Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Bold Piece of Political Strategery

This is exactly the sort of innovative, outside-the-box thinking the Democratic Party needs.

An Air Force officer pleaded guilty Friday to defacing cars with bumper stickers supporting
President Bush's name and was given a two-year deferred sentence.

Lt. Col. Alexis Fecteau, a decorated officer who flew 500 combat hours in the Gulf War, Kosovo and Bosnia, pleaded guilty to felony mischief and must pay restitution to the owners of the damaged cars to clear his record.

Of course! Now it all makes sense! If you disagree with the President's policies, the only natural response is to vandalize the personal property of his nominal supporters! I think if John Kerry had spent more time on the campaign trail knocking over mailboxes and leaving bags of doody on Bush voters' front porches, he'd be our President today.

Fecteau, 43, of Colorado Springs, did not speak during the hearing nor comment after it.

Too bad. Here's a guy I'd really like to hear from. Get his thoughts on life, some perspective on who Alexis Fecteau really is and what he's all about. Maybe make a little gift book out of it, something you could sell at the front bargain table at the local Hallmark store.

I'm making fun of him, and of course it's intensely stupid to just damage random automobiles because of a sticker...but it's not like I don't know where he's coming from. I get kind of pissed off when I see idiots who still have that white oval "W" decal on their car.

"Hey, asswipe. That was already a stupid call back in '04. The only people who still love George W. are, in order:

(1) Dr. James Dobson
(2) Joe Lieberman
(3) Little Baby Jesus
(4) George Bush Sr. (but not Bar, who has never been fond of the boy)
(5) Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida's Recruiting Department
(6) Jim Beam

That's it. Get with the program!"

But, of course, you can't really destroy something they love just because they're ignorant and they admire insecure authoritarians. It might be kind of fun, but it's just not responsible behavior. Better to follow them wherever they're going, hide out while they go about their business and then brutally attack them with whatever blunt implement happens to be available nearby once they return to their vehicle.

Mulligan said the plea agreement "affords Lt. Col. Fecteau the opportunity to get back on track," noting his record will be cleared in two years if he stays out of trouble.

How humiliating must it be for a court to offer you this kind of deal.

"Okay, Alexis...If you promise, really promise, not to deface the cars of Bush supporters for two years, we'll let you go. Does that sound like something you can do?"


You know what kind of cars I'd like to deface, if I were in that particular line? PT Cruisers. Not to make any kind of political statement or anything. I just think they look fucking stupid.

The Vader Sessions


There's no other way to describe The Vader Sessions. What we have here is, in my opinion, the first viral Internet movie mash-up video to transcend the genre and earn respect as a quality short film in its own right.

This visionary has started with scenes from the original Star Wars, removing the Darth Vader dialogue and replaced it with James Earl Jones dialogue from different films. Manipulate the soundtrack a little bit, mess with the editing to suggest a Vader/Leia make-out session and you're good to go. The result is fall-down, side-splitting, wee-wee spot in the front of your khakhis khakis pants hilarious.

Watch it all the way until the end or miss the Billy Joel closing montage. I'm just saying...

[Link courtesy of my favorite celebrity gossip blog, Egotastic!]

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Next They're Gonna Take My Thumbs

I've been away for a few days because they shut off our television and Internet. Those cruel Comcast bastards. You fall two months behind on your bills and what do they do? They shut you down. That's life on the lowest rung for you. One moment, you're enjoying access to a vast array of pornographic videos and online shopping options via high-speed broadband while simultaneously watching National Lampoon's Vacation in crisp High-Definition for the 8th time, the next you're e-mailing your parents with your hands out because paying off your Comcast bill will otherwise require the donation of a significant quantity of your body's vital fluids and plasmas.

The TV, I've got to say, I don't mind so much. I think I could probably go several weeks before I msised TV at all. (Okay, I'd miss "Hell's Kitchen" and "Making the Band," but not so much that I'd sacrifice occasional luxuries like ordering out for Chinese food or gassing up my car). It was lack of Internet that was seriously cramping my style. I had no idea how much time I spent on this thing until it was suddenly taken away from me.

Approximately once every four minutes, I would think of something I wanted to look up on the Internet, only to have a sudden realization that the Internet had been disconnected by my corporate betters. It would be, seriously, within the same thought. "Man, it sucks there's no more Internet connection. I guess I'll just throw on a movie. I wonder how long Excalibur runs. Oh, I know, I'll just look it up on IMDB. Oh, wait, shit!"

A vicious cycle. It's depressing, to realize that you no longer actually attempt to store pieces of information within your brain, but just rely on computers to tell you whatever you want to know at any given time. One day, if the Internet for whatever reason ceases to exist (maybe some kind of electromagnetic blast?), we're all going to be left totally fucking helpless.

The point is, I need my Internet access. As Senator Ted Stevens might say, "But this service is now going to go through the internet and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free. Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet? I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?"

I can't really sum it up better than that.

All of these pesky financial concerns have driven me into the arms of a second employer. Yes, that's right...I'm cheating on Laser Blazer. I've begun seeing someone else. I'll be tutoring high school juniors, hoping to bring up the all-important Verbal SAT scores so that privileged, wealthy children can get yet another leg up over everyone else in the collegiate admissions process. Because, Lord knows, "legacy" admissions, elitist social "networking," access to superior public resources and the option of private school doesn't give these kids enough of a head start. There must be something else we can do for them.

But I need the money, and these tutoring gigs pay pretty well, so I shall put my reservations aside and do what needs be done to pump these scores up a few hundred points. In all honesty, I dig the company I'll be working for (which shall here remain nameless, thank you very much), it seems like an alright outfit, and I'm looking forward to getting started.

In particular, I like how this place is still a small business, a relatively new venture run by people with a lot of experience. I like getting in on the ground floor with companies, when the owners are still optimistic and concerned with being well-liked by employees. When you come on board early, everyone still has kind of a bounce in their step. They haven't been broken down mentally by the dread monotony of the actual work that goes into running a company. Once you've been there a few years or, worse yet, the small business turns's all over. Welcome to Time Clocks and Bi-Monthy Evaluation Meetings and Mandatory Overtime and Office Politics. It's pretty sweet, by which I mean it makes me want to take a stapler to my frontal lobe.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Basic Instinct 2

Mario Kassar totally missed an opportunity with this film. Rather than rehash the premise and main character from his hit 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct, he should have just started up a franchise of films in which Sharon Stone flies all over the world having exotic sex with mysterious strangers. Change a few names and references to Paul Verhoeven's original film, and this could easily have been an original thriller - Sharon Stone Goes to London.

Then more films follow.

Sharon Stone Goes to Egypt
Sharon Stone Goes Hawaiian
Stone in Africa
Sharon Stone in The Curse of the Emerald Moose
Sharon Stone Meets the Harlem Globetrotters

The possibilities are endless. Not to mention the added bonus of not having to make a film in which an opening credit reads "based on characters created by Joe Eszterhas."

Instead, Kassar and Andrew Vajna have given us a retread of the original film 14 years later, slathering on a bunch of unneccessary hairpin turns, psychobabble and last-second twists to make their cinematic leftovers taste more palatable. Imagine a John Waters production of Sleuth starring Divine and Frank Whaley doing a British accent.

I'm not going to complain that Sharon Stone is too old to be sexy in a Basic Instinct movie. She is, and the lighting and make-up tricks they try to pull off to de-age her are ludicrous and ineffective, but she's not the problem with this movie. She's the only one who seems to know the purpose of the entire enterprise. It's not a good performance. In fact, it may be the worst of her career, if by "worst" you mean "most self-aware and campy." (Okay, momentarily forgot about Catwoman. Second-worst.)

But this entire film is ridiculous, a joke from beginning to end. Better to be taking it as a joke, overacting and flailing about, than play it boring and straight like the rest of the cast, who all seem to think they're in a real movie. The only scenes that are interesting feature Stone slinking around the set like a stripper with rickets.

I'm just fascinated by her idea of sexiness. In the first film, her character was a bisexual adrenaline junkie and master of seduction who may or may not be a serial killer. In order to top that already overripe turn, she chooses to play the role as a porno actress might, unbuckling the pants of every featured male character with her eyes at all times. She doesn't actually take off her clothes too often, but the entire role has an exhibitionist feeling; she's either really getting off on being "sexy" for moviegoers, or she wants us to think she is.

Unfortunately, we're expected to actually follow an intricately plotted, rather drab whodunit in between the moments when Sharon Stone threatens to show us her beaver again. To say that the story never really comes together into something intense or interesting would be a massive understatement. This narrative is more lifeless than that guy who got an icepick stuck in his eyeball in the first film.

What are you gonna do? Arrest me for sucking?

Novelist Catherine Tramell (Stone) has moved to London since the events of the first film (where she was cleared of all murder charges despite probably being guilty), but still gets off on outlandish, depraved acts of sexuality. To wit, she opens the film by getting into a massive car accident while being serviced by a well-known footballer.

This brings her under some measure of police suspicion, with crooked cop Roy Washburn (terrific actor David Thewlis, in yet another stop on his Grand Tour of Piece of Shit movies) particularly interested in finding out more about this woman and her bizarre addiction to risk. (The original title of the film was Basic Instinct 2:Risk Addiction, which would have been the best part of the movie if they'd kept it).

He turns to Dr. Michael Glass (David Morrissey), who we're told is a brilliant psychotherapist but who's manipulated by Catherine with relative ease. When more murders begin happening, he becomes convinced that she's innocent even though she's probably not or is she and blah blah blah blah fuckidy blah.

A movie like this, which is constantly trying to pull the rug out from under you, can definitely work under the right circumstances. David Mamet has mastered the art of manipulating the audience without actually cheating them, providing real information in just such a way to keep you in the dark to the larger picture. In his earlier films, M. Night Shyamalan demonstrated an ability to build a complete and satisfying story in bite-sized chunks, waiting until the erfect moment to present the final piece of the puzzle.

Michael Caton-Jones here demonstrates none of that ability. After the third or fourth reinvention of the storyline, it's impossible to maintain any real interest in what's happening. Here's a hint: perhaps there's so many possibilities as to who's killing everyone because there isn't much of a story going on and the audience doesn't actually get to know anything about any of the characters that might provide motives or clues to the central mystery.

If there were lots of sex, perhaps, it would probably compensate for the idiotic mechanics of this plot. But there's really only a few brief scenes in between a lot of dreary exposition and sequences wasting the talent of actors like Thewlis and Charlotte Rampling, who shows up in a small role as Dr. Glass' colleague. Sharon shows off the unmentionables and they look well-maintained and everything, and she definitely gets marks for bravery. But it's not exactly reason enough to sit through all the mealy-mouthed, pseudo-clinical explanations of human sexuality.

By the time the final scene rolls around, it's so removed from any kind of reality, Sharon Stone could literally say anything to Dr. Glass and it would be blindly accepted by the audience.

"As I'm sure you realize by now, Doctor, I'm really a Somali warlord who has just been using you to funnel munitions to my countrymen in Mogadishu."

"So, you're saying that, this entire time, we've been inside the belly of a whale?"

"Those walnuts I gave you were poisoned, Dr. Glass, but it doesn't matter because I'm actually a telepath. Now let's go find the Holy Grail! But first, here's a 10-second shot from a weird angle of the underside of my right thigh!"