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Thursday, 31 March
Funny About That

I've seen an ad for a TV movie a couple times now. It is called "Mork & Mindy: Behind the Camera."

This might be the worst thing I've ever had no intention of seeing, and remember, I saw the movie Prospero's Books. (Well, some of it.)

It is obviously a tawdry travelogue of the various horrible things Robin Williams shoved into his body during his well-known drug years, including, presumably, cocaine, heroin, meth, speed, cough syrup, Belladonna suppositories, hair loss agents, books on tape, extract of vole glands, certain smooth vegetables, exotic forms of rennet, and possibly Ginger Baker. The man was a machine, let's face it.

The movie seems to feature an actor that, if you squint hard enough or medicate yourself with Morkish levels of drug toxicity, sort of looks like Robin Williams, but of course with none of the . . . how does one put this? Gifts? Hellacious tics? (Anyway, the guy kinda looks like Scott Bakula too, so maybe he can parlay this role into something like "Quantum Leap: Dean Stockwell Is A Great Big Turd.")

The thing is, Robin Williams wore out his welcome a helluva long time ago, at least as a comic actor. Think about how bizarre that is for a moment. This is a man with undeniable improvisational comedic skills, who came to celebrity utilizing same, and is now--in my circle of friends, most of whom are actors and comedians--nearly universally reviled for being an insufferable jabbering asshole.

Couple this with another weird fact: when Williams got into serious roles--where he abandoned his awful, nerve-ripping schticks as found in Mrs. Doubtfire, say, or the utterly reprehensible The Birdcage--he actually turned out to be . . . pretty talented. Check out his restrained work in Insomnia or Good Will Hunting and tell me I'm wrong. This is good work.

(It may be that, like so many actors, he requires a good director to achieve this sort of thing. That lots of actors don't like to admit this is kind of stupid, really: I know my best work has been done with the help of good directors. Otherwise, why the fuck have one? Anyway, notice also that Williams was pretty manic and yet non-annoying in The Fisher King, where he was presumably listening to Terry Gilliam. Let's move right on by the aforementioned The Birdcage, which was directed by Mike Nichols, but Nichols made about two and a half good films when he was young and has been pretty much totally useless ever since.)

But while Williams is most effective dramatically, a cursory glance at his rather alarming IMDB listing reveals that he regularly depends on weak comedy. It's hard to find the most depressing nadir amongst the many listings. Was it Jakob the Liar? Was it Patch Adams? Was it the astonishing fact that he managed to be in BOTH Shakes the Clown AND Death to Smoochy?

I have no intention of watching the TV movie about Mork & Mindy, even though it promises to be utterly terrible (has there ever been a TV movie that wasn't?), and I certainly hold out no hopes for the future: announced for 2006 is a film called The Krazees. How promising. Here's the IMDB bullet:

"Unable to deal with his daughter reaching puberty, a psychologist (Williams) has to get a handle on his emotions, which have come to life as different characters."

Oh and here's the writeup for The Big White, supposedly coming out this year:

"To remedy his financial problems, a travel agent has his eye on a frozen corpse, which just happens to be sought after by two hitmen." This one has Woody Harrelson and Holly Hunter!

Here's Pam Dawber's most recent IMDB listing:

1. Don't Look Behind You (1999) (TV) .... Liz Corrigan
... aka Du entkommst mir nicht (Germany)

It's a tough old world.

Wednesday, 30 March
These Eyes

Well, I was all set to go last night with some writing, but evidently the site's "host" needed to "switch servers" or "degauss the router" or "oil the packet switches" or "beat off" or something else I "totally don't understand," so I had to wait a while.

(I'm kidding a little bit, of course. I really do understand beating off.)

As usual over the weekend, the wife and I watched a couple of terrible movies. I watch these things so you don't have to, people!

The reality is actually more disquieting than that flip comment, though. I've started to ask myself: Why? Why do I watch these fucking horrors, time and again? And there's really only one explanation: I enjoy it.

How is this possible? What could I ever find enjoyable about such miserable spectacles? Why would I clap my hands in anticipation of two hours or so of being subjected to such insulting tripe?

The two easiest answers are: 1. Since the overwhelming majority of the movies out there are going to be grisly and foul, you might as well accept that and try to enjoy yourself, and 2. It's so much easier to make snotty fun of these rotten things than it is to engage with a decent film (should you find one), so it's easier to simply avoid the latter. In other words, I apparently seek out terrible films to make fun of them rather than take the bother to think about genuinely good ones. Basically, I'm terrifically lazy and kind of an intellectual coward.

(Oh, I'm just being self-lacerating for the fun of it. But I really am very lazy.)

Let's get to the terrible movies! As usual, turn on your spoiler-vision if you don't want the alleged plots of either Gothika or Alien Vs. Predator somehow ruined.


As the film opens, the viewer is presented with a real showdown of powerhouse acting: Halle Berry (a psychologist--oh boy!) is talking with Penelope Cruz (a ca-razy person--oh God!); Halle is all businesslike and cool and smarter than hell, and you know this because she taps her pen efficiently. Berry is all about nuance, at least with pens. Cruz is totally bent and has some tale about being raped by THE DEVIL, which is nutty, but you really know she's a loon because then she takes a page out of the Christian Slater Acting Handbook and frenziedly slaps her forehead a couple times. The viewer then thinks, "Oh, man, this broad is fucking out of it. She's stealing from Christian Slater, for God's sake."

(This was where I turned to the wife and said, "This is going to be a great movie.")

And it was, but not for any reasons the filmmakers intended. It's a standard-issue "the dead must hassle the living until the living fix whatever gripe the frankly pushy goddamn dead are in a snit about" thing, with the usual what-the-fuck elements, like 1. If the dead have all these powers to hassle the living, why the fuck don't they use their hassling-powers to take care of their own shit? And 2. why do they always menace (or, in the case of this film) physically assault the hasslees so relentlessly? (Twice!) And 3. Why are the hassling dead so goddamn cryptic all the time? In Gothika, Berry's dead hassler carves up her arm with a meaningless message that won't make sense until the end of the film. This instead of, I don't know, not carving it into her arm and maybe writing it on paper? Or just manifesting yourself and explaining to Halle Berry, "Look, you have to avenge my icky, silly death, or I will hassle you forever. Here's what to do. I helpfully wrote it down on paper, rather carving it into your flesh. Get going!" I think I'd be motivated.

The answer is clear: the dead are just a bunch ofj peevish, self-serving, dissatisfied assholes. I can't imagine why Hollywood filmmakers would be so interested in them.

Alien Vs. Predator

I had really high hopes for this one in terms of being just horrible as hell, and I must say, it was a lot less awful than I expected. I mean, yes, it's a brainless handjob of a film with sorrowful acting and a completely threadbare plot, but for all that, it was pretty entertaining! Certainly more so than the morosely pretentious Gothika. Even the title is better and more utilitarian: Alien Vs. Predator! Well, okay, there you go. Gothika? Except for a penchant night scenes in the rain, there was no reason for that title at all, leaving aside the irrelevant "k" in there. It was about as Gothic as a ham sandwich. (They should have called it Hamm Sandwyche!)

Anway, AVP. Befitting a movie that wears its geek in-jokes on its tattered sleeve (I found references to The X-Files along with several DUH gags that pointed at the Alien and Predator movies, and there were probably dozens of others that I missed), it features Lance Henriksen, the Man Who Can Appear In Any Movie At Any Time, As Long As It Is Probably Horrible. And also a faceless army of cannon fodder (depressingly, one of them was the stupid guy who shit the bed in Trainspotting) who diddle around waiting for page X in the script when they are either eaten, impaled, crushed, shot or facehugged.

Also in evidence: Mommy Alien, whose mucus-tastic egg-laying scenes have given so many foley artists so much joy over the years; a pointless buried pyramid that a la Cube (aha! Another sly reference!) shifts internal formations every ten minutes; and of course, a puny human vermin that HAS TO PROVE HER WORTH to one of the rampaging Predators bent on exterminating the Aliens. (The Aliens, you see, are captive practice dummies for the Predators to hunt. Why the Predators settled for hunting total pussies like humans in the Predator films is mercifully left unexplained. Never mind that this is sort of like Navy SEALs opting out of a training mission in order to go kick the piss out of first-graders instead.)

All that said, AVP was, as I mentioned, pretty entertaining. It was far better in execution and pacing than, say, something analogous like Jason Vs. Freddy, which I realize is really, really faint praise. And it was exponentially better than the dismal Gothika (I'm really hung up on that crummy, mystifying title now), whose merits are limited to, frankly, the idea of Halle Berry being set on fire.

Hey, wait a minute! I can pitch this movie! Cruz Vs. Berry! One of them gets set on fire!

I'd totally watch that.

Friday, 25 March
You Remember Him

This last weekend the wife and I got into a discussion about the cruelty that kids visit on each other, and I was reminded of this guy that I went to high school with. (Though I did not bring him up in the conversation.) If The Breakfast Club has taught us anything--and really, it hasn't--it's that high school kids are cliquish, petty, vindictive and highly stratified. You know, basically just like adults but with less sophisticated filters and coping strategies. And so there is the archetype of The Utterly Ostracized Kid. And of course, it exists. You can probably think of your own example--and I do hope it wasn't you.

For me, it was Leo. (Not his real name--I just picked Leo because I don't think I've ever known one.)

Now, let's be clear, I was never really that popular at all, but nor was I a complete outcast either. I had my share of friends, but it's not like I was cracking the higher social circles or anything either. To use the Breakfast Club categorization system, which is probably as good (and as useless) as any, I was considered a Brain. (Remember: this was Idaho. Ah, can't get enough of that cheap joke.) I was pretty average-looking (had a nasty year-or-so-long bout with Ye Olde Acne, which was pretty raw, but it went away), didn't have many girlfriends, but I had a good sense of humor that served me well. I played tennis and baseball, and was neither any good nor wholly terrible at either.

Leo was none of these things. He was pudgy and pale, and not athletic in any way. He wasn't necessarily stupid, but he wasn't exactly lighting up the boards with his grades either. He had a slight lisp--always a great plan provided you like it when people call you a fairy. But really, Leo's big problem--and probably his greatest Catch-22--was simply that Leo tried way too hard.

"Hey, guys!" he would call out to some group of kids, all of whom would rather eat poison than be seen with Leo. "What's going on? You guys hanging?" Sullen mutters by way of response. "Check it out!" Leo would continue, undeterred, his eyes shining a little. "Got a debate trip coming up." He'd bark some nervous laughter. "That's so lame." Silence.

It was always so horrible. Nobody wanted the guy around, and everyone knew it. Worse, he knew it. But what was he supposed to do? Not talk to anyone? I guess . . . but that would also be a lousy option as well, since Not Talking To Anyone would of course provide definitive proof that he was a big loser. Better to try and awkwardly try and wedge his way into . . . anything, maybe if only to elicit some terse comment, even a lousy, "Yeah, I hear that, I guess" that he could take home with him as meager evidence that he wasn't completely alone in the school. Which he undoubtedly was.

I'd like to say that I, being the stand-up high school guy that I was, was above all that crap, but of course I wasn't. I wanted as much as everyone else to climb the ranks of coolness, which of course wasn't fucking likely, but it certainly wasn't going to help my slim chances by associating with the likes of Leo, right? So I too traded in the cheapest and yet most valuable of social currencies: pissing on the guys a few rungs down on the social ladder. It wasn't that I disliked Leo, though he could be exasperating in his too-eager-to-please circumlocutions, but I'd be lying if part of it wasn't a certain amount of contempt and disgust as well: Don't be such a simpering pussy. Never mind that I was a pussy too, and had done my share of simpering. The hard fact was, he was desperately trying to trade up friendship for some respect, but I think even he knew that nobody wanted what he had to offer.

Leo also didn't have much going for him at home, either, from what I understand. I know his mom wasn't around, but I cannot remember if she died, or left, or what. I do know that he was stuck at home with his father, who, by all accounts, was a vicious, miserable douchebag who was almost unbelievably cruel to his only son: you know, the pale, pudgy, unathletic, unpopular one. There were whispers of abuse, I know, but I also know this documented fact: on more than one occasion, Leo's dad, upon receiving one of Leo's really unspectacular report cards, took an ad out in the local paper that published his grades, with text to the effect that he was publically "challenging" his son to do better.

This was, to everyone in school, of course hilarious. Yeah, that's a laugh riot.

One night Leo was home alone--I don't know where his dad was--and he built up some kindling in their wood stove. Then he loaded it up with some gunpowder and possibly some gasoline. Then he threw in a match, and the whole fucking thing blew up. To hear some accounts, it "moved the walls" of the house, or, sometimes, "cracked the foundation." Small town stories are rife with bullshit and embellishment. What was indisputable, however, was that it blasted Leo's face off and landed him in the hospital.

This was also, by the way, hilarious (though in that hushed way that pretends to actually convey sympathy where there is in fact none). The leading jokes--and they were legion--all pointed to what a complete dingus Leo was. After all, he maintained steadily that he was "just trying to start a fire, didn't know that would happen, etc." What an idiot! Some wags offered that it was Leo's one attempt to become cooler by "taking up smoking." If anyone else shared my thought that it was an ill-conceived and maybe half-hearted suicide attempt, nobody told me. And I didn't say anything either.

That would have made me . . . what? Sympathetic? Couldn't have that.

After a lengthy hospital stay, Leo returned to school. Same old Leo! He did at least get points for being plucky, for he would regularly still approach groups of people (who did not want him around) and say things like, "Hey, guys! What's up? Hanging out?" Except now his face looked like a ruined pink asteroid. How he kept his eyes--actually, they were nice blue eyes--is beyond me. His hair had all burned off too.

Yeah, Leo, we were just hanging out. Talking about you, and making Frankenstein jokes. Or jokes about roasted ham. Get lost, would you?

When graduation rolled around, Leo was still there. In fact--I just looked at my yearbook to confirm the memory--Leo had lost a lot of the baby fat. He didn't look bad! He had also gotten taller while I was busy not noticing him. I don't know if he had work done (I doubt it) but the explosion hadn't even damaged his face much in the long term; it had all seemed to heal well. He almost looked sort of . . . handsome.

He still didn't have any friends, though. Not that I could tell. I know he signed up for the Marines and went to boot camp after graduation, which seemed, at the time, frankly incredible.

I never heard anything about him since. Not that I've asked.

I do think about him, though, now and again. Which I acknowledge is worthless sentiment. I don't ask for expiation or forgiveness or any of that. I guess I just wish him well.

And man, I don't even think I deserve to do that.

Wednesday, 23 March
You Give A Little, You Get A Little

Tonight our friend K. was getting kicked out of her apartment, as her guy needed to commandeer the place to have some sort of meeting for an upcoming theatricalish event. (Troublingly, he is evidently going to be a DJ-ish persona for some whacked-out late night performance: later in the evening, he showed us his new toy, a terrible Yamaha keyboard thing that was mostly amusing for its ability to, at the press of a button, play awful Casiotone-y genre music. And also, at the press of another button, to shout out a tinny canned voice yelling "Deejay!" There's something really great about hearing artificial banjo music being coughed up by a machine and then hearing it punctuated by a shout of "Deejay!" Then K. would play helicopter noises. It was kind of like listening to a Ross Gellar opus.)

Anyway. K. the non-DJ needed out, and so we decided to meet up for some cheap Mexican food; we grabbed her at her apartment and we made our way up to Broadway. Well, not true--we largely avoided Broadway, as Broadway is the main drag (in so many ways) of our neighborhood, and filled with panhandlers and Save The Annoying Children types, and that sort of thing, so we stayed on the byways in order to avoid being hassled.

It didn't work at all. We eventually had to turn up to Broadway to actually enter the restaurant, and in the intervening half-block, we were accosted by a hurricane of a woman. She was ostensibly chainsawing people on behalf of her daughter (present), raising money for . . . well, I kind of missed it. All I know is, suddenly she was in lockstep with me, and she was unstoppable.

"Hello how you all doin' tonight? I'm gonna do this in sixty seconds, and Lord it may kill me--you should see my feet! Be blessed you can't feel 'em, but here's the thing, my daughter needs to travel to the heart of the sun to fetch herself the Eye of the Crocodile Lord, I swear--I ain't crazy! But listen, all they got is a van and a prayer, so I am out here to help her, because I'm told I have a big mouth and so I'm hopin' you good people will consider buying some candy bars and makin' a donation, 'cause I am telling you that if I don't shoot my daughter into the sun, then what kind of momma am I? I ask you! And you should see this van, it ain't fit for solar travel! No! So listen . . . "

We were paralyzed by this whole verbal barrage, not to mention the daughter, who tagged around in the background shouting hosannas of encouragement: "That's right! We thank you!" We all wore the frozen smiles of the Urban Cornered: "There's no good way to get out of this, is there?" Well, of course there was. We could have easily said, "Not interested, no, get lost, sorry." Or, more coarsely, "Get the fuck out of my face, you yammering hellfinch!"

I decided rather quickly that it was well worth my money to get rid of this woman as soon as possible. I cut her off. "Okay!" I interjected. "How much for a candy bar?"

"Five dollars."

A bargain at a sixth of the price! Rapture! "Fine," I said.

I had only twenties and . . . four ones. I turned to the wife. "Do you have an extra buck?" I asked. This was taking longer than I wanted. The huckster woman set down her box of candy bars on a nearby sidewalk planter, her eyes shifting all around.

"You all only want one candy bar?" Yep. "You can make donations too!" K. shrugged and pulled out a dollar to give her. In the meantime, the wife was failing to find an extra buck. This was getting a little exhausting. I said, "Okay, can you break a twenty?"

"Sure!" she exclaimed, and then this is where things got really dizzying. For one thing, I could tell that she was less than pleased that we were only buying one lousy fucking candy bar--five dollars?!--and for another thing, she had her cash stowed all over her damn coat pockets. Okay, so I had four singles, and I thought the wife had another to make five, but she didn't, and so we ended up handing money back and forth, and since that didn't work, I ended up grabbing a twenty to buy the candy bar, but then the wife did too, and there was some confusion as to who was paying for what (on our end), and in the meantime the aggressive woman was digging out wads of money from her coat to try and give us our change (still kind of upset that we weren't giving her more money than we obviously could, but I'm kind of on the fence about shooting children into the sun), and so it turned into this big horrible mess that always happens when I fail to listen to my impulses about shit like this.

Later on, K. said that she had totally lost the flow of what the hell was going on with the money, and that she was really worried that we were suddenly involved in one of those crappy scams where con artists bewilder you with monetary gymnastics until you're so dazed that you don't even realize that the scammer just walked off with all of your money.

And truth be told, so was I. I have, years ago when working retail, gotten nailed by just this very ruse. So I watched the money like a hawk: at one point, she handed me a roll of cash--"Hold this, would you, honey?"--and I also handed the wife some dough--she was also trying to help me make my five dollar contribution, or something . . . the money all whirled. As I say, I was vigilant. In the end, finally, we got it worked out, and the woman took the twenty and dutifully gave back fifteen in change.

We started away, but then she called us back. "Are you sure I gave you back fifteen? I might have given you sixteen!" Sigh. The wife once again counted the change. No, we got our fifteen back. We had paid our fee for the five-dollar candy bar, which, I noted a bit later, she forgot to give me. Whatever.

But of course, we didn't get it right at all. I was not as hawkeyed as I imagined. You know where this is going.

When we had eaten and the bill came, we all pulled out our wallets. I looked at the contents, and I stared with bad feelings. Something was very wrong. I counted my money three times before I realized what had happened.

In the hurricane of money exchanges, someone had gotten really fucked. And it was the candy bar woman. Somewhere along the line, she had given me, in exchange for my five bucks, exactly twenty-three dollars.

The wife heroically went to look for the woman to see if her and her daughter were still around. They weren't. There was nothing to be done.

Thanks, candy bar woman, for the donation. Sorry about your daughter. Buy sunblock.

Tuesday, 22 March
The Watcher

[Hey, I just lost the first draft of this! Thanks, fucking CLEAR key! If I were less stupid, I'd probably know how to undo that, but I'm not! I'll be attacking you with pliers later, CLEAR key!]

Today I came home from work feeling a bit peckish, so I dug out a bag of peanuts from the cupboard. Sweet peanuts! Little oily things that will cling to my teeth in paste form! I began eating them in a time-honored way--particularly if you are male--which was to take a small handful in your palm, raise up your arm, and then clap your now-opened palm against your maw, letting the delicious hail of nuts clatter against your teeth and hopefully not carom down your trachea.

But I got distracted. Something went wrong: maybe I got engrossed with something on TV, or perhaps I was absorbed in some studied thoughts about current political imbroglios, or perhaps I simply got hung up trying to both maneuver my limbs while also attempting the complicated process of radiating body heat.

Instead of deftly executing a very standard peanut-eating routine, what happened was this: I grabbed some peanuts. I swiveled my arm upwards and then facewards, anticipating delivery of the nutty payload. Then I totally failed to open my peanut-filled hand. Basically, I punched myself right in the mouth with a handful of peanuts (which all cascaded down my front immediately afterwards). In pain, I stared hatefully at my enemy hand for a moment. Because yeah, that was the problem. My hand.

It sort of reminded me about my recent trouble with renting horrible movies. I wondered if I could blame my hand on those, too. Were they responsible for Van Helsing? Or The Forgotten? Unlikely. I don't know what is, but something in my body is trying to betray me. Possibly my shins. I also haven't ruled out my hair.

[Standard disclaimer here that I am going to talk about movies. If you don't want to know specifics about Confessions of a Dangerous Mind or Torque (my preferred title: Turque), then don't read.]

So we watched Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. It wasn't anywhere as horrible as the movies I namecheck above, and it certainly wasn't a busted mouth and a lapful of runaway nuts (that would be another Kaufman flick, Adaptation, whose admirers I will never understand), but it wasn't . . . well, very good.

Sam Rockwell was very good in what amounted to a skilled display of mimicry, but I always think, Isn't this sort of cheating? I mean, actors are sort of supposed to observe human behavior and then take those observations onto stage or film and then recreate believable facsimiles of same. But when you've got some person that you're supposed to more or less reproduce this way--particularly if you have hours of videotape with which to perfect your mimicry, and more particularly when that person has some very well-known tics and familiar behavioral traits--well, nothing on Sam, but come on. I hope I don't sound like an ego-junkie, but really, it's not that hard. Vegas hacks have been doing this for years.

Anyway. I've been told that I'm too hard on the movie--which struck me mostly as a lot of strange shaggy-dog silliness borne from the fevered diaries of a monomaniacal coke fiend--and maybe that's so. I didn't hate it, I'll say that.

(I will say this: the cable company warned the wife and I that the movie contained NUDITY! I was really happy. Drew Barrymore was returning to her Poison Ivy years and was going to remove her shirt! Imagine my disappointment when all the nudity turned out to consist of curiously long shots of Sam Rockwell's ass. There was a lot of his ass! I was going to lodge a complaint about this, but really, it's just fair. We guys see NUDITY WARNINGS and we just assume, "Hurrah! Some chick is going to pop her top!" I think it's only fair that every now and then it means that we have to stare sullenly at some dude's butt for a while.)

Torque was . . . well, holy cheesemaking Jesus. That was quite a thing. (We watched it right after Confessions, which was sort of like reading "Maxim" right after putting down Bleak House. And while I do emphatically assert that this movie was made my syphilitic otters on fire, I also point out that the wife commented later that it was "one of the best comedies I've seen in a while."

This was undoubtedly true. The movie is essentially a 90-minute music video, but so much more. The lead character, whose name I could not possibly imagine, is rugged and tough in that Hollywood way, where he has perfect stubble, and looks as if he could really beat the shit out of some cardboard boxes. He can ride the bejeezus out of a motorcycle, though, as can every single person in the movie, which leads to spectacular sequences where people jump from moving cars onto cycle seats; people pop wheelies at 150 mph (wouldn't they suddenly turn into parasails?); and nobody seems to mind when a $20K bike gets run over by marauding hillbillies.

This was a truly great movie. For one thing, you don't have to think about one single fucking thing. The most challenging part of the movie involves a running joke (well, an intermittently dripping joke) about how the main character--the Conqueror of Cardboard--recently spent some time in Thailand. He laboriously explains to more than one person that it is, in fact, ethnographically inaccurate to refer to the Thai people as "chinks."

Really, the whole movie is like The Matrix as conceived by the producers of "Hee-Haw." In fact, they lift the whole awful "Zion as rave party" sequence from The Matrix and set it instead in some blasted desert outhouse where the band seems to be waiting for Roy Acuff to come out and praise the outlaws' beards. The entire film is deeply weird and should be seen by everyone.

[Spoilers over.]

One final note: Sandra Bullock was on "The Daily Show" tonight, promoting her new film, Miss Congeniality: Armed and Fabulous. This on the same day that I read of her mission to do more important films, edgier films. Like what? Practical Magic?

I jerked my thumb at the screen and sneered to the wife: "I hate this bony scag." The wife made an unconvincing smile-face at me; she probably wonders how long it will be before I assault her with a corkscrew.

I would not assault my good wife. But I would mount an attack on Sandra Bullock's career. "Armed and Fabulous"? This is the equivalent of a puffy lip and a lapful of peanuts. A selfpunch in the face. A Charlie Kaufman script.

I'd rather watch Torque.

Friday, 18 March
No There There

Just a few things to note, really, before I entirely scrub this entire fuck-circus of a week out of my brain:

1. NCAA madness is upon us! I have even entered a bracket, or whatever, into competition! I have no idea what I'm doing! Basically, whenever I think that there's nothing left to not care about, I fondly remember that college sports exist. There was much excitement today because, I hear, the Huskies won, which is pleasing to me, because I honestly do care about the near-success of all Washington sports teams: it is genuinely funny every time one of our teams gets close to winning anything, and then inevitably it all ends in ashes. Cleveland: will you marry us?

2. The wife was just channel-surfing and spontaneously broke out laughing. Why? The Sci-Fi channel, always high-rent entertainment, was playing the movie Leprechaun. I want to kiss the programmer who thumbs-upped this for St. Paddy's Day.

3. I don't normally do this, but I'm going to reprint a reader comment onto the main page here, because it's kind of made my night. (And I thought Leprechaun was going to be the highlight.)

A few posts back, I made fun of a video store rental called Made in Estonia, with the indelible tagline, "MADE WITH PEOPLE!" I also took the minimal trouble to IMDB it, and wondered what the actual Estonian title could possibly mean. An Estonian reader has responded. And I am so happy.

"Made in Estonia" is actually quite qute movie for Estonian :) Ok, it love-hate movie and people here are pretty much divided about it. But it has great soundtrack (listen to Genialistid here It actually started as a morning show where two guiys performed as two married couple. One playing female for one couple, the other for other one. Growed into a hit TV-show, toured Estonia and finally made a movie. And title "Vanad ja kobedad saavad jalad alla" means something like "Old and perky (?) get their shit together".

This is the best comment my blog has ever received, and I really mean that. I'm getting old, I'm sort of perky, and I do need to get my shit together.

I'm so going to visit Estonia.

Thursday, 17 March
Green Day

Well, in just a bit it will be St. Patrick's Day. (Probably by the time I post this, it will be.) Just what we need: another quasi-holiday giving us an excuse to drink. It's the Cinco de Mayo of the Irish! Let's leave aside the obvious Irish jokes about hard drinking anyway--Americans frankly don't need any excuse anyway. We'll drink on any holiday.

Well, I will, anyway. There aren't a lot of holidays, sanctioned by the gov't or not, that doesn't call for hoisting one. What are the exceptions? Easter isn't a big boozer holiday, I guess, but I'll bet when Jesus crawled out of the damn tomb he was probably ready for a Bloody Mary. Luckily, he had not one but two Marys around to tap. All he needed was vodka and an efficient plan for exsanguination.

I guess MLK day isn't a real barn-burner for the lush set, either; nor Presidents Day. Really, none of the generic Monday holidays are really about celebrating much other than the pure glee of being able to drink to excess on a Sunday night. Well, and remembering icons and memorializing certain dead people, I guess. You always make sure to do that, right?

The generic Mondays aside, the rest of the big holidays are drinkoramas. As a kid, Halloween is all about candy. As an adult, it's about getting loaded and hunting around for chicks in Elvira costumes. Valentine's Day? Wine, chocolate, and fumblesome sex. July 4th? Fireworks are so utterly boring that it's really just impossible not to cast around for a numbing agent. Thanksgiving? It's when you set out all the booze you don't want any more and wait for the desperate to charge. "Loganberry liqueur? Jolly Rancher Watermelon Vodka? Off-brand mezcal? This is it? (Pause.) Gimme one of each."

Do I even have to mention Christmas or New Year's?

I can't face going out for St. Paddy's day any more. Too many amateurs out there slugging down Irish whiskey and Guinness while roaming bands of malicious bagpipers assault the luckless fools with Gaelic wheezes as they wrestle unholy sounds out of their weapons crafted from the lungs of asthmatic sheep. We will bar the door and make some nice stew (the wife's brother is coming over), and we'll just have a quiet night in. Probably we'll get kind of stewed, too.

It's how we show our respect for our Irish brothers!

You seriously don't want to know what we do for Groundhog Day.

Monday, 14 March
Sylvia Bath

I have done it again.
One day in every ten
I manage it--

A sort of caulking miracle, my tub.
The sour mildew
Will vanish in a day.

I have suffered the atrocity of toilets.
Munge in the bowl
My brush filaments scrub and burn, a hand of ick.

Now I churn up soapstuffs that fly about the tub.
A film of such indolence
Will accompany my bystanding: I must shriek.

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it not terribly well.

I do it so it does not smell.
I do it so it feels clean.
I guess you could say I bought some gel.

Does not my sponge astound you. And my rag.
All by myself I am a schmutz Godzilla
Scrubbing and powdering and brow-dering, flush on flush.

I think I am cleaning up,
I think I may sanitize--
The motes of green Comet fly, and I, toilet, I

Am a pure ammonia
Attended by noses,

By hisses, by effluvium,
By whatever these pink fingers clean.
Dead hands, dead astringents.

There were stains on your white parts
And we tenants never liked you.
We are dancing and showering in you.
We always noticed your goo.
Bathroom, bathroom, you bastard, I'm through.

Friday, 11 March
Pretty Stupid Baby

Much of what follows is, I must confess, based on reports from various family members. It is probably just as well that we do not remember much from when we were toddlers, since they are basically really embarrassing little id-wagons. I seem to have been no different.

Wednesday, 09 March
Back To The Top, Shall We?

It was, I think, the summer between my junior and senior year in high school that the big party was announced. Some guy--a popular guy, but whose name I just do not remember--was having an overnighter on some property his family owned down on the river. Everyone was invited, everyone was told to bring their own provisions, and everyone was told that it was for the night: the gates would be locked, mainly to prevent teenagers in assorted altered states from doing what fucked-up teenagers do best, which is run into things, like trees or dogs or grandmothers.

I loaded up the car with the necessary provisions: a cooler of beer and my friends B. and K., who were in charge of . . . watching the cooler of beer, I guess. We set out for the party site. Halfway there we were pulled over by a State Trooper.

"What's in the cooler?" he asked, bored.

I don't deal well with cops, which is to say, I immediately give in to fatalism.

"Beer," I said. He sighed.

I swear to you, it was just then his radio crackled with some urgent message. "BLAH BLAH! BLAH BLAH! ON THE SCENE! BLAH BLAH!" How they listen to that gabble is beyond me, but he stood up very straight and stepped away from the car; said a few terse words back. We remained silent in my awful car, sullen in the knowledge that we were well and truly boned. We were probably all wanted for rape in Saskatchewan or something; the beer cooler only confirmed our rotten character. Finally, the trooper came back.

"It's your lucky day. I have to go to another scene. I don't have time to bust you right now. You best get where you're going and stay there. You get me?"

Boy, did we. This was a warning shot from the cosmos, and I would have to be a stone fool to ignore it. It was time to go home.

We naturally drove like maniacs right to the party.

The scene there resembled something like some unholy Valley of the Dolls/Lord of the Flies mashup. A few guys had built an anemic campfire, mostly out of toxic semi-combustibles like deck-treated lumber and tires; they were deriving some hilarity out of--this still depresses me--tossing live toads into the blaze. I moved away from this place quickly, not only because of the obvious horror of it all, but because I was nervously observing a particular troglodyte named Nate, who eyed me with a drunken malevolence. I didn't know why. (I still don't.)

I retrieved a beer from the car (everyone, for obvious reasons, kept their beer locked in their cars) and wandered over to a ramshackle barn, where I encountered Bobby, who was fiddling with some tiny objects in his hands. I asked him what was up.

"Fucking Tylenol caplets, dude." He continued futzing with the tiny little things. It became apparent that he was trying to separate the two pieces of the caplets, which he eventually accomplished, and weensy little granules of analgesic poured out onto his palm. Bobby honked all of this up into his nose, looking satisfied. "You want some? I've got a ton of this shit."

Well, no. But his Kleenexes probably looked kind of amusing the next day, like he'd been sniffing Smarties. This was coming of age in rural Idaho: Nope, no crack! Want some over-the-counter painkillers?

As the beer continued to flow and the night darkened, things took a turn for the worse. Nate, previously seen roasting toads, for some reason decided that what would really enliven the night was a beating, specifically him beating me. He began a really inept stalking campaign, trying to hunt me down stealthily, but managed to ruin it at about every turn, because he kept drunkenly whispering things like, "Li'l fucker . . . gonna beatcha." (People are going to think I'm kidding, but I'm not.)

It was really just stupid as hell. Nate would spy me, and would try to corner me somewhere (which was even stupider, since it was a pretty open place with not many corners), rasping "Gonna beatcha . . . little fucker . . . don't run . . . " and then he'd lurch out of the darkness, and I'd walk away from him, because he was just blind, and couldn't follow. Don't run? Fuck, I could crawl away from him.

At one point I thought it was all going to be done with. Nate spied me across the bed of a shiny pickup truck and tried to climb over it, and was immediately seized by the truck's owner, a truly immense person named Tim. Tim held Nate by the neck and explained, "Your jacket rivets are fucking up my truck! Knock it off!" He tossed Nate to the ground like litter while I chuckled inside; Nate lay on the ground for a while, and I figured happily that he was done for the evening.

Twenty minutes later: "Where's that li'l fucker? I'm gonna beat 'im." Nate was staggering around looking for me. I wondered if Bobby had shoved some invigorating Tylenol up his nose. It was time to go, locked gate or no.

"Look," I explained to the beefhead at the gate, "I'm not going to spend all night waiting for this guy squash my head with a rock." I was given a look that informed me that I was, pretty irrefutably, a complete pussy, an assessment that I was prepared to agree with. So was the kid who hitched a ride back with me, a freshman. I hadn't had time to figure out what his deal was; perhaps he was being menaced by Ghost Rider or the Toad Spirits. I didn't give a fuck--we just wanted to go home.

Two minutes after we had pierced the town city limits, we were pulled over. I hadn't used my turn signal. A cop approached my vehicle.

"What's in the cooler?" he asked.

I gripped the steering wheel. "Beer," I said.

He sighed.

Tuesday, 08 March
The Goggles Do Nothing

Continuing a long streak of seeing absolutely miserable movies, Friday the wife and I endured the Julianne Moore unthriller The Forgotten, a title that is surely wishful thinking for everyone involved, and I'm including myself here. For those who wish yet again to be spared the ruining of the pre-ruined, skip the next paragraph or so until I warn you that the spoilers for this stupid chancre are all done.

The Forgotten is another hunk of chum from the Hollywood fishbucket whose only raison d'etre seems to be, yet again, to challenge the validity of Occam's Razor. See, Julianne Moore is an ex-mom and grief-junkie who lost her adorable widdle son in a plane wreck. I leave it to you to evaluate the relative probabilities of some alternate explanations: 1. The NSA, in cowed collusion with powerful alien entities UP THERE SOMEWHERE, routinely helps to cover up that children are stolen by said aliens for . . . some reason, and in fact helps to erase these unfortunate blonde white children from the memories all involved; OR 2. Julianne Moore NEVER HAD A CHILD, and is in fact a raving psychotic being not so much talked down from the ledge by professional milquetoast Anthony Edwards (husband) and Gary "I Can't Move My Jaw" Sinise (shrink); OR 3. Julianne Moore's kid was killed in a plane wreck and then, after an appropriate mourning period, she comes to terms with the fact that life blows sometimes.

Hollywood, naturally, picks 1 and 2 as the most logical choices.

Okay, spoilers over.

Saturday the wife had a work fundraising event, leaving me my own cheerless devices, so I called my friends K. and K. and harangued them into meeting me for a bite to eat. They showed up in dual states of misery, with male K. suffering horribly from allergies and looking like a ringworm victim around the nose and eyes, and female K. who troublingly explained to me that the previous day she had undergone some form of HMO torture: "I had to have some veins in my nose cauterized." So basically they shoved a hot poker up one of her nostrils and then sent her home laughing. "Can you believe we can bill them for this shit? I feel like Torquemada with a waiting list!"

I told them about The Forgotten, and presently we found ourselves in a discussion about really shitty movies. Like, the shittiest movies we could think of. Not tediously rotten trifles like The Forgotten, or deliberately obvious crimes against the mind like Freddie Got Fingered: no, we talked about films that are so egregiously bad, so cosmically wretched, that it actually makes you mad that they were ever created.

I had an idea, a dark one: one weekend, on a Sunday (preferably we'd all take that next Monday off), we would watch our three picks. In a row. With, necessarily, a lot of booze on hand. Here were the three films we picked (admittedly after only about 20 minutes of discussion):

Very Bad Things
What Planet Are You From?

I don't know if we'll have the courage to follow up on this plan. I have many fears. Our eyes could understandably rebel and run out the door to seek new lives, like Gogol's nose. We could, in a Foster Wallacean development, find ourselves so hopelessly mesmerized by the spectacle that our bodies are found by law enforcement officers after a long deliquescent process. Or we could perhaps helplessly succumb to some nameless cellular defense mechanism that would cause us to devolve into some form of crustaceans doomed forever to hopelessly mate with discarded cola cans because we don't know any better but it's better than watching those films.

Later that night, I went with K. and K. to the video store and lolled around while they tried to find movies. I found myself looking at the import shelf and saw something momentous. It was a DVD of a movie called Made In Estonia. Of course I picked it up. Oh, my people! What have you wrought?

The woeful little case showcased some embarrassing photos of actors displaying broad comic expressions--it is possible that one person was in drag, but then again, it's eastern Europe, so sometimes it's hard to tell; they're still trying to figure out porn, late in the game, and so sometimes they throw up photos of women who look like Harvey Korman, which is probably what nobody needs on a site like, say,

Later at home, I took the trouble to IMDB the title "Made In Estonia," and sure enough, it's there: the native title is Vanad ja kobedad saavad jalad alla. I'd love to know what that actually means, since I know it's not "Made in Estonia;" my fractional bit of Estonian knowledge tells me that much. IMDB also provides the embarrassing tagline (well, the English version anyway): "Beautiful country. Beautiful people. Smile through tears."

If Estonians didn't loathe the Russians so much, I'd almost expect this to be drafted by the Politburo. "SMILE THROUGH TEARS! Otherwise we lash you!"

No, I think this was a 100% Estonian effort, if only for the little sub-tag on the DVD box (female-K. was the one to point it out). It charmed the hell out of me. Down on the right of the embarrassing box photos there were a couple of rah-rah rent-me lines, and this one was great:


There's an idea. Hollywood . . . meet Estonia. I'd like you to hear them out.

Thursday, 03 March
Forgotten Super Heroes

The Pug-ilist

Nick Taylor is a hero in a world he never made . . . and he's running low on newspaper to lay down. Born with a mutant gene that allows him to tap into the Extradimensional Specific Canine Aether, Taylor is able to summon an unlimited number of pug dogs at any time. In his last fateful encounter with The Bank Robber (one of Marvel's more uninspired villains), Taylor stretched himself to the limit and summoned an veritable army of adorable pug dogs, who immediately cowered nervously in place and peed.

Holly Hocks

Holly Pawnn was your ordinary teenager just trying to fit in until one day she was exposed to experimental mu-rays generated by a lab experiment gone wrong involving the artificial (and unstable) element Garyon. The same experiment that also empowered her nemesis--and Holly's former lab instructor--Dr. Burghoff, aka Radar, who was driven irrevocably insane by the same Garyon radiation. Radar madly stalks our nation's highways using his powers to disable speed traps, and our hero Holly counters him using her newly found ability to exchange personal belongings for cash. Holly was last seen in World's Finest #452, in which she saved the day by pawning a can of Bat-Worcestershire for nine dollars.


Hardly anyone knows about Floss, and that's never going to change. Floss wouldn't have it any other way. Preferring to operate from the shadows, he is a street mystic, a quiet revolution, a rogue through and through. And though Floss may live in the crevices, in the nooks, the world needs him: because Caraway is coming. In an uncaring world, it's all up to Floss. This is all covered in the limited run of Crisis in Infinite Gums, to be published independently by Tobin's Periodontical Concern, Ltd.

The Hairier Jet

Emil Bardo never asked for the ability to be able to grow hair on commercial airliners, but it was his birthright as the starchild of R'xxyll and Paul Jennings. Forever doomed to be a minor player on the superhero stage, Emil nonetheless earned his superhero stripes when he was able to keep passengers warm after an Arctic flyover went wrong, and the DC-10 lost its climate control. Bardo singlehandedly grew a thick coat of luxuriant hair over the lost jet . . . and, heroically helped shave it all off after landing, which unfortunately cost him his sanity. He now resides at Sorghum Sasylum, where he giggles nervously as he builds tiny, whiskered model airplanes.

Johnny Bench

This modestly talented superhero made a name for himself (briefly) as a crimefighter who thwarted minor criminals. Utilizing a mental domination ability that allowed him via vocal command to make anyone sit down proved unsuccessful when, during a bank heist, he came to ruin. "SIT DOWN!" cried Johnny, and the criminal did. Then the robber shot him in the head. The villain, however, remained seated until apprehension, and complained of contact sores. The city commemorated Johnny with a statue of his likeness, and people to this day view it with awe, and look for places to sit down in his honor. Several funding measures to provide benches for this monument have failed, but the city remains hopeful.

(You know, I'm just going to stop here, because . . . oy. I was just about to launch into the secret history of the Brazil Nut, whose enchanted thong conferred the magical power to become insane at any time. Other rejected heroes: Beet Happening, Dr. Moog and The Last Barfighter. No. This is all bad enough.)

Wednesday, 02 March
For The Children

Yesterday the wife came home from her job managing a preschool with a bummer of a tale: one of her young charges, who has nasty allergies, had to be taken to a hospital after she started swelling up like a sausage when introduced to a new room that apparently contained some histological bastardy that her little body wasn't yet accustomed to. (She was fine, and in fact returned later that day to wonder why all her friends had left her and gone home.)

I can relate. When I was a tot, I had some ridiculously severe allergies to contend with--not to mention asthma, and boy did those two play together well. (You can see why I eventually took up smoking. It was the logical thing to do.)

The parents started to wonder, for example, why their third-grader couldn't sleep through the night without sounding like a victim of mustard gas; this was in addition to the fact that I frequently looked like someone had boiled me. Turns out it was my feather pillow: our GP gave me that famously enjoyable scratch-the-kid's-back-with-every-known-allergen test, and a day later I was in agony as practically every fucking thing turned up positive. My back looked like a neglected turnpike on Mars. I was allergic to dogs, cats, animal dander (this for all non-pet sources), pretty much every kind of grass and pollen, hay, wheat, chamomile, Barbra Streisand and, my personal favorite, house dust.

House dust? Great! I can solve that problem easily! I'll just . . . not be in a house! I'll go live with the . . . animals! Oh. House dust. Look, I didn't grow up in a dungheap or anything, but let's just say that my parents are about as enthusiastic about dusting as I am. I am more than content to let gray fur collect on my home electronics until performance is impeded.

It was a helluva thing to deal with as a kid. More than once, when visiting friends with cats, my eyes would swell shut, and I would wheeze horribly. I spent more than one night at the hospital (with my mom, who was an RN) not really understanding why I couldn't have anything to drink (something to do with the medication, I guess), and so I would gnaw on a damp washcloth for moisture. (Sometimes I would get ice chips.) For a period of time, I would receive weekly shots to help me out (steroids, I assume, maybe prednisone).

Springtime rapidly became my least favorite season; in Idaho, where we lived, that's when the cottonwood trees would bloom, and I'd stare at them with hate. Their awful rain of pollen carried on those fat white tufts would generally mean that I couldn't even climb the one story of stairs to my room without pausing halfway up to catch my breath.

I got lucky. I outgrew nearly every one of those allergies (and, to a degree, the crippling asthma--thanks, Big Tobacco!). Sometimes I can feel myself tightening up when assaulted by cats, but for the most part, it's dealable-with, especialy if someone has a Claritin handy. The last time I really had a reaction was when I was in a room with baby rabbits, and I found myself turning into Jonathan Winters: it wasn't enough that I had to leave the room, I had to leave the house.

Really. I couldn't go back in. (And since the hosts in question were some really astoundingly boring people, this didn't necessarily bum me out.) I stood outside for a while until my body decided to stop attacking itself and calmed down. (It would have been better to wash up and get the fucking dander off me, but I wasn't going anywhere near the place again.) Eventually my breathing regulated, and I felt better. I experimentally lit a cigarette. Things were fine again. You don't need to draw me a map.

I think it's obvious that I'll need to visit the wife's preschool to explain that taking up smoking is the best possible thing those kids can do. The sooner the better. I don't want them to suffer.

Tuesday, 01 March
Golden Showers

Now that everyone else on earth has written their minds about the Oscars, I figure I'll do my usual and come in a day late with mine. It's kind of a challenge, especially when so many of my lousy jokes were stolen right out from under me; but in a way, it's not really a challenge, because the Oscars and its attendees are such incredibly rich targets.

As usual, the wife and I went to a party where for the most part, the real sport is shouting awful imprecations and insults at the screen and drinking booze, both of which help to alleviate the almost sinister fog of boredom that the entire spectacle so reliably exudes. (Our contribution to the numbing agents were, following the theme, The Passionfruit of the Christ cocktails, which were delicious and, predictably, lethal.)

We waited for a while, enduring but not paying much attention to the insulting Gauntlet Of Fashion that the celebs had to run before getting inside: someday an actress is going to make me very happy by showing up in overalls and gushing about the incredible job Osh Kosh B'Gosh did on her outfit. This heroic person (let's say . . . Bjork!) could bring someone reliably insane like Billy Bob Thornton as her date, who in the spirit of things would probably show up with his dick in a sock.

Eventually Chris Rock hit the stage and wasted no time savaging various people (the most punished of which were conspicuously not there), much to our glee: nobody in the world appreciates the cornholing of people like Nicole Kidman or Colin Farrell so much as a roomful of actors who know in their souls that they would just kill to be those very victims. Of the actors who did happen to be present when they got shanked, most displayed a good sense of humor about it, except for Halle Berry, who's probably going to need that TMJ looked at after gritting her way onstage after the "Catwoman 2" crack. (Maybe I'm wrong, since she showed up to accept her Razzie award, but she sure looked pissed.)

Much ballyhooed were the format changes, ostensibly to speed things up, but were really just creative exercises in pure cruelty. Some of the luckless "technical award" nominees had to stand on masse on the stage during the announcement, looking like expensively tailored nervous cattle--I would have enjoyed seeing some snarling border collies in tiny little dog tuxes keeping them in check. Then, after the winners were announced, the sad livestock all had to troop offstage in a group, herded down some Temple Grandin-designed animal chute before being collected into the loser-cage where they could low mournfully while awaiting a boltgun to the head. Hollywood hates losers, and once you have the stink on you, forget it. Look at Marty Scorcese.

The other innovation was the nominees who didn't even get to move from their seats while the presenters stood in the audience nervously, giving the affair a real "talk to the audience" feel. ("Oh God! This is always death!") Cate Blanchett seemed genuinely fazed by the weirdness of the scene, but maybe it was her luminous yellow dress floating amidst the red carpeting and the black tuxes: she looked like some otherworldly lemon that had accidentally materialized onto someone's backgammon board. Or there was Scarlett Johanssen--who continue to proudly display her love for older men by arriving wheeling in Nick Nolte in his iron lung--weirdly appearing in one of the upper boxes to present some meaningless awards. Flanked by the nominees, I could only imagine several descendants of John Wilkes Booth emerging from the shadows to fulfill their genetic heritage by shooting them all in the head. Sic semper celebritas!

The musical numbers, always a horror, reached a kind of apex of shame this year, with the ubiquitous Beyonce performing three of the numbers (presumably undergoing extensive sandblasting between each number). The Oscar voters have a mesmerisingly reliable tin ear in picking these things, and even when some fluke sneaks through ("Blame Canada," "Miss Misery"), it gets murdered by something awful from Disney or Phil Collins or both. Probably next year it'll be Vin Diesel singing a ballad with string arrangements by that guy who used to be in Ratt. The two songs not sung through the eyeballs of Beyonce were handled by, unbelievably, Counting Crows (many Sideshow Bob jokes have been made, but my favorite comment from the party was "Is that Kid? Or Play?") and, even more unbelievably, by Antonio Banderas with Carlos Santana nearby, making his usual guitar-porn faces.

I'd like to say more about all of this dreadfulness, but in honesty, every time a song came on, I'd last about thirty seconds before deciding that I'd rather have a cigarette. I was usually joined by my friends K. and D. and E., who couldn't handle it either, and so we diverted ourselves by gathering up handfuls of ice cubes from the beer cooler and throwing them at our friend V.'s car, which was parked across the street. I recognize that this basically means that we are chimpanzees that can somehow afford clothing.

I'm not even going to bother to say much about the winners and losers, because in many ways, it was the most boring part of the show. There weren't any surprises at all, except for maybe Annette Bening managing not to attack Hilary Swank with a steak knife (I feel a deep ick for Ms. Swank, and won some enemies when, during her interminable acceptance speech, I shouted, "Shut up! Go chop some firewood with your face!"). Swank is apparently Bening's kryptonite . . . or, perhaps, her Bizarro. "Bening do American Beauty! Bening waste time on overrated movie that not like women! I do Boys Don't Cry! Swank is moist-eyed and dead and beloved. Bening do Being Julia! Nobody see film. Swank do Million Dollar Baby! Everybody see Swank! Everybody forget about The Core."

In the end, everyone just kind of stared fatelessly as the Raspy Bloat rumbled up the stage steps to collect the Big Guy--the truth was, by this point, we didn't care: most of us didn't give a solitary fuck about any of the films up for anointment. There was the Eternal Sunshine faction (including me), the Sideways faction, the Incredibles faction, and even the Shaun of the Dead faction (which I can kind of mentally get behind, but let's be serious here), all of which as usual felt a kind of glum betrayal at the typically plodding, hidebound Oscar CW. But "betrayal" doesn't even work, not when the Academy has been so consistently laughable for decades, if not since its inception. It's like getting mad at Shriners for wearing dumb hats. Anyone who wants to is free to champion the Independent Spirit awards, or the SAG awards, or the Drama Desk awards, or whatever. But for better or worse--and let's not be silly, it's for worse--it will be the Oscars that are always going to matter.

You can get mad. I do, sometimes. You can boycott. I could claim to do this, but really, I just don't like going to movie theaters any more. You can rail against the big, empty spectacle, the pampered stars, the idiotic media frenzy, sure, but you might as well also abandon the Super Bowl and political conventions and, well, maybe society. They're all valid responses, I guess.

Or there's always passionfruit cocktails. I think I'll make some next year too. I'm going to need one for the Vin Diesel song.

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