skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com
Tuesday, 25 March
Caution! Auction! (That's An Anagram, Son!)
This was the weekend of a monumental annual event! The child care center that the wife works at--and has for some time--held its annual fundraising evening, with several silent auctions, a raffle, and one live auction, complete with actual auctioneer. It's a massive affair, and almost all the parents show up (not to mention the large number of them who help set the thing up), and it's very important.
Naturally, over the past six or so years, I've never attended a single one. Until this year! This year, I felt I had to attend, mainly because the wife asked me to. "Some parents are starting to joke, I think, that you don't really exist," she explained.
Well, I won't stand still for accusations of nonexistence, as many state jurisdictions have come to learn. Fucking Utah. I may have done my bit for obstruction, but those fuckers damn well know I'm no bigamist. Also, that I exist. Sneaky Mormon DA. Don't get me started. (Future Skot: I just reread this paragraph, and I'm not going to delete it, even though it's a weird joke that doesn't work and doesn't make much sense. I just wanted to put that out there. Just move along.)
Anyway, so the thing was a big rubber chicken dinner affair for those stuck for the long haul; I was only expected to show up for the cocktail hour, which, you know, I'm always grudgingly up for. Also, even for Very Important Spouses of the staff, non-employees wanting catered dinners were charged $40, so fuck that. I traded in a drink ticket--because apparently, nonprofit fundraisers are run exactly like Bingo Blackout Bonanza down at the Elk's Club--for an IPA and perused the hundreds and hundreds of items up for glomming on the silent auction tables. They ranged from the sublime (6 weeks of intensive language lessons) to the ridiculous (Zune--my friend J. excitedly asked, "Was it a brown Zune?!") to the simply confusing ("Paint your own plates set!").
(Seriously, though. Paint my own plates? Who wants to do this? To what purpose? You're just going to get food all over them and then have to wash them to enjoy their pristine, painted state again, so what's the net here? You might as well auction off a piece of paper saying "Make your own bed!" There's crafts where you do things for fun and you wind up with pretty or interesting or useful things, like say knitting, and there's crafts that are simply crafts for crafts' sake, things you do to help ignore the vast existential angst that would otherwise consume your mind, like painting plates. It might have been the most depressing thing out there, except maybe for the case full of fortune cookies and the fortunes all said "You should go to the dentist.")
The live auction stuff was more interesting to read about--again, I went home long before that shit started. One family offered their coastal Spanish villa for a week to the highest bidder; all you had to do was get to Spain. The wife reports that that little dilly went for around $2500. A tidy sum! No report as to what the hopefully brown Zune went for. I assume: one hundred million dollars. It was 8 gigs! You can almost fit a Built To Spill song on there.)
I met other people too, who were not Lemon Tarts or Social X-Rays, and whose teeth did not boil. One of those was the auctioneer. The wife introduced me to him, and he exclaimed, "Of course! I remember you from last year!"
"I thought you looked familiar!" I exclaimed. As I mentioned before, I've never gone to one of these events. There's no point in even trying to set this sort of thing right.
"He's high, right?" I whispered to the wife after he wandered off.
"I think so," she replied.
And I met someone else. I met a man . . . I wondered if I should even use his name here, because when you write a blog that is read by tens of people, you should be a little careful, you know? But then I realized that if that certain somebody has his own Wikipedia page, his personal info is already kind of out there, so what's the point? And so I can reveal this.
It TURNS OUT . . . that one of the wife's co-workers is dating a certain Mr. Garrett Wang, aka Ensign Harry Kim from the TV series "Star Trek: Voyager," possibly the least-loved entrant in the Star Trek franchise, although I have to say I'd watch it over "Enterprise," but I may have Scott Bakula issues after realizing partway through the run of "Quantum Leap" that that show was, in fact, insultingly horrible.
Anyway, as much as I wanted to give him the whole "DUDE YOU ARE HARRY KIM" business, I didn't have the heart; I just didn't want to be that guy. He seemed like a perfectly nice fellow, and I figured he had a long three hours or so of half-drunk dads strolling up to him asking if he ever got to fuck Jeri Ryan, so he didn't need any shit from me.
Besides, what could I say? How would he respond?
"DUDE YOU ARE HARRY KIM."
"So, Kate Mulgrew."
"Let's free-associate. Tell me how you feel when I say 'CHAK-O-TAY!' "
I think we could have been close. I really do. Or he might have been high.
Tuesday, 18 March
Erin Go BLARG
WOOOO! ST. PATRICK'S DAY! DID YOU GUYS RAGE?
With all due respect to the filthy Irish, fuck St. Patrick's Day (which the church had moved back to Saturday anyway, but nobody paid attention). It's Amateur Night, and I won't have any part of it, not even at the Bar That Shall Not Be Named; they even went and put Bushmill's shots on special for five bucks a go the whole night, and you know how many they sold? None.
No, instead they were overrun with yowling fucknecks and simpering harridans-in-waiting ordering shit like the repellent "Everybody's Irish:"
2 ounces Irish whiskey
Are you fucking kidding me? Would you spend time with anyone willing to put this in his mouth? (People have been saying this about Elliot Spitzer, too. HEY-O!) This is like a drink created by Gallagher specifically to be drunk only by Kobayashi.
Or how about this gem, the "Triclops," which was apparently dreamed up by Anton LaVey:
3 ounces vodka
This just makes me seethe. Hey, why not knock out all your teeth too! Then with a bloody grin, you can dribble your broken teeth into your drink and when you're done with your drink, you can spit your Sprite-y teeth at the other bar patrons who already hate you anyway? Then you can have a loud, toothless, unenunciated cellphone conversation about what a fucking St. Patrick's Day booze warrior you are with some horrible drunk chick in a green microskirt who is unaware of all the vaguely date-rapey guys leering at her as she adjusts her socks. Also, it's seven PM.
Fuck trying to go out on St. Patrick's Day. The wife and I stayed in and invited our friends J. and E. over for corned beef and potatoes, because I guess nobody's entirely immune to the cultural stereotype thing. Which is why we also whipped up some green milkshakes and hassled some garter snakes that were hanging around our patio.
(I know about the falsity of the snake thing. You know what I didn't know about? The Oilliphéist, the Caoránach, and the Copóg Phádraig! And I still don't, because I got bored reading the Wikipedia page. But you have to admit, those things sound hilarious.)
Dinner was set for 8:00, and was only slightly complicated by J. and E. not showing up remotely close to 8:00. It turned out that J. was kept late at work because--I'm not making this up--one of J.'s servers caught on fire. (I have since seen and can attest to the validity of his nerd papers.) Because I didn't know, I'll go ahead and ask you all: do you know what happens when a server catches on fire? J. told me what happens: a little red light blinks at you.
This is why nerds have been on the short end of the evolutionary stick for so many generations: meekness. When buildings or forests or normal humans catch on fire, they tend to ring, crackle or scream quite loudly. Then they get help, and possibly get to continue to exist! When geek-controlled things burst into flames, they just quietly wave their electronic hands around. When nerds themselves catch fire, they probably just blink frantically. It reminds me of my old sixth-grade diabetic friend Marty, who once, in the midst of experiencing a reaction in class during a particularly contentious discussion, quietly sat with his hand raised until called upon, whereupon he finally said, "I'm having a reaction."
Also, his girlfriend recently had surgery to put some metal in her hand, and now she's going to get one of those medical "get out of airport screening free" cards that says "Weird Chick Totally Has Metal In Her Hand; Don't Fuck With Her; Is Possibly A Terminator." So you know she has issues too. Why did we invite these damaged souls into our home? Nobody else will talk to us. Even so, they didn't make it over until a little before 9:00 thanks to fiery, truculent technology, but fortunately, corned beef appears to be unruinable, which you can probably say about all of your favorite boiled meats.
In all, it was a good evening, and happily unspoiled by yarking greenboys or stumbling bikini skanks. But there was, of course, one hitch. It has a minor and stupid backstory.
Some months ago, Budweiser had the astonishingly shitty idea of teaming up with Clamato to release this . . . beverage that they called "Chelada," a perversion of a perfectly fine Southwest/Mexican drink tradition of leavening shitty lager with tomato juice, lime and salt in order to create a refreshing summer drink (I swear this is true). And when it came out, J. managed to sneak a can of it into my fridge as a joke; when I discovered the offending thing, I swore to him that I would make him drink it.
This was the night. I pulled out the giant can--24 deathless ounces--and squinted apprehensively at the label, which, yes, was still trumpeting the good sense of this collison of Budweiser and Clamato. With a coroner's clinical eye, I examined the "nutritional information" boxlet, and encountered this terrifying fragment: "Contains shellfish/clams." I clouted J. about the head and torso and wept at our fate.
I poured the stuff into a couple of glasses; pinkish and wan, it looked like poorly oxygenated blood, or perhaps a pleural effusion. It bore virtually no head whatsoever, the carbonation presumably overcome by the angry, imprisoned shellfish/clam zombies. Even pouring it was dispiriting, like watching suicides falling from tall buildings. We smelled our samples and were not encouraged: it was a hellishly chemical lime nose that seemed to grouchily throw punches at the only other olfactory note, which was a sickly tomatoesque sweetness. Finally, we took a sip.
This was possibly as close to the American tradition of St. Patrick's Day that we got that evening. For one brief horrifying moment, J. and I drank an alcoholic beverage that was, for all intents and purposes, like drinking pure, unadulterated malignity. For a mere moment, we were as one with all of those douchebags out there in all of those Stygian Irish bars, drinking the undrinkable.
Then we poured the noxious horror out and poured ourselves some white wine.
Tuesday, 11 March
You know what we haven't done for a while? Prejudged movies! It is, of course, one of my very favorite times of the prejudging year: just before summer, a legendary dumping ground for unloved and underfunded projects that only got greenlighted because some frowsy flack gobbled some flap-handed, excitable producer a few years ago.
The usual note for those unfamiliar with the format: These are movies that are coming out soon that I have no intention of seeing, but unfortunately probably will someday on cable. They are almost always movies that I have decided ahead of time are undoubtedly horrid based on IMDB, any ads or trailers available, or simply by their titles or cast members or, really, anything else. They may contain spoilers--often inadvertent--because I have also decided that due to their speculative and subjective wretchedness, such niggling details could not possibly make a difference in terms of these drain-circling films' possible enjoyability.
Never Back Down
For one thing, fuck that. If I have learned anything in this life, it is this: frequently back down. Disagreement at the office? Back down! Wife upset with you? Back down! It's really just easier.
Clearly Djimon Hounsou agrees with me, as this two-time Oscar nominee is now capitulating to his agent's agonized pleas for monthly paychecks. (I know this is unfair. He also recently did Blood Diamond, a movie that everyone pretended to see and which carried the ghost of respectability, but he's also been in laughable turkeys such as Eragon, Constantine, and, my favorite, the risible The Island.)
IMDB PLOT OUTLINE: At his new high school, a rebellious teen (Faris) is lured into an underground fight club, where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran (Hounsou).
I think it's fair to say that we all know somebody from high school who had a similar experience. For me, my mentor was Hunkle, whose skin color was different from mine, and taught me valuable lessons about fasting and shitting into colanders to examine the contents of my frantically confused intestines, which he would then examine in order to divine my future.
"You will one day write reviews of horrible movies that you have never seen," he told me gnomishly one day, rattling around some marbles in my colander. We never spoke again.
Horton Hears A Who!
Skot hears the anguished screams of unlucky parents! I do love Hollywood's complete lack of concern for history in these sorts of things; Jim Carrey voices Horton here, and his last kiddie flick voice work was for the unilaterally reviled How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Leaving that stinking disaster aside (and which, yeah, probably made millions anyway), Mr. Carrey hasn't exactly been knocking them out of the park for the adults either: The Number 23 is aptly titled in that it is exactly 21 spots down the list of "things more unpleasant than number 2, i.e. human feces," and Fun With Dick and Jane was, after a court judgment, released on DVD under the alternate title We Make No Claims As To Your Filmic Experience With Dick and Jane.
Carrey has his work cut out for him, however: Jonah Hill is also doing voice work for this movie, and it's going to be a tough call as to who can be more fucking irritating even while not actually appearing onscreen. I think the kid has a shot, if he can be heard over Steve Carell, who, in addition for being known for being loud as hell, also manages, in the way of all the best voice actors, to always sound exactly like Steve Carell, which makes him a sensible choice for a vocal performance.
IMDB PLOT OUTLINE: The drama follows an 11-year-old girl's struggle to come to terms with her mother's abandonment.
RUN! RUN EVERYBODY!
Charlize Theron ... Joleen
YOU HAVE TO RUN FASTER! IT'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!
Sample dialogue: James: [to Tara] My whole life I feel like I've been sleepwalking. But you helped me. You woke me up.
You didn't run fast enough. Now you're dead. Nice work, stupid.
BONUS IMDB NONSENSE: "If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends: Shaft."
In three years, every film produced in Hollywood will be written by Judd Apatow, one of Judd Apatow's friends, or someone who is holding a screwdriver to Judd Apatow's throat. I really can't wait for Elizabeth: The Fingerbanging, where Cate Blanchett succumbs to the fumbling digital advances of Seth Rogen, who then spends 94 agonizing minutes rummaging around in her immaculate bustle.
IMDB TAGLINE: You get what you pay for.
Ah! So they're only charging fifty cents to go see this. Well, that's nice.
I'm not sure what's left to say about this pestilential series of alleged satires. I guess I'll just mean-spiritedly rag on some of the principals and call it a fucking night.
Craig Mazin, writer and director: Appeared as a contestant on "Win Ben Stein's Money" (1997). He didn't win.
Craig Bierko, actor: Was originally cast as Chandler in "Friends" but turned down the role and was replaced by Matthew Perry.
Leslie Nielsen, Van Helsing to comedy: Is entirely horrible. Born in 1926, is unfortunately also apparently immortal.
Djimon Hounsou, actor: Not in this movie. Don't back down, Djimon.
Thursday, 06 March
Sands That Are Happily Not Named Julian
You know, I don't keep meaning to do this to you, tens of readers. It's just . . . well, I've been getting a little on the side. I didn't want you to hear about it like this, but . . . well, I've been seeing Oregon.
Not that I haven't been fantastically lazy about updating, but the wife and I did recently take some time off to go hang out in Cannon Beach. Because if there's somewhere you want to go in early March, it's the Oregon coast! In truth, we had originally scheduled this trip in--you'll like this--last November, which is the second most popular time to visit the Oregon coast, but that had to be rescheduled when torrential rains wiped out large swaths of I-5 as well as peeling the roofs off of hotels all up and down the coast like so many lepers' fingernails.
And so! We gave the old car the usual checkup before leaving, and upon being told that the old car needed the mystical ministrations of Dr. Strange before we could ever dream of driving it for more than six miles or so, we promptly rented a car and drove to Cannon Beach! (Did you know that there exists a little gutless thing called a Chevy Stratus? Did you know that Chevy still makes cars? I'm not sure they do even after renting one. Renting this car was like renting a Zen koan. If a car makes no sound, was I really there to rent it?)
Interestingly, we weren't actually staying in Cannon Beach. We were staying in Arch Cape, which is only four miles or so south of Cannon Beach, except for the part where we found out that we were actually staying one mile south of Arch Cape at he Arch Cape Inn, which therefore put us five miles (of pretty twisty road) south of Cannon Beach, which is, in itself, no metropolis anyway. But it was cool--it wasn't like we were right off the highway where you could hear logging trucks screaming by all night, except of course we were, but at least we did have a convenience store located about 100 yards away down the highway, which was pretty exciting walking down, especially when the giant trucks howled by us and gave us incredible wind-wedgies and fucked up our hair, and anyway the convenience store was closed the whole time we were there anyway.
The Oregon coast! You're stupid if you don't go in early March!
But I'm making it sound as if we didn't have a good time; we had a glorious time. For one thing, any time away from 1. work and 2. one's normal house is a glorious time. It's good to get away. And Cannon Beach is pretty much away, particularly in, well, early March. We soon discovered there's like six places to eat in town in the off season, and three of them advertise "burgers and pizza." Oregon's native delights. We settled in at a place we had visited before, the Drift Wood Inn, which is sort of like a Cheers where everyone wears gum boots. We were to discover that the Drift Wood Inn also had improbably fantastic food, given the proletariat atmosphere; the wife had a ridiculously creamy filet mignon while I tore into some absurdly flaky tempura shrimp with two types of cocktail sauce. Meanwhile, yards away, some locals fed video poker machines with the same kind of fervor that you see people in Jerusalem tucking prayer slips into the Wailing Wall.
At night, we would retire back through the twisty dark road to our rather out-of-the-way hotel-thing. It was not really a hotel. It was a series of little connected self-serve bungalow things where you checked yourselves in; when you coughed up the cash online, they gave you a door code. Can nefarious people discover our door code and rob us? I wondered, and then immediately dismissed the idea as ludicrous, as we are worthless. Any robbers or kidnappers or mountebanks or whatever would steal up in the dark of night, filled with malign intent, and then would immediately spy the Chevy Stratus rental in our parking space and then disgustedly tiptoe away to break into the abandoned convenience store to see if anyone had left behind a roll of quarters.
Ensconced in our roughly bed-shaped room (there was an entertainment center whose doors, when opened, prevented one from opening the room door), we then proceeded to enjoy the creature comforts, including a lovely little sea-stone fireplace with the newspaper and kindling all set up and ready to be lit for a comfy fire! I looked quizically at it for a moment, as it seemed that they had stacked a rather large log on top of the newspaper and then thrown kindling on top of that, like a careless pasta dish, but I figured: Aw, they know what they're doing. I lit the paper, which burned merrily for a few seconds until it died out abruptly; the large piece of firewood continued to squat stolidly atop the ashes, its haunches unscathed by even the merest hint of scorching. The kindling, far above the fray, was not even warm, and victoriously keened with Elven voices into the maw of the chimney above.
We tried again, with similar results. Then we realized a key problem: the firewood was wet. Not "wet" as in "left out in the rain for a bit," but "wet" as in "unseasoned, green wood that might have been a boat keel last week." We would have no fire that night, unless you count the FIERY DIALOGUE BETWEEN JUSTIN LONG AND BRUCE WILLIS IN LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD! Which, of course, we do.
You see, we also watched a bunch of movies. The wife wondered aloud at one point if Cannon Beach had any sort of taxi service in case we wanted to spend a night at the Drift Wood Inn "getting loaded;" I just laughed weakly. It's like asking how many ATMs there are in Chicken, Alaska. No, it was movies for us, and fortunately for us, we adore horrible movies. To wit: 30 Days of Night, a movie that dares to ask the question, "Can we make this even stupider than the terrible comic book?" Thrillingly, the answer was a resounding YES. This movie did feature a bracing sort of schizophrenia where the laughable overacting of the WAMP-EERS was perfectly balanced out by the reliably affectless performance of Josh Hartnett, who can at least boast that he perhaps contained more moisture per cubic centimeter than, say, our firewood.
That same night--because we are fearless and fucking crazy, I guess--we also watched the astonishingly witless Beowulf, a movie so barking mad that it assumes that the viewers do want to see Angelina Jolie's alarming, nipple-less, motion-captured tits, but does not want to see Ray Winstone's alarming, presumably leathery, non-motion-captured penis. Beowulf is essentially 300 for people who worried that the latter was too realistically homoerotic.
Aw, there I go again, making it sound like we didn't have a good time. We did have a lovely walk on the beach under iron skies, a good half mile or so from the city center to Haystack Rock, which the wife informed me was the "third-tallest monolith in the world." But thanks to a series of childhood ear infections, the seaside wind was wreaking havoc with my pathetic auricles, so I ignored her, opting instead to point at a scuttling (read: completely motionless) hermit crab in a snail shell that I spied in a tidepool. The wife picked up the creature and cooed at it; the beast waved a tiny feeble claw in some sort of parody of defense. I hunched miserably against the wind and glared at the basalt-colored clouds bearing down on us from the sea.
It rained like Thetis' own vengeance on us all the way back into town, and we of course stopped by the Drift Wood Inn for a warming beverage before returning to roadside Lilliput to watch terrible movies, and of course we wish we were still there.