Saturday, September 03, 2005

What? Too Soon?

The American Family Organization (AFA) is one of the largest organizations representing what is known as the "Religious Right." Their newspaper is called Agape Press. I don't know why. I'm sure it's some obscure Bible reference: "And the awesomeness that was Jesus did leave their mouths agape with wonder and their sandals wet with distasteful mid-summer Hebrew toe sweat - Frank 45:16"

Anyway, check out this article from Agape Press today, in which several Louisiana Christian leaders are interviewed about their responses to Hurricane Katrina. Most say what you'd expect - that the event is a horrible tragedy, but that God's mercy prevented it from being far worse.

Silly, but fair enough. At least it sounds vaguely Christian, like something a rational Christian might conclude. Who knows why God wiped some of us out, but he spared most of us, and that's something.

But check out Crushed By Inertia's new favorite Wacko Southern Pastor, Bill Shanks of the New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans. He takes a slightly different view:

Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.

The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as "Southern Decadence" -- an annual six-day "gay pride" event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.

Oh, of course! God was so upset about women showing off their boobs in exchange for beads and trinkets, he flooded the city and murdered thousands. What a swell diety. He was all, "What? Fags are parading and college girls are flashing their tits at Doug Stanhope and Snoop Dogg? Flood them!"

God always speaks in italics.

“New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."

What logic! St. Augustine has nothing on Billy Shanks. (He sounds like the dopey hillbilly cellmate of the main character in some old 40's prison movie..."This is yer new roommate, Billy Shanks. He just a kid, but he done shot a clerk in the foot trying to get away with a can of pomade and some mash bourbon.")

God went ahead and killed a lot of the poor pregnant people, so now they can't get abortions. Brilliant! Also, "the witchcraft workers"? Does he mean voodoo? Is this guy really so out of it, he thinks God caused a hurricane to wipe out a few old ladies cutting up chickens in a cemetary somewhere?

I think we should construct a 10-foot by 10-foot pit, fill it with deadly vipers and venemous spiders and then drop ol' Bill Shanks in there. If he gets bit repeatedly, well, it must be God punishing him for his wickedness. Because there certainly couldn't be any other explanation, right?

Believers, he says, are God's "authorized representatives on the face of the Earth" and should say they "don't want unrighteous men in office," for example. In addition, he says Christians should not hesitate to voice their opinions about such things as abortion, prayer, and homosexual marriage. "We don't want a Supreme Court that is going to say it's all right to kill little boys and girls, ... it's all right to take prayer out of schools, and it's all right to legalize sodomy, opening the door for same-sex marriage and all of that.”

Bill Shanks has got to be a closet homo, right? I mean, this guy is so hung up on gay guys, he's still talking about it only a few days after his whole goddamn city was destroyed. Decimated. This guy is the pastor for a Church in a ghost town, and he's still ranting and yammering about how the gays want to parade around to celebrate their gayness.

That kind of obsession can only be borne of intense self-hatred. Bill Shanks, I'm on to you, man.

[Thanks to Americablog for finding this sicko.]

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ow Ow Ow Ow Ow

It's been all-Katrina all-the-time around CBI for the past few days, so I kind of feel like shifting gears. Not that Katrina is "all better," which seems to me to be the way the major networks are reporting the story. Yahoo's got a photo of a black woman shrouded in an American flag with the headline "National Guard Finally Arrives," which gives the impression that they've swooped in and saved everyone, when really all that's different is a few more guys have been assigned to "floating dead guy" duty.

But the point of this post wasn't to talk about the horrors of Hurricane Katrina. I wanted to take a break and discuss something light-hearted.

Like penis-pinching swimwear.

Here's blogger Riding Sun, a New Yorker living in Tokyo, with the details:

Fast Retailing Co., which operates Japan's Uniqlo casual clothing store chain, said it will recall swimsuits for boys after six injuries were reported.

The inner mesh of the suits pinches the skin of the penis, the company said in a statement.

Fast Retailing sold 50,090 of the suits in 2004 betweenApril 17 and Aug. 31. The company will repay customers.

Don't they have a single person try on the new product design before they start actually producing bathing suits? If so, how could this guy have possibly failed to alert the designers that the suit actively pinched his penis.

That's the very first thing I would bring up. If I tried on a bathing suit that was tight around the schlong (and, despite the massive, ungainly, almost superhuman size of my member, it has never happened), I doubt I'd even finish putting it on before pulling it off.

"Hey, not so fast. This bathing suit is pinching my penis," I'd say, and then I'd frown in disapproval. "Bad Japanese designers! Bad!"

I never liked the whole mesh inside the bathing suit concept anyway. Why can't a bathing suit just be like a regular pair of pants except, you know, they can get wet. Why do you need this little testicle hammock in there? What function is the testicle hammock serving?

I mean, I guess you could argue that, should your bathing suit get wet and roll up, without the mesh interior, you'd be in grave danger of showing off your twig and berries to any potential passers-by. But does the mesh interior really prevent this problem? Or does it just result in you showing off your genitals while they're encased in some fibrous netting. Is that less embarrassing?

It doesn't really matter to me, because it has been years since I've even put on a bathing suit. That's true, 100% true. I don't even recall the last time I went swimming, or even put on a swimsuit. I don't really have access to a pool. Are there even public pools in LA? If so, I've never seen one. And I would never go to one because I'd hate to think of what sort of exotic diseases might be festering in a public-use pool here in Los Angeles. Public pools in LA would be the Baskin Robbins of STD's - 31 varieties.

Plus, pools are always filled with young children, and I spend most of my time avoiding contact with children already. Believe me, I get more than my fill of the little bastards between Sunday afternoons at the video store and living in my apartment building.

You should see this place in the summer. It's insane. You thought New Orleans was a lawless, desolate wasteland...You should see my driveway. (Too soon?) It's like "Lord of the Flies" here, only far less civilized.

So, I avoid pools, which means I don't often wear swimsuits, which is probably why I'm mystified by the ball hammock. But not mystified enough to actually go around asking guys why they want netting around their nuts. Cause that would be kind of gay.

Blood Sucker

There's a mosquito in my room. I'm not 100% sure how he got in here, or where he hides all day while I'm hanging out, because I've never actually seen him. But I know he's here, because he's sucking out all of my precious bodily fluids by night.

Each morning for the past several days, I have awoken with itchy spots all over my feet and legs. Now, I know what you're thinking...he's cleverly hiding beneath my sheets! I thought of that already, and changed them (for the first time since the Clinton Administration). Still being eaten alive. In fact, I think my moving stuff around only enraged the mosquito further, because this morning I woke up and he had stung me behind the ear.

Behind the fucking ear, can you believe that? How did he sneak up on me without waking me up? I mean, his wings are flapping, like, 100 times a second. It gives off a distinctive hum, which might not be that loud unless the damn thing was doing it from my inner ear. I had no idea I could sleep so soundly. I gotta stop chugging that rubbing alcohol before going to bed.

Anyway, he must be a particularly crafty insect, because I've scoured the room and can't find him. But I know he's here. It's amazing that something so small could terrorize me like this, and yet, here we are. This must be how Dr. Livingston felt.

And Somehow, Cuba Manages

to do what we can't.

To be honest, this hadn't even occured to me. But Cuba is hit by hurricanes all the time, right? Yet you never hear about thousands of Cubans dying or see images of corpses floating down the streets of Havana.

And, I mean, this is Cuba. This is clearly a country that doesn't have our resources. And hasn't quite "figured it out" as a nation, you know? If your country is internationally famous for cigars, horse meat and prostitution, you've got some fucking problems. [Okay, and Desi Arnaz and plantanes and the Buena Vista Social Club.]

Huffington Post blogger and PR woman Linda Cronin-Gross chimes in with an interesting little post about how Cuba dealt with Hurricane Dennis a few months back. I'm not sure as to the veracity of this post. She's claiming that Cuba was able to manage a massive hurricane without much trouble, which seems a highly specious argument to make. But until I hear otherwise, I will assume she knows what she's talking about.

It was going to be a pretty severe storm, Hurricane Dennis, so 1.7 million people were evacuated.

Only 1.3 million people, for perspective, live in New Orleans, LA.

And Cuba managed it. How? What magic secrets did they use? Here are a few examples:

  • People know ahead of time where they are to go. (just like in New Orleans, right?)
  • If there’s no electricity, communication about what’s to be done is maintained by “runners” who fan out from a main headquarters to central locations.
  • People are not only evacuated; they know beforehand where they will go. And pickup and delivery of people is also arranged ahead of time.
  • Cuban doctors evacuate together with their neighborhood, and already know, for example, who needs insulin.
  • They allow people to leave with items such as TV sets and refrigerators, so that people aren't reluctant to leave because they’re afraid their most needed items will be lost or stolen.

You know, common sense policies dictated by the needs of the local population. Instead of guys going on TV and telling you to get the hell out. My roommate Nathan and I discussed this last night - how come there weren't constant free buses going all over the city shuttling people out? What's all this "hey, you really should leave" stuff?

As someone for whom living paycheck-to-paycheck is a daily reality, let me tell you...Even I, a white male from a solidly upper-middle class family, do not always have enough cash on hand to fill up my car with gas for a long trip. Granted, I have decent credit, but without credit cards...I'd be hoofing it on occasion.

But I'm a single, 20-something guy. If the call came down to flee Los Angeles - say if Mothra was headed our way - I'd do what needed to be done in order for me to get the fuck out of Dodge. But if I had a wife and a couple young kids? Or an elderly relative who couldn't make a long bus trip and needed insulin? Or all my money and life tied up in my home and the few possessions there? I probably wouldn't want to leave.

But in Cuba, I'd have had people banging on my door telling me the bus was on its way to ship me out of town. I'd have time to pack up some valuables, to make me feel a bit more secure. I could make sure my relatives had similar arrangements. And, you know, there's a free bus coming for me, and people who will notice if I'm missing.

It's obvious New Orelans had no such system. And it's not like this is some place that's never been hit by a hurricane before. Surely they had to know the possibility was out there?

And we're talking about Cuba here. Have you seen images of Cuba lately? It's not exactly a model of modern efficiency. [I don't want to harp on Cuba, which has been economically and socially ravaged largely because of a cruel American embargo, similar in result to the one we had in place in Iraq before just giving up on that and just bombing them repeatedly].

So no more of this "it's no one's fault...hurricans are just deadly..." stuff, please. Hurricane Katrina would have been devastating to New Orleans regardless, bringing about casualties and massive property damage. But the current humanitarian crisis there is shameful and unacceptable, and I don't think it's too early to start discussing what went wrong.

The Danger Zone

Take a look at this picture, a freeze-frame of CNN this morning. It's a photo op held by the President this morning. (Thank you to Think Progress for grabbing it off TV and posting it).

Cause he's vi-si-ting the Danger Zone
Stopping by the Danger Zone
(Where's the) Highway out of...THE DANGER ZONE!

Aw, isn't that nice? George dropped by to tell the Coast Guard he's, like, totally super proud of the great job they sort of did over the last couple of days and...

Wait a minute. What are all these helicopters and Coast Guard guys doing hanging out in a hangar with George? Shouldn't they be, oh, I don't know...rescuing the 100,000 people trapped in that Louisiana pit of Hell? Guys, suit up! Let's get a move on! The Chimp-in-Chief can wait a few minutes while you save the lives of a few babies, you know?

I mean, I'm all for cheesy, feel-good photo ops in which politicians opportunistically use recent tragedies and the sacrifices of brave Americans on the front lines for cheap publicity, but...Actually, I take that back. I'm against cheesy feel-good photo ops in which politicians opportunistically use recent tragedies and the sacrifices of brave Americans on the front lines for cheap publicity. But it's especially wrong when they do it while the tragedy is still going on.

This would be like Bush presenting a plaque to a New York Fire Station before the second tower came down. Like having a bullshit 20 minute meeting where he blows off Cindy Sheehan before her son dies in combat. Like appearing after the Iraq War has barely begun on a carrier in a flight suit in front of a big banner that reads "Mission Accomplished." Oh, wait...

It's a good thing he's not running for president again any time soon, or we'd be treated to inspiring montages of this visit to the Coast Guard along with lilting Kenny Loggins music at the next Republican Convention.

"The way the Prez-o-dent stood up on that helicopter pad and told Hurricane Katrina to kiss his ass, well, it was very inspiring for me. It made it not so bad that my entire family what drowned in toxic water before my eyes following the breach of a levee scheduled for repair in 2003, the funds for which were diverted to a war on terrists what live in Iraq."

"I love George Bush. He gave me a handshake and humored me for a few minutes before getting back on his plane and slashing my retirement benefits by 25%."

Cut to a shot of George playing catch with some Coast Guard guys, all smiles.

"I'm George Bush, and I approve this reflected glory...I mean, message."

[UPDATE: The White House website actually has the text of the entire "thank you Coast Guard" speech. Check this part out - helpfully flagged by Atrios. It's stunning, really stunning:

We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch. (Laughter.)

You see, folks, don't be upset...Trent Lott's new house is going to be fucking sweet. A deck, an indoor grill, and at least 2 plasma screens up in that bitch, I'm guessing. You'll see it all on the 2007 Fall Premiere of MTV's "Cribs."

Our president is a sociopath, that's it. He's utterly incapable of sympathizing with another human being for five minutes. Americans aren't upset because guys like Trent Lott will have to live in one of their other five homes while the Gulf Coast is rebuilt. They are upset because people are dying right now in the streets of New Orleans, amidst rivers made up of their own feces and the rotting corpses of their friends and neighbors, you fucking goon!

I also like this little bit here:

Now, I also want to say something about the compassion of the people of Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana and surrounding states. I want to thank you for your compassion. Now is the time to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourselves.

He's eloquent, he is. I don't think my neighbors want me to "love them" as I'd like to be loved myself. In fact, I would likely be arrested if I tried. These people are Catholic!]

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What's the Over/Under?

It's a column we've started on that other website...the website I've been seeing secretly on the side...But, I swear, it means nothing to me, okay? Nothing. It's just a column, nothing more.

Anyway, over at Cinegeeks, I started a column called Over/Under that's gaining some steam. The concept is simple: I choose a movie that's overrated. Preferably something that's beloved by a lot of people, so the article will piss them off and cause argument. At least 50% of the things I write on that site are designed to anger movie geeks. Not that I write things I don't agree with - I just select my own most radical, fringe opinions and run with them.

Then I choose another movie, something with some relation back to the original film, that I feel is underrated. So by pairing the two together, it's a good way to review two movies at once, and give people some perspective on where I'm coming from, film opinion wise.

For example, last week, I bashed the hell out of Garden State and recommended Buffalo '66 in its stead. The word was, some of the other Cinegeeks were not pleased by my choice of topic, but that's kind of the whole point of calling a movie "overrated," right? Too many people like it!

This week, I've tackled two Spielberg films. Overrated: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Underrated: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

I love Temple of Doom, probably a little bit more because everyone else seems to hate it. Even Steven Spielberg and George Lucas hate it now, bashing it incessantly on the DVD Special Features. The Beard basically says he wishes he could take the movie back and rework it, making it less scary, creepy and offensive and more family-friendly. What utter tripe.

He might as well just replace all the guns in E.T. with walkie-talkies and...oh, yeah, right...

My friend Sanjeev once told me the movie was offensive to Indian people. Maybe I'm an insensitive prick, but it doesn't seem that bad to me. Sure, it's stereotypical. It shows Indian culture as being, in some ways, a bit barbaric and primitive, even though great pains are taken to differentiate the murderous Thuggee cult with the good, noble Hindus who oppose it.

But a lot of movies stereotype international locales, including the first and third Indy movies, and no one accuses them of racism. Temple of Doom in many ways references the classic adventure film Gunga Din, which certainly does have racist elements in play. I'm not saying that it excuses Temple of Doom, but I am suggesting that the cartoonish exaggerations of some of the villains of the film are more a stylistic choice than an attack on the Hindu religion.

And as for the dinner party scene...hey, Asian cultural dishes contain a lot of animals Americans don't eat, and we kind of find that gross. It's not really so upsetting, is it?

I don't know...I tend to get in trouble here on the blog when I casually dismiss complaints of racism. I guess enough people are offended by Temple of Doom to make the point at least partially valid, so I'll concede it. But I certainly think the movie's defensible and entertaining as hell, far more lively and fun than the turgid and rote third installment, with Sean Connery as Indy's father proving the only real highlight.

To make this week's Over/Under feature doubly fascinating, the site's chief editor Ari wrote his own Spielberg-themed Over/Under. I greatly disagree with his thesis - that the underrated A.I. far outstrips the sci-fi/action masterpiece Minority Report - but check it out anyway, if only so you can leave snarky comments agreeing with my point of view in the comments section below.

Anyway, if you want to read more of this sort of blather, check out the article. And check out the whole site, as a matter of fact, cause it's cool and we're just starting out and need the traffic.

More on Katrina

I just can't stop reading about what's going on in New Orleans right now. It's like some post-apocalyptic American nightmare happening where a proud city of 1.3 million once stood.

I didn't really know how it all worked before, never having been to Louisiana, but apparently the City of New Orleans is organized as something of a bowl. Around the city, on high ground, are levees designed to keep water out, while the most-populated areas of the inner city are low-lying. So now that the levees are being overrun, basically, the bowl is filling with water.

And it's not just water, either, but undrinkable, unswimmable toxic water. Toxic because of all the spilled chemicals and...shudder...rotting flesh in it.

Martial law has been declared down there. It's apparently something of a crazed dystopian End Times chaotic free-for-all.

So how can you not write about that incessantly on your blog?

August J. Pollack makes many great points on this post, possibly the best I have read yet about the socio-political causes and implications of Katrina.

He first points out that Katrina is far, far worse than any act of terrorism ever committed against the United States, and even makes the point that this devastation somewhat lines up with the fallout we've always feared from a nuclear device. Infrastructure is damaged, the city is uninhabitable, mass chaos has broken out, thousands are dead, thousands more are missing (including Fats Domino!).

It's going to take months before many parts of New Orleans have power and running water. Months. MONTHS. Now, bearing in mind that the more well-to-do affluent neighborhoods tend to be located along the higher-ground portions of the city, how are all of these poor inner-city New Orleansians (New Orleanders? New Orleans residents?) supposed to relocate?

Here's unbelievable nitwit Michael Chertoff, head of your Department of Homeland Security on NBC's "Today" today!

"The critical thing was to get people out of there before the disaster. Some people chose not to obey that order. That was a mistake on their part."

I'll repeat again: YOU CAN'T EVEN SWIM OUT. There aren't buses taking these people out of the city, and even if they could get out of the city, where would they go? What if they don't have wealthy relatives who can take them in, and can't afford a stay in the Shreveport Motel 6?

Atrios reports this from CNN this afternoon:

There are thousands of people just laying in the street. They have nowhere to go. These are mothers. We saw mothers. We talked to mothers holding babies. Some of these babies are 3, 4, 5, months old living in these horrible conditions. Putrid food on the ground. Sewage, their feet sitting in sewage. We saw feces on the ground. These people are being forced to live like animals. When you look at some of these mothers your heart just breaks. We're not talking about a few families or a few hundred families. Thousands of people are gathered around the convention [center].

Unimaginable...Seriously. I can't even imagine what I would do in this situation. Curl up into the fetal position (trying to avoid water-borne feces) and rock back and forth until it was over, most likely.

August continues by pointing out that all the National Guard troops from Louisiana and Mississippi who are serving in Iraq right now (about 6,000 men and women) could be helping out here at home. After all, wasn't the whole point of going to Iraq in the first place to prevent devastation from coming home to a major US city.

Guess what's going on right now in a major US city?

And I understand that right-wingers and conservatives alike are going to savage this- "how dare I blame the President." And if any of them even remotely opened a history book a day in their lives they would realize the correct statement is "how dare we not?" If you condensed every single official duty of the President of the United States into a list of perhaps four or five things, taking responsibility and management of his or her own citizen's welfare would be one of them. And on that topic the President has- not just in the last 36 hours but by the last 36 months- totally failed at this.
And it isn't just the lack of manpower that's hurting efforts to aid some of these unfortunates. It's the lack of financial resources in the months leading up to Hurricane Katrina. Arianna on HuffPo links to this crucial article from Editor & Publisher:

In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness. On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

Oh, man...Doesn't that make you angry? Devastation of this magnitude may not have been fait accompli. Certainly, there would have been massive damage either way, but right now there is a 2-block hole in the levee that is pouring water into a populated area of New Orleans. Maybe we could have sealed that up extra-tight if everyone hadn't been busy in Tikrit, you know?

The Water is Rising

Because I don't believe in any major world religion, I basically reject the idea of an "end of the world" event. Not that humanity is going to live on forever or anything...I predict we'll basically die off a lot sooner than we think. Probably some sort of massive plague or virus, but as we've seen this week, it doesn't really take nature a whole lot of effort to knock large portions of us off.

No, I don't think we've inherited the Earth for all time or anything. I just think the world won't end in some Biblical maelstrom of death, during which the seas will boil and the skies fall and the moon becomes as red as blood. (I don't know if that's really what's in Revelations...It's the description of the End of the World in Ghostbusters).

But here's something I'm struck by this week, as we all stop to ponder the horror Hurricane Katrina has brought down on the Gulf Coast. I don't believe that Hurricane Katrina has any religious or spiritual significance - it's just one of those things, a natural disaster for which New Orleans and Mississippi were apparently unprepared.

But if you're Born Again, if you literally believe that the End of the World is coming any day, Katrina might not look like just another one of those things...In a year in which we also saw an immense and horrific tsunami hit Asia, in a year during which a war in the Holy Land pits Western troops versus Eastern guerillas, in a year during which gay people are actually trying to get married, George Bush might look out the window expecting to see The Rapture at any minute.

Cause, let's face it, if there WAS going to be an End of the World, it might look something like this:

"The Water is Rising Pleas"...that kind of says it all, doesn't it. I'll totally level with you all. Even though I'm sure you all think of me as a really macho individual, I actually started to well up when I saw this picture. I know anything's possible, that Mother Nature can just ruin everything that humans create, but to see a photo like that taken right here in America, featuring my fellow Americans...It's a hard reality to face, that we are no more safe from this sort of tragedy than anyone else.

Or check out this photo:

That's outside the New Orleans Convention Center. People have gathered here to wait for transportation out of the city (that isn't coming). This man apparently died while waiting in line, and now another man (holding a baby) is gesturing at his corpse for a camera.

That is SUCH an End of the World kind of picture. Seriously, if you asked me, "what will the subjects be of the last photos ever taken?" I would respond "either Arnold Schwartzenegger being crowned King of Planet Earth or a guy, cradling an infant, pointing to a dead guy."

Final image of End Times-style Katrina damage:

That's an entire NO neighborhood, under water. What if everything you owned, and possibly several family members, were suddenly submerged in stagnant, corpse-and-bacteria-laden flood waters? It would probably feel like the End of the World, even if you had some rational perspective on the matter.

So how does a guy like our President, a Born Again Christian lacking any sort of rational perspective, view this event?

"Oh, man, I hope Jesus can find me on this plane. Thank God it has got Air Force One written on it, so he at least knows which plane to immediately escort up to Heaven before unleashing his remaining wrath on the world. Hey, is that a Wal-Mart down there? Maybe I ought to stop off and loot me some new brush-clearin' gloves. Probably gonna need those..."

Okay, so maybe he wasn't saying that. This was, according to the Associated Press, what his actual spoken reaction was:

"It's devastating. It's got to be doubly devastating on the ground."

The people on the ground probably were more than 2x as devastated as Georgie on the plane, I'd wager. It might even be triply devastating on the ground! But, whatever, he's not well-spoken. We know.

Over at HuffPo, Arianna Huffington uses this concept as a metaphor for George Bush's entire presidency - just as he flies over and inspects Louisiana and Mississippi without getting off his plane, so has he been disengaged from the realities of American life since he entered the White House all those years ago.

Even though I'm always waiting for another opportunity to slam our idiot president, I don't really know what else he really could have done except fly over in a plane. Does Arianna want him on the ground lifting sandbags or something? Maybe holding infants, gesturing to dead guys in lawn chairs? Isn't it more important that he be in Washington making decisions about how best to help these unfortunates, rather than wading into the hip-deep waters of Downtown New Orleans to, you know, get a super-up-close look at the destruction?

I do think it's worth considering how his aberrant and insane worldview affects his leadership during a crisis of this magnitude. I want a cooly rational bunch of men and women, a smart, sophisticated and intelligent group to make these decisions, not this clusterfuck of fools we've elected because they love fetuses and hate gay people as much as we do.

"Hey, Rummy, you heard anything from God about this Rapture thing yet? I'm startin' to get a little nervous. I mean, we've started the East vs. West war, there's all these floods and tidal waves, they got that SuperAIDS now instead o' just regular old AIDS, Paris Hilton is the most famous and beloved individual on Earth...What more can I do? Is it time to kickstart Operation Ship All the Jews to Jerusalem or what?"

Come on, everyone, sing along with George!

God said to Noah
There's gonna be a floody floody
Rain came down
It started to get muddy muddy

That's quite possibly my favorite all-time photo of our President. First, I love that he's playing a Presidential guitar! (Check out that seal below his arm!) Second, I love that guy behind him. Can you imagine being the Presidential Roadie? Is that a real job? You just hang out smoking doobs in the White House backyard all day, until the rare occasion when the Prez or the Veep gets a gig, and then you haul all their equipment out there and rugby-tackle anyone who tries to rush the stage. Awesome!

Plus, that woman to the far left is WAY too delighted to be there. WAY too delighted.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Apology and Update

I have been working on a gargantuan blog project these past few days. I'm compiling another big film list, in a lame attempt to lure more viewers to the site, and as a way to occupy my mind during the long video store work days.

This list is huge. It's such an epic undertaking that it has taken me a few hours a night for the past several nights just to get started with the actual writing.

Why am I such a nerd? Life would be so much easier if I were cool.

For example, if I were cool, I could be hanging out with the cool cast members of E! Entertainment's supercool reality show "Kill Reality." See, on the show, they hire a lot of ex-reality show stars to live together while starring in a horror movie, and then they film the making of the movie. You know, it's just good kids looking to have some fun.

"The whole cast was drunk or wasted throughout the taping, and everyone was having sex with everyone else. Not only were there orgies, but at one point someone relieved himself on Trishelle [Canatella, of Real World: Las Vegas and Playboy fame] in full view of the cameras and, from what I saw, she loved it. In another booze-fueled bacchanal, we hear Tonya Cooley, the lusty blonde of Real World: Chicago fame, begged co-stars to do lines off her genitals because it turns her on."

Why else would you ask people to do coke off your vagina, if it didn't turn you on? It certainly isn't for hygienic purposes, and it's not exactly the best ice-breaker I've ever heard for a mixer.

"Okay, anyone want to play Charades? Truth or Dare? No? Okay, then, I guess you'll just have to do drugs off my genitals!"

This comes from Tabloid Whore, by the way, who cribbed it from Radar Magazine. So you know it's trustworthy. I mean, who among us hasn't peed on the "Real World's" Trishelle to her wonderment and delight?

I'd like to add that, as someone who has seen "Kill Reality" a few times, I'm not at all surprised by these allegations. It's clear many of the cast members are coked-out weirdos, and their constant on-screen skankiness hints at certainly much more intense skankiness behind the scenes. Hopefully, these bootlegged videos will soon be online for our enjoyment.

Anyway, because I'm not cool enough to snort lines off of Tonya Cooley's bathing suit area or coat the ever-classy Trishelle in my urine, I end up sitting here in my bedroom thinking up long movie lists. And when I'm writing these lists, it feels like I'm blogging. So I forget that I haven't actually updated the actually actual blog in a while.

Plus, I've been busy working and it has been a slow week around the blogosphere. No one's really talking about anything except Hurricane Katrina which, while eventful, doesn't exactly fit in well with the steady diet of snark dispensed here at The Inertia. It's hard to be tongue-in-cheek when there are unfortunate souls attempting to flee New Olreans via makeshift freeway boat.

Yikes. I'm gonna stop complaining about the 405.

For a few days.

Also, I haven't updated a lot because I've been watching "Big Brother 6." It's horrible to get sucked into a season of "Big Brother." Horrible. They run this thing 3, 4 nights a week any more. I see more of the "Big Brother" roommates than I see of my roommates.

But it's getting SO GOOD now that there are only a few people left, and most of them are indescribably evil.

As I was discussing previously on another post (entitled Busto), the "Big Brother" house has been split down the middle. On one side are the dopey but likable Howie and Janelle, and on the other is the villainous, cruel and disgusting group known as "The Friendship." They're a bunch of women (and one gay man) who banded together early-on, under the leadership of a vile self-righteous mook named Eric who has since been mercifully voted out of the house.

Now the great thing about the show at this point is that everyone who watches the show is on Howie and Janelle's side. It's not that they're such great, fantastic people and you want to see them win money. It's that these Friendship girls are delusional creeps. You want to see them punished. You want to watch them lose every week.

What's so bad about The Friendship, you may ask. It's a fair question. I don't mind that they are hypocrites, complaining about the way others play the "Big Brother" game dishonestly even as they lie. That's the whole point of the game. It's their bullshit, self-righteous attitude, their feeling of inherent superiority because Howie is a man and Janelle acts like a ditzy blonde.

This past week, the Head of Household (Friendship member April, dubbed "Busto" by Howie) actually made a statement on the show that was quite groundbreaking. I think we actually have a reality TV first. She said, in front of the cameras, that the audience for her show, "Big Brother," were all a bunch of pieces of shit.

Some quick background, as I know this post is too long already...America got the opportunity to vote for which remaining roommate would get a phone call from a loved one. See, in the house, they are locked away from the world - no phone, no TV, no outside food or drinks, nothing. Everything they have to eat and do is provided by the producers. And America voted for Janelle. Not me personally, mind you.

I voted for Howie.

But Janelle got a phone call. And better yet, she took a call from Michael, the ex-roommate with whom she'd hooked up in the house! The Friendship was infuriated, particularly that their team member, Ivette, who hadn't heard from anyone in her family since the show started, would be denied a phone call.

And that's when April said that Americans who voted for Janelle to get the call were pieces of shit.

To my knowledge, it's the first time a contestant on a reality show has "called out" the audience. (She also commented that the results were probably fraudulent, because there's no possible way "Big Brother" viewers could prefer Janelle to her teammates. Um....)

So I've been watching that excitedly (I think it's on again tomorrow, and every night after that for six months). And it has left precious little time for blogging. But tonight, after I watch 2 or 3 DVD's, I'll try to whip up something else.

Manager On Duty

Now that every person I know reads this blog, my life is a lot more of an open book than it was a year ago. I've never been a secretive kind of guy, really. But when you write about your daily life in a public forum like this, and then actually go around telling people your site address, and even putting a tag on the end of your e-mails with a link, well, you get some readers who know you. And then, everyone you encounter in your daily life has the inside scoop on your life.

I regularly have people ask me about things in my personal life that I don't remember having blogged, which leads to really odd little encounters where they'll say things like "good luck with that interview," and I'll respond "huh?" because I don't remember writing about that interview. Hell, I may not even have that interview...maybe I just needed some shit to write about that night and got carried away.

No, I'm kidding. I don't make stuff up here on the blog, unless I'm pretending to be a celebrity guest blogger or something obvious like that. So you'll know I'm being honest when I say this:

I have joined the ranks of the managed.

That's right - I'm a writer with a manager. Does this make me a professional writer? That's really the thousand-dollar question. As I see it, there are three possible ways to define a professional writer:

(1) Someone with an agent working on their behalf, actively seeking paid assignments
(2) Someone who has sold a piece of writing for a profit at one time
(3) Someone who regularly sells writing for profit

If you use #1 or #2, I suppose in a few days, I will actually technically be a professional writer. (Albeit an underpaid one). If you go by #3, well, then, screw you.

My new manager (wow, that's odd to type) called me early this evening to tell me the news; I was working at the store at the time. I was fairly elated for about an hour.

And then I started to really think about the situation, and went back to my usual non-elated self. Specifically, I thought about how this the first step in the realization of a dream. I've been writing and getting stuff published since I worked on my high school paper at around age 15, and I've loved movies since early childhood. When I was a kid, I used to say I wanted to be a "movie producer," since I didn't really know what anyone did on a movie but knew that the PRODUCER was always the guy whose name appeared before the title.

But now that this pipe dream is actually starting to take shape, I'm thinking about how I might not make it. I probably won't make it. That's not pessimism, it's just reality. Lots of writers have agents, but not a lot of writers make a good living through writing for movies or TV. Very very few do.

And if I don't make it, if I'm still in this apartment in a year working at a video store, having given the screenwriting thing a go and failed to find will that feel? A part of me says I will feel better than I do know. I'll know that I tried my best, the whole thing won't seem intimidating and unknown any more, and I'll still be pretty young. I could always write something new, send it around and try again. Or figure out something else to do with my life that's less competitive, like professional kickboxing or Senator.

But another part of me, the bitter cynical negative (and let's face it, dominant) part tells me this is delusional. I'm already bitter, cynical and negative most of the time right now, so the added humiliaton of having told the world on my blog that I have a manger, only to fail to find any work as a professional writer, not to mention the anxiety and depression, will only enhance my disaffected, pissed-off misanthropy.

But what choice do I have? None. That's life. So, here's hoping I don't make a complete ass of myself out there.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wise Guys

Brian De Palma is one of my all-time favorite directors. So there are very few of his films that I haven't seen. Well, okay, he made a lot of random little weird films in the 60's that aren't terribly well-regarded or easily available on DVD. Films like Murder a la Mod and The Wedding Party. I have seen Greetings, an oddball little comedy with De Niro from this era, but that's it.

But after Hi Mom in 1970, the only two titles I had missed were 1972's Get to Know Your Rabbit (which co-stars Orson Welles!) and the 1986 mob comedy Wise Guys. It comes to DVD today (Tuesday), so I finally got a chance to see it. It's by no means a bad film, and it's clear that De Palma has a wacky, warped sense of humor, but the thing is dragged down by a dumb script full of obvious, broad jokes and a painfully overdone supporting turn from then-"Saturday Night Live" superstar Joe Piscopo.

I was only 8 years old in 1986, and I only vaguely remember Joe Piscopo from his television heydey, but did people genuinely find this guy funny? He's truly awful in this movie. I checked out Roger Ebert's review before watching the movie, written back in '86, and he actually praises Piscopo's hysterical theatrics:

Piscopo, from "Saturday Night Live," has worked less in the movies, and has always seemed in search of a character. Here he finds one.

Sadly, no. Piscopo's constant bleating and mugging makes Gene Wilder in The Producers look positively restrained. Several scenes call for him to scream in fear, which he takes as an excuse to imitate a "Looney Tunes" character, wiggling his face around as if he expects his eyeballs to explode out of their sockets and his tongue to droop down to the floor, Tex Avery-style. Ugh.

The script by George Gallo (who wrote the far better Midnight Run) is not very funny, but it does have a terrific premise. For a light comedy, sometimes that's enough. Moe (Piscopo) and his somewhat more ambitious next-door neighbor Harry (Danny DeVito) are low-level mob enforcers. Low, low, low level. They run personal errands for a boss named Tony (Dan Hedaya, a great character actor wasted in a nothing role).

On one occasion, they are escorted by a goon named The Fixer (pro-wrestling legend Captain Lou Albano) to the racetrack, to lay a bet on a horse for Tony. But the thing is, Tony is a horrible gambler, and always picks a losing horse. So this gives Harry an idea...They use Tony's 10 grand to bet on a winning horse and keep the proceeds. Tony will think he has simply lost another bet.

Anyone who has seen a comedy can predict what happens next...Tony's horse wins, it's revealed that these two idiots bet on the wrong horse, and a contract is put out on their heads.

The film then turns into a road movie, with Harry and Moe on the run from The Fixer and Tony. They go to Atlantic City, seeking help from a casino owner from the old neighborhood (Harvey Keitel) and a well-connected uncle.

It's a promising-enough premise, and you have to respect that De Palma and Gallo don't go for incredibly easy mob/guinea stereotypes. Albano's Fixer character is hands down the best thing about a movie. The guy can't act at all, doesn't even attempt to, so he just stomps around and yells, and frequently eats large sandwiches in the middle of scenes. It's brilliant, a triumph of stunt casting.

See, the thing with De Palma is, he makes bold, risky, imaginative, "big" movies. He doesn't hold back. Sometimes comedy requires restraint. I recall John Cleese discussing his screenplay for A Fish Called Wanda in an interview. The film's co-director Charles Crichton and many at the studio feared that the script's repeated scenes in which small poodles are killed would trouble and upset the audience. Cleese insisted that, as long as it doesn't look too bloody or painful, people will find the notion of a flattened poodle funny. Of course, he was right, and the poodle deaths are some of the film's biggest laughs.

De Palma isn't the kind of guy that will take out the poodle gore to save the laugh. He won't just kill the dog, he's spray bloody entrails all over passers-by. In Wise Guys, there's a scene in which Harry is asked by Tony to turn on his car, which may or may not be wired to explode by a rival gang. Rather than just show the situation, and relying on the DeVito performance to get the laugh, De Palma uses sped-up motion, loud music, a 360 camera move and all kind of crowd noises to try to drain more comedy from the scene. It doesn't work.

So Wise Guys is, in the end, way too cartoony and broad to really score. It looks terrific, like all of the guy's films, and I really did enjoy the Lou Albano stuff. DeVito and Keitel are also fun to watch. But I can't really recommend this one, unless like me, you just have to see every film made by BDP.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Thoughts on the VMA's

  • Diddy is probably the worst emcee of all time. And not just worst VMA emcee. Worst emcee of anything, ever. His hosting strategy consists, basically, of dancing like an uncoordinated white man, introducing and re-introducing Grandmaster Flash, and repeating the phrase "anything can happen."
  • Is it just me, or does Diddy kind of dance like a white guy? He just kind of gestures in one direction and then the other without doing any actual dancing.
  • Lots of explosions and pyrotechnics tonight. Did Gene Simmons or Michael Bay happen to direct this year's awards? Or is P-Diddles just creatively bankrupt?
  • Why bring MC Hammer out of retirement just to dance around for 20 seconds to a remix of "U Can't Touch This"?
  • What's so special about that Green Day "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" song/video? Can someone please explain? It's a decidedly below-average Green Day song and a generic video (and they already did several videos where they walk towards the camera through strange surroundings, like "When I Come Around" and "Walking Contradiction.")
  • Did they really give Missy Elliott the key to the city of Miami? Do cities still even have "keys"? What to they open? It's probably something like the City Hall utility closet.
  • Ashlee Simpson is incapable of appearing in public without wiggling her butt. This problem will heretofore be known as Ashlee Simpson Syndrome (or ASS).
  • I didn't think it was possible anything could be more silly than the R. Kelly "Trapped in the Closet" music videos. But I was wrong. R. Kelly lip-synching the thing in front of a live audience in much, much sillier.
  • "Trapped in the Closet" is probably the only soul song ever to include the phrase "He walks over to Chuck/And he kisses Chuck!"
  • Making the Band III, Season 2. Hells yes.
  • A commercial for the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" just included a joke wherein Neil Patrick Harris remarks "I'm definitely putting this on my blog!" Blogs, having been a joke on a CBS sitcom, are officially uncool forever. I give up.
  • Diddy just made an introspective statement, possibly for the first time this year. While doing a bad joke about changing his name to Seandeleeza Diddy-Rice, he said "I told y'all to vote or die. Y'all didn't, but I sold a lot of t-shirts." Remarkable, and rare, honesty.
  • Hillary Duff just said she loves Morrissey. I totally give up.
  • The Killers? More like Teh Sux0rs! "Mr. Brightside" is a huge radio hit despite having no discernable hook whatsoever. It's so goddamn boring.
  • Is "Entourage" really this popular, that PCU veteran J. Piven gets a presenter spot on the VMA's? I'm amazed. The Piv and Lil' Kim share quite possibly history's most awkward award banter, as a joke about Kim's pending incarceration goes horribly wrong. In the audience, 50 Cent can barely contain his aversion to Piven.
  • Ludacris calls actor and Mini-Me Verne Troyer "Vernon Troyer" during his acceptance speech. Classy.
  • Thank you, MTV, for bringing back "Beavis and Butthead." Man, I miss those guys.
  • You know, out of all contemporary rock, there really isn't a band I hate more than My Chemical Romance. Good Charlotte and Sum 41 come REALLY close...but I think My Chemical Romance takes the taco. Congrats, guys.
  • This Gap commercial they keep repeating about "favorite songs" actually has me considering what my all-time favorite song would be. It's an impossible question, but I'm always tempted to say Velvet Underground's "Oh Sweet Nuthin" off the "Loaded" album (and the High Fidelity soundtrack). That's probably the single song I've listened to most often in the past 5 years or so.
  • I wonder if Johnny Knoxville really does have a pocket full of amphetamines. Probably.
  • Those guys The Bravery are nominated for some award. I'm seeing them in a few weeks at the KROQ Inland Invasion concert in Devore. They're among the bands I'm least interested in seeing (along with Jet and 311!) My real reasons for going are as follows: Arcade Fire, Weezer, Bloc Party, Cake, Beck.
  • Fall Out Boy sucks, but that's an awesome name for a band. Any Simpsons reference is alright with me.
  • Fat Joe needs a lot more bling. Seriously, what's up, man? Only 50 individual items of jewelry? Did the last album flop or something?
  • Is it horrible that I kind of find this "Gasolina" song catchy? This is the third or fourth time I've heard it, and I could easily hear it 10 or 12 more times at least. I think I should turn off MTV right away.
  • That Missy Elliott video that won the Hip Hop category is kind of cool. I don't like her music at all, but she does always come with cool videos. See also, Busta Rhymes. She thanks God. Can you imagine a worldview in which God affects the outcome of the MTV Video Music Awards in your favor while ignoring a massive hurricane that threatens the lives of thousands?
  • Apple's Dad and his bandmates do absolutely nothing for me. Coldplay is the Poor Man's Radiohead. That light/water stage effect thing they have going behind them is pretty sweet-looking, though.
  • Kelly Clarkson is looking fairly hot tonight. Too bad she has dinosaur arms (stumpy arms too small for her body, like those of a T-Rex).
  • That Gap commercial just came on again and made me think of another favorite song. The Beatles "Dig a Pony" off the "Let It Be" album. The single most underappreciated song in the Beatles catalog.
  • In high school, I was friends with a guy who randomly kind of knew the band No Doubt (We're all from Orange County, and they weren't yet famous). So I had a huge thing for Gwen Stefani. Now, I feel silly for having crushed on a woman who pays Japanese girls to follow her around.
  • See what I mean about Kanye West being a hypocrite? He's nominated for a Jesus song, and now he's performing a song implying that women are nothing more than shallow gold-diggers who trade sex for material goods. Mixed messages! And what the hell is Jamie Foxx doing there? Dude, you have an Oscar now...Some dignity, please.
  • The announcer just said coming up next was "Snoop Dogg with your new favorite comedian Dane Cook." Now, I actually like Dane Cook a great deal. But I don't like being told he's my favorite comedian. I'll decide my own favorite comedian, thanks MTV. And my own favorite song, thank you very much, Gap. And, Kanye, Pepsi sucks.
  • Could Seal's "Crazy" really be Alanis Morisette's favorite song ever? And she's admitting that on national television?
  • Snoop's still trying to make "nephew" happen. Snoop, it's not gonna happen. It was a noble effort. That -izzle thing sure stuck around, though, well done on that one.
  • Dane has to do some stand-up right in the middle of the Music Video Awards? That's a tough crowd...I'm not hearing a ton of laughter; he seems pretty anxious to get the hell out of there. Yikes.
  • Never heard this "Ordinary People" song until tonight. Meh.
  • The lionization of Bishop Don "Magic" Juan by Diddles is pretty despicable. This guy isn't a fictional pimp, like guy in The Mack (a terrific movie). This guy is an actual pimp, meaning a guy who not long ago would put women on the street, use violence to force them to have sex with men, and then take all of their earnings as his own. Sometimes, he'd probably get them hooked on drugs. I'm not an easy guy to offend, but Diddy managed.
  • Eva Longoria is hot.
  • Mariah Carey's boobs are out. Again.
  • Beavis sounds kind of different tonight. I'm sure they got Mike Judge to come back and do it, because Butthead sounds like his old self. Did Judge just forget how to do the voice? Was he just hoarse that day or something?
  • Best moment of the whole night: The very hot Paulina Rubio says "when you put a band together with a talented director, this is what it happens" and co-presenter Lil' Jon laughs at her. She then corrects herself, but it's too late - the mic is already off. Awesome.
  • Second best moment of the whole night: Gorillaz win Breakthrough Video and Paulina Rubio loudly proclaims "They're not here!," obviously not realizing that they are a fictional cartoon band.
  • There's something oddly mannish about Fergie from Black Eyed Peas. Every time I see her, I'm on the verge of finding her attractive before my heterosexuality kicks in.
  • I can't believe I'm actually going to have watched this entire program. I hadn't intended do, seriously. This is all because I started blogging about it. I had initially thought I'd watch a half hour or so, write a blog post about how dumb it was and then watch Dario Argento's Deep Red.
  • What the hell just happened? I saw 50 Cent cursing then they cut to Kanye West standing up then they cut back to 50 cursing then they cut away to commercial. I think I just missed the most interesting moment of the entire show. What's the point of even having a telecast?
  • Jesus! This NAVY commercial just showed a girl launching a rocket aimed directly at some guy's chest! I mean, I know that, if you join the Navy, there's a decent chance you'll have to commit some act of violence against someone, but is that really the sales pitch now? "Join the Navy, maybe we'll let you take some dirty Arabs out."
  • I'm still impressed by how quickly the Pussycat Dolls went from "strippers" to "pop stars." It was seamless. Well played.
  • You know how, just a few hours ago, in this very post, I wrote that my least favorite band right now is My Chemical Romance? Puffy just introduced them as his favorite band. Furthermore, he used his status as a fan of My Chemical Romance as proof that he's a fan of quality rock music. Did I already say that I quit? I quit again.
  • If I'm wrong about the whole No-God thing, and there is a Hell, I suspect I'll be hearing the phrase "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Bow Wow and Paris Hilton" a great deal. They're comparing the gaudiness of their jewelry as we speak.
  • Green Day wins again. With them all over MTV, I'm suddenly having flashbacks to my freshman year of high school. Early 90's nostalgia has arrived, folks, and I for one welcome our new grunge overlords.
  • Wait, coming up? There's more? This show needs to end.
  • Jamie Foxx apparently has an album coming out later this year. Trivia: Who was the last Best Actor winner to release a solo music album? My guess: F. Murray Abraham.
  • Beyonce is hot.
  • I don't like a single song nominated for Video of the Year. Green Day wins. I'm going to turn this thing off right now.

Are You The Keymaster?

I lost my keys today. It was a considerable tragedy. I've been worried about it for the last 14 hours or so.

Because these weren't my house/car keys. I have a backup car key, and no one ever locks the door to this apartment.

Seriously. We don't live in a really good neighborhood or anything. If Palms gives off any kind of vibe at all, it's kind of a sketchy vibe. But there are young children screaming and cavorting around in the driveway of my apartment, basically, 24-7. There is no worse place to consider commiting any sort of home invasion-type crime, unless you like dealing with upwards of 25 screaming child hostages with mediocre English comprehension and severe ADHD.

So, anyway, I wouldn't be worried about my house/car keys so much. But these were my store keys. As in, every key to every door in the DVD store at which I work. (That would be Laser Blazer, which coincidentally happens to also be the absolute best DVD store in Los Angeles!)

The weird thing is, I put the keys in the exact same place every day when I get home from work. There's this little table by one of the couches in our living room, which also houses a new fax machine and a surround-sound speaker that rarely gets used because I keep the DVD player in my room. I put the keys there, both because it makes them easy to remember in the morning and because I never have to think about where my keys are.

"Where are my keys? Oh, yeah, the little table by the door!"

That way, I only forget the movies I was going to return or the check I need to cash or the mail I was going to send or to put on pants without large Dr. Pepper stains on them. But never my keys!

But today, on my way out the door, the keys simply weren't there. No immediately recognizable plastic yellow belt loop (never used by me), the last-remaining relic of the previous guy who held my job. After about 10 minutes of sheer and utter panic, during which random objects were hurled about and random obscenities uttered, I actually been to look in earnest around the room.

But trying to find any small item amidst the stunning amount of detritus and debris in my living room? You'd have more luck finding oil in there than a small key ring. Seriously, my keys had more potential hiding spots in my living room than Osama along the Pakistani border, okay, people?

(Wow, I do those sort of analogy jokes all the time, but I really feel like I've started genuinely ripping off Dennis Miller...Seriously, read that last sentence in a Dennis Miller voice. And pretend the last word is "babe" instead of "people." Okay, now pretend the content isn't about my store keys, but shrill mindless right-wing propaganda. The similarities are uncanny.)

I had no luck before it was time to leave for work. I ended up being about 10 minutes late without having found the keys. By sheer luck, today I opened the store along with another manager, who also has keys, so it wasn't a big deal. But if I hadn't found them tonight, I'd have to go in tomorrow with my hat in my hands (and I don't even wear a hat), explaining that the keys were lost to the ages.

Fortunately, they just turned up. I noticed while going to the fridge for a Coke that there was this piece of paper on the ground next to one of the couches. You know how sometimes, if you're looking straight down at something flat like a piece of paper, it can appear level to the ground even if it's raised a bit?

Well, I don't know if you have a lot of paper on the floor where you live, but I do, and trust happens. Anyway, during my earlier scan of this area for the keys, I had thought the paper was flat against the ground. But it wasn't! And what did the paper conceal? Why, a set of Laser Blazer keys!

Success! In my excitement, I let out a peculiar sort of yelp, the sort of sound I might have made if someone suddenly shoved a digit into my rectum. (A UFIA in the parlance of our times). I ran in my roommate Nathan's room to tell him. He was considerably less enthusiastic.

So, thank goodness, all is once more right with the world, I have my keys back, and no scofflaws will be making off with our Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers box sets in the still of the night. Pfew.

Evan Almighty?

According to Variety, by way of Ain't It Cool News, it appears that Steve Carell will follow up his breakthrough role in 40-Year-Old Virgin with a sequel to the Jim Carrey mega-turd Bruce Almighty.

Ugh. This sucks. Bruce Almighty is mightily bad. It's that dumb bastard Steve Oedekerk. I know that other dumb bastard, Tom Shadyac, technically directed this movie, but I can't help but notice that whenever this Oedekerk guy's name appears on a movie, it's always the same horrendous bullshit. Here's a quick career sampler:

Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
Patch Adams (also directed by Shadyac!)
Ace Ventura 2
Those Idiotic Parody Shorts Starring Thumbs, like (I swear these are real) The Godthumb and Thumbtanic and The Blair Thumb

Yeah, that's right...From the creative team that brought you Patch Adams. Whoop-dee-do! Way to manage, Steve Carell's Manager! Let's climb on board this speeding locomotive of success and quality!

I mean, the guy must be funny, right? He makes parody short films by painting faces on his thumbs, and then replaces part of the original film's title with the word "thumb"! What's not hilarious about that?

Why not do another film with Judd Apatow? Or, I don't know, something with someone else who's funny, instead of Morgan Freeman and the director of Kevin Costner's Dragonfly?

Some of you may recall, Carell actually appeared in the initial Bruce Almighty film, as the mean-spirited anchorman, Evan, whom Jim Carrey torments with his God-like powers. I have to say, as ideas for the follow-up to such a lame movie, the premise for the sequel ain't awful. Morgan Freeman's God will approach Evan to be the new Noah, rounding up animals in preparation for a massive flood.

So, it will be Carell cavorting in odd ways with a variety of species. I'm sure at some point it will appear that he has been having sex with some or all of the animals. I dare say, there's even a chance that animal feces will find its way into the mix.

Also, $10 says an animal humps some guy's leg at some point. Maybe an uptight guy? At an inappropriate moment, perhaps?...Any takers?