Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Some random movie thoughts for anyone who cares. So last night I was up til 12:30 because I watched Shane on TCM, for the brazillionth time. I'll assume most of you have seen it at one time or another. If not, I'm not planning to spoil the movie, but if I accidentally give something away, you've been warned. Plus, it's a classic Western, so if you don't know how it's gonna end, you need more help than a spoiler alert can supply.

Incidentally, I really hated it the first time I saw it, about 12 years ago. I don't remember where, but I'd read an article talking about Unforgiven being a modern update (or post-modern, it probably said) of Shane. I loved Unforgiven (and still do; it's up in GoodFellas or Apocalypse Now territory for me), so I jumped at the chance to see it's distant predecessor.

And I didn't make it past the 45 minute mark. It wasn't just that it was too dated, because I've always liked good, old movies. I can roll with the old-fashioned acting styles, or the swelling music. That wasn't the problem. The problem was Brandon DeWilde, the kid who played Joey, Van Heflin's & Jean Arthur's boy. As a sneeringly cynical, mid-90's Tarantino fanboy there was just no way I could've handled a sensitive & honest treatment of the "crush" Joey developed on the swaggering, gun-slinging Shane. And I didn't.

(In honesty, the fact that Alan Ladd's wavy blonde locks & fringed suede jacket made Shane look like he belonged in a Village People tribute act more than a gunfighter in 19th century Wyoming didn't help either. The 50's, baby!)

But now, as an older guy, I love this film more and more every time I see it. The way that Shane and Heflin's Joe handle the boy's affections is real: Shane is torn between wanting to present Joey with a true picture of who he really is, versus the sterilized image he realizes that Joey should see; the way that Heflin works hard to cover up his jealousy, knowing that his son finds Shane's gunman far more compelling than his own pig-farmer; their competing desires to be both tough, and civilized in the young boy's eyes.

And the subtle emotions between Jean Arthur, Alan Ladd, and Van Heflin are spectacular. Nothing is explicitly revealed in the dialogue, but their feelings, their temptations, their sense of guilt & loyalty are clear. These are characters feeling the pull of love, of competition & the hunger for excitement. But also with a deep sense of honor, of doing what's right. Director George Stevens did a helluva job there. Every time I see it, I find the interplay between the three of them a little more moving. There's a deep sadness just beneath the surface, but they keep it hidden, for pride . . . and for Joey.

I have to admit that the fist-fights & gunfights seem either tame or cartoonish after 55 years of Leone, Peckinpaugh, Kirosawa & Eastwood reinterpreting the western. But the foreplay, if you will, the sharp camera angles, the jagged rhythms of the score, the use of seemingly secondary action like storms, spooked horses, or stampeding cattle is masterful. The tension is palpable throughout the final 20 minutes of the movie.

And, I'd be a fool not to mention one other thing: Jack Palance as hired gun, Jack Wilson. With his famous grin & his slow, deliberate walk, he's a picture of laconic evil. Simply put, he's just a lot "scarier" than most of the bad guys in older Westerns. Palance's Wilson has more in common with Lee van Cleef's Angle Eyes than with the standard 40's/50's gunman.

That's all. Not looking to go into excruciating detail about the ins-and-outs of the movie. Just wanted to spend a few minutes rambling about my feelings after watching again last night. One thing I know, I'll watch again next time it comes on.


As the early February holiday known as The Super Bowl approaches (remember when it was a mid-January, and then a late-January, holiday?), my thoughts turn in the direction they should for a man with no interest in the fortunes of the Colts or Bears: To Baseball!

And, more specifically, to the Mets. And, since this hasn't been a fantastic off-season for Omar, I've avoided chiming in. Or chirping in. Or is it piping in? Man, even my cliches are rusty after a long off-season. Keith should be along soon to help me out.

But . . . good news is here. Good news in the absence of bad news sense. And what bad news could there have been? Well, to put it bluntly, Omar could've fucked up & signed Victor "I'm No Carlos" Zambrano to a minor league deal, setting the stage for a return to Flushing if & when (read: When) one of the Mets' ancient starters goes down in June. But this will not happen now.

Because The Killer Zambie has signed a minor league deal with The Blue Jays, where he'll join Tomo Ohka & John "I Won't Pitch To Paul LoDuca" Thompson in a rotation sure to deny B.J. Ryan of save opps, and increase the sale of antacids in Ontario all season long. He's gone. We can rest easy. Back to bed. Or go to work. I just report on shit pitchers leaving town; it's up to you to do what you want with the info.

Me? I'll smile.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


According to A.P, some 10,000 Alaska residents:
"lost power after a bald eagle lugging a deer head crashed into transmission lines."
Well that's two symbols of America causing grief and trouble for their fellow citizens by trying to carry too heavy a load all by themselves.

(If I was really desperate for blog hits based on random search terms, I'd make some joke about Bald Eagle vs. Bald Bush. But I'm not desperate.)


Open Question to any & all who know more than I know about operating systems (in other words, nearly everyone):
Based on Microsoft's track record of bugginess & trouble in its new releases, why would anyone buy Vista until at least a few security patches and an update or two come on-line? Anyone getting it ASAP?
As much as I rail against MS, I'll admit that like most folks, I use many of its products. I chose Firefox as my browser, but I run it on an MS platform: XP. And while XP was a disaster when it came out, I have no complaints about the 2006 version I have now.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Monday Random Flickr Blogging explained.

1. "5019" uploaded by "LeoL30" on May 21, 2006:

Flickr Blogging goes Meta.

Or something like that.

2. "IMG_5019" uploaded by "Xiaohu Zhou" on October 29, 2006:

And in today's coverage of the 36th Annual China Modern Art Exhibition, the man behind the screen had a beef with "Babe With Corn."

3. "IMG_5019.jpeg" uploaded by "Isaac Isaac" on February 16, 2006:

Ever since "The Giant Trout Incident," Sandra was wrought with anxiety when Bill went fishing, and would do anything to stop him.

4. "IMG_5019.jpeg" uploaded by "jophan" on December 3, 2006:

By 6:45, Argylefest '06 was in full swing.

And those crazy bastards wouldn't stop til at least 8:30.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


George Bush is still an asshole, and nothing's gonna change that at this point. I'm not wading into a "policy" discussion here on Iraq -- it's clear to anyone with either a brain or a shred of honesty that the Adminstration plan is insane at best, cynically evil at worst.

That said, in the middle of whining & pouting about "inflexibility" and "partisanship" in DC, look at how the Jackass-in-Chief responsed to questions about how he'll proceed with his Iraq troop increase plan in the absence of Congressional support:
"I'm the decision-maker."
What a clown. At this point it's no longer maddening, nor frustrating, nor even weirdly humorous when he goes into his Decider routine.

It's just pathetic.

Friday, January 26, 2007


After last week's venture into the land of movies I didn't like even as a child, I think it's time the Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day got back to basics: silly movies that I actually liked as a kid. And with that in mind, there's only one way for me to go today:

The Gumball Rally

It came out in 1976, but I hadn't heard of it til I saw it on a Sunday Night Movie, probably in about 1978 or 1979. I've reached a point in my life now where memory becomes an unruly amalgamation of the focused-upon reality, of real events unrelated to what I'm trying to recall, and of pure fiction (aka, stuff that never happened). But acknowledging that, I seem to remember being very excited about this flick, after seeing it previewed following the prior week's Sunday Night Movie. A preview for a movie about a cross-country race, with fast cars and good drivers. Yessssssss, I was psyched. I loved movies with car chases when I was little, as I mentioned a few months ago when the FSMOMYOTD was Dirty Mary Crazy Larry. Every week I debate with myself whether Smokey & The Bandit qualifies for this feature, because I fucking loved that movie. Loved it.

And you know what my favorite toys were as a kid? Thaaaaaaaaaaaat's right: Matchbox cars, along with their B+ cousins, Hotwheels.

(But screw it, I had no tolerance for those damn Corgi cars. Crap. They were the RC, or C&C, to Matchbox's Coke and Hotwheels' Pepsi. Or the Jack 'n the Box or Hardees or even the late Wetson's to McDonalds & Burger King. I knew quality as a lad, and I didn't compromise. Pul-lease.)

In addition to MAD Magazine, my only subscription at that time was for some ridiculous, monthly Matchbox Cars newsletter, complete with pictures of dorky kids posing in grainy photos with their collections of cars. My collection of cars was pretty big, but even at 10 years-old, I was already such a geek that I worried they wouldn't print my picture since my collection included about 40% Hotwheels.

So I never sent in a photo. But every once in a while I would get all my cars together, and I'd just sit and admire the scope of the collection. Some cars were chipped and scuffed, a remnant of the demolition derbies my friend and I had when we were still 6 or 7, before I came to appreciate the majesty of the cars. Some cars had bent-up "axles" -- mostly the earlier Matchbox ones, where those "axles" were thinner than surgical needles -- and others had broken off doors or hoods. But a few were pristine, and those were my favorites.

I still remember the three favorites-of-the-favorites: a bright red Matchbox 1978 Renault (of all things), which wasn't cool looking, but had the smoothest-spinning wheels of any of the dozens & dozens I owned, making it lightning fast going down ramps or across the slick kitchen floor; a Hotwheels late-70s Ferrari 308 GTB, also red, which didn't "ride" as well, but was so freaking cool looking I just had to roll with it (it was called "Racebait 308" on the "information" under the car. Hotwheels always had a cartoonishness in the cars & the names which I considered inferior to Matchbox's verisimilitude); and a beat-up looking dune buggy-type thing, that actually had a springy suspension. The dune buggy never went straight for more than a foot or two, but on a narrow track? Soooo-weeet.

Anyway, I settled down to watch The Gumball Rally in the den with the old man, of course. And I am certain that I had at least 5 or 10 of my favorite Matchbox cars in front of me for the whole movie. The Ferrari, the Renault, and the Dune Buggy would've been there, and probably the white, racing-striped Lamborghini Countach, as well. If I had my own Gumball Rallys during commercials, I'm certain the Ferrari or the Renault won as they always did. And the movie itself?

I loved it.

Awesome. Car chases, car races, sports cars, convertables, you name it. Unlike Cannonball Run, which I never liked, I remembered this one revolving far more around the cars, around the race, as opposed to goofy comic hijinks, and improbable or implausable action sequences. Like my tastes in Matchbox cars, I wanted accuracy over comic bookishness in my car chase/race flicks. I was a GEEK.

Nonetheless, it was a comedy, and it had it amusing moments. I can still remember one of the characters getting into his Italian sports car & ripping off the rearview mirror because that's how they did it in Italy. Even at 10 or 11 that seemed ridiculous, but it stuck. Or I think it stuck. Remember what I said earlier about memory. Hmmmm, let's check the "Memorable Quotes" section on IMDB. You know what? They have a quotation about that scene, and more amazingly, my memory was right:
Franco: And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving.
[Franco rips off his rear-view mirror and throws it out of the car]
Franco: What's-a behind me is not important.
And that-a silly, Italian-a accent should-a tell you, ever-a-ting about-a this-a movie (and you know I had my hand in the air doing that . . . uhhh, that Italian talking thing as I wrote that sentence. Even though my Italian accent sounds like Chico Marx). As to the plot, while not matching my memories exactly, here's the Wikipedia entry on the movie, which makes comparisons to Cannonball Run and Cannonball, a movie I'll admit not knowing:
The Gumball Rally is a 1976 film about a coast-to-coast road race. It was inspired by the actual Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash run held by Brock Yates that inspired several other movies, like Cannonball with David Carradine, also from 1976. The main difference is while Cannonball is an action film, The Gumball Rally is a comedy, just like the later series of Cannonball movies starring Burt Reynolds and many others. The Gumball Rally is often considered better and less infantile compared to the later, star-studded exploitations of The Cannonball Run, which even copied the running gags of the police man chasing the racers through the whole USA.
Less infantile. Better. That's what I thought. Burt gets chased by Jackie Gleason in Smokey & the Bandit. Period. He didn't need to do Cannonball Run. Then again, he didn't need to do Smokey & the Bandit II either. Oh Burt, what did you do between 1980 & 1997? Maybe Dirk Diggler's career-fall sequence in Boogie Nights was inspired not by John Holmes or some other similar "performer," but by the man who played Dirk's mentor! Anyhoo, I haven't seen The Gumball Rally in 28 years or so, so I'm not putting my rep on the line over it, but it was good enough for 11 year-old me, so it's good enough for the FSMOMYOTD. And with that, let's get to . . .

The Cast: We'll start right off with the unlikely "star" of The Gumball Rally, the man behind the "memorable" rear-view mirror line, Raul Julia. Before I saw this I had no idea, of course, that Julia was any kind of "serious" actor. And I doubt that seeing The Gumball Rally as a kid was the moment that got me to appreciate his talent either.

Also "starring" was Michael Sarrazin, who I know only as Jane Fonda's dance partner in Sidney Pollock's unspeakably depressing "classic," They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (He was also her partner in another way in that one, but I won't play spoiler. Though I will advise people to skip the movie altogether, in that it's an unremitting downer with no payoff whatsoever.) Nevertheless, Sarrazin's resume includes two essential facts, both of which I have no choice but to mention here.

One, he appeared in a 1976 Italian film called, The Loves and Times of Scaramouche. That's right, "Scaramouche." And, if my dates are correct, Queen's A Night At The Opera, the album that included "Bohemian Rhapsody," came out in 1975. So, The Loves and Times of Scaramouche not only receives a 3.5-out-of-10 rating on IMDB, but it was beaten to the punch by a pop song in the "roguish commedia dell'arte character who wears a black velvet mask and black trousers, shirt and hat, yet still manages to hit the late 20th Century culture scene" category.

Uhhhh, or something like that. I realize it's a narrow category, but that flick still managed to lose. And I wonder if Sarrazin could do the fandango? He seemed to play a poor boy from a poor family in They Shoot Horses.

And the second Sarrazin fact I have to mention? He hosted SNL in 1978 and appeared in 1976 as "Diner." Was he on an early episode of the "Chee-burger, chee-burger" sketch? I need to know this, if anyone can help me out. If so, Sarrazin is elegible for immediate induction into the FSMOMYOTD Hall of Fame due to Rule 14 (b) (1) (C) (iv) of the By-laws. You can see the stakes here are very high. Let's get to researching, shall we? Whoever figures this out wins a Hotwheels car. That's right, no Matchbox, Hotwheels.

Norman Burton appeared in Valley of the Dolls, Planet of the Apes, and The Towering Inferno, giving him an insurmountable early lead in today's "Most roles in surprisingly watchable shlock" contest. Let's just give him the award right now.

(What's that? He's dead? He can't accept the award? Ok, then let's give it to Winona Ryder's Acting Career, which is merely mostly dead.)

Yes, I know Planet of the Apes is actually a damn good movie with a certain degree of lovable shlockiness, as opposed to Valley of the Dolls & Towering Inferno which are pure shlock in the dictionary definition sense. I know. But let's let the dead guy enjoy his award, ok? Let his soul rest in peace, you bastards! You finally really did it, didn't you? You maniacs, god damn you all to hell. Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty--

{My what? My lithium? Oh yeah, thanks. And a glass of water? Thanks.}

Now where were we, err, where was I. Ahh, the cast:

Yes. And speaking of unhinged lunacy & mental illness, Gary Busey was in The Gumball Rally. As was Tim McIntire, who played Alan Freed in American Hotwax, a FSMOMYOTD a few months back. So was Joanne Nail, who not only has the last name "Nail," but also appeared in Switchblade Sisters, and Midnight Lace. And she was also in 1981's 1.5-out-of-10 star-rated The Perfect Woman, as well as 1978's semi-classic TV movie, Mother, Juggs & Speed. And what characters did she play in these two films? Why, "The Perfect Woman" and "Juggs."

I'm guessing double-D's. Anyone else with a guess? With an alternative theory? With a contemporanous photo? (**Update** As commenter Minstrel Boy points out, Mother, Juggs & Speed is better known as a 1976 feature film starring Bill Cosby, Harvey Keitel, and Raquel Welch. The one that Nail starred in was a TV show, not feature, from 1978. I'll now commit ritual suicide as penance for my shameful error).

Larry Silvestri, who played a cop in a November FSMOMYOTD entry, The Warriors, was in The Gumball Rally. He also played, "Detective Silvestri," in GoodFellas. And even though I own it, and have seen it 4,629 times, I'm drawing a blank on that one. Anyone? Is that the dude who busted young Henry when he was selling cigs out of the truck with young Tommy?

(And if anyone gives me any guff about "spoiling" GoodFellas . . . well, I can't even contemplate it.)

Casey Kasem was "Radio DJ" in The Gumball Rally. Way to stretch out that acting range, Casey. John Morton had himself an interesting little run in 1980, when he managed to appear in Superman II, The Empire Strikes Back, and Flash Gordon (future FSMOMYOTD?). And Alfred Shelly appeared in a movie called Black Samson in 1974, the same year that fellow Gumball Rally cast-mate Jack Oliver found himself in The Black Godfather.

(And no, I don't have a joke. And even if I did, you think I'd be getting anywhere near that one?)

Finally, Lola Daydream made her one and only appearence in movies in The Gumball Rally. How the hell can a woman be named "Lola Daydream" and appear in one movie? How is this possible? Who's responsible for this decision? Who robbed us of a FSMOMYOTD all-star? I need answers.

A Corgi car for whomever figures that one out. I wanna know, but I'm not giving away any Matchbox cars. Not even a Hotwheels. No sir. No Coke or Pepsi. RC.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


The Yahoo! News "Oxymoronic Headline Of The Day":
Paris Hilton's Private Items On Internet
When an exhibitionistic media creation's private parts are on the internet, I'm thinking this whole "private" concept needs to be disregarded.


Last week saw the publication of some of the most groundbreaking, life-altering scientific news since Watson & Crick discovered the double helix, Marconi stole Tesla's design for the radio, and Donald Trump invented the Combover-Hairplug Hybrid. I'm speaking, of course, about the University of Florida research involving the sterilization of sponges in the microwave.

But . . . seems that the non-scientific, home version of the sponge + microwave formula leaves out an essential ingredient: Water. I'd assume this was self-explanatory, but you know what "they" say about assuming. Indeed, Reuters reports that:
A study that found microwave ovens can be used to sterilize kitchen sponges sent people hurrying to test the idea this week -- with sometimes disastrous results . . .
As to the specifics of the disaster, let's just let a couple of those who suffered tell their tales, via actual e-mails sent to Reuters:
* "Just wanted you to know that your article on microwaving sponges and scrubbers aroused my interest. However, when I put my sponge/scrubber into the microwave, it caught fire, smoked up the house, ruined my microwave, and pissed me off."

* "First, the sponge is worthless afterwards so you have to throw it out instead of using it. And second your entire house stinks like a burning tire for several hours, even with windows/doors open."
Whoa. Ruined microwaves, burning tires, pissed off people. Sounds like the West Bank. Anyhow, a press officer from the University had the follwoing to say, when he spoke to reporters:
"We figured, 'wow, we better let people know right away that the sponge should be wet.'"
Wow, dude, like maybe you should, like, tell people something, you know. Finally, since the University of Florida had experience putting out fires every time Steve Spurrier opened his mouth, it was quick to release the following press statement:
"To guard against the risk of fire, people who wish to sterilize their sponges at home must ensure the sponge is completely wet. Two minutes of microwaving is sufficient for most sterilization. Sponges should also have no metallic content. Last, people should be careful when removing the sponge from the microwave as it will be hot."
Hotter than a McDonald's apple pie filling.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I'm busy with a lot of random shit today, so I don't have time to go into the full-depth, Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking of last night's SOTU Address that I'd planned.

Which is -- undoubtedly -- very good news for my millions (if not billions) of readers.

Therefore, some brief, disconnected, and mostly useless thoughts about last night:

* Laura looked like one of the NY Giants in those wacked-out, red throwback uniforms.

* Dick Cheney reached down to grab something, which he then put in his mouth, just after Bush spoke about health care. Assuming it was a dose of something on the spectrum from antacid-to-speed-to-heart medicine, I'm wondering who paid for it. Probably the same Federal government that pays his salary. Kinda ironical-like, huh?

* Then, as I'm sure all who watched noticed, Cheney all-but broke into laughter when Bush claimed he wanted to reduce America's gasoline use by 20% in 10 years. I'm telling you, the fat bastard was smirking & fighting the urge to start snickering like a 16 year-old high school boy who's friend passed a note about the teacher's tits.

In fairness, I was laughing too when I heard Bush make that "prediction." But I'm guessing my reasons were just a bit different than Dick's.

* Bush referred -- once - to the problem of "Global Climate Change."

Al Gore, move over! We gots ourselves a new Environmental President! Look out trees, the Chief Exec is coming to hug you.

* Not long before the Lunatic-in-Chief said that "Nothing is more important in our history" than success in Iraq, he very accurately described the cauldron by saying, "Chaos is the objective."

But before we give him the George Washington Golden Cherry Tree Award for Presidential Honesty, I'm duty-bound to inform you that he was talking about "The Enemy" in that instance.

* Speaking of "The Enemy," it's time for the SOTU Word Tally™. You may recall that yesterday I made my predictions, and a small percentage of my millions (if not billions) of readers joined in. First the word, then the actual tally, then my prediction (plus, any & all comments about the predictions of others, complete with snark & derision):
God: 1 (1) -- Who's the Big, Bad Predictin' Mofo here? Huh? HUH??? And someone told me that number was "really low."
Terror/Terrorist: 17 (14) Damn, I over bid. Bob Barker's sending my ass home empty-handed.
Security/Safety: 7 (9) WFTA nailed it. You win the Super Prize™. Check your mailbox, it'll get there . . . sometime. Or not.
Iraq(i): 32 (21)
Iran: 5 (4)
Syria: 2 (2)
North Korea: 1 (actually, a reference to "safety on the Korean peninsula) (2)
Pakistan: 0 (0)
Same-Sex Marriage: 0 (0)
Two Men Exchanging Blow-Jobs: 0 (0)
16 Year-Old Boy Giving a Blowjob to a Congressman: 0 (0)
Two men exchanging erotic massages & a meth pipe: 0 (o)
Hillary: 0 (0)
Damn. I think it's fair to say, I did ok.

But, before everyone starts sending me awards, medals, and a contract as a talking head on MSNBC, let's acknowledge that I was too stupid to realize the following words & phrases would also be peppered throughout the address:
Evil/Wicked: 3
The Enemy: 10
9/11: 5
Al Qaeda: 9
Bin Laden: 1
Nuke-ular: 2. John Royal added this word in his predictions. So even though he missed by 150%, he was the only one to call for the word (or, more accurately, the non-word). John, your Super Prize™ is on the way.
There. Anyhow, this barrage of loaded words like Terror, Al Qaeda, Iraq, Security, and . . The Enemy, all came in a quick blast in the middle of his speech, before the heart-warming (and stomach-churning) spectacle of "Bush Acknowledges The Heroes" portion of the SOTU address began. Bottom line: he's still banging the war drum, and he's still a shit.

* And finally, Jim Webb kicked mountains of ass in his response. Strong, direct, smart, and passionate, Webb not only smacked Bush down resoundingly, but I think he may have thrust himself into the field of '08 Presidential candidates, should he wish to go that route. His closing line:
"Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."
Or showing him the door. I'm cool with either.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


And . . . in the Hillary's Big Mouth Watch, we get the following two quotations from A.P.:
"I'm running to be the president, to make the decisions"
That line came in an effort to explain that she, and not her more-famous spouse, would be the boss. As if there was any doubt! Nonetheless, this reminds me a bit too much of a deservingly-maligned statement by 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.'s current resident. Jeez.

And, in the money (-shot) quotation of the day, Hillary told the press that Bill is:
"A tremendous asset."
Insert unsubtle dick joke here: __________.


So what's the rumpus? Well, in addition to events of real importance, like Peyton Manning heaving the monkey from his back (and onto Handsome Tom's well-coiffed head), or the mind-blowing collection of fried food I shoveled into my mouth while watching said monkey-toss, we have the usual collection of happenings, occurences, and goings-on from the nation's capital.

Hillary is "In It To Win It," or so I've read. And I didn't even realize she'd hired Jesse Jackson's speechwriter.

As anyone who's cruised by here for even a brief scan of my prattlings & ravings knows, my hatred of that opportunistic grifter knows no bounds. Just like her impossibly overrated husband, she's a two-bit, Little Rock scam-artist beneath the pompous exterior. I'd say she'd sell her soul for a vote, but that implies she has one to peddle off. Even more than most politicians, her craven desire for personal power has no limit.

And as to what she's actually done -- rather than said -- through the years, she's a DLCer, through-and-through: a Democrat committed to slowly push the nation rightward, in an effort to win the votes of those with whom she ostensibly shares no views or ideology. Support for the Iraq War, constant lip-service to "traditional values" and such, silence on the Patriot Act & Military Commissions Act (or whatever it's called).

She sucks. I hope she loses, and loses badly.

And . . . as if we needed more humor & excitement, tonight The President faces the nation!

Which responds by spitting in his face! I can't even imagine the wheelbarrow of horseshit he'll roll out onto the House floor tonight, and I can't say I much care. But what does interest me a bit, is the reaction he'll get from the 535 in the audience. For 5 years now, we've watched him face the nation with Fat Denny over his shoulder, and a rogues gallery of Abramoff-payees & assorted sycophants standing & cheering every time he said the words "God," "Iraq," "Terror," or "Security." (And who failed to boo, hiss, & laugh when he said "nuke-ular.")

Well this time he'll have The Wicked Witch of the West behind him (no, not Hillary, she's from the East. And I'm referring to Nancy from the perspective of her political foes, not allies, supporters, or curious onlookers). And the audience will not be composed of a majority of his supporters. While I expect no razzing or rotten fruit tossing, neither do I expect a standing-o the first time he says, "America is the hope for the world," or some other line straight out of a Fox-produced propaganda film.

Anyhow, in honor of America's real January pastimes -- football & gambling -- let's play a game, shall we? Let's do an over/under for the following words & phrases in tonight's address. I'll put my picks next to the words & phrases, and all who want to win the Super Prize that I'm offering, just drop your answers in the comments. Tomorrow I'll announce the winner, and promise to give him or her the Super Prize(the one I'll never actually send). Here we go:

God -- 1. He didn't say it at all in his "Special Address" a couple weeks ago. I think he'll say it at the end, in a "God Bless America," sign-off, but that's it.

Terror/Terrorist/Terrorism -- 14.

Security/Safety -- 9.

Iraq (pronounced Eye-rack) -- 21

Iran (pronounced Eye-ran) -- 4

Syria -- 2

North Korea -- 2

Pakistan (the place where Osama bin Laden lives, presumably) -- 0

Same-Sex Marriage -- 0 (it's been a tough year, so no controversy, methinks)

Two men exchanging blow-jobs -- 0 (see above).

16 Year-old boy giving a blowjob to a Congressman -- 0. Unless Mark Foley decides to attend, and then 1.

Two men exchanging erotic massages & a meth pipe -- 0, unless he decides to make a shameless play to his "base," and then it'll be 4.

Hillary -- 0. Unless she bum-rushes the podium and announces, "I'm Hillary fuckin' Clinton, bitchez, and this is gonna be My Country. I don't care what Mellencamp says." And in that case, I'll predict 12.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Monday morning (and after a Sunday twin bill of football games, a tired & lagging one). Tom at If I Ran The Zoo, explains.

1. "3776," uploaded by "bunaen," on September 2, 2005:

The Army's Uncle Fred Wants You recruiting posters don't seem to be helping efforts to meet new quotas.

2. "IMG_3776," uploaded by "sideoutev," on October 31, 2006

Finally, photographic proof of the Wacky Giant Caterpillar that's been sneaking up behind kids and messing up their hair in pictures.

3. "IMG_3776," uploaded by "Elmar & Nina," on June 22, 2006:

I don't even have a caption for this goofy bastard. Shall we open the floor to suggestions? Anyone?

Leave them in the comments and maybe I'll put one under the pic later, or tomorrow morning. Or just ignore my request and leave me hanging! (I can take it.)

***And, the updated caption to this picture comes from, "Anonymous" (man, he's everywhere these days): By the time GW Bush was finally publicly hanged it was only a single French tourist that bothered to show up to witness the event. "Ah, think nothing of it", he was quoted as saying, "we have a long tradition of executing royalty gone bad. Now, could you please move a bit so I can get a better angle? Merci."***

Friday, January 19, 2007


It's the big day. THE big day. And what day is that? NY's first snow of this wacky-warm winter? Two days 'til conference championship Sunday? Four days til the War with Iran begins? Yes, yes, and maybe. But not the "hell, yes" I was thinking of.

And what is that hell yes, you ask? Why . . . it's Friday. Friday morning, more specifically. So, it's time for the world-famous, never-duplic--

You get the idea. We've had our share of decent movies. We've had musicals, and comedies, and more than one non-comedy that was funny as hell. We've had television specials. We've even moved into the 80s. What could be next? Maybe it's now time for a movie that I can't sum up simply by saying, "And I loved it," when describing my reaction as a boy.

You mean . . . a movie I didn't like, even as a youngster? It's not as bad as it seems: I hated Annie Hall when I first saw it. Why? I didn't get it. At all. Totally over my head. Wasn't crazy about Raging Bull either. I wasn't even too psyched about Airplane! the first time I saw it. Too scattershot, too allusive. So you see, folks, it's easy for a young fella -- even one as preternaturally brilliant & cultured & gifted as I was -- to "miss" on the greatness of a great film when he first sees it.

Unfortunately, this week's Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day doesn't fit under that description. Nah. I didn't like this one because It Sucked. But you know, I think that's well within the expected parameters of the FSMOMYOTD. And even if it isn't, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Or should it be, the more things stay the same, the more they change? Maybe, on the other hand, I should say, Fool me once, shame on you. Or was it, You can fool all the people some of the time, but you can't . . .

{And, as Mike spends the remainder of his day amusing (and stroking) himself, the Producers would like to hijack the post, cut him off mid-ramble, and get to the FSMOMYOTD. Hit it, boys.}

Wholly Moses!

1980. For whatever reason, I saw it with my mother. Must have been a day off: either a vacation day or one of those mornings when she "allowed me to be sick" so she could drag me -- by the greasy locks of my floppy, middle-parted hair -- to go clothes shopping, or some other hideous chore. Which, on the surface seems odd.

No, not that she "played hooky" for me, or that I was rewarded with a movie at the end of the grueling day. She did that plenty of times. And before you think, "Gee Mike, what a lucky stiff you were," let me ask you: 12 years-old, you'd rather be at school, playing football at recess and making fun of the Jordache-wearing, Farrah-haired girls that you secretly liked, or having the crap beaten out of you in a department store by your mother as she forced you to try on sweaters & corderoy jeans?

(That's what I thought. I felt the same way. And now you understand Reason #64 why I'm so fucked up. Back to topic.)

What was odd was that she chose for us to go to a comedy, a genre of movie of which she wasn't a fan. But she did like some of the early Mel Brooks gang, and as you'll see, this flick had its share of the Brooks Troupe. In fact, as with many disastrous comedies (see, 1941, the FSMOMYOTD two weeks ago), this one lacked nothing in the casting department. We'll get to it soon enough, as always, but let me tease a tad by saying, this cast was Stacked. Comic power oozing from the screen. And ooze pretty much describes the film. My 12 year-old opinion, along with that of my pathologically non-humorous mom, was that the movie was singularly unfunny.

(Not that I knew what "singularly" meant at the time. Which is why I didn't describe it that way. In fact, I'm not even sure I really know what it means now, so why the hell am I saying it?)

Screw it, I'm sure I said to myself, in 1980, that movie wasn't funny. It sucked. So that's what I'll say now: Unfunny. You know what, it was so lacking in laughs, I'm gonna say it was Doubly Unfunny. Yes, it was that bad. Proof? Not only does it earn a horrific 4.3-out-of-10 on IMDB, but the "Memorable Quotes" section is empty. A comedy . . . with no memorable quotes.

So what was this horror show about? Dudley Moore played Herschel, the real man chosen by God to free the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage, but Moses somehow gets the credit. And a bunch of other biblical stories play out too. So, I guess that puts it chronologically & thematically somewhere between 1979's Life of Brian and 1981's History of the World, Part I. But unlike those two, it wasn't funny.

(And I thought History Of The World, Part I was screamingly funny when I saw it in 1981, with the old man. And, as regulars here know, seeing comedies aimed at 13 year-olds with him, was par for the course. And that's reason #65.)

And, by the way: Three studio movies satirizing the bible in a two year stretch. What are the odds of that today, 25-30 years later?

Anyhoo, not much more to say about the movie. And at this rate, I'll be exposing all variety of family secrets within a paragraph or two, so let's just get to The Cast. As I said, it's filled with established comedy stars: In addition to Moore, it featured James Coco, Dom DeLuise, Jack Gilford, Andrea Martin, and a few more that we'll get to in a second. Didn't help Wholly Moses! rise above Holy Shit, but it does make for a fun stroll through the cast. We also had . . .

Larraine Newman, making the Honor Roll as a Two-Time FSMOMYOTDer.

John Houseman! The scariest law professor in the history of film, plus the bad-ass that explained the secret behind Smith Barney's old-fashioned money-making prowess. Ok, who's next?

What's that? You feel that I've left something out here? You're expecting me to say something else relating to John Houseman? To make a joke so predictable, so stale that you don't really want to hear it, but something inside of you is just screaming & begging for it? Is that what the rumbling from the peanut gallery is all about? Fine. I'll let you have it, here it comes . . .

But I had to make you earrrrrrrnnnnnnn it first.

Heh, heh. (And I accept my sentence. Whatever sentence you've just imposed.)

Richard Pryor. Another honored Two-Time FSMOMYOTDer. And in Wholly Moses!, Pryor played the Pharaoh. And that was the joke! Get it?

Uhhhh, you don't? You see it was 1980, still back in the day where the joke was the fact that the Pharaoh was played by . . . {whispering} a Black guy. Get it now?

Or now?

(Me either. And with Anwar Sadat in the news all the time back in those days, even in 1980 I wasn't sure what was so incongruous about a Black Egyptian. So in 1980 . . . easier to satirize the Bible, but harder to allow the era's best comedian to move beyond limiting, racial stereotypes. Hmmm, let's call it a draw.)

John Ritter & Madeline Kahn -- as "The Witch" and Satan, respectively -- complete the dead-way-before-their-time-comedy-stars portion of our program.

Tom Baker, straight from the "I've Never Heard Of The Bum" Files, deserves mention here for a few extremely tenuous connections to things that associatively relate to . . . well, something that sort of makes sense in my mind. His first film appearence was in 1966's Hallucination Generation. Of all the movie genres throughout the century, not many are as straight-out awful as those 1966-1969 drug culture/hippie flicks. I don't mean Billy Jack or Easy Rider, or any of those films (some good, some not so much) that, while dated at least stand up as "movies," 35-to-40 years later.

And I'm definitely not talking about the wonderfully deranged Head, in which the Monkees demolished their teeniebopper image (and their careers) in a blaze of glory. (Get it, blaze? Because it's likely that everyone involved in that movie was . . . oh, never mind.) And I loved Head (stop snickering, Ed). No dissing of Rafelson's/Nicholson's masterpiece here.

Nah, I'm talking about shit like The Trip, or Psych-Out, or any number of other similarly-titled movies, all of which starred Jack Nicholson, Dean Stockwell, Bruce Dern (FSMOMYOTD alert!), Peter Fonda, or a combination of all four. Even though none of them appeared in Hallucination Generation.

But Tom Baker did. And from that point until his untimely death at age 42 -- less than two years after appearing in Wholly Moses! -- Baker was in The Young Nurses, Candy Stripe Nurses, More American Graffiti, and even the John Royal-referenced Two-Minute Warning. And, most importantly, Baker is now a Three-Time FSMOMYOTDer, having held small roles in both American Hot Wax and Rollercoaster.

A moment of silence for a fallen comrade if we may.


Brion James (another (!) of the early departees from this mortal coil), a true Hollywood journeyman. With about 150 movies in 25 years, he was all over, and you've certainly seen him: 48 Hours, The Player, Dead Man Walking, "Roots," Southern Comfort, Blade Runner, the list goes on & on. He was even in one of the silliest of the FSMOMYOTDs: Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park.

I tell you, It's All Connected. (Ohhhhhmmmmmm.)

And, as a final note, the director, Gary Weis, has a very interesting resume. Mostly comedy and musical, it's a wild combination of The Weird, The Bad, and The Surprisingly Excellent. I'm going to put The Looney Tunes 50th Anniversary television special in the first category, and the two Bangles videos, including "Walk Like An Egyptian," in the second.

But the third? Check this shit out: 1976's Beach Boys TV Special; the "Rubber Biscuit" segment of a Best of Dan Ackroyd show; an outstanding 1973 documentary, self-explanatorily titled, Jimi Hendrix; Steve Martin's 1978 hit TV special, "A Wild & Crazy Guy," (this is the one with "King Tut"). And, most impressive of all, the underrated Beatles mockumentary-satire, The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, featuring Eric Idle, Michael Palin, George Harrison, Bianca Jagger, Ron Wood, and most of the Not Ready For Prime-Time Players. A very clever, and often hilarious, film. And it came out 5 years before This Is Spinal Tap. Not saying it's as good as TIST. I'm just saying.

But unfortunately for Mr. Weis, he also directed Wholly Moses, which establishes a fourth category: The Awful.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


From AP coverage of Condi's recapitulation of her barnstorming tour of Jerusalem and the West Bank:
Rice Hears Encouragement From Mideast
My only question: who gives a shit what the voices in her head are saying? And seriously, take a look at what she actually said, and tell me if that sounds remotely encouraging:
"There is no doubt there could be a very important effect on the entire region if we are able to make progress on Middle East peace . . . I did find the parties very desirous of making progress. I believe the whole region is looking for ways to make progress and drive toward the establishment of a Palestinian state."
Well, hot damn. I want to live in Condi's world. I'm very desirous of getting really rich, therefore we should all feel encouraged by the fact that I could become very rich if I'm able to become very rich because I believe I'm looking for ways to become very rich.

In further examples of the weird world of language, as rendered by the Administration & the press in 2007, look at this nugget, as she described things in Iraq & Iran:
"The United States is not escalating this in Iraq. We are simply responding to the fact that there are Iranian efforts to assist those who are building explosive devices that are dangerous to our forces."
So, if I understand correctly, escalation is not escalation if you can offer an unsubstantiated assertion that dubiously rationalizes the escalation? Is that what she's saying?

I guess it's more "augmentation"? And since we're playing the diction game, I'll suggest that when one "augments" the truth, it's neither an escalation, nor is it encouraging.

It's just a Lie.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I know less about computers, servers, internets & tubes than Senator Ted Stevens does. But I know what I observe, and I know how to make leaping assumptions and inferences based on those observations. So . . . here with background, observation, and then leaping assumptions & inferences:

Background: Last spring, on the recommendation of a friend or two, I switched from whatever archaic version of Internet Explorer I was running, and switched to Firefox. And I was pleased. Why? Other than the fact that IE sucked in every way and Firefox didn't, I don't know enough about computers, servers, internets & tubes to say.

Observation: Since IE 7.0 came out a few months ago, Firefox has run terribly with Blogger, which is owned and run (badly) by Google: my blog, other Blogspot blogs, the Blogger dashboard, etc. Slow & buggy. But with the otherwise inferior IE 7.0? Smooth & sweet & trouble-free. Hmmm. Anyone else noticing this, especially during prime business hours? I can't imagine it's only my PC that has this problem.

Leaping Assumption and Inference: Like all patriotic, red-blooded Americans (those with purple or green blood not included), I come to one-and-only-one-possible conclusion -- it's Microsoft's fault. Fuck Bill Gates, the bastard. And my support, my substantiation, my reasoning for this outrageous conclusion? I just told you, I'm an AMERICAN, I don' need no stinkin' substantiation!

Anyone have any theories (including the "Mike, You're Out Of Your Freakin' Mind" Theory) as to how this could happen? Could MS & Google be in cahoots? If so, why? Is it possible for MS & Google to integrate source code, leaving Firefox slow & clunky?

What's going on here? I don't need to know -- I'm gonna go on blaming Microsoft no matter what -- but it might be nice to know the real deal.


Don Cheadle was right -- it's all about the playoffs. The eternal battle of the sexes that plays out during early January afternoons on the couch with a beer in one hand, and a trans-fat-filled snack of some sort in the other, has gone trans-Pacific: sex troubles for the pandas in a Thailand zoo.

Seems the excess pounds that Mr. Chuang has put on as he rooted for his Bears by eating & drinking everything he saw (like a true Bears fan) have turned off the missus, Lin Hui. According to AP:
Chuang Chuang is gaining weight too fast and we found Lin Hui is no longer comfortable with having sex with him.
Translation: Ms. Lin ain't fucking no fatty. She wants Chuang to get his ass off the couch and return to the lean & toned panda she met while reclining languidly all those years ago. Back to basics: vegetables, exercise, shave & shower, put on a tie, bring her the occasional bouquet of bamboo shoots. Lazy bum.

Mr. Chuang promises he'll stop drinking & eating red meat after the Super Bowl. Ms. Lin promises she's going back to the jungle to find her old boyfriend, Wong Dong, if he doesn't.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Heading an article about an increase in Taliban violence against U.S. forces & their allies in Afghanistan:
U.S. Officials Say Taliban Attacks Surge


Nine months into this "blog thing," and it's time for a "First." A pro-Bush piece? N.F.W. A "humor" post that's actually funny? Dream on. And I'm surely not gonna start posting anything that might qualify as "serious" or "well-researched" (unless hours perusing IMDB or count as research).

Nope, nope, nope. Today's subject-matter will be even more unexpected: NASCAR.

(And you'd better know that if I'm posting about NASCAR, I'm mocking.)

So AP reports that a 72 year-old man -- who was the rookie of the year in 1966 -- plans to race, or qualify, or . . . whatever the hell it is that NASCAR drivers do, other than drive in circles and advertise for Valvoline.

72 years-old. And we're supposed to consider this a sport?


When I've said recently that the US's increasingly aggressive posturing in Iraq was all about "contracts," military & otherwise, I had no idea how correct I actually was. According to AP:
The U.S. military has sold forbidden equipment at least a half-dozen times to middlemen for countries — including Iran and China — who exploited security flaws in the Defense Department's surplus auctions. The sales include fighter jet parts and missile components.
Wow. In the worst example, a Pakistani arms broker convicted of exporting U.S. missile parts to Iran resumed business after his release from prison and:
"purchased Chinook helicopter engine parts for Iran from a U.S. company that had bought them in a Pentagon surplus sale. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, speaking on condition of anonymity, say those parts made it to Iran."
A "Pentagon surplus sale"! At the Military Outlet Shop in the mall next to Banana Republic.

These "surplus sales can operate like a supermarket for arms dealers," according to AP. The article says that the "Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service Web site" says it's "the place to obtain original U.S. Government surplus property . . . Right Item, Right Time, Right Place, Right Price, Every Time. Best Value Solutions for America's Warfighters."

Their web address seems to have changed, because I didn't see this when I went to the "Global Security" website, which describes the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service in this way:
Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) is a primary level field activity of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). Its mission is to provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with services for the disposal of material no longer needed for national defense, comply with legislative and regulatory requirements, protect the public good from dangerous defense items, and to pursue maximum value for tax dollars. This mission includes responsibility for property reuse (including resale), hazardous property disposal, demilitarization, precious metals recovery and recycling program support . . . sales are either held through bid or auction. Retail, fixed-price sales are offered at some DRMOs, aimed at customers interested in buying inexpensive items for personal use. DRMS also offers a sales service for those DoD customers who have direct sales authority (such as under the Exchange Sale Program). For a modest percentage of the proceeds, DRMS will perform all merchandizing, advertising and contracting functions, providing the DoD property holder peace of mind that all laws and regulations are followed.
A modest percentage for modest due diligence. Sounds like a fair bargain to me. And how did this happen? What's our federal government doing about this? Well, Greg Kutz of the Government Accountability Office (Oxymoron Alert!) told reporters that: "It shouldn't happen the first time, let alone the second time."

Thanks a lot, Greg. Helluva job. And the Pentagon? Any word from Gates? No, but important members of the Defense establishment like Fred Baillie -- the "Defense Logistics Agency's executive director of distribution" -- said his agency followed procedures:

"The fact that those individuals chose to violate the law and the fact that the customs people caught them really indicates that the process is working. Customs is supposed to check all exports to make sure that all the appropriate certifications and licenses had been granted."

Anyone finding that logic juuuuuuuust a bit short of convincing? By that reasoning, the War in Iraq has been a smashing success. Our soldiers go out looking for IEDs, and when they step on one, they're blown to bits! IED sought, IED found. Success.

Check out the rest of the article, which lists a few other examples of the burgeoning trade in the "reutilization" of "demilitarized" US weapons & equipment.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Monday Morning & all that jazz (Tom at If I Ran The Zoo explains):

1. "IMG_4616," uploaded on January 15, 2007 by "priceworld":

In a moving photo from her "Notes from the War on Christmas" series, photojournalist Kate Sanders shows one of Oklahoma's candle-lit, "basement nativity" re-enactions. Moments later, two lesbian, atheist feminists & three bald Jewish professors wearing pince-nez & corderoy blazers burst in, killing all the martyrs. The Liberal Militia had struck again.

2. "4616," uploaded by "hakohugu," on December 15, 2005:

Meanwhile, their compatriots around the globe made certain their deaths wouldn't be in vain.

3. "4616_full.jpg," uploaded by "brianglasscock," on October 3, 2006:

At the same time, however, Shirley was having a helluva time crossing the linguistic divide to explain to the tribeswomen that "Christians all over the world need your asses, and they need them right now."

4. "IMG_4616," uploaded by "abadjatia," on August 28, 2005:

And, in an artist's rendering, we see an image from Christmas 2015, if the War goes badly for Christians & the West.


Check out this Mark Twain passage, from "Papers of the Adams Family" (Big H/T to Otto Man over at Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Nachos, who found this & implicitly juxtaposed the scenarios):
Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object — robbery. At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned, and their voice is the other way. What caused the change? Merely a politician's trick — a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads: Our Country, right or wrong! An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper, it was thundered from the pulpit, the Superintendent of Public Instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land, the War Department inscribed it upon the flag. And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent, was proclaimed a traitor — none but those others were patriots. To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation? . . . Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong.
The entire passage is here. "Our Country, right or wrong." Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Friday, January 12, 2007


After four months of mining deep into the veins of cheese, camp, absurdity & rank silliness that lie within the mantle & moho of 1970's earth, the moment I've long feared has arrived. We've run out of films.

How can this be? Well, since I'm sworn only to address movies I've actually seen, and because the very title of this running series mandates a certain level of "silliness," even allowing for variations in the common understanding of the word, the scope of choices is limited. How many movies could I have seen during that time? Afterall, I'd just turned 12 when the decade of bell-bottoms, disco balls, and men wearing shaggy hair over their ears ended. And why on earth would I go back as an adult to see The Shaggy D.A., The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Bad News Bears Go To Japan, or any other movie I was unfortunate enough to miss when it first came out? Right? RIGHT???

Therefore, we finally hit the 80s. And what better place to start than right in the middle of the decade, with a film that bears the straight-to-cable mentality that took hold during that decade when America got wired (televisionally-speaking of course). So, with no further ado, folderol, fuss or muss, this week's Friday Silly Movie Of My Youth Of The Day . . .

The Return Of The Living Dead

Came out in 1985. But let's backtrack just a bit. In 1982, the Mike family got cable. "Jenny - 867-5309" on MTV, 24-7. Along with "Bringin' On The Heartbreak" (Def Leppard two-armed drummer alert!), "Shadows Of The Night," "Down Under," & "Crimson & Clover" (in which Joan bit the head off a rose, which was weirdly hot, wasn't it?). Later in the year, the Mike family got its first VHS player, although we never called it a VHS player, we called it a VCR. Video rental places began popping up all over, every one owned & operated by some miscreant on his 4th business venture in 9 years, after failing with all-denim clothing stores, disco dancing schools, plastic furniture outlets, and AMC dealerships. But this time, he was on the wave of the future, this time he couldn't fail.

Oh well.

But between cable & VHS, my movie fandom exploded: Apocalypse Now, M*A*S*H, Animal House, Sleeper, Rocky. And The Godfather films presented in their correct format, not as that Godfather Experience, or whatever they called that network TV version, the one with the flashback scenes from Part II interspersed with the original scenes. Through modern electronics, I could see Luca Brazzi bless the Don with his hopes for a masculine child in the beginning of the flick, or realize that the Don was dead before we learned of his flight from the town of Corleone. Now I could see Apolonia, Michael's beautiful Sicilian bride, in all her glory . . . before she was blown to smithereens.

Cable & VHS in the 80s. As we all know, it wasn't just good movies. We had that first, teenaged introduction to the late-night glories of Skinamax. Oh yes. Did anyone else ever check out the cable guide (those little pamplet-sized booklets), and notice that some . . . shall we say, interesting movie was on at 3:30 am on a Tuesday night, set their alarm for 3:25, and wake up to watch juuuuust enough of the movie to . . . hmmm, do the job, before returning to bed in time to wake up fresh & re-charged for school the next morning?

Uhhhhh, you didn't? Well . . . I didn't either.

(that's because I woke up at 3:35, knowing there'd always be some 5 minute stretch of "plot" before the movie really got started. And you know that too, you liars.)

Anyhoo, beyond quality movies & titty flicks, there was a third category: Instant Camp Classics. Often borrowing elements from the other categories, or at least one of the categories (read: lots o' naked boobies), these "horror movies" or "comedy movies" were a world of their own, a first time phenomenon. They were made for the late-night cable audience. Made for teenagers, but not with popcorn & theater tickets in mind. We all have our candidates, I'm sure: Hardbodies, Nightmare on Elm Street and all its sequels, and in my mind, the king of the mid-80s horror-comedy movies, Return of the Living Dead.

Ostensibly based on George Romero's late-60s "classic," Night of the Living Dead, Return shares one thing with the original: brain-eating zombies. That's it. I saw the original about a year before Return came out, and it didn't do it for me. It was already too far into the cable movie era. So, a black-and-white film, with a lack of graphic violence, a dearth of wild action, the complete absense of naked women, it wasn't happening. I'd already been weaned for a few years on Halloween and Friday the 13th. A low-key, psychologically-gripping slow-burner from 1968 was a Lost Cause.

But Return? Ohhhhhh yeah. If you haven't seen it, first of all, you're insane. How you could've missed this landmark movie in the first place is beyond my comprehension. But, if that's the case, I'll try briefly to explain the plot: a bunch of "wild" teenagers decide to party in a cemetary, as they wait for their friend to finish the evening shift at his job. Which happens to be next door to the cemetary, in a science lab with cadavers and that sort of thing. While the teenagers party in the graveyard, the middle-aged night manager and the friend decide to play around with the containers housing dead bodies conveniently "left there" by the army in 1968. Being a movie & all, they somehow break the containers and chaos ensues.

And what chaos it is. In addition to oodles of gratuitous violence, we have a character -- the token black guy -- who's entire vocabulary seems to be "fuck you," "what the fuck," "motherfucker," and "fucking honkie." We have a female character who spends the entire movie . . . no. We'll get to her later. We have men committing suicide by cremating themselves, sawed-in-half dogs that bark, zombies requesting additional paramedics, brain-eating galore, and of course, instant camp dialogue. A few examples:
Ernie Kaltenbrunner: What the hell are in those bags?
Burt Wilson: ...Rabid weasels.
Ernie Kaltenbrunner: What? What the hell are you doing with a bunch of rabid weasels?
Burt Wilson: That's what I was trying to explain to you here, Ernie; they came in as part of a shipment. Of course, they weren't supposed to be rabid.

Frank: Did you see that movie, "Night of the Living Dead"?
Freddy: Yeah, that's where the corpses started eating the people, right?
Frank: Yeah - did you know that movie was based on a true case?

Burt Wilson: I thought you said that if we destroyed the brain, it would die.
Frank: Well, it worked in the movie.
Burt Wilson: Well, it ain't working now.
Freddy: You mean the movie lied?
And my personal favorite:
Freddy: [to his still-human girlfriend, after he's turned into a zombie] See? You made me hurt myself again! I broke my hand off completely at the wrist this time, Tina! But that's okay, Darlin', because I love you, and that's why you have to let me EAT YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINS!!!
With dialogue like that, who needs angry guys knocking the heads off zombies with a baseball bat? Who needs reels & reels of gratuitous nudity? Who needs armies of rioting zombies, and missiles, and overturned, burning cars. No one needs such things, but Return of the Living Dead delivers them, nonetheless. This is a film that cares about its audience. You will not reach the end of this movie saying, "Gee, I wish the producers had decided to . . ." It doesn't matter what you say to end that sentence. They did it.

In an effort to keep today's post under 1.7 million words, let's end with a brief spin through some members of The Cast:

Jewel Shepard, a charter member of the Skinamax All-Stars. Born in 1958, Shepard was perfectly positioned for the peak of her "acting" career as the cable era boomed. And she did not disappoint: after an uncredited appearence in 1982's Zapped! -- starring FSMOMYOTD alum (and title character), Scott Baio -- she quickly moved to roles as "Drunk Sexpot," "Present Girl," and "Body Flash Dancer" in, respectively, Raw Force, The Junkman, and The Sex & Violence Family Hour. By 1984, with such an established reputation, it seems inevitable that she'd appear in the seminal cable-classic, Hollywood Hot Tubs.

(Get it, seminal? Because . . . no, I'm not even going near that one. Let's move along.)

Brian Peck: Speaking of cable classics, how's this for the first two movies of his career -- The Last American Virgin and Return of the Living Dead. A moment of silence if we may.


And now, a moment of mocking laughter, as we observe a few of the gems he later appeared in: Return of the Living Dead Part II, Return of the Living Dead III, Children of the Corn III, and Good Burger, in which he played "Upset Customer." Imagine all the ticket purchasers seeing a character named after themselves.

Linnea Quigley. What can one say about Linnea that hasn't been said? As all who've seen Return of the Living Dead know, Ms. Quigley played "Trash," who spends most of the movie -- half as human, half as a brain-devouring zombie -- completely nude. If you've not witnessed Linnea dancing naked on a gravestone to the song, "Tonight (We'll Make Love Until We Die)," by the band SSQ, well then, my friends, you are less fortunate than you'd be otherwise. Not that the scene's a turn-on either (though it's certainly not a turn-off). It's just jaw-droppingly bizarre, and borderline shocking in the, "Holy shit, this is the weirdest shit I've seen in a movie in my life" sense.

And I was about 17 when I witnessed it for the first time (starts to make sense, huh?).

Anyhow, Quigley went on to appear in an astounding number of B-horror films in which she screamed & stripped, plus a couple issues of Playboy for good measure. Yet, according to her Wiki page, Return of the Living Dead remains her signature role.

I'm sure the producers are very proud.

And finally, James Karen: A FSMOMYOTD alum, Karen plays the implausibly bumbling manager of the facility that houses the pods from which the zombies escape. The sheer spectacle of this relatively serious actor that we've all seen dozens of times in relatively serious movies spouting proposterous dialogue, screaming in terror, and making at least 97.4% of the mistakes that bring the horror down upon the film's other characters is priceless.

You'll never view Lynch in Wall Street the same way again.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


So Bush faced the nation last night. But instead of surging leadership I witnessed a rather beaten-down looking man trying to peddle off yet another serving of warmed-over meatloaf as filet mignon. While on the one hand it was refreshing to see the Chief Executive avoiding his usual rootin'-tootin' cowboy routine, devoid of the standard "Bring em on" bravado, I can't say it was anything but disconcerting to watch that pale & haggard wretch trying once again to fire up the war machine.

And, as always, the choice of words, the rhetorical style, the particular invocations tell us as much as anything else what it's all about. To wit:
"Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."
It should be no surprise that a man who never met a buck he couldn't pass would embrace the use of the passive voice so willingly. The "moderates" in the mainstream media will, of course, embrace Bush's supposed contrition and accountability, but I ain't seeing it, and I ain't buying. He didn't say, "I made mistakes for which I take responsibility." No.

Instead, he pretty much said that "mistakes occurred" -- as with storms or floods or other natural phenomena that fall from the heavens -- for which he, as C-in-C, must bear ultimate responsibility. As with any boss who publicly takes credit or blame, this is something of a welcome improvement, but it's not the sort of accountabilty I want to see. Especially when one considers that it was Bush who drove this runaway wagon for the last four years, and the responsibility is truly his.
"The question is whether our new strategy will bring us closer to success."
As always, a wonderful sounding statement of confidence in the mission. Until we stop to ask: "What mission?" "What success?" "What goal?" I can't even posit an answer, because I don't know. And if Georgie knows, he's not sharing it with us. A new strategy, backed by expenditures in dollars and young American lives. But no indication of what it is those expenditures are intended to bring about.

Not to seem to veer into snark, I also have to point out that in a speech of fewer than 20 minutes, Bush used the word "security" six times, "terror" or "terrorists" nine times, and in a flourish right in the middle of the speech, "Al Qaeda" a whopping eleven times. The latter -- as out of place in this speech as it was in the we're-off-to-war rhetoric regarding a nation with no known pre-2002 ties -- came mostly in one burst:
"We will continue to pursue al Qaeda and foreign fighters. Al Qaeda is still active in Iraq. Its home base is Anbar Province. Al Qaeda has helped make Anbar the most violent area of Iraq outside the capital. A captured al Qaeda document describes the terrorists' plan to infiltrate and seize control of the province. This would bring al Qaeda closer to its goals of taking down Iraq's democracy, building a radical Islamic empire, and launching new attacks on the United States at home and abroad. Our military forces in Anbar are killing and capturing leaders, and they are protecting the local population. Recently, local tribal leaders have begun to show their willingness to take on al Qaeda."
Our leader seems to be shifting the gears of the Fear Machine, strangely dormant the past couple months, from idle into drive. And to where did the President steer this gas-guzzler? Literally, to Iran and Syria. Perhaps 10-15 seconds later:
"Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."
Ahhhh, now it all begins to make some sense. Perhaps the real reason, along with the following, why we're increasing troop strength, and why there's no reason to believe that Bush, Cheney, or their GOP buddies in Congress have the slightest intention of leaving the quagmire:
"The Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs."
In an example of Bush uncharacteristically burying a kernel of truth within the lies, I believe we can take this statement at face value: Iraqi money spent to create jobs to reconstruct the nation we've destroyed. And from what nations (hint: The US & Saudi Arabia) do you think The Contractors for these massive projects will come?

Contracts, and the potential rebuilding of destroyed portions of Iran & Syria. I think we have the real goals right there. And all he asks for, in order to bring about this "goal," are 21,000 young Americans' lives.

* * *

So, what can be done? I remain far more hopeful than usual that Congress -- because the voters guarantee their jobs -- will step in and oppose the latest plan. Republicans, such as Sam Brownback and Norm Coleman actually stated their opposition before the speech, and the Democrats are drawing a far-firmer line in the sand than we're accustomed to. I found Senator Durbin's "It's time for the Iraqis to clean up their own mess" rhetoric a tad disasteful -- as if the Iraqis are responsible for the mess their nation is in -- but I really liked the aggressive tone he struck in opposition to Bush's plan.

And to hear Barack Obama last night on television was to hear a normally circumspect politician speak openly about the possibility of cutting off future appropriations if Bush goes ahead with his new strategy. Maybe, just maybe, the Democrats and a few Republicans (more pragmatic than brave, but I'll take it) will move beyond the non-binding resolution that's sure to pass in the coming weeks. Maybe they'll actually do something to start the process of stopping the war machine from lurching on, devouring American lives as it continues into Syria & Iran, killing, maiming, and destroying as it goes.

Maybe we can stop the madness of a war that grows increasingly insane as it progresses. I'm slightly more optimistic than I've been in quite some time. Even if the President refuses to hear the voices of the Americans who spoke to him two months ago, perhaps the proxies we sent to Washington listened.