is simply not true that Karl Rove disclosed the identify of a CIA operative? Can you stand by that statement?

MR. McCLELLAN: John, I look forward to talking about this at some point, but it's not the appropriate time to talk about those questions while the investigation is continuing.

Oh, Scott, Scott...You can't speak about a quote of yours from 2003 because it concerns an ongoing investigation? For that statement to make sense, I think you'd have to invent a device capable of time travel.

[UPDATE: It's less than one hour after I initially published this article, and I have just seen the video confirming how the RNC and Rove plan to spin this latest revelation. Republican mouthpiece and noted complete moron John Gibson, of Fox News, said today on TV that Rove is a hero for revealing the identity of an undercover CIA operative.

Yes, a hero! Watch the video here.

See if you can follow Gibson's tortured non-logic.

  • The trip to Niger was important in determining the level of Hussein's commitment to WMD
  • Plame selected her husband Joseph Wilson to go write up a report
  • Plame knew that Wilson opposed the war
  • Therefore Plame knew that Wilson would deny an Iraqi connection, in order to avoid a war
  • Therefore Plame is guilty of endangering national security
  • Therefore Rove was correct to out Plame as an operative, to prevent her from further undermining America's overseas interests

Good luck selling that one in the sticks, John. It's so convoluted, I can barely follow it, and I just typed up a summary.

Anyway, I won the argument with Matt. He says it was unspinnable, and that sure looks like spin to me. And we only had that conversation this morning. They work fast, people.]

Million Dollar Baby

What a weird movie. Seriously. Million Dollar Baby is one of the most peculiar films ever to win a Best Picture. For about an hour, it's going along fine, a predictable Clint Eastwood crowd-pleasing chick boxing movie. This is Clint in his most mainstream mode, like when he decided to do that "old astronauts" piece of shit, or those movies where he'd sleep with a chimp. (Granted, he didn't direct those, but I'd be remiss writing a post about Clint Eastwood and not mentioning that he often performed with an ape named Clyde).

But it's not apes and their odd placement in Clint's bedroom that makes Baby odd. It's that the movie totally switches gears at 90 minutes in, changing from a folksy, kind of sappy but at least entertaining and focused boxing story into an overblown, tear-jerker social commentary melodrama hybrid. The film's an unruly beast with a tendency towards long close-ups of aging stars going a big gooey one over each other. Not so good.

Even more odd is the immensely strong critical and (to a lesser degree) popular reaction to the film, culminating in an Oscar win for Best Picture and a second win for Clint as Best Director. Plus, the guy won Best Actor! I mean, that's a very strong showing for what amounts to little more than a solid genre performer with an extended, bleak epilogue. Perhaps this subject matter just struck a chord with people, touched on something that's of great concern to Americans, but that isn't expressed often enough.

Okay, so before I go any further, I will ruin the end of the movie in this review. If you still haven't seen the fucker, rent it this week on DVD (it comes out today) and come back.

Okay, you're still here.

So, yeah, the whole thing's humming along fine up until the 90 minute mark. I can't say it's phenomenal or anything. Like I said, I find the whole thing a bit hokey, intentionally sentimental. In other words, nothing about the set-up for this film really rings true to me. The "Hit Pit," the gym owned by Frankie (Eastwood) and operated by Scrap, feels more like a movie setting than a real gym.

One reason is the writing by Paul Haggis. There isn't a single believable supporting character in this movie. The guys filling in the gym are either egregiously goofy yokels like the half-wit Danger (Jay Baruchel is a terrible, obnoxious performance) or stock movie jocks (Anthony Mackie). Though boxer Maggie Fitzgerald, the role for which Hilary Swank won her second Best Actress Oscar, is well-sketched and fully realized, her family is a bunch of silly redneck stereotypes.

And underhanded manager and promoter Mickey Mack practically oozes sleaze every moment he's on screen. Look at the guy's name. Mickey Mack. Think he's an honest, upstanding citizen?

That sort of crap makes it hard to take a movie seriously. Couple it with Freeman dispensing tired boxing axioms from the 1930's in voice-over and you get one seriously cornball set-up. But, as I said, the thing is extremely well-shot by cinematographer Tom Stern, well-acted for the most part, by the leads anyway, and the boxing scenes are crisp enough to satisfy.

It's not great, but it's enough. And then, the goddamn plane crashes into the mountain. Or, more literally, the goddamn boxer falls down on top of a stool and breaks her neck.

It's an odd scene. In particular, it's odd that Clint made the decision to fell Maggie by an illegal late hit, rather than through some accident during a regulation boxing round. It's just another example of him stacking the deck, rigging the outcome to make it more understandable, more sympathetic.

So, you've read this far, you know what happens. Maggie gets hurt, through absolutely no fault of her own. Things get worse and worse, her family turns its back on her, and on and on. Eventually, she asks Frankie to kill her and he, after some argument, obliges.

This material is sort of inherently dramatic and moving, so there's no question as to why it would appeal to Eastwood as a climax for his film. And Swank's good in the role, believably physically as a victim of paralysis and touching in her final scenes as Maggie, showing a brave face despite her intense anger and fear.

But in his desperation to wring every last drop of empathy out of Maggie's story, Clint goes way way way too far. He doesn't just paralyze his female lead on screen. He repeatedly shows her strapped to machines. He zooms in for close-ups on her bed sores. He shows a extended scene of hospital workers having to lift Maggie into her wheelchair. He then has her no-good family show up in California, only to visit all the theme parks before bothering to visit her in the hospital. And when they do visit, it's with a lawyer in tow, in a pathetic attempt to steal her boxing money.

So, yeah, things are looking grim for Maggie, which makes her decision to off herself more understandable, I guess, but not more meaningful. If Clint wanted to make a statement about someone's right to die with dignity, why does he have to make the person in question such a pathetic, miserable wretch?

I can't believe a guy who has been making movies this long made these kinds of rookie mistakes, and I can't believe big-time critics like Roger Ebert went out of their way to overlook the problems and call the movie a masterpiece. The last 20 minutes or so of Million Dollar Baby is an interminably long, maudlin, silly mess of a movie. For real.

And let's not even get into that end scene. Okay, fine, lets.

We come to find out that the entire film has been Scrap composing a letter to Frankie's long-lost daughter telling her what a swell guy he was. Then why does the letter include a silly sub-plot about Danger? How does Scrap even know about Frankie's private conversations with his preist (Bryan O'Byrne), who by the way, happens to be the Worst Preist Ever? He's the kind of preist that gets pissed when Frankie has theological questions, and tells him to stop coming to Mass, then tells him that killing his friend out of mercy would be worse than anything else he even theoretically could have done in his entire life.

What a guy. It's too bad they already coronated Joey Ratz the new pope.

Oh, and most obviously, why would Scrap write a letter to Frankie's long-lost daughter, a daughter he's never even gotten a chance to know, about some woman boxer her dad represented? Wouldn't this theoretical daughter want to know stuff about her dad, not some chick he worked with who broke her neck?

Let's sum up this letter briefly.

"Dear So-and-So,

My name's Scrap. I'm a good friend of your Daddy's. I used to be a boxer myself, and your Daddy was my cut-man, which means that he stuck Q-tips in my wounds so they'd stop bleeding, so I could keep on fighting. One time, I was getting punched in the eye and your Daddy didn't stop the fight, and I wound up losing my sight in that eye. Now I clean the toilets in your Dad's gym. It's a-ight.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you this story about the dad you never knew. He once trained this hillbilly girl with a rotten, evil redneck family to box. She was pretty good, but when she got to a title fight, the champion was a real bitch who hit her after the bell rang, and knocked her into a stool where she got paralyzed. Then your dad unplugged her machines.

Then your dad disappeared. I don't know where he is, but he does like lemon pie, so he's probably off in some diner eating that somewhere. And thinking about you. And that girl he killed cause she was paralyzed.

Oh, and there was this dork who hung out in the gym who was getting beat up one day, and I jumped into the ring and saved him, even though I look old enough to be his great-great-grandfather.

I think that's about all I wanted to say...Yeah, that's it.

Oh, and if you hear from your dad before I do, tell him to call me because I can't find where he left the key to the laundry room.

Your friend,

Monday, July 11, 2005

Things I Have Seen on TV This Week

1. Janice Dickinson spazzing out after being hugged by Bronson Pinchot on the "Surreal Life 5" premiere.

The new "Surreal Life" cast is pretty sweet. Jose Canseco, Pepa, um, some snowboarding dude or whatever...But the highlights are obviously going to be Omarosa from "The Apprentice," Balki from "Perfect Strangers" and this hideous collagen experiment-gone-wrong, best known to Americans for pretending to be a former supermodel on "America's Next Top Model."

I'm not sure exactly what combination of drugs they have Janice Dickinson on, but whatever it is, it's working. The woman may be slowly losing her grip on reality (okay, not actually all that slowly), but man, her livid rejection of any physical contact from Mypos' favorite son was great TV!

VH1 is to be commended, I think, for actively recruiting mentally ill celebrities for their reality shows. It's a trend more networks need to get behind (and with Bravo introducing "Being Bobby Brown" last month, can more be far behind?)

2. New Family Guy

I'm just still kind of spazzily excited that "Family Guy" is back and that it's still really good. How is it that Seth MacFarlane and his entire crew can go out of production for 4 years, come back and still stay incredibly fresh, whereas Lorne Michaels can't find one funny guy to come in and write funny "Saturday Night Live" sketches in all that time? Hell, Lorne Michaels hasn't found a funny guy to write for that show in over a decade. Hire some of Seth MacFarlane's people, dumbass!

3. The Andy Milonakis Show

This guy had me totally fooled. I thoguht he was a kid. I mean, look at that picture! He looks 13!

The guy was born in 1976. He's officially two years older than me. Check out his IMDB page. I would think he must have some kind of condition that causes him to appear so young, but I couldn't find anything specific about it on the Net. Maybe he's just really immature looking, and his overweightness just resembles baby fat.

Whatever the reason, he's hilarious. Milonakis got his start making stupid, silly videos with his webcam. He would dance around or freestyle rap, or sometimes they'd just be surreal little skits. Anyway, he became kind of an Internet phenomenon, and since Jimmy Kimmel steals a good deal of his material from goofy websites anyway, he figured he'd just eliminate the middle man and give Milonakis his own MTV2 show.

It's great - trippy as hell, weird and just juvenile enough to be funny, but not so juvenile that it gets tiresome fast. Let me put it to you this way...the show could conceivably have been created by a 13 year old, but he would have to be an immensely cool, smart and precocious 13 year old.

4. Six Feet Under

The best HBO series, like "Sopranos" or "Deadwood" or this one, build slow over the course of a season. There's always a point, about halfway through a run of episodes, where you start to think, "This season is boring! Last season was so exciting! Why won't anything happen?" And then the final 3 or 4 episodes are packed with incident and very satisfying.

But, still, this year "Six Feet Under" kind of sucks. I just don't care about anything that's happening, really. At all. And the show has really gotten repetitive. How many times can we see demure Ruth start to come out of her shell around her sister's wacky bohemian friends? Or see Nate panicking when he feels he's getting too immersed in a stable relationship? Or see Billy fly off the handle and threaten someone physically? It's just getting tired.

I'll stick with this show, because it's almost over, but unless something really majorly exciting goes down in the next few weeks, this season will have been a disappointment. And you never want to end a series with a disappointment.

Just like you never want to end a column about TV with a boring diatribe about some soap opera. Which is why I'll instead end with...

5. The Final Howard Stern E! Show

At my old job, I worked in the cubicle right next to this really obnoxious HR girl. Anyway, we once overheard her talking to a co-worker about her favorite show, "Friends," and how she'd been watching it for so long, she felt like Rachel and Phoebe and Chandler really were her friends.

A lot of us down at the subtitle plant thought that was really hilarious and sad. I mean, someone who felt some sort of genuine emotional connection to Matthew Perry? Is such a thing even possible?

But then, that's kind of how I feel about the cast of "The Howard Stern Show," even though I've never met any of them in person. I've been listening to that show in the morning, off and on, since high school. It's just very much ingrained in my morning ritual to hear Howard and Robin and Fred and Gary.

I never watched the E! show religiously, often because it was just a rehash of bits I'd already heard during my morning commute. But I do like watching it at times - there's something uncanny about listening to the show on the radio and visualizing it in your head, and then watching what actually happened weeks later on late-night television. It's really like two different shows, even though at this point, even when listening, I have a general idea of what everyone looks like and what's going on in the studio.

Here's hoping that when Howard moves to Sirius, the TV broadcast moves to Showtime or HBO or some channel capable of conveying the new show in all its smutty glory. Actually, let's go wtih HBO over Showtime, because I can't subscribe to any station that's going to air "Fat Actress." I won't have my hard-earned dollars supporting non-entertainment like that.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

On the Set

Today, they were shooting a commercial at the Subway restaurant right next to Laser Blazer. I can't see why they'd choose that particular Subway, personally. It's kind of small, and it's located on a rather unglamorous corner of Pico Blvd. in Rancho Park. It's hardly the sort of ideal, suburban Subway you'd imagine them choosing to highlight in a national TV spot.

But there the trucks were, early this morning. I've been to a few movie and TV sets, and I'm always surprised at the sheer number of people required to obtain relatively simple footage of things like, say, the exterior of a Subway restaurant. There were at least 75 people milling about the Subway this morning in front of our store, and only 5 or 6 seemed involved in some specific task. The rest were hanging out in some sort of daze, listening languidly to their walkie-talkies on the off-chance someone important actually needed them to provide a service, such as adjusting a reflective screen to concentrate more sunlight, or going down to Starbucks for more macchiatos.

The other thing you notice about LA whenever anything is being shot on the streets...As soon as a citizen of this city comes within 100 yards of filmmaking equipment, he starts thinking he's David O. Selznick.

"What are they shooting over here?," they're prone to ask. "They getting good coverage on the back of that Subway? I think I saw a crane back there...what kind of rigging are they using? With it be 35 mm film or a more standard 16? What about the aperture? That is a word, right? Aperture?"

It's retarded. I must have said the phrase "they're just filming a Subway commercial next door" 100 times today. And the phrase "No, I haven't seen Jared" immediately after 75 of those times.

I was thankful the film crew was around, though, about halfway through the day. My car wouldn't start, you see. It was making this pathetic noise when I turned the key in the ignition, like a car that wanted to start but just couldn't muster the strength. If it had been a cartoon car, it would have looked like Benny the Cab immediately after he's been Dipped at the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Anyway, some helpful, friendly crew member, who just happened to be passing by the pathetic spectacle of a small, non-mechanically-inclined Jew hopelessly turning the ignition of a Dipped car, managed to give me a jump start. But only after noticing that my battery was secreting some kind of goo-like substance that, from what I understand, immediately took off chasing Steve McQueen down Pico Blvd., headed for parts unknown.

Seriously, though, crud was coming out of the battery. I went to touch it, and then realized that I'm an idiot, and you shouldn't ever touch anything that has just leaked out of a dead car battery. I ended up touching it anyway. Then the helpful crew guy got me a rag, and told me not to wipe it on my pants.

So everything worked out. I still need a new car battery, and my mother called to warn me that my car could now die on me at any time so I really ought to start worrying intensely about it. I'll have to go get a new car battery tomorrow morning before work. (Oh boy! A costly early-morning errand!)

But at least I wasn't stranded in the parking lot behind Laser Blazer, along with the creepy shirtless guy who lives in his van back there. I wish I were making that up, but I'm not. There is a creepy shirtless guy who lives in a red van in the parking lot behind Laser Blazer. Sometimes he barbecues hamburgers back there, next to his van, and I contemplate why a shirtless guy living in a van gets to eat better than I do. Then, I go and start my shift.

My Brain is Full

That headline's a reference to an old Far Side cartoon. This one:

Unfortunately, my brain isn't full from excessive learning. It's full of stupid crap from movies and TV shows that I can recall with perfect clarity.

For real. Out of everyone I know, I probably have the best overall ability to recall random, obscure dialogue from movies and TV. There is one other guy, Chuck, who can do this very well, as I've mentioned before on this blog, but even though he has a greater range of material from which he can recall quotations, I believe my brain has more depth.

In other words, he can pull a quote out of his ass from all manner of obscure Canadian comedy troupes, but I know every word to movies like Three Amigos and Clerks.

Unfortunately, my capacity for inane scripted blather doesn't stop at mere movie quotes. It extends to all kinds of weird shit I saw as a child and haven't even rewatched. I don't want to freak any of you out, but sometimes I wake up in the morning with some old song in my head that I haven't heard since I was a child, and sometimes I can't get it out of my mind all day.

Stupid songs, like things from "Sesame Street." For example, just today I woke up remembering for whatever reason an old "Sesame Street" sketch in which a shady salesman in a trenchcoat is attempting to sell a letter "O" (literally, a O made of muppet felt) to an unsuspecting passer-by. The lyrics to the song, as I recall, go "So buy the 'O' and take it home...tonight."

Now that's weird. I know those songs are written to be catchy, so kids remember to associate the symbol 'O' with the letter O. I get that. But it's 20 years later. And sometimes, I forget to wear socks. So how is it that I remember the entire Letter O "Sesame Street" song?

Basically, I really want to find out if everyone my age has these kinds of oddball childhood memories, or if I genuinely am wasting 90% of my brain power on these jingles. So I created, only from memory, a quiz based on songs I have stuck in my head.

I have entitled this quiz "Recollections from my Misspent Youth," and it's available at this link on the website "quiz your friends." It's only 10 questions, and there's only 2 pop-up ads on the site, so it's really not a huge ordeal to go through. Give it a try, and see how much of a total lame-o you were as a ten year old by how many of these songs you remember.

The way the quiz works, I'll give you a lyric from some dumb jingle or old tune. Then I'll give you four possible sources for that lyric or quote. Maybe a TV show. Maybe a movie. Maybe, even, a commercial if I'm feeling really tricksy. See how you do!

Take the Quiz