Archive for the Marvy Movies Category

MY BLOGGY AND ME, WE’RE THE BEST FRIENDS THERE COULD BE.

Posted in Buddhahorn, Marvy Movies on August 1, 2011 by butthorn

WOW, YOU REMEMBERED HOW TO LOG IN TO THE SITE. I’M SURPRISED AND IMPRESSED.

Suck it.

I’VE MISSED YOU, TOO.

Yeah, well, busyness and whatnot.

SO WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO SINCE…OHHHHH, APRIL, WAS IT?  MAY?

I’m too depressed to even look at the date of my last post.  I deliberately avoided it.

BEING THE BLOG ITSELF, YOU’D THINK I’D BE ABLE TO TELL YOU THE DATE.

Which only serves to prove that you’re not really a sentient blog, and rather you’re me writing in all caps.

CAN’T WE COMMIT TO THIS ONE FANTASTICAL GIMMICK?  I THINK PEOPLE IN GENERAL ARE STARTING TO GET NOSTALGIC FOR THE FOURTH WALL.

What have I been doing?  Lots of going to work…

WHICH GOES WITHOUT SAYING, AND WE’VE AGREED TO LEAVE WORK AT WORK.

And I’m beyond 100% fine with that.  What else?  Lots of dealings with the child.

AND HOW HAS THAT BEEN?

It’s been a lot of things, but most often it’s either a near-exact 50/50 mix of exciting/poignant or boring/frustrating.

HE’S EITHER THE REASON FOR OR THE BANE OF YOUR EXISTENCE.

That’s inaccurate and glib at best, but thank you for trying.

HE’S STARTING TO TURN INTO A PERSON.

Yeah, that’s true enough.  He can say, or rather verbally express without necessarily using the accepted English phrasing for, a surprising number of things.  He still favors “Ba!”, a noise he has always used whenever something catches his eye that he either wants you to mutually appreciate or explain, but with a slight upturn at the end it doubles for “ball”, a plaything he likes and we now have many of, all over the house.

HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THE ADDED CLUTTER?

Kiddie clutter is easier to clean up than adult clutter.  You just throw it all into a toybox and call it good.  But unless it’s a situation where I’m puncturing my foot on a plastic penguin while trying to bumble my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, most of the time I kind of like all the toys and stuff lying around.  It reminds me that he’s asleep in the next room and I’ll get to hang out with him tomorrow.

SO IT’S A STY, THEN?

Not really.  Our new place is fairly attractive in a pleasingly old-fashioned Maine kind of way, so even if things are a little messy the overall atmosphere maintains an air (if not necessarily a reality) of order that none of our previous apartments have been able to manage.  By and large we all seem to be very content here.

“SEEM”?

I can only speak with any degree of certainty for myself.  My wife and child seem in very good spirits, but I can’t read their minds.  Stop looking for probs, bloggo!

PROBS ARE WHERE IT’S AT, HOMES.

By the way, I think I should let you know that as I type this I’m also watching a movie where a two-headed gorilla is attacking people in a grocery store.

THAT SOUNDS GOOD.

It’s this movie:

WOW, I WISH I HAD EYES FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF WATCHING THAT.

Well, you can have mine after I gore them out once it’s over.

SIGHT AS A CONCEPT IN GENERAL BEING ALL DOWNHILL FROM THERE.

Right.  Anyway, we were talking about words that Freddy can say.

WERE WE?  LAND, THAT MUST HAVE BEEN INTERESTING.

Somewhere my wife has written a list of these but I don’t know where it is so these are just of the top of my head: Other than “Ma-ma” and “Da-da”, there’s “wa-wa” (beverage, including but not limited to water, usually milk actually), “negnet” (magnet), “decks” (animal crackers), “suh” (sun), and the self-explanatory “wow” and “uh-oh”.

THE VERY DEFINITION OF ENTHRALLING.

You’re just mad because you have nothing to gush about.

IN WHAT MAGICAL, GUSH-WORTHY REALM IS “DECKS” A SUITABLE STAND-IN FOR “ANIMAL CRACKERS”?

It’s really closer to “cucks”, I guess, which is sort of like “crackers”, right?

IT’S ALMOST MORE CRACKERS THAN CRACKERS.

Didn’t White Zombie sing that?

TO WIDESPREAD CRITICAL ACCLAIM.  I HESITATE TO BRING THIS UP GIVEN THE MAUDLIN AFFAIR THAT WAS YOUR LAST POST, BUT HAS ANYTHING COME OF YOUR QUEST FOR ASIAN-FLAVORED MENTAL ENLIGHTENMENT?

I’m reenergized in that arena!  I have a handsome, spiral-bound meditation book that is plainly and incisively written, and I sit on a dog pillow in the attic and think about Sendoh!

GREAT, SENDOH!  WELL, THAT’S TOPS!

Tops is the word!

REALLY SOMETHING!

Sendoh, whom I will feel free to identify for you as only myself, my wife, a select handful of geeks and anyone who came of age in 1990’s-era Japan knows who he is, happens to be a character, and a relatively minor one at that, on my current favorite program: “Slam Dunk”:

I’VE NEVER KNOWN YOU TO BE A FAN OF EITHER BASKETBALL OR NON-PORNOGRAPHIC ANIME.

I’m not!  At best both concepts typically bore me, so this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that old trope that we don’t choose what we enjoy, but rather what we enjoy chooses us.

WELL, YOU’VE DONE SOME IMPORTANT WORK HERE.

I initially started watching “Slam Dunk” on Hulu because I couldn’t think of anything in particular I wanted to watch at the time, and I was scrolling through their…hold on, the thing with two heads is competing in a dirt bike race now.

HE IS NOT.  IS HE REALLY?

Yes, and he’s fighting amongst himself while doing it.  The white old man head doesn’t want to be involved in the race.

HONKIES DON’T KNOW HOW TO HAVE A GOOD TIME.

If only they could loosen up a little.

IT TOOK YOU FIFTEEN MINUTES TO COME UP WITH THAT RESPONSE?

Sorry, I’m completely into this movie now.  There’s a lot of cop cars getting wrecked in a variety of truly exciting ways.

DAMN IT.  WHY DO I HAVE TO BE A STUPID BLOG THAT DOESN’T GET TO WATCH ANY FUN MOVIES?

I think the thing with two heads is about to have sex with someone.

STOP TWISTING THE KNIFE.  YOU WERE ABOUT TO TELL ME ABOUT THIS SENDOH.  WHICH ONE OF THE GUYS IN THAT VIDEO OF THE THEME SONG IS HE?  IS IT THE HUGE REDHEAD GUY?

No, that’s Sakuragi.  He’s the main character and is extremely funny in an over-the-top egotistical way.  The show is frequently hilarious despite the cheesy seriousness on display in that video.  Sakuragi is a high school freshman who joins the basketball team in an attempt to impress a girl, who happens to be the little sister of the star player, a big guy named Akagi who thinks he’s an idiot and is constantly punching him in the head.  Over the course of the series he discovers and displays a true talent and fondness for the game, and while that’s the focal thread of the show, the writers spend a lot of time with supporting characters as well, and throughout the viewer is privy to the inner monologues of nearly everyone who becomes involved in the story, however peripherally.  It probably sounds like too much to keep up with, but it’s compelling enough that you hang on everyone’s every word, so following along is generally not an issue whether your attention span is as decimated as my own or not, and even if you did happen to get lost along the way a gruff narrator enthusiastically provides an exhaustive synopsis of the story thus far at the beginning of each episode.  As I mentioned, every side story is treated with the same level and weird combination of humor and respect that Sakuragi’s saga is afforded, so one is left with a very thorough understanding of this mini universe of bullheaded, insecure young athletes and the paunchy coaches who try to tell them what to do.  Allow yourself a few episodes to get used to it, and you may find yourself as hooked as my wife and I.

IN NO WAY DID I REQUIRE THAT MUCH INFORMATION.  SO ANNIE LIKES THIS SHOW AS WELL?

Yes, a LOT, and she has even less interest in anime and basketball than myself.

SO SENDOH IS A GUY IN THIS SHOW WHO INSPIRES MEDITATION?

He is!  In me at least!  While most of the main characters in the show are good at playing basketball, Sendoh is fluidly, effortlessly good.  He does what he has to do to get the ball into the basket, without getting upset at the opponents who attempt to psyche him out and block his path.  He knows they’re just doing what they have to do as well.  He is one of the few fictional characters in any medium that I’ve encountered who seem as close to perfectly centered as one could hope to be.  He’s in the moment, and while he’s as susceptible to fatigue or injury as any human who regularly engages in a fast-paced, physically demanding sport, he never lets his desire to win or his aggression towards his opponents distract him from the task at hand.  He basks in victory and accepts defeat as they come, and revels in any challenge that leads to one or the other.

HE SOUNDS LIKE A HECK OF A GUY.

This is Sendoh:

VERY HANDSOME.  ARE YOU GOING TO GET A JAZZY POINTED HAIRDO LIKE HIS AS WELL?

I think I would have a hard time getting to sleep with that much hair on my head.

SO THINKING ABOUT THIS SENDOH CHARACTER HELPS YOU IN YOUR MEDITATIVE EXPLOITS?

No!  In fact it’s a hindrance!  What the idea of being like Sendoh does is inspire me to take the time out of my evening to actually sit down and attempt to get my mental affairs in order.  If I could attain even a fraction of the confidence and compassion displayed by this nonexistent cartoon character from a Japanese cartoon from the early nineties, I believe I would be a happier person, or at any rate would enjoy being around myself more.  But the problem is if I concentrate on Sendoh as some type of mantra or an object to fixate on, I just end up thinking about cartoons, or about my historic lack of natural abilities when it comes to team sports, and it becomes a depressing distraction.  He’s something of an inspiration in that he represents to my mind the idea of being perfectly centered, and as such he’s an impetus for me to go upstairs and sit down and do the thing.

SO IN SOME SENSE YOU’RE TRYING TO PURGE DISTRACTIONS FROM YOUR BRAIN?  WON’T THAT ESSENTIALLY ELIMINATE YOUR PERSONALITY, IN YOUR CASE?

Well, what IS my personality?  It’s just a set of behaviors that others have come to expect and that I’ve come to rely on to get me through the day.  Distractions will happen whether I want them or not, and I will always be “myself” to varying degrees, but being a slave to either of these things won’t lead to anything much that resembles progress, or, failing that, contentment.

YOU’RE TRYING TO GAIN CONTROL OF YOUR BRAIN.

That’s the idea.

NEAT-O.

It IS neat-o, in a way I may never fully understand.  Actually the neat-o part is you don’t have to understand it, you just have to do it.  Normally I hate doing things, but…

MAYBE YOU JUST SAY YOU “HATE DOING THINGS” BECAUSE PEOPLE EXPECT YOU TO BE NEGATIVE AND LAZY, BOTH TRAITS YOU CONSTANTLY REINFORCE TO GET LAUGHS AND TO AVOID HAVING TO WORK AT ANYTHING.

Say, you’re pretty perceptive for a blog!

AND YOU’RE FAT!

Cheers!

SEE YOU IN 6 – 8 MONTHS!

It’s a date!

DOIN’ A LOAD!

Posted in Marvy Movies, Mundane Events on October 5, 2010 by butthorn

I am doing some laundry, making a very small dent in a self-replicating pile of regurgitated-formula-encrusted tee-shirts, pungent undies (“Ladies and Gentlemen, The Pungent Undies!”), socks that have given up all hope, jeans that no longer conform to the lower halves of anyone currently residing here, and a shirt advertising some type of annual event that takes place in Millinocket and involves softball and Jagermeister.  I don’t mind doing the laundry too much once I get going, nor washing the dishes, nor removing objects from surfaces where they look bad and relocating them to surfaces where they look bad out of eyeshot.  Cleaning doesn’t use up a lot of brain space, leaving one free to go to ones happy place, and no matter how half-assed a job you do, there is always a result.  It’s a little better when things are clean.

We have never been clean people.  Over to the right there if you click on “Thursday Night Squalor” under Categories, you’ll see that I once devoted each Thursday night to taking photographs of designated areas of the house, for the purposes of monitoring how the detritus changed from week to week, and for making funnies about how we’re pigs.  I had to stop after awhile because it was getting depressing, and rather than impelling me to maybe pick up once in awhile given that I was essentially showing everyone in the world I was gross on a weekly basis, it just made me sad, which made me tired, and thus more messy.  It really worked out excellently.

I guarantee you that crock pot to the left was positively caked with moldy corn chowder, and likely remained in that condition for upwards of a fortnight, if not considerably longer.  I remember one time taking the crock pot out of the fridge after it had been in there for at least a month and a half, then smelled the contents, I guess to be “funny”, then began involuntarily shouting “WAH!  OH NO!  OH WAAAAAAH!  WAAAAAAAAAAH!”.  I then put it back in the fridge.  It has since been cleansed, and is used sparingly.

Adding a child to an environment of pre-established disarray and filth is a terribly counterproductive plan.  It’s like wiping your butt with a poop.  As much garbage and clutter and smelliness that my wife and I are capable of creating simply by going through the motions of an average day, Freddy can triple our combined output without even possessing the capability to walk, or to prepare food, or to purchase six books at Border’s because they were on sale and then leave them on the kitchen table in an unruly pile atop a coffee-stained cardigan, four pay stubs, a Devil Dog wrapper, and a mysterious remote that doesn’t seem to control anything we own.  So when we’re not funneling pablum or decimated legumes down his little throat, pulling down his pants to verify the presence of urine and/or feces, or pleading with him to stop squalling like a banshee with a bladder infection for no discernible reason, we’re frantically tidying up, racing to combat the encroaching landmass of sticky bottles, foul bibs, piss-plumped Pampers, socks so tiny they look like sight gags, clunky and barely acknowledged playthings, cloudy “suck-sucks”, cloth “wipeys” in varying stages of damp stinkiness…all manner of once-foreign-now-commonplace paraphernalia.  And this on top of our own mainstay contributions of unwatched bargain bin $5 Walmart DVDs, well-worn PJ pants, thrift store paperback adaptations of dumb 80’s movies, self-burned but unlabeled CDs, grocery store receipts, controllers to outmoded video game systems, bills both paid and less so, sticky bottles of our own, take-out menus, etc.  Where we once lied around and let crap accumulate, we now clean constantly to maintain roughly the same level of perceived accumulated crap.  It’s a constant process and the place never looks anywhere near as good as I want it to or envision it will.

My dream is to take a weekend during which I will evaluate every single object in our home, giving everything fair and equal consideration, from the tiniest screw to the most dependable appliance, and make a decision as to whether or not to keep or discard it.  It’s something I’ve only done while in the act of moving to another location (something we unfortunately do fairly often and will need to do yet again in about another year, unless David Blaine stops by and magically pulls a house out of my ass before then), but it would certainly help us to better appreciate and utilize our limited space.  Why, just think of how many useful objects I could cram in the space once reserved for a VHS copy of “Freebie and the Bean”!

What the fuck am I thinking?  I can’t get rid of “Freebie and the Bean”!  That’s top shelf buddy cop!  Did you watch the whole thing?  You didn’t, obviously, it’s over six minutes long.  Go back and finish it!  They run over a marching band at one point!  Such gleeful racism (in the title of the film, no less)!  Such unforced banter!  Stuntmen and extras all in clear peril!  James Caan back when he had that funny high-pitched voice (“Dirty bastard!  Dirty bastard!”)!  Alan Arkin doing anything at all!  I love “Freebie and the Bean”.  You can get it on a weird bootleggish DVD from the Warner Archive (along with tons of other old hard-to-find stuff, including a lot of great grimy 70’s TV movies like “Bad Ronald” and “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” , both of which I want you to buy me for Christmas, please), but in the end I much prefer to have the hefty old videocassette in the shiny, smooth, outsized Warner Brothers snapcase.  Because the poorer the quality, the cozier I feel.

Speaking of “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”, it stars Kim Darby, whom you very well may not recognize by name.  I knew her as the spunky little girl in “True Grit”…

…but I was unaccountably thrilled to discover that she also, much later, played the delightful weirdo mom in “Better Off Dead”!

File that under Exciting Exclusively to Me, if you like, but I thought I’d share my newfound wealth of Kim Darby knowledge.

So to sum up, cleaning is hard, “Freebie and the Bean” is good, and Kim Darby plays the mother in “Better Off Dead”.  I think I touched on everything here, and the clothes have just finished drying besides!  Another successful evening for winner me!  Mail me a fiver!

THINGS I THOUGHT WERE TRUE IN YOUTH THAT IT TURNS OUT AREN’T OR PROBABLY AREN’T

Posted in Marvy Movies, Young Butthorn Holmes on February 7, 2010 by butthorn

I gave a great deal of thought to things when I was a little kid, much moreso than I do now.  These days I can barely be called upon to concentrate on pouring myself a bowl of cereal, but as a child I was privy to a special combination of free time, solitude, and total lack of knowledge about basically everything that lent itself well to deep and fanciful (though only in hindsight, as at the time I was more than willing to accept my own thoughts as gospel; why would my own brain lie to me?) speculation.  Though I suspect my impending child will be as unwilling to share his innermost thoughts as I was in youth, I look forward to hearing or observing or severely invading his privacy to find out what he thinks about the objects and people surrounding him.  What their deal is, what they do and why they do it.  Because I can’t think of anything better to write about and I don’t feel like doing the laundry or washing dishes or preparing food, here are some things I once thought were the case that time and other people who claim to know better (or, as I like to call them, “life ruiners”)  have since proven otherwise.

There are four parts to a day: morning, afternoon, safternoon, and night.  My mom is one of those people who really emphasizes the letter “s” when she talks, so whenever she said “this afternoon”, I heard it as “the safternoon”, which I took to mean the part of the day that lasts from approximately 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM.  If she said “in the afternoon”, I felt that was in reference to 2:30-5.  Then the final “Sesame Street” broadcast of the day came on, which heralded the official beginning of night.  I think I was aware that there was no Santa Claus before I knew that “safternoon” was not a real time anywhere except in my brain. 

Basements are called “cellahs” and I have an Auntie Lawna.  Once again, my family’s folksy speech impediment – or accent, if you like – had led me astray.  Now I knew that a car was not really a “cah” and a “hoss” was in fact a “horse”, thanks entirely to public television, but no one on “Sesame Street” ever had occasion, at least on the episodes that I’d seen, to discuss cellars or my Auntie Lorna, so up until the fifth or sixth grade, I played action figures in the cellah and thanked my Auntie Lawna for my birthday present.  Hell, I still call her Auntie Lawna.  It’s too late to change it now.  She looks more like a Lawna anyway. 

Sitcoms are entirely improvised by the cast; Gary Coleman is a GENIUS.  One time me, my brother Justin, and my cousin Mandy decided to play “Diff’rent Strokes” and attempted to bring an episode of the then-popular program to life, thankfully not in front of an audience of any kind.  The kids on “Diff’rent Strokes” were able to toss off one-liners left and right, to the immediate and dependable approval of the studio audience.  How hard could it be?  I got to be Arnold (Coleman); Mandy, evidently not a Dana Plato fan, chose to be Arnold’s wheelchair-bound friend, Kathy; I don’t remember exactly what role we gave Justin, maybe the annoying redheaded kid?  I have a hard time time believing we would have thought it sensible to saddle him with the role of Willis, to say nothing of Conrad Bain.  Whatever the case, this well-meaning exercise in futility really revealed to us the sheer breadth of the wit and talent of these esteemed performers, because the jokes I was coming up with were absolute shit.  Bad enough to be embarassing even to the none-too-sophisticated comic sensibilities of your average second grader.  Just complete and total garbage.  The one “joke” I remember: I guess we decided that the plot of this thing would be that Arnold wasn’t doing so well in his science class, where they were learning about the solar system, and Kathy was going to try to tutor him, with ostensibly riotous results, leading to this classic exchange:

KATHY: Arnold, what is the Milky Way?

ARNOLD: That’s when I pour milk on the ground on the way to school!

KATHY: Ar-noooold!

Although, to be fair, I went back and tried to watch “Diff’rent Strokes” a couple years ago on Nick at Nite, and to my surprise my material really didn’t suffer all that much by comparison. 

Boy Scouts end their meetings by hiking together and singing about the sunset.   I had a passing interest in the Boy Scouts in youth, but only from an observational standpoint.  Though like any rurally-raised boy I daydreamt of such rugged pursuits as hewing saplings with hatchets and hauling a shiny brook trout out of the fishin’ hole at Robert’s Rock to the raucous approval of less-successful onlookers, the reality of activities such as tying “bowline” knots and “going outside” simply overwhelmed me, though inwardly I lamented my lack of savvy and drive in this area; the Junior Woodchucks always looked like they were having a good time, and their woodland smarts seemed to get them out of a good number of scrapes.  I even had a subscription to “Boys’ Life” magazine, and I read and reread each issue cover to cover, particularly “Scouts in Action”, a grim, fact-based illustrated account of a Scout thinking quickly in a dangerous situation, usually something terrible like a house fire or a car crash.  It looked like a neat way to be.  I just wasn’t it. 

As it happened, there was a big, official-looking Scout campground/convention area just a few miles from where we lived, which makes enough sense given that where we lived was the woods, and more than once while driving by we would see a Scout leader tromping along the ditch, walking stick in hand, leading an orderly line of hale and hearty lads down the road, as ideal and Norman Rockwellian of a Scouting sight as you’d ever want to behold.  It always seemed to be nearing the end of the day when we’d see the line of hiking Scouts, and though they were probably all just yammering amongst themselves, it appeared to me as though the Scouts were singing.  It came to me that they were probably singing a song called “Look at the Sunset”, which was particularly noteworthy that evening.  At that very moment, my dad, who was driving, actually said “Look at the sunset”, which confirmed my theory.  It was then settled in my brain that every night, the scouts sang a song that went “Look at the sunset/look at the sunset/look at the sunset/Sun sun sun suuuuuuuuun”.  On those evenings when the sunset wasn’t so impressive, it then followed that they would amend the lyrics accordingly to “There is no sunset/there is no sunset/there is no sunset/Wah wah wah waaaaaaaah”.  This gets stuck in my head ALL the time.

Gelflings are real,  and they are extremely loyal friends.  Like any kid, I had several pop culture related obsessions growing up, and foremost among them was “The Dark Crystal”.  I still love it to pieces.  Whenever a new film medium is introduced (e.g. Blu-ray, most recently), “The Dark Crystal” is usually the first movie I buy, to ensure that I own it in the form of the most pristine footage possible.  When I’m driving to work and I’ve forgotten my sunglasses, I rarely fail to crack myself up by shielding my eyes and cursing The Great Conjunction.  My best friend circa 1982, Brian, shared my nerdy entertainment interests.  Anything involving “Star Wars” or Muppets was already held in our highest esteem, thus inserting Muppets into a squalid sci-fi universe couldn’t help but blow our minds in every way imaginable, which is why “Return of the Jedi” remains my favorite of the Star Wars trilogy.  I will not tolerate arguments that Ewoks ruined ROTJ, because they are cute, nor that there are actually six movies in the Star Wars series, because you’re totally making that up.  Anyway, somewhere in the world there’s an audio cassette of Brian and I earnestly discussing the possibility – nay, probability – that gelflings, the elfin species that protagonists Jen and Kira (whom I wanted to have sex with but didn’t know it at the time) belong to, were real beings that wanted desperately to befriend us but didn’t know where we lived. 

I remember coming up with a scenario in the course of recording this tape where I encountered Jen, and offered him a “Meat Treat”, which was a silver packet of dehydrated meat snacks that I thought sounded tasty and was something that should exist in real life, but when Jen took one of the treats and put it in his mouth, it turned out it was a bouillon cube, and he made a face and said “Bleah!”  I remember thinking this was hilarious.  How a boullion cube found its way into the nonexistent packet of dehydrated meat snacks that I offered to a gelfling in the midst of a fictional anecdote, I may never know. 

Another term for “penis” is “rubber”.

On the playground in fifth grade, talking about penises was nothing new, but now kids were mentioning something called “rubbers” (heretofore nothing more than an antiquated synonym for boots in my innocent Christian mind) in tandem with their usual dick discussions.  Knowing of no good reason why anyone would need to put anything on their schlong, I assumed “rubber” was just one of the many new and exciting terms for “penis”.  So lunchtime rolls around, and wanting both to get a laugh and showcase my newfound savvy in the crass vocab department, I proudly proclaimed to Brian and anyone else fortunate enough to overhear my hilariousness: “This lasagna tastes like castrated rubber!”  Brian gave me a sidelong glance somewhere between pity and concern and whispered something to whoever else was sitting with us, then calmly and patiently explained to me that a rubber and a penis are not one and the same.  He went on to define the object of a rubber in what I assume was accurate detail, although I don’t remember a word of it because frankly what he was describing was so foreign and unlikely that I simply tuned it out and made a mental note that in the future, to prevent further confusion and humiliation, I would simply state that the lasagna tastes like castrated penis and leave it at that.

My mother’s best friend is a missionary named Elsa Pelsa Bumblebee.  Growing up, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned numerous times, my family was quite religious, or tried their best to be.  Our church as a rule was very supportive of missionaries, holding weeklong events where missionaries were invited to speak and present slideshows of their endeavors.  I have very positive memories of these events.  The missionaries were unfailingly kind and interesting to listen to (plus I’m a sucker for a good slideshow, and theirs were always top-notch), and they always brought interesting artifacts and sometimes even exotic foods for us to try.  While there were most assuredly times that I approached church with an often deadening sense of dread and obligation, and though it hasn’t been something I’ve returned to as I’ve aged, there were many aspects of the tradition that provided me with comfort and fun, and the missionary conferences are something I look back on with hazy fondness. 

So with missionaries being as prevalent as they were in our churchgoing experience, and with prayer being a old habit by now, it followed that we would be expected to pray for the missionaries.  I liked this notion, both because of the idea that my prayers could help the missionaries, and because it was a lot easier to rattle off a list of predetermined names that it was to come up with fresh nightly material to present to the giant man who lived in the sky and decided our fates.  I adjusted my prayers accordingly. 

Right around this time, my mother had the opportunity to reconnect with an old school chum named Elsa.  I still don’t know her last name, but an offhand comment made by either Mum or Elsa herself led me to believe that her full given name was “Elsa Pelsa Bumblebee”, which I blandly accepted as fact, no questions asked.  What made me think she was a missionary remains unclear, to myself or anyone involved, but for no earthly reason I can presently conjure, I dutifully added her to my roster of missionaries to pray for every night: “Please bless the Bracketts, the Broughs, the Bumblebees, the Duffields…” I’d worked it out so that it was alphabetical – easier to remember.  It wasn’t till much later that Mum deigned to inform me that not only were the Bumblebees not missionaries, they were not even Bumblebees.  I remember finding it a bit irresponsible of her to allow me to waste my valuable prayer time on people that weren’t even missionaries, to say nothing of the fact that I’d been blithely imploring God to “bless the Bumblebees”, a phrase that in the end meant virtually nothing to anyone.  Sure, he’s God and he knew what was going on the whole time, and I’d like to think he had a sense of humor about it, but jeez.  Way to embarrass me in front of God, Mum.

Redd Foxx said the dirtiest things that anyone has ever heard.  It’s entirely within the realm of possibility that this one might be true.  But I wouldn’t know, because I have still never seen “Dirty Dirty Jokes”.

My Uncle Rick, who owned two VCRs and was therefore the most amazing person I had ever known, was a voracious movie renter/watcher/dubber.  He had a vast collection of illegally duplicated videocassettes, 3 to a tape on 6-hr SLP speed, that he kept in a tailor-made bookcase at the camp he rented every summer in Surry, Maine, on one of my favorite bodies of water, Toddy Pond.  He labeled and numbered all of his tapes, and affixed manila sleeves with library-style “date due” index cards in them onto every one, allowing him to keep track whenever fellow camp renters and friends wanted to borrow them.  He took it all very seriously, and I found this to be very good thinking on his part.  There was nothing more important or worthy of praise than an extensively catalogued and handsomely presented collection of pirated videocassettes.  When visiting the camp, in lieu of swimming, which I didn’t know how to do anyway, or fishing, which was boring and gross, I would often wander into the living room and just stare in awe at this beautiful display of filmic possibility and attractive organization, venturing to take a single volume at a time down from its shelf and wondering at the titles: “The Gauntlet/Sophie’s Choice/Volunteers”, perhaps, or “Commando/Haunted Honeymoon/Old Yeller”.  There was never any attempt to follow a theme on these tapes.  It all depended on whatever three movies happened to look good to Uncle Rick at whatever Mom n Pop joint or gas station he elected to rent them at. 

When it came to movies, Uncle Rick was gloriously cavalier as to what he allowed us to watch.  At our house circa 1988, anything rated R was strictly forbidden.  My parents didn’t even allow themselves to watch R movies at the time.  But at Uncle Rick’s, we got to see great stuff like the aforementioned “Commando” and the “Alien” movies, and it being vacation and all (and because they probably wanted to see some of these movies too) my parents relaxed and let us get away with a sin-ridden flick or two.  I even got to learn about the concept of rape from Uncle Rick’s movie library – thanks, “Rolling Vengeance”!  But when it came to “Dirty Dirty Jokes”, even Uncle Rick had to draw the line.  “You guys ain’t watchin’ this one,” he said. 

My mind reeled at the concept of a movie so dirty (“dirty” – right there in the title!) that it gave even storied vulgarian Eric Stover pause.  To even hold the tape itself felt like a defiance against God.  Redd Foxx hosted it.  I’d heard of him and knew him to be dirty.  And Andrew “Dice” Clay was also in it, according to Uncle Rick.  This only boosted my already excruiciating curiosity.  My friend Clint, an avid sinner and owner of many dirty comedy tapes, spoke highly of him. 

WHAT WAS ON THIS TAPE?  What dirty stuff did they talk about?  What hellish-afterlife-guaranteeing jokes were foisted on the unsuspecting audience by these devils of comedy?   I never did get to see it – a “no” from Uncle Rick was understood to be binding – but lying on my cot that night, while Uncle Rick watched “Dirty Dirty Jokes” and thereby booked himself a future lifetime appointment with The Worm That Dieth Not, I tried to come up with the dirtiest thing imaginable, an act so vile that asking Jesus to come into your heart a million times wouldn’t wash away its damage.  Jesus would actually vacate your heart upon its realization.  He would have no choice. 

To my mind, the only thing dirty enough for Uncle Rick to forbid its viewing by minors that Redd Foxx and Andrew “Dice” Clay could do would be to introduce the program by putting their arms around each other and spiritedly singing a song with the following lyrics: “Well, we’re a-pissin’ and a-fartin’ and a-fuckin’ and a-shittin’ and we’re lovin’ every minute!”  I could think of nothing in the world that could possibly be dirtier than to welcome viewers to a comedy show by singing that unspeakably vile song.  I remember actually trying to convince my brother that this was what they did on “Dirty Dirty Jokes” and this was the thing that made it so dirty, emphasizing that “the really dirty part” was that they were “lovin’ every minute”, because while none of us are without sin, to find joy in such actions is an abomination.  Anyway, that song has an actual tune to it, and it’s super catchy.  I sing it in the shower a lot.  It’s right up there with another song I invented to dissuade my brother from purchasing a Van Halen tape because it was way too dirty, as evidenced by one of their more profane hits, “I Take a Shit in the Potty and I Pee With My Dink”. 

That story probably would have been more exciting if it had ended with me embarking on a covert ops mission to sneak into Uncle Rick’s screening of “Dirty Dirty Jokes” and either have my mind blown or walk away bitterly disappointed and jaded.  Unfortunately I was a very obedient child. 

That’s all of ’em.  I was pretty much right on about everything else.

IT’S BEEN AWHILE

Posted in Inarguable Smartness, It's Alive!, Marvy Movies on November 29, 2009 by butthorn

So I’m sittin’ around, watching “Redbelt” on Netflix instant viewing.  It’s good.  Just ate some wings from the Hannford “wing bar” and a salad with fat-free Italian dressing.  Tasty.  General Tso’s flavored wings and honey-fried wings.  Both shredded yellow cheese and cubed white cheese on the salad.  What’s especially good is the combination of Italian dressing, cheese, and a dried cranberry placed on a cucumber slice.  Everything is fine right now.  It hasn’t been cold or snowy outside.  The baby is the size of an apple and it has a heartbeat that sounds like a lightsaber.  I have a pint of Americone Dream in the freezer, just waiting for me to lay waste to it.  Riding out the end of a reasonably restful Thanksgiving break, during which I ate a great deal of good food (I am related to good cooks) and enjoyed spending time with my family.  I ate blueberry pie and coconut cream pie, both of which I assure you were even tastier than you’re imagining them right now. 

What else?  Moving to a new place come January.  Nothing special lookswise, but it has two bedrooms, is in a calm environment, and includes high-speed Internet, cable, phone, and heat within the rent price, which isn’t drastically more expensive than what we’re currently paying.  Planning on getting rid of our current cumbersome and saggy couches and replacing them with something that can successfully provide both comfort and support.  Ditto with our shit bed.  Christmas is coming up.  I don’t feel a whole lot concerning that.  It’ll come and go, and we’ll no doubt have a nice time.  We’ll get things and give things. 

Everything is starting to feel different.  Without really being able to verbalize the sensation to my satisfaction, I can only tell you that the knowledge that one is about to introduce a child into their life feels something like suddenly caring about everything and nothing all at once.  The act of classifying items and concepts as “important” or “unimportant” is very much in the former camp.  Though as of yet it rarely stops me from engaging in same, I am more aware now when an activity that I’m in the process of engaging in is a waste of my time, from the most general of standpoints.  Time seems to be passing even more quickly than before, and yet I am more cognizant of the moment.  I hear myself a bit more clearly when I talk, especially when it comes to idle chitchat, in the act of which I seem to be more able than usual to forgive myself comments that are inane or flat out untrue (or quite possibly both), and yet in these moments I have felt myself actually wincing with embarrassed disbelief in mid-utterance.  I am able to pick up a belonging – a paperback from a bookshelf, for example – and within seconds discern whether or not it is something that needs to remain in my possession.  I can recognize a voiced opinion – good, bad, or indifferent – as just that, and not a hurtful, deadening blueprint for later action and trains of thought on my own part.  Recognition is a start. 

Because I don’t want to sound or be crazy, I don’t think the act of fertilizing an egg and thereby creating an organism that will eventually develop into an alternately intrusive and poignant little person whose hopeful happiness and continued existence both depend on a steady siphoning of ones time and finances magically or scientifically enhances ones sense of self.  It probably just follows that a huge, unfamiliar change of this magnitude tends to lead to a lot of sitting back and grasping for perspective.  That’s a disappointingly level-headed explanation that I privately reject because I’d like to believe that life is more of a fairy tale than that, but for the sake of a coherent blog let’s go ahead and assume that it’s valid.  Big changes lead to big feelings which potentially lead to big changes in another direction.  Whatever the cause, and whether it prompts me to evolve (however tentatively) or not, these feelings and perceived realizations are useful to me.  They feel positive, and the normally unquashable tendency to deflate them with humor or out-and-out denial via fear or embarrassment has become more of a selectively permeable membrane than a big, grey, retarded wall.  My hope is that this encouraging if vague aura is something that will either linger or intensify upon the actual birth of my son or daughter (still no word on that yet), and isn’t the type of thing that will crawl back up my asshole and suffocate once I’m looking down at and struggling to contain/rationalize the helpless alien wriggling in my unaccomodating arms. 

So what about the rest of you guys or gals who’ve had kids?  You feel anything weird while you were expecting?  Concentrate on the weirder aspects of the experience, if you could.  The joy upon birth is a given and thus less interesting to hear about.  I’ll thank you to keep your commonplace happiness to yourselves!  You don’t necessarily need to respond if you’d prefer not.  It’s just that the act of conceiving a child has turned me into a superhero and I’d like to discuss that with someone. 

“Redbelt” just ended.  A solid effort.  I found it admirably unselfconscious for a David Mamet movie, except for whenever Ricky Jay or Joe Mantegna were talking, but I guess those guys had to be in it so people didn’t forget that David Mamet wrote it.  Chipolte Egalitarianism was excellent in the lead role, and somehow managed to make both leadership and principles seem neither boring nor lame.  Tim Allen, in an unexpected turnaround of events, managed to disgrace neither himself nor the entire human race in his supporting role.  I have nothing whatsoever against Tim Allen in the grand scheme of things; I am only saying derogatory things about him because this is the Internet and I am writing about Tim Allen.  That doesn’t seem fair.  I’m sorry, Tim Allen.  You did a good job in “Redbelt”.  I’ll now post a picture of something having to do with “Redbelt” because who wants to look at a big pile of words?

All glib glazing aside, if you like fighting and writing, you could do a lot worse than “Redbelt”.  Storywise, the basic deal is that the guy in the poster who just reduced that other guy to a crumpled heap of bruises and gi is a noble sensei who gets himself into a tragically awkward situation through a series of well-intentioned actions that all go horribly wrong, and he must extricate himself from the resultant unpleasantness without compromising his morals or integrity while looking tough and handsome throughout.  This being David Mamet, people say “fuck” and interupt each other’s sentences with fair frequency, but not to the point where it’s ridiculous.  Refreshingly few scenes play like the following:

MIKE: See, the thing is –

BOB: I know.

MIKE: No, look, the thing, the fucking thing –

BOB: It’s fucked.  It’s a fucked-up thing.

MIKE: What you need to see, to understand here, is this thing, which is fucking all of us, me and you both…

BOB: It’s fucking us both, and Charlie too…

MIKE: Fuck Charlie.

BOB: Fuck Charlie?

MIKE: What did I say?

BOB: You said fuck Charlie.

MIKE: I know what I fucking said. 

BOB: You asked me what you said.  I’m just saying what you said.

MIKE: What I said – and what I’m saying to you here, what I’m saying, Bob, is this thing, this fucking script, was written by David Mamet. 

BOB: I know it.  I know.

MIKE: David fucking Mamet.

BOB: I know.

In fact, the characters who take up the majority of the screen time in “Redbelt” could be easily confused with characters who do not happen to appear in a film written by David Mamet, and to that end I hereby congratulate David Mamet for not writing like himself all the time.  And there’s even a few good scenes of people kicking each other, so there you go with that. 

So to sum up, having a baby is weird, and “Redbelt” is a decent flick.  Thanksgiving break is almost over, meaning that I will be expected to get up at a certain time tomorrow and drive to a building that is not my home where I will remain for several hours for the purpose of accomodating future commerce for myself and my wife.  You can only be so happy about that kind of thing (The driving to and remaining inside the building that is.  Commerce I like. ).  Time to cling to the remaining shreds of my protracted weekend, by which I mean time to go use Flickchart.  I hope everybody had a nice Thanksgiving and we’ll do this again soon.

HEY EVERYONE, I WATCHED TWO MOVIES!

Posted in Marvy Movies on October 26, 2009 by butthorn

My desire to blog is not great, lately or now.  I don’t attribute this to anything other than the fact that sometimes writing doesn’t sound like fun.  You know what is fun?  Watching movies and drinking coffee.  You know what else is fun?  Flickchart.  If you spend more time reflecting on your opinions of movies and what you’ve gleaned from watching them than you spend actually watching them (which is no small amount of time in and of itself), and you haven’t looked at Flickchart yet, well, you might as well bid sayonora to your friends and divorce your spouse now and save yourself a lot of unnecessary pain and non-Flickchart-using time, cause you’re gonna be on this website for the rest of your life.  I’ll just leave it at that.  It just occurred to me that my blog production lag kicked in right around the time I discovered Flickchart.  I assure you, this is no coincidence.  I have never encountered a site more attuned to my obsession with movies and lists than Flickchart.  It’s also an excellent timekiller, an attribute I value as I really want these next nine months to whiz by so we can skip past weeks of considerable spousal pain and discomfort and get right to the moment when our child, Flickchart Stover, is born. 

In other news, I am fat.  This seems to stem from a lifetime of eating food.  Seriously, go to the store, buy some food, eat it, and then try not to get fat.  It’s impossible!  Other news I have for you is that our car is being a shitheel again.  We are probably going to have to buy a whole new car.  The 2002 Nissan Sentra is the worst product ever put on this earth.  I really hope someone out there is considering buying one of these horrible cars for whatever reason and then through some act of God manages to see this blog and is then suitably deterred from purchasing it.  My theory on cars is that when you put a key into their ignition and turn it, the car should start.  Unfortunately, my theory on cars differs greatly from that of the makers of the 2002 Nissan Sentra.  Replacing the battery has not helped.  Taking it to a few different mechanics has not helped.  What I have learned from this irritating experience is that buying used cars is for suckers.  Either buy ’em new or buy ’em dirt cheap from some dude, but that middle ground will just break your heart, and soon you have monthly payments going towards a giant paperweight for your lawn.  Used car dealers are unreliable: you heard it here first!  I wish our car had a throat so I could slit it and give it a Colombian necktie, and a family so I could make them watch.  Our 1997 Subaru station wagon with over 200,000 miles on it is an infinitely superior automobile.  It responds to things like keys and gasoline.  We are really not asking a lot of our vehicles here, only that they propel us from place to place.  Oh well, live and learn, or, failing that, bitch fruitlessly about it on the Internet.  On a more positive note, having dealt with the 2002 Nissan Sentra, I can safely say that our impending offspring will have to go to immeasurable lengths to prove itself either as expensive or as disappointing to us as this car has been.  Urinate in my face while I’m trying to change your diaper, Junior!  Thoroughly coat my favorite sweatshirt in fetid, milky barf!  Deplete my bank account and withhold gratitude!  Conjure missives the likes of which parenthood has yet to comprehend, but the fact remains, Junior, that you are not, and could never hope to be, the 2002 Nissan Sentra, and for that simple fact alone, my precious angel, Daddy loves you very much already. 

This past Sunday my wife went to the always-excellent Big G’s to meet up with friends for unreasonably sized omelets, so that afforded me some solitary mannish time to squander upon such unproductive pursuits as pouring inexpertly brewed coffee down my esophagus and firing up a few in no way acclaimed motion pictures on my Xbox, which is equipped with Netflix instant viewing, my new favorite thing in the world other than Flickchart, The Statler Brothers, and defecating.  There’s nothing like having the house to yourself, a rare circumstance I will no doubt be cherishing even further and less frequently in the near future, so I made sure to queue up the seediest and least-competently produced gems available to me, preferably something rife with fumblingly conveyed lesbianism.  As such, my first choice was 1970’s “Just the Two of Us”. 

just the two

“Just the Two of Us” (which also goes by the far more ridiculous and thus way better title of “The Dark Side of Tomorrow”) turned out to be a fairly coherent and relatively sensitive look at the difficulties and insecurities inherent in being a lesbian in late-sixties-era suburbia, with passable acting, tastefully shot love scenes, and a clear desire to frame its put-upon protagonists as well as the issue of homosexuality in general in an open-minded and understanding light.  Imagine my disappointment. 

dark_side_of_tomorrow

Easily the best “hauntingly sensitive love story” you’ll see this year, the film focuses on Denise (the hovering brunette) and Adria (the prone blonde).  Both are housewives who spend most of their time lying around in sparsely if modly furnished homes, provided to them by husbands who are always either working or telling their wives to stop bitching at them for working all the time.  They’re way too busy funding flourescent orange ottomans and ornate aspic molds to be able to blow a load or two into their pert and willing wives.  So one thing leads to another, and soon enough Denise and Adria are engaging in such sapphic pastimes as ordering fruit salads at local cafes, taking a spin on a merry-go-round, and finally, riding horses while holding hands, which is not only cloying but unsafe at best. 

Anyway, we do get some boobs but it’s nothing to write home about, which is too bad since I was really looking forward to writing up a detailed description of the softcore lesbian porn I’d been watching in my wife’s absence and mailing a hard copy to my folks.  It’s all very tenderly done.  The situation starts to get out of hand when it becomes apparent that, while Denise seems to be coming to terms with both the fact that she may be a full-on lesbian and legitimately in love with her newfound companion, Adria is just experimenting and would like to be free to continue cavorting with weiner-owners as well, and not necessarily her husband.  It gets awkward, a lot of people get hurt, and dagnabbit if I didn’t get into the whole thing.  I really wanted it to work out for these crazy kids.  The two leads (particular Elizabeth Plumb, whose only other credit according to IMDb is something called “The Psycho Lover”, as Denise) are adequate enough, the cheap sets are a brand of late-60’s faux chic that never fails to appeal to me, there’s a couple of ingratiatingly dippy hippie tunes, and best of all it’s only 74 minutes long.  Neither lesbianism nor exploitation are done a lasting disservice by “Just the Two of Us”. 

Next on the agenda, in an ongoing and thus far unsuccessful quest for lurid, ineptly lensed, objectifying entertainment, I fired up the 1982 classic “Butterfly”, starring your favorite actress and mine, Pia Zadora.

pia

A inarguable trailblazer in the redneck incest thriller genre, “Butterfly”, much like “Just the Two of Us” before it, surprised me by engaging me in an at least passingly unironic fashion from start to finish.  Better still, it didn’t skimp quite so much on the boobs and butts, and at no point did it attempt to make a statement, other than “Look, Pia’s naked again!” 

pia truck

In a nutshell, “Butterfly” is the story of a nymphette who comes back to her hometown and starts hitting on every male that crosses her path, including her estranged dad, played by Stacy “Mike Hammer” Keach.  Being a backwoods type of feller, Keach feels some unfortunate urges, but also being an upstanding, churchgoing man, he resolves to resist her overt passes and tendency to sashay about the cabin in various stages of undress and reclaim his role as the sorely needed father figure in her thus far tragic life.

whoops!

As you can see, all does not go according to plan.  Give the guy a break!  It’s Pia Zadora!  What are you gonna do, not hump her in a cave? 

Anyway, I’m not gonna go into the details, more out of an inability to follow the needlessly convoluted plot than out of concern for spoiling a film that you’re most likely not going to bother watching, but it turns out they’re not really father and daughter after all, so in the end the masterminds behind “Butterfly” get to have their graphic incest cake and eat it too.  As an added treat, we have Orson Welles, finally obliterating the very last ounce of acclaim and goodwill he garnered from “Citizen Kane” as an ornery judge who alternately denounces and drools over Pia’s sultry lawbreaking. 

orson n pia

I have a newfound appreciation for Orson Welles, thanks to the Dean Martin Variety Hour DVDs my wife got us for our recent anniversary.  Listening to him speak, it’s hard not to imagine that Kelsey Grammar cribbed a fair amount of his Frasier Crane schtick from Welles.  Here, watch him regale you with the story behind and the content of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and try not to enlist. 

I also watched “Phantasm”, “The Poseidon Adventure”, and the original Terry O’Quinn version of “The Stepfather”, but they were all reasonably well-made and as such aren’t worth commenting upon.  Anyway, it was nice to take a day and just watch a bunch of dumb movies.  I have to go eat two loaves of garlic bread now to make them go away because I didn’t count on the smell of the garlic ruining the life of my spouse, whose pregnancy has endowed her with upsetting but not uninteresting super-smell powers, an ability that unfortunately will not help her out a whole lot after I’ve eaten the garlic bread either, if my digestive history is any indication.  Oh well, goodnight ladies and germs!

SECOND BANANA CITY!

Posted in Marvy Movies on November 2, 2008 by butthorn

For me it’s the supporting cast that makes a movie.  Often in my favorite movies, there’ll be a guy or gal whom I’m immediately drawn to, and I’ll perk up whenever they’re onscreen, which in most cases isn’t all that often.  Supporting performances are almost always the best parts of a movie, because those performers are naturally going to be more relaxed and devil-may-care about the job they do, and as a result they tend to deliver a likable, believable performance, whereas the star is most cases IS the movie, and they’re going to “act” their asses off, and will likely enjoy their performance far more than any viewer possibly could.  

I was thinking about it tonight and I decided I should do an ongoing thing about my all-time favorite supporting performances, if for no reason other than the opportunity to write about movies and actors I love.  Off the bat, I’ll tell you that there are way more men on this list than women.  I’m sorry, I guess I just don’t like women that much.  The more I tried to think of more chicks in movies I’ve liked, the blanker my mind became.  I feel like a real asshole, but what are you gonna do?  Black and foreign people outnumber women on the list, but not by much.  I swear I’m a real nice guy.  The filmgoer in me, however, is apparently a raging sexist neo-Nazi.  Hopefully more non-white non-males will come to mind as we go along, to both spice up my list and make me seem like a good person.

Anyway, without further inane ado, here is my list of FAVORITE SUPPORTING PERFORMANCES IN MOVIES.  As far as I know, none of these people won Oscars for any of these performances, and in more than a few cases the movie I happening to be singling them out for may not even be very good (although I probably think it is).  They’re just people who made me happy in movies I watched.  Here there are, in no particular order:

SASHA JENSON as DON in DAZED AND CONFUSED

   

Here we have a movie, and a fantastic one, entirely made up of supporting performances.  They vary in quality, but all are memorable in some way.  It is Rory Cochrane’s quintessential stoner and Matthew McConaguey’s (probably not how you spell it but I in no way feel like looking it up) genial sexual predator who get the most attention, and while they’re both great, I liked the guy on the left in that picture up there best.  Played by Sasha Jenson, who was hardly ever in anything again, Don is a hulking obnoxious badger of a guy, one of those always-on kind of high-schoolers who seems to be everywhere at once at all times.  Chief among his interests are getting drunk, destroying property, sleazily accosting women, and in one great early throwaway moment threatening freshmen in the hallway by faking punches at them.  But he’s just so darn energetic, always with this big dumb smile on his face, bouncing around in overalls.  My favorite scene in this movie, arguably, is a quick one between Jenson and the equally likable and rarely-seen-anymore (and awesomely named) Wiley Wiggins, as squirrelly-but-learning pending freshman Mitch.  Don takes Mitch aside in a pool hall and gives him a little advice that is as thoughtful and well-meaning as it is crude and unoriginal:

“You know that Julie chick?  Loves you. Oh yeah.  You want her? Gotta play it cool, you know. You can’t let her know how much you like her, cause if she knows, she’ll dump you like that. Be-LIEVE me. Like, if she asks you if you want a ride, you say, “No, I’ve got my own ride, but maybe I’ll see you later.” Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? It works. ”

Sure, earlier in the parking lot he was joining fellow seniors in paddling the kid with a bat he made in wood shop, but that’s just business.  He remembers what it was like to be Mitch, and what a big deal it is the first time you encounter a girl who responds positively to you and your bullshit, and he gets a kick out of seeing that happening to this wide-eyed kid.  I literally can’t help but smile when this scene shows up.  For a moment, the popular kid drops the act and lets the new fish feel like one of the guys.  In fifth grade I did well in a spelling bee, and when eighth-grade soccer superstar Craig Dube took a moment in the hallway to tell me I did a good job without turning it into a joke or insult, I felt like a million bucks, despite the fact that I don’t think we ever exchanged words again. Maybe I remember that when I see this scene.  Jenson comes off a bit like Robert Downey Jr in “The Pick-Up Artist” as a redneck Texan.  It’s interesting, and it works.  I don’t think I’ve ever once read anything much, positive or otherwise, even mentioning his performance, so I feel good being able to do it here, where very few people will ever get to see it.  

Man, I wrote way too much about that guy!  The rest of these are gonna have to be shorter or my fingers and brain are going to revolt.  

VICTOR WONG as THE FUNNY OLD CHINESE GUY WITH THE CRAZY EYES in THE GOLDEN CHILD, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, and TREMORS

As a rule, whenever I see Victor Wong’s name appear in the credits, I’m guaranteed to enjoy the film.  No face or voice in Hollywood puts me at such immediate and calming ease.  The wacky Asian guy was an unfortunate but popular character in ’80s movies, but Wong brought dignity to the role.  He was clearly having fun making these ridiculous movies, and it was infectious.  These are three movies that I can always throw on, no matter the occasion or mood, and experience 100% satisfaction.  I refer to them daily in conversation.  When browsing DVDs in the store, I pick them up and look at their cases, despite the fact that I already own copies of all three films.  I make light of my fondness for these goofy, effects-heavy intelligence-light live-action cartoons, but fact is I love all three like old friends, and will drop everything if any of them happen to be on.  Victor Wong died in 2001, and I’m not happy about it.  

BRUCE DERN as RUMSFIELD in THE ‘BURBS

Geez, I could look at that picture all day.

Bruce Dern never really plays anyone you’d want to approach in real life.  He’s always squinting and frowning at things, and tends to overreact to everything in a whiny voice.  Before “The ‘burbs”, I don’t know that Dern was ever considered as a worthwhile candidate for a comedic performance, but his off-putting manner is perfect for this morbid, arrhythmic, slapstick-heavy, understatedly over-the-top horror-comedy.  His Rumsfield is a former military man who has carried his gung-ho Patton routine unaltered into his listless retirement in the suburbs.  Despite his impressive arsenal (which includes nightvision goggles and sniper rifles) and willingness to invade any and all supposed enemy territories, he’s also oddly prissy.  While waiting atop a roof to spy on and possibly assassinate his next-door neighbor, he daintily eats a box of animal crackers, and at another point he declines to climb a telephone pole because “it’s very high”.  I have never not laughed at ” ‘Bout a nine on the tension scale there, Rube” or “HEY!  PINOCCHIO!  Where YOU goin’?”  Dern’s the man, never moreso than here, but I also love him in “Silent Running” (where he plays a guy who loves plants and robots but hates everything else) and “The Trip” (where he unsuccessfully babysits Peter Fonda during an acid trip).  

RIP TORN as BOB DIAMOND in DEFENDING YOUR LIFE

That’s a pretty crappy picture of Rip Torn right there, but believe me when I tell you there are worse ones to choose from.  Footage of celebrities being drunk and disorderly will always retain a certain schadenfreude, but there’s nothing funny to me about seeing this excellent actor lurching groggily around a police station, gurgling curses at cops, hair askew.  It’s the kind of cruel crap I admit to having enjoyed in the past, but when I came across such a video online, it just made me feel awful and sad, and I hope he can get it together one of these days if he hasn’t already.  Nobody does gruff, borderline-insane optimism like Torn.  He’ll never be better than he was as Artie on “The Larry Sanders Show”.  That’s legendary work, and if you’re one of the many who still hasn’t seen much of that show, try to work it into your Netflix queue.  The first few episodes are a little shaky, but once it hits its stride, it’s so good, a pioneer in awkward comedy long before “The Office” came along.  

“Defending Your Life” is a funny little Albert Brooks comedy about a guy who gets hits by a bus and then ends up in an afterlife waystation where he must explain himself in a celestial court of law, aided (or hindered, depending) by actual screened footage of pivotal events in his life.  His otherworldly attorney is Torn, an intimidatingly enthusiastic old codger who won’t take no for an answer or tolerate a moment of self-pity, a condition lesser talents have failed to extinguish in Brooks.  He also, he’ll happily inform you, uses 48% of his brain, in comparison to our 3%.  Tirelessly putting positive spins on each of his client’s often hilarious foibles, Bob Diamond is a lawyer I’d be proud and relieved to hire.  

“Don’t worry, and don’t kick yourself forever.  Just take the opportunities when they come.” is how he sums up his counsel to Brooks.  In the end, what better advice than that?  Let’s keep the TMZ cameras on Mel Gibson and Andy Dick from now on, and let this guy live his life.  

MARTHA PLIMPTON as STEF in THE GOONIES

It’s funny.  Back in the eighties, when I used to watch “The Goonies” on tape every day, Martha Plimpton was my least favorite character in the movie.  Now I think she might be my favorite.  She’s really the only one of the bunch with any sense at all (“Oh, come on!  Where are you?  YOU are in the clouds, and WE are in a basement!”).  Certainly the closest thing the Goonies had to an adult, which pretty well explains why I didn’t like her then but do now.  The rest of the Goonies are having fun sliding down makeshift waterslides and eluding counterfeiters, but Stef would rather be almost anywhere else (“I feel like I’m babysitting but I’m not getting paid”).  

I think she brings out the best in Corey Feldman here, too.  Mouth is prime Corey Feldman, back when he was just a funny little kid.  Say what you will about him now, but he’s confident as hell in “The Goonies”, the king of 80’s grade-school wiseasses.  In fifth grade I wanted to be him, and so completely wasn’t.  It isn’t dwelt on much (Kerri Green’s inane flirtations with a young and sweatpanted Josh Brolin are given much more attention), but Feldman and Plimpton indulge in a love-hate, bickery crush throughout the film, and during the final coastline reunion it culminates in a stammery exchange that I’ve always thought the two handled really well.  

MOUTH: I just wanted to say thank you…for offering to save my life and everything…

STEF: What?  What, what, what?  

MOUTH: I just wanted to say thank you.

STEF: Wow, “thank you”.  Real moment.  Your voice is kinda nice when you’re mouth isn’t screwing it up.

MOUTH:  Yeah, well, thanks.  And you know, your looks are kinda pretty…when your face doesn’t screw it up.

It’s funny and sweet, and Plimpton hits on something real and adorable with the way she bombards Feldman with dizzy, disbelieving little “what what what”s when he finally starts being nice to her.  She can’t fully let him off the hook, but despite the intended sarcasm it is a “real moment”, especially in comparison to the rest of the film.  A shot of reality in a beloved thrill ride sorely lacking in it, Plimpton is a talented actress we don’t see nearly enough of.  

There’s five to get us started.  More later.  The next time I talk to you, we will have a new president.  Weird.



FEATURE FILM DEBUT: TERRIBLE!

Posted in Marvy Movies, Uncle Nutsy! on May 5, 2008 by butthorn

Please try to enjoy my first film, entitled “Terrible”. It’s about how occasionally I turn on the MacBook camera and tape myself doing senseless and unappealing things. Sequels to follow.

As you watch, try to keep to following in mind: this is my first attempt at moviemaking, I don’t really know how to use the editing software, I live in a very poorly lit home, and I have only the vaguest sense of what constitutes “entertainment” for the general populace. Also, in the past I’ve had bad luck posting homemade videos, so let me know if this doesn’t work. Now go get some popcorn! Or Sour Patch Kids! Or those chocolate circles with the crunchy white things on them that I don’t remember what they’re called! Or maybe some Swiss chard! That’s in season, isn’t it?