If we wanted to use more than 140 characters, we'd be writing more here.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Now You Know the Best of the Story!

And so the hour has come around once more, dear children, as the shadowy tendrils of winter begin to melt into the riotous, verdant new season, when I take up my virtual quill and scroll between my curled1 fingers and scribe irreverent lines of blank verse2 to you conveying my weary perceptions on the year's outstanding cinematic artifice.

In other, less florid words, I''m back for the usual Oscars nonsense!

Yes, for the fourteenth year running, prepare for the most original, exciting, entertaining, and unreliable rundown of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences Best Picture nominees you will find on the interwebs. Even though I broke my wrist over the holidays and have all the dexterity of lion seal working a Rubik's Cube, I'm still here to give you the lowdown, the rundown, and maybe even the sundown (I went for poetry there - it doesn't always work) on the choices the friendly folks behind the Oscars have made for the greatest film of the year.

As usual, they were wrong. It was Wonder Woman.

Anyway, sit back and hold on to your magic lasso, because here we go! I hope all three of you enjoy it.

Call Me By Your Name

The coming of age story of a young man who comes to believe he is the mirror image of a striking older man with whom he has become obsessed.

Elio Perlman (Justin Bieber) is a 17 year old on vacation with his family in Lombardy, Italy. One night, he is accidentally struck on the head by a pizza oven at an outdoor showing of Duck Soup, during the famous mirror sequence with Groucho and Harpo. He immediately comes to believe he is the mirror image of a striking older man (just in case you forgot the previous paragraph).

As he awakes from his injury, he sees the striking3 doctoral student, Oliver (Tommy Wiseau) and begins to do everything Oliver does, only reflected. This leads to several complications, such as when Oliver goes tightrope walking, when he puts his head in a lion's mouth, when he has a prostate exam, when he stands in front of an actual mirror, and when he flies a Vought Corsair and Elio only has access to a Grumann F4F Wildcat.

Things come to a head when Oliver has a bad fight with Lisa (Juliette Danielle), who is in the wrong film. Elio gets angry at Lisa also, and this confuses her so much she calls Actor's Equity and gets the lot of them in trouble with the Screen Actors Guild, whom she should have called in the first place.

The situation becomes completely intolerable when Elio confuses his own image in another mirror for Oliver and starts screaming the film's title while Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings plays in the background. (All of this happens in slow-motion, of course.)

Finally, Oliver solves the dilemma by putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger, which Elio does as well. However, Oliver's gun is only a stage prop, whereas Elio's is a .44 Magnum.

Fortunately both guns jam (Hollywood!) and while trying to fix his gun Elio accidentally pistol-whips himself back into sanity. The film ends with both young men throwing their guns into the air and laughing in in freeze frame, as Leslie Nielsen smiles down on them from heaven.

Darkest Hour

The story of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's terrifying experience with what appears to be a solar eclipse.

Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) has spent World War II inspiring his fellow Britons with stirring rhetoric and massive, Freudian cigars. In the midst of the conflict, he briefly retreats to the Isle of Wight to reflect, plan, and smoke the hell out of 12 cases of Cuban Cohibas.

While meditating (drinking heavily) early one morning, he spots a wayward Vought Corsair4, careening towards Shanklin. Naturally, Churchill concludes this is an RAF pilot in trouble and looking to make an emergency landing; either that or someone gone AWOL to get a good seat at the nascent music festival a quarter century early ("Damn bohemian music lovers! Where's my tenth cigar?")

This thought is quickly extinguished, along with all of the available light in the area, by a massive shadow that seems to chase the plane. The sun is blotted out faster than Kevin Spacey's acting career. Electric lights dim and fail in the rapidly encroaching darkness (meaning the darkness was full of roaches). Even Churchill's cigar lighter fails him, sending him into the depths of despair ("Despair" being the name of the bunker in which he keeps his matches).

He is also frustrated by his inability to come up with something pithier to say than, "Odds bodkins!"

Soon, the entire world between Ventnor and Wooten Bridge is a gloomy sea of lightlessness. Churchill sits, lost in his thoughts - mostly how his valet is going to manage to serve him his seafood lunch in these conditions.

"It is always darkest before the prawns," he observes.

This cheers him up a bit.

Finally, as suddenly as it disappeared, the light returns. Churchill sees his harrowing experience as a metaphor for the conflict with Nazi Germany and is so overjoyed he invents the Jed Clampett dance.

Meanwhile, at Sandown Airport, just outside of Shanklin, a young Rubeus Hagrid (Zack Galafianakis) climbs out of a Vought Corsair. Searching for sweets, he puts his hands in his pockets only to pull out a small device.

"Blimey! I left my putter-outer on!"


The story of the last days of Federation officer James Tiberius Kirk. (The title is a misprint that the studio left in, hoping the Academy would confuse this film with the more widely known Christopher Nolan-directed tale of the World War II British evacuation - Mission accomplished!)

Contrary to the original Star Trek canon, Kirk's life actually reaches its conclusion when he accidentally takes the USS Enterprise into the past (AGAIN!) and beams down onto the beaches of Dunkirk, France a week before the evacuation. Consequently, everyone is a little on edge, because there are a boatload of Nazi divisions coming for them. (Get it? Dunkirk. Boatload. ...Listen, they can't all be diamonds,)

Kirk being Kirk, he immediately falls passionately in love with a French woman who just happens to have a mysterious condition that makes her entire body green. Also, she enjoys wearing skimpy outfits and dancing the tarantella, which causes her skimpy outfit to move a minuscule amount (because it's the 1940's, and people don't stand for more than that). Kirk finds all of this "strangely familiar."

Meanwhile, Spock is on the bridge of the Enterprise, obsessively calculating whether Kirk's presence on Earth will change the history of the planet dramatically. He identifies a number of alternate timelines, including one in which the Beatles don't break up. (Their 25th album is titled, "We Always Get Along So Well!")

Spock begins to conclude that the longer Kirk spends on Earth in the 1940's, the greater a chance there is that the Kardashian family never become famous and also that the Nazis win World War II. Though strongly tempted by the Kardashian thing, Spock concludes that Kirk must leave and urgently implores him to beam up, no matter how much "coitus he is enjoying with the green lady."

This all happens as the Dunkirk evacuation is starting, and in the confusion of the British army's calamitous retreat, Kirk's green girlfriend runs off with a Spanish bullfighter holidaying in the area.

Rejected for the first time in his life (technically only because it's the past and he hasn't been born yet), Kirk becomes despondent. He single-handedly (because it's a one-seater) flies a Vought F4U Corsair into the teeth of the German assault, literally crashing the plane through Hermann Goring's ugly Nazi teeth. (Yes, I know I used "teeth" twice. It was better than the line "ugly Nazi goiter.")

Kirk is killed, and Spock quietly mourns his friend's death by observing, "He really is Dunkirk."

He then does an extended version of the Napoleon Dynamite dance, singing, "I'm the captain, now, baby! Get down, Jack!"

Get Out

This horror buddy film tells the story of what happens when Elaine Benes from Seinfeld takes up residence next door to an African-American family in a predominately white neighborhood.

After being released from jail for violating New York state's Good Samaritan laws (ten years for not knowing what the words "Good Samaritan" mean, with time added on for shanking George Constanza in prison), Elaine Benes moves to a suburban neighborhood, mostly to get away from George's psychotic parents, who are determined to make her a "Festivus sacrifice."

Her next door neighbors are a friendly and helpful African-American family, the Evans family. The parents, Florida and James, welcome Elaine to the neighborhood, commenting on how much more pleasant she is than Florida's old boss, Archie Bunker. Elaine is especially fascinated by their eldest son's obsession with TNT.

Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worse when Elaine starts uttering her catch-phrase "Get out!" at inopportune times when the Evans family are passing by. For example, one day as the Evans's are unloading groceries, Elaine is entertaining her best friend, Jerry Seinfeld, on her front porch. Suddenly, Jerry points to the sky.

"Is that a Vought Corsair flying overhead?"

"Get out!" Elaine responds in shock.

"I'm sorry, were you talking to me?" Florida exclaims, pulling a bag from her hatchback.

"Oh, I didn't see you standing there, Florida!"

"Mmm-hmm," responds Florida.

This continues on throughout the film, finally leading the Evans to move out of the neighborhood. Elaine is distraught at the damage she has single-handedly and unwittingly done to race relations. She vows to do better with her new neighbors, a very sweet family, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Out.

Lady Bird

This historical film covers an erratic and life-changing road trip, taken by Lady Bird Johnson, wife of the irascible President of the United States, Lyndon Bird Johnson.

Shortly after the death of her husband, Lady Bird (Cher) buys a Ford Thunderbird convertible, a case of Wild Turkey bourbon, a case of Swisher Sweets cigarillos, and takes off on a cross country voyage of self-discovery, accompanied only by her beagle, Grassy Knoll (Tom Arnold), her hulking manservant Tor (The Rock), and four dozen Secret Service agents (The bass section of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir).

After ditching the Secret Service agents at a Texaco station in Mount Vernon, she, G.K. and Tor continue their trip, taking in the sights and occasionally picking up hitchhikers who Tor refers to as "my little squeezies." It is at this point that the ex-First Lady figures out why the case of bourbon is half-empty.

Somewhere between Tuscaloosa, Alabama and El Dorado, Arkansas, while stumping Tor in a game of "I Spy" (she is looking at a modified Vought Corsair cropduster, which the sodden Tor thinks is a gassy turkey vulture), she picks up a young man named Willie (Jimmy Fallon), who reminds her of her first love in the days before her shotgun wedding to LBJ.

She and Willie wind the days down, taking turns driving, wolfing down Stuckey's chili dogs, and talking of life, mostly about how each of them got stuck with a name that's a euphemism for a wiener.

She feels herself drawn to Willie, but the age difference is too great for their times, and also Willie reveals to her that he is in fact the Zodiac Killer. Shocked and heartbroken, because he won't tell her how to break his code, Lady Bird knocks him unconscious with a shovel (because it's more cinematic than empty bottles of Wild Turkey) and leaves him at a rest stop outside Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

She swears G.K. and Tor to secrecy, which isn't hard, because they're both passed out from the liquor, and carries the dark secret into the murky future. (It's foggy and her headlights are out.)

Phantom Thread

This is the story of a young woman's experience in an online discussion board where she slowly begins to suspect that she is exchanging messages with the comic strip hero The Phantom.

Alma (Bjork) is a young waitress who whiles away the time between shifts at Waffle House by spending time on online discussion boards.

One night she decides to branch out from her usual "Hot Women, Hot Bacon" boards. After wandering through the scramble eggs forum, several muffin fetish forums, and an engrossing forum dedicated to the refurbishing of vintage Vought Corsairs, she spies a forum that intrigues her: Bangalla. Unfortunately, this turns out to be a typo for the words "bang gals."5

After three weeks, and several dates, she quickly finds her way from that forum to the actual Bangalla forum and begins exchanging posts with someone whom she thinks is Christopher Walken (the voice of Christopher Walken). After he repeatedly fails to get all her jokes about "The Continental" and "champagne," she realizes his name is actually Christopher Walker. Putting two and two together, especially after all Christopher's references to tights chafing and mask sweat, she begins to believe he is the legendary comic strip hero The Phantom.

Soon, Alma's evenings are a whirlwind of reading her online friend's exotic tales of crime-fighting, intercontinental travel, and wolf grooming. Her life is so transformed, she buys her own set of magenta tights and begins to fight crime in her home town of Poughkeepsie6. This mostly consists of screaming at jaywalkers and ominously warning people not to make unauthorized deductions on their IRS 1040 long form.

All of this unravels when one evening C.W. starts referring to her as "Christine" in posts. After doing a little sleuthing, which mostly consists of asking questions in a Sherlock Holmes forum, she realizes she has actually been exchanging posts with the Phantom of the Opera, who was only pretending to be the comic strip hero The Phantom to pick up chicks.

Despite this falsity, when she confronts him with the truth (in a 12,000 word post titled "You're Not That Phantom!") she realizes she is in love with him and consigns herself to lifetime of reading posts about organ music and sewer fog.

The Post

Steven Spielberg's venture into the dark and murky world of war, politics, journalism, and Meryl Streep's obsession with winning Academy Awards, The Post is about a determined newspaper publisher who makes a post on social media that goes insanely viral.

So, in other words, it's everyday on Twitter.

Kathryn Graham (no relation to Billy, Chapman, or crackers) is the new publisher of the Washington Post, having taken over from the little known interim, Bob Barker. As the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, Graham wants readers to know that she's as tough and uncompromising as her male predecessors. She establishes this with a few savvy moves. She adds a extra sports section to the paper (bringing the total to four). She insists that each daily crossword puzzle include at least seven auto or woodworking clues. She replaces Dear Abby with Ann Landers, who most readers regard as the more butch of the two. She even replaces Ziggy with the short-lived comic strip "Welding While Flying the Vought Corsair."

All of these moves backfire with the Post's audience. (For example, several thousand Ziggy fans attempt to burn down her house.) Also, Dear Abby goes after her with a machete during a lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill. This leaves the talented yet overcompensatory publisher in what is known in the newspaper business as "a tizzy."

Editor Ben Bradlee offers his assistance (in exchange for Bob Woodward's cushy parking spot next to the local pretzel vendor). Reluctantly, Graham agrees, but only if Woodward will tell her who Deep Throat really is. After a fantastic montage of Bradlee patronizing Graham for a month (set to Neil Sadaka's "You're Having My Baby"), the editor lets Graham in on the news that they have uncovered a huge cache of secret papers from the Pentagon.

"The only thing we don't know is what to call them," Bradlee growls in a voice strangely reminiscent of astronaut Jim Lovell.

Graham solves the problem and the rest is history.

Later, she posts the story on America Online and the post goes viral, mostly from all the hostile responses from Ziggy fans who still bear a grudge.

The Shape of Water

This documentary overview of Bruce Lee's philosophical works covers a great deal of ground (much like people who got into fights with Lee).

The central focus of the film is Lee's famous remark about being like water. However, the film goes beyond the familiar quote and into the vast array of permutations and examples Lee used to show how to put his philosophy into practice all upside someone's face.

"If you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup."
"If you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle."
"If you put water into a bottle with a leak, it becomes a bottle taking a leak,"
"If you put water into a silly straw, it becomes the silly shape of a straw."
"If you put water into a pipe clogged with hair, it becomes a hairy pipe."
"If you put water into a Chia Pet, it becomes a damp Chia Pet."
"If you put water into a stretch limousine, it becomes the hot tub."
"If you put water into a Vought Corsair, it becomes the cabin of the plane, including the butt groove in the pilot's leather seat."
"If water leaves a town on a train traveling at 30 miles an hour, and more water leaves on another train traveling 35 miles an hour, and the waters are 100 miles apart, how long will it take the waters to become a mongoose?"
If you put water into gravy, it becomes water floating on top of gravy, and, quite frankly, it ruins the gravy. This makes me deeply angry, because I love gravy."
"If you put water into a giant reservoir, behind an enormous dam, and then the dam is blown up, the water becomes a massive, raging torrent of death. Kind of like me in Enter the Dragon."
"If water is distributed into an aquifer, and the region the aquifer serves is exposed to higher than average temperatures, with elevated humidity and consistent prevailing northerly winds, the water will be distributed throughout the atmosphere as it evaporates, unless, of course, the water is tapped and removed before this can happen, which is a strong possibility in a heavily populated area with a large manufacturing base. Be water, my friend."

Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

The intense tale of a woman, touched by tragedy, who becomes obsessed with putting up Burma Shave billboards outside of her hometown of Ebbing, Missouri.

Mildred Hayes is a local woman who, infuriated by the lack of police progress solving the murder of her daughter, rents space on three critical billboards on the main highway. This inspired the police to get off their lazy, doughnut-shaped asses and solve the crime. (It also helps that the murderer had confessed two weeks earlier.)

Flush with her billboard-inspired success, and still left with six months on her billboard rental contract, Mildred starts using the space to get other things she wants. In a scant four weeks she manages to convince the local McDonald's franchise to Super Size value meals for free (infuriating local crank Morgan Spurlock), gets everyone double coupons from the downtown Kroger's market, convinces the manufacturing plant to donate to the county soup kitchen, and blackmails the mayor and the county judge into a nude mud wrestling match during a school board meeting.

Despite the mixed reaction of this last effort, Mildred's endeavors make her a hero to the community. However, Mildred begins to grow bored with the work. She decides to do something just for her herself for change. Being an obsessive connoisseur of mid-Twentieth century popular culture (her Twitter handle is @LileksPopCulture), she decides to recreate the famous Burma Shave signs.

Unfortunately, she quickly realizes those messages usually required five to seven signs. Refusing to give up - and also being battier than a Louisville Slugger factory - she has four additional billboards built on the highway and sets about bringing the kitschy past to life.

The universe is against her however, as every new billboard she erects is destroyed by a freak disaster. A Vought Corsair from a local air show crashes into one of them. Another is carried off by twister. The third is toppled by an angry Sasquatch. ("Sasquatch don't like shavin'.") The final one is destroyed when the Sasquatch throws the third billboard into it.

Eventually, Mildred decides that this is the spirit of her daughter telling her to move on. She donates the remainder of her billboard rental time to the Shoji Tabuchi Theater7, and turns back to her first love, pole dancing. The final shot of the film shows her dangling from a pole in front of the billboards, waiting to receive her Best Actress Oscar.

1This is not an Olympic Curling reference.
2No, not ACTUAL blank verse. Since when did you mistake me for Shakespeare or Marlowe?
3Three strikings and you're out!
4Congratulate me! This is the first Vought Corsair reference in 14 years that isn't out of place.
5Turns out it's hard to type when you're "getting busy."
6Voted funniest town name in the U.S. from 1987-2013.
7Unfortunately, Branson, MO is in the opposite direction.

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Thursday, November 09, 2017


One of my big regrets in letting this blog slide is that we missed the whole political scene of 2016 and much of 2017. Oh, I'm glad we missed much of it, except for the jokes. There were so many jokes.

And they were all on us.

However, politics, like death, taxes, and venereal disease, can always be found. So, it's never too late for a dose of the political clap, so to speak.

One thing that political analysts really enjoy is predicting things and being wrong. I write those two together because over the last half decade or so they have gone hand in hand. Well, we can predict things and be wrong, too. So, here are some predictions about the political landscape. I feel confident that one or two of these will almost certainly come to pass.

  • President Trump will be impeached, but will be exonerated on the Senate floor when Claude Rains rushes in and yells, "Expel me! I did it!" After the vote acquitting Trump, Rains will protest that he wasn't referring to the President but to Senator Mitch McConnell, expelled earlier that day after he was mistaken for cartoon legend Yertle the Turtle. Also, Rains will realize he's been dead for decades and crumble into dust. A bad day all around for the Senate.
  • Hillary Clinton will also be impeached and acquitted, just for the hell of it.
  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senators Chuck Schumer and Rand Paul, and incoming Secretary of Commerce Kid Rock will form a Def Leppard tribute band. Only Paul's hair will prove superior to the original. 
  • Governor Bobby Jindal will release his book, "Hey Everyone, Remember Me?"
  • Vying for the legacy of Hillary Clinton, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris will marry unfaithful, slick-talking politicians, take dubious contributions, jack up their speaking fees by 1000%, and react to fireworks like they are on PCP.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will form a boy band named "You Just Knew This Would Happen."
  • President Trump will take to responding to all press questions with the line, "I don't have time for this ****. I have to pee." His popularity will go up 15 points, solely on this change. The irony? It's a lie. He peed in the hallway on the way in.
  • The Mueller investigation will end with a single conviction: Former White House Advisor Steve Bannon will be convicted of egregiously violating federal limits on body oil and sweat. He is sentenced to life imprisonment and to be nightly visited by the ghost of Andrew Breitbart, who beats hell out of him.
  • Congress will replace the current tax code with the rules for the board game Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
  • Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson will get stoned. A lot. (I can't go wrong with this one.)
  • Senator Ted Cruz will announce the publication of his new book, written entirely in code, "Yes, I am the Zodiac Killer. What the Hell Are You Going to Do About It?"
  • Senator Bernie Sanders and Actor/Writer Larry David will finally confirm that they are, in fact, the same person.
  • The meme "But Her E-Mails" will quickly die out when investigators announce that Hillary Clinton's e-mail server contained her explicit orders for Fox to cancel Firefly and for CBS to renew Two and a Half Men for several seasons. 
  • President Trump will announce the following at a news conference: "Twitter just expanded to 280 characters, which just happens to be the length of the nuclear code! In fact, I just tweeted it!"

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

How to Ruin Your Social Media Company or Why Twitter Sucks

You may be surprised to see a new post here, given how little activity there has been over the last few years. To be honest, I've concentrated my efforts on Twitter for some time, because the jokes fly faster and are seen by more people. All of this is changing now, thanks to one group of people: the staff and management of Twitter.

If you're a longtime Twitter user, you're probably familiar with Twitter's ongoing quest to resolve their weak (some might say calamitous) financial model by slowing becoming "Facebook-Lite." In practice Twitter's change process goes like this:

  1. Announce a new change that doesn't accomplish anything besides eroding Twitter's unique qualities.
  2. Watch as the vast majority of Twitter users declare their utter contempt for the change.
  3. Go ahead with the change anyway, because "**** the users; we're losing money on this crap."
  4. Lose even more money than before and fall further behind other social media companies.
  5. Turn attention towards the next big change that will fail.
It's a vicious cycle, marked primarily by Twitter's stubborn refusal to acknowledge they made a bad choice, something even Microsoft is capable of doing on occasion.

Seriously, I can't think of a change Twitter has announced that they backed away from after the inevitable complaints from users. If there is one, it's obviously a minor, inconsequential one, because on all the big ones, they've blown it like the Atlanta Falcons at last year's Super Bowl. Just off the top of my head, here are a few:

  • Changing the trends list to favor popular tweets, a case of the rich (celebrities and famous Twitter accounts) getting an edge over the average Joe and Josephine.
  • Changing Favorites to Likes (and the insipid hearts that came with them)
  • Expanding tweets to include additional media at no count (the most obvious offenders are the awful, seizure inducing animated GIFs - yes, I have used them on occasion, but only ones I felt were reasonably smooth and not idiotic, which limits my choice to about 2% of the available lists).
  • Over policing people's tweets, resulting in accounts being frozen for political disagreements, while actual stalkers, terrorists, and other malfeasance goes untouched. 
  • Changing the avatars from rectangular images to space-wasting circles, despite the near-universality of rectangular framed photos.
And now, in their latest FUBAR, they have expanded the size of tweets from 140 characters to 280 characters.

Listen, I realize this is, as they say, a "first-world problem," but I'm a writer, and this affects one of the principle writing activities I engage in these days. So, for me, this is serious business, even if what I tend to write is silly and occasionally slightly deranged. (It's all on purpose, of course!)

The original genius of Twitter is two-fold: 

First, it allows people from all walks of life to freely communicate with one another. I've exchanged tweets with comedy heroes, famous actors and writers, and people who are as famous as I am (which is to say, not at all). I have Twitter followers who are quite accomplished in their fields. It's a kind of technological miracle that doesn't really happen as much in other social media. And those famous people didn't have their publicists and agents between them and us. It was really them, which is often thrilling, and occasionally disappointing.

Second, the 140 character limit created a form of writing that minimized blather and rambling, creating, at its best, a place where people exchanged pithy, witty, and even thoughtful statements. Yes, there was still plenty of junk, vulgarity, and stupidity, but it was stupid, vulgar junk that didn't run on for a dozen paragraphs. Twitter placed a premium on economy, if not elegance, which is a commodity every writer, even those of us prone to the eccentrically baroque, should value. 

Yes, Twitter isn't the greatest place to have an argument, but even the arguments on Twitter forced people to pare their thoughts down to the essentials. And the short tweets made for a natural tool to share breaking news, leading to a kind of communal experience most people haven't experienced since cable TV exploded.

And now they've ruined it. Extending the limit has already produced thousands of tweets that are nearly unreadable in Twitter's format, especially on smartphones. More so, it's made Twitter into something all too familiar - just another social media format where people can blather and ramble on and on. It's made Twitter ordinary and boring, if not annoying.

Twitter's owners and managers have made it more and more like the other social media outlets, and, sadly, the more and more this has happened, the more people are learning that Twitter doesn't really serve a purpose anymore. We can do everything we can do on Twitter on Instagram or Facebook or Blogger.

And that's the beginning of the end for Twitter. And the sad part is, like the line in the Radiohead song, they did it to themselves, and that's why it really hurts.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Besting Out!

It's that time of year again, the magical, exciting time when the shimmering Illuminati of Hollywood congregate in their finest regalia and rarest baubles to ostentatiously celebrate making... well, making the same junk they've made for decades.

It's also the time when I struggle to write a new blog post title with the word "Best" in it. My apologies to Rick James for this year's entry. It was either that or "We Must, We Must, We Must Improve Our Best."

As you can see, I didn't have very good options.

Anyway, the 2017 nominees for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture of the Year do not include any Star Wars films. But, as regular readers may have guessed, they include a helluva lot of Vought Corsairs...


This entry probes deep into the depths of outer space, asking the question, "Are we alone?" and answering it with, "Are you nuts? Have you been to midtown Manhattan recently?"

Amy Adams plays a woman pretending to know nothing about extraterrestrials - even though she's dating a very famous one, known for his cape and tights. (No, she's not dating Thor. No, it's not the Martian Manhunter either. No, Silver Surfer doesn't even have a cape... what are you people smoking?)

The humdrum, day to day monotony of her boring life as a journalist who flies with and snogs Superman (Duh) is shattered when several, super-cool looking, alien spacecraft land in different parts of the globe. She immediately begins investigating the story, mostly because she's got a serious Jones for aliens, but also because Perry White won't get off her back about getting exclusives with extraterrestrials.

"Great Caesars's Ghost! Do you want the N.Y. Post to catch up with us on super interviews?!"

She travels to the distant and exotic lands of West Virginia to see the largest of the craft, accompanied by Jimmy Olson (Seth Green), who makes at least 69 "size doesn't matter" jokes on the way. They fly to the location in a Vought Corsair, mostly because Jimmy can't get Google Maps to work on his product placement Windows Phone.

"Siri, show me the route to West Virginia."

"I'm not Siri. This is Google Maps. On a Windows Phone."

"Stop kiddin' around, Siri!"

Arriving in darkest West Virginia, they confer with military types who don't really want a couple of snoopy* journalists hanging around. Lois (Yes, Lois Lane!) convinces them to let her and Jimmy stay by impressing them with her pitch perfect pronunciation of "Gort, Klaatu Barada Nikto," which is always handy in these situations.

Also, they are afraid Superman will punch their lights out if they detain the two.

After exploring the area around the spaceship, Jimmy clumsily trips over a tank and falls into an area explicitly** marked "RESTRICTED." This sets off numerous alarms (and at least one dazzling glitter bomb), which then causes the ship to become active. In a remarkable display of smoke and lights (remarkable in that it exactly duplicates Def Leppard's 1986 stage show) the ship opens up, and from its deep and mysterious bowels strides a purposeful, solitary figure ...a figure wearing tights and a cape.

It's Superman, who proposes to Lois in what must be the hokiest and most expensive proposal stunt ever concocted. She says yes, but only because he went to Jared's.


Fences is a story about a guy who really loves fences. No, seriously, Denzel Washington plays Oxnard Bandersnoot, the neighbor of poet Robert Frost (Chevy Chase). Frost is writing what will one day be a very famous poem about fences but at the moment is a somewhat risque limerick about "a dame who fell off a fence."

Oxnard inspires Frost to rework the poem into an American classic. (There's a great scene where he says, "You know, you should change this poem so that it becomes an American classic.")

Also, he points out that the first line doesn't work in a limerick at all.

Impressed, Frost observes Bandersnoot for days, concluding that he is a hard working, plain-spoken man with a sensitive and inquisitive soul, but who knows absolutely nothing about farming. (The scene where Oxnard tearfully tries to milk a rooster is especially poignant.) However, he does love fences. He loves wooden fences, rock fences, barbed wire fences, stolen goods fences... he even loves fencing (epee, sabre, etc.). However, he doesn't love walls, because he's not a Trump guy.

"If you ask me, instead of a wall, Trump should build a fence, a big, ole' fence."

The more Frost learns about Bandersnoot, the more fascinated he becomes. He follows Oxnard through his daily routine of chores: planting fields, plowing fields, planting fields again because he accidentally plowed up the planted ones, and a rigorous four hour workout in the local Gold's Gym.

Frost even goes so far as to rent a Vought Corsair (the vintage, two-seater O2U biplane, so he can take photographs while the pilot flies) to observe Oxnard from the air. This scares the actual crap out of Oxnard, who was trying to take a number two in the field to avoid a long walk back to the house (and also because he couldn't afford fertilizer).

This leads to the final confrontation between Bandersnoot and Frost, an amazing light sabre fight ("En Garde!"), and Oxnard's inspirational final words to Frost: "Good fences make good neighbors."

Of course, that was the final edited version of the poem. An earlier draft contained Bandersnoot's full quote, which was, "Good fences make good neighbors. So, stay the hell away from me, you freaky, rhyme-happy stalker. Seriously, back the crap up Frost, and take your freaking leopard skin-bound, JFK-signed Roget's Thesaurus with you!"

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge is the story of Mel Gibson's long road back to respectability in Hollywood.

However, the actual film is about a pacifist who serves in World War II, endures the horrific violence of the Battle of Okinawa, the horrific violence of Mel Gibson's reenactment of the Battle of Okinawa, flies to Tokyo in a Vought Corsair to taunt Emperor Hirohito ("Your mother smells of elderberries!"), receives the Congressional Medal of Honor, and returns to his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia to sell hacksaws for a living. Ironically.

This all happens in the opening five minutes of the film. Then things get weird.

The world is suddenly destroyed by a nuclear holocaust (Thanks, Trump!), leaving the soldier (Mel Gibson) alone in a vast desert wasteland, with only his souped-up car and 1,000 gallons of gasoline (which for some reason he refers to as "petrol") for company.

He is not alone for long. He is soon joined by Sting (Sting) riding giant sand worms through the desert and singing "Don't Stand So Close to Me" - the better, upbeat version.

Next, they are joined by FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), also riding sand worms, who insists that the desert wasteland reminds him of something. However, he can never place his finger on it, because every time he's about to remember, someone distracts him with coffee and pie.

Suddenly, Dennis Hopper (Digital Dennis Hopper) and a VERY nude Isabella Rossellini (Brittany Spears) arrive on the scene. Between hits of nitrous oxide, Hopper blathers on about his missing "chopper." Rossellini spends most of her time draped around Agent Cooper, calling him her "secret lover," and refusing offers of "a bathrobe, towel, a empty barrel held up by suspenders, anything to get this film back down to a PG-13 rating."

Finally, the world is swallowed by a giant, luminescent moth, who digests it for a billion years with the rainbows in his stomach. Which is the sequel to the film, to be directed by Terence Malick.

Hell or High Water

This comedy is about ex-President Obama's attempts to hold back the rising of the seas with his personal magnetism. When this fails, resulting in Miami being renamed "New Atlantis," the president turns to a number of far-fetched schemes, each more hilarious than the other, according to the press releases for the film (all written by George Stephanopoulos).

The film opens with President Obama (Denzel Washington) arriving in Florida in a Vought Corsair. (To cut down on carbon emissions, the White House has loaned Air Force One to Al Gore, who paid carbon credits so he could use it to go skydiving.) The president is visiting the disaster areas of Eastern Florida, including the ones created by flooding.

The president realizes he must do something about the ecological nightmare, so he calls over his right-hand man, Shirley (Anne Hathaway) and explains the situation.

"Shirley, we must do something about this!"

"I'm on it, Mr. President. And stop calling me Shirley!"

"But it's your name."

"Oh, right. Good catch."

The first solution Shirley devises involves a very large bucket, but she quickly realizes that literally bailing out the coastal states isn't as easy as arranging financial bailouts. (Sad trombone)

Next, she attempts to have Western Europe lowered, so that the oceans might go there instead, preferring the more cosmopolitan atmosphere. After scientific advisers (Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in multiple roles) explain to her The Netherlands have already tried this, she decides instead to have the coastal states raised. This involves the massive relocation of dirt from other, drier parts of the country (mostly Arizona) and is accomplished in a massive cinematic sequence, accompanied by the theme music from TV's "The A-Team."

Unfortunately, this only results in the accumulation of several piles of wet dirt in the Fort Lauderdale metro area.

Shirley's next plan is more complex. She attempts to confuse the oceans by renaming Florida "Tennessee." Other than the temporary relocation of the Grand Ole Opry to Wewahitchka, Florida (which was already pretty wet to begin with), this plan also fails.

Finally, just as Shirley is about to nuke the water out of the oceans, President Obama's term ends, and they all fly to Hawaii to play golf.

President Trump then takes office and tries to turn back the tides of the oceans to with the force of his own personality, which only makes the oceans angry.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is the story of three African-American female mathematicians who help NASA put a man into space, and who also play an elaborate practical joke on astronaut John Glenn by hiding his vintage Disneykins figurines (the 'Hidden Figures" of the title).

The film opens with pilot John Glenn (Buster Poindexter) landing his Vought Corsair F4U at an airfield in Anaheim, California. While wasting the government's time loitering around the airfield gift shop, he spots a set of Disneykins figurines. He is immediately taken with them, especially Minnie, because "Va Va Voom!" Also, the figurine of Pluto instantly inspires him to become an astronaut.

"One day, I will land on Pluto!"

Cut to several years into the future at Cape Canaveral. Mathematician Katharine G. Johnson - "no relation to Lyndon B." (Taraji P. Henson - No relation to Jim) is starting her first day on the job for NASA. She meets new friends Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle MonĂ¡e) over a light lunch of ham sandwiches and differential equations.

The three women strive valiantly to maintain their human dignity and professionalism in the face of the evils of racism and segregation, which they do beautifully, of course. Duh.

However, they are constantly irritated by the astronauts' penchant for playing practical jokes on the staff, and, after two months of having their office furniture flipped upside down, their cars festooned with toilet paper, and their algorithms littered with the Riemann hypothesis, they decide to plot their revenge.

Their brilliant plot comes together during John Glenn's orbital flight. Aided by an eccentric physicist named Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Bradley Cooper - What, did you think it would be Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory? It's the 1960's!), and in a caper scene rivaling Ocean's Eleven, the ladies break into Glenn's locker and Bogart his figurines, hiding them in an undisclosed location (initially, the same one Vice President Dick Cheney used in the early 2000's).

Glenn is informed about the practical joke in the middle of his flight to the amusement of everyone (especially Alan Shepard, who wishes he had thought of it). Unfortunately, Glenn is so upset at the thought of anything happening to his precious Minnie ("My precious!") that he loses his concentration and sends the ship off course, headed straight for Uranus.***

Fortunately, Katharine, Dorothy, and Mary devise a brilliant equation to put Glenn's capsule back on course, no thanks to Dr. Cooper, who is too busy arranging his comic book collection to help.

Glenn safely splashes down and is greeted as a national hero. Later, back at NASA, the ladies reveal that the figurines were in his spacesuit the whole time.

"So that's what was floating around down there!"

They all laugh in a closing comic freeze-frame shot that aesthetically undermines the rest of the film.

La La Land

La La Land is the musical story of a place where no one wants to listen to anything anyone has to say. So, everyone spends the entire day with their fingers in their ears, shouting, "La, la, la, la! I can't hear you!"

Clearly the film is a metaphor for Hollywood. And Washington. And the UN, and about 75% of Thanksgiving family dinners after the 2016 presidential election.

Emma Stone plays Babette, a young, aspiring actress with a speaking voice that could strip the bark off of a redwood (Think Lena Lamont from Singing in the Rain, only voiced by Harvey Fierstein). However, her singing voice is so beautifully ethereal it could melt the face of a Nazi.

After flying into La La Land in a chartered Vought Corsair (because she refused to fly United), she is at first overwhelmed by the constant chatter and waxy fingers of the local citizenry. After several attempts to make friends, she finally befriends a young-ish man named Aloysius (Ryan Gosling) at the local Tim Horton's by talking to him when he takes his fingers out of his ears to eat his apple fritters.

"How do they taste?"

"Like apples, sugar, and beeswax!"

However, her voice proves so sonically appalling that he immediately puts his fingers back into his ears.

After several weeks of this, Aloysius is near starvation. Fearful that her only friend may die, she sings to him in a production number that would make both Florenz Ziegfeld and Beyonce blush. Recognizing that her voice is beautiful (and that she doesn't look bad in a sheer toga, either) he realizes that she can communicate to him in song, enabling them to fall in love. After a few dozen Honey Crullers to regain his strength, the whirlwind romance begins.

Alas, they quickly find out that he wants to Make America Great Again (TM) and She's With Her. They both quickly plug their fingers into their ears and life goes on in La La Land.


Lion is the story of an adopted Indian child who dreams of playing the Cowardly Lion alongside Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, despite the fact that the role was performed by Bert Lahr in 1939.

Saroo (Dev Patel) is separated from his family in Khandwa, India when his house is suddenly swept up by a freak tornado. Being a bright child, and having a preternaturally fine sense of fashion, he passes on wearing the gaudy red shoes that fell off the witch on whom his house landed.

However, he is now thousands of miles away from home, lost, alone, unable to speak the local language, and extremely dizzy from all the spinning around.

He is quickly adopted by an Australian couple (Mel Gibson and Meryl Streep) and raised as though he were one of their own children, which he actually is, because they legally adopted him. So, it's weird that they keep making a big thing about it.

Eventually, he grows up, watches The Wizard of Oz 10,000 times (wishing he'd taken the shoes so he could have gotten home by now), and becomes convinced he would be perfect for the role of the Cowardly Lion, because he loves wearing fake fur and knows how to sing and pout at the same time.

He leaves Australia, flying a Vought Corsair back to India, which scares the hell out of several million people, 1) because he forgot to remove the bomb strapped to the belly of the plane, and 2) because he never learned to fly and his landing approach consists of diving into the runway in an out of control spin.

Coincidentally, his spinning landing kills yet another witch (the annoying, condescending one in the giant bubble) and he uses her wand to locate his parents, travel back in time, and star in the role of a lifetime.

He and Judy Garland marry and have a daughter, named Liza Saroo Minnelli. She later moves to India, starring in some of Bollywood's greatest musicals, and her daughter gives birth to a little boy named Saroo, giving this film the creepiest ending ever imagined.

Manchester by the Sea

This film answers the question, "How do you tell apart Manchester, England from Manchester, Massachusetts? The answer is, of course, one of them is right by the sea.

Unfortunately, it takes a two hour and seventeen minute slog through the dysfunctional personal relationships of several New England residents (no, not the Affleck brothers) to get there. Along the way, things get bizarre.

Lee (Casey Affleck) is a handyman disturbed by the past. When his brother, Biff (Ben Affleck) suddenly dies by falling out of a Vought Corsair, he returns home to comfort his nephew Chad (Matt Damon) and to solve the mystery behind Biff's death.

Lee hires The Batman (Ben Affleck) to solve the mystery of his brother's death. Batman (Christian Bale) determines that the death was murder and that the murderer is someone in the town, possibly the Joker (Jack Nicholson).

Lee asks Batman (Michael Keaton) to interrogate all of his family members (The Baldwin Brothers), and a few old high school bullies (Gary Busey, Rosie O'Donnell), just for fun.

Batman (Val Kilmer) romances both Lee's ex-wife (Julie Newmar)and his brother's ex-wife (Jennifer Garner). He also befriends Chad, and Lee's other cousins, Todd (Tom Brady), Trevor (Conan O'Brien), Jared (The guy who owns the chain of jewelry stores), Ross (David Schwimmer), and Doug Niedermeyer (Mark Metcalf). This involves a lot of shooting pool and cheap, domestic beer drinking.

Batman (George Clooney) concludes that all of them are guilty of the murder, and that also, Biff was a real jerk. Batman (Adam West) then defeats them all in a zappity-pow climactic fist-fight, aided by his "ward," Dick Grayson (Burt Ward).

Batman (Will Arnett) then confronts Lee with the evidence that he is the ringleader of the murder crew. Lee starts to deny it, but finally confesses, exclaiming, "And I'd have gotten away with it too, if not for you meddling kids and your "ward!"

Batman (Lewis Wilson) then turns over Lee and the gang to Chief Inspector O'Hara (Ben Affleck) who laments "the sorry sight of such a dastardly family," punctuated by a few heartfelt exclamations of "Begora!"


The tragic tale of how Beethoven was inspired to compose his Moonlight Sonata begins with a young African-American man (Ashton Sanders), sitting in a roadside diner, listening to Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven." The young man, named Chiron - after the little logo widgets at the bottom of cable channels and NOT the boatman at the River Styx, because that would be terribly pretentious - is fascinated by the idea that, despite being deaf, Beethoven composed music so beautiful it inspired a Chuck Berry guitar solo.

Due to a combination of powerful, illegal narcotics, and powerful, probably illegal, diner-strength Sloppy Joes, Chiron falls into a deep sleep. He dreams he is transported to 19th century Vienna, into the parlor of Beethoven himself (Chuck Berry).

Beethoven shows Chiron all the marvels of Vienna: The Opera Hall, the Composers Guild, the House of Parliament, his mistresses' apartments, and the factory where they make the bland little sausages that smell like wet salt.

Beethoven then takes Chiron for a flight over the city in a Vought Corsair O2U. (It's a dream, people... so BACK OFF.) From the air, over one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Chiron realizes his own personal problems seem small and distant and hardly worth worry.

However, this passes as soon as they land when the plane is suddenly surrounded by a group of very racist musicians who are upset that Beethoven is spending so much time with a young man of color, and also that he arranged his Ninth Symphony for electric guitar, bass, drums, and "duck-walkin' shoes."

Also, there's one guy who keeps pulling out his hair and shouting, "A giant mechanical bird!!!"

Chiron and Beethoven barely escape with their lives by driving off in the 1968 Ford Mustang Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt, (DREAM!) They drive from Vienna to San Francisco, where Beethoven has a concert scheduled with Little Richard (Franz Liszt).

Just as they arrive, Beethoven announces that their adventure has inspired him to write the most amazing piano sonata, and he composes the Moonlight Sonata in 120 seconds flat, maiming several band-members foolhardy enough to venture close by while he's stabbing his pen into the inkwell.

Chiron awakes with a new respect for his own life and vows to make something of himself, as well as to never eat another Sloppy Joe again as long as he lives.


*A confusion abetted by the "Joe Cool" t-shirt Jimmy is wearing
** The sign has at least three F-bombs on it.
***Admit it. You knew I'd make that joke sooner or later.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Not Your Grammy's Grammys!

As usual, I sat out the Grammys, having little tolerance for televised, partially lip-synced, live, recorded music. However, I'm told it was quite a hootenanny, and so, being the conscientious reporter of popular culture that I am, I felt this was as good a time as any to make my first non-Oscars pop culture post in 3 or 4 years.

As I didn't actually watch the show though, most of this report is based on Internet accounts of the program, some of which may be less than reliable -- although if you can't trust accounts like @crazylyingoldbastard, who can you trust?

The show opened with a dazzling Beyonce number. She arrived astride a unicorn, wearing a classic Bob Mackie "ToomuchfabricforCher" number, only made of gold silk and encrusted with platinum, diamonds, and a relatively safe level of iridium (for the perfect glow). She sang a medley of Slim Whitman tunes (the danceable ones).

Kanye West then interrupted the first presenter to announce that Beyonce should have won whatever award she was going to lose later that evening.

Snoop Dogg then presented an award. Well, I think it was Snoop. By all appearances it was only a large cloud of thick smoke with elegant shoes. However, in addition to Snoop's voice, Martha Stewart could be heard from within the cloud, exclaiming, "These cookies are going to be delicious!"

This was followed by a Beyonce number. She sang Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" while riding an ornate (gold, diamonds, the usual crap) nineteenth-century stagecoach pulled by Adele and Taylor Swift. The whole thing ended when Cash's face was projected on her baby bump, which she proceeded to gyrate in such a way to make it appear that Cash was finishing the song.

The lady is a marvel.

Kanye West then interrupted a Lionel Ritchie presentation to announce that when The Commodores wrote "Brickhouse" they must have been thinking of Beyonce, despite the fact she wasn't born yet. 

"Imma let you finish," West intoned, "but you all were ******** Nostradamuses!"

This was followed by several angry speeches by various performers criticizing President Donald Trump and threatening to back out of playing his casinos and resorts if he doesn't "ease up a bit."

Next was a new Metallica number, which fans at home only heard as a loud, amplified shriek and guitar chord. Kayne interrupted the finale to remind everyone that the Atlanta Falcons were more deserving of the Super Bowl win than the New England Patriots. He then suggested someone should "blow up Tom Brady's balls (pause) ...his footballs! (heavily-amplified rim-shot)"

This was followed by a Beyonce number consisting of her riding on the outside of an actual 747 that plunged into a life-sized reenactment of the destruction of Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius. People called it the most euphemistic cover of Spinal Tap's "Sex Farm" ever done.

Next, the award for best classical composition was given to a very famous European composer who was booed off stage when he or she* made a plea for "tasteful, moving music." 

Kanye West then interrupted again. "Imma let you finish, but would the owner of a Red Lamborghini please send a member of your posse to the parking lot. Your lights are on. [19 different people get up]. Sorry, that's a *cherry-red* Lamborghini! [14 sit back down] ...A convertible [3 more sit down] ...With a custom spoiler! [1 more sits down] Thank you."

Lady Gaga then did a recreation of her Super Bowl set, only with more drones and dancers.

This was followed by songs memorializing David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, and a very befuddled CeeLo Green, who was sitting in the audience, dressed as one of Auric Goldfinger's victims. This depressed the hell out of everyone, despite the cocaine.

Adele won the award for Best Everything, but explained to everyone that she thinks Beyonce should have won, and also that she loathes herself as a human being for daring to even touch Queen Bey's award and is thinking of becoming a nun, or maybe just switching to folk music, which is "the same thing except without the chastity." 

This was followed by a Beyonce number where she performed nude while hypnotizing the live and televised audience into thinking she was wearing a very detailed and exotic costume (the usual stuff, only with pearls).

The show ended with Morris Day and the Time reminding us all of why we used to listen to pop music.


*This happened during the commercial break, so no one is sure.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Simply the Best Picture Nominees of 2016!

I realize this place has been quieter than a John Kasich campaign rally lately, but one thing I will not forget to post is our annual review of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Best Picture nominees.

This is the time of year when we sit back in awe and wonder at the cinematic magic that brings to life fantastic stories and characters on the silver screen. Then, after we turn off Turner Classic Movies's annual month long tribute to the Oscars, we sit around an wonder which one of this year's crop of digital phlegm will be momentarily ennobled by the little gold statue of the man with the improbably long "sword."

And the Oscar goes to... one of these. I suppose.

The Big Short

This amazing Disney film is about the day Rick Moranis accidentally enlarged Martin Short to the size of a stretch Hummer limo. (Original title: Honey, I Maxed Out the Marty!)

During a holiday party (Arbor Day) at Graceland, actor and part-time mad scientist Rick Moranis (James Franco) is playing around with his latest invention, a death ray. After frying Donald Trump (Rip Taylor) to a crisp and burning a basketball-sized hole through Lena Dunham's (Hillary Clinton) cowboy belt buckle, Moranis makes a few delicate adjustments to the device with a baseball bat (Robert DeNiro) and accidentally enlarges Martin Short (Kenneth Brannagh) to the point where he could have played Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, were Hagrid twice as big and a world-class talk show schmoozer.

Always being "on" and seeking to entertain the party crowds, as well as the alarming crowd of government scientists (the 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models) gathering outside, "The Big Short" quickly demolishes the Memphis mansion while relating a story about a visit to Gary Busey's (Nick Nolte) winter condo (Holiday Inn Express), and growing even larger he juggles Elvis's collection of rhinestone-covered Cadillacs (The Jonas Brothers) until they crash, destroying an entire wing dedicated to Elvis's capes (Martin Short, in an unbilled cameo).

The change in size, and Moranis's continual firing of the ray at Short, yelling, "I can fix this Marty!" quickly drive the giant-sized Ed Grimley mad. He rambles eastward, over the Appalachians (getting several standing ovations from hill people who still remember his brilliant turn as the even larger Jiminy Glick), eventually rampaging down the east coast. The Big Short makes his way to the Big Apple, stopping only to do two nights of stand up in Atlantic City, and finally to the top of the Empire State Building, reasoning, "Why not? It's a cliche, but a good one, I must say!"

At the top of the Empire State Building, he regales the city below with several anecdotes about visits to Regis and Kathy Lee (both played by David Letterman, in flashback), and a mildly salacious story about a flirtatious Mia Farrow, until a passing squadron of Vought Corsairs shoot him down for referring to Frank Sinatra as "Mr. Farrow."

As Marty falls, Rick Moranis points the ray at himself, just in time to grow himself to giant size. He reverses the effect, points the ray at Short, and reduces his size just in time to improbably catch him, Luckily, the 4,587 bullets fired at the plucky comic actor only grazed him, and every one lives happily ever after, because that's the way Disney rolls these days.

Bridge of Spies

A dark tale of espionage, betrayal, and scheduling snafus, this film recounts the day in 1987 that every NATO and KGB agent in Europe got stuck in a traffic jam on the Tower Bridge in London.

The day begins when a lone Vought Corsair drops a cargo of leaflets on the Soviet Embassy in London (right down the street from the Nando's on Bayswater Road). The leaflets purport to reveal the time and location of a major exchange of secret information (the secret recipe of KFC's 11 herbs and spices) between KGB double agents and MI6 agents, all disguised as mimes. Unfortunately, the leaflets scatter, landing not only on the embassy grounds but also in the surrounding neighborhood, where they are collected by intelligence agents from around the world (except for the French, who are on a smoke break at the time - the Belgians fill them in later, during a lunch of frites and coq a vin).

What none of the participants know is that the flyers are a prank by a local television and radio personality (rhymes with Balan Cartridge) who is determined to embarrass the Soviets for "inventing borscht."

The prank quickly turns deadly when the location, the Tower Bridge (for those of you who didn't bother to read the first paragraph), is swarmed with aggressive, hard-drinking, heavily-armed mimes. The situation quickly turns into violent, acrobatic, yet remarkably silent combat that brings traffic to a halt from Doddinghurst to Tadworth.

The situation is finally defused when Margaret Thatcher para-sails into the conflict with a mini-gun and dispatches all of the remaining agents, along with three actual mimes, just for sport.

The media personality (rhymes with Fallon Tartridge), in keeping with the sternest traditions of British Justice, is fined 15 pounds, and ordered to clean up the bridge.


This is the fascinating story of a young, idealistic Irish woman (Whoopi Goldberg) named Brooklyn (after David Beckham's eldest son, who strangely would not be born for another 50 years). Being named Brooklyn, she decides to travel to Brooklyn, NY and promptly charters a Vought Corsair to travel to America. Unfortunately, due to the Corsair's limited range (882 nautical miles), and the fact that she is not trained to fly the single seat fighter, she finds herself crash landing on an uncharted island in the middle of the North Atlantic.

Just as she is about to lose all hope and draw a face on a semi-deflated volleyball, she is rescued by a tramp steamer headed for Morocco. The ship, populated with Charlie Chaplin impersonators (the cast of TV's Glee), is a torrent of bamboo canes, baggy pants, over-sized shoes, and weird, obsessive questions about whether Brooklyn is really as old as she looks.

This proves too much for her, and she steals away one evening in a lifeboat, while the Chaplins are distracted with "Roller-skate Night." She rows the remaining few thousand miles to the new world (fortunately, she has forearms like Popeye the Sailor). Alas, her navigational skills are sub-par, and she beaches her dinghy on the shores of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After a few more tries (Havana, Miami, Venice, Prince Edward Island) the exhausted Brooklyn finally spies her destination on the horizon. She rows into view of the magnificent environs of New York City's most colorful borough, letting her senses drink in every building, street corner, and resident, and she promptly decides to return home.

She rows off into the east, into a glorious sunrise, humming the theme music to Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, eventually landing in Singapore.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The sequel to the little seen Mad Max film, Mad Max: Who Let the Dogs Out, Fury Road tells the story of how our rugged Australian hero drives down a quite little road in the Melbourne suburbs, completely enraged that he is unable to burn from his mind the image of the weird guy in the codpiece thong from The Road Warrior. Thus, we the audience have complete empathy with our hero.

Max (Jackie Chan) is ostensibly driving to the local chemist for a tube of hemorrhoid cream - so we know he's already on edge - but the nightmarish image of a mohawk and buttstrap sharing the same ghoulish body pushes him over the edge. He turns his vehicle, an 18-wheeler, into a KFC, and after changing the truck into the fried chicken vendor, he drives the now mobile KFC into a trailer park, flattening dozens of old cars on cinder-blocks.

After the carnage, the residents of the trailer park decide to hire Max to ward off the roving gangs of punks trying to steal their gasoline and put tires on their cars. Also, it's the only way to get Max to move his vehicle off of the town mayor (Getty Lee).

Eventually, Max befriends an eccentric pilot (Yahoo Serious) who flies an ultralight. Max trades in the ultralight for a Vought Corsair, and when the gangs finally attack, in their fleets of Toyota Priuses, the pilot blows them all to kingdom come with a single rocket.

His work done - by the frazzle-haired aviator - Max tells the park residents he must move on, largely because he never made it to the chemist and is unable to sit in one place longer than 30 seconds. He drives off into the sunset, flattening two trailers and exploding a kangaroo in the process.

The Martian

The mysterious story of how the star of TV's My Favorite Martian hid from the general public the fact that he was actually from Mars.

Ray Walston (Javier Bardem) is a moderately successful actor in Hollywood with a dark secret: He was born a prince of the hidden, ancient people of Mars (known to them as "Laurel, Mississippi" in their native tongue). He crash landed on Earth in the 1940's, when his spacecraft, now disguised as an outhouse in his back yard, was clipped by a Vought Corsair during a hurricane. Struggling to conceal his alien lineage from the vultures in the press - specifically Variety gossip columnist Martha Vulture, he takes an unlikely part in a new television series about a man from Mars living on earth. ("I nailed the audition!")

However, rather than making life easier for Walston (whose given Martian name is "Poopsie"), the show presents all sorts of challenges. For one, the stereotypical antenna the Props department attach to his head constantly interfere with his actual antenna, which are a full three feet longer. Also, the show is being picked up back home, which leads to several angry interplanetary phone calls from his irate father, the King of Mars (King Fiddle-Faddle III, played by Dame Maggie Smith), who threatens to incinerate the earth with an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator, if the writers don't lay off the "little green man" jokes.

Finally, Walston decides to out himself as a Martian. Unfortunately, he makes his announcement just a week after the notorious guest appearance of Marlon Brando (Vice President Joe Biden) on the show, and the rest of the cast and crew assume Brando's influence has caused Walston to adopt method acting. For the rest of the series, no matter how much he protests that he is an actual Martian, they believe him to always be "in character." Walston accepts his fate and parlays his fame into an endorsement contract for TV "rabbit ears" antenna, making him a billionaire (in Martian money - 1,000 Martian dollars = 1 peso).

The Revenant

This is the story of a man, a bear, and the man-bear love that dare not speak its name. (Yes, I'm going with that joke. Why waste good opportunities?)

Waldo Willworkforfood is a gold prospector in the Pacific Northwest who has nothing but bad luck, largely because he spends most of his time panning through city water in downtown Portland. He turns to the wilderness and sets off on his own, hoping for a change of luck, and also for a break from the insults of cappuccino-addled hipsters who make fun of his red and white striped clothing.

After a week in the wilderness, he comes across a crashed plane (a Cessna - BUT we see in flashback it was shot down by an awesome Vought Corsair). The plane contains a number of empty food boxes and an empty crate labelled "picnic baskets." After following a long trail of empty deviled ham cans, he stumbles across a horrifying sight (Nick Nolte and Gary Busey Greco-Roman wrestling in a mud pit), and, after fleeing this horror, he befriends a very large bear in a pork-pie hat and necktie. Soon, despite the bear having a mustache of deviled ham, grape jelly, and pimentos, Waldo finds himself strangely attracted to him and his smarter than average mind.

Waldo believes the bear to be some kind of mystic, because he goes by the name Yogi (although Waldo takes to calling him "Gentle Ben" for reasons that thankfully happen off-camera) and the two become very close. Their idyllic paradise is threatened though by the arrival of another smaller bear, who vaguely resembles Barney Rubble. This new bear, Boo Boo (or as Waldo calls him, Jezebel), reminds Yogi that, despite his love for processed sandwich spreads, he is a creature of the wild.

Yogi and Boo Boo depart into the deep wilderness (NOT a euphemism). Waldo is left alone, distraught. He lingers in the forest, slowing dying of thirst and hunger, until at the very end when he is rescued by a bumbling park ranger.


This is the long awaited prequel to Tommy Wiseau's legendary magnum opus The Room. However, unlike Wiseau's film, it is well written, acted, and directed, making it a complete and utter disappointment.

The film begins when Tommy (Leonardo DiCaprio) moves into a townhouse somewhere in Los Angeles (or possibly Vancouver). He spends hours on the roof, muttering to himself about how much he would like to have a girlfriend named Lisa, and another friend named Mark, and how they "totally would never sleep with each other, leading him to destroy himself in an incoherent fit of poorly expressed rage."

After wandering around on the roof for 84 of the film's 97 minutes, Tommy spies a passing plane (a stylish Vought Corsair F4U) and, being nuttier than a squirrel's pantry, takes it as a sign. He names the plane "Lisa and Mark will never betray me," and wanders downstairs where he drinks 40 rum and cokes straight, rendering him catatonic. (Producers claim this scene was necessary to explain Tommy's behavior in The Room.)

As Tommy regains consciousness, there's a knock on the door. It's a pizza delivery girl delivering 20 pizzas the neighborhood kids ordered as a prank. Ironically, the kids didn't realize that pineapple and anchovies were Tommy's favorite. He pays for the pizzas (in quarters) and asks the pizza delivery girl what her name is. "Mary," she replies. Tommy announces that he's going to call her Lisa and asks her out. Against all odds, common sense, and human dignity (because Tommy is covered in rum and has already devoured two of the pizzas by this time) she says yes.

In the background, a guy stands in the middle of the street, staring at Mary/Lisa. Tommy shouts at him, asking, "Who the hell are you?!" The guy replies, "My name is Mark, *******!"

This leads to the final shot of the film, in which Tommy narrows his eyes, raises a menacing hand in the air, and exclaims, "Oh, hi Mark!"


Spotlight is the story of how a team of journalists diligently tracked down the evidence to reveal a massive sex-abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, only to have one of their number become irrationally obsessed with spotlights.

Quentin Illuminati (Jim Carrey) is an investigative journalist working on the scandal story when, while watching an old fashioned burlesque show, he discovers that he is strangely fascinated by spotlights. He quickly discovers that he cannot take his eyes off the spotlight, as it roams up and down the dancers'bodies. At first he assumes he is just a prurient sleaze, but later, while attending a circus, he succumbs to the same fascination when a clown recreates Emmett Kelly's famous spotlight sweeping routine. (He screams, "Don't do it, Emmett!" at the top of his lungs as the act concludes.)

Concerned about his health, he consults several psychologists and at least one electrician. He discovers that he has "felinephiloluminosity" or "the love of following lights around like a kitty cat." He resolves to confront his malady with a "beautiful mind" approach and research the history of the spotlight, but, after the usual grueling journalist research (consulting the Wikipedia page once, and asking a few random followers on Twitter, who consequently block him), he concludes there is not enough information, and he decides to take greater action.

He tries to wean himself off of spotlights by focusing on other lights. Traffic lights don't work, because just when he starts to get interested they turn green and he has to move. Flashlights turn out to just be smaller, less interesting spotlights.Airplane lights work for a time, (there's a marvelous sequence involving a flight of Vought Corsairs attacking a giant penguin) but even they eventually pale in comparison.

The last shot of the film has Quentin at his lowest, sitting in a theater corner, gazing at the spotlight, until, out of the corner of his eye, he spots a stagehand closing the curtain with the biggest, most magnificent piece of string he has ever seen.

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