Monday, August 31, 2009
1) Use a nailgun and your tender, tender inner thighs, to test Dalton's theory from Roadhouse that "Pain don't hurt."
2) Piss up rope.
3) Find out exactly how many spiders you can get into your mouth at once.
4) Weed garden.
5) Challenge oncoming train to jousting match.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Want to unleash your kung-fu on some punk-ass chump? But still want to make sure you're staying "safe?"
Well, I've got just the product for you.
Punk-ass chumps ... beware.
Time for a little hermetically sealed, medical exam quality whup-ass!
Till next we meet ...
This may well be the best poster I've ever seen on the NJ Transit train on the way to work.
It's an ad for an advocacy group for people with Tourette's Syndrome. The text says: "Maybe he can't just 'stop it.' Maybe it's a neurological disorder."
But what amuses me is the look on the kid's face.
Mom's chastising him, but clearly he's not taking the scolding in the spirit in which it's intended.
He's mocking her.
In fact, he's about an eighth of a second away from busting out laughing in her face.
Which means he's probably about a quarter of a second away from getting five across the eyes.
But it's worth it just to see that vein pop out on mom's forehead.
Till next we meet ...
Saturday, August 29, 2009
So I need some suggestions. I've been compulsively listening to "Grounds for Divorce" by Elbow.
So I'd like to put together a playlist of similarly awesome songs: i.e. fuzzy, scuzzy, fat-bottomed, throaty, kick-ass, aggressive, propulsive songs. The kind of songs you could stomp around a bonfire to.
Essentially I'm looking to put together a Caveman Playlist.
Since I'm not a huge fan of trebble, the deeper and thumpier the rhythm and bass lines, the better. Essentially I'm looking for music that will kick me square in the chest and keep my ribs rattling. I wanna FEEL this playlist in my guts.
Genre isn't an issue. Songs can be soundtrack cuts or instrumental pieces. Doesn't matter. Any genre, really. My mind is open. (Note: Tom Waits will be well represented on this playlist.)
My only requirement is kick-assity.
So hit me, baby!
Any suggestions? Anybody?
Till next we meet ...
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
It’s a movie.
But you probably haven’t heard of it.
As of this writing, BandSlam has the dubious distinction of owning the 8th worst opening weekend for a movie on more than 2000 screens since these sorts of records started being kept back in 1982, where it slots neatly between All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 and The Adventures of Pluto Nash. It is currently ranked way back at 4,351st in all-time domestic box office.
And according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, it was pulling in a miserable $47 per screening on Monday night.
Why do I bring this up? To rub it in? To kick some unlucky filmmakers while they’re down?
I mention all of this to draw a big, bright, neon circle around the true culprits behind these wretched statistics. Summit Entertainment and Walden Media’s “handling” of the marketing for this movie has been one of the single most incompetent and wrong-headed debacles I've ever seen in the world of movie making.
Now bear in mind, I've personally worked on movies that have NEVER been released. But, if you can believe it, THIS has been handled worse.
So let’s start again ...
It’s a movie.
But you probably haven’t heard of it.
And that is a goddamn shame, because it’s actually pretty good.
In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I’m an old school chum of Mr. Josh A. Cagan, who gets “story by” and “co-screenplay” credit on the film.
But this fact is only responsible for my seeing the film ... not for how I reacted to it. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I live by the credo: “Don’t ask my opinion if you’re not prepared to hear it.”
Because I don’t sugarcoat. I don’t blow smoke. And I don’t pass out empty praise. I'm just not wired for hollow compliments.
In short, if you’re looking for an ego fluffer, I’m not your guy.
So I'm being totally straight with you (and with Josh) when I say I really dug the movie.
It's sweet, endearing, and at points, surprisingly touching.
Performances are solid across the board, starting with Gaelan Connell’s Will. Connell very capably grounds the proceedings while simultaneously carrying the entire movie on his perpetually slumped little shoulders. There's an unpolished genuineness about him that really shines through. He's Shia LeBeouf without the ego and all the irritating affectations. He feels like a real kid. Yes, he’s nerdy, but he’s real-life nerdy, not Hollywood caricature nerdy. You believe Connell's Will. This, despite the fact that his character possess a musical knowledge base that, given his tender age, might just be supernatural. It’s a tricky thing to balance, but he pulls it off nicely.
As for the co-leading ladies, the biggest surprise for me was that Aly Michalka (Charlotte) so nimbly tap dances through some of the movie’s most delightfully quirky stretches of comic dialogue with an effortless sense of innate timing that often eludes actors with twice her experience. This girl has some legit comic chops and Connell and Michalka really pop during their verbal sparring matches.
Vanessa Hudgens -- the film's putative "movie star" -- is fairly capable in her turn as Sa5m, but isn’t given a great deal of heavy lifting to do story-wise. Well, that's not entirely true. Hudgens is tasked with offering her trademarked supernaturally adorable smile at regular ten minute intervals. (Presumably director Todd Graff gave her the direction “twinkle” during the filming of every single one of her scenes.)
Now it should be pointed out that being smiley and adorable is ... well, let's be honest ... it's kind of completely at odds with the moody goth girl she's supposed to be playing. But somehow this fact is not distracting here. Perhaps all the twinkling has a hypnotizing effect on the audience.
But the best performance in the film comes from the only adult in the room. You have to understand that it’s quite remarkable that I left the theater loving Lisa Kudrow's performance as Will's mom, Karen. This is notable because I have never liked Lisa Kudrow in anything before. In fact, I have actively disliked her in most everything I've ever seen her in. And yes, that includes Friends.
But here, she gives a surprisingly warm, layered, vulnerable and nicely nuanced performance in a movie where you probably wouldn't expect such a thing to exist.
This is a role that, if handled badly, could easily have been played for formulaic, canned sit-com laughs. But luckily Kudrow is not just collecting a check here. As Will's conflicted mom - caught between giving her teenage son space to grow up and hanging on to her little boy - she gets some genuine laughs. Her comic scenes with Connell are some of the best in the movie. But Kudrow also gets to flex her dramatic muscles as well, most notably in a heartfelt backstage monologue where she explains to Charlotte the cruel origin of Will's unwanted nickname. Kudrow is simultaneously tender and fierce -- baring her maternal claws like a momma bear protecting her cub.
Easily that scene was one of the movie's highlights. In part because of the performance, but also because it was one of a handful of moments where the script really takes center stage. And it shines.
Even the villain -- if there is such a thing in this movie -- competing band leader Ben Wheatley (Scott Porter) is given some nice comic moments. (Though, a picky point, Porter does appear to be a touch old for high school. A quick trip to IMDb confirms that Mr. Porter blew out 30 candles on his last birthday cake. Perhaps he’s one of those 13 year seniors.)
But the script, when it gets the occasional chance to surface between the many, many musical numbers, is clever, quick, tender and funny. Which is always welcome. Particularly since the musical numbers here are bland and forgettable.
Many reviews have compared this movie to School of Rock. But I happen to think it’s better than School of Rock. This movie has more natural charm, tons more honest sincerity (due in large part to Connell and Kudrow's chemistry) and none of Jack Black’s tiresome flailing, squealing or “eyebrow acting.” In my book, that's called a win/win.
Is the film faultless? Of course not. But for me its charms outweighed the pitfalls.
It felt about ten or fifteen minutes too long. They probably could have lopped off one or more of the musical numbers and come out better for it. In fact, all of the movie’s very best moments come during its flourishes of clever, rapid-fire dialogue. Dialogue that thankfully never approaches the irritating, self-congratulatory smarm of Juno. Unlike Juno, I could listen to these kids talk all day.
Cutting some musical numbers would also help because the musical numbers, without exception, are bland and forgettable. The movie sparks to life when the characters are lobbing dialogue back and forth. But once the perfectly mixed and Auto-Tuned soundtrack kicks in ... all the reality and charm drain away. The singing voices are thin, passionless and over engineered, and the band's sound is featureless and generic. (Which ironically is exactly the kind of thing Will's character rails against.)
But my biggest problem with the film is really one that's a fundamental problem with the industry itself.
The two lead actresses are woefully miscast.
While Michalka handles her duties capably and Hudgens doesn't knock anything over ... the simple presence of a pair of impossibly beautiful Disney-bred wannabe "pop" starlets really flies in the face of the quirky, realistic story that's on the page.
Both girls must have been surrounded at all times on set by their own personal armies of hair, make-up and costume artists. Because they are constantly photographed here in only the most glamorous and overtly sexed-up ways. In fact, if you didn't know any better, with all the loving slow-mo close-ups, you'd swear you were watching a two-hour lip gloss and shampoo commercial. As a result, the musical numbers, unfortunately, never end up being about the music. They're always about how sexy the girls are.
Which is too bad, since that isn't the story the script is trying to tell.
I realize I'm tilting at windmills on this point. I am painfully aware that people in movies are several orders of magnitude more attractive than us mere mortals. That's how the universe works. I know that.
And I'm also painfully aware that the Hollywood star system is, and always will be, in full force and effect. The "Talent" comes first and story is pushed to the end of the line. Concessions always get made. Craft is always sacrificed at the altar of Commerce. Because, let's be honest, without the Talent, the movie doesn't get made in the first place. I know that, too.
But I would have LOVED to see this very same movie made with unknowns. Girls who maybe were real-life musicians and not overly-styled, overly-packaged, overly-engineered Disney-bots. Girls who didn't travel with teams of agents, publicists and stylists. Girls who could maybe be allowed to look like actual girls. At least once in a while.
In short, this really should have been an indie film. It should have been cast with punky girls who could actually rock -- not hot girls who could wear make-up and pose.
But it wasn't. And I really need to get over the fact that the world doesn't work the way I want it to.
But all that said, ultimately, it really is a testament to how well the other elements of the movie worked that, despite my complaints, the movie was still so goddamn charming!
And at the end of the day, I really dug it. Honest!
So if the movie's good, why didn't anybody go see it?
Marketing. Marketing. Marketing.
The geniuses in charge of selling this film took one look at the cast list and decided their entire marketing budget should be blown on TV spots plugged between episodes of DeGrassi and Hannah Montana. Then they patted themselves on the back, knocked off early and presumably spent the rest of the day eating lead paint chips and rubbing gravel into their hair.
Because they’re fucking morons.
It's obvious that nobody actually watched this movie before putting together the marketing strategy.
I work in New York City and I never saw a single BandSlam poster in the subway, on a bus, phone booth, taxi … anywhere. Now, bear in mind, a few years back there were posters all over the damn place for the Tara Reid/Christian Slater debacle Alone in the Dark, which was directed by Uwe Boll, the man who makes Ed Wood look like C.B. DeMille.
Apart from some TV ads my friends with kids swear they saw on the Disney Channel, I’m not aware of ANY other attempts to tell the world at large that this movie existed.
And that's a pity. Because while this movie may have kids IN it, it isn't necessarily FOR kids. This is a movie by and for people whose love of music is deep and broad. And that's a category that does not include today's 'tweens.
Just look at all the musical references: David Bowie, Cheap Trick, The Sex Pistols, U2, The Ramones, Patty Smith, and on and on. Tragically, today’s 'tweens have ZERO idea who any of those people are. (Well, they MAY have a vague notion that U2 might be that one old guy who’s always talking about India or something.)
But because this 'tween generation has been studied and focused grouped and feverishly marketed at since they were zygotes, they don’t have any sense of musical history. They haven’t been allowed to. The giant corporate machine that’s programmed to keep them distracted with shiny things while siphoning off their disposable cash will not permit it. Their knowledge of music starts with Barney and ends with The Ting Tings.
This movie should have been marketed for adults. Adults who grew up on John Hughes and Cameron Crowe and even a little Savage Steve Holland. Adults who enjoyed School of Rock. Adults who dug High Fidelity. This isn't an edgy movie, but it is a sweet, heartfelt throwback. With zero brainless toilet humor and some solid, three-dimensional characters.
Hell, swap out the iPods for Walkmen and the camera phones for VHS camcorders, and this movie could easily have been set in 1987. And you know what? Setting it in ’87 might have made a world of difference for the soft-headed marketing department. Maybe then they’d have seen it as the sweet, smart coming-of-age story that it is. And not High School Musical 4.
On a side note, I also feel that I have to take the movie reviewing community to task a little bit on this one.
A cursory look at Rotten Tomatoes shows BandSlam has one of the highest scores of the year. 80% among all reviewers and very respectable 89% among their top tier reviewers. Great score, right? Sure is. And well deserved.
But my problem is that so many of these “positive” reviews are peppered with mean-spirited back-handed compliments. Many of them in the vein of: “It wasn't nearly as wretched as I expected!” Or: “It’s better than these shitty teen musicals usually are.”
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much. Check them out. Some of them are pretty nasty considering they’re supposed to be good notices.
To me, that’s just lazy. Not to mention, a little cowardly. It just shows you that many reviewers went into this movie with their knives drawn. They were resentful that they were being forced to review what they thought was going to be High School Musical 4. They were pissed before they even parked the car.
But then the movie they saw wasn't anything like what they were expecting. (Thanks again, Marketing!) They actually found themselves charmed by it. Maybe even actively liking it.
But that was a problem for them. Since they’d already pre-written their pissy, resentful rants on the way to the theater. What to do? Rework the whole thing? But they’d already gotten their blood up to trash the entire 'tween musical genre! There must be a way they could express their surprisingly positive response to the movie they saw … while still slamming the movie they were expecting.
And that’s exactly what a lot of them did.
Because they couldn't just give the movie an unqualified positive review. Could they? One free of passive aggression and back-handed slights? Nope. If they did, then people would think they actually LIKE this sort of movie. Heaven forefend! And then nobody will ever take them seriously again as professional arbiters of quality cinematic art. Better keep the praise at arm’s length. Otherwise people might think you’re gay. Or ... something.
Look, the problem is, The World has the wrong idea about what sort of movie this really is. And whose fault is that? Whose job was it to tell the world exactly what kind of movie this was?
Oh, right! The mouth-breathing, ball-dropping retards in Summit/Walden marketing departments!
And so ... we come full circle.
Let us hope that several jobs are deservedly lost.
Rent or buy the DVD. Seriously. This movie isn't what you think.
Till next we meet ...
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Yes, it's more recycled Twitter-based comedy for you today. Why? Because I love you THAT much.
In the Law & Order Universe ... don't enroll at Hudson University. Because you WILL be raped. Or murdered. Or both.
In the Law & Order Universe ... you may talk to police who are investigating a murder, but not for long. You are VERY busy.
In the Law & Order Universe ... if, during questioning, Vincent D'Onofrio bends 90 degrees at the waist ... you're pretty well fucked.
In the Law & Order Universe ... if you're arrested 15 minutes into the investigation, good news! You're not the killer!
In the Law & Order Universe ... if you're being arrested by Det. Stabler, don't resist. He WILL punch you until you die.
In the Law & Order Universe ... Ice-T is an angry fish. A VERY angry fish. Oh, and he hates you.
In the Law & Order Universe ... nobody mumbles bone-shatteringly stupid puns before putting on sunglasses and cranking The Who.
In the Law & Order Universe ... if you design or play video games, they will suck. Hard.
In the Law & Order Universe ... handily, there is ALWAYS "that one guy."
In the Law & Order Universe ... if you're a brunette ADA, you'll go far. If you're blonde with a spoon-shaped face, you're a fucking idiot.
In the Law & Order Universe ... if Jack McCoy's voice squeaks and cracks earnestly during closing arguments, sorry, you're going to jail.
Till next we meet ...
Monday, August 24, 2009
1) Eat entire box of Hot Pockets in single sitting.
2) Bet everything on World Series between Miami Dolphins and Andre Agassi.
3) Challenge Martha Stewart to bare-knuckle boxing match.
4) Buy socks.
5) Compare everything to Hitler. Especially things that are nothing at all like Hitler. (After all, you ARE a complete and utter fool.)
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Remember that one obnoxious asshole from middle school theater camp? The one who insisted -- all … summer … long -- that everyone call him “Puck?”
Of course you do. We all do. We all knew “that guy.” The one who thought his Hawaiian shirts, juggling skills and extensive experience as "Boy Who Gets Turkey" in a dinner theater production of A Christmas Carol would get him laid.
Well, kid. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you … but you cannot give yourself a nickname. Nope. No sir. Not ever.
I don’t care that you’ve memorized the piano dance from “Big” or that you know all the words to “Jesus Christ Superstar.” You cannot give yourself a nickname. So stop it.
Also you’re a douche.
But that’s off-topic.
Anyhow, it’s an ironclad rule of nicknamery. The only rule, really. And a rule that all the “Pucks” of the world need “explained” to them.
But, all that said … as a fella who longs for a nickname of my own, I’m fervently hoping that, while I can’t apply a nickname to myself directly, maybe I can coerce people into giving me one. And if I'm lucky, maybe it’ll even be cool.
So what makes a good nickname? According to my research (by which I mean: “opinions I’ve pretty much pulled from my ass”) ... a good, solid nickname usually comes in one of three basic formats:
1) First Name + "The" + Adjective/Noun
2) First Name + Descriptor in “Quotes” + Last Name
3) The Free-Stander
In this post let’s examine the first of these.
First Name + "The" + Adjective/Noun
Historically, this is probably the oldest known form of the nickname. You can track it through thousands of years in recorded history.
And back in the day, they really knew how to hand out nicknames.
Ramses the Great, Richard the Lionhearted, Ivan the Terrible, Attila the Hun, Conan the Barbarian … that’s pure, Grade A bad ASS.
And the very best of the bunch? Mr. Tepes himself …
Vlad the goddamn Impaler.
This nickname was so pants-crappingly awesome that Bram Stoker was blown away by it 420 years later! He was so impressed with this nickname that he used Vlad as a model for one of the literature’s baddest muthafuckas - Count Goddamn Dracula. Now THAT’s a successful nickname.
Suck on that one, Scooter Libby.
Just think how much lamer history (not to mention monster movies) would have been if he’d been stuck with a weak handle. Vlad the Irritable? Vladdy the Stabby? Chuckle-Time Jim?
Thank you, Vlad’s Friends, for tagging your brutal, bloodthirsty dictator buddy with history’s ultimate nickname. The world is richer for your efforts.
Also, sorry that he probably impaled you to death. That sucks.
But this nickname format isn’t without it’s perils and pitfalls, though.
The Vikings, collectively some of history’s very best bad-asses, especially dug this construction. But they didn’t always knock it out of the park, execution-wise.
I’m speaking, of course, of one Mr. Ivar the Boneless.
Real guy. Honest. The Viking who conquered the city of York in England back in 866 AD. Seriously. Go ahead, look him up. I’ll wait.
Now just how Ivar came by the nickname “the Boneless” is not recorded in history. Some historians believe he may have had a genetic disorder that made his bones soft and rubbery. Other (way meaner) historians think he may have been impotent.
But while the etymology of this nickname may be lost to history … today it makes poor Ivar sound cowardly at best, and at worst, like something off KFC’s Value Menu.
Is it possible that the meaning of "Boneless" has changed over the centuries? That, back in Ivar's day it meant something really cool? Like "guy who rips the bones out of his enemies?" Maybe.
But I can't take that chance. It’s vital that, if my nickname eventually takes this form, the adjective/noun at the end should be crystal clear. It's important. I don't want bloggers 1200 years from now thinking my bones are squishy or that my dingus doesn't work.
That would make my ghost in the year 3209 very sad.
Next time we'll take a look at nickname construction #2:
First Name + Descriptor in “Quotes” + Last Name
Till next we meet ...
Saturday, August 22, 2009
In honor of Earth Day's four month anniversary here's some more recycled Twitter comedy from last night:
Here's a little known fact I just made up: Barry Manilow wrote "Mandy" about Mandy Patinkin from "Criminal Minds."
Here's a little known fact I just made up: Donut "Jimmies" were invented by Jimi Hendrix. Before he choked to death on a vomit-load of them.
Here's a little known fact I just made up: "Bea Arthur" was a stage name. Her real name was: "Ezekiel Thundercock."
Here's a little known fact I just made up: Cats secretly have opposable thumbs but still make us open their food cans. It's a power thing.
Here's a little known fact I just made up: Don Knotts fucked like a champion.
Here's a little known fact I just made up: JFK wasn't assassinated. It was suicide.
Here's a little known fact I just made up: Jerry Orbach founded a school to teach tantric sex techniques. To Don Knotts.
Here's a little known fact I just made up: Criss Angel subsists solely on a diet of shoelaces and used birdseed.
Here's a little known fact I just made up: Sharks can be hypnotized with gentle neck kisses.
Here's a little known fact I just made up: William Shakespeare's father was a glove-maker. And his mother was a 13-foot Bengal Tiger.
Till next we meet ...
Thursday, August 20, 2009
And so the recycling effort continues. Here's a selection of my Twittered posts from yesterday ...
Dear Manhattan Tourists: I know you have no idea where you are or where you’re going -- but you’re in my way. Could you please get lost a little faster?
Dear NJ Transit Commuters: STOP running, and shoving, and elbowing to get to the train. It is NOT the last chopper out of Saigon.
Dear Elderly NJ Transit Commuter: You probably don’t really need that cane. Considering you just blew past me at a DEAD RUN.
Dear NJ Transit Commuters: Exactly why ARE you running for this train? Are you worried you’ll be late for home?
Dear NJ Transit Commuters: Are you completely unfamiliar with how stairs work? It’s called a line and it starts behind me.
Dear NJ Transit Commuters: Seriously. Stop running. This isn’t Wal-Mart and they’re not giving away VCRs.
All aboard the Crazy Train. Next Stop? Lord of the Goddamn Flies.
Dear NJ Transit Commuters: Again, why all the pushing and shoving? Why the hell are you in such a hurry to get to New Jersey?
Dear NJ Transit Commuters: Stop running. This is not Pamplona and there are no bulls behind you.
Dear NJ Transit Commuters: Fun Science Fact: Elbowing me in the sternum as you sprint by will not make trains move faster.
Dear NJ Transit Commuters: You are SO lucky I don’t own a taser. I would drain this city’s electric grid dry, muthafuckas.
Till next we meet ...
Monday, August 17, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Hello, Saturday! I've missed you!
The sweet, sweet aroma of indolence and sloth fills the nostrils.
Surely all is glorious in the world.
But maybe I should consider doing something a bit more ambitious than lazing on the couch, soaking up conditioned air and napping through an unending stream of Forensics Files episodes.
I know, I know. That seems like crazy talk. But it's worth making an effort to at least appear virtuous. Right?
But I can't really think of anything I NEED to do just now ...
All right, fine. I'll mow the damn lawn.
Let's see. I think I've got a thing around here you can use for that ... what's it called ...?
Let me just yank the cord and--
Hmm. Maybe I have another tool I could use for this ...
Any other choices?
I don't even know what that means.
What else you got?
Not really practical.
Damn. I guess that means I'm headed to that place where weekends go to die ...
And guess what ... they don't have the part. Not only that, I checked a second Home Depot in my area and they didn't have it either.
Welcome to Sucktown, NJ. Population: Home Depot.
Lowe's to the rescue!
THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!
What do you mean I have to take the mower apart and install it now?
What do you mean it's too dark out to do anything now?
Can't wait for tomorrow. When I will feed Sunday to the lawn as well.
Till next we meet ...
Friday, August 14, 2009
Everybody wants one.
Sure you do. Because you're part of "everybody." That's how that works.
Let me amend that ever so slightly. Everybody wants a COOL nickname. Like "Nails" or "Big Daddy" or "Ezekiel Thundercock."
Let's face it, nobody wants to be saddled for the rest of their life with an unfortunate handle like "Skeeter" or "Boner" or "Needle Dick, The Bug Fucker."
That's just common sense.
But you get my point.
“The name’s Rutherford T. Rothschild III, but my friends call me Scabs. I hate them so very much.”
To reiterate: Everybody wants a cool nickname.
That includes me. Because I'm part of "everybody," and that's how that works.
But unfortunately, it's not as easy as all that. I can want a cool nickname as hard as a person can want a thing .... but it won’t do me any good. See, ultimately it’s not up to me. Such is the inherent peril of nicknamery.
You can't give one to yourself.
That’s the first and only rule. A nickname must be earned. It must be bestowed upon you by others.
A nickname is a thing freely given. Like a Knighthood. Or sex from Tara Reid. Actually, come to think of it, both of those bestowals also come with their own nicknames. Nicknames like "Sir," "Dame" and "You’ve Tested Positive."
"Stay pozzzative, mmmuhtha-fukkkkahhzzzz!! Woooooo!! Party!!"
Good nicknames used to run in my family. There's a rich Badlam tradition of ignoring your relative’s given name and saddling them with one that's utterly ridiculous ... but always evocative.
My paternal grandfather's name was Edward. But nobody actually knew that. In his 90+ years on the planet, it never really came up. He was known to everyone in town as "Hi." Except for the family. We knew him as "Monk." (Pronounced "Mawnk.") Though, in more formal situations this could be modified with an article, e.g.: "The Monk" or, alternately with the addition of an adjective, "The Old Monk".
PHOTO TO COME
The Old Monk. Gentleman, Patriot, Nicknamer of Men.
(One can also use “monk” in the lowercase as a more general term that can apply to anyone. As long as they're doing something stupid, amusing or embarrassing. e.g.: “What a monk!” or “That monk took a shit in the middle of the road.” Suffice to say, there have been many “monks” in my family.)
Again, I digress.
My grandfather’s brothers were also tagged with equally colorful monikers. His brother Richard was known to the family as "Moe." Yet to the rest of the town he was "Buttermilk." And his brother Hiram (who, unlike my grandfather, actually was named "Hi") was for some reason, known to the world at large as "Duck."
In his youth, my dad's given name -- John -- was quickly cast aside for the more colorful and I’m given to understand, largely random -- "Yacca." And so on, with all the assorted brothers, sisters, cousins, et al. You get the idea.
(NOTE: Mom's side of the family was never much for nicknames. Though my grandmother would call my grandfather a "prick-fucker." Daily. At ear-splitting volume. But I never quite got the impression it was a term of endearment.)
Anyhow, it's a sad fact that by the time my generation came waddling along, the Badlam family tradition of nicknaming had largely petered out. Imagine my disappointment.
Subsequently, I've never had a satisfying nickname. Over the years, the best any of my lazy, soft-headed friends could muster was: "Rob-buh-buh." Which was nothing more than an exaggerated pronunciation the extra "b" that I’ve stubbornly tacked to the end of my first name since I was an awkward, grease-soaked ‘tween with a desperate need for attention. But that feeble nickname attempt was, by definition, weak sauce.
What I want is a cool nickname. Something clever and kick-ass. But I can’t just give myself one. It’s like tickling yourself. Doesn’t work. It’s against Nature.
So ... what to do?
Well, I think the answer is simple. Put it to a vote.
In the coming days, I’ll dissect the pros and cons of the various forms of nicknames and then I’ll come up with ten or so possibilities. (Suggestions are always welcome). Then we’ll vote.
Since this blog probably has one, maybe two, readers tops, I’ll leave the polls open for, say, the month of September. Deal?
And on October 1st I shall, at long last, finally have my nickname. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for "Ezekiel Thundercock."
Till next we meet ...
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Please find reprinted below, a selection of my Twitter posts from this morning's commute. (Sure, you could call it cheating. But I prefer to call it "recycling." I'm all about green, eco-friendly, sustainable comedy.)
Dear Lady on Train: If I've got my iPod cranked ALL the way up and I can STILL hear you yelling into your phone, you might be too loud.
Dear Lady on Train: I don't know where you buy your hair dye, but that particular shade of two-tone orange appears nowhere in Nature.
Dear Lady on Train: Seriously. The yelling into the phone thing is getting old. The first half hour was a delight, but it's time to hang up.
Dear Lady on Train: Your awful dye-job isn't fooling anyone. You're not young. Nor do you appear to be a party clown.
Dear Lady on Train: Perfume is not intended to have "stopping power." It's supposed to smell nice, not incapacitate an attacker.
Dear Lady on Train: If you could see all the elaborate and spectacularly gory ways I'm imagining your death, you might lower your voice.
Dear Lady on Train: SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT UP!! SHUT--
Dear Train Tunnel: Sweet merciful fuck. Thank you for existing.
Till next we meet ...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Yes, it's true.
The rumors, the whispers, the murmured assignations. All true.
We lost the ComiCon video contest at SideshowCollectibles.com.
I know ... you're upset. We all are. It's understandable. But we have to move beyond this.
Well, you do, anyway. Me? I'm gonna stew in my thick, bubbling gravy of defeat a smidge longer.
It's not that I'm a sore loser ... I just wish nothing but agony, death and eternal heartache on all the winners.
Okay, perhaps that's a bit strong.
Maybe just some dismemberment.
You're right, that's probably still a little strong.
Mild dismemberment. Happy?
But here's the thing about losing that's actually great. Now I don't have to worry about the loss of freedom and anonymity that would certainly have accompanied all the international adulation and fame I'd surely have received for winning. Plus, I didn't have to suffer through a free trip to ComiCon or get overburdened by a mess of free cash and prizes.
So, yeah, in that way, it's super awesome to be a loser. I'm so much better off now.
On the other, less ironic, hand ... there's also the spite.
In all seriousness, I've long maintained that spite is a wildly underrated emotion with the potential to be a tremendous motivator. The best way to get me to do something and do it well, is to tell me: A) that I can't do it, or B) that even if I could do it, I couldn't do it well.
Once the dander gets up, I tend to focus and do some halfway decent work.
So this shocking and tragic loss has only raised my game for next time.
We will meet at the commercial contest again, Sideshow Collectibles. And next time I'll be wearing my punching fists ... and I will beat you so hard with my awesomeness that you will weep prize money into my ultra-absorbent pockets.
Till next we meet ...
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
... Please Shut The Fuck Up and Make Better Movies.
That's right. You heard me.
Oh, I went there.
In fact, I might stay there.
I might even live there!
I totally would!
If ... you know ... all my stuff wasn't still ... you know ... here.
Anyhow ... why the sudden hostility, you ask? Well, with a new batch of weekend movie releases fast approaching, I was thumbing through an article recently in the NY Times about how The Industry is terribly nervous about the month of August. Box office grosses, it seems, look to be receding as Summer '09 winds down.
Well, you know what, The Industry? Howzabout you shut your goddamn whine-hole.
I am officially sick to my ass of these "sky is falling" stories. They pop up like clockwork every single time ticket sales aren't breaking records. Over and over we hear the same whinging and complaining from The Industry.
Over and over we hear how attendance is down, or how people aren't buying enough DVDs, or how -- somehow -- it's been determined that audiences suddenly don't like movies anymore.
Over and over we hear how, somehow, it's OUR fault.
I get hoarse from shouting it so often ...
But I'll shout it again for those of you in the back who may not have heard me the first 4,852 times.
Contrary to the "conclusions" of our learned and esteemed experts in the entertainment press, the reason The Industry is so nervous about August right now is NOT because the economy's in the shitter. It ISN'T because there's any kind of "blockbuster fatigue." And it CERTAINLY ISN'T because audiences are suddenly sick of going to the movies.
Want to know why grosses are down and why The Industry is nervous?
Are you sure you want to know?
Cuz you may not be able to handle the brain-blasting mind-hammer I'm about to bring down on your shit.
Okay ... you were warned. Remember, I'm not liable if your head suddenly turns inside out.
Here goes ... the real reason The Industry is nervous about August is ...
BECAUSE NONE OF THE GODDAMN STUDIOS HAVE ANY GOOD GODDAMN MOVIES COMING OUT!
Sweet, buttery Jesus, people! Is that really so hard for The Industry to fathom?
I've been saying this for years and I sound like a broken and tedious record. (Think "Sussudio" with a louder horn section.)
I have beaten this particular dead horse so hard and so often that nothing remains but hooves and horse dust. It's astounding to me how simple and obvious the answer is ... and yet how thoroughly The Industry and the press refuse to ever acknowledge it.
Sometimes a movie's success actually has something to do with whether the movie's any good.
Did I just blow your mind?
Didn't think so. Seems pretty obvious, right?
Well, not to everybody, apparently.
Because bafflingly, the media and The Industry always behave as though a film's quality has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on its financial success. To them, all movies are identical commodditites upon release and the sole determining factor in ticket sales is marketing.
Sure, on a bad day, the sad, broken, stone-hearted cynic who lives inside me might be inclined to agree with that. After all, it's been proven repeatedly that, with enough of an advertising budget, dreadful movies can make assloads of cash. A recent giant robot movie leaps to mind ...
But on average, movies that make huge bank tend to have at least a few elements of quality to them. Which is not to say they're all great art or socially important works. Or that they'll even make any critics' ten best lists. But successful movies tend to feature at least one or two sparks of filmmaking and storytelling competence that audiences connect with.
Whether it's structure, character, concept, actor, visuals, soundtrack, what have you -- there are usually well-executed elements that can and should be linked to the resulting box office success.
And admittedly, even the aforementioned giant robot movie apparently had some eye-popping visual whiz-bangery to recommend it.
But when we get a cosmic convergence like we have now ... when all the big studios have simultaneously targeted the same few weeks to dump their dullest, weakest summer movies into theaters ... well, of course things will look bleak.
But despite what the big studios would have you think, that's not actually YOUR fault.
Whose fault is it? Theirs, obviously. The studios just don't seem willing to spend the time or energy to make movies not suck these days. Admittedly, it's incredibly easy for me to armchair write, direct and produce. And yes, with a zillion moving pieces, it's actually really hard to make a GOOD movie.
But at times it seems like they're not even trying. Times like -- oh, I don't know -- this entire summer, maybe? With a few notable exceptions (Star Trek and Up, leap to mind) this has been one of the worst summers for blockbusters I can remember in a long time. One big disappointment after another.
And yet, the studios expect us to keep lining up at the trough to eagerly choke down their slop anyway.
And if we don't, it's our fault, not theirs.
Though, interestingly, they NEVER seem to credit those same customers when a movie is wildly popular. Nope, that's when they crow about how awesome their movie is. Curious, that. They'll take credit for the successes, but we get saddled with the failures. Somehow it was US that let THEM down. We've broken their tender little hearts.
Well I, for one, am really torn up about that. Sure I am.
You know what, The Industry? If it salves your poor bruised and wilted feelings, I shall erect a monument in your honor to celebrate your grandeur, your wisdom and your artistic prowess.
It's a marvel of reverse psychology, really. Not to mention, sadly emblematic of the dismissive and condescending way The Industry tends to regard its own customers.
Well, let me tell you something, The Industry, most of the time when a movie "fails to find an audience" that's usually because that movie doesn't actually deserve one.
People don't just stop buying pants because they suddenly and inexplicably turn into pant-hating jerks. They stop buying pants because the pants that are being sold are poorly made and the asses blow out when you put them on.
This is NOT a marketing issue. It's a production line issue.
My prediction? While the "Big Hollywood Studio Movies" fall on their faces this weekend ... look for some break-outs from surprising places. While G.I. Joe's receipts are dropping off 60 to 75%, look for a well-made "little" movie like District 9 to sneak in and make a splash.
Then sit back and wait for the next round of Chicken Little stories from the entertainment media. Marvel at how they take the hugely illogical leap to the conclusion that ... if people aren't going to G.I. Joe, then somehow the American Movie-Going Public has decided that it no longer likes the idea of tentpole movies.
It couldn't possibly be that G.I. Joe just smells like a butt. Nope. Not possible. Because all movies are exactly the same.
It makes the brain hurt.
Okay. Sermon = done.
Till next we meet ...
Monday, August 10, 2009
1) Run into bank to show everybody that cool new assault rifle you got for your birthday.
2) Play with fire. The game? Twister.
3) Taunt hungry polar bear ... in your shiny, new seal meat suit.
4) Mow lawn.
5) Ride pogo stick to waiting helicopter.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Maybe it's the smoldering, come-hither glance.
Maybe it's the staid gravitas.
Maybe it's the smooth, monotonous droning.
Or maybe it's the long, leathery, horse-shaped face.
But whatever it is, ladies, I get it.
I don't blame or judge you. I know exactly what you're going through right now. The excitement, the palpitations, the yearning.
The urgent need to be vigorously "filibustered."
I get it.
I even agree with it.
Because ... right now ... if he asked me ... I think I just might let him.
I feel ... vulnerable.
And I like it.
Till next we meet ...
Monday, August 3, 2009
1) Buy high, sell low.
2) Finish remainder of that box of botulism for lunch.
3) Slam genitals in car door.
4) Go to Home Depot, buy mulch for flower beds.
5) Help David Ortiz move that couch. By injecting him with more steroids.