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Sunday, November 29, 2009


In what may be considered a cinematic equivalent of a high colonic, I achieved a not-so-little tactical miracle this weekend. In hindsight, the experience could have, should have, ended my life on this planet. Alas, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and today I own the kind of invincible feeling one attains after surviving a terrifying wreck with but barely a scratch.

I watched the Humphrey Bogart classic Casablanca on TCM... then followed it up IMMEDIATELY with the Deborah Gibson classic, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus on SyFy.

My Facebook status update three-quarters into my experience?.... "It's like munching a raw sardine after devouring a pint of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream".

Truer words, never spoken!

In an age of horribly awful direct-to-video films, this one stands alone as the zenith of how NOT to make an action flick... or a film of any other type, for that matter. After enjoying a movie most critics consider one of the greatest American films of all-time (usually just behind Citizen Kane and The Godfather), double-tapping it with a flick that uses what appears to be locker room as both a destroyer command deck and a Japanese sub interior just screams fatal aneurysm. Add Deborah (Debbie) Gibson and a perpetually-inebriated Lorenzo Lamas to the mix, toss in a sprinkling of garbage effects -- some reversed and used again, pretending to be a completely new and exciting effect -- and top with the kind of script that offers an amazing workout for your neck and arms (due to confusion-induced head-shaking and baffled shoulder-shrugging), and you've got a classic for the ages.

Former teen pop icon Deborah Gibson stars as a brilliant marine scientist....*.

Really, MUST I continue after that?!

Former teen pop icon Deborah Gibson stars as a brilliant marine scientist...........*. Shit.

One more time.

Former teen pop icon Deborah Gibson stars as a brilliant marine scientist............... and Lorenzo Lamas portrays, apparently, the head of a covert government agency, though it's never made clear exactly WHAT agency it might be. The only clues are that it functions out of what appears to be a basement, its employees all wear Dickies work clothes, and Lamas seems to possess a direct phone line to the White House.

Maybe FEMA. I'm not 100% sure.

There's the wise old scientist/father figure/hero character, played by somebody who could easily pass for a Dennis Hopper/Christopher Lee love child. There's a world-renowned Japanese scientist who has sex with Gibson no sooner than two seconds after meeting her.... and bears a striking resemblance to a Chinese fella. The soldiers all wear Foster Grants... even indoors! American submarines all look like the Red Oktober, and no ship (it seems) is owned by a particular nation, the subtitles describing them as "U.S. led" or "Japanese led".

But, the Coup de Blech is when mega shark bites off a chunk of the Golden Gate bridge (perhaps the best effect of the film), which signifies a sudden dejection and utter failure to all of the principle characters because "thousands of people" are now dead. Funny, I didn't seem to notices a marathon being run across said bridge. How, with one bite of one section of one bridge can "thousands" of San Franciscans suddenly die?? Perhaps the shark destroyed the spirit of the city by attacking its great landmark? Or, perhaps it's a really crappy film? Thinking.... I'll choose the latter.

A close second to the above plot point is when Gibson conjures up a brilliant idea (since, naturally, she's a "brilliant marine scientist"). While trying to devise a solution to this mess, her eyes light up with a manic anticipation. She turns to the father-figure old man scientist and yelps "Thrilla in Manila. We'll get them battle each other!" Of course, there's two inherent issues with this dialogue:

1) SyFy viewers might not know what "Thrilla in Manila" means. A more appropriate sports analogy might have been "Lakers/Celtics. We'll get them to battle each other".

2) Debbie Gibson doesn't know what "Thrilla in Manila" means. A more appropriate pop analogy might have been "Britney/Insanity. We'll get them to battle each other".

When the plan succeeds, we find ourselves at the bottom of the ocean on a "U.S. led" submarine, it's interior a combination of Atari joysticks and painted cardboard (high tech cardboard, no doubt). The creatures battle each other to the death, and plummet to the bottom of the ocean abyss. The problem? We're already on the ocean floor! Apparently, there's a "special and super-secret" floor designed especially for dying supercreatures who just battled to the death at the bottom of the ocean right in front of a U.S.-led submarine.

I love bad films.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Tofu-Free Thanksgiving

Debbie, Donna, and Deanne -- three yoga buddies spending their Thanksgiving in the company of themselves and their families, prepare a mouth-watering dinner for those who wait.

As the men spending the waning hours prior to the delicious feast gorge themselves on a semi-entertaining NFL contest, and the children play in the backyard with the energetic family dogs, Donna checks the status of the scrumptious bird as the clock ticks away the final minutes of doneness.

"Almost ready. Can't you just smell the flavor?" gleans Donna.

The others unanimously agree. The recipe Debbie excavated from her cherished Yoga Freak magazine is proving, at first hint, to be quite the success. Deanne lifts the cover from a simmering stovetop pan and takes in the scent of goodness. She sighs in delight.

"The men are going to love it. I can't wait! This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever!"

Debbie smiles, gushing with emphatic pride, hands pressed together. "Namaste."

All gather around the dinner table, silverware and condiments in place, the wine already flowing at the distinct request of Wild Bill, husband of Deanne and known drunkard. The children sit, traditionally, at a square fold-out table to the side of the dining room, eagerly anticipating a re-fuel for another post-dinner round with the dogs. As if on cue, the three women exit the kitchen, approaching the table in unison with a feast fit for the ages, and all activity stops. Every eye in the house is now keenly focused on the star of the night, the Thanksgiving bird.

But not quite in the manner one might assume.

As Deanne presents the bird as the table centerpiece, Howie, husband of Donna, rubs his mouth in sudden confusion. "What's that.... stuff on the turkey?" The other men lean forward for a closer inspection of the strange fuzz.

Deanne giggles in delight. "It's roasted alpaca fur, silly. And, it's delicious. You'll love it."

"Excuse me? Alpaca what?", asked a shocked Mitch, husband of Debra and fellow lover of yoga. But just as the question is asked, it's lone answer slams into his brain like an asteroid to a planet. "What the fuck! I thought that was a JOKE!!!"

But as Donna politely asks Mitch to lower his tone, Howie and Bill grow increasingly restless. They can't remember the time Mitch last blew his top. "What joke? What's with the alpaca fur? And what's that funny smell?", growls a surly Bill. An incensed Mitch is all too happy to fill his buddies in on the details, as disgusting as they may be.

"It's a fucking Yoga turkey!!! A YOGA TURKEY!!!!"

"Smells like cooking sherry and.... um.... hay?", adds a befuddled Howie.

"It's the stuffing. A 72-grain spackle with puree of fermented raisin and splinters of bamboo!" answers a twitching Mitch.

Bill can't contain himself. "Holy shit! You bitches trying to KILL us??"

"It's delicious and nutritious!", as Donna defends both herself and her sisters of cuisine. "My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Yum!!!"

Howie lifts the lid of the dish next to the turkey. Floating in a purplish stew are ten turkey feathers.

Mitch grabs Howies arm. "Don't touch that! It's turkey feather marinated in guarana, algae and prune juice. It'll kill you on contact".

A crying Deanne: "No it won't! You don't know what you're talking about. It's yummy and good for you. Children in India eat it!! Mmmmm, delicious!!!" She turns to the children, and in her best Stepford Wives impersonation: "Here, child. Won't you have some delectable Yoga Turkey, with a side of mashed Rafflesia root and turkey feather gravy?"

The mortified children sit silently stunned, and in Deanne's increasingly warped mind, silence is as good as 'yes'.

But as the three turn toward the hungry children, the men leap from their seats and rush to counter the Yoga Offensive. They grab the children as easily as rag dolls, except for the inebriated Bill, who whiffs at his first attempt, cold-cocking his child with a stiff forearm.
This "delicious" meal will never see the stomachs of these children.

"C'mon," exclaims Mitch. "I think Taco Bell is still open!"

As the six depart, dragging the seventh, the women stand amidst a feast fit for an army, now simply a battalion of three. The longer they proudly hover atop their masterwork of cuisine, however, the more they begin to realize:

"Shit. Were we really going to EAT this garbage?", questions Donna. She turns to Deanne for an answer, but Deanne no longer stands beside her. Sticking her finger into the gravy to sample the goodness, she's since queasily darted to the bathroom and is currently killing it with the neighborhood sewer system. Donna and Debbie glance at each other.

Suddenly, Taco Bell, is sounding mighty good.

So is Pilates.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Crossing over to what, I'm not exactly certain.

The term "crossover" defines an automobile which combines the best elements of two current styles, such as an SUV with the comfort levels and ingress/egress of a family sedan.... but this time our favorite throwback automaker has gone too far (and I mean "throwback" in the sense of shit build quality and poor design, just like the good ol' days of American auto manufacturing) . Whereas Ford and GM continue to impress with exciting new models -- this could be the first Los Angeles Auto Show in quite a while where GM and Ford products might steal the show -- Chrysler simply trudges along with these galactically brilliant flashes of sheer genius.

A tree car for the tree huggers. What clarity!

Lo, I'll play Devil's advocate and suggest this "mule" simply exists for the purpose of aerodynamic analysis (drag coefficient). Or, a quality explanation might have these tree branches acting merely as camouflage, something that is very real in the world of model testing and design patent legalities.

But Hell, folks.... this is CHRYSLER!!!! Which means only one thing: Look for the 2011 Chrysler Woody Crossover at your existing Chrysler dealership sometime around next September, just beyond fire season.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ruin'd by Disn'y

I can imagine how it might be within the darkest regions of Northern California: Cute teenage faerie, conditioned by years of coddling and positive affirmation, seeks to realize what all have been alluding to as long as she could recall, and ventures south for a new life as a budding starlet.  Destination: Mouse House.

But the further south she flutters, the colder such a realization becomes -- her Technicolor dream now tinged with sepia. She can only fly tens of miles per day, from town to town, rather than from tree to tree.  She grows tired and slightly confused.  It's common knowledge faeries are as stupid as the tree stumps they play upon, and her initial conclusion from a state map left by some wayward traveler was that Los Angeles is only 9.5 human inches away, as simple a trip as there can be.

She arrives in Los Angeles after pulling several tricks in Santa Barbara for some food and shelter (sparrows can be quite hospitable for the "right price"), but now a new villain called smog envelops her, limiting her flight to only several miles per day, rather than tens.  Her eyes runny, her clothes brown with soot, her hair as interwoven and matted as a rastafarian, she finally finds her trek come to an end at the Disney Studios.  Tinkerbell is legend in her parts, and this little faerie is seeking to take her rightful place as the heir to this most storied creature.  She is going to make it in this town.  She... is going to be a "star".

She... didn't know anything about "animation" or CGI.  Because, of course, faeries are stupid.

The long and winding trip home, almost ended prematurely by a brisk Santa Ana wind gust, is torture for her.  Disillusioned and unfeeling, she pulls twice as many tricks northward as she did southward, her nadir being a pole dance at a local squirrel dive in Wrightwood for nuts and a half-eaten Payday bar.  But, as a shameful return to the hallowed forest of her upbringing draws closer, she discovers (quite by accident) the joys of marijuana as she rested upon a smoky VW high.  A rocking 1966 VW Bus, painted in the worst Dutch Boy yellow and blue. A pair of UCLA rejects traveling north to apply at UC Santa Cruz.  Unbeknownst to these two wasted fellows, the faerie hitches a ride, both upon the rack of their Volkswagen as well as upon the smoky remains of their Jamaican Gold.  It takes the edge off. It enlightens her.  Failed expectations?  Shame?  

Screw it.  

As her ride comes to an end, she finds a discarded sandwich bag and hauls off a load of weed from the half-unconscious co-eds.  Her first criminal act!  How delightful.

She makes it back home, and there is no shame in her eyes.  She comes face to face with her expecting parents, and there is no defeat in her heart.  Her friends attempt to console her, and there is no inhibition in her mind.  In a brief span of several minutes, she maims her sister by tearing off her wings,  has hot faerie sex with her BFF's boyfriend, and becomes the unquestioned diva of her domain when she shivs the reigning "hot shit faerie" with a concealed rose thorn.  Caring what others think is no longer a requisite for living, since in her enlightened mind what she's really been doing all of her life is merely "existing", conforming to social norms, following the clique.  Now, SHE is the clique, and all who follow may gain access to her stash. All who oppose... may suffer a terrible faerie fate.

This cute teenage faerie, once conditioned by years of coddling and positive affirmation, seeking to realize her dreams of stardom in Hollywood, is now the undisputed crime lord of Marigold Forest.  And within these darkest regions of Northern California, all is right with the world.


I've got WAY too much time on my hands.

The Marlboro iPhone Sleeve

Nearly every day I sit at my favorite coffee hang, sipping my brew, doing whatever it is I'm doing that particular morning.  Several of my buddies own iPhones, as do I, and over time I've observed an interesting phenomenon shared by millions of smokers worldwide: The moment one of us whips out our little bit of Steve Jobs brilliance, it literally takes mere seconds for at least one, but more often than not several, of us to unconsciously procure our iPhones, as well.  
I've seen this occur with smokers as long as I can remember.  Two smokers are having a conversation, and one of them, sans a break in said conversation, will blindly present a pack of cigarettes from his pocket and pull one for a smoke. But, as the conversation continues, and before the first smoker has a chance to light his cigarette, the second smoker will unconsciously reach for HIS pack of cigarettes.  Again, without any pause or break in conversation, as though on instinct. No looking down, no break in eye contact, as natural and matter-of-factly as scratching an itch or rubbing your neck.  By the time the first has lit up, first drag done, the second has cigarette in mouth, ready to rock.  Perhaps this is all due to a strong Power of Suggestion between addicts, a simple nudging of the mind by an outside force to suggest the proverbial "smoke 'em if you got 'em".

Of course, this would suggest iPhone owners are helpless addicts, as well... which got me thinking.

It's called the Marlboro iPhone Protection Pack (though any tobacco company will do). The concept is simple: since iPhones are nearly as addictive and subconsciously controlling as cigarettes, so then why not conceal them in a modified cigarette case?  The case would include a patent-pending Palm Tap® action, which would reveal your iPhone in the same manner a smoker taps the bottom of his or her case to expose a cigarette for removal.  The action would allow the phone to be elevated just enough to read the name of the incoming caller, in the event you choose not to answer.  The flip top would have an opening for your headphones, so you may easily smoke and talk at the same time without volcanic damage to the touch screen.  And it's cool (at least for the Japanese).  

Smokers may voice their support against the totalitarian control of health fascists worldwide by proudly encasing their mobile device within their Marlboro iPhone Protection Packs, and by doing so reveal they own two debilitating addictions, rather than just one.

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