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Tuesday, 26 August
After The Fall (Prejudgment)

Watched this weekend: The Bank Job, with good old Jason Statham stolidly refusing to act as usual. Verdict? Surprisingly not very terrible! I mean, it wasn't as life-changing as the frankly incredible Crank, nor was it as 80's-saxophonically transporting as The Transporter, but it was a thing that didn't manage to horrify me, unlike the jaw-dropping Uwe Boll choad-poker In the Name of the King. Well done, Jason!

And then along comes Death Race, apparently for the sole reason of restoring Statham's singularly depressing reputation for allegedly acting in whatever nauseating thing that presents itself. Let's prejudge it first up.

Death Race

Let us not speak further of Statham, nor let us mention Ian McShane, because . . . let's just not. Let us instead discuss Joan Allen, who has gotten a laughable amount of weird press over her appearance in this astounding pile of crap. Some critics seem personally affronted that Joan Allen has deigned to appear in this drag queen of an action movie.

This kills me.

Does it occur to nobody else that Joan Allen was dying to do a movie like this? Why not spend a couple hours chewing on this cinematic bacon when all she's done for the last fifteen years is play these emotionally brittle fucked-up broads? Here's an abbreviated list of some of her previous movies:

Searching for Bobby Fischer
Nixon
The Ice Storm
Face/Off
Pleasantville
The Contender

Jesus. I'm surprised she hasn't just moved to dom-porn yet. Twisting Jason Statham's nuts seems like a moderate exercise considering the logical alternatives.

Babylon A.D.

IMDB tells me:

Veteran-turned-mercenary Thoorop takes the high-risk job of escorting a woman from Russia to America. Little does he know that she is host to an organism that a cult wants to harvest in order to produce a genetically modified Messiah.

With Vin Diesel, Michelle Yeoh, Gerard Depardieu and Charlotte Rampling. I predict that this movie will make eight hundred billion dollars at the box office. If I have any quibble with this movie--which I predict is going to shatter every cinematic record in history--it's just that I wish they had found a way to include Alan Alda in what is otherwise a spectacular, sense-making cast.

Traitor

Aptly named! Don Cheadle not showing off dialect work? Traitor, indeed. If you love America, you will not see movies where Don Cheadle doesn't speak with an accent. Disgusting.

College

Awesome. Why not just call it Movie? Or, say, Boobs? Or how about But If We Came In Their Faces, It Would Be Porn? I'm just trying to be helpful.

I'm obviously not the target audience here, but I'm also struggling to think of who is. Is it really college students? And if so . . . are they taking their dates with them? Are their girlfriends really going to put up with this shit? And if so . . . why? Do they hate themselves? Or do they like vengeful after-movie hate-fucking? It's a confusing world.

I can't really talk. I once took a girlfriend to see Bonfire of the Vanities. She rightfully broke up with me a week later. Still.

Anyway, all that said, I do recommend this film to anyone--and I know you're out there--interested in following the career arcs of talented actors such as Drake Bell, Andrew Caldwell, Carolyn Moss, and most especially Wendy Talley, who, as "Kevin's Mom," I can only assume has got it going on.

Bangkok Dangerous

I . . . I'm so tired.

The funny thing is, while there are certain movies that I'd sooner die than go see in the theaters, there are movies like this that I also think to myself: I cannot fucking wait for this to hit pay-per-view. It's strange how many of these movies seem to feature Nic Cage.

Disaster Movie

Needs more Nic Cage.

Really, these goddamned fucking blighted legfucking garbage scows just make me channel my inner Travis Bickle.

Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it anymore. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up.

Here is a man who is standing up. I will not take this fucking shit any more. Joan Allen is standing right here with me: she's a strong woman who is also saying "I will not take it up my professionally tensed ass any more! I will star in wretched projects like Death Race rather than playing neurotic housewives for the rest of my career!" We stand side by side; over there, out from the wings, comes Nic Cage, waving his proud mullet. WE STAND TOGETHER, OR SOMETHING!

Meanwhile, the assholes who unleash shit tornadoes like Disaster Movie on us--I see that the movie visually quotes at least five different non-disaster movies--just repurpose Travis Bickle quotes right back at us:

I got some bad ideas in my head.


Monday, 18 August
If Looks Could Kill They Probably Will

As I type, the tiny little whores are finishing up their uneven bars competition, and Nastia is stalking around looking like someone took a dump in her hair, probably rightfully so, given the inanity of the minutae involved in Olympics scoring, which once again makes me want to erupt into a ridiculous rant about non-objective Olympic events, and which also makes my wife sigh and wander distractedly over to the whiskey bottle.

Every year I tell myself I won't watch the Olympics. Every year it's a stupid lie to myself; I always watch. What the hell do you do with shit like gymnastics? It's not like Michael Phelps, where the question is easy: who got to the end of the race the fastest? It's not like ping-pong or volleyball where it's: who scored the winning points first? With gymnastics and so many other sports, it's: who was more awesome? Which is obviously where it gets sticky and fraught with all kinds of nonsense, and where I start to go crazy.

I curse the Olympics even as I watch. What other bizarre pageantry-laden event could actually find me agreeing with that foaming, manic werewolf Bela Karolyi as he hollers thickly about the laughably underaged Chinese entrants? GO, BELA! I think to myself. Then I remember: He is a raving madman. What's wrong with you? Indeed.

What other international circus of madness could possibly persuade me to watch--as I did earlier today--something as comprehensively stultifying as a rowing competition? Not to take anything away from those fine competitors, but who wants to watch rowing? If it's all about a bunch of people rhythmically pistoning away for ten minutes and grunting with effort, I say let's see some Olympic group masturbation. In 2012, we can make it happen: ten-man Come on A Cracker. Non-medalists have to eat the cracker.

I was talking with the wife about this a little bit, and I guess here's what gets me about the Olympics, maybe what some would call the Olympic SpiritTM. It's this: say you're an Olympic-class swimmer; say you're from Greece, or Georgia, or Cyprus. Wherever. Repeat that to yourself for a moment: you're Olympic-class. You can kick everyone's ass you know, everyone in your own country. Hell, you can kick the ass of everyone in the world except for maybe a dozen other people. This is how good you are: you're better at what you do than everyone in the world except for a vanishing fraction of a number of people. You're essentially a superhero when it comes to this one thing, this one exceedingly specialized talent that you've spent years and years honing to perfection. Again: hardly anyone on the planet is even remotely as good as you at this thing you do. In this example, swimming.

So there you are. Nobody else in the three or five or ten million of your home country's populace can touch you in the pool. Literally: you'd just fucking swim away from them while they paddled like drowning dogs in a notional game of Marco Polo. You secretly think to yourself: We should make Marco Polo an Olympic event, because I would kick everyone's asses. Frankly, you're ridiculous.

And so, of course, you go to the Olympics. You travel halfway across the goddamn fucking world, because in your insane, wildly circumscribed, strange world, you're practically untouchable. A dozen people can do what you do, and that is: swim like a crazy motherfucker with a turbine lodged up your ass. And you look over and see Michael Phelps. And you realize: you are dead.

So here's what it's come to. After years--decades?--of busting your ass, you're about to be utterly demolished by some goddamn freak who eats nineteen dead dogs before he even gets out of bed; this bloody mutant who looks like his hands were grown in a vat; some infuriating yokel whose heart vomits oxygenated blood into his system like Chris Holmes after a distillery tour.

Realize that barring something like a freak stroke or a lightning strike that there is nothing you can do about this. All you can really do is stare hopelessly at this gormless nincompoop and know despair. You're going to get your ass handed to you, probably on a tarnished platter, maybe with a rancid maraschino cherry lodged in the asshole if Phelps is feeling nice. After all this, all you can do is maybe hope to be in the same frame as him as he trounces the fields, and probably not, since you're from Cyprus after all, and so are not worthy of any of NBC's precious film. You're about to be carved up badly; everyone knows this. This is what you've worked for: ignominy.

What do you do? Well, you get in the fucking pool, don't you? Hey, everyone loves a Cinderella story, right? It could be you! Right?

Nah. It's not going to be you. You get into the pool anyway. You bust your fucking ass, too--it's amazing, really: you swim the meet of your life. You get demolished, of course. It isn't even close. Nobody is surprised. In fact, nobody cares about you at all. Nobody even mentions your name.

Years you spent doing this. You're one of the best in the world. Nobody cares. You're a footnote at best. You're done, by the way; your event is over. You're peeling off sheets of dead, chlorine-toxic skin while Phelps is over there getting sucked off by some NBC flack, his eyes pinwheeling goonishly in his sockets; later, he'll fuck a bunch of Swedish racewalking entrants while eating a pizza.

You might get to say hi to LeBron James, maybe. A year from now--no, a week--, you'll be forgotten. Were you even remembered? You don't know. Four years later, hey . . . why not try again?

I love you for doing this.

Monday, 11 August
Take Another Little Pizza, My Heart

My friend J. just recently got himself a new apartment! Naturally, he felt the need to break it in like we all do: by having a fry party. That is, a party where J., in a dignified striped apron, manned a couple pots full of near-boiling oil and deep-fried any insane thing that we felt like bringing with only two caveats: 1. must be smaller than a grapefruit, and 2. must not have excessive moisture content. RATS! My dreams of deep-frying a baby continue to be confounded.

However, my dreams of deep-frying live rats have been fulfilled! Oh, not really, but that idea probably wasn't the worst of the night, all things considered.

I brought--well, I had someone else bring--sage leaves to fry after being lightly coated in oil and dusted with flour; the wife prepared some balls of goat cheese wrapped in biscuit dough. They were fine, if tepidly received: the biscuit dough proved to be a little fragile, and most people had to be coaxed into trying the sage leaves with a little salt and aioli.

Other offerings were . . . well, let's say entertaining. Let's also say "potentially deadly." R., who brought a ridiculously well-received garbonzo bean fry batter, also happened to bring some weird things called "rice sticks"--items I figured you could find in the Dave Matthews Band gear list--and coated them in tempura batter. Into the pot they went, and we chattered happily for a few moments.

POOOM!

A truly absurd geyser of hot oil erupted from the pot, hitting the ceiling, the wall: everything, miraculously, but us, the idiots who happened to be standing close by. P. backed into the kitchen shelf, nearly upsetting it; J. gawped and wrung at his apron; I screamed like a primate in heat, baring my silly little stunted canines. I felt a sudden, primal urge to pick nits off of my neighbor. Flames licked briefly in the aftermath, and J. recited nervously the physical happenstances that had led to our near-scalding. "The batter formed a hard crust and then the center mass--it was too dense--expanded abruptly . . ." I left him to his babbling to go change my pants.

As if drinking men standing around throwing questionable battered items into crazy-hot liquids wasn't enough, there was also M. to deal with. "I didn't invite her," J. murmured to me early on. "Someone gave her my damn address." M. is a professional drunk with a fervent need to "help," and I use those quotes aggressively. "Hey, new guy," she said to me as I was standing in the kitchen. New guy? "Hand me that salt." I handed her the salt.

"Thangs. Whatcher name?" I've met her before. "Skot," I said. "Thanks, Todd," she replied.

Let's say this: M. means well, I guess. She just is incapable of doing well. She is a fundamentally awful person, and there's no better way to put it. If she did nothing but give sympathetic blow jobs to leper colonies, I swear to you that the lepers would stone her to death within two sweaty, hydrodynamically challenging months.

(Side story: At the bar that shall not be named, J. and I later tried to explain the terrible conundrum that is M. to our friend W.

W: "Is she at least hot?"

J: (diplomatically) "She's not my type."

Me: (not diplomatically) "She has great big tits. That's about it."

W: "Ah ha."

Just thought I'd satisfy every prejudice women harbor about men while I'm here.)

At one point, I commented to J. "I have horrible news. M. just drank your sofa." M., who seemingly arrived pre-drunkified, eventually began to give me shit, although it was pretty watery, gravel-mouthed shit.

"Fuck is your shirt?" she said at one point. I was wearing a plain blue shirt. "I'm giving Todd shit," she told J. J. sensibly ignored her. At this point, several people left the kitchen, including the wife--"I'm going anywhere else," she breathed--and L., owner of a much-commented on corona of wonderful hair. I've begun to think that L.'s hair describes a notional gravity well around his skull, if his skull happened to be composed of a solid block of osmium, which, for all I know, it is.

M. turned this way and that, sending searching looks at the walls, wondering where people had disappeared to. I, Todd, slumped, and J. toiled silently at the witches' brew of oil and solids he was charged with.

By this point, the sensible frying portion of the evening had ended, and the obnoxious period began. One fellow had brought a Totino's frozen pizza, which was quickly dissected, battered and fried; later, when it was discovered that a quantity of previously-fried calamari had simply sunk to the bottom of the pot, it was piled upon said pizza and merrily re-fried as well. P. ate it with a slightly queasy gusto that made me wince to think of the gastric holocaust soon to occur in his abdomen.

We left right as soon as people were starting to discuss frying up banana chips; I had availed myself of a shot of J.'s fine Glenmorangie as well as a couple of ancillary shots of Dickel. ("Get a little Dickel in ya!") L. was pitting his osmium skull against R. at some improbable video game where Link was fighting Mario on what looked to be Russian steppes, or perhaps some anonymous Greek ruin. I freely admit that video games have outpaced me any more; everything looks to me like something scripted by Mark Leyner.

We went home content, and I dreamed all night: of heat; and light, of dense-metal skull composition; gravity wells, fried eggplant. Onion rings. Heat and hair and prowlike bodices and nameless voices calling out, "Todd!" Ceiling-height conturbations of oil and fire.

Underneath, submerged in my consciousness, roiling under the waves, the calamari reach for me, but I cannot wake up, and their breaded tentacles pull me down.










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