Saturday, August 12, 2017

Travel Day


Getting out of the apartment for the first time in a couple of months and flying cross-country today. That usually goes smoothly, right?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rants In Your Pants!

New Slumgullion!

Scott and Jeff are joined by Mary for some Star Wars and Star Trek news (by which I mean complaints), before chatting about the pilot for the Joss Whedon series Firefly, because life is a brief candle, all too soon burnt out, so you should find as many new and exciting ways to waste it as possible.

Then The Dark Tower sets Jeff's tongue on fire, and it runs around his mouth for a good ten minutes, completely forgetting to stop, drop, and roll. Finally, the Unknown Movie Challenge this episode is Atomic Blonde, and features a UMC first: a completely spoiler-free review! If you don't count Scott's overly detailed exegesis of James McAvoy's elevator shoes.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Happy International Cat Day!

The Two Stages of Cat:


On the right, a Cat who is chill and carefree and doesn't have a Twitter account.  On the left, a Cat who possesses the feral vigilance and keen senses of her jungle ancestors, and also a vague uneasiness about the President's policy on the first use of nuclear weapons.


MOONDOGGIE: Great. Now I can't sleep, either.

SHADOW:  Hold me closer, Tiny Dancer.

MOONDOGGIE: I mean, what if North Korea succeeds in miniaturizing their nuclear warheads and mounting one on an ICBM capable of hitting the Whiskas Temptations plant in McLean, Virginia?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Farewell John Heard


John Heard turned in a multitude of fine performances over the years (as witnessed by the fact that Sheri and I only wrote about one movie in which he appeared, and he wasn't even the star), and I always thought it was too bad his career didn't start earlier in the 1970s, when mainstream movies were riskier and more indie-like, and better equipped to take full advantage of an actor I like to think of as the WASPy Richard Dreyfuss.

Anyway, please take your seats; the service is about to begin...

Ahem! Our reading today comes from the book of Better Living Through Bad Movies. Chapter 6: Chick Flicks vs. Ick Flicks...

Beaches (1988)
Directed by Garry Marshall
Written by Iris Rainer Dart (novel) and Mary Agnes Donoghue

Bette Midler is rehearsing for her big concert at the Hollywood Bowl when she gets a message that causes her to abandon the gig and head to San Francisco. As she drives and cries, we flash back twenty or thirty years (depending on how old we are supposed to believe Bette Midler is); voila, we’re at Atlantic City, and Bette is TV’s Blossom. Back then she was a foul-mouthed, histrionic, whiny show business brat—and a much more interesting performer. She’s smoking under the boardwalk when she meets a lost little rich wuss named Hillary. Blossom forces Hillary to watch her bump ’n grind version of “Glory of Love” before she’ll take her back to her hotel. Hillary likes Blossom’s singing. Blossom likes it that Hillary likes her singing. So, the two girls become friends for life.

They are the best of pen pals until they’re 21, when Hillary turns into Barbara Hershey and comes to New York to escape her sheltered life. Bette invites Barb to share her squalid apartment, and it’s a festival of sisterhood as the two women dye their hair together, sing Christmas carols, do each other’s laundry, and synchronize their menstrual cycles.

To pay the rent, Bette dresses up like a killer rabbit from Night of the Lepus and delivers singing telegrams to John Heard. He is so impressed that he invites her to audition for the play he’s directing. Despite the fact that John’s production is so off-Broadway it’s actually in the Hudson River, Bette falls in love with him. But he only has eyes for Barb (actually, his character seems kinda light in the loafers, but the movie claims he’s smitten by Barbara). Following Bette’s triumphant debut in John’s weird musical about evil mimes, Barbara helps John celebrate by sleeping with him. Bette shouts at Barbara, “So much for you and your feminist principles!” and tells Gloria Steinem to revoke Barbara’s NOW membership on account of hussiness. Barbara explains that she couldn’t help herself, since John Heard was “the most attractive man I’ve met in my life.” It seems she really did live a sheltered existence.

Barbara returns to San Francisco, so, it’s back to letters and over-dubbed narration to let us know what’s happening in their lives. Bette becomes a Broadway star. (It seems surprisingly easy—one day she just is one. I don’t know why more people don’t do it). Barbara becomes a socialite and marries a jerk. Bette counters by marrying John Heard.

Barbara visits New York to see Bette’s musical about the invention of undergarments, and to be bitchy. John Heard is still attracted to Barbara, which infuriates Bette, but since he is also suffering from “A Star is Born Syndrome,” we already know this marriage is doomed. The two women have a shouting match in a department store, and the friendship is over.

Life goes on. Bette goes home to mother because John wasn’t paying attention to her. Mother tells her that everybody is tired of paying attention to her, and she should just get used to it. (No, this doesn’t mean the filmmakers realized that the audience is bored and ended the movie—it just means that you have Bette’s mother’s permission not to pay attention to Bette anymore.)

Bette’s career goes down in flames when she punches a director who says she has a fat ass, and she’s reduced to singing at a boarded-up disco. Barb finds her and apologizes; she explains that she was just jealous because she can’t yodel. (Really.) Bette’s still mad until Barb confesses that her husband left her and she’s pregnant. So, with Barbara’s life officially worse than Bette’s, Bette forgives her and the two have a baby-prep montage.

But when Bette’s agent finds a role for her, she’s outta there! The two women scream at each other, but a diva’s gotta do what a diva’s gotta do and Bette returns to New York. She learns that the job is in John Heard’s new production, and he gave it to her out of pity. So, now she is James Mason and he is Judy Garland! But then Barb has her baby, which makes everything okay for everybody. (Remember, babies solve all problems—have one today!)

Barbara’s daughter, Victoria, is now about six. Bette is a Broadway star again (as demonstrated by doormen congratulating her on her Tony wins). Barb is a noble lawyer (as demonstrated by other lawyers chiding her for high morals). Everything is going great when Barb gets dizzy and has trouble with drinking fountains…

Yes, she has a fatal disease. Bette volunteers to accompany Barb to the beach for her last summer (she just didn’t know how long this summer was going to be). Bette and Victoria don’t get along at first, because they’re both bossy, self-involved drama queens, and they’re both six. But Bette teaches Victoria how to smoke, cuss, and sing in bath houses, and the two bond, leaving Barbara feeling left out and unloved. Barb tries to get back at them by looking pale and sickly, but they don’t notice. So, she escalates her aggressive dying by refusing to speak, move, or bathe. She and Bette have another fight, which causes Barbara to snap out of it (the moping, I mean—not the dying), and they braid each other’s hair, play cards, and do other girly stuff for the rest of the summer. Bette even agrees to not sue Barbara for failing to die as scheduled, and goes back to being Bette Midler, Super Star.

She is preparing for her Hollywood Bowl concert when Barbara finally starts to get somewhere with the dying (this is where we came in). When Bette gets to the hospital, Barbara tells her that she wants to die at the beach in order to make the whole movie so gosh-darned poignant that nobody will be able to stand it. So, Bette sings “Wind Beneath My Wings,” we see some lovely sunset ’n surf images from a K-Tel commercial, and Barbara finally bites the sand.

The film seems to heave a sigh and wipe a tear as it treats us to a final flashback of the 11-year-old girls vowing eternal friendship while Bette belts out another musical tribute to aerodynamics.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Here Comes the Spider-Man! And a Couple Dead Guys. And a Lady Time Lord


Welcome back! Sorry for the delay -- there have been a multitude of weird, inexplicable, possibly curse-related injuries and illnesses plaguing the staff lately -- but we hope to make it up to you today with a pretty good show.

In Part I, Scott and Jeff chat about a couple of fun geeky things, and a whole lot of death (alas, if we'd only had time to consult with Romero expert Doc Logan....). Then Jeff Holland, Man-Baby Hunter, paddles upstream against the tears of male Doctor Who fans who are squeamish because the incoming lady time lord might find a new, off-label use for the Sonic Screwdriver, and it could totally void the warranty! Don't you even care?

Then it's time for the Unknown Movie Challenge, where the whole New Movie Crew goes back to high school for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Please join us for this rockin' sock hop, and visit the refreshment table for Hi-C fruit punch, Razzles, Clearasil, and self-loathing.

[Click here to subscribe on iTunes]


[Cross-posted to The Slumgullion]

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

President Calvin Coolidge receives an arrangement from the Florist Telegraphers Association on his birthday, July 4, 1924.
"Not to boast, but I learned Morse Code as a boy in Vermont. Allow me to translate the Telegraphers' sentiment. It says...'Smile...You Droopy-lookin'...Motherfu--' HEY!"

Monday, July 3, 2017

Another Good Reason to Wear Your Glasses

By Hank Parmer 

A while back, a good friend asked: What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me?

This isn't one of those easy questions, like: “Have you ever shot an elephant?” Spending six decades on this planet is just bound to give anyone plenty of scope to make a complete fool of themselves. Plus I'm something of a klutz, and all too often blind to the most obvious hints. You can see, then, that it might be difficult to select just one example from so many.

So very, very many ... 

At least with this classy crowd, who demand something more than a cheap laugh, I can exclude any anecdotes which are of a more personal nature. (Although, for a small sum, I might make them available to a select clientele.) 

And to be honest, I couldn't vouch for what follows as the most embarrassing incident of my life. There's a good chance I've mercifully forgotten the best candidates for this dishonor. Let's just say that for one reason or another, this incident was marginally more memorable. Forgive me if it takes a bit of prosing to work around to it. 

I got my first pair of glasses when I was 12 years old, but I was understandably reluctant to wear them back in the days when “Four-Eyes” was a familiar taunt for my age group and “Geek Chic” wasn't trendy. It didn't help at all when the mother of my friend next door told me those clunky horn rims made me look distinguished. I know she was only trying to get me past feeling so dorky, but at twelve, the last thing I wanted was to look “distinguished” -- which my Adultspeak translator instantly rendered as “nerd”. So I resisted wearing the things, unless I absolutely had to.

The summer after ninth grade, my two older brothers and I took a road trip out west. We three boys planned to spend a month making a grand tour up through the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming, then down to the desert Southwest and finally to Yosemite, where the highlight of our trip would be to spend a week back-packing.

Quite the itinerary, considering we had to wedge all our gear and food and three back-pack frames into my eldest brother's red 1968 VW Bug

Our trip got off to a less than promising start: My brothers were determined to drive as far north as they could that first day. Which meant spending almost an hour in a traffic jam, on a sultry evening in early June, downwind of the Chicago Stockyards. We eventually fetched up at a campground somewhere in lower Wisconsin around ten that night. Utterly exhausted, we just tossed our sleeping bags on the ground and immediately crashed.

It was a warm night; none of us got inside our bags. I was awakened maybe half an hour later, by the realization I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes. Meanwhile, my brothers were staging an impromptu slapstick routine as they got in each other's way while struggling to put up the pup tent. Pitching your tent for the first time, by flashlight, as you're harassed by a voracious swarm of tiny but extremely determined winged bloodsuckers, is not conducive to haste. It's a miracle no one hammered a stake through their foot.

But we got the tent, with its blessed mosquito netting, erected eventually, piled in and zipped up the fly. Isolating us with only a couple dozen or so of the pests, who continued to annoy us throughout that night. But at least it kept the blood loss down to only a pint or two. I'll pass over what it was like to share an old-style two man backpacking tent with my two older brothers that first night. We were all slender, wiry guys in those days, but still ... 

Being too young to have a driver's license, I was relegated to the rear seat, while my brothers spelled each other at the wheel. Sharing the back of that VW with a pile of camping paraphernalia, I spent a considerable amount of road time during that trip sitting with my knees bumping against the back of the driver's seat. Or I could lie down in a position somewhat similar to a Mercury astronaut in his space capsule -- with even less available leg room. Thankfully, I was still a few inches short of my adult height. And had brought along some paperbacks. 

You can imagine what a joy this was, traveling through the desert in an un-airconditioned Beetle. With the rear heater vent stuck open. At least it was a dry heat ... 

To make our money last, we car-camped and did our own cooking. My eldest brother, Cliff -- who had made a similar trip a couple of years previous -- was in charge of the menu. He had two basic meals: For breakfast, invariably, rice boiled with dried apricots, with a spoonful or two of molasses on top, and for dinner (far too frequently, in my opinion) Kraft Mac and Cheese, with a can of tuna fish mixed in. In fairness to the cook, the instant tuna mac casserole was more of a fallback supper while traveling, and not, like the rice and apricots, a daily affair. But we hadn't room for an ice chest, which naturally limits one's culinary choices a bit.

I remember one such sybaritic repast in particular, served up as night was falling after a long day's drive, at a lonely roadside campsite somewhere out on the plains. A chill wind gusting from the north sucked the heat out of this revolting mess within seconds after it was ladled onto our tin plates. Certainly before I could sit down and shovel a single fork-full into my mouth. Believe me, you haven't lived until you've dined on a plateful of gelid, congealed mac and cheese and canned tuna chunks, as a stiff breeze -- apparently unobstructed in its descent from the polar regions by anything loftier than a shrub or two -- freshens your complexion.

I was never a big fan of canned tuna even before we went on this trip; after all these years, the very thought of it still makes my gorge rise. But I was too hungry at the time to care all that much. None of us gained weight on this vacation.

Lest I leave the wrong impression here, despite my dwelling on some of the less enjoyable aspects of the trip, the truth is we all had a blast.

Still, looking back, I'm always astonished at what tough little bastards we were. But the real outdoorsman of the bunch was my older brother, Harlin, affectionately nicknamed “The Varmint” when he was but a young sprout. He was a throwback, born too late to be a long hunter or a mountain man, and a few decades too soon to host one of those survival-in-the-wild TV shows. While Cliff and I (grudgingly) shared the pup tent, Harlin preferred to sleep in the out-of-doors, with a canvas tarp for cover if the weather turned inclement. Like when we woke one morning in Yellowstone to find everything shrouded in six inches of wet snow.

That was the day we decided to pack up our gear and head for the desert.

Skipping ahead with my story, we arrived at Yosemite in the middle of the afternoon. Our route along the eastern Rockies and then down through the desert Southwest had been a revelation to a kid raised among the comparatively puny woods and hills and hollows of Middle Tennessee. But Yosemite was something else again: Half Dome; Angel Falls; Tuolumne Meadows brilliant with wildflowers; looking up from the floor of the valley and seeing the dizzying illusion that makes those those impossibly high, sheer walls of granite appear to be perpetually toppling toward you against a fixed background of clouds. Words are feeble things, though, when confronted with the scale and transcendent beauty of this place.

Our plan was to stay at a campground for a few days, hiking and sight-seeing around the park, then shoulder our packs and head off into the back country. But the first thing to do, as always, was to set up camp. My assignment was to collect the fuel for our campfire. So off I went into the woods behind the campsite and began gathering up sticks.

This seems the appropriate place to mention that from the time we hit Yellowstone, at every park the rangers had given us the lecture about not having food or empty wrappers or soft drink cans in the tent or around the campsite, and cautioned us to hang our food properly at night. This advice had been given added emphasis by the fact that two campers had been killed by grizzlies so far that spring, in two different parks. Needless to say, we followed those instructions to the letter. So you can see that that bears were very much on my mind.

I'd been scrounging firewood for a while, since the pickings were rather slim this close to the campground, when I heard a noise behind me. I spun around, and saw my first bear close up.

Well, okay, the bear -- a cinnamon bear, probably a juvenile, who was merely standing on top of a fallen pine tree, eyeing me curiously -- was maybe ten or fifteen yards away, so it wasn't that close. But being in the woods, alone, after all those warnings from the rangers and the gruesome stories of people being eaten alive, as far as I was concerned it was a ten foot tall, half-ton grizzly reared up on his hind legs, all set to give me the Benihana treatment.


I dropped the sticks and took off through a stand of saplings, no doubt leaving one rather perplexed bear wondering what the hell was my problem. The one small bit of solace I can take from this textbook example of panicked scarpering (besides not having to change my underwear afterward) is that at least I had it together enough to hope the close-grown saplings I was dodging around might slow down this rampaging terror I was sure was at my heels.

Of course the bear didn't follow me. When I dared to look back, it was nowhere to be seen. I gathered up the tattered remnants of my courage along with another armload of firewood, and headed back to our campsite.

But this was not my most embarrassing moment of that day.

Back at the campsite, I learned that shortly after I went off to find firewood, the bear had paid Cliff a visit while he was unpacking the car. He turned around to find the critter attempting to enter the VW by way of the passenger window, no doubt to get at our food. I don't know how he made it desist, but obviously this was neither a very fierce nor a very large animal.

It didn't so much as scratch the paint or put a rip in the upholstery. But it wasn't finished with us, yet.

Not to put too fine a point to it, after returning to the campsite, I found I needed to emulate that proverbial bear in the woods. I soon discovered the restroom for our section of the campground was closed for repairs. So I had to walk, at a somewhat brisker pace, over to the next campground.

Remember how I was reluctant to wear my glasses? I'm fairly certain I had them on when I was in the woods and met the bear. And I doubt that I would have let that stunning scenery pass by all out of focus. But vanity prompted me to take them off while I was walking through the campground. You know: in case I met a cute girl.

Having locating some functional facilities, I was on my way back to our campsite when I walked past a small crowd standing by the roadside. Some of them seemed to be looking at something across the road, but all I could see was the fuzzy outlines of trash bins, although one of the bins appeared overly full.

So I stepped on by, down the middle of the road. After I'd strolled past, an incredulous bystander demanded, “Didn't you see the bear?” 

And this, ladies and gentlebeings, was my memorably mortifying moment. That same damned cinnamon bear was there, dumpster diving, with only its furry hindquarters visible above the rim of the bin. And I had walked right past it.

Shortly thereafter, my brothers appeared on the scene; Harlin took the initiative and drove the bear away by shouting and pelting it with clods of dirt. Yes, this was one fearsome creature. 

However, it did achieve a certain measure of revenge. After we'd eaten supper and hung the food from a high branch on the big pine in the center of the campsite, we retired for the night -- Cliff and I to the tent, and Harlin to his sleeping bag and tarp, which he had placed beneath the tree, on the cushiony mat of shed needles.

I was drifting off to sleep, when there came an urgent whisper from outside: “Cliff! Henry! Wake up!”

Cliff mumbled, groggily, “What do you want?” 

“The bear's back.” After sleepily pondering this development for a few seconds, our eldest brother delivered this sage bit of advice: “Well, leave him alone.” 

We were such a caring family. 

Next morning, Harlin informed us the bear had snuffled around the campsite while Cliff and I were snoring away in the tent, then climbed the tree from which we'd suspended our food. That is, the very same tall pine he'd chosen to sleep under. (Which, in retrospect, may not have been the smartest thing to do.) 

Not wanting to draw attention to himself, Harlin did his best to imitate an inanimate object while our nocturnal visitor clawed its way up the pine. But we'd chosen our limb well, high enough up so the cache dangled well out of its reach, from above and below. So the bear eventually gave up. 

According to Harlin, he experienced some tense moments right then, during this frustrated thief's descent. All my brother could think of was how accurate he'd been a few hours previously, lobbing those hard, gravel-studded clods of dirt at it -- and wonder whether the beast might be cherishing a grudge. He could all too easily imagine it making vengeful promises to itself as it scrabbled back down the tree.

Fortunately for him, the bear merely wandered away in search of an easier meal, and that was our last encounter with the creature.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The Mutual of Omaha Edition

SHADOW: We should cull her.

MOONDOGGIE: We should what to who?

SHADOW: Look at her limping around like that! She's sick and injured! We should totally cull her from the herd.

MOONDOGGIE: What herd? There's only two of them.

SHADOW: And there's two of us! That makes it a fair fight...

MOONDOGGIE: I'm not culling anybody. I don't even know what "cull" means.

SHADOW: It means we're predators, and we do what predators do: we predate! Or maybe we postdate. I'm not sure...Anyway, it has something to do with writing a check.

MOONDOGGIE: I'm confused...

SHADOW: You're confused?! How do you think I feel? I was raised by you! (SIGH) Fine! Just roll over on the remote and change the channel. This episode of Wild Kingdom is making me depressed...

Friday, June 23, 2017

Jupiter Ascending Colon


Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Directed by The Wachowskis
Written by The Wachowskis

Let’s meet our heroine (and, if you live on the planet Earth, your new landlady), Jupiter Jones. Her mother was a Russian mathematician, her father was a British professor of astrophysics in St. Petersburg. They had a blissful marriage until Dad somehow got in bad with the Celestial Bratva, a group of Russian loan sharks who apparently work at the local planetarium and will only accept astronomical instruments as collateral. They break in, shoot Dad, and garnish his telescope, and Mom promptly sails for America. Their daughter, Jupiter, is born at sea - the same place I found myself when I tried to figure out this plot.

Jupiter Ascending was heavily promoted for its ooh-and-ahh visuals, and the film pays off with a bravura opening sequence in which Mila Kunis clean toilets in 3-D. (Not to nitpick, but where do you get off naming your lead character “Jupiter Jones” and not have her played by Pam Grier? That shit is just wrong.)

Meanwhile, on Planet Plotpoint in the constellation Exposition, a pair of aristocratic siblings stroll through an eerie, lifeless city. Shopping bags and baby dolls lay forlorn and abandoned, while the entire world appears covered in a light dusting of Blue Berry Blast Kool-Aid. The douchebag aristocrats tut-tut about "the harvest," then Eddie Redmayne suddenly appears, stepping out of an unimpressive special effect that acts like Star Trek's transporter but looks like that pixelation thing your satellite TV does in crappy weather.

The aristobags argue about who gets to inherit Earth from their dead mother, because it's the best planet in the universe, worth more than all others combined. True, the ozone layer is disappearing, the seas are dying, and the climate is changing catastrophically, but it is relatively free of massive powdered drink spills. Eddie suddenly disappears into the transporter again, or maybe it just started to rain, I don't know. Anyway, it’s pretty cool – traveling instantaneously anywhere in the universe – but the alien aristos instantly forget they have this technology, and spend the rest of the film puttering around in space ships, which is kind of like NASA forgetting about the Saturn V halfway through the Apollo program and trying to launch astronauts at the moon in Conestoga wagons.

Back on Earth, that jewel of the galaxy, Jupiter is still scrubbing toilets. We meet three new characters, who – like their counterparts in The Matrix -- challenge our ability to discern between perception and reality. You see, they claim they're badass bounty hunters from outer space, yet they look like cosplayers at the Kennywood Comicon in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania who are holding up the corn dog line, debating whether to get a medium soda because if they get the large they might have to pee during the Manimal symposium.

But they better hurry up and decide, because Channing Tatum suddenly struts on screen like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Channing is a genetically engineered hybrid between a wolf and a male exotic dancer – I think they call his species a “lycan-stripper” -- and he's reputed to be the Imperial Legion’s deadliest hunter-killer, although mostly he just zips around the sky on anti-gravity figure skates, so a good chunk of the movie feels like watching Eddie Munster in the Ice Capades.

Anyway, Channing has come to Earth to kick ass and sneak into Planned Parenthood to smell Jupiter's medical records. Meanwhile, Jupiter's friend is mistaken for her and attacked by a squad of alien Greys. Jupiter saves her, by which I mean she grabs her phone and snaps a picture of the interstellar molestation and then just stands around, because risking your life for a friend is good, but it doesn't feel as good as getting a ton of Likes on Instagram.

After watching her friend receive an unwanted medical exam from a team of nude Space Mengeles, Jupiter goes home, where her cousin talks her into selling her eggs to some shady enterprise that presumably wants to make really tiny omelets.

Channing rescues Jupiter from Planned Parenthood, proving that Operation Rescue would be a lot cooler if they spent less time screaming at women outside clinics, and more time perfecting anti-gravity werewolves. But as soon as they escape the Roswell Greys, they’re attacked by the bounty hunters, so Jupiter clings to Channing’s back like Yoda while he Triple Lutzes and Salchows all over the sky in a scene that temps you with visions of another, better movie, one in which Hans Brinker wins a pair of silver skates for discovering Flubber.

Channing takes Jupiter to see Sean Bean, who's a genetic splice of Boromir and the Honey Nut Cheerios Honey Bee, and like all bees and Beans, will soon be dead. In the meantime, Sean's bees declare Jupiter Queen of Outer Space, because "they've been genetically engineered to recognize royalty" (which explains their tendency to genuflect in the presence of Prince, Dairy Queen, and King Vitamin).

Sean celebrates Jupiter's coronation with some backstory. It turns out that modern humans are actually a billion years old, rather than a hundred thousand or so, and first evolved on a distant planet called Orbitz. But before we can use this information to book the first discount flight out of this movie, the cosplay bounty hunters capture Jupiter and take her to the planet Douchebaggia. There, royal servants drape her in finery fit for the Queen of the Universe, i.e., a dress that looks like it was made from Grandma's chenille bedspread. Eddie's Douchebag Sister explains that Jupiter is a "recurrence", or reincarnation of her mother, who was 91,000 years old, and was either murdered, or fell in the bath and couldn't reach her Life Alert.

Jupiter takes a space ship to planet Orbitz. She also hits on Channing, but he rebuffs her because she's royalty and he has "more in common with a dog than I do with you," meaning he can lick his own balls, which makes her kind of superfluous.

Speaking of the human-animal hybrids, they’re really coming out of the woodwork now, and veering into Island of Dr. Moreau territory (the Marlon Brando one). Eddie's henchmen are monitor lizards with eagle wings, which would be great if this were a video game and I could hit them with a flaming sword. The helmsman who flies the good guy’s star ship is a hybrid of Sulu and Dumbo, Douchebag Brother's Henchwoman seems like she’s on her way to a furry convention and didn’t spend a lot of time on her costume, and Eddie Redmayne, based on those huge rubbery lips, appears to be a genetic cross between a man and a grouper.

Also, may I just say a word about Redmayne’s performance?  Except for one or two shrieks that were so abrupt I thought he’d just stubbed his toe, his whispers his entire part – every damn line – so even when star ships are exploding and monitor lizards are wrestling Eddie Munsters, you get the sense this whole movie must be taking place at the library.

But enough of the Westminster Mutant Show. Time for a whole weird section sequence where Jupiter has to get her pink slip to Earth notarized, and the Wachowskis use the unmistakable visual vocabulary of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (and Terry Gilliam himself in a cameo role) to satirize a day at the DMV. Way to stick it to the Man, ladies!

On the way home, Jupiter tries to get Channing to bite her; but while they're first checking to see if Channing's had all his shots, they’re abducted by Sean, who bee-trays them (sorry, not sorry) and turns them over to Eddie’s Douchebag Brother. Like everyone who meets Jupiter, he immediately dresses her up in a fancy, yet stupid gown, making me suspect the Wachowskis added all the sci-if imagery and monsters and action movie tropes to placate the studio, when what they really wanted to make was Colorforms: The Motion Picture.

Anyway, Douchebag Brother finally reveals the shocking plot twist, which most viewers saw coming as they jockeyed for a parking space outside the Cineplex: It seems the aristobags are basically Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, but rather than bathe in the blood of virgins to preserve their youth, they plant human beings on various worlds (in what really should have been a mid-Fifties TV show, “Johnny Appleseed, Space Cadet!”), and then when we’re ripe, they harvest our skin for lubricating bath beads. So according to this movie, we basically evolved from trilobites to mammals to hominids to Oil of Olay.

Jupiter doesn’t take the news well, so Douchebag Brother decides this is the moment to whip out an engagement ring and ask his dead reincarnated mother to marry him.

While Jupiter mulls over her romantic options — bestiality or incest — D-Bag Bro secretly tosses Channing out an airlock. Fortunately, as we learned from those Mutual of Omaha specials, the only two species that can survive for any length of time in the vacuum of spare are wolves and male strippers.

Jupiter still yearns for Channing to sweep her off her feet and take her to Zootopia, if you know what I mean, but she decides to go with the incest, because even though it’s equally gross, she’s less likely to catch scabies. Meanwhile, Channing is saved by Space Cops (A Quinn Martin Production), and decides to make a suicide attack on D-Bag Bro’s ship to rescue Jupiter. Sean switches sides yet again to join him, because it’s like 90 minutes into the movie and he’s really overdue to die.

Back on Bro’s ship, Jupiter hoverboards into the Norte Dame Cathedral wearing a headdress made from Christmas ornaments and a dress that looks like a repurposed Tournament of Roses float. It’s beginning to feel as if she’s having a Joan Crawford/Bette Davis-style feud with Natalie Portman’s Queen Amidala to see who can rule space while looking like the winner of Ru-Paul’s Drag Race.
  
Channing interrupts the wedding, just like in The Graduate, except the social satire and Simon and Garfunkel score is replaced by CGI explosions and lame furries. But Eddie, who hasn’t been in the movie much for the last hour — to what I suspect is our mutual relief — has his  hybrid hench-rabbit kidnap Jupiter’s annoying Russian family and issue an ultimatum: abdicate, or he’ll kill them and steal their telescopes.

Rather than accepting her abdication on the spot, Hench-Rabbit drags her to the planet Jupiter, where the factory that renders humans into hand lotion is located in the Great Red Spot, so Eddie can chew each piece of scenery 32 times.

Channing flies into the Red Spot to rescue Jupiter, but Sean remains on the ship because he notices he’s still alive and likes it that way, and apparently he cares nothing about protecting a streak. It’s just as well there’s no Simon and Garfunkel music, because Sean is clearly no Joe DiMaggio.

Jupiter abruptly decides not to abdicate, because if her family dies she’ll finally get her own room. But Channing ruins that by Dorothy Hamilling in and killing all the iguana-eagles. It’s a sad day in the Raptor/Reptile aisle at Hybrid Petco.

Also, the factory starts blowing up so characters can fall, shinny up pipes, fall again, and get singed by random gouts of flame and white hot plasma. And yet despite these multiple and serious workplace hazards, Donald Trump appoints a CEO from the Human Skin Cream industry to head the EPA.

Channing rescues Jupiter, who is now free to live in a palace and rule the Universe, but she decides to go back home and scrub commodes, because it’s a little late in the movie to start pretending she’s smart. On the bright side, her annoying family unexpectedly turns nice and gives her a telescope so she’ll get murdered by Russian gangsters, and Channing gets his wings, just like Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life, and promptly uses them to make out in mid-air with Jupiter, just like Clarence did with George Bailey. So everybody got what their heart's desire, I guess, except me. I wanted a thrilling yet thoughtful science fiction epic in the vein of The Matrix. What I got was the world’s longest commercial for the Chlorox Toilet Wand.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dear Spike And Cronenberg: We're Sorry

Welcome to Season 2, Episode 10: Sickies!

You may have thought Jeff and Scott were abducted by aliens but the truth is much worse. There is tragedy, there is pain, there is discussion that bounces all over the pop culture landscape, including thoughts on Wonder Woman, Marvel vs. DC, MST3K old and new, House of Cards, the Black Panther trailer and most importantly, their mutual love of the classic Universal monster films and Jeff's total hatred of The Mummy.

[Cross-posted to The Slumgullion]

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Whatever Happened to Spanking?

"I...am your father! But do I even get a lousy Hallmark card? No! And I left you one good hand to write with, so don't give me that crap..."

A very happy Fathers Day to all you Dark Side Daddies out there.

Happy Father's Day! (Or...IS IT?)

By Bill S.

Father's Day is upon us, and to celebrate it, here's a list of some movie and TV dads who make us grateful for the dad we had (I hope)

WORST MOVIE DADS

Henry Salt (Roy Kinnear) in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971):

I have a confession to make: I'm actually rather fond of Mr. Salt. It might have to do with the casting of late British funnyman Roy Kinnear, who managed to bring a little bit of warmth to a part that, on paper, surely didn't have any. He seems as aware as everyone else that his daughter Veruca is a pain in the ass (this is also true in the book), and we'd almost feel sorry for him if it wasn't clear that it's his own fault for spoiling her rotten. Which is why he winds up following her down the garbage chute. (Wonka assures Charlie that they, and the rest of the guests, are fine: "They'll be back to their normal, terrible selves. But perhaps a bit wiser." Let's hope so.)

Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) in The Judge (2014): 
When you're on trial for murder, and you appoint your son to defend you, and he's reluctant to do it because he thinks you might be guilty...well, maybe you've made a parenting mistake or two. 

(This is the fourth time Robert Duvall's appeared on the list, which must mean he's the go-to actor for playing questionable fathers. Would that make him the anti-Gregory Peck?)

Mr. Leblanc in Elle (2016): We never actually see the father of protagonist Michelle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert, giving a much better performance here than in Heaven's Gate). But we certainly learn enough about him to know he's a monster. Forty years earlier, he went on a murder spree, killing 27 people. He returned home, covered in blood, and enlisted his then-10 year old daughter to help burn down their house. The press coverage of the story falsely implicated her in the murders, which led to her making a lot of terribly self-destructive choices as an adult.

God (Benoit Poelvoorde) in The Brand New Testament (2015):

In this daring (and very funny) Belgian comedy, God has a wife (a Goddess herself, though she stays out of His way and focuses attention on her baseball card collection), and a 10 year old daughter, Ea, who's as annoyed by her parents as any other 10 year old. (His son, "J.C", has chosen the form of a figurine in the living room, coming to life only to give his sister advice and encouragement.) God is portrayed as a petty, mean-spirited deity who inflicts misery on humans for His own amusement, even going so far as to create thousands of daily annoyances ("Toast with jam always falls jam side down", "When you immerse a body in water, the phone rings") When Ea, fed up with her father, takes off for Earth, He follows her, only to be subjected to the very same annoyances He created. He's also rude and obnoxious to every human he encounters, including a well-meaning priest who ends up beating the crap out of him. 

WORST TV DADS

Clifford Blossom (Barclay Hope) on Riverdale:

On this prime-time soap, all the parents are kind of screwy, but none more so than the head of the Blossom family, who murders his son Jason when the boy finds out the Blossom's maple syrup business is a front for a drug smuggling operation. (Leave it to Greg Berlanti to make the "Archie" comics interesting.)

Barry "Baz" Blackwell (Scott Speedman) on Animal Kingdom:
He fathered his eldest child with his adopted sister. What more do you need to know? His mother, Smurf (who made last month's Mother's Day column), puts him second in command of the family business--which is breaking into buildings and robbing them.

Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) on Supernatural:
Kind of a no-brainer to include him on the list, what with him being the personification of evil and all. In the most recent season of the show, he occupied the body of a U.S. president and fathered a child with the president's mistress. And you thought Mr. Salt spawned a monster.

Happy Father's Day everyone. Sing us out, Adrian and Audie--

Thursday, June 15, 2017

We Need a New Motto Around Here

A couple of kind commenters and emailists saw one of my bleating posts and suggested I go ahead and make this shirt available, as a public service or first offence. So here you go.



Let the world know that you will not be intimidated (mostly because you're not really paying attention. And nowadays, who could blame you?) Seems to come in a variety of sexes, sizes, and colors.

Megyn Kelly Interviews Public Nuisance on Tee-Vee, Maybe?

By Keith

Broadcast under cloud of controversy, J.P. Morgan pulls adverts, Comcast/Universal stokes publicity, and an unwelcome Father's Day present for Sandy Hook Massacre families


Megyn Kelly's new gig with NBC returns Sunday with new episode featuring "The Jones."

No, it's not the "Jones" behind the nation's current opioid crisis. And it's not that "Jones" from "Me & Mrs. Jones" either.

Having cleared a hurdle with global A-lister Vladimir Putin in her premiere excursion, Megyn dumpster-dives the D-List for an interview with the sorrowful, morbidly-derelict and preternaturally-nauseating niche podcaster Alex Jones, that guy who keeps on keeping the lovely city of Austin, TX "weird" but perhaps not in the way residents might prefer.

Your correspondent is not questioning Ms. Kelly's judgment, nor her ability to conduct television journalism.

However, I must point out Mr. Jones' earlier encounter with a somewhat legitimate news organization from a few years ago and it's a hoot an' a half. It begs to wonder whether something similar will obtain Sunday night. (Gut feeling is "Yes, of course.")

Gander fellow Crappers (pearl-clutching allowed):

(Total meltdown occurs at approximately 4:38)
Jones said the Kelly interview marks a rare example of his agreeing to a sit-down with a mainstream media figure. He said he has turned down many other recent offers but realized that Kelly will likely have a big platform with “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.” 
“I’d be dumb if I didn’t do some of these interviews,” Jones said.
Scott adds: And we'd be dumb if we watched, so let's all avoid dumbness together, yet each in our own way.

Under normal circumstances, accepting Megyn's invitation would itself be legal grounds for dumbness, since Jones' usual method is to rely upon his mouth's high cyclic rate for bullshit and riddle his interlocutor with 900 to 1,200 Lies Per Minute, But this isn't a live television broadcast that he can dominate through sustained shamelessness and pure shouty aggression. This is going to be taped, then edited by the lesser demons who toil in the sulfur-scented pits of the MSM.

Now I don't for a second doubt Jones' uncanny, flatworm-like survival skills. I am convinced that if you cleaved him in half, an equally repulsive Jones would grow from the severed stump and begin shouting lies the instant it formed a mouth . So Alex might be obliged to bob, weave, and dodge Megyn's more pointed queries, assuming she asks any, which is assuming a lot. He might, as they tool around in his SUV, abruptly bellow like a 19th Century circus strong man rupturing himself on the midway, or tear off his shirt in the Hardee's drive-thru in an effort to distract. But even though he can't filibuster the segment because there's no producer in the booth eyeing the clock and begging the on-air talent to end this tour of Bedlam so they can cut to a Boston Market commercial, Jones is more than a match for a woman who's spent her formative years reciting the produce of a propaganda mill, and -- as we saw with Putin -- hasn't the skills for a truly adversarial interview. Hell, Putin's a dictator who murders his detractors with impunity, he invades and occupies neighboring countries, he launched a cyberwar against the United States in an attempt to put a Manchurian stooge in the White House, and barely cares if you catch him at any of it, and during their encounter Megyn still came off like she was asking Miss South Carolina her opinion of world peace.

So here's my prediction: Megyn will get off one or two mildly skeptical -- perhaps even daringly wry -- comments about Jones in her wrap-up, thus burnishing her brand as the Reasonable Conservative, but during the interview segments, Jones will dance circles around Megyn like she was a maypole and he was a pigtailed girl in a frilly white pinafore.

Friday, June 9, 2017

People Let Me Tell You Bout My Best Friend

Mary was supposed to be home today, but last night the doctors found another problem they want to correct, so she's undergoing a second, relatively minor, procedure today. Here's hoping she'll be released back into the wild on Saturday.

In the meantime, this is my fifth day as the sole adult in the apartment, and I'm beginning to feel like Bill Bixby in The Courtship of Eddie's Father, except nobody's dead, I don't have a Japanese widow to do the housework, and Eddie is two cats.

Two depressed cats.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

She's Alive! ALI--Well, I Don't Wanna Oversell It

Another quick update: Mary survived the operation last night (I realize that's an overly dramatic way of putting it, but don't judge me. We all have different ways of coping with stress, and mine involve striking histrionic attitudes from the Junius Brutus Booth playbook.)

She's suffering through some vein-poppingly intense pain, if her groans, white knuckles, and glaze of perspiration are any indication, and reportedly has enough screws and plates in her leg that she's setting off airport metal detectors from her hospital bed, but the procedure was a success. Or so I was told, and I choose to believe it's true, because given any other option, my brain will illuminate such grotesque and hideous alternatives that it'll make EC's Vault of Horror look like Marvel's Millie the Model. (I'm thinking of offering a line of custom t-shirts, with inspirational sentiments such as: "Choose Gullibility", or "I'm Fearless (Because I'm Oblivious)". Available in Sleeveless, Cap Sleeve, and Raglan Baseball T, sizes S to XXL.)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

State of the Yeeee-OWTCH!


Well, things have gone South, Sideways, and To Hell, all in one awkward, but awe-inspiring motion -- the sort of thing that could only be pulled off by a Cirque du Soleil acrobat who's been drinking between shows.

On Friday, Mary slipped and fell on the stairs to the ladies room at the Chinese Theater (during a screening of Wonder Woman -- O Irony, thou cruel mistress), dislocated her ankle and fractured three bones ("a hat trick!" as our friend Dr. Alice observed). So rather than watching Gal Gadot kick ass, we spent most of the evening in the Emergency Room, where they relocated her ankle to a better neighborhood, applied a cast, and said, "Yeah, you'll need surgery."

The weekend passed slowly, relieved by moments of eye-rolling terror when it looked like Mary was going to fall off her crutches (again, on the way to the bathroom). Monday we consulted an orthopedic surgeon, who was of the opinion that her ankle had been set improperly, and she needed immediate surgery. So it was off to the Emergency Room again, where Mary spent four hours in an uncomfortable chair in the Waiting area, then another seven hours on a gurney in a hallway. It was a cruel test of endurance and after awhile I couldn't stand it anymore, so I started to pretend I was watching a David Blaine TV special.

And that's where things stand. I'm heading back to the hospital, where the surgery will (we're desperately hoping) take place this afternoon. I'll update as soon as there's news and a wifi signal I can steal.  In the meantime, prayers and good wishes gratefully accepted.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Oh, Ablow Me

I'm sorry for letting so much dust collect on the blog. I either need a better work ethic, or a more effective scapegoat, but the latter is hard to come by, since our neighborhood isn't zoned for livestock. I suppose I could get a dog, since they're Mankind's traditional fall guy, for everything from alleged homework destruction to farts, but "The Dog Ate My Blog" sounds less like a valid excuse, and more like a rejected song by They Might Be Giants.

Not that I don't have excuses, mind you.  My Mac died a sudden, but convincing death, for instance. Granted, it was a decade old, and the recipient of multiple transplant organs over the years -- a new video card, a replacement hard drive; also, I think someone may have stolen its kidneys in Mexico -- so it wasn't exactly untimely or unexpected, and I suspect Mac himself welcomed the sweet release of death, since he would no longer be required to visit WorldNetDaily or RenewAmerica. But it did take all my bookmarks, my assemblage of vintage ads for disgusting food (as essential to celebrating birthdays around here as my this-close-to-porn collection of reptile models in sexy poses), my various can't-afford-to-replace 'em media manipulation programs and most painful of all, my entire library of cat photos and videos.

So I'm coming to you now from my cheap, rickety, barely-worthy-of-the-name backup laptop, and we'll see how long that lasts. But in the meantime, what about some cheap, rickety, barely-worthy-of-the-name reasoning, from "Fox News Medical A-Team" A-hole, Dr. Keith Ablow?

[UPDATED below. Abelow? Whatever...]

We've talked about the good Dr. Fellatio before...Here's a picture:


Wait...Sorry. Here's his headshot...
Dr. Gherkinslurper's skill set -- aside from an obvious ability to make sweet, sweet love to the camera -- has heretofore been confined to examining President Obama's mental illnesses from such a distance that his diagnoses had to correct for the curvature of the earth.

But now that we have a president who's a paragon of emotional stability and robust mental health, Dr. Schlongsluicer has gone from Cassandra to cheerleader:
Trumping your life: How to be a better, stronger person by being more like the president
Weeks ago, I wrote the first installment of TRUMPING YOUR LIFE, delivering three ways you can change your life by following the example of President Trump.
I feel like I've already had my life thoroughly, and if not irreparably, Trumped, thank you. To be fair, however, Dr. Bollardbuffer didn't promise to change your life for the better, he simply recognized that sometimes a person wants or needs to shake things up. Besides aping the example of President Trump, other ways to profoundly change your life include the following:
1.) Give meth a chance
2.)  Have a baby - but not a human one
3.) Consider a mid-life career change, like quitting your current job and going on a Badlands-style five-state killing spree.
This is the second of five installments I plan to share.
Oh dear God.
If you take this Trump-inspired self-help advice seriously, I believe it will significantly improve your existence.
As the co-proprietor of a blog, I've had the occasional target of our gentle lampoonery advise me to "get a life!", but I admire the way Dr. Knobbobber doesn't want to cruelly raise expectations about the value of his therapy, and more reasonably advises his patients to "get an existence."
As a reminder, these were the first three ways to begin TRUMPING YOUR LIFE: 
1) Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not good enough to work toward any goal. Just don’t forget the work.
You're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, you're corrupt enough. Just remember, those elections aren't going to rig themselves.
 2) Don’t mimic your competitors. Have the courage to be authentic.
"If there's one thing I'd like people to take away from this five part series on following the example of Donald Trump, it's the importance of not following the example of other people, because internally consist logic is treble clef lemur swizzle grommet."
3) Let yourself be righteously angry when people take you for a weakling, a fool or a fraud.
Or, just realize how well you must be emulating Donald Trump, and take the win.
Now, onward . . . 
4. Assume you will encounter increasing resistance as you pursue big and worthy goals.
If your goals are big and worthy enough, you might even encounter increasing hashtag resistance.
Small minds, intent on stalling or frustrating real change, become increasingly obstructive in the face of bold momentum...
But once you've got small minds working in concert with small hands, the world is your teeny tiny oyster.
you should do what I believe Donald Trump does...Turn the friction you feel from small minds into fuel for your intentions. Double down.
I don't know what this means, but it sounds like somebody decided to write some Art of the Deal slash fic.
5. Don’t be afraid to speak about things like friendship and love. Among strong people, connections of the heart are very powerful.
Also don't be afraid to stab people in the back and throw them under the bus at the first sign of trouble. And don't be afraid to keep your supporters from fulfilling their lifelong dream of meeting the Pope, because among strong people, the tears of weak people are hilarious. Remember, your enemies expect you to be an asshole and will thus remain on their guard, so sucker punch a friend! Much easier.
President Trump is known for pointing out friends in big crowds.
He's also known for pointing out protesters he'd like his big crowds to beat up. His finger is quite versatile, is what we're saying.
 He talks openly about loving places and people and projects.
And creepily about loving his daughter. His libido is versatile, is what we're saying.
 He is clearly pained by cruelty to children. After receiving a long round of applause during a recent speech in Israel, he paused to say, “I like you, too.” 
How does sentence #2 illustrate -- or remotely relate -- to sentence #1? Well, I guess even Trump realizes that applause will only encourage him to turn the world our children will inherit into an even crueler hellscape, and so figures he should respond to it like a Burnt Umber Fred Rogers.
Being powerful doesn’t mean you need to be austere.
Thankfully, I think we've got the austerity problem licked.
Creativity is enhanced by a willingness not to be so intent on appearing courageous that you can’t be very powerfully moved by emotion. Sure, Trump is tough and can be moved to anger. But he also seems able to laugh and to love.
Laugh and love? Maybe. Hates to be laughed at? Definitely. Still, you should totally base your life on a rageaholic with the emotional stability of nitroglycerin, because he just might possibly be capable of guffawing when someone gets smacked in the nuts on America's Funniest Home Videos.
You should feel free to speak from your heart, not just your head. People will hear you even better.
Depending on how good the acoustics are in your thorax.
6. After hard-fought battles, whether you win or lose, don’t assume your competitors can’t become your partners.
Unless they have video footage of you paying to Russian hookers to soil a hotel bed in Moscow, in which case they're more likely to become your supervisors.
President Trump reached out to candidates he fiercely debated during the Republican primaries and turned more than one into an ally. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson comes to mind.
It's not a sound mind, but still.
So does Gov. Chris Christie.
I think we can all agree he immediately comes to mind whenever the phrase, "Who's fetching the President's Sausage McMuffin® with Egg?" is heard.
Burning bridges may feel satisfying when you do it, but you can easily find yourself alone, on an island. The truth is that most people are pretty forgiving and can set aside some hurt feelings or even very bruised egos to pursue worthy goals with former adversaries.
Donald Trump isn't one of them, of course, but sometimes it's the exception that proves the rule.
You have to ask to mend fences, of course. You have to be willing to extend an olive branch — or two or three — even after wielding a bat. And that takes some kindness and courage and faith. But you will be repaid through synergies that might never have developed had you let your ego interfere with the greater good.
Excuse me, Dr. Weinerwasher, I don't mean to be cynical, but you completely forgot you were talking about Donald Trump and just drifted off into the canned speech you give at Rotary meetings, didn't you?
So, there you have it: A total of 6 ways to start TRUMPING YOUR LIFE
Including a live demonstration of how to lose your train of thought and wander off in a dementia fueled haze, before snapping back with spasm of caps.


Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team.
I don't know who consults the Fox News Medical A-Team, but I pity the fool.

UPDATE: Sheri writes an unsolicited testimonial to the power of Dr. Kochholster's therapy:

Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips on how to Trump my life! I learned that just because everybody else says that global warming is real, and that vaccines don't cause autism, I should buck the crowd and believe the conspiracies!

I learned that mocking disabled people, although frowned on by so-called "decent society," is fun, and is a great way to release tension! 

I learned that if a kid on Twitter says something I don't like, I should destroy her, because the best thing in life is to crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.


And I learned that standing in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shooting somebody is a great way to make friends.

So, now that I have perfect mental health, I am ready to meet Dr. Ablow and thank him personally...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Charlie Chan Meets the Xenomorph!


It's a new Slumgullion!

Season 2, Episode 9

Scott and Jeff engage in a spirited debate about Alien: Covenant  - Is it the best thing since sliced bread? Or the worst thing since loose wheat excreted by a Tribble?

For the Unknown Movie Challenge, we pull back the shoji screen to reveal a shocking ménage à trois of stereotypes as three Fake Asian (or "Fasian") detectives of the 1930s compete for the title of Miss Most Racist! Join Charlie Chan, Mr. Moto, Mr. Wong, and Special Guest Star the Xenomorph.

[Note: Thanks to slight technical difficulties, the episode ends rather abruptly...with a Newsies joke.]

[Cross-posted from The Slumgullion]

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You To...Oh. Sorry.


Cheers and farewell to Roger Moore, my second-least favorite Bond (okay, maybe it's a dead heat with George Lazenby, but that seems like an insensitive use of the idiom). He did entertaining work on Maverick, as English cousin Beau, and hit just the right tone in The Saint, before his tenure as 007 got off to a prophetically ludicrous start in 1973 with Live And Let Die, where the producers chased hipness and social currency by surrounding Bond with the trappings of a blaxploitation film. Still, it was no stupider than Diamonds Are Forever, which is basically a two hour commercial for Zales and Jimmy Dean Pure Pork Sausage, and I remember being surprised that I didn't hate Moore in the role (that would come later).

He was, by all accounts, a fine person, a philanthropist who dedicated his last years to humanitarian efforts as an ambassador for UNICEF, and I'm sure he'll be lovingly remembered by all who knew him. I didn't, of course, so all I have to go on are some crap films he made; and in that spirit, let's get the remembrances going with this look back at the nadir of the Bond series, Octopussy.

R.I.P. Sir Roger Moore, dead at 89.

[The following is taken from the spy film chapter in the upcoming sequel to Better Living Through Bad Movies, a chapter that is, perforce, heavy on the Roger Moore films.]


Octopussy (1983)
Directed by John Glen
Written by George MacDonald Fraser and Richard Maibaum & Michael G. Wilson

We open in a fake Latin American country which the filmmakers picked up cheap at a Mission: Impossible estate sale. Roger Moore arrives at the world’s most listless steeplechase event (nobody’s moving fast enough to call it a race, so I presume it’s some sort of occupational therapy for depressed horses on Thorazine), accompanied by the first of our nubile Bond Girls. She doesn’t make out with the 56-year old Roger, because that would be gross, but she does glue a pencil mustache to his lip so he looks more like a child molester.

Bond tries to sneak into a high security military hangar, the kind full of top secret fighter jets that’s usually located next door to a race track, and plant a bomb. He’s immediately caught by Fake Latin Americans, but saved by Nubile Bond Girl, who’s not only smarter than Bond, she’s smarter than the us, because she gets the hell out of this movie during the pre-credit sequence, while we just sit here. Anyway, Bond’s horse trailer turns into a flying horse trailer and he escapes, and also accidentally blows up the hangar he was trying to bomb while trying to evade a missile, but he burns up all his fuel, so he crosses the Latin American-Appalachian border, lands at a gas station, and asks a confused hillbilly to “fill ‘er up.”

BAH DAH DAH DAH!  As pre-title sequences go, it’s no Goldfinger, but then we never got to see Sean Connery arguing with a pump jockey about how his purchase should entitle him to a full page of Green Stamps.

After the theme song (“All Time High” [no it isn’t], sung by Rita Coolidge, who delivers it with all the sexy abandon of Calvin Coolidge) we cut to East Berlin, where a clown attempts to flee a circus (but not a flea circus). He’s pursued through the woods by twin assassins (sadly, not conjoined twin assassins, because how awesome would that be?) in what quickly begins to resemble an All-Bozo remake of The Most Dangerous Game. But when his position is betrayed by his floppy clown shoes and bouquet of constantly popping balloons, the twins throw knives into him until he falls into a river. The pin-cushioned clown crawls up the muddy bank, crashes through the French doors of the British Ambassador’s residence, drops a Fabergé Egg on the carpet and dies. Because it’s funny!

Cut to London, where Bond and Moneypenny indulge in a bit of senile flirtation. I don’t want to say they’re perhaps a shade too old for their roles, but it does start to feel like a production of The Gin Game.

Bond meets with some other elderly gents who are fussed because Fabergé eggs are flooding the market, which smells like Communism. Store Brand “M” (just as good as the national brand “M” because he’s dead) confesses that he assigned 009 to go undercover as a clown, but that didn’t seem to help, and now it’s 007’s turn. So stand by for action as Bond attends an an auction at Sotheby’s. Sure it doesn’t sound exciting, but there’s always the chance he’ll make rude gestures to his friends like Dick Van Dyke did in that one episode where he accidentally bid on a hideous clown painting. (Coincidence? I think not).

Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union, General Orlov is playing Risk with the Politburo in the hopes they’ll get distracted and accidentally invade Western Europe, but he keeps getting heckled by General Gogol (who made a career out of playing the Reasonable Russkie role in these movies), winds up putting too many game pieces on Irkutsk and gets totally reamed on his next turn.

At Sotheby’s, Bond gets in a breathless bidding war with Louis Jourdan (in that they’re both old and wheezy  – okay, I’ll stop). Louis wins the auction, but before he can collect, Bond switches a fake egg for the real egg, which means – I’m not sure what, but I guess someone’s cholesterol count will be going down.

Bond follows Louis to India, where he finds him cheating at backgammon the way Goldfinger cheated at gin rummy, but they switch things up this time by making the villain a stylish Frenchman in a black silk Nehru jacket instead of a stocky German in a terrycloth onesie.  Credit where credit is due.

Bond and Louis play a tense board game, then Bond flashes his egg, and Louis’ turbaned henchman crushes a pair of dice with his bare hands.  007 wins a huge bankroll from Louis and hands it to his local contact, saying, “Here, that should keep you in curry for a few weeks.”  Sadly, the Indian agent doesn’t peel off a few rupees and say, “Here, that should keep you in Liver-Spotted Dick.” Then we get a chase scene between a couple of motorized rickshaws through the streets of Downtown India, which are crowded with snake charmers, sacred cows, and men walking on fire and sleeping on nails. Fortunately, the rickshaws are only going about 7 mph, so no racist clichés were killed in the making of this film.

Q shows up with a bunch of crap from the Sharper Image, including “the latest liquid crystal TV” (Bond uses the camera to zoom in and out on a buxom secretary’s cleavage, making me think that Austin Powers wasn’t actually a parody of these films, just a reboot).

Louis’s girlfriend, Miss Bonestructure, invites Bond to a formal sit down dinner with double entendre to follow. Cut to his hotel room, where the two are naked in bed and drinking champagne. Miss Bonestructure says, “I need a refill” in such a sultry way that Bond does a take to the camera that seems to ask, “How many times does she think I can ejaculate?”  Instead, he quizzes her about the cephalopod tattoo on her back. “That’s my little octopussy,” she coos. Wow. Koalas only have two vaginas; no wonder Bond looks so tired.

Bonestructure steals Bond’s egg, and Hench-Turban knocks him out. He wakes up at Louis’ palace just in time for dinner, where we’re served stuffed sheep heads and aimless dialogue. Realizing the scene is going nowhere, Louis plucks out a sheep’s eye and ostentatiously gnaws on it like a hardboiled egg, obviously hoping this movie will lead to something better, like a part in a John Waters film.

Back in his room, Bond slips into an action leisure suit and uses his acid-squirting fountain pen (25¢ plus 3 Proof of Purchase seals) to dissolve the window bars, just as General Orlov drops by the see how his plan to conquer the world through fake Fabergé eggs is progressing.  Bond does a lot of sneaking around and eavesdropping, making me wish they’d replaced Roger Moore with that lady who played Gladys Kravitz on Bewitched, because she had real flair for this kind of thing.

Bond escapes the palace by pretending to be a corpse, but Louis’ henchmen catch on, since he’s basically pulled this same ruse in every other scene of the movie.  Louis mounts an elephant and proceeds to hunt 007 through the jungle, but Bond evades him by swinging from vine to vine while bellowing a Tarzan call. 

No. No, I’m not kidding. Not even a little.

Bond infiltrates the private island of Octopussy, which is kind of like Themiscrya, or Lesbos, as it’s occupied solely by women, some dressed as sexy harem girls, some dressed in bright red unitards like William Katt’s character in The Greatest American Hero.

Bond confronts Octopussy, who suspects he’s come to assassinate her for being the world’s leading jewel smuggler and circus owner, but Bond doesn’t really know why he’s there, and the script is certainly no help. Happily, they discover they have something in common, since it turns out that ten years earlier, 007 made her father commit suicide, so naturally they start to party. But Louis interrupts their tête-à-tête to utter the immortal line, “You have a nasty habit of surviving” (by the way, this is the answer to that age old bar bet, “What do James Bond and post-apocalyptic cockroaches have in common?”)

Bond and Octopussy do the nasty (habit of surviving) but they’re interrupted, again, this time by hatchet-wielding pirates in diapers, and a guy who uses a circular saw like a yo-yo.  007 does a competent job of fighting them off, but then he falls out a window and gets swallowed by a crocodile. Presumably the rest of the film will involve Bond just trying to find ways to amuse himself with Captain Hook’s hand.

Turns out, he’s okay, because it was a fake escape crocodile made by Q, and Bond wants Octopussy to think he’s dead so he can go to the circus.  Cut to East Berlin where Bond watches a guy get shot out of a cannon, then skulks around a bunch of boxcars like a hobo with helmet hair.

General Orlov and Louis have also come to the circus, in order to sell Octopussy some costume jewelry and hide an atomic bomb in the funnel cake wagon.  Bond, using his License to Kravitz, overhears a day player in a Russian uniform explain the whole plot, and takes it as a cue to skulk around some more.

Orlov plans to smuggle the bomb onto a U.S. Air Force base in Germany and detonate it, making the world think American negligence is responsible. Western Europe will instantly become a Nuclear-Free Zone, and the Red Army can just waltz in and take over. Fortunately, Bond has a chance to stop the plot when he corners Orlov in a circus train car. Unfortunately, he’s so busy triumphantly monologuing about how he figured out the General’s scheme that Orlov easily escapes.

Bond tries to catch up to the train with the bomb, but the Russians shoot out his tires. Surprisingly, his sedan is the exact same gauge as a railroad car, and he somehow gets his rims onto the rails, and drives along the tracks, and ordinarily something this stupid would piss me off, but the filmmakers have cleverly spent the last 90 minutes building up my tolerance by gradually exposing me to greater and greater doses of stupidity, until now it doesn't even faze me. I’m like a heroin addict taking a Tylenol.

Bond manages to get on board the train and hide inside a gorilla suit (honestly, I’m fine. Can’t feel a thing). Hench-Turban sees Bond’s eyes behind the mask, and begins to suspect there’s someone in there, especially when Bond clumsily shuffles around in his big ape feet and bangs into a bell. Hench-Turban grabs a sword and decapitates the costume, but fortunately Bond used those precious few seconds to teleport onto the roof.

There’s a dull and inconclusive fight on top of the train with Hench-Turban. Then one of the deadly knife-throwing twin assassins appears, and it looks like the end for 007. But the producers apparently won’t let him throw a knife for fear of tearing the rear projection screen, so he and Bond just engage in a bit of roughhousing and spirited horseplay until they fall off the train.

Well, so far it’s been a festival of fail for 007. Fortunately, General Gogol shows up and plugs Orlov, and even though Bond doesn’t even get to kill the villain, I feel pretty good that at least somebody accomplished something today.

Meanwhile, at the Air Force base, the atomic circus is in mid-performance (apparently it takes about ten minutes to set up one of those big top tents; I don’t know why more people don’t take them camping) and the bomb is counting down to detonation. Bond steals a car and races to the base, but manages to get the whole West German Polizei chasing him, so instead of heading straight to the commander and saying, “We have to defuse a nuclear device!” he skulks around, then spends twenty minutes applying elaborate clown make-up, leading to the one line I personally never wanted to hear spoken about James Bond, “The suspect’s wearing a clown suit!”

007 runs into the big top shrieking about a bomb, kicks a cop in the crotch with his clown shoe, and panics the audience. Fortunately, Octopussy shoots the lock off the trunk holding the bomb, and Bond defuses it at the last second, barely justifying his existence.  Unfortunately, there’s still fifteen minutes to go. Let’s see…Gogol killed the big bad, so I guess that only leaves Louis. True, he was just a middle management villain, but Bond’s got to kill somebody or he’s going to have a very tough time getting his expenses reimbursed.

Cut to India. Louis is already there (apparently he can teleport too). But then so is Octopussy, and she was back at the circus with Bond, so I’m thinking maybe a TARDIS is involved.  Anyway, Octopussy and her highly trained girls infiltrate Louis’ palace, taking out the guards with ruthless efficiency in a scene that’s exactly like the climax of The Dirty Dozen, except everyone’s dressed like a belly dancer.  (I’m sure Bond would have liked to be a part of this operation, but he had to take off his clown makeup first, and someone borrowed his Neutrogena Cleansing Towelettes and didn’t put them back.)

So anyway, it’s Girl on Henchman action, but then after awhile Bond and Q dodder onto the scene in a hot air balloon, having apparently drifted away from their breathtaking tour of wine country.  Louis and Hench-Turban grab Octopussy and try to take off in a airplane, so 007 switches to a horse, because that makes sense.

Bond rides up behind the plane as it races down the runway, jumps out of the saddle, over the head of his horse and onto the tail of the moving aircraft, causing the laws of physics to just say "screw it" and leave the universe in a huff. Louis takes off, Bond and Hench-Turban have a knife fight on the roof of the aircraft, and…

Okay, this is the stupidest scene yet, but you know what? Thanks to the mithridatic effect of the previous scenes, my liver is handling it just fine.

So Bond pulls some wires out of the fuselage and makes the plane crash, but on the way down he and Octopussy jump onto the edge of a cliff so they’re fine, but Louis doesn’t have the presence of mind to step out and keeps crashing, so he dies.

Now for the sexy coda. We’re back on Octopussy Island, and for once the grim toll of Bond’s injuries is realistically portrayed – his arm is in a sling, his leg immobilized and elevated. But Octopussy is horny, so Bond flings off all this therapeutic impedimenta, says, I was just kidding about the traction! Psyche!, and then they smooch while Rita Coolidge again warbles “All Time High,” which I now realize wasn’t a theme song, but a prescription.

Oh, and James Bond Will Be Back in A View To A Kill.  I, however, won’t be here when he gets back, and I’m not leaving him a forwarding address either.  He can just keep my LPs. And that five bucks he owes me.  But I want my mother's Pyrex casserole back.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get all time high.