Sunday, November 15, 2020

Not *too* bad.

This year for me has been about preparing for the worst during the first half, and then hunkering down and trying to distract myself from the worst during the second half. And while coming back to blog and podcast long-form style seems like the surest way to accomplish the latter, I find curling up into the fetal position and sleeping during every spare moment to be a lot easier. 

But I do intend to continue this in some manner, I really do. See, I have been posting mini-ramblings regularly on Facebook, Instagram, and Letterboxd, and I've been thinking of intertwining them with the blog/podcast, if for no other reason than to stay in practice. Because I swear, every time I do a new episode, I have to learn the whole process all over again, having spent too much time between shows. I don't know where I got this idea that every rambling has be a fuckin' tome. If it's short, it's short, and if it's long, it's long -- that's what I tell the ladies and that's what I'm telling you. 

We'll see what happens. So long as things in the outside world remain shitty or get shittier, I'll probably need something to occupy my mind between now and whenever I catch the 'rona -- or the 'rona catches a loved one -- and then I'll either not want to do anything anymore, or I won't be able to do anything anymore. 

And while I'm not back on my own podcast train yet, I did hop on to someone else's for one night; I've been listening to the Trick or Treat Radio podcast for the past couple of years and really enjoy it. The program consists of four friends reviewing movies (generally horror and genre fare) and it's lots of fun to listen to them discuss movies and get on each other's nerves. Usually when a podcast starts up a Patreon, I book from the motherfucker, but not with these guys. In fact, I became a Patreon, uh, patron.

As a member of the higher Patreon tier, I was invited to be a guest on the show and pick the films they were to review. Because I was able to pick any movie -- not just relegated to the type of films they normally cover -- and because I was genuinely interested to hear their opinions on this movie, I picked the 2017 Paul Thomas Anderson film Phantom Thread

For the second movie, I picked the 1984 Philip Yordan production Death Wish Club, which I have rambled about before on this blog years ago, under the title Gretta -- one of many alternate titles for this film.  

You can listen or download the show by clicking this link. You can also watch me on the included YouTube archive of the live stream, if you feel the need to see me looking way too shiny -- but be aware that due to tech issues on YouTube's end, the three-hour podcast is a fifty-minute video with random skips along the way. (Naturally, seeing less of me makes it a better video.)

Once the alcohol put my anxiety in a chokehold, I had a good time, and I'm sure I embarrassed myself enough during my ramblings to make it entertaining for others. I certainly insult many of you by calling you lazy bastards, but take comfort in knowing that as someone who has not posted a new blog/podcast entry in nearly a year, I am indeed the blackest pot among all you kettles.

I also mistakingly confuse Peru for Uruguay somewhere during the show, and if you don't know what I'm talking about, you're just gonna have to go over and listen to the episode. See people, that's called a teaser. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

I also suck at responding to e-mails.

I'm a shitty friend when you get right down to it, specifically when friends request things of me, like, I don't know, let's just say, uh, ramblings about movies on this blog.

The way it goes is this: a friend will ask "Hey, I'd like to read you talk about this particular movie" and I'll go "Sure thing, buddy" and my reaction should be "Holy cats, somebody actually reads this blog? I should show them my appreciation and get to work on this immediately!"

Instead, it'll be about a year before I go, "Well, I guess I'll blog about this movie now" and then I'll watch the movie -- which is the easiest part of the whole process -- and right after the movie, I'll sit down in front of the computer, open up the ol' Blogger, stare at the blank white page on the screen for a few minutes, and then I'll open up another window and spend the next few hours watching YouTube videos featuring cats or dogs or cats and dogs or videos about credit cards or videos about food reviews or videos about video game play-throughs and OK wait wait wait wait wait wait wait --

Don't get me wrong. I know watching-other-people-play-video-games sounds kinda lame, but let me clarify myself -- let me defend myself -- and tell you that I don't watch those stupid "Let's Play" videos, you know, the ones where people talk through their play-through, as if I cared about what they have to say as they play? No way! I just want to see somebody beat a game I've had difficulty with in the past, just so I can see how to go about it if I were to play that game again.

As for the food review videos, I'm very selective; I don't go in for those "mukbang" or gang bang or whatever they call those videos about people eating on camera. And I certainly don't go in for any of those videos featuring stupid fat fucks making stupid fat fucking faces on the thumbnail next to a picture of a slice of pizza. I'm not gonna click on that thumbnail just to watch some stupid fat fuck shoving pizza in his face and go OMIGAAAWWWD THIS PIZZA BE SEX ON WHEELS DOWN MY TRRROAT, SON!

But while I'm in Unreasonable Hater mode, you know which YouTube videos I will never understand actually having an existence? The absolute worst kind? Reaction videos. These are the ones where someone or a group of someones will sit and watch a clip of a comedian or a movie trailer or something like that, and these are easy to spot because their thumbnails always consist of that person or persons sitting next to each other making some goofy-ass reaction face -- maybe a couple with their hands up to their mouths while making the OMIGOD face, like people do in movies but never in real life -- and usually on the lower right hand corner is the video to which they're making said reactions.

Do you see what I'm doing here? Do you see? I'm procrastinating, I'm hesitating over here and that's how I do when it comes to other people requesting things of me. It's hard enough to sit my fat ass down to write about stuff I plan to write about, but it really comes down to the plain and simple fact that if I have a choice between spending my time talking about a movie I watched or using that time to just watch another movie? Well, sweetie, I don't know how to tell you this -- or actually, I do know: I'd rather use my time to watch more movies.

And by saying this, by confessing this -- I realize that the true enemy is not my procrastination, it is not what I choose to do with my time, but it is time itself that is the bad guy. If I had more time to sit around and watch movies and eventually get around to doing something, that would be great. But instead time is what it is: the ultimate prison, where I'm held in this cage of hours, minutes, seconds, and the clock just keeps ticking ever so forward towards finality. I need more time! Then maybe I can fit in all the stuff I want to do.

But alas, time remains something linear and fleeting, for it is but a strict progression of cause to effect -- it is not some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff in which I can hop back and forth and up and down and everywhere else. Because I'm not a Time Lord, and that lady and gentleman, is how you make a clumsy-ass segue.

Requested by my buddy Kris Wallace -- at least I hope we're still buddies -- the 1996 made-for-television film Doctor Who: The Movie begins with a Time Lord known only as The Doctor, who is transporting the remains of The Master, who is an evil Time Lord and also the Big Bad of this entire series.

Maybe I should take it back a little bit, in case you're too far from a phone to Google it; this is a show that's been around since the 1960s and it's about these beings known as Time Lords -- they're aliens or demi-gods or whatever, I don't know -- and they have the ability to do the hipping and the hopping around time and space. The series focuses on one particular Time Lord -- that would be our boy The Doctor -- going on many different adventures along with his Companion, which I guess is the proper English way to say "sidekick".

They get around in a time & space craft called a TARDIS, which looks like a British police box because those were a common sight back during the show's creation in the Jolly Old. Had the show been created today, he'd probably get around in a food truck.

Like James Bond, the Doctor has been played by various actors over the years, but unlike James Bond, they actually acknowledge the change by explaining that the Doctor has to regenerate into a new body whenever there's too much mileage and wear & tear on the current one. Like the James Bond movies, the otherwise consistently released series took a hiatus between the late 80s and the mid-90s. Unlike the James Bond movies, the mid-90s return of Doctor Who resulted in another hiatus that ended up lasting nine years.

Also, unlike the James Bond movies, Doctor Who is a television series. I don't know why I even compared the two when they are completely different things. Why did I do that? Because they're both from the U.K.? That's some embarrassing shit right there. That's like welcoming your British friend to the United States with a boxed set of The Best of Benny Hill, assuming your Limey pal is gonna dig it because Hey, Benny Hill is from the U.K. too! And let's go get some fish & chips too, because that's what you people eat, right? That's really fucking embarrassing and I apologize for that and so let's move on.

So the film begins with The Doctor chilling out in his TARDIS, the remains of The Master stored in a box, but because the Master is literal slime, he (or it) manages to ooze out the box and fuck with the TARDIS so that it has to make an emergency landing on Earth -- specifically San Francisco 1999 (as played by Vancouver 1996), where we are then introduced to some Asian-American bros having a shootout with other Asian-American bros. I assume they're bros, because after shooting at some people, they all give each other high-fives.

The Doctor arrives, stepping out of his TARDIS just in time to get caught in the crossfire and take a couple slugs to the chest -- that's just the preferred way for Americans to greet visiting foreigners -- and the sole surviving Asian-American bro on the scene, Chang Lee, gets him an ambulance.

Lee must've fallen out of bro-love with his bros, because despite his friends having just been killed in the shootout, he never even gives them a passing thought from this point forward. His priorities are on claiming The Doctor's personal belongings from the hospital, which really, that's just a shitty way to live your life, stealing the belongings from some dying Hobbit in an emergency room. Why does Lee not care about his dead friends? Who knows what had happened before we were introduced to his character? Maybe Lee's bros had just admitted to running a train on his mom and they even had the photographed proof of it?

That would explain why this young man never goes home at all during the entire film, even though serious end-of-the-world stakes do get raised later. I don't know about you, but even if I found out that my mom once let my closest friends give her the rotisserie chicken treatment -- if I knew that all of existence was going to end tonight, I'd still want to stop by and say Goodbye to her. I just wouldn't let her give me a kiss.

Anyway, The Doctor is taken to a hospital and he ends up dying in the emergency room, and this is where I tell you that up until this point, he's been played by Sylvester McCoy, who was the Seventh incarnation of the Doctor in the television series. But after he goes tits up, the baton is passed to Doctor Number Eight, who is played by Paul McGann, who I thought was not only fine as the Doctor, I actually preferred him to McCoy, if for no other reason than that I prefer my Doctors to be less Bilbo Baggins and more Aragorn. His introduction has a very Resurrection of Christ feel to it; he steps out of the morgue, still wrapped in a sheet, with flowing shoulder length hair -- but no Jesus beard -- and the sight of this causes Young and Fat pre-Mad TV Will Sasso to pass out.

The Master, meanwhile, ends up possessing a paramedic played by Eric Roberts, and when you consider the fact that Eric Roberts really likes to work and will take on any job handed to him, including advertisements for motorcycle clubs and walk-in bathtubs, it's not hard to imagine that maybe this paramedic is supposed to be the real Eric Roberts, making some extra dough between movies, commercials, television shows,  and music videos, by helping to save lives. This is made even more believable when Eric Roberts' wife Eliza Roberts shows up later in the film in the role of Eric Roberts' wife.

I'm not bagging on Eric Roberts, by the way. I'm just pointing out that it's fairly obvious that if there's a paycheck attached, he'll take it. I think he's awesome and based on his appearance in Paul Thomas Anderson's 2014 film adaptation of Inherent Vice, he's still got it. Now you can argue that his performance in this film might not fit what you define as the word "good", but I dug, and you can tell he's having a blast doing it -- and typical of Mr. Roberts, he's puts in 100-percent.

(UPDATE AFTER THE FACT DUE TO POOR RESEARCH: in 2019, Eric Roberts returned to the role of The Master for the Doctor Who audio story "Day of the Master", also featuring Paul McGann as The Doctor.)

So The Doctor sets off to find Eric Roberts, who is now decked out in a leather jacket and sunglasses ensemble that made me wish I lived in an alternate universe where Eric Roberts played The Terminator. With the help of stupid gullible Lee, Roberts opens The Eye of Harmony, which I guess is to the TARDIS what the Flux Capacitor was to Doc Brown's DeLorean. It also has the potential to mess with the fabric of time and space in the most severe manner possible.

Because this is all happening on New Year's Eve, The Doctor has until the stroke of midnight to stop Eric Roberts before it all goes to shit, as I alluded to earlier while talking about my friends banging my mom. By the way, it hurt to even write about that, but sometimes you have to commit to the nasty shit that spills out of your head in an attempt to make these ramblings remotely entertaining. This is what I do for you and my hungry ego.

Because this film was intended to revive and continue the Doctor Who series, it was also made as a sort-of re-pilot in an effort to garner new fans -- namely, the goddamn Yanks across the pond -- and so as a convenient way to explain the going-ons to newbies while not boring the seasoned fans, the tellers behind this story give the newly regenerated Doctor amnesia. As the plot thickens, The Doctor realizes what his own deal and reason for being is, in turn helping Joe and Jane Murica, who are watching this at home on the Fox network realize Doctor Who's whole deal and reason for being.

Oh, that Joe and Jane Murica, now that there is a couple made for each other. Love at first sight, it was -- they both grew up in a small town with true American values, working for a living unlike these lazy goddamn millennials who expect to have everything handed to them, and now here they are, in the current year of 1996 as they sit back and eat freshly popped Pop Secret movie theater flavored microwave popcorn, watching this weird movie on the tee-vee about some guy from either England or Australia -- it's the same thing -- and he's chasing after Julia Roberts' brother from Star 80, and hey, Jane, who's the lady he's with the whole time?

Well, Joe -- that there is Doctor Grace Holloway, the cardiologist who figured something was up with this gunshot victim because his x-rays showed that he had two hearts, and her suspicions were confirmed after said gunshot victim came back to life. So now you have Doctor Holloway helping out The Doctor, which I guess makes her his new Companion.

But here's my question, having only a passing knowledge of this television series: has the Doctor ever macked on one of his Companions before? Because that's what happens here, he and she have themselves a little kissy smooch-smooch action and if you'll excuse me, I'm about to shoot myself in the face for writing "kissy smooch-smooch action".

Ladies, if you're ever in the sad position of being my date and somewhere along the way I ask for a "little kissy smooch-smooch action", you have every right to cancel my creepy ass on some old Louis C.K. shit, as if I had blocked the exit and asked you do that for me -- not that I would ever have the balls to do something like that, cornering you and asking for a "little kissy smooch-smooch action". Besides, it's not like I'm in some position of power to help or hinder your career, I'm just me. So all a move like that would get me is a swift punch to the nose, and as I fall to the ground in a pathetic crumple, trying to stop the blood from gushing out my snout, you walk past me triumphantly to the strains of a Beyonce song, stepping out the door while calling me a "little-dick motherfucker". And I just don't need that kind of pain and humiliation in my life.

Not like Dr. Holloway is having any better luck on the dating circuit; early in the film, she gets paged during a night out with her boyfriend at the opera and has to leave to attend to her life-saving duties. This frustrates him and he ends up packing up his things from her place and walks out on her. This Val Kilmer's stand-in-looking motherfucker is a real lame-ass; I mean, dude, you could've married that chick and eventually you would've had some of the sweet, sweet doctor cash coming your way.

Of course, that's just what I think, and this is coming from a guy who would have no problem with my partner being the primary breadwinner in our relationship. The only time I'd have an issue with it would be knowing that every time we'd have a serious argument, she could always pull that card on me, and at any time she could be like "Then why don't you go get a fucking job and stop leeching off of me, how about rather than writing those stupid ramblings about horror movie marathons, you go fucking get a job so I don't have to support your lame ass. My father was right, I never should've dated outside of my race!"

Speaking of race, the two doctors race their way towards the film's mid-90s television-budgeted computerized special effects extravaganza -- aka the climax -- but then a motorcycle cop gets in the way, stopping them, and so the Doctor pulls out a bag of jelly beans from his coat and offers it to the policeman in order to distract him. It's a good thing the Doctor is as lily white as the cop; if the Doctor were a man of the darker persuasion and instead of Doctor Who it was Doctor Bho, I'd think there are about 41 ways -- all of them the same -- that it could've gone as soon as the Doctor reached for those jelly beans.

I'm going to go ahead and spoil a big part of this, so just skip ahead a paragraph or two, if it really makes a difference to you. But by the end of the film, a number of people have died during this adventure, including Lee and Doctor Holloway. After The Doctor defeats The Master, he then turns back time, and suddenly this golden mist comes out of the Eye of Harmony and goes into the dead bodies of Lee and Holloway and shazam! His friends are now alive again.

So wait a minute -- what was that golden mist and why did it come out of the Eye? Was that mist supposed to be their souls? Is the Eye a gateway into the afterlife? Are Heaven and Hell just a big part of the whole timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly mess? Should I really just relax?

To add further confusion, The Doctor then sends them to the first day of the year 2000. So does that mean he only brought Lee and Holloway back, while all the other poor schmucks like the various security guards, the non-possessed version of Eric Roberts, and even Eric Roberts' wife stay dead? That's not fair, dude. Either change all of it or none of it, don't just pick and choose what to fuck with -- determining who gets to live and who has to die, I mean, who the fuck are you, Doctor Who? OK, enough of that.

So here's the deal, folks. I am not what they call a "Whovian", but I have seen a few episodes and like I said earlier, I have a passing knowledge of the program, at least enough to be able to sound like I know what I'm talking about, should I find myself in a conversation with real Whovians  -- and I can always bullshit the rest. But what I'm about to say could possibly expose me as a fake to those people
 -- Doctor Who: The Movie doesn't feel that much different from the series.

I can't fault the film for not letting us get to know the characters beyond a basic surface level that is relevant to the plot at hand; had this Doctor Who reboot/continuation been picked up as a series, I'm sure they would've delved deeper into what makes the characters of Lee and Holloway tick -- to say nothing of The Doctor himself. As for everything else, I don't know what the general consensus among Whovians is when it comes to this movie, but I thought it was just fine. I mean, I've seen better episodes than this film, but they're all about the same when comes to their overall entertainment value.

While I'm at it, let me piss off another group of hardcore fans of a popular science-fiction fantasy property: the Star Wars movies are all more or less equally good to me. I swear to you, I'm not trying to be a contrarian -- if anything, it's an opinion I've kept to myself up until now, because I'm not looking for a fight. I paid good money to see every one of those movies in the cinema and I always felt I got my money's worth. Now please leave me alone, I don't want trouble, just get out.

Anyway, I'm guessing one reason Doctor Who: The Movie might not be seen in as bright a light as everything else in the Who-verse -- or whatever the hell you nerds call it --  is that the producers were not only intending to introduce Doctor Who to American audiences, but that it was also going to be an American-centric program (despite being shot in Canada) and the Brits could either love it or leave it and it wouldn't mean a goddamn thing because what's a little place like the United Kingdom compared to big bad America, right?

But, like soccer and the metric system, America rejected this television movie/backdoor pilot, because we had better things to watch on television like "Suddenly Susan". But it did do well on the correct side of the pond, to which I'm sure these same producers then did a 180 and used the U.K. numbers as a selling point in a desperate attempt to have the show picked up. It wasn't, and it took nearly a decade before it came back and stayed for good, currently featuring a female incarnation of The Doctor, which you know has to be pissing off somebody out there.

And that's all well and good, I'm glad the show has a huge following and all, but when it comes to watching a time-traveling do-gooder on television, give me "Quantum Leap" any old day. That's right, I said that shit: Quantum Leap, bitches! I lied about not wanting trouble -- NOW FIGHT ME COWARDS

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Comb your goddamn hair.

It was Saturday October 19th and I was at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles for the 2019 All-Night Horror Show and I was worried that all the good seats would be taken by the time I got in. But considering that tickets to this event sold out in mere seconds, I thought to myself "Hey, at least I have a ticket, good seat or not".

I define a good seat as one with quick access to the aisle, that way I wouldn't have to inconvenience my fellow moviegoers by doing the whole "excuse me pardon me sorry excuse me pardon me" thing all night every time I needed to go to the restroom to snort a line or two. Luckily, I found a good seat despite having a guy with bedhead sit in front of me, which meant that every once in a while he would sit up straight, his wayward strands sticking up through the bottom of the screen every which way but loose, resulting in me watching the films as if I were viewing them through a creepy cornfield -- which kinda added to the whole Halloween vibe, he said while trying to make a positive out of the overwhelmingly negative.

The night began with an intro by host/programmers Brian Quinn and Phil Blankenship; they gave us a quick rundown of what to expect: six horror films -- all secret surprise picks of which we would not know until they played -- and as is the custom with the All-Night Horror Show, the movies would not be old or new favorites that are often seen around this time of year, they would all be films that were rarely screened in this neck of the woods, that is, if they were ever screened at all. Brian credited Phil for doing ninety percent of the work for the last couple All Nighters; Phil then said to us that if we loved any of the films shown tonight, they were his choices, if we hated any of the films, it was all Brian.

The lights went down, and we were treated to a Mighty Mouse cartoon called "The Witch's Cat", about a witch flying around town on a broomstick, looking for mice to feed to her cat, who is also along for the ride. They find a group of Halloween-celebrating mice, and the chase begins. Now it's been nearly a month, so my memory is kinda hazy, but I think that at some point Mighty Mouse eventually came in to save the day.

Following that, we watched a trailer reel that included the films Meat Cleaver Massacre, Deadly Games, He Knows You're Alone, Silent Scream, and The Final Terror.

The first film turned out to be 1988's Edge of the Axe directed by Joseph Braunstein, which is a funny way to spell Jose Ramon Larraz. Senor Braunstein helms this movie about a mask-wearing axe murderer going around axe-murdering all the ladies in a small woodsy town somewhere up there in the mountains -- and good luck convincing the sheriff about these murders, by the way. He's more concerned about keeping the pristine reputation of his town, so if, let's say, a woman's rotting corpse is discovered hanging upside down from the attic of a bar, well, that there is clean-cut case of suicide. Say, wasn't that part-time hooker found dead near the train tracks with multiple wounds that look to have been done with an axe? Nope, that there is just another everyday case of someone walking onto the tracks and getting hit by a train.

But I can't blame the sheriff. I can only blame the people who go along and enable his bullshit, like the owner of said bar and the conductor of said train and the deputy who picks up evidence with his bare hands before taking it to get dusted for fingerprints. Most of all, I blame the people who voted for this man to become sheriff in the first place. They should've seen this coming, but no, they liked him because to quote one of these assholes in an anecdote I just made up, "He speaks just like I speak".

If you like giallo-ish movies that make little to no sense and feature laughable dialogue and performances, then give Edge of the Axe a try. It was a hit with the crowd, getting big reactions from scenes like the one where the hero's love interest tries out his fancy computer -- a computer that has the ability to speak in an echo-y voice that sounds like a bored narrator -- and she types in a question. The hero asks her what question did she ask the computer, and she replies "I asked it if you were gay."

A fair question to ask, because considering how shitty the women get treated in this film, all the men in this town must either be super gay or ultra hetero -- that's right, kids, here no penis resides in the middle.

The answer the computer gives to the love interest's gay question, by the way, is "Data incomplete", and that's why I miss the 1980s. Because nowadays you don't even have to ask your computer, it's already volunteering those answers to you whether you want to know or not.

After a trailer reel that included Dracula: Prince of Darkness, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, The Gorgon, Night of the Blood Monster, Frankenstein Created Woman, The Mummy's Shroud, Twins of Evil, and Hands of the Ripper, the second film turned out to be a rare Technicolor print of the 1967 Hammer production, Quatermass and the Pit (or as it was known in the United States, Five Million Years to Earth), which takes place in the land of free healthcare and bad teeth and evidently worse public transportation, because a bunch of these Brits have to deal with the temporary closure of one of their subways.

You know how it is, it's the same everywhere; every year these different city departments want to ensure they get the same (if not more) amount in their yearly budget, and if they haven't spent it all, they won't get it. So down they go, tearing up perfectly fine places while leaving the areas in need of fixing alone. Well, these clowns are in for a surprise, because they end up finding the skeletal remains of, get this, ape-men.

Yeah, right. I don't know about you, I didn't come from some ape. I came from the first two humans placed here on this planet by God -- and their names were Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve! Yeah, that's right, I heard about you. I asked the computer and it told me everything I needed to know.

You know who would probably agree with me? (About the ape-men, not your sexual preference.), Professor Quatermass, who is pretty sure these supposed ape-men are actually aliens from five million years ago, and he's probably right on account of the giant metallic vessel they end up digging up. Gradually, weird and crazy stuff happens, and at one point -- if this is a spoiler, then you have clearly discovered the time travel and you need to go back 52 years to when this movie was new -- Martians get mixed up in the plot, and when you see them during a sequence that involves recording someone's deeply hidden psychic thoughts, well, it's not quite the video log from the Event Horizon. Based on some audience members reactions, I wasn't alone in thinking, how, uh, quaint these Martians looked.

OK, fine, they look like grasshoppers. I don't mean the drink, either, I mean like the insect Johnny 5's stupid ass crushed before realizing he couldn't reassemble it. Hey, I mentioned the drink just a sentence ago and speaking of drinks, there's a part where one dude working at the pit starts losing his shit, and so this lady pulls a flask out of her bag to give this guy a shot of Calm The Hell Down. I want to party with this chick, who's more down with the spirits than Quatermass, who prefers not to drink before noon; he sounds like a man who's never had the pleasure of a 7am beer, if you ask me. Ah, there's nothing like a 7am beer -- except a 7am beer while taking a shower ohhhhh

I had never seen the BBC serial this all originated from, but I have seen the previous Quatermass films, The Quatermass Xperiment and Quatermass II: Electric Boogaloo, and I got a kick out of them.  They're all so properly British while everything around them gets increasingly nutty. I liked this film the most, and if you like ultra-serious, deliberately paced sci-fi films with touches of horror here and there, you might dig this too. Or check out the 1985 Tobe Hooper movie Lifeforce, which I see as an unofficial Quatermass film that's doped up on cocaine, mescaline, and Ecstasy.

Before the third film, we were treated to an episode of The Beatles television cartoon series from the 1960s, which included a story about a mad scientist who tries to force Paul to marry a vampire bat woman, and another story where the Fab Four are messing around in a wax museum. I didn't even know The Beatles had a television series, and I wish I could tell you that it was good, but aside from the use of actual Beatles songs on the soundtrack, it was really nothing to scream about, not unless you were a teenage girl in the 60s who would scream for anything Beatles related.

That was followed by a trailer reel that included The Beast with Five Fingers, Attack of the Giant Leeches, I Was A Teenage Werewolf, the original Little Shop of Horrors, The Thing from Another World, and White Zombie.

After the trailers, we watched a short subject titled "Intimate Interviews", about a lady by the name of Dorothy West -- not to be confused with the Harlem Renaissance writer of the same name -- who goes to interview Bela Lugosi in his back yard. They discuss his Hungarian background, his study of American slang, and other things, before Bela suddenly stares off at the middle distance and says "I'm coming", which creeps Miss West out and she runs away.

We all had a good laugh with that one, before settling in for 1943's The Mad Ghoul, about a college professor named Morris who in between teaching pre-med students and future Big Pharma types about chemicals and their chemistry, likes to do things like kill innocent monkeys with nerve gas. This asshole didn't even come up with the recipe for this gassy concoction himself, he took it from the ancient Mayans -- as opposed to the modern Mayans -- who would use the gas to kill their sacrificial victims, before taking the sacrificial victims' heart out as part of some dumb ritual that is supposed to appease their stupid gods.

So Morris ends up using the gas on his big strapping lad of a student, Ted, on account of the good doctor having a thing for Ted's girlfriend, Isabel. The way it works is, he gassed this dude, effectively killing him. But then he juices him up with fluid from the hearts of the recently deceased, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you make yourself a mindless zombie who will do your bidding. By day, Ted -- more like Dead, am I right, people? -- is pretty much in regular person mode, still trying to work things out with Isabel, and by night, he is the titular Mad Ghoul, going on a killing tour with Dr. Morris, who instructs him to murder various people in order to continue with his experiments.

When he's in Mad Ghoul mode, Ted reminded me of the mind controlled assassins from the first Naked Gun film; I know they were referencing The Manchurian Candidate with that movie, but I wonder if maybe, just maybe, there wasn't a little subconscious pull from this movie as well? Or did the filmmakers behind The Manchurian Candidate take from The Mad Ghoul? Or maybe they didn't see The Mad Ghoul, but maybe Richard Condon, the author of the novel "The Manchurian Candidate", maybe he saw this film and stole from it, in between stealing from the Robert Graves novel "I, Claudius"? Or maybe I should just move on?

So, you hear Isabel sing a couple times during the film, and it reminded me of how lame music used to be until they invented black people. Don't get me wrong, her singing is pretty, I'm just saying it's the kind of singing that goes well with mayonnaise and watercress, washed down with a weak cup of tea. Is this the time period certain people refer to as to when America was Great? If so, are these the same people who talk about "taco trucks on every corner" as if that were a bad thing? Because that would make sense, I mean, what I'm saying is, I can see those same people growing up in New Hampshire or wherever the fuck they all come from, these Dartmouth attending fucks -- the men in plaid suits and straw boater hats, the women in tennis dresses and saddle shoes -- and they're all strolling down the streets snacking on toasted cheese sandwiches while snapping their fingers because everything is Mighty Fine?  Is that what we are supposed to want to come back to?

I don't know, man. I don't even like watercress.

While no unforgettable classic, The Mad Ghoul is an entertaining "programmer" -- to use the parlance of the times -- and it's good times in a second-half-of-a-double feature sort-of-way, and if you're the kind of person who has Turner Classic Movies on all day in the background, you'll probably like this movie. I am that kind of person, and so I did.

During the intro to the next film, Phil told us that with only three movies left, we would be watching the three best Ghoulies films, he then told us, all kidding aside, that the film we were about to watch would also be first ever repertory screening, and that it took some legal wrangling in order to pull it off. We watched a trailer reel featuring Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Disturbing Behavior, Urban Legends: Final Cut, and Don't Say a Word, followed by a U.K. print of the fourth feature of the night: The 2000 film Cherry Falls, and this is where I give out a long sigh because this stars the late Brittany Murphy, who honestly should still be here with us being goofy and adorable and talented as hell and all that, but she isn't, what are you gonna do? Well, for starters you can remember her by watching some of the better movies she was in, such as this one. Murphy plays Jody, your typical small town teenager living your typical teenager small town life, except things are getting decidedly non-typical when someone starts murdering her fellow typical teens for the sin of not sinning. What I mean is that this wacko is killing virgins.

It's such an inspired premise; usually these slashers are about the punishment of deviants who lay down with the demons of drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex, but in this film, it's the chaste who are getting chased and once the town sheriff played by Michael Biehn discovers this, he's faced with quite the conundrum. I mean, how does one tell the entire town that a serial killer is targeting virgins, and if so, will you even get taken seriously, and if one is taken seriously, what then? Will this mean all the non-experienced are gonna running out the door in some kind of wanna-bang frenzy? You'll have to watch the movie to find out.

Personally, I think you'd have to tell everybody this, not just to save lives but because as someone who owns stock in both Durex and Trojan, I would appreciate all the extra money I would make off of all these kids. In fact, I think if I had the wherewithal to do this, I'd fund some tactical assassinations in small towns all over this great country of ours. You'd find the virgins through Reddit and 4Chan and trick them into thinking they're gonna get some, then you'd give 'em all Colombian neckties, and spraypaint the word VIRGIN on their chests so there'd be no mistake. No one would miss those kids except their fellow miscreants and maybe their parents. And how the money would flow.

As the trailers that preceded this alluded to us, Cherry Falls is very much of-and-from the glut of teen slashers that came out post-Scream in the late 90s to early 2000s, but it's also one of the better post-Scream-ers. It's closer to that Wes Craven joint in tone, in that there's just as many laughs as there are scares. But while it's very much a smart-ass satire at times, there are also very strong and sincere dramatic moments that might catch you off guard; for me, it was specifically an exceptionally acted scene between Murphy and Candy Clark taking place in a library that reminded me: Oh yeah, this is from the director of Romper Stomper.

But by the time of the -- ahem -- climax, the film pulls out all the stops and based on the reactions from the audience, they were digging it as much as I was digging it. It certainly seemed to wake them up from what I could sense was a bit of slumber time with the last couple deliberately paced films. I realized how lucky we were to get to see Cherry Falls in a movie theater, considering that it didn't even get a theatrical release in the United States, where instead it premiered in an edited-for-television version on the basic cable USA network; reportedly, it was a toxic combination of a change of distributors plus the United States Senate shining an unwanted post-Columbine spotlight on teen violence in movies that sinked it. That's too bad, because I think among all the Scream wannabes out there making tidy profits, Cherry Falls coulda been a contender.

We were then told that there were free doughnuts outside the theater, and I decided not to partake as a way to demonstrate to myself that I did indeed have willpower and that I was indeed a man of strength. That, and I also didn't want to risk the sugar crash that would make it tougher to get through the night. It was a noble experiment that resulted in failure, when after holding out for the entire break, I went ahead and grabbed a delicious old fashioned before the next trailer reel began.

Before the lights dimmed, we were told by Brian and Phil that the last two films would play back to back, with no intermission between them, as there had been between the previous films. They then thanked the projection staff for keeping things running smoothly, as well as the audience for keeping up with all the craziness of the evening. Then we watched old previews for the films Mark of the Witch, The Witch's Curse, Simon King of the Witches, and The Exorcist, so it wasn't too hard to guess that the next movie was going to involve witches and devil shit.

Sure enough, the fifth film of the marathon, the 1975 Spanish production Demon Witch Child, also known as The Possessed or La Endemoniada, involved both subjects. Man, this movie does not mess around; it lets you know how hard it intends to play right from the very beginning, as we watch an old lady walk into a church and proceed to knock things over as if she were a common house cat, then she steals a chalice and walks over to a statue of the Archangel Michael slaying the Devil, where she leaves a candle next to the dark lord, as if he needed any more fire in his life.

See, this old lady is an evil Satan-worshipping witch who is getting all set up for a good ol' human sacrifice for her master, and she makes no bones about her intentions. The witch gets taken in by the police, they give her the third degree because said human sacrifice is a local baby she kidnapped! They even bring in the baby's mother to beg and plead for her son's return, and the witch calls her a bitch, straight out telling her that it ain't gonna happen, and that baby's as dead as my faith in humanity. And while the witch's faith in her master is strong, it's evidently not stronger than sodium pentathol, and upon finding out that the cops are gonna dope her up with truth serum in order to get the boy's location out of her, she exits stage right  -- right out the window and falls to her bloody death.

This news does not go well with the deceased's fellow witches at the coven; after the sacrificing the baby -- I told you this movie doesn't mess around -- they end up giving the police chief's daughter Susan a necklace that allows the spirit of the dead witch to possess her, leading Susan to raise proverbial havoc. First she starts off nice and slow by talking back to her family, then she moves on to playing some of The Exorcist's greatest hits like levitating and swearing up a storm -- she's particularly fond of using pejorative terms for people your computer would identify as gay -- then she moves up to expert level tricks like changing her appearance so instead of looking like the Spanish version of Young Briony Tallis from Atonement, she looks more like the ugly balding witch who resides within, before chopping a dude's penis off and sending it to his lady in a container.

There are a lot of surprisingly harsh moments in this film, and they all sound shocking when described, but the movie goes about them in such a goofy low-rent manner, I mostly laughed through all of it. On top of that, the English dubbing is just as goofy and low rent, and for all I know, watching it in the original language could improve the overall film. But really, I don't think it could improve it by that much. But the important thing is that it's never boring, and that's all you can ask for when watching anything, really. By this point in the marathon, there were quite a few snorers in the audience, so maybe it wasn't as entertaining for them as it was for me.

By the way: if you're predisposed to be snoring, how about you just leave? That's assuming you're by yourself at this marathon -- if you have a friend with you, and he or she is awake, then I'm even angrier that they didn't wake your loud ass up. I usually go to these things with a buddy who does snore, and I am so on top of that shit it's not even funny. I'll start with a nudge, then a shove, then I'll punch you in the arm if that's what it takes, because you are not going to intrude upon the audience's enjoyment -- or mine, for that matter. The rest of you solo snorers and snore-enablers, on the other hand, I'll punch in the fucking face if I had the money and the clout to get away with it.

That's why I have to give it up to the gentleman who sat a couple seats down from me; he started with that snoring during this film and despite being a stranger, I got up and nudged, then shoved him awake. He was up for a while, then he started nodding off -- but he caught himself. So he then got up and left for the rest of the film for what I can only assume was some fresh air, coffee, or a bump, because he came back before the next film and was back to being bright eyed & bushy tailed. At least until he nodded off again and then just took off for good. As he should.

After a sci-fi remake trailer reel that included John Carpenter's The Thing, David Cronenberg's The Fly, Jim Wynorski's Not of This Earth, and Chuck Russell's The Blob, the sixth and final film of the night turned out to be 1993's Body Snatchers, the third adaptation of Jack Finney's novel about humans being replaced with alien duplicates hatched from pods. This version of the story takes place in an Army base and focuses on teenage girl Marti (played by young adult Gabrielle Anwar), who along with her dad, her stepmom, and her half-brother, are new to the whole place.

While Dad's out literally testing the waters on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency, Marti's doing the out-of-place youngster thing: not being cool with her stepmom (played by Meg Tilly), making friends with fellow teenage girl Jen and making googly eyes at dreamy helicopter pilot Tim, the entire time trying not to get too weirded out by the occasional odd sight and strange behavior among the soldiers. It's already a creepy enough place knowing that Forest Whitaker is stumbling around the place.

The audience applauded quite a bit during the opening credits, because plenty of genre favorites were involved in the making of the film: among the screenwriters you have B-movie legends Larry Cohen, Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli, and frequent Abel Ferrara collaborator Nicolas St. John, which makes sense because Abel Ferrara directed this film. What doesn't make sense is that Abel Ferrara directed this film.

If you're not familiar with Mr. Ferrara, he is definitely someone I feel comfortable calling an auteur, because his films are very much in a class of their own and they always leave you wanting to take a shower after watching them. He's probably best known for the 1992 film Bad Lieutenant and remains a legend in the independent filmmaking scene and so it's very interesting that Warner Brothers hired the guy to make this mainstream horror movie for them. Based on accounts by Mr. Ferrara, it went about as well as expected, which is to say, not well at all. And in the end, it got thrown away by the studio and remains, in my opinion anyway, criminally underseen.

Of its many qualities, I feel the look of the film is one of them. The cinematographer was Bojan Bazelli, who had shot Ferrara's previous films and this appears to have been their final collaboration, which is too bad because they made beautiful visual music together. It's all creepy shadows mixed with shafts of lights coming in through window blinds or cracks in doors, and the widescreen compositions have this way of making me feel claustrophobic, where even wide open spaces leave one feeling like there's nowhere to escape.

Which is the whole point, right? It's like one pod person says to some humans attempting to escape: "Go where?" Body Snatchers has such an overwhelming sense of doom to it, where perhaps the aliens have a point and they're not bullshitting when they tell you how screwed you are, because there's nowhere to go because it's happening everywhere, so why not just give up and let it happen, baby.

And the messed up part is, maybe they're right? I mean, look at us. Really, look at us. We fight over everything. We fight over politics, we fight over parking spaces, we're shooting each other at schools and stabbing each other for chicken sandwiches. Why not let the aliens take us over so we'll all finally be one happy family! Well, minus the "happy" part, because these pod people don't do emotions. But hey, I'm too emotional anyway, so let's pod me up so I can be rid of these pesky feelings!

The film is deliberately paced (in other words, slow) and I can see that being tough on a sleepy audience around six in the morning. But that's also kind of the fun part, trying not to fall asleep during a film where characters are warning others not to sleep, because that's when the pod people take you over. It's pretty much broken into two acts, with the first act being all creepy setup, then at the midpoint there's a real banger of a scene featuring Meg Tilly's character, and as that concluded, some of the audience couldn't help but applaud because the scene is that good and Tilly knocks it right out the park! From that point on, the second act is quite the ride and it's fun to watch what Ferrara is able to pull off with big studio money and big studio drugs.

I had seen this film once before on Cinemax back in '94 or '95, and I enjoyed it, but it was a lousy pan-and-scan transfer that really hurt the film, because a lot of the inherent creepiness of this movie comes from the way the shots are composed. Watching it in its full aspect ratio in a dark theatre during the transitional period between night and day, well, it really amped up the chills for me and it was like watching it for the first time, only better.

After the film, it was straight to a Disney cartoon short, "Trick or Treat", starring Donald Duck as a miserable asshole who pranks his trick-or-treating nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, rather than give them candy. I get it -- it's a choice, right? It's right there in the phrase, "trick or treat". But who actually goes with the "trick" option? Miserable assholes, that's who. Thankfully, there's a witch who witnesses all of this and she decides to help the three little ducks out in doling out some much needed payback to that son-of-a-bitch.

Because nothing makes one feel more patriotic about the United States than watching a piece of shit named Donald get a well-deserved punishment, the marathon then concluded with a film of "The Star Spangled Banner" that included on-screen lyrics.

Then the lights came up, and another All-Night Horror Show had come to an end. Before stepping outside to the bright morning light, we were each given a special drink coaster for making it through the night. I grabbed yet another doughnut for the ride home, a glazed. It was now about seven on a Sunday morning, which meant that there was only one thing left for a God-fearing man such as myself to do on a Sunday morning. 

It's the only thing a God-fearing man could do on a Sunday morning, and the only thing a God-fearing man should do on a Sunday morning: I went home and slept.

Friday, May 10, 2019

An uncomfortable motif.

It was the Spring of 2017 and there I was at the family reunion talking to my cousin, and he asks me if I've heard anything about this skateboarding movie that Jonah Hill was going to make. I only knew what he knew, which was that Jonah Hill was planning to make a skateboarding movie -- and that it took place in the 1990s.

That got both of us interested; as a child of both the 80s and 90s, I looked forward to looking back. As for my cousin, he not only shared the time period experience but was part of the skateboarding scene back then as well.

My cousin asked me if I had any idea when the movie would come out; I told him that usually these things come out about a year, maybe a year-and-a-half after they're announced -- so I figured sometime in 2018.

Allow me to give you some background about me and my cousin. He's a few years younger than me, and because we lived no more than ten minutes away from each other back in the 1980s, we grew up together. We hung out, played with action figures, graduated to video games, watched the WWE back when it was the WWF, and cheered on the latest Schwarzenegger and Stallone flicks. (My first viewings of The Karate Kid, Big Trouble in Little China, and Robocop were with him.)

Then he moved to Mexico in the early 90s, and from then on I'd only see him whenever I was visiting over there or he was visiting over here. We'd stay at each other's places and catch up while taking in all the wonderful pop culture the glorious 90s had to offer us. As we got older, I saw him less and less because that's what happens; I'd only see him at family functions or weddings or funerals or all that other fun stuff.

So back to 2017 -- back to us talking about this Jonah Hill 1990s skateboarding movie. I can see how excited he was getting because of the subject matter and time period, and while I was only half interested, the half that I was interested in was a pretty big half. He knew this and I knew this, and so he said something like "It'd be cool to see it with you whenever it comes out" and I immediately jumped in with "So let's do it. When it comes out, I'll come down and see you and we'll make a day of it."

By this time, he and his family were now in San Diego, which from my Los Angeles County location is only a two hour drive. My cousin loved the idea and so I told him I'd hit him up the closer we got to the film's release date, which was to be sometime in late 2018.

Now cut to early 2018, when my sister asked me if I had anything I wanted to say to my cousin for a special going-away message the rest of the family was putting together for him. It turned out that my cousin was moving out of San Diego, California and moving into San Antonio, Texas.

Which meant that he would go from being a two hour drive away to a twenty hour drive away.

After picking up the nearest pillow and screaming into it, I then wrote my cousin a message wishing him and his family all my best with San Antonio -- and that I still planned on meeting up with him to see this goddamn movie called Mid90s.

A few months later -- November 2018, to be exact, I flew to San Antonio. I checked into my hotel room, and yeah, I got a hotel room because I didn't want to put my cousin out like that, plus he has kids and they're young and I fuckin' hate kids and I don't want to be jerking off in the guest room while watching YouPorn and all of a sudden here comes my cousin's six-year-old barging in catching me off guard just as I shoot and WHAP he gets nutted in the eye and great, now I'm a sex predator.

Fuck that shit, I like my privacy. I like to have a nice hotel room where I can comfortably walk around naked with the curtains open, just in case there's a voyeuristic woman or man in the next building who's looking for something to wish for.

Anyway, before unpacking I had DoorDash bring me a double cheeseburger and a Monterey Melt with an order of fries and an order of onion rings from Whataburger as a nightcap. The following day, I went to 2M Smokehouse BBQ where I had some incredible beef brisket and a side of "chicharoni macaroni" for breakfast, then I did the tourist thing by visiting The Alamo, got myself a hot towel shave and a haircut at a place where they served me Shiner Bock while I waited, and then I had dinner on a riverboat at Boudro's over on the Riverwalk, where I had a lovely conversation with the only other single person on board, a woman who appeared to be in her 70s and who was there to watch her grandkids perform in a band for some function at the Alamo.

Somewhere during this conversation, I mentioned to her that I always wanted to eat on a riverboat on the Riverwalk ever since I saw Steve McQueen do it in the 1972 film The Getaway, and that's where we both discovered we were both movie geeks. She was particularly fond of the works of Paul Schrader. I asked her if she had seen his latest film First Reformed.

She said she hadn't. Neither had I.

And that's when we locked eyes and I remembered earlier when she mentioned being divorced and I knew right then and there that we were only four glasses of wine between us from having a little May-December action in one of our hotel rooms later that night.

Having reached that ratio by the end of the meal, I waited for everybody else to exit the boat before hitting her with the big question: Would you like to join me for another drink or three? I hadn't finished my proposition when I saw her slowly reach into her purse and pull out a whistle, to which I immediately said "Good evening, ma'am!" and stepped off the boat and walked straight to the Coyote Ugly Saloon next door. I ended up having a couple beers while watching girls stand on the bar while doing PG-13 dance routines and giving both men and women their version of "body shots" which consisted of one of the Coyote Ugly girls tying the lucky man's hands behind his back while she put a shotglass of tequila into her mouth and tilt it so that the contents poured into the James Franco-in-Spring-Breakers lookalike's mouth -- again, that's if the customer is a man.

For the female customers, the body shot consisted of the Coyote Ugly Girl bringing the lucky lady onto the bar, laying her down face up on said bar, and grinding her body against hers and somewhere along the way, the lady gets her drink and we're all supposed to act like there isn't a double standard going on and this is of course called "experimenting" because it's OK for women to fuck around with other women all they want and it doesn't mean they're dykes but if I say something like "Hey, I have no problems sleeping with a transgender chick provided she doesn't still have a dick -- and if she does, OK fine, as long as it isn't bigger than mine" NOOO, I'm the biggest homo this side of San Antonio!

You see, old single grandma on the riverboat? I wasn't trying to sleep with you, you're not customized with the proper add-ons! So put away the rape whistle, honey, and let's get back to talking about that one movie where George C. Scott watches his daughter get banged in a porno!

The next day, I met up with my cousin at the AMC Rivercenter 11 and we spent a couple hours catching up, and then spent another ninety minutes watching the film we'd been talking about for the past couple years. So I guess I should talk a little about the film, huh?

Mid90s follows a young kid named Stevie somewhere in Southern California circa 1995 who has a typical lower middle class lifestyle, that is, if your lower middle class lifestyle included having a young single mother who has no problems discussing her love life in front of you, and having an older brother who regularly beats the ever-loving fuck out of you for sneaking into his room while he was out.

Me, I didn't have to deal with that kind of bullshit back then, I realized way too late in retrospect that I had it really fucking good back then family-wise -- my parents were straight arrows and the worst thing that ever happened between me and my sister was when we watched the Corey Haim and Corey Feldman movie Blown Away, which we thought would be good for a laugh but it turned out that the joke was on us when half of that movie consisted of watching fuckin' Lucas over here bang Nicole Eggert over and over again, and I don't know if my sister and I were trying to tough it out, figuring that watching The Lost Boy show Charles who really was In Charge would eventually give way to, you know, the fuckin' story, but no, it didn't.

Anyway, Stevie doesn't have to watch Nicole Eggert get passed back and forth by the Coreys much like they used to pass needles and STDs to each other. Instead he takes his beatings, and one gets the sense that perhaps he feels he deserves it, because on occasion Stevie will do the self-harm thing with such lovely household items as a hair brush, the cord of a Super Nintendo controller, and his own fists. This is his life, he has to deal with it, he's used to it, and maybe it's because he doesn't know any better, he just knows what he knows.

So one day, Stevie walks into the skate shop that had previously caught his eye and slowly ingratiates himself into the small tight-knit crew of skater boys that hang out there. It's four guys and half are assholes and half are all right, which sounds about right. I'm glad they weren't all assholes, because otherwise I'd have to say about skaters and this film what Quentin Tarantino said about surfers and the John Milius' film Big Wednesday -- that it's a better movie than those assholes deserve.

But no, the few times I hung out with my cousin when he was with his skate-bros, half of them were decent dudes, while the other half I wanted nothing more than to see a fucking truck splatter them all over the pavement, followed by listening to the sweet screams of their worthless mothers wailing to their former sons/current street pizzas.

I can joke about that because I almost got hit by a truck when I was six years old. I was being a little fuck and I ran out of the house and into the street and a semi-truck almost Gage'd my ass. My mother nearly had a heart attack at the sight of this, but she recovered quickly enough to regain the power to inflect major damage on my hindquarters with her immortal chancla. Some of you fuckin' hippies can call it child abuse if you want, but it was the only time my mother ever hit me and I feel I earned that beating, and you know what? I don't run blindly into streets anymore.

Maybe Stevie could stand for some chancla action, rather than his usual brotherly beatdowns, because maybe that would've taught him not to scream at his mother to "shut the fuck up!" I shit you not, he actually does that, in one scene he goes off on her, repeatedly screaming that shit at his mom over and over again. That really is some white people shit, right there. I've never heard of any Hispanic or Black kids yelling at their moms like that, probably because those that did -- if they ever did -- never got more than two words into their tirade before every trace of their existence was immediately wiped off the face of the Earth by their moms.

I love my mom and I think she's awesome, but I also respect the fact that inside that increasingly tiny old woman beats the heart of a lioness and I would never dream of screaming at her as if I were some spoiled ass white boy. You can point all the guns and knives in the world at me, but threaten me with telling my mom about something I did and I'll drop to my knees faster than a 14-year-old boy auditioning for the next Bryan Singer production.

Stevie soon scores a skateboard of his own and discovers a new way to escape from the realities of his life via rolling down streets and sidewalks on a board that has a dinosaur saying "Cowabunga" on it. Rather than having movie night in the living room with his mom, Stevie enjoys the simple pleasures of finally pulling off a trick move at the end of a night full of failed attempts. This is an awesome new thing for the little dude, who is soon given the nickname "Sunburn".

No longer alone or depending on the kindness of an abusive older sibling, Stevie has a second family to hang out with and now he also has access to cool things for little children like 40-ounce beers and cheap weed and older girls who are into you because you're too young to ditch them for someone hotter later on.

About that last part, this girl -- who looks Hispanic and I'm assuming is under 18 -- ends up chatting Stevie up and eventually takes him to her room where she ends up kissing up on him. First off, I bet you that chick grew up to become one of those teachers you hear about on the news, the ones who hook up with one of their students, and me and my fellow men react with the same bullshit half-joking comments about how we wished we had a teacher bang us when we were kids because it would instill in us a confidence well beyond our years, and that this confidence would probably have made us into goddamn winners in life.

Second, this scene between Sunburn and the creeper chola feels kinda weird because she looks older than her age and he looks younger than his age, and it's shot in a way that I didn't find exploitative, but it does feel like you're peeking into something that you shouldn't be peeking into, like you're hiding in the closet with Kyle MacLachlan's character from Blue Velvet watching this scene go down.

Also, I had a bit of a debate with my cousin after the film about that scene, about whether it was some kind of weird wish fulfillment trip from Jonah Hill, like, maybe when he was that age he fantasized about some older chick preying upon his tubby little body, the way I fantasized about Mrs. Kennelly in my seventh grade science class telling me to stay after school so we can discuss what an impotent piece of shit her husband is, I don't know. Or maybe that situation between Sunburn and the chick really happened, being that this is -- well, I'm assuming, anyway -- kinda autobiographical for Hill.

Whatever the case, the girl -- and the other girls in the film -- took me back to my junior high school days, or more specifically, my junior high school weekends. The way they were dressed and the way they wore their hair, wow, I was reminded of all the girls I was too chicken shit to talk to, as well as the ones that I managed to work up some balls to chat up but then fucked it up by being myself.

I would've been fine with the film being a time capsule dripping in Hey, Remember the 90s? if it were just that. But it's not. Aside from the opening five minutes in which we're inundated with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bedsheets, Street Fighter II t-shirts, and CDs by "Tha Alkaholiks", Mid90s creates nostalgia in more of a matter-of-fact manner -- much like watching an old VHS home movie from that time period where things don't look too much different except every once in a while you'll notice things about a person's clothes or the way somebody's living room looks like every lower middle class living room from back then.

What adds to this rather casual presentation is that the film is presented in the 4x3 -- or 1.33:1 -- aspect ratio, or in other words, it's a square box with black bars on the left and right sides of the screen, because you see, kids, in the good old days, we watched television from a square box that was front heavy as fuck and took at least two people to carry around if it was a big size. Mid90s was also shot in Super 16mm, giving a nice grainy image with the occasional scratch here and there, which combined with the 4x3 aspect ratio makes the film look like an independent film I would've rented from Blockbuster Video or Hollywood Video back in the 90s.

So in that context -- as an independent film from the 90s -- what would I have thought if I had rented this at a video store back then? Pretty much the same way I feel now, minus the nostalgia parts. It's an interesting character study of the kind of person who would devote his free time to increasing his chances of getting harassed by security guards, running from cops, and breaking bones. My only real complaint is that it feels too bare bones for this kind of film; I got the impression that there was probably a lot more footage shot for every scene but Hill and his editor knew it was best to get to the point of a scene and make said point as quick as possible. Now that definitely works with some scenes in the film, but there are other scenes that I felt definitely could've used some more breathing room. Nevertheless, Jonah Hill makes an impressive debut as a filmmaker here.

With the exception of Lucas Hedges who plays Stevie's dickhead brother Ian, and Katherine Waterston as Stevie's hot mom, the majority of the cast appear to be real life professional skaters rather than real life professional actors -- although the kid who plays Stevie, Sunny Suljic, is both a pro-skateboarder and an actor -- and these non-actors do pretty well just being themselves rather than shooting for the actorial stars -- which works for a film like this where just playing things natural enhances the verisimilitude.

I have to give props to Hill and his music supervisor for the eclectic mix of tunes that pop up throughout the film; you want to talk about taking me back, well, it seemed like every other song in this movie gave me serious I Remember Way Back When type of feels, stuff from Wu-Tang Clan, Pixies, Jeru The Damaja, Morrissey, and The Pharcyde among others.

After the film, my cousin and I walked around Downtown while discussing the movie; he gave me some good background on certain things in the movie that had flown over my head, on account of not being familiar with the skating scene back then. He talked about how the filmmakers did a great job with such details as the kind of clothing the characters wore; he said that one character wore stuff from a certain skate company that you'd only see people with money wear, which makes sense considering that this character did in fact come from money. My cousin loved the movie, by the way -- he ended up watching it twice.

I also ended up watching the film twice during its theatrical run, but not so much for the same reasons as my cousin. While I liked the film enough to watch it again, it was really more because my first viewing did not go as well as it should've. For one thing, I can hear whatever bullshit blockbuster playing next door booming its bass through the walls. But even worse, a couple of rows behind us sat a mother who brought along her kids who happily walked up and down the theater and stomped around on the row behind us and did that fucking annoying mumbling thing that these little snots do and the whole time nobody else -- not my cousin, not the people in front of us, not the lady in her Air Force blues -- seemed fazed or bothered by it. I was the only one and it was driving me mad. And when I brought it up with my cousin after the movie, he said he didn't notice. What the fuck? Am I the asshole? Am I losing my mind? Or is this how movie audiences in San Antonio get down? I don't fucking know, man!

But it's OK because I ended up seeing it again a few days later back home practically for free (thanks AMC Stubs A-List!) and this screening was especially peachy because I was the only one in the theater. Which is really the best of both worlds for me, to see a movie in an empty theater because that's where I am in life, that's the fuckin' misanthropic piece of shit I grew up to be. I wasn't always like this, but you know, fuckin' people, man. Maybe if I spent my youth watching less movie rentals at home alone and more time hanging out with asshole skaters more I'd have a different outlook by now. But I didn't, so I don't.

But I guess Jonah Hill did and that's how this movie came about. I think. I mean, I don't know how much of is based on his life, and I really don't care -- because it doesn't matter and because I don't give two shits about that creepy fuck.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that little detail -- I fucking can't stand Jonah Hill. He seems like he really is the characters he plays, or at least he is most convincing as an actor when he is playing fat scumbags, and I'm sure it's a matter of time before it comes out in the news that he Cosbys chicks or something. I see him in The Wolf of Wall Street and I don't see him playing a character, I feel I'm seeing the real him. I bet you this motherfucker has screamed at his mom to shut the fuck up too, and he's probably graduated to yelling that shit to whatever desperate wannabe starlet is currently blowing her way up his casting couch. It wouldn't be so bad were it not for him being in cast in movies that I want to see, because then he would be easily avoidable.

So think about the good laugh God is having at the fact that I dropped serious ducats to fly 1200 miles away from home just to see a movie written and directed by a probable piece of shit in an everyday multiplex occupied by rowdy roaming children who made sure I couldn't even really enjoy the movie. Well, laugh all you want, ma'am, because in the end I got to hang out with my cousin and watch a movie with him, just like we did in the good old days -- and that's what really matters.

OK, OK, I know what you're thinking after hearing my Jonah Hill rant. You're probably thinking, "Ah, you're just jealous because he's rich and famous and working with people like Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino and he's probably living an awesome life and you're stuck in your dead-end existence and with each birthday you're getting farther and further away from your dreams and let's be real, your window of opportunity passed about ten years ago and you're gonna probably die poor and miserable and full of regrets and bitterness, so all you can do now is talk shit about the goddamn winners in life while they continue to win and you remain stagnant in your pool of failure, you fucking pussy."


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The tin duck

About a month ago, I was eating lunch in the park when this man who appeared to be in his sixties walked up to me with a notebook and a pen. I looked at him in his white button-down shirt and black pants and figured, oh great, what is this asshole gonna try to sell me.

The man was very apologetic and proceeded to give me this whole tale about how he needed to pay for a procedure he was going to have or already had, I don't remember, because by that point I was too busy noticing that the man only had half a jaw and I'm guessing the procedure had something to do with that. I'm sure I also heard the word "cancer" somewhere during his spiel, but I couldn't be too sure because I was too busy processing the overwhelming sight of a man with HALF A FUCKING JAW.

Now I don't know if this was special effects, maybe it was. But it looked real. This guy was trying his best to talk and he did pretty well considering his condition. What he was asking for was a loan of any amount to help pay for the procedure. He needed something like $1500 and he already collected  about $1100. He showed me that he had the names and addresses of the people who loaned him money in his notebook, plus the amount they loaned him. It was a thick notebook and nearly all the pages had been filled out. He said he was going to make it his mission in life to pay everybody back as soon as he could.

For all I know this half-jawed gentleman was full of shit. I mean, he probably was, he probably got half his jaw shot off in a gang fight or something and now he was using this as a way to make some money off of people and he'll probably then have one of his buddies break into these people's houses and steal shit or kill them or rape them or all of the above.

But if there's any possibility of his story checking out 100-percent, well, I'd rather err on the side of wanting to be helpful.

But there was something else -- a nagging feeling somewhere within, and it always comes up when someone comes up to me and asks for help or charity of some kind. It's a kind of fear, a fear of I don't know what, maybe fear of some kind of karmic retribution or something. Maybe the person asking me is really a beautiful enchantress with the power to turn me into a beast or a gypsy with the power to curse me to keep losing weight until I'm nothing but skin and bones.

Or maybe I really am a sucker who wants to help. Whatever the case, I ended up giving him $20 but I didn't give him my name or address. I told him there was no need to pay me back; he could pay me back by doing a kindness for somebody else who needed it. Also, I didn't want to risk being home invaded by his friends.

Whether it was true or not, his story felt real enough and if it wasn't, at least he put in some effort into the ruse, and that's all I ask for. Just make the effort. Don't just walk up and be like "Hey man, got some money?" This dude gave me a notebook, a story that worked on my emotions, and oh yeah, HALF A FUCKING JAW.

But I don't think all the Greg Nicotero special effects makeup in the world could convince somebody like Ebenezer Scrooge to give any amount aside from the grand total of jack shit, based on how I saw him treat a couple of dudes taking up donations. But more on that a little later.

Well, thanks for the trailer, TNT, I guess nobody has to see this movie anymore, now that you've told the whole story. Don't see any point in rambling about this. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everybody!

I'm kidding. Most of us know the story already, so it's really about the telling, right? There are many film adaptations of Charles Dickens' immortal classic A Christmas Carol, and in her second long-unfulfilled request, Karen from Florida has asked me to ramble about one of them. With her help, I narrowed it down to either the 1984 version starring George C. Scott or the 1999 version starring Patrick Stewart.

I ended up going with the Stewart film because I'd never seen it, and also because if I went with the Scott version, the entire time I'd just be making references to that scene in the film Hardcore where he watches a porno starring his daughter. Trust me, I can make lots of references to that. I suppose I could do the same with Stewart by making "Star Trek" references, so I'll do my best to keep them to a minimum.

All right, so for those who came in late, I was saying earlier that the main character of this tale, Ebenezer Scrooge, is pretty harsh with a couple of dudes who are looking for donations to help supply food and warmth to the less fortunate in this cold and bleak 19th century London. They tell him how tough it is our there and that people can die from such poor conditions, and this piece of work responds with something like "Well, they should die as soon as possible, that way can stop suckling on the city's titties."

To be fair, these donation dudes kinda brought it onto themselves; when they visit Scrooge and give them the whole spiel about helping feed and shelter the poor and hungry, they end it by asking how much money he plans to give. That's mighty presumptuous, guys. You can't assume everybody is going to want to give, you gotta close it out by saying something like how appreciative you'd be and how helpful it would be if the person could donate any amount if possible. No matter what, you have to ask, just to be polite -- kinda like the no-jaw dude who hit me up. He had no jaw and he still asked politely, he didn't assume.

If I had to guess, I would say Scrooge is the kind of person who throws in the word "bootstraps" a lot. Usually, you can tell who is and isn't a jerk is by whether or not they use the word "bootstraps" preceded by something like how a person should pick him or herself up by them. Not that I'm against working hard in an attempt to elevate yourself to a better station in life, I mean, I have no issues with the concept of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

It's just that in my experience, the people who usually say that are people who didn't actually have to do that. It's usually those who were born into money or had more than a few other hands pulling their bootstraps for them. Now, I'm not saying that those who were born into privilege or were closer to achieving their goals should feel some kind of shame or guilt or should have to keep their mouths shut about how others should be working hard for what they want. I'm just saying there's a way to say all of that without sounding and looking like an asshole.

Scrooge doesn't say "bootstraps" but he does have a moment later on where he remarks on how a young girl already has a job, and he's saying it like Wow, this girl is a real go-getter! and he doesn't understand that this girl has no choice but to work because her family is dirt poor. Because there's a big difference between getting a part-time job after school so you can buy sneakers, and having to get a full time job -- forget school at this point -- in order to help feed the rest of your family because your father's employer is a lousy skinflint named Scrooge.

Yeah, Scrooge only has one employee at his money-lending firm, his clerk Bob Cratchit -- played by his future antagonist in Logan, Richard E. Grant -- and while it seems like this place does all right, you wouldn't know it from how stingy he is when it comes to keeping the place warm; Cratchit wants to add a couple of measly chunks of coal to the fire and Scrooge is like, you better put some water on that damn shit -- no, no, he says to just poke the current coals and keep what little fire there is barely burning.

It kills Scrooge to spend money, it just kills him that he has to give Cratchit a paid holiday on Christmas Day -- and he has to say this poor old Bob, he can't keep it to himself. Why do people do things like that? Let the poor guy enjoy his one paid day off, man.

On top of that, Scrooge has no use for Christmas. No, he's not Jewish or a Jehovah's Witness or Phoebe Cates in Gremlins, he's just a miserable man; a group of Christmas carolers know better than to go sing in front of Scrooge's place -- except for one poor child who learns that to go sing to Scrooge is to invite a possible Singapore-style caning.

I love Christmas but I might be with Ebenezer when it comes to carolers. I figure back then carolers were like the flash mobs of their day, which is to say that it's really more about themselves than in the people they're purporting to be entertaining.

Anyway, Scrooge's nephew Fred shows up all joyous and triumphant about the holiday and Scrooge doesn't want to hear it, it's like it irritates him that other people have hope and joy during this time of year. He apparently doesn't know about the high suicide rate during this time, otherwise he'd probably dig Christmas a lot more.

I wondered why Scrooge was so cold towards his nephew, he seems to be upset that Fred is able to enjoy the holiday season despite not being as up on the monetary hustle as he'd like to be. Scrooge also seems to disapprove of Fred's marriage. Like, why does it bother him so much that Fred is married? Does Scrooge have a bit of a thing for Fred, like some pervy forbidden taboo love between uncle and nephew, or is it more of a player hater kind of thing, because Scrooge messed up his chance at true love right around the same age that Fred found his? I'm thinking maybe the latter. But I won't count out the former, because a very sick man like me loves the idea that Scrooge dreams of making his nephew cry uncle, if you know what I mean.

I mean he wants to bang his nephew, is what I mean.

Fred, by the way, is played by Dominic West, or as I prefer to call him, McNulty from the HBO series "The Wire". Man, I'd been hearing about the show for years, and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally got around to seeing it, and you know what? It's as good as everybody says it is. Although considering how things are going nowadays in this wonderful big blue world, I don't think I will ever give a series as cynical and depressing and true to life like that one a rewatch ever again.

Speaking of depressing and true to life, you could've made a 19th century version of "The Wire" with this London setting. It's very glum and there's no chance of Christmas cheer in how things look, which I think is the idea -- I mean, I think that's the idea, you know, finding the ability to enjoy this time of year regardless of your surroundings. We see that in the way Bob Cratchit and his family are able to make the most of what little they have during their Christmas dinner, and how appreciative and happy for what they have, as meager as it is.

Then there's a sequence where Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present watch as various people celebrate Christmas by singing "Silent Night"; the keepers of a lighthouse, the crew on a cargo ship, workers at a mining facility -- not the most ideal of conditions to be in good cheer, and yet, they are able to have the Christmas spirit. Even if the conditions were better, these people are working on Christmas Eve, which has to be a little bit of a bummer -- for those who celebrate the holiday anyway.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the whole Ghosts of Christmas deal. OK, for those who aren't familiar with A Christmas Carol, what happens is that Scrooge gets visited by his old business partner Jacob Marley, which sounds all fine and dandy except for the fact that Jacob Marley has been dead for seven years. Marley tells Scrooge that the afterlife sucks because he's forever tortured by his past actions -- or more like his past inactions, because like Scrooge, Marley didn't do shit for his fellow man and was just as much a tightwad as Ebenezer. Now he's wearing heavy chains he can't take off and walking around all morose and shit, being as much a drag as those heavy ass chains.

Scrooge tries to dismiss this as hallucinations brought on by indigestion or maybe someone dosed his stew, the same way somebody dosed James Cameron's clam chowder on the set of Titanic in a possible attempt to Christmas Carol that Hollywood Scrooge. But Marley doesn't let up, and he has some tricks to really get into the old man's head that this is in fact The Real Deal.

Marley then gives Scrooge a peek into the lives of the dead, specifically those who like Jacob Marley, led selfish and uncaring lives. Now they have to spend the rest of forever watching the living who in need of help, and these sad specters are unable to do anything about it because they're dead. Their opportunity to do something has passed. This is a lesson they've learned too late. But it's not too late for Scrooge!

At least that's the idea, and to help prevent Scrooge from getting fitted for his own chain ensemble, three ghosts will visit him: The Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. The Ghost of Christmas Past is played by Joel Grey, who looks like a pale transgender in mid-transition here. That's not a knock against transgenders, by the way, I've met plenty of transgenders at functions and parties and they've all turned me down.

Anyway, GC Past shows Scrooge his, uh, past as a little Scrooge, taking him back to his old school -- which Ebenezer seems pretty jazzed about. I don't know, man, maybe you had a better time back then than I did. You take me back to my old school and I'd probably start going into convulsions before reaching towards the small of my back for a pistol that I'm not carrying. The fun ends for Scrooge, though, once he sees himself as a sad little boy all alone in class because his father is a piece of shit.

This is the second film in a row that I've rambled about featuring grown-up assholes who were raised that way by their asshole fathers. The first was both versions of Disney's Beauty and the Beast -- which I guess makes this movie the third film in a row -- and now this one. And both were requested by Karen from Florida. If you're trying to tell me what I think you're trying to tell me, well let me make it clear, ma'am: I wasn't raised to be a douchebag, my father was great to me -- as is my mother. No, ma'am, my high level achievements of being A-Prick-Number-One are a result of being a self made kind of shitheel. Now this could mean one of two things: the whole "bad father equals bad son" thing is bullshit, or maybe I, much like Michael Myers, was just born under a bad star.

I'm pure evil, is what I'm trying to tell you good people. It's why I keep to myself. I'm a loner, Dottie, a rebel. And you don't want any of me. Unless you're ready to give up the goods. And by goods, I mean sex and/or food, but not both at the same time.

GC Past then shows Scrooge an older younger version of himself, back when he was working for Mr. Fezziwig. Now that's a cool boss, right there; Fezziwig is very cheerful -- at least during his company's Christmas party -- and he insists that all employees who are still working to stop what they're doing 'cause he's about to ruin the image and the style that they're used to: that is, if the image and style is of a Scrooge type who won't take a break to enjoy life every once in a while. You see Fezziwig and his family getting down with their bad selves on the sing & dance floor, and even Ebenezer knows to have some fun because he hasn't grown into old Scrooge yet.

Let me talk about office Christmas parties. I can do without those too. In fact, I have been doing without them for most of my work life, as well as any other social functions and gatherings at my places of employment. I'm polite to my co-workers and treat them with kindness and respect, but I don't want to be reminded of work during my free time. It's my time! It's why I've turned down company softball games and work picnics and Christmas parties. I don't want any of these assholes to see me drunk -- hell, I don't want anyone to see me drunk, and I certainly don't want to see any of those assholes drunk, fuck those guys.

Old Scrooge gets to observe Young Scrooge fuck it up with the love of his life, but is it really his fault? I get where he's coming from -- he's not ready to marry poor because he's trying to make that fuckin' money, bro. It's like the great Tony Montana once said: First you make the money, then you get the power, and then you marry your sweetheart. Stewart is great in the film, but I really liked his performance during this scene, as he witnesses one of the biggest -- perhaps the biggest mistake of his life -- and starts talking back at his young self like some overly emotional housewife watching her "stories".

After that, comes The Ghost of Christmas Present, who's a big dude in a robe, looking like party animal from a frat house movie. He ends up showing Scrooge that whole deal with the various people having Christmas spirit, singing "Silent Night", despite of or in spite of their situations, preceded by the whole Christmas dinner at the Cratchit crib, where the lovely family digs into their meal -- Christmas goose with all the trimmings, followed by plum pudding. It all looks nice but it's all too small for a family that big -- which is what an overeater would say.

Because when you really look at the portions given to the Cratchit clan, that really is the ideal serving size. It's how much we're all supposed to eat -- particularly we heavy Americans, who eat our food in way too large portions. Also, why so many kids? Great googily moogily, Bob, couldn't you keep it in your pants a couple times here and there? You know what, I take that back, Bob -- I can see why you and Mrs. Bob would do so much fucking. I mean you have to keep warm in that cold weather somehow.

Scrooge, this fuckin' miser, he asks GC Present about the infirm Cratchit boy Tiny Tim, he wants to know if things will get better for him and GC Present responds with something like "I see an empty seat and a crutch without an owner....something something if the future doesn't change, the child will die". That line and the delivery of that line, left me thinking what a great public service announcement it would make, preferably played on digital over-the-air television.

Have you ever watched digital over-the-air television? I'm talking about those stations that have dashes between the numbers, the ones that show cool old programs and cool old game shows. They're really cool but then come the commercial breaks and it's always a horror show filled with injured old people, dead old people, mistreated animals, dead animals, and kids with cancer. So an ad for some kind of charity towards helping little gimpy kids would be great with that line about the empty chair and crutch.

GC Present then takes Scrooge over to Fred's house where they're all having a great time, friends and family alike. "It's been so long" says Scrooge, regarding the old timey Christmas dinner party games being played. Man, it's been so long for me as well. The last time I played a game at a Christmas party, it was 14 years ago and we played Jenga Truth or Dare.

It's a good thing they didn't have Jenga Truth or Dare back in Scrooge's day, because one of the guests is this fuckin' panty-sniffing creep named Topper, who should be thanking his lucky stars they hadn't invented sex offender registries yet. Although considering how long ago this story takes place, they probably hadn't invented the term "sex offender", that was just how gentlemen rolled. You had to be Jack the Ripper to be considered doing something wrong to a lady back then. God, Topper made my skin crawl, talking to ladies about their "pretty little mouths" and making sure there's mistletoe in the immediate vicinity of his most likely syphilitic johnson. Who knows what this bucket of unwanted sex would've done with something like Jenga Truth or Dare.

Following all that pervitude, Scrooge gets the ghost he fears the most: The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, looking like a half-decent Halloween display outside one of those Halloween stores that only operates during September and October out of some recently closed business. The Ghost shows Ebenezer how his homies at the stock exchange will not really give much of a care about him after hearing news of his death. They'll only attend the funeral if food is being served, which I kinda understand too, provided we're talking about serving the food after the funeral. That would be weird to eat during the actual service.

It all bums Scrooge out, the way people react about his him going tits up. Some of the help from his house end up selling his silk shirts and bed curtains, and even the undertaker makes some money off of him. Nobody seems particularly bothered, save maybe Fred, but in most cases, people's lives are improved, such as the couple who were in debt to Scrooge, but now that he's merged with the infinite, they have time to save up and pay the new piper.

I think at this point, Scrooge would've been like "Fuck it, if these assholes are going to ditch my funeral and sell the fillings from my teeth, I might as well keep up the shitty attitude and really earn my postmortem disrespect!" but then of course, here comes Tiny Tim to gum up the works with his own death, and now Scrooge is super bummed. Then he catches the sight of his sad-ass tombstone and his cold-ass corpse in the coffin and for some reason he embraces his own corpse and off they go, swan-diving cheek-to-cheek into the black void like a couple of twin fruits.

But it was all a dream! Scrooge used to read Word Up magazine! And now he's awake, back in the real world and he hasn't missed Christmas! He's so overjoyed at this, he tries to laugh but it's such an alien reflex to him at this point, it takes him like half a minute of choke-filled attempts before he finally gets it right and laughs like a goddamn human being again. He then pays some street urchin to buy the biggest goose this side of Footloose and send it over to the Cratchit residence -- but he makes sure that it's done anonymously, so that Bob and company don't know who the goose is from.

I like that, it shows real altruism, that move. Most people in Scrooge's place would've made sure that Cratchit would know who got his goose, for the same reason I want the baristas at Starbucks to see me when I put a buck in the tip jar. Scrooge is so beyond that bullshit by this point, he doesn't care and maybe it'll have Cratchit believe it was some kind of Christmas miracle HAHAHAHAHAHA miracle.

Scrooge then goes to church because He is the reason for the season, you know. We gotta remember who put the Christ in Christmas, and that's something you heathens don't understand and will never understand unless you give yourself to the one true God. Instead, you try to make it secular for all the libtards who hate my Christ, love paying taxes, and want to take my guns away. Well to that third part, I quote my good boys from Gonzales, Texas: Come and take it.

The following day, Scrooge pulls one of those bullshit pranks where he acts like he's pissed off at Bob for coming in late, and he talks all serious to him, until he pulls back the false dickhead facade and reveals himself to be the new and improved Scrooge by giving Cratchit a raise and allowing him to warm up the place with all the coal his heart desires. Then McNulty narrates over footage of the Cratchit family visiting Ebenezer -- including Tiny Tim, who did not die -- talking about how "ever afterwards, he knew how to keep Christmas well" and I start tearing up and getting choked up because that's where I am in my life, I fuckin' cry at everything, especially with stories like this, because the older I get and the more I experience in this life, the more these tales about people changing their negative ways to become better people increasingly feel like science fiction.

What they don't show us is Scrooge visiting his supposed pals at the stock exchange, followed by giving them a solid thrashing with his cane for being fake people showing fake love to him, straight up to his face, straight up to his face. But I guess I'll have to make that version myself, where I devote a good twenty minutes to Scrooge taking care of business with those stock exchange fucks by giving them a little stick time.

OK, well, I pretty much went through the whole movie but you already knew the story -- so the question is: how does this 1999 adaptation of A Christmas Carol do in telling it?

Pretty damn well, I think. This has less of a Christmas-y feel to it compared to others, but I think in exchange for that, there's a bit more of a, I don't know -- real tone to it? The setting is suitably bleak and a good part of that should be credited to the production designer, Roger Hall, who had previously worked on such classics as Chariots of Fire and Highlander II: The Quickening. One of those films won the Academy Award for Best Picture, by the way.

I haven't read the Dickens story in nearly two decades, but based on what I remember of it, this adaptation is very close, including things like that "Silent Night" sequence, which I don't remember ever being in other film versions of the Scrooge story.

The film was directed by David Jones, a stage director who went on to work on television shows like "Law & Order: SVU" and films like Jacknife starring Robert De Niro. He does a fine job telling the story, moving things along at a fine clip and getting good performances from his cast. Speaking of which, Patrick Stewart is solid as Ebenezer Scrooge, but I feel his doesn't quite match up in comparison to previous Scrooges like Alastair Sim and George C. Scott. He doesn't seem as particularly upset by the otherworldly sights he's treated to, it's a little too stiff upper lip compared to the way other Scrooges handle seeing ghosts and freaky mutated ghoulish children named Want and Ignorance and Tiny Tim. I think what he does best is show us the regret Scrooge feels over his past mistakes during the Ghost of Christmas Past sequence.

More than anything, I was left wishing I had seen one of Patrick Stewart's one-man performances of A Christmas Carol, where he played over thirty characters without the use of props or costume changes. He's performed the play on and off since the late 80s, but it doesn't look like he's going to do it again anytime soon, which is too bad because it sounds fascinating. I now kinda wish they filmed one of his shows rather than make yet another standard film version of the Dickens classic. But they did make another standard film version of the Dickens classic, but it's a good one, so I'm not complaining. I can definitely see myself checking this one out again come next December.

OK, that's it. I haven't done a rundown like that in a while, where I pretty much just go through the movie from beginning to end, but I figure it's no secret to most people how this story plays out, so why not.

Anyway, if you happen to be reading this during the holidays, have fun and be safe.

Also, this won't mean anything to those who are listening to the podcast which is only a few episodes old at the time of this recording, but the day that I'm putting this out, December 25th, in this foul year of Our Lord 2018 also happens to be the tenth anniversary of the Exiled from Contentment blog, from where these ramblings come from. I can't help but feel it's all been a colossal waste of time. But hey, it beats sitting on my ass and doing nothing, right?

Don't answer that.