Pops' Bucket
Friday, April 29, 2005
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #6
Before the festivities begin, I would like to congratulate the British people on sexing up their nobody-gives-a-shit election. Iraq, secret memos, ill-timed bombshells, turmoil and melodrama... if only the candidates were slightly less articulate, it would almost be as good as an American election.

They got a third page story in my newspaper. Not the side-bar either, I mean an actual story with a headline and words and everything. Impressive. I'm gratified to know that I could help with my suggestions a few days ago. Now if we can just mix in a dead hooker somewhere we'll be cooking with gas, baby.


Movies I Have No Intention of Seeing, #6

XXX: State of the Union

starring Ice Cube, Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson, Willem Dafoe

directed by... um... well, it says "Lee Tamahori", but come on, that's the fakest name I've ever heard.

This is a strange week for the MIHNIoS series as it is the first weekend that includes a film I have every intention of seeing, The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy. Of course the gulf between execution and realization--especially for films like this, for which Mrs. Pops' enthusiasm is somewhat... inferior to mine--is as wide and intimidating as the gulf between my eyeballs and any film project remotely associated with Vin Diesel.

I know, I know, Vin isn't in this one, but this is a sequel to a Vin Diesel movie. Strike one, strike two.

But the previews have lots of explosions and (one assumes) dead bodies, obscene language especially (since it's Cube) lots of people getting called "bitch".

The print ad for this film screams THE BEST ACTION FILM OF THE YEAR! So says Paul Fischer, Dark Horizons.

Dark Horizons. I'm not even interested enough to Google it and figure out what the fuck a "Dark Horizons" is. It sounds like some kind of vampire eroti-horror genre fanzine. I'm afraid I might accidentally be subjected to pictures of Goth people kissing. That and I can't afford to set off my eyeliner-phobia. Safer to keep my distance.

So strike three, yes?

The syndicated national review of this film carried in my local paper is by Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel. First of all, I'd like to say how happy I am to see James Bond has not only retired someplace sunny and warm but also found gainful employment.

Second, in his review on the next page, he savages Hitchhiker, so I've decided this person is a bastard who hates fun. I don't care if he did nail Grace Jones and save the world from Chris Walken, I'm not listening.

Speaking of Chris Walken, this film has Willem Dafoe as the villain. Walken, Dafoe and Tommy Lee Jones seem to have the Bad Guy corner of the action/adventure movie market all locked up between them. They're all great actors, but I see their names in pap like this and it's even more of a turn-off. There's only so much hammy sneering I can handle.

In the sidebar "Other Reviews" section, Roger Ebert's review is excerpted in which he recommends this film. I've mentioned this before, but in order for Ebert to reject a film these days he has to be shamed into it by that prick Richard Roeper on television. Or star Jamie Kennedy. He's not that far gone yet.

Mostly Ebert is all jazzed by the fact that this is an action film starring a black man. O finally, finally, sweet and merciful God!

It's like he never heard of DMX.

All I have to say to that is, dude, Passenger 57 was like 13 years ago already. We're all over it. Plus that film had the best action-film cheeseball line ever ("Always bet on black!"), a moment of sublime transcendence I doubt XXX ever approaches.

All this would probably lead you to believe that this film would get a ZERO on the Hot Babysitter scale. You would be wrong.

Did I mention it has explosions? Plus they jump a suspension bridge with a boat. Awesome.

Past that, it stars Ice Cube, straight outta Compton. That wins him some credit for being from California. And I don't care what you think about NWA or Barbershop you can't deny Cube was the bomb in Trespass, yo.

Being 100% honest, even if all that weren't true, no film starring Sam Jackson (however briefly) could ever get a ZERO.

All that considered:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com One (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.



Thursday, April 28, 2005
Yes, We're Open!
I'm a little out of sorts today, so you'll have to excuse me. It's the end of April and it's raining in southern California. I've been busy this morning taping up my windows, murdering the dog, all the things you need to do in preparation for rampaging clouds of locusts or a plague of frogs or whatever the next fucking thing is going to be. I'm sure it's all futile anyway, but you can never be too careful. I'll miss the dog, but I'm sure she understands. Understood. Man, it's going to be weird learning to talk about her in the past tense.

If it has to rain, though, I'm a little sad it's raining now and not this weekend during the annual Coachella Music and Arts Festival out in the Riverside County desert town of Indio this weekend. It's a huge festival of (what used to be called) alternative music, this year featuring Bauhaus (!), Weezer, Keane, Wilco, Nine Inch Nails, the Chemical Brothers, Rilo Kiley, the Raveonettes, Bloc Party, Café Tecuba, Stereophonics, New Order, Bright Eyes, Gang of Four, the Faint, Roni Size, Arcade Fire, Thrice, British Sea Power, the Bravery, Sloan, Starland Vocal Band, Color Me Badd, Bill O'Reilly (spoken word) and the mouldering corpse of Rosemary Clooney.

And that's nowhere near a complete list.

You're thinking: wow Pops, how do they fit all those bands on one bill? And how could they possibly accomodate the crowd a show of that caliber would draw? And how do I get rid of this rash, especially now that it's started to ooze?

Well, for the last one, I suggest you follow the instructions that came when you filled the prescription.

For the other two, the answer is the same: space.

Every so often people from overcrowded LA or Orange counties get this great idea to do something impractically huge. But where to hold such a traffic-crippling event? Surely not at home where people live. No no no, there's always Riverside County, just past the big ol' mountains, into the desert.

For those of you unfamiliar with the demographic geography of the region, I've put together this easy-to-read color-coded map showing the population distribution of Riverside County:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The position of Indio on the map isn't exact, but does it really matter? Once you get east of the San Bernardino mountains, it's all desert until you get to... well, Oklahoma now that I think about it. Also with all the wind and the heat out there, Indio has been known to shift it's position on the occasional gust or burst into ash. Not burst into flame, but to go directly from solid to ash. What I'm saying is it gets warm.

This weekend now all the LA and OC people who spend hours and hours of their time and energy laughing at us and our (relatively) sensible real-estate prices just can't wait to get out here if it means they might get to see a speck that sounds just like Rivers Cuomo from half a mile away with nothing but 100,000 people between you.

All the pretty people wander out to the desert to slum it, to drink and dance and fuck and sleep on top of a potent slurry of red desert sand commingled with water, sweat, vomit and every other conceivable thing that might come out of a human body if you squeeze it hard enough.

Why, you may wonder. Or you may not, but we're going forward anyway. Why would the fabulous children of the fabulous make the trek out to the middle of nowhere to suffer through the indignity peeing in front of a crowd in the six figures? Because you can't buy Ecstacy by the Hefty-bag in Laguna Beach, that's why.

Welcome to Riverside, bitches. Hope it rains. And mind the locusts.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.0


Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Pick Of The Litter
I've mentioned before that I have two sisters, one older and one younger, a scant year between us on either side.

No no, don't leave. This has nothing to do with anyone's anatomical augmentation. It's safe, at least in that respect. In all other respects you takes your chances, but that's nothing new here.

Maybe it's because I was the only male child, or perhaps it was my obvious superiority to them in every conceivable way as a human being (did I mention they don't read this?), but I don't remember a lot of sibling rivalry in the house. Sure we would fight, but usually only for money in front of a crowd of my mom's friends. No fish-hooking or eye-gouging, but past that it was no holds barred, winner take all. I took my lumps for a few years, but once I turned 11, I dominated. Dominated. Thank you Y chromosome for the superior muscle density and upper-body strength you gifted me. I bought a bike that year, I remember.

Most sibling rivalry, from what I understand, stems from competition for the attention of one or both parents. In our house, my mom was young, divorced, working and going to nursing school. She wasn't abusive or anything, we're just talking about a World Record bad mood caused by lack of sleep, 1977-1995. The competition between my sisters and I wasn't for attention; it was more like a constant replay of the scene in every crappy army comedy movie where the sergeant asks for a volunteer and everyone takes one step back in unison, leaving one poor bastard standing alone in front, condemned by a failure of guile. There are some kinds of attention you just don't want.

Being the father of three sons, I see that the dynamic is somewhat changed. Maybe it's because they're all the same gender or maybe it's because--even though I'm a foot taller and have a much deeper voice--I'm infinitely less frightening a figure than my mother ever was, but it's Lord of the Flies around here most days. My boys, especially the oldest two, spend all their free time walking around each other in a slow circle executing a complicated series of feints in order to make the other commit so they can then scream "Daaaaaaad, heeeeeee staaaarrted iiit!" before commencing with the pummeling.

Violence can and does erupt with just the slightest provocation. We're still recovering from the wreck that was the He Got More Chips Than Me War of early April 2005. Blood on the walls, plastic army men shot an inch deep in solid concrete out back, the dog crippled by PTSD... it was ugly, but sadly common in my house.

Like I said before though, I have no idea how common that level of intensity is among siblings the world over, but if we're even talking about measuring it using the same scale, it has to be intense.

That's why I'm so disturbed by this picture:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It's been featured on several blogs before, usually with a funny caption, but I'm just overwhelmed by it. Dude in the hat is obviously the Pope, B-1-6. Dude in the pink shawl and white lacy number, his face contorted by what can only be called bloodlust, is his older brother Father Georg Ratzinger.

From everything I've read, it's Father Georg. Not Cardinal, not Bishop, not anything. Just Georg Ratzinger, priest. And here comes his kid brother, all Poped out, mom's favorite. Look, that fucker even blessed him. That's cold. You can't see his face, but you know B-1-6 is winking or some shit just to rub it in. Meanwhile Georg has to sit there and swallow his bile. Even if he could get past the Swiss guards, there's a better than average chance the next purple nurple or indian burn gets him excommunicated.

I bet he didn't even have to wear that pink-and-white outfit. He's a priest, they wear black with the little white collar thingy usually. I'd lay even money that the Pope's first request after accepting the job was that his brother, the lowly parish priest from somewhere in Bumblefuck, Bavaria, be made to wear the dress with the carnation-colored poncho in front of--literally--God and everybody.

If there's one thing I know about my boys to this point in their lives is that there is no limit to their capacity for cruelty to one another and that they never--ever--forget.

Here's hoping none of them ever become Pope. It hear the pay sucks anyway. Although you do get a company car...

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.8


Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense
We're right down to it, people. It's desperation time, when the front-runners try to consolidate and the laggers lash out manically to try and make some--any--kind of headway against the tide that has obviously turned against them.

It's electric. Can you feel it? It's 9 days to Election Day!

Woo! Woooooo! Wooo! Woooooooooooooooo!

What's that? No, not here. Obviously not here. In Britain. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 5th.

Yeah, come on, woooooo!

You don't seem as excited as I am. Don't tell me you hadn't heard.

Oh, I get what this is. It's the liberal media again trying to keep vital information out of the hands of voters. OK, not "voters" in our case generally, but still. Bastards!

I'm looking at my local paper and I can't believe the headlines that are getting play ahead of any coverage of the British elections.

-Michael Jackson's ex-wife to testify
-Wendy's chili-finger hoax difficult to prove
-13 hurt in bus fare protest [in Nicaragua]
-Experts say girls also on steroids
-Paris "Kiss" photo sells for $202,000
-Mom's corpse kept in freezer, man tells police
-Laundry done, sock match missing
-Poll: Americans don't give a shit about British elections

That last one is sort of telling I guess. My overall impression is wow, how the mighty have fallen. We spent our entire 2-year election cycle shoving our political system--something so flawed and embarrassing we really should keep to ourselves--down the world media's throat and what's Britain's answer? This tepid, invisible non-event.

I don't even know which candidate is the straight-talking no-nonsense outsider come to clean up London and which is the namby-pamby mealy-mouth terrorist-loving pussy. How am I supposed to know which side to support in a totally meaningless and symbolic way?

Is this really the same nation who just a century ago controlled half the globe? Can these be the people who gave the world representative democracy, institutional racism and boiled meat?

It's like once they ceded to America the seething resentment of all the world's brown people they just stopped trying.

I think it's telling that the only thing left interesting to the world press from Britain are moments of total irrelevance. Think about the last 15 news stories you heard from England, what were they about? Royals. Royals, royals, royals, royals, soccer riot, royals, royals... Their last piece of relevant world-wide PR was from Mad Cow disease.

This is a nation in desperate need of a makeover. As it is, I don't fear them at all, which is saying something for a country with nuclear weapons. I'm ready to re-fight the War of 1812 right now and settle that tie. The fact that I can call a war where our capital was captured and burned to the ground "a tie" without fear of being slapped down tells me all I need to know about Britain's standing in the world right now.

Luckily I have a couple of tips for our friends across the water:

1) Three weeks between the announcement of an election and the election itself? No no no, these things need at least eighteen months. How many wild charges and half-denials and counter-charges can you get in front of the voting public in three weeks? It takes, like, a week to put together just one of those TV spots where you show your opponent in grainy snuff-film black-and-white and subtly suggest that they are homosexuals.

2) Invade something. No, not on the coattails of another country either, I mean all on your own. It doesn't have to be anything dangerous or important, just so you get the flag out there in front of people, especially if it's painted on the side of a missile. Remember the Falklands? You can do it over any bullshit premise if you could do it over 3 miles of rock in the middle of the Atlantic populated by a dozen sheep back then. Explosions make great TV. Then your politicians can take turns arguing over who loves soldiers more and the world will care again. My suggestion: Scotland. That way you keep it local--to generate more interest from the electorate and provide the melodramatic storyline of a "civil war" to keep CNN viewers entertained. We love a good civil war. Plus there have to be a zillion phony-baloney pretexts for war with Scotland. We've all seen Braveheart. You've got 1,000 years of precedent to build on. Go to it.

3) Bribe some bloggers. I know it's a conflict of interest on my part, but I can be had at reasonable rates. Plus if you stick to American bloggers you don't have to worry about any sticky personal feeling getting in the way. Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, whatever. Like all the best whores, I'm complete without conscience or dignity, incapable of being embarrassed. Also it should be noted that a) I can name three British political parties and b) I remembered that "Labour" had a U in it. I'm just saying, if it's douwn to me and oune outher persoun...

I feel a little presumptuous telling this once-great nation how to market itself to the world, but come on. We've left it to you so far and what has it gotten you? You're even being ignored by BBC America. We Americans shoved our Kerry vs. Bush nonsense in your faces for a long, long time. Don't your people deserve some revenge?

I accept traveler's checks--sorry, cheques--as well.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.5


Monday, April 25, 2005
To Be Or Not To Be
As I start this, it's 1:41 in the afternoon Pacific time (or as we call it in California, "time").

This means that I'm already running behind in getting my usual Monday post posted. The reason: I forgot. That's it. No excuses, nothing. This is the way my brain works. It's already devising the plan to drive away readers by making me forget to post posts. This tells me that there is a significant part of my subconscious that was very happy with my Complete Anonymity before and is slightly uncomfortable with my brand new status of Complete Anonymity+.

Tonight is going to be a long night. It will feature my conscious mind wrestling with my conscious mind, trying to convince it that Complete Anonymity+ is a relative, arbitrary category related only to my prior status of Complete Anonymity and in the greater scheme of things, we're (I'm? I don't know anymore, there are too many voices to sort out) still on track to the ultimate goal of Failed Writerdom, despite this curious bump.

And happily, at the end of it all, my conscious and subconscious minds will agree to watch some late night soft-core porn before drifting off softly to sleep one sip short of alcohol poisoning.


As I warned people yesterday, my interests are small and self-justifying. Sure, I try to keep my posts generally interesting, but in the end I'm writing for an audience of One. I know what you're thinking and the answer is not SJ, although after I finish this you may not be convinced. The audience I write for is Me, by which I mean the actual me and not the Me who exists only in my head and goes by the stupid pseudonym "Pops". This is the Me whose insatiable interest in himself keeps this blog rolling along, six times a week, nine months and counting, in good posts and in bad.

This morning I had a good long conversation with myself as I mulled over what we/I should write about today and the answer came up: Deadwood. I realize many do not watch this show and that SJ herself has already written about it, but reading is not compulsory. But come on, you've read this far, you might as well finish it.*

I'll spare you the plot points, mostly because I don't understand them.

Last night's episode, however, was out to single-handedly achieve something I found admirable and horrifying all at the same time. Deadwood has decided that it will be the show that will reintroduce the soliloquy to American television viewers.

We all remember the soliloquy: it was that thing we didn't give a shit about in 11th grade English right between iambic pentameter and alliteration. It's when one person sits and mutters to him/herself, laying stuff out for people who are easily confused.

At separate points during last night's episode, characters found time to converse with people/things in no state to respond for the purpose of one-sided exposition. Living people with the ability to speak were partnered with a dog, the grave of a dead person and (I wish it weren't so) the decaying severed head of a dead Indian wrapped in a brown paper package.

The trend started last year with the final scene of Deadwood's first season when Ian McShane delivered a blistering, riveting recap/setup speech while the only other person in the room was occupied--as they say in what I'll pretend is Latin--in fellatio.

But now they're just beating it to death. It's obvious that even the writers no longer understand this show and have resorted to speechifying in order to save themselves having to write more scenes about murdering hookers with a straight razor.

The thing is, this is television, not the Shakespearean stage. They have 13 episode to get all the shit they want out there in front of people watching, not 3 hours in one sitting like a play. Language evolves. Dramatic presentation evolves.

The only other place I can think of where dead linguistic forms are getting a tortured attempted revival is over at McSweeney's where they are trying to prop-up the rightfully-forgotten poetic form of the sestina.

Look up "sestina" anywhere and get an idea what an insidious form this is. It's only distinguishing feature is that it is a tremendous pain in the balls. I got fewer, less severe instructions from my prom date's father.

But then it is McSweeney's where the motto is "Nothing Is Too Pretentious". Well, it would be that, except in Greek or Coptic or Aramaic or some other dead language so regular people couldn't read it. And it would include a pun.

This is the point in the post where I tie everything together in a neat little package, usually with a lame joke, but as I said I started late, which means I am finishing late. Since my oldest boy is not yet old enough to make the 10 mile walk home, I must go.

If you've made it this far, I say thanks. Sucker.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.6


* = for those of you who have often wondered why I write such long and useless introductions, I hope this gives you a little insight.

Sunday, April 24, 2005
Kiss Up/Kick Down
Hey, let's play a game. Would you like to? No? Great!

Here's the game: I'm going to post a picture. A simple question will be asked with regard to said picture. See if you can answer the question. You have two hours to complete the exam.

OK, here it is.

Look at the following Sitemeter usage graph. See if you can tell which day the Bucket (average of about 500 visits per week, with a one-day record of 108 visits) was linked by a blog that averages over 6,000 visitors a day.
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Take your time. No rush. Look carefully and make your best guess.

Since there's no way to code in any HTML for the passage of minutes, I'm going to assume you're done.

OK, so it was kind of obvious. There's no mistaking it. It looks like Bob Dole after his first day home with the free samples from the Pfizer people.

You don't see it? He'd kind of have to be laying on his back...

The thing of it is that on the surface, the Bob Dole-Viagra thing seems like a great story. Grizzled old war hero, professional obstructionist and public servant finds--through the miracle of modern science and the kind people at the giant pharmaceutical company--a little bit of his old youth and vigor, a nugget of hopelessly forgotten vitality, in the form of a Little Blue Pill. A little spring, a little swagger and a whole lotta moxie, wearin' 'em out from Topeka to Salina. The old dog gets his teeth back, past hope or expectation.

But for every Bob Dole in a story like this, no one ever remembers there's an Elizabeth Dole. Liddy, pushing 60, settled into a life of comfortable companionship, a peck on the cheek or a held hand (the one without the pen) from time to time, but for the most part left to do what she wants when she wants, enjoying the benefits of the name and the status without the fussy indignity of gettin' it on. There's no need for it; that's something Democrats do. At night she retires to her Scarlett O'Hara four-poster, half a glass of sherry and a Danielle Steele novel while Bob scutters off to his hard army cot in the damp dark of the root cellar.

Then suddenly one day her happy predictability is ruined. She's stuck trying to figure out what the hell you're supposed to do with an 80-year-old with a hard-on. She loves him and all, so it's not the end of the world, but we're talking about a man old enough to have retired from the Senate.

Man, this metaphor has really gotten away from me. It's completely self-referential now. I can't remember: am I Bob Dole and the new readers are viagra and the faithful existing readers are Elizabeth? Or am I Danielle Steele, new readers are Scarlett O'Hara and the faithful Bucketeers are Hillary Clinton?

I don't know, the thread is lost.

The point is, for the new readers who came here from TBogg might have gotten the wrong impression from a) the type of blog TBogg runs (with the reading and the smartness and the current events and all) and b) the coincidence of my post featuring Putin and Condi Rice the day before. This isn't actually a political blog. Sure, I'll touch on it from time to time, but this post should give you a better idea of what the Bucket is about.

Dick jokes. Lots of them.

And making fun of old people.

And dick jokes. Did I mention dick jokes? Dick jokes.

For my regular readers, the stalwart and beloved Bucketeers, who may worry that larger returns on my Sitemeter charts might drive me into new, unimagined heights of egomania, consider: however impressive an 8-fold improvement in my one-day record for visits might be, 838 visits means over 4,000 TBogg users ignored me completely.

Also: for all that new traffic, I got only a few dozen new comments. That means I have to assume that the 800 or so others who didn't leave a comment were driven to suicide by a massive fit of boredom brought on by terminal underwhelmed-ness.

It's not so much humility as a crippling fear of success, but it'll do in a pinch.

And there, I've driven the new people away with long-winded droning. So that's two, two things the Bucket is about: dick jokes and droning and an endless string of tired references to 35 year-old comedy sketches--three things!

God bless. All are welcome.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0 (instead of going to 11, we've made 10 louder)


PS- if you've left a comment on an older post and you now think I'm a dick for ignoring it, please remember I'm too cheap to pay HaloScan so I can upgrade to get e-mail notification of comments. And also, I'm a dick.

PPS- New permanent links to the Bucket will be reciprocated ASAP. I do them all by hand instead of that fancy one-click Blogroll stuff. I need the HTML practice.

Friday, April 22, 2005
Make Yourselves At Home
Since I don't post on Saturdays usually, a special double Friday post so I can say this now.

I've had a link to TBogg's blog for a while now over on the right under "Liberalia". I read it every day.

TBogg has seen fit to give the Bucket here a special mention shout-out post. The result has been that we have quadrupled the single-day traffic record for visits here and it's only 1:30 in the afternoon.

I'm including this post to say thanks and to return the favor. If your traffic is up by 20-30 people today, TBogg, you have me to thank.

You're welcome.


Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #5
The Interpreter

starring: Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, lots of foreign people

directed by: Sydney Pollack

Let me just say for starters how disappointed I was to find out just this morning that there is a new crappy Ashton Kutcher movie out today. I heard an ad for it on the radio driving my kid to school. This was the first I'd heard anything about it, long after I'd settled on The Interpreter for this week's entry. Damn my mental inertia! Suffice it to say I have No Intention Of Seeing that one either. Amanda Peet is in it, but it's PG-13, so I assume fully clothed. So again, pass.


Pops likes him a good twisty political thriller. But then I got to thinking, hang on, when was the last time I saw a good twisty political thriller? I'm sure part of the problem is that I simply don't get out much (I missed The Manchurian Candidate completely), but I'm really having a hard time remembering the last time I was enthralled by anything of this genre. There was that one where Clint Eastwood beats off in a closet while watching President Gene Hackman bang some chick to death, but that visual alone is enough to ruin that whole film for me.

Then there was The Sum of All Fears a couple of years ago. That had Morgan Freeman and Ciarán Hinds and Liev Schrieber, but come on. Ben Affleck was the star, at his head-bobby, hand-wavey worst. The best thing about that movie was that it introduced me to the dark-haired Irish-American hotness that is Bridget Moynahan. No small thing that, but still...

The newspaper ad has no critic quotes, but it does declare all by itself with attribution across the top "From the acclaimed director of 3 Days of the Condor and The Firm comes THE MOST ANTICIPATED THRILLER OF THE YEAR".

Oh ho ho, re-hea-lly? If we do say so ourselves.

The director is Sydney Pollack, a guy who hasn't made a decent film since 1993 (as they say, The Firm) and hasn't made a great one since 1982 (Tootsie). At least he has a great one on his resumé, so I guess that's not nothing. Most people I think would recognize him more as an actor, like when he played a skeevy perv co-starring with Kidman in the inscrutable high-class snuff film Eyes Wide Shut.

I think it's safe to assume less masked group sex in The Interpreter though, but I'm still intrigued nonetheless. I like Nicole Kidman a lot--no, not just because she's all hot and stuff.

Though she, you know, is.

I was excited seeing and hearing the TV and radio spots for this because she was speaking in what I assumed was her native Australian accent. You almost never hear that. All the top Aussies working in Hollywood, your Russell Crowe, Kidman, Toni Collette, Portia di Rossi, Rachel Griffiths, they are never, ever, ever allowed to play a character who happens to be from Australia. Ist verboten. It's like Hollywood decided "Look, we let you do Crocodile Dundee and look where that got us. We can't take the chance."

I can't say I disagree completely.

But it's a moot point because reading the review in the newspaper today she actually plays a South African. Phew! I guess this means I can take the shrimps off the barbie, mate.

I would tell you what Entertainment Weekly said, but honestly (this is true) in the mail yesterday I got the EW dated April 15th. The one with the guys from Lost on the front. The one with the lead movie review of Fever Pitch in it I could have used two weeks ago. Bastards. And on top of that, they gave Fever Pitch an absolute, unadulterated rave. Bastards twice over.

To recap, Nicole Kidman, political thriller, Sean Penn (I begrudgingly ackowledge his competence as an actor).

The iffy-to-negative side is Sydney Pollack (this is the man who put Harrison Ford in a bow-tie in Sabrina) and the PG-13 rating, which means no bloody awful nastiness.

And still the Nicole-mentum pushes The Interpreter to a rating of
Image hosted by Photobucket.com Two (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.

If you're going out, see this instead of the Kutcher thing. Let's put him out of work ASAP so we can all get on with our lives and focus on Topher Grace.

Next week: a film is released I actually intend to see! Babysitting offers are now being accepted. Airfare not included.

Thursday, April 21, 2005
All The Boys Think She's A Spy
I was originally planning on writing extensively about the events of Sprog 2's 4th birthday party at the local Chuck E. Cheese last night. The central thesis was going to have something to do with easy jokes at the expense of minimum-wagers in animal costumes getting beat half to death by wild packs of kids hopped up on Sprite and ritalin cocktails and the silent, shimmering, inherent evil of mylar balloons.

I was looking forward to a Thursday of lazy, cheap laughs. Except for that last part about mylar balloons. I take that very seriously.

But all that has been set aside. I usually read the paper in the morning before I start this just in case I come across something better than the crap I'm thinking of beforehand.

I was stopped cold by this picture:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

The back-of-the-head in the foreground is obviously the elegant insouciant flip hairdo of International Dominatrix of Mystery Condoleeza Rice.

The death stare across the table--in perfect, terrible focus--belongs to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

I don't have anything particularly enlightening to say about the image, only that it appears to have been take a split second before the heat rays shot out of his eyes and left an ashen stump on her neck where her head used to be.

That or his right hand is juuuuust about to surreptitiously hit the button that drops her and her chair into the shark tank below.

His left hand I cannot account for at all, which possibly gives this picture an entirely different connotation.

Or possibly not.

Ick, there, I've grossed myself out.

Like I said, I have nothing material to add. But at least this post took me less than 20 minutes to write. I hope it shows.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 1.7


Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The Holy Spirit's individual war vs. me rages on. I have no idea what I did to deserve this kind of special attention (the technical biblical term I believe is "wrath"), but it must have been particularly heinous and disgusting.

So in other words, not entirely outside the realm of possibility.

I think perhaps, like Job, I am being singled out in order to be made an example of. But where Job was punished arbitrarily for his goodness for the sport of God and the devil, I think I am being chosen as an exemplar of modern American liberal Catholicism: a little bit Jesus, but not nearly Jesus enough. I think it all goes back to the time when they were asking for petition signatures for mandatory parental notification of abortion outside my old parish in Mission Viejo. Perhaps glaring and spitting on the sidewalk at the petitioner's feet, in retrospect, was undiplomatic. I just knew it would come back to bite me in the ass some day.

I am being divinely harrassed, I know it. The new pope (I'm still working on the nickname... B16... B-1-6... B-One-Six... ooh hey, Bone-6, very gangsta) is cracking down and he's calling in some favors to whip us in line, one sinner at a time.

Just yesterday, the same day the new pope was elected, the hills across the street from my house (and this is absolutely true) caught on fire and burned all day. Look:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It only burned about 80 acres and nobody was evacuated or hurt, but the lessons in that raging holocaust of underbrush were clear: 1) repent, sinner! 2) I shouldn't throw my cigar butts out the window of my car. I'm not saying the burning bushes spoke to me or anything, but what they didn't say spoke volumes.

And on top of that, today begins what we call the Birthday Season at my house. My middle son turns four today. Roughly two weeks from now my youngest turns two and two weeks after that the oldest will be six. Given the choice between being burned alive and the Birthday Season... well, I honestly couldn't tell you which I'd choose. But it seems rather interesting that we get a new pope, there's this fire, then the dreaded Birthday Season just happens upon us out of nowhere. Yeah yeah. All coincidental, I'm sure.

Of course the Holy Spirit doesn't work directly on earth usually. This church plot against me will have had to mobilize a global army of the Faithful in order to achieve their ends of annoying me. I'm sure there are agents of several secret Brotherhoods of the Cross and Sisterhoods of Christ's Holy Blood and Knights of Columbus and Illuminati surrounding me even as I type this. I would say it's just like the plot of The Godfather Part III if I thought I understood the plot of that movie at all. I just remember it was all Catholic-y. And Sofia Coppolla making out with Andy Garcia. Blech.

Where was I? Oh yes, institutional persecution of me as an individual. Please join me in a prayer of humility and regret so that I can be made acceptable in God's sight. Let's bow our heads:

Dear Heavenly Father. You got me. You are all powerful and quite a specimen of otherworldly omnipresence. If you were a 10 year old girl or a man with crippling asthma I would consider fighting back, but as you can hear and see and do all, I have no choice but to surrender. I surrender humbly to You in all things. Except for that contraception thing and the celibacy thing and a couple other issues, but we can talk, can't we? Anyways.


This post on the Narcissus Scale: 8.9


Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Shout Out To My Homeboy, Pope B-1-6
Christian symbology has never really been that complicated. The lamb, white and young, represents innocence, making the perfect candidate for bloody sacrifice. Jesus and His stigmata, the the never-closing wounds He bears, represent what happens when someone drive nails through you hands and feet.

Like I said, uncomplicated.

The Holy Spirit, the unheralded herald of God's will, the theologically coequal yet practically underappreciated step-brother in the Holy Trinity, is usually represented by a dove. A stinkin' bird. God is the Whole Entire Universe, Jesus is the face of all Christian merchandising and the Holy Spirit--supposedly one and the same with the other two--gets to be a bird.

A dove even. At least they used to be used to open Olympic games, but even that dignity's been taken away in favor of pigeons these days. Doves meanwhile have been relegated to near-suffocation up magician's sleeves only to be mercilessly yanked out to tepid applause in America's worst night clubs.

Not a flattering representation. If I were the Holy Spirit, I'd always be in a poxing and smiting type of mood.

This morning I sat down to write my blog post. I had it all worked out. I was going to write a screamingly funny--yet blisteringly satiric--piece about how the 24 hour cable news channels were covering the closed-door papal conclave. See, there's no information going in or out and yet they still would dedicate hours and hours to coverage and...

Well, I guess you had to be there. It was going to be something.

I went over to MSNBC.com to find me a picture of a non-smoking Sistine Chapel chimney to visually symbolize the tone and tenor of the coverage ("...still nothing happening...") when across the top, the banner headline panted at me: SMOKE FROM SISTINE CHAPEL, COLOR UNDETERMINED!

So I sat down and turned on the TV in order to gather some ammunition. It was clearly too early for the election to be over, I wanted to watch the "Is it... it looks kind of white to me I guess, ha ha... I don't... is it black?... no, it's kind of a grayish..." chatter and make fun of the weekday daytime anchors.

And then the bells were ringing in St. Peter's square and the smoke was definitely white.

Ooh, it's the German dude and we all have to update our household Walls of Fame. In mine, the current pope's picture is after John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Donald Trump, Drew Carey and tennis star/transsexual Dr. Renee Richards.

You know, they say there's no politicking within the conclave. You know how they're supposed to determine who to vote for? They're supposed to wait for inspiration from the Holy Spirit.

That bird stole my blogpost.

And it elected itself a new Pope.

The Holy Spirit is reasserting itself in a big way. Start hording canned goods. Immediately.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 7.5


Monday, April 18, 2005
The Long Slow Death Of My Inner Child
Remember about a month ago when I hipped all of you to the fan-made Star Trek "episodes" written by, directed by and starring Some Bunch of Dudes with computers and no girlfriends?

Not to be outdone, a totally separate group of saddos with a credit card, a SteadiCam and zero risk factor for sexually transmitted diseases have done the same for Star Wars.

The film--premiering today on the internet--and made exclusively not for profit they would like George Lucas to know--is called Revelations. The plot has something to do with Jedi and ex-Jedi and quasi-Jedi and their smart-alecky pals chasing after some kind of clumsy Space McGuffin in clumsy spaceships.

Like the Star Trek New Voyages debacle, the visuals are actually really really impressive. I've only seen the "trailer" so far, but I can tell you that on first blush the acting, writing and choreography seem somewhat... less so.

That's not unexpected, however. They're following the grand tradition of the official prequels.

I shouldn't really say anything because I haven't seen the whole thing. All the dorks and dorkettes out there in full pre-Episode III spasmodic hype mode are flooding the website(s) offering the fan-film for download, making it impossible to access right now.

Just knowing that outs me as a total dork, doesn't it? Look, I'm just curious so I can make fun of it properly and responsibly after having seen the whole thing. The whole download is only 250 MB long for the entire 40 minute film.

Good thing I have nothing better to do.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.3


Sunday, April 17, 2005
I Exit Through The Spotlight Glare
It's Sunday. I'm exhausted. This weekend was Wedding #2 (of 2) in which my wife had to play bridesmaid. The last one of the year. We're done. Wheee!

My middle son is the godson of the bride, so he got to be Ringbearer. Sadly for him he was too young to attend the reception, so that meant he had to be taken back to my in-laws' house after the ceremony. They live very near to us in Riverside, which is nice.


The wedding was in Alhambra and the reception in Commerce. These are in LA County. These are not near Riverside.

Since my wife was IN the wedding, shuttle service for my nearly-4-year-old was provided lovingly by Yours Truly.

The first drive out was actually sort of pleasant. We rarely get out to LA County, so it was a little tour of north OC/south LA. Anaheim Hills! Yorba Linda! Fullerton! Buena Park! La Mirada! Whittier!

Then there was the drive to the church from the bride's house/staging area. Santa Fe Springs! El Monte! San Gabriel!

Suffice it to say these are communities not prominently featured in any ads by the California Board of Tourism (if such a thing actually exists). If I had to describe them all, I would use the word "gray". They're all very gray. At least from the freeway.

Then I got to drive my boy back home after the ceremony. (Alhambra! San Gabriel! El Monte!...) Then I got to drive back to the reception (Corona! Anaheim Hills! Yorba Linda!...), do My Thing at the reception (in case you're curious, my thing is Not Dancing. I Not Danced through 4 straight hours of songs. I did join my wife for the Slow Circle Foot-Trampling dance during an odd playing of Depeche Mode's creepy "Somebody") and then drive home.

Commerce! Bell Gardens! Santa Fe Springs!...

I think you get the picture.

In all I logged nearly 300 miles of drive time. For my money if you sit in a car for 300 miles, when you step out of the car your foot should touch Las Vegas Blvd. and nothing else. In this case I was at the exact same place I started (home), +13 unrecoverable hours.

I did come home with a bridesmaid, however. So it was almost worth it.

I only learned one thing, though: if you want to clear the dancefloor at a wedding reception where the bride is a Filipina and the groom is Mexican, play "The Electric Slide". The Electric Slide is a dance for overweight white people in sensible shoes who make up for their complete absence of rhythm with a razor-sharp ability to follow simple instructions. The campaign to ban the Electric Slide starts here and now.


Quickly, there is a sign now that my region has arrived, culturally speaking. This is the cover of the first issue of 951 Magazine:Image hosted by Photobucket.com

What does this picture say? It says "We can't just be known for our rednecks, meth labs, traffic and smog, oh no! If we're such out-liers, where did we get these tuxedos and prom dresses, hmmmm? And look, look! White people!

All I can say is you gotta move a lot of meth to get you a tuxedo.

Also, this picture was obviously taken at the Mission Inn, the place to go in Riverside County if you want some class and sophistication. I mean the not so much in the sense of primary or superlative, but more in the sense of "singular". It's the Mission Inn or stand in front of an orange tree being crushed by a bulldozer at a housing development.

The quality of the scan is shaky because the magazine sat on my lawn in a plastic baggie for three or four days before I realized what it was and cancelled my call to the cops to report serial littering. It got a little wrinkled. High class distribution system if you ask me.

But we in the 951 area code, we're big time now. Now we have two regional-interest magazines to ignore!

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


PS- an early leader for the Boringest Post Ever. Think of me when the 2005 Weblog Award nominations are up.

Friday, April 15, 2005
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #4
The Amityville Horror

starring: Ryan Reynolds, some chick I never heard of called "Melissa George"

directed by: Andrew Douglas. Who? Andrew Douglas. Oh him... wait, who?

The fact that I am choosing to review this particular film is disheartening to say the least. It makes me despair for the long-term viability of this recently-born gimmick. If it fails for lack of subjects over the long haul I'm going to be forced to think of something original to do every Friday and frankly that terrifies me. I am an American and thus I am married to convenience.

When I was a kid, nobody had cell phones, and with good reason. Go out today and rent the original Lethal Weapon. In that, Danny Glover whips out his 1987 version of conversational portability, a "phone" attached to a complicated machine about the size and weight of an old VW Beetle engine. Back then we had pay phones for emergencies, but basically spent all of our outside-the-house time incommunicado.

Bastard sneaky technology has made the phones all small and shiny and playing happy songs and taking pictures and downloading porn so that nobody can ever remember what it was like without one way back, oh, 10 years ago. We are Americans and we will never surrender easier.

So we're both stuck, Bucketeers and I, with this feature even in weeks where the only film on the pop-culture radar is a remake of a horror film that's barely 25 years old.

The requisite time between "make" and "remake" is getting shorter and shorter. There are some situations where this is acceptable, like the five versions of Hamlet that have been done in my lifetime. But that's Shakespeare. This is a film where the biggest star is Ryan Reynolds remaking a film where the biggest star was Margot Kidder. And this was the pre-crazy Margot Kidder, back when she was just Superman's girlfriend with the scratchy smoker's voice.

I'm looking forward to next year when they remake Troy with young up-and-comer Colin Farrel in the Brad Pitt role and Jude Law as Agamemnon. Orlando Bloom will be in it again, this time as an oar. A very very pretty oar.

But this Amityville thing... The Onion AV Club didn't even bother to review it, I haven't gotten my Entertainment Weekly with the review of it inside yet, the big ad for it in the paper has zero choice critic-quotes on it to tell me how fantastic it is and the newspaper reviews are all predictably tepid.

So in true Pops fashion I have taken 500 words to tell you I have nothing at all to say about this movie. It would be difficult for me to imagine a major studio release with less going for it than this. The only thing I can think of is that I suspect this "Melissa George" may possibly be a post-operative transsexual, but that's a long shot. Besides, if she is post-operative, there's no way I'd be able to tell definitively anyway, so there's no joy to be had there either.

For this film I am unveiling the very fancy graphic for my Zero Hot Babysitter rating. It's a place holder until I can think of something more clever, like a picture of me looking really really bored.

I hope you appreciate my graphical prowess. This one took me nearly nine seconds to make. That includes upload time to Photobucket.

The Amityville Horror remake:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com ZERO out of 3 on the Hot Babysitter Scale.

No Shue For You!

Beware, filmgoers. Be very very ware.


Thursday, April 14, 2005
Comparative Religion 117a: A Spectacular Load Of Nonsesne
I was going to write something about this article in my local paper about the growing, serious spirituality of college students in the region. But then I noticed there were similar articles online from USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor.

At first I felt a strange mixture of fear and relief. Fear that American academia is busy churning out a generation of Bible-thumping evolution-hating Jesophiles who will one day, when they take over America, put all the old liberals like me on a boat and ship us all off to Cuba--and not cushy Guantanamo Bay either, I mean actual Cuba to live under the reign of 150-year-old Fidel Castro's reanimated head.

The relief part came after reading the headlines about all this spirituality and religoius curiosity on campuses and thinking phew! I seem to have gotten out just in time. Sounds like total Squaresville, man. When I finished my BA in 1997 college was still all about debauchery and alcohol poisoning and party vomit with a little studying mixed in, a black sinkhole of the human soul. At least that's what it sounded like through my dorm room wall. I played a lot of Sid Meier's Civilization II in those days. That was it's own special kind of people-free fun. But the rest of it, that was definitely happening all around me. Usually in the hallway, for some reason. Some day I'll do a long study about the way dormitory hallways strip human beings of all inhibitions.

I read a little bit further into all three of the articles and there seems to be something of a disconnect between researchers and the students they're studying. Researchers drop quotes like "we have a generation that is on a spiritual quest" and college students giving quotes like "I consider myself more spiritual than formally religious."

The USA Today article delves into the things college students pray for: "Frequently it's for help solving problems ["Dear Jesus, I really want to nail my roommate's girlfriend"], for forgiveness ["Dear Jesus, I'm sorry I nailed my roommate's girlfriend"], and to express gratitude ["...but it was totally awesome, so thanks"].

OK, so I totally get it now. First thing, the researchers are making conclusions about this grand movement toward deep spiritual awareness when students are really just thanking Jesus for helping them pass chemistry instead of rubbing the kitschy happy fat Buddha statue's belly like we used to do.

The second factor is that the subject of this study is college students. College students, when asked any question by anyone, will give the answer most likely to convey burgeoning contemplative intellect, even above and beyond what is actually true. They don't realize--as I certainly didn't when I was a student--that the only thing that sounds more lame than not knowing anything is to not know anything, but then give an answer anyway. So when asked "are you religious?" they cobble together an answer they they hope their philosophy professor will read and be proud of or they give non-answers like "I consider myself to be very spirtual". The only option not on the table is something along the lines of "I don't know. I'm still trying to figure all this shit out. And please don't print my answer or use my name."

Maybe on American college campuses today religion is the new Marxism. If you invoke it--whether you're serious about it or not, whether you understand it or not--it instantly imbues your answer with cosmic intellectual dimension and depth, even if it's false.

We also have to look at this new measurement of campus spirituality diachronically, in the context of the generation that came before. These are still the children (late-term) Baby Boomers, compared to whom anything seems spiritually deep. Boomers rejected religion because their parents were into it. Now Boomer kids explore religion precisely because their parents didn't.

Like my mom, she always said "Man, guys are hot. And don't take heroin." So what did I do? Went out with girls and succumbed to the Devil Poppy. If her advice had been different, I could be a clean-living gay man instead. Parental suggestion is just that powerful.

That reminds me, I have to go remind my kids to never under any circumstances make a lot of money and buy me a house.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 6.9


Wednesday, April 13, 2005
The Subtext
After you're married for a while, you tend to work out an unspoken language that governs most of your interactions with your spouse below the obvious surface of spoken words. I'm not talking about finishing each other's sentences or having the exact same thought at the exact same time, the lame Hollywood notions of soul-mate psychic connectedness you might find in a crappy romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey.

The reality of it is difficult to explain, so I'll give you an example. In order not to bloat up to 450 pounds, I take a martial arts class. This costs money in monthly dues and equipment, money I don't contribute to making in any direct way. Every time I ask my wife about it, she says it's good that I go, I get out of the house, I interact with adults, I get some exercise, all of which make me happier and easier to live with and keep me away from the internet porn.

What we both realize and would never in a million years say out loud is that she hates hates hates the fact that I leave her alone with three kids two nights per week, all this after she has worked all day and endured the hour+ commute home. Plus, boy, what we couldn't do with an extra $60/month.

She copes with this by giving me errands to run after class--usually one or two small semi-necessary items--when she knows I'll be smelly and sweaty and wearing clothes with no pockets. She gets to be passively-aggressive and I get to jump through an admittedly large hoop, minorly inconvenienced but clearly reminded that I am in her debt for the time away.

It's a happy, mutually beneficial exchange.

Last night I was called upon once more to discharge my duty (allergy medication at the Rite-Aid), when I was confronted with an unexpected joy. There was a man standing just outside the automatic doors of the drug store, moving in a slow circle, gesticulating firmly as he spoke loudly to no one in particular.

Oh yes! An opportunity for me to play America's fastest growing real-life game show phenomenon, Cell Phone or Schizophrenic?

Come on, you've all tried it. As cell-phone technology and state moving-vehicle laws together increasingly favor hands-free cell-phone use, we've all rounded a corner on a street or in the grocery store where we're confronted with someone having a conversation with nobody at all.

Before we pass too close, we have to make the judgment: Cell Phone or Schizophrenic?

The two afflictions are similar in that we, the general public, only get to hear half the conversation. Luckily there are some context clues we can pick up on in order to piece together the answer. Of course it's important to do so because if you guess "cell phone!" and the answer is actually "schizophrenic!", there's the outside chance you could end up divided up to fit into several ziploc bags. So it's not without the element of danger, which makes it fun.

Sure, sometimes the tell-tale black wire dangling from the ear gives the hands-free cell phone user away before we can make a solid guess, but don't be so hasty. Remember, the other option is schizophrenic. There's no telling what those crazy fuckers have attached to the side of their head, usually with a staple gun or a nail.

There are only a few tips I can give. The hands-free cell-phone user tends to look up while talking, can continue in their primary task while doing so (shopping, for instance), tend not to shiver uncontrollably or shout obscenities into the faces of random strangers.

The schizophrenic is a little less easy to spot, but there are some giveaways. The first thing you generally notice is the smell, followed by the fact that they are wearing three layers of clothes in 90° and are pushing everything they own in a shopping cart (as opposed to things they mean to buy). Also, if the insults they shout as their contribution to the conversation with the invisible demons have a Shakespearean slant to them ("Fie on thee!" and so forth), that's probably a schizophrenic.

[Note: Of course not all schizophrenics are homeless and not all homeless are schizophrenics. However, there's more than a little overlap on the Venn Diagram they both inhabit. One circle nearly swallows the other.]

As I said, this isn't a lot to go on.

Last night the guy in front of me was shouting, waving his hands about, clearly exercised. I listened for a few seconds and there was a lot more "No no, you're not listening to me" than "Fie!". Plus then I saw the iPod headphones were out of his ears, resting on his shoulder to make room for his cell-phone ear plug.

Just to be careful, I checked for a glint of metal, any sign of a staple or the flattened end of a tenpenny nail.

It was dark, so I just ran for it, screaming at the top of my lungs all the way to my car. You know, just in case. They won't fuck with you if they think you're crazier than they are.

Final verdict: cell phone, about 95% sure.

The good news is now that when I tell my wife this story, I'll do so in a way that makes it a lot scarier so she'll feel slightly bad for sending me out there at night. And our little duel will continue.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.2


PS- Tomorrow I'll tell you about the game we used to play in high school when someone would walk gingerly down the halls. We called it Foot Injury or Swishy Queen? I don't want to ruin the ending, but it was always more fun to guess the latter. Like I said, it was high school.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Reign Of Fire
Apparently I carry quite a bit of weight outside the blogosphere. My influence has transcended the confines of cyberspace (do people still use that word, "cyberspace"? Just me?) and relegated Fever Pitch to third place in its opening weekend. Apparently people take their Hot Babysitters very very seriously. I am humbled. In fact, I would go so far as to say I am the most humbled motherfucker on the planet. I am the humbled-est man ever.

Sin City finished in second place, its continuing success a further testament to my power of popular suggestion.

First place? Sahara. That has me stumped, I'll be honest. It does have William H. Macy, a great actor who has proven he will do literally anything for money, Delroy Lindo and Steve Zahn cagily reprising the sidekick role he was born to play.

But the leads are Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz.

Asleep yet?

I live in California, about 50 miles west of Hollywood. I've seen enough homeless people all over SoCal to know that there are hundreds and thousands of people who come out here every year to "make it", truly gifted people who survive a couple of pilot seasons before being spit out onto the streets, wearing shopping bags for shoes, talking to lamp posts and scaring my kids.

Somehow this system that crushes far more dreams than it could ever fulfill has given us Matthew McConaughey, Movie Star.

I understand that some people have some affection for him, but come on, Dazed and Confused was a really long time ago. Didn't anyone else see him in Amistad? No, I guess in retrospect nobody did.

That's a shame too because any pro-McConaughey argument anyone could make to me, my answer is always Amistad. Perhaps that's somewhat unfair as he was spectacularly miscast in that film, but then I would argue he's miscast in every film where he is required to portray a human being who speaks.

"But Pops, he was in Lone Star."

Uh... Amistad. And that was Chris Cooper's movie, not his.

"Come on Pops, A Time To Kill wasn't bad."

Amistad. And that had Sam Jackson in it, so nobody else counts.

Just to prove my point, Matthew then went on to make three of the worst movies ever committed to film, Edtv, The Wedding Planner (definitively ruining the Jennifer Lopez who was great in Out of Sight) and the exceptionally awful How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, a film I will never forgive Mrs. Pops for making me watch.

Let's try to figure out what the common denominator of suckitude in each film was, shall we? Edtv was directed by Ron Howard who, despite being now and forever Richie Cunningham, is also one of the most successful directors working. Plus he's the voice-over guy on Arrested Development, so he gets a pass. That one can't be his fault.

Like I said, before The Wedding Planner Jennifer Lopez was actually an actress who was in The Cell and Out of Sight and U Turn and Blood & Wine with Nicholson. After she did one movie with McConaughey, she went all "J-Lo" on us, culminating in Gigli. OK, so she has her own issues.

And Kate Hudson came off a great movie like Almost Famous only to be trapped next to the inscrutable flesh obelisk that is our hero Matthew, a painfully unfunny leading man in a painfully unfunny movie.

I think if I spin this out Kevin Bacon-style, I can pin 90% of all the bad cinema in the last 15 years on Matthew McConaughey.

The point is I just don't understand the appeal. There is a certain faction who has categorized him as "hot", but I wouldn't really know anything about that. In my house it's all about Naveen Andrews at the moment. Mrs. Pops likes her beefcake with an accent, not so much of a twang.

There is no justice in the world. If there were, Matthew McConaughey would be wearing shopping bags for shoes (paper even, none of that fancy waterproof plastic) and talking to lamp posts and Jeffrey Wright would be the lead in the #1 film in America.

Now we'll see what kind of weight I really carry. By this time next week, Matthew McConaughey's career should be pretty much over. Everybody write your congressperson. Let's make this happen.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 4.1


Monday, April 11, 2005
Reflections On My Reflection
I'm posting something earlier than usual on Monday in order to distance myself as quickly as possible from yesterday's traumatic post.

I've noticed something: my posts seem to be getting shorter and shorter.

I used to know where I fit in the blogosphere. When I first got here back in July, I could look around and see the different styles. Some people wrote polemics, some wrote poems (really really bad poems), some were journal-keepers, some were journalists, list-makers, fiction writers, joke-writers, cat fanciers and outright stalkers. People had styles.

I always sort of thought of myself as an essayist. I wrote (big long awful) introductions, some kind of a body followed by a conclusion. Since a blog post is always a first-draft I rarely ever made my actual point, but the intent was there, codified in the structure.

Now as I look back at the last several weeks, the posts are somewhat shorter. They're punchier, sharper, they include images where tireless, swerving paragraphs of up to 1,000 words used to suffice.

If I were forced to categorize my writing style right now I think I'd have to call myself a blogger. Yeeuch. I'm a bloody internet neologism

But all is not lost. My conversion is still in question. I have several thousand dollars' worth of unpaid student loans to remind me of my training as an insufferable prattler. Action must be taken while I am still in flux, before inertia sets in and my ability to stupefy an audience under an avalanche of words completely atrophies.

I mean, I just recently finished the first half of Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America and I never even mentioned it. Never mentioned it. In the old days that would have been 5,000 words of pseudo-intellectual hoo-ha in the grand tradition of my famous Brothers Karamazov retrospective.

Something needs to be done.

I'd by lying if I weren't somewhat torn, though. On the one hand I miss the old Pops, the one who once wrote 4 single-spaced pages about how there weren't enough women named Nancy. But then I kind of admire my burgeoning ability to bore people with half the effort.

As much as I miss the old me, that last part is nothing to sneeze at.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 10.0


PS- I may be posting 3-7 times daily until yesterday's post is gone from the Current Posts page. So you might get the Tocqueville thing anyway if I can't think of anything else. Unfortunately for you people, I don't even own a cat.

Sunday, April 10, 2005
Try New Pops' Bucket, Now With 100% Less Pope!
Isn't there enough awkwardness in the world?

There are plenty of instances in the goings-on of everyday life that are uncomfortable enough without adding a bunch of new shit on top of it. There's the first time someone outside of your family sees you naked, the first day back to work after you called your boss a "disingenuous cocksucking mama's boy", any time you meet an ex with their new boy/girlfriend, the first time you see your girlfriend's dad after you know he knows you nailed his little girl, having to see the boy you molested in court every day... these are the challenges of a normal life.

Here's one I never thought I'd have to face, one so horribly egregious my imagination refused to even contemplate the outside chance of a faint whiff of a possibility: the first time you see your sister after her breast augmentation surgery.

Welcome to Pops' Saturday.

It's one of those things that you just don't discuss. She didn't tell me she was going to have it done, but I have another sister and a mother, so I knew. And I knew she knew I knew.

I sort of regret the unspoken-ness because at least I could have come out and asked her to wear something... um... vague. Like a really baggy sweater. Or a sleeping bag. Or one of those pixelated blur-spots they use on TV to spare us the horror of seeing things that the FCC fears might damage us (like, ironically, boobies).

The worst part is that when you're a brother to sisters, your sisters don't have boobies. Your sisters are amorphous, glandless creatures who laugh when you make fun of them and think boys are icky. Even when they reproduce, the power of self-deception is so strong that you are stunned by their ability to reproduce asexually a la certain species of starfish and you wonder why the newspapers haven't taken more of an interest.

Suffice it to say I was not interested in any way in noticing or even in giving the perception that I may have accidentally noticed my sister's new artificial appendages. The list of things I'd rather see than my sister's new rack is long, nearly infinite, and includes (among other things) the reanimated corpse of Shelley Winters eating my intestines.

And that's saying someting because as far as I know, Shelley Winters isn't even dead.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.8 (-0.2 for the Shelley Winters reference)


Friday, April 08, 2005
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #3
Just to finish my thoughts from yesterday:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com Yowza.


And now our feature presentation...

Fever Pitch

starring: Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore

directed by: Peter and Bobby Farrelly

First of all, I'd like to point out how awesome I am. Last week's Entertainment Weekly review of Sin City, which I didn't get to see until the day after I wrote my own non-review, did exactly what I predicted: it bitched endlessly about that film's strict adherence to the source material and oh, why can't these people make some kind of effort to adapt an adaptation and blah blah blah. Lisa Schwarzbaum, you suck. I would say something nastier, but she really liked Lord of the Rings, so she has some karma working for her.

This week's film has the same problem as Sin City twice over in that it is adapted from a book and a film version already exists.

Bad news for the 2005 version: I've seen the 1997 version. The desire to run out and see the same story re-told just isn't there, even if the first one did star Colin Firth, an actor with whom I have some unresolved issues.

That first movie hewed fairly close to the Nick Hornby novel (as I understand it), especially since it was about a) English people and b) soccer. None of the characters in that film were particularly likeable and the main character was a completely useless miserable bastard, but that's how he was supposed to be, so I tolerated it...

Jesus, I'm boring the hell out of myself. I can't find anything worthwhile to say about this movie. It's got Jimmy Fallon in it for Christ's sake. Yeah, he did some decent impressions on SNL, but all of his acting is done with Mr. Scaredy Face. Lots of actors have go-to tics they rely on when they can't figure out how to emote. George Clooney does the Look-At-My-Shoes-And-Swivel-My-Head thing, Hugh Grant does Mumbly-Stutter... you get the picture. Fallon always looks like he's surprised he has the ability to speak. The idea I guess is to give the impression that the scripted words are just now coming to him, but usually what I think is he's either off his ritalin or about to be hit by a train.

The reviews of his performance are mixed, but the harsh ones are pretty harsh. The Onion AV Club goes so far as to suggest he not make movies anymore. The only argument I have with that is I didn't think of it first. Bastards.

I would tell you what the Entertainment Weekly review said about this film, but my youngest emptied out his Sunny Delight (do I have to call it "Sunny D"?) all over it (and my coffee table, the dog and--eventually--the carpet). Since I hadn't committed the review to memory yet, it rests unremarked-upon at the bottom of my recycle bin.

The newspaper ad claims Ebert & Roeper give it "Two Thumbs Up", which I think is a lie, frankly. I don't doubt Roger liked it because ever since he had cancer surgery he recommends everything. That Roeper, though, he's a total dick. Watch him review any movie with a child actor in it, you'll see what I mean.

So it's got Fallon, the reviews I choose not to believe, it's a re-make of a film I've already seen, so Zero Hot Babysitters, right?

Wrong, Smarty-Pants. Thing is, I have some faith on the Farrellys. But that's kind of cancelled out by lack of faith in screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, the once-hot writing team who haven't put out anything that wasn't a total piece of shit since A League of their Own 13 years ago, and even that was scholcky as all hell.

What makes it not 100% dismissible for me is Drew Barrymore. I know, I know. But she's right around my age, which means I've been aware of her since ET, which equates to just about my whole life. She's been in some really awful stuff, but so has every other working actor. Yeah, she's got that pseudo-flower-child thing going on which is kind of annoying and she was married to Tom Green...

You know what, I'm going to stop before I change my own mind. For those of you who are not aboard the Drew Train, the previews do feature her getting hit in the face with a foul ball. So there's that.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com One (out of 3) On The Hot Babysitter Scale.

Looks like it's Skinemax and baseball this weekend for me. Again.


PS- Is it wrong that Prince Rainier died and I still put up a picture of his long-dead wife and no pictures of him? I didn't think so either.

Thursday, April 07, 2005
Exit With Grace
Pope Pope Pope Pope, all the time Pope. The Pope is dead, the Pope's dead body is mobbed by people from all over the world, the Cardinals are going to have to pick a new Pope, the Pope's funeral is coming, the Pope thought about resigning, the Pope once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, Pope Pope Pope Pope Pope...

Meanwhile, who mourns for Prince Rainier III of Monaco?

If Rainier had died at any other time, the press-orgy would have been all over him, but the white-hot Pope media-fire has consumed all the oxygen. The Prince Rainier story ends up a tiny spark on some damp pine needles by comparison.

Rainier hasn't been the only victim. Look at Terri Schiavo. That story already looks as irrelevant as the shark-attack stories of the summer before 9/11. People look at each other now and say "Yeah, that Schiavo thing was sad, but what did she ever do to fight the commies?"

I don't even think she was Polish.

I don't think we should shrug off Prince Rainier so easily, though. Let's do a comparative study of the lives of the former leaders of Europe's smallest sovereign states, shall we? This is my fucking blog, so we shall.

POPE JOHN PAUL II: resisted Nazis and Soviets as priest and bishop in Krakow, first non-Italian Pope in 455 years, most traveled head-of-state in the history of the world, spiritual leader to nearly 1 billion people, instrumental in supporting Solidarity in Poland which was the first blow to communism in the eastern bloc, headed the largest charitable organization in the world, a crusader for world wide human rights, wasn't a fan of the gays, invented cake.

PRINCE RAINIER III OF MONACO: Banged Grace Kelly, ran James Bond's favorite casino.

Man. Sure, one list is longer than the other, but you have to look at the quality of the entries too. I mean Grace Kelly. Hott. Who did the Pope ever bang? As far as we know, nobody. That Solidarity thing is nice, but come on. Grace Kelly... man...

The Pope also has a built-in advantage of having all these wigged-out church-y processes for selecting a successor, so this story is going to drag out and drag out until the group of geriatrics in the red dresses pick one of their own to trade red for white and be the sacrificial sucker who follows what is proving to have been a pretty popular act.

Meanwhile in Monaco, power has already transferred quietly from Prince Rainier III to his closeted gay--sorry, "confirmed bachelor"--son Prince Albert II. Blink! No conclave, no black smoke/white smoke hokery, no anything.

I bet he gets one hell of a credit line at the casino, though. That and the opportunity to run into James Bond at the baccarat tables every now and again.

Albert's got quite a legacy to live up to, though, just like the next pope will. It's not like Albert can go out and bang Grace Kelly like his dad did and not just because he's not that in to girls either. She's, you know, dead and all. Plus, she's his mom.

Necrophilia incest is where I try to end all my posts.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 2.5


Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Born In The Middle Of The Second Big Baby Boom
The things I'm hoping to teach my son by having him play Little League this year are myriad and complicated, including sportsmanship, socializing as part of a team, physical coordination... like I said, myriad. It means "many".

The primary impression I'd like him to take away is singular and simple, however: win or don't come home.

It's hard to enforce right now since they don't keep score in T-ball, but I think I've planted the seed. He's already a total dick to his teammates if they fail to field the ball cleanly or tap out weakly or run to second base instead of first base out of the batter's box (a typical T-ball mistake). There are no umpires, but I've trained him to reflexively say "go fuck yourself" under his breath every time he gets out. Now if I can get him to chew the tobacco without a) swallowing it or b) throwing up, he'll be on his way to disgusting obnoxious hard-ass status. That or gum-and-tongue cancer. One of the two.

As with every activity in which I participate--obliquely or directly--T-ball is all about me. Like how I have to go to all the practices and games and hang out with all the other T-ball parents. They're all cheery and happy to be there and shit, just content not to be at work or whatever. Since I don't work, my attitude can be generally described as surly and put-upon. This makes socializing difficult. I've figured out that if I focus obsessively on the performance of my child, though, I can avoid conversation altogether. You know those parents you see at Little League games screaming at their kids and generally making asses of themselves? I suspect that they aren't actually hyper-competitive perspective-challenged troglodytes, oh no. They're actually just trying to avoid making small-talk about traffic or the weather or cute-kid-stories with the smiling parent-mannequins sitting around them. The other parents give them a wide berth, you watch. Genius.

I've also noticed that the other dads, as we're all generally the same age, all subscribe to the same worn-out late '90s personal aesthetic we all should have left behind with our increasingly distant youths. We all have the same short hair covered by a hat of some kind (backward ball-cap preferred), the same two-day stubble, the same facial hair (soul patch, goatee or some other variant confined to the chin), same oversized t-shirt and shorts. Tats and piercings abounds as well.

It's like being in the stands with 10 Fred Dursts.
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I'd be lying if I said I didn't look similar, although I do so with no reference with Mr. Durst, he of so little talent (I am highly amused to think that my younger readers will have no idea who Fred Durst is, so quickly and completely has he faded from pop-cultural relevance). I am clean as far as tattoos and piercings, but I do have the facial-hair thing working. It's not for fashion's sake though, it's because I need it. I need my goatee to give the impression that I have a chin.

Without my facial hair to provide the illusion of a break at the bottom of my face, I am literally nose-upper lip-lower lip-neck. No stopping. I barely have a jaw-line, my ears just hover over my collar bone with nothing but smooth skin in between.

The baggy clothes, well, I have no excuse. I'm a lazy bastard. I do what the TV tells me. Or at least what it told me in 1995.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.6


PS- The post's title comes from the Elvis Costello song "Opportunity" which I've just now decided is a perfect song. People who disagree are stupid.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Technology, for the most part, does a lot of good. Take margerine for instance. A product that mimics butter without all the negative consequences of high-fat. Truly a miracle of modern science.

Sure, some freaks will want to use it as a sex lubricant, but that's their business. All we can do is remind them that oil-based lube breaks down latex and they should consider a water-based alternative.

The point is that once it's out there, you never know how a new technology will be used.

Look at the internet. Entire fake communities of people have sprung up around this recent and revolutionary communications technology. Millions of people in instant contact with the text-only versions of one another, sloughing off the unpleasant parts of their personalities in order to present themselves in the best possible light to other people doing the exact same thing. It's order and beauty and poetry all wrapped together in a fluffy pancake of love sprinkled with pixie dust and Canadian prescription drugs.

The trouble, I think, is when these pretend communities try to come together in order to express their common interests in actual real-life forums. Fora. Whatever.

Usually the bad that happens is expressed as disappointment when the fantasy of the text-only relationship is destroyed (see: the vast majority online dating) or it's a harmless-bad of the dork-tastic kind usually involving Star Trek or Star Wars or some other iteration of geek that I'm not qualified to speak on.

But sometimes the fantasy of the internet spills over into actual real-world delusion. When a group of people who all share this delusion decide to get together in the real world and do something, that's when we're all in trouble. That's when the internet is bad news.

What I'm thinking of are these jackholes down in Arizona who have deputized themselves to patrol the Mexico border.

Here's the chilling quote: "Many volunteers were recruited over the Internet and some plan to be armed."

Maybe I'm overreacting. But here's what concerns me: "Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant from California who organized the project..."

And this: "Chris Simcox, Minuteman field operations director..."

I don't know either of these men. I just know that when accountants and their buddies start calling themselves an army and handing out titles (it doesn't say what Mr. Simcox does for a living, but I'm guessing it's something in either the accounts-receivable or food-service fields), some shit is just bound to go horribly, horribly wrong. It's like their volunteering for their own personal adult version of Lord of the Flies. The only question left to resolve is which one of them gets to be Piggy.

I'm just saying if your keynote speaker at the orientation meeting is Bay Buchanan, you're already 3/4 the way to Crazytown.

I mean, look at their recruitment ad:

"VOLUNTEER! Save America from the wave of brown faces coming up from the south! Protect the border and our national security! Males age 18-75 (will accept a spry 80 if you have your own truck) for militia duty, border patrol. Must bring own firearm. Live alone or w/parents. Virgin and/or divorced preferred. Xenophobia required. Persistent, willful misunderstanding of American history and the Constitution a plus. No commies, no fags. BE A MINUTEMAN! Contact me at militiageneral@whiteisright.com for more information."

I'm just saying it seems suspcious.

One more quote: "The newspapers and the TV cameras are hoping something will go wrong and somebody will get hurt or somebody will do something stupid and that will draw attention..."

OK, so there is an upside from a voyeuristic entertainment point of view. He's got me there. Me and my new friends over at the Minuteman Watchers Club will be observing closely.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 3.6


Monday, April 04, 2005
Blogging Is What I Do So I Don't Have To Watch Dead Bodies Being Paraded Around On TV
I don't know if you guys have heard, but the Pope died.

The news I think is starting to leak out to the general public, but I thought I'd mention it just in case something so Catholic-specific might have escaped your attention some how.

Above the banner headline in my local paper today there are four little sub-headlines teasing Pope-related stories inside the A-section. One of them reads as follows:

KISS OF GRACE: Armless Guitarist says the pontiff changed his life.

I refuse to read the article for fear it will be saccharine and "inspirational" and thus spoil the perfect headline.

In my imagination, the Pope leaned in to the Armless Guitarist to whisper in his ear "maybe the guitar isn't your instrument" and that he should maybe consider in his post-arms state something less... erm... digit-centric like the kazoo or--provided he wear a helmet--the gong.

The only way it could have been better is if the Armless Guitarist had met President Bush who would have given him a nickname like Big Shoulders or Lefty or something.

Ah well.

Also in Germany (and as far as I know completely unrelated to the death of the Pope) there's this story about this guy who attacked his church congregation with a sword. One person died and another person lost a hand.

This is the strongest argument for gun control I can think of. Sure one guy died, but a couple dozen others (those more than 4 feet away from the attacker) didn't.

I'm a little disappointed that this did not happen at my church if only so I could get a chance to practice my empty-hand sword-takeaway defenses I learn in my martial arts class. I totally could have kicked that guy's ass. Provided he had a two-handed Japanese sword. And attacked me in a very specific, limited way. And maybe at like half-speed (my timing needs a little work). Under all those conditions he would stand no chance against me and I could tell if I'm getting my $60/month worth.

Mostly the sword story has me feeling bad for the guy who lost his hand in the attack as there is no longer a John Paul II to tell him it's time to give up the accordion.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 5.1

Sunday, April 03, 2005
It's Sunday And I'm Alone
As a Catholic, I'm sure you're all wondering what I think about the death of the Pope. Here's a synopsis of my Sunday morning to give you an idea:

My wife was out of town again, this time to Palm Springs for another bachelorette weekend with her other friend who's about to get married. So it was just me and the kids. I was in a pretty dark mood this morning as I got the kids ready--working on one less hour of sleep than necessary... fuck you, Ben Franklin--to schlep off to church. I was anticipating a mob-scene as all the Holiday Catholics swarmed the parishes for one day to make themselves feel connected or whatever. When I saw the TV news truck in the church parking lot as I drove up, I was not encouraged.

But then I noticed how easy it was to park. Turns out the Holiday Catholics had shot their bolt on Easter and didn't have it in them to make three trips to church per year, so I'm sure they stayed home in mindful prayer of our fallen leader while watching the women's NCAA semifinals in their underwear.

I made it inside the parish hall where the babysitting/Sunday school classes are held only to be told that the child-care services were cancelled for the day for some kind of pre-scheduled non-helpful-to-Pops churchy event I didn't care enough to ask about.

So we left. Not just the hall, I mean we went home. No point in church-attending if I have to take three kids. Not sure what I mean? It's just like taking three kids to the movies. Or shopping. Or to visit relatives. Basically this is why people with kids sit at home doing nothing. Then you can let them scream and run all they want and the shit they break doesn't belong to Regal Cinema or Aunt Beth or Jesus. It's just our old crap and our old eardrums and our old patience.

On the drive back, I did think "So this is what I think of the Pope... not worth the inconvenience". All this after learning from cable news that he--apparently--toppled communism all by himself by strangling Stalin to death with his bare hands. Something like that. I really am a faithless, ungrateful bastard.

So I'll say it here publicly then as atonement: thanks, Pope. I pray MSNBC's Headliners and Legends does a bang-up job on their Pope feature when you get made a saint.


Anyway, my wife was out of town. Because I was cursed by a gypsy woman when I was born, the fancy Opening Day ceremony at my kid's Little League got rearranged to this weekend because of rain a few weeks ago.

Arrive at 7:30 am. Parade of the teams at 8:00 (ceremony to follow), pictures at 10:00, T-ball game at 11:00. So spent all day in the sun, me and my oldest, 6 hours all told. I have two things I'd like to say.

1) Regarding the Opening Ceremony: when did Little League become a Jesus Boosters Organization? I swear they invoked God like 10 times during the Opening Ceremony speeches and pledges. Jesus was a lot of things, but a baseball fan? I always thought he'd be more a tennis guy. I don't know why, he just seems like the type.

Insult to injury, they made some poor girl sing the awful, awful Lee Greenwood God Bless the USA song, which is the second worst song ever (after Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins, which is saying something). That Lee Greenwood song deserves a whole Fuck You post, which I am considering.

And mad props to the 50 year old dude who went all Boyz II Men on the National Anthem. You rocked, sir.

2) Every team made a banner with the name of the team and all the player's names on them in various levels of putrid-cute.

Looking at those banners, I noticed something. I am inspired and since I have this forum, I would like to say this to the people of America: STOP NAMING YOUR CHILDREN JADEN.

Stop it.

This also goes for Jayden, Jadon and Jaydon. There are other annoying names out there (Hayden, Braden, Caden, etc.), but this one is particularly out of control as it is unchecked by gender. Boys are named Jaden, girls are named Jaden (or probably "Jaydenne" or some shit), fucking Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf named their kid Jaden, and one of those people are foreign. We have to stop it before it spreads to the rest of the world. English people already make fun of us for "Randy". Let's just all agree to not do this to ourselves, OK?

If you feel like you need to name your son Jaden, please consider Jason. It sounds a lot like it, but it's also got that cool "and the Argonauts" connection, just like that movie. Who doesn't agree that stop-motion animation is awesome? No one.

And if you have to name your daughter Jaden, please consider sterilization.

I have more to say about baby names, but Deadwood is on. I have to go and allow myself to be flummoxed by the abuse of the language I allegedly speak. With the exception of Trixie, at least everyone on that show has a sensible name.

This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.975


Friday, April 01, 2005
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #2
Unlike all my other posts, this feature--all of one week old today--is already proving to be a pain in the ass. I have to track shit down, open up a bunch of windows, collate and organize information, all in an effort to entertain you insufferable ingrates. In many ways, this feature is my anti-blog. I hope you all appreciate the nearly 90 seconds of pre-writing effort I put into this. No doubt it will fail to show up in post-quality.

I'd like to give a special shout out to loyal Bucketeer SJ who made my already taxing charge just this much more of a pain by (according to her own admission) blatantly ripping me off and pre-reviewing the movie I was already planning on reviewing today.

Hmm, I'm linking to a post that links me on another blog where the entire post is borrowed from an idea of one of my earlier posts. Can we get any more meta than this? Have we breached the fourth dimension yet? Why is my nose bleeding?

Anyway, I guess it's my own fault for being so goddamn effective. I guess I can't blame SJ for being so overwhelmed. Does the rain begrudge the flood? Of course not. This is my burden and I bear it in long-suffering silence.

Well, not total silence.

So before I begin I say to SJ: Anyways...


Sin City

starring a whole shitload of people including Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Elijah Wood, Nick Stahl, Benicio del Toro, Mickey Rourke, Carla Gugino, Todd Bridges, Michael Flatley, Nancy Reagan, Terence Trent D'Arby, Oscar Wilde, Ricardo Montalban, Erin Brockovich, Sparky the Wonder-Horse and Madonna.

directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller

This is an adaptation of Frank Miller's comic book series of the same name. Usually when something is adapted, critics pounce. Either a film is too faithful to the source material (then they get to use the word "slavish", a critics-only original) or it strays too far, in which case they bitch about how the film fails to capture the source material's "soul" or some shit.

Since this is a comic book, we don't have to worry about that since we know the only thing critics read is stuff like the collected works of Molière so they can chuckle to themselves between sips of 100-year-old cognac in their tasteful red-velvet drawing rooms. Roger Ebert is more than happy to admit his penchant for porn, but no comic books. Those are for the masses, which is exactly the opposite of the critic's imagined audience as they fight to establish and aristocracy of cinematic taste in this country.

And yet somehow The Pacifier still was able to open at #1 in the country.

So they've got their work cut out for them.

I would like to congratulate the people at Dimension for their ad campaign. I couldn't turn my TV on (after 8 pm, of course) without being bombarded with ads for this film. I feel sufficiently pummeled, but strangely un-annoyed. This is what advertising is supposed to do. If I'm bored with your movie just from what I see in the 20-second TV spot, you're in trouble. Not the case thus far with Sin City.

The newspaper ad critic-quotes are all appropriately orgasmic, and the sources are only somewhat iffy. There's a Newsweek guy, someone from CBS radio and... UPN TV. That's the banner quote across the top of the ad, the UPN TV guy.

Normally this would be trouble. I mean, at least I've heard of UPN, but still these are the people who put Moesha on the air. Their judgment is automatically suspect.

Luckily for Messrs. Rodriguez and Miller, the full review included in the paper (my local paper doesn't have an in-house reviewer so we get national news service and syndicated feeds) practically hyperventilates. The lead review is by Betsy Pickle from Scripps Howard, who--as far as I know--does not have her own TV review show. How good could she be, then?

They do include a sampling of other reviews, though and Ebert says it's good.

Also good: I hear just about everyone gets naked in this movie including Rosario Dawson and Carla Gugino. From what I understand, the men aren't spared completely either. Boobies and penii ahoy.

The only negative I can think of is from the Entertainment Weekly article on the movie that appeared a few weeks ago. In it they described shooting a scene where one character literally takes a big wet bite out of another and then spits out a hunk of flesh. Look, I'm an American. I love violence. But there are limits. Anything that interferes with my ability to enjoy my Milk Duds (Family Size), medium popcorn (the 300 oz. barrel) and small soda (128 oz.) is a problem. I paid somewhere in the region of $48.75 for my movie food, I want to be able to keep it in my stomach. I'm pretty sure the person sitting next to or in front of me (depending on which way I'm facing when I hurl) would also wish that for me.

But yucky graphic violence isn't enough to turn me away, no sir. That job belongs to my children and their inability to care for themselves.

The existence of this film and my inability to see it causes me no small amount of consumer-anxiety. I have no choice but to rate it a 3 (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale:

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