Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Penthouse View of Insanity

My apartment has two skylights, which would be great if I lived somewhere where you could see the sky while you were home for more than three months out of the year. Instead, my apartment lets me get a magnified volume version of whatever type of weather is currently occurring. Tonight, it's a rainstorm*. Because the sound of the rain and wind has made it impossible for me to sleep at a god-fearing hour, I've been forced to turn to my dark subconscious and television for succor. In a cruel twist of fate, they were both focused on the 1993 film, "Demolition Man."

I first saw "Demolition Man," in high school. I grew up in the country, and spent many a Saturday night hanging out with my brothers watching public television. Occasionally, our attention would wander to one of the other late night stations; and in North-Central Iowa, one of them would invariably be playing "Demoliton Man." The film, a dystopian action film, or at least a movie that aspires to be a dystopian action film, stars Wesley Snipes, Sylvester Stalone, and Sandra Bullock as people, um, in a future where there is no violence except that violence propagated by Wesley Snipes. Also, Taco Bell is the only restaurant (see, Annie, the future's a bright place). Anyway, the movie is completely ridiculous in the most mediocre of ways possible. Stuff blows up, Sylvester Stalone pretends he's read "A Brave New World," Sandra Bullock enjoys one last moment as a starring actor, and Wesley Snipes plays a prisoner who refuses to play by societies rules. I can't remember if he didn't pay his taxes, or if it was something else. The film survives in two forms. One, as a cheap movie that any channel can presumably secure the rights to play in exchange for a bag of yogurt covered pretzels, and two, as a pinball machine that is uncommonly prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. I've seen four "Demoliton Man," pinball machines between Seattle and Portland. Or put another way, one machine for each person who saw the theatrical release. The mere presence of the "Demoliton Man," machine at the bowling alley I frequent seems to have led to an increase in the showing of the film on late night television, particularly on nights I can't sleep. I can only conclude that this is part of a conspiracy by the Illuminati to dull the senses of the already slow-witted parts of the populous. Well, to you, shadowy conspiracy members, I say, um, it's working. That film is a train-wreck, and I cannot stop watching.

*Counter to stereotypes, I have not experienced that many rainstorms in Seattle. The city seems more prone to a constant grayness from October to May than to any outright fits of ill-weather.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Movies that could be pornographic titles without changing the name.

Anyone who has accidentaly wandered into the adult section of their local videostore while looking for a copy of Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch will have noticed the tendency for pornographic films to change the name of existing movies into more risque titles. Romancing the Stone is perverted into Romancing the Bone. The timeless coming of age story A River Runs Through It becomes A Wanger Runs Through It. I'll leave you to guess the twisted inspiration behind Edward Penishands, White Men Can Hump, Come with the Wind, and Schindler's List of Woman He'd Boned Who Were Totally Ones... Anyway, it occured to me that there are several films that you wouldn't even need to change the title to make them into pornographic films. And since my girlfriend isn't awake yet to be disturbed by my cleverness, it's list time!

Deep Impact
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Private Life of Henry VIII
Ed Wood
Bound for Glory
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Rick Steves' Europe Through the Backdoor
Fire Down Below
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Free Willy
The Bone Collector
Mary Poppins
Beauty and the Beast
Rambo: First Blood
The Last Temptation of Christ

Wow, now that I think about it, that's a lot of Van Damme movies that could also be pornos. They'd probably all involve him getting into menage a trois with his twin. But that's a post for another day.

Double Impact
Double Team
Desert Heat (the UK title of the mediocre Inferno)
Knock Off
Hard Target

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Who's watching?

Ahhh, a nice Sunday evening. Think I'll just sit down on the couch, try to finish off this Elmore Leonard novel. Hey, where did I put my book? I could swear I put it down right here. Somebody must have mov...

Oh shit! It's the money I saved with Geico. Four dollars and ten cents. Watching me. And presumably hiding LaBrava. Good one, money, you really got me this time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

In which I don't give a shit about the ACORN scandal

So, an undercover camera crew caught a couple of non-profit employees giving advice to the world's most stereotypical pimp and prostitute. Color me unimpressed. Or, if you're British, colour me unimpressed. So you can find a couple employees to give ridiculous advice to two morons. Whoop de-doo. I don't like to bring my work onto the internets, but if you were to call my office with a ridiculous story, you'd have about a 15% chance of me giving a hypothetical statement of how to move forward to get unemployment. And, if you edited out the parts of my statement where I listed all the problems with said ridiculous claim, you'd have me giving advice on how to skirt the law to people similar to the Acorn pimps. The nerve of people to go after an incredibly minor transgression on the part of low-level people at an organization who try and help those on the bottom rung simply infuriates me.

Anyway, with any luck, this will be the only thing I write that doesn't mention Jurassic Park, tacos, or my intense desire to own a flame thrower.

Friday, September 11, 2009

You, uh, stabbed her and then, um, you uh, killed her.

So, who should I find on Law & Order: CI but detective Ian Malcolm? That's right, America's favorite chaostician is now using his consideable mental prowess to solve crime in New York City. Yes, the twisted mind of a serial killer is no match for a man who has survived an island where dinosaurs have been returned to life in a, um, terrible subversion of the natural law. Detective Ian Malcolm becomes the latest renowned crimesolver in the Law & Order franchise, joining such luminaries as Sgt. Lenny "innappropriate wise-crack" Brisoe, Detective Mike"Oh my God it's Carrie's boyfriend! yes I know Annie" Logan, Elliot "Chin" Stabler, Apparently not a cop killer Ice-T, and whatever the name of that guy Vincent D'Onofrio plays. The one who solves crimes through the use of contrived plot points. The one who's the most irritating detective in the history of fiction; jeez, this is driving me nuts, what's his name? Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that Jeff Goldblum needs money. Apparently, very badly.

Possible Detective Ian Malcolm interrogation:
Det. Nichols - So, uh, what happened.
suspect - I didn't do nuthin.
Det. Nichols - The, um, arrogance, you're displaying here is just unbelievable, I mean, uh, who are, um, you to play God and decide who lives or dies?
suspect - Uhhhh?
Det. Nichols - I looked at each drop of blood at the crime scene, and uh, I got to tell you, there was no predicting where the next one would go. I mean, you stabbed her. And you stabbed her, and uh, that's chaos.
suspect - listen man I...
Det. Nichols -You're afraid to dive into the plasma pool aren't you? You're afraid to be destroyed and re-created, aren't you? I'll bet you think that you woke me up about the flesh, don't you? But you only know society's straight line about the flesh! You can't penetrate beyond society's sick, grey fear of the flesh! Drink deep or taste not the plasma spring, see what I'm saying? Now, I'm not just talking about sex and penetration, I'm talking about penetration beyond the veil of the flesh! A deep, penetrating dive into the plasma pool!
suspect - Sweet Jesus, I did it! I did it. Just get the fuck away from me.
Det. Nichols - This uh, just um, shows that crime, doesn't pay.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Great Moments in Punditry

Sunday, June 7, 2009.

UPDATE: The transcript is pretty close to how I remembered it. Truly the sharpest minds and the hardest talk.

The U.S. report card: Household savings up; consumer confidence up; consumer spending up; new unemployment claims down; home sales up, April; income up; stocks up -- this week, a seven-month high.

But the coast is still not clear. GM, Chrysler both declare bankruptcy; the U.S. current accounts deficit and national debt both shockingly high; U.S. AAA credit rating now at risk, possibly, some say; dollar weak.

This week Geithner tried to assure a student audience at Peking University that Chinese dollar assets were safe. But there was a problem. The students openly laughed at him.

This was an encouraging report on the economy, but it ignored the turd in the punch bowl -- (laughter) -- which the Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed to on Friday when it announced that the unemployment rate vaulted from 8.9 percent to 9.4 percent.

That laughter was unseemly, Buchanan.

MR. BUCHANAN: (Laughs.)

DR. MCLAUGHLIN: Question: On the U.S. economy, is the arrow pointing up? Mort Zuckerman.

MR. ZUCKERMAN: John, it's hard to follow a line like "There's turd in the punch bowl," but I'll try. (Laughter.)


MR. ZUCKERMAN: A turd, okay.

(I'll try to put the transcript of John McLaughlin's intro to the financial section once it comes out. Until then, enjoy!)

John McLaughlin: Pat, your laughter was unseemly; Mort, what's your analysis of the global fiscal markets?
Mort Zuckerman: John, it's hard to follow a line like, "There are turds in the punchbowl."
John McLaughlin: It was, there's A turd in the punchbowl.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Night of Contrasting Philosphical Viewpoints, Part II

The Golden Compass:
Polar Bears fight for free thought

After the adventure that was "Bibleman," my evening went down to its intended purpose, watching "The Golden Compass." Several of my friends insist that the Golden Compass series of books are excellent science-fiction books, with an interesting respect for atheism that serves as a counterpoint to the more Christian orientated Narnia books. As I have not read the books, I will comment solely on the movie, which was, and I will put this as delicately as possible, fucking crazy.

I'll try to summarize the plot as best as I can remember. In a parallel universe, people's souls are externally represented by small animals. The Catholic Church, which goes by some other name, is attempting to stifle research into "dust," which is entering from another dimension into people's souls. A girl receives a golden ouiji board that can determine the future from her uncle, James Bond. She is taken under the wing of a high-society woman, who turns out to be her mother, who had previously banged her uncle (this would make James Bond her dad), who is working for the Church to kidnap children. Children are being kidnapped to experiment on them in Norway to split them fromt their animal souls. Let me break the narrative here for a moment to speculate that in our universe, this would probably be a step up in the public image of the church. Anyway, the girl goes north where she meets a talking polar bear. This polar bear drinks whiskey by the bucketfull as he wallows in pity for his lost armor. But hey, magic compass, and we've got ourselves a fully armored bear. Or at least one with a vest and a hat. I was really hoping that the polar bear would also have a rifle or something, to make him both a terror at long range and a whirling dervish of claws up close. Yes, a whirling dervish. Well, now that our heroine has a bear under her command, she meets up with a Texas cowboy/blimp pilot, played by that most authentic of Lone Star Zeppelineers, Sam Elliott. They manage to make it to the prison where the church is de-souling children, where the heroine has the children escape... into the arctic. Where they are quickly set upon by guards. Who are then attacked by Gypsies. And a polar bear. And a magic army of witches. And a blimp. I'm pretty sure a Deus Ex Machina also came at them. Anyway, a glorious battle was joined, the heroine went to go find her uncle/father to discover what this important "dust" was and then movie over.

As may have been obvious from the above, but I have no idea what is going on in this story. People's souls are animals that hang out with them. Ok, got it. And yeah, it's nifty how everyone who's spirit is a german sheppard joined the church's child murdering unit, does help identify them. And in this parallel universe, polar bears can talk. Oh, and they wear armor and are blacksmiths of renoun. As far as I can tell, these are the only talking animals besides peoples spirits. In the books, do they go into what the hells going on with the fauna of this universe? I'm going to bet that most people there are vegetarian. Though I guess I didn't see any cow or chicken spirits. Delicous chicken spirits. Were people who hadn't read the Lord of the Rings twelve times as confused by the Fellowship as I was by this?

Finally, (barely) trying to tie this in to the theme of contrasting philosophical viewpoints, I guess I can see where this movie attempted to link the controlling, paternalistic efforts of the multi-verses authority with our universes religous institutions. Numerous times, people affiliated with the church assure us that they, "know what's best." This would be a more nuanced philosphical discussion if the people making the argument didn't look like they were plotting to build a death star. In the end, I don't really what the fuss was about, the religious authorities portrayed in this movie seemed like something Christopher Hitchens might imagine to be the way the church works in some sort of booze-induced fever. Zing! Or, put another way, I didn't see any way that the movie represented an athiestic viewpoint. Don't put too much faith in my view, when they were nailing that freaking lion to a cross in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," I thought it was about the French Revolution. If I could have people take anything from "The Golden Compass," it would be this: for the love of God, science, or Gozer, do not try to fight an armored polar bear.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Night of Contrasting Philosphical Viewpoints, Part I

Ever since the discovery of digital cable, man has been able to watch much more over the air television than ever before. And because sometime man loses the remote to woman, he's forced to choose between religious programming and "Gossip Girls." This is hardly a choice at all.

...Anyway, this evening I watched, in stunned silence, "Bibleman." Bibleman is a children's tv show about a man who is Bibleman by day and a mild mannered religous hero called Bibleman by night. Well, or at least until 10:00, when he probably goes to bed. The show has a credit sequence that shows Bibleman racing on a motorcycle, punching someone who appears to be a man in a home-made Darth Maul outfit, performing jump high fives, and weilding a fucking lightsaber. My hopes for a zealous defender of the light through extreme violence were quickly discouraged; Bibleman does most of his action through talking to troubled eleven year olds, who apparently are in danger of falling back in with the wrong crowd. One wonders exactly how much soul tainting-sinning someone who hasn't finished the 6th grade could get up to. Or maybe these kids just have more interesting childhoods than I did. Um, anyway, Bibleman's arch-enemy is a man who tempts children to renounce the Lord. He is dressed like Locutus of Borg, but minus the dignity and comic timing. He also has a sidekick who can frequently be seen peering through the bushes at the school, which is probably a violation of the conditions of his parole. The episode I saw included a rich subplot where-in the only minority member of Bibleman's team nearly fell back into old habits with his dangerous gang. I'm not sure exactly what those habits were; you'd expect him to come back reeking of gin or covered in garish lipstick. Maybe he played cards? Anyway, the character proclaimed his righteous indignation at nearly relapsing by loudly proclaiming, "I am righteously indignant!" In the end, that same minority character was able to expose a website as having been designed by Borg Satan to corrupt children. In keeping with the utter banality of evil present on religous shows for children, the website consisted of a Flash game.

As incredible as the experience of watching "Bibleman" was, I did come away with a few nagging doubts (hopefully this will prompt a visit from Biblewoman). I can't remember a middle school society that ruthlessly casted out people who attended youth groups. I'm fairly sure that the Bible doesn't mention leaving your old friends as a prerequisite for salvation. And worst of all, at no point in the show was anything more violent than a gentle lecture used. I was righteously indignant about the lack of a lightsaber duel promised in the opening credits.