You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Taxing isn't it?

I am about to sit down and do my United States Federal Income Tax Return. Prayers would be appreciated.

I have always been somewhat intimidated by the U.S. tax code, mainly because it is so large that no human being will ever be able to read it. (A visual representation of the tax code, albeit oversimplified, can be found here.) We are therefore forced to rely upon an expurgated version in the form of a 60-70 page booklet produced by the IRS. This is, of course, like calling the definition of the word "cat" printed on a business-size card an expurgated version of the Oxford English Dictionary. What's most intimidating though is the feeling that if you stray slightly amiss in your calculations and preparations that the Internal Revenue Service will be obliged to send someone over, if only for their own entertainment.

No matter what happens or how careful you are, a few of you will receive these "friendly" visits from the IRS. They will arrive at your door, fully equipped with their assortment of angular and sharp alien probes, the only practical thing the U.S. military ever got out of Roswell. They will investigate you in ways that you previously only thought were possible by medical practicioners skilled in examinations of human bodily cavities. Only, you will feel much worse than that when they are finished. They will never smile at you, only nod and ask questions in a monotone voice akin to HAL 9000, (like this one, or this one, this one, this one, or worst of all this one, but never this one) whilst you slowly sweat away 30% of your body weight and pray for death. These are the original Men in Black (Only now they include women, who are ruthlessly determined to prove that they are as skilled in the art of orificial probity as any male extraterrestial.)

So this only raises the pressure on us to accomplish this massive task in a satisfactory, if not completely and exactingly perfect down to the neatness of the way in which you print your name on the bleeding form way.

Since I'm not especially keen on calculations and details with numbers, I rely on computer software. I shall not divulge the brand of "anti-tax", preparation software that I am using, but I will happily reveal that I can be easily bought for the purposes of doing so in many, many frequent posts. I hope to use any revenue generated to cover the massive penalties assessed when the IRS learns of this post, so make the offers generous.

The lovely thing about this kind of software is that it sets up all the tasks for you step by step, so that all you have to do is enter information and pray that the computer doesn't crash and corrupt the file in such a way that the IRS becomes convinced that you are laundering several million dollars via Swiss bank accounts and a suspicious Columbian coffee company named Café de la Cocaína de la Grieta (roughly translated into English as "Crack Cocaine Coffee".) Plus the software prints out the forms, attachments, and labels for the numerous blood, urine, and skin samples required.

So I'm do me taxes that is. If I don't post tomorrow, just assume the sweet angels have come for me, or that I'm being probed by a particularly nasty intergalactic tax assessment prong. Must dash now, as my computer is trying to tell me something about my return.

I didn't get died, people, but GAN is coming!

Man, I tell you, man, I was gone from this blog for so many days that person are beginning to wonder did I died. Well, I didn't. In fact, I return to my home country for two week of beautiful vacationing experience. I sitted on the beach and watched the seagulls pooping on the woman walking on the pier. I also eated a nice "carne de vaca en salsa marron con queso verde", which is the most favorite national dish of my homeland. While I was home in the country of the origin national of me, I begin to think about a project I wanted to finished ever since I was the tiny child. This is a thing I call the Great American Novel. Maybe you never heard of this, but people in literary circles are always saying how every single writer want to write the Great American Novel but nobody ever really did it. Yes, there are many of the good style books out there by the Vonnegut and the Discardionstein and the Koontz, but none of them yet to be called the GAN (great american novel). So I took upon to myself the task of writing the GAN, even from the youngest tiny age of 8. You said to me, I suppose, "Jorge Carlito, you are not the American citizen. How could you write such a thing as GAN whilst being a loser?" I reply that oh but I AM an American, of the special variety called Latin American. That is why I am the most suitable one to write it, and I have been working on it every since, but I can't decide what is a best opening sentence. Here are some I have written, which I am considering.

1) It was a fetid morning, the cold tendrils of graying cloud creeping down the moors, as Rontinald Fhlapp rose from among the broken pile of plastic cans and hoisted his shimmering orb of strength toward the glistening moons.

2) Cold came the cloud-like tendrils down upon the shining pate of one rotund gentlemen called Greg Phlinschtein, tickling the pinkish skin of his sun-dried head until he shook his great fist at the angry sky and screamed aloud, "Oh, where is my ostrich egg of Danny Devito?"

3) Twas the dead darkness of a starless night when the smallish form crept from the wastrel's lair, bent blade in hand, and, step by step, wide eyes dripping tears of excitement, moved toward the moat, where awaited the lustful crocodile with its stash of gold bars.

4) Onthlenberger John was the name of that most greasy-faced of men, the burlap-robed figure standing on the balcony, his thick and hairless arms, like two bloated sacks stuffed with ground beef, leaning heavily upon the balstrade, as his thick lips parted to reveal a row of teeth browner than the mud of a thousand lost civilizations.

5) Horace McGruderensteinensteen shouldered his way into the room and kicked over the card table with a violent howl, sending cards and poker chips and someone's teeth and perhaps a very small horse scattering in all directions like the bits of a hammered melon, and screamed, "I have come here to take back what is mine, the stolen cylinder of purest hog grease with which I shall moisten my dog!"

6) Oh, how the smallest little dwarf of a man plunged that dagger into the soft core of the watermelon, unleashing the rancid juice from within as he grinned and sweated and shook his squarish head, and all the world marvelled at his disaffection and wept for his rotting heart, knowing he could never succeed with such an ugly face.

So here you see six of the what I am calling "options" for an opening sentence of this GAN I have worked on for many years. It is a daunting and powerful story of the variety where emotion pours off the page like the glass of water tipped over into the lap. Look for it soon upon the shelf of the Noble Barney Bookstore soon.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Mommy! My electronic girlfriend just dumped me!

Ok, this Yahoo! article makes me think that toys are just getting creepier and creepier. An electronic girlfirend? ("Why does your 3 year old keep saying 'Hey baby!' to that little hand-held house?") An Elmo or Pooh that remembers details about your child's life? ("Elmo wants to know where your mommy keeps the knives...") Ewwwww!

Of course there are some really unusual toys out there. The following is just a sample. Their appearance here does not imply endorsement of such (so there, you parasitic legal vermin! Not you of course F. Johnny Lee...)

  • Mr. Fantastic Extendo-Arms - The Fantastic Four movie is coming out soon and this little gadget will be a great promotional toy. The toy consists of special plastic gloves that can extend up to 30 feet at the touch of an internal button. The gloves have a special clamp that allow them to grab things while fully extended, such as cookie jars, Dad's car keys, wallets, checkbooks, and the ample bums of annoying family members and neighbors. Not for use by teenagers or Bill Clinton.
  • Talking Insult-Comic Baby Doll - From the fertile and fetid mind of Robert Smeigel, comes this adorable baby doll with a mouth as foul as her diapers. This lovely, lace-adorned cherub is programmed to deliver over 100 different insults, including: "Get your big #$% out of the way, grandma!", "I've seen better *&^%$#@ heads on a mug of beer!", "Bite me you %$#@&^$ &%*$#@^!", and "Tell Senator Leahy to go $%&# himself!"
  • New Winnie the Pooh Land Cruiser/Tank - Travel to the magical land of Christopher Robin's Hundred Acre Wood in this luxurious armored vehicle. Includes a massive sound system and stickers of Pooh and his friends to decorate the tank to your child's specifications. Flamethrower and anti-personnel cannon are optional. From Disney and General Dynamics.
  • Fear Factor, The Board Game - Play along with everyone's favorite gross out, crapfest that's slowly eroding the moral integrity of America (DOUI would like to apologize for the editorial comment, that's seeped into this bit...Even if every word of it is true.) Includes gummy snakes, lizards, spiders, rats, tightrope, bungee cord, and official waiver forms. That's right, only the snakes are actual gummy candy. Also includes an electronic timer which replicates the annoying voice of host Joe Rogan.
  • Barbie Britney Spears - Now you can vicariously live the life of a dissolute pop vixen with Barbie! Barbie BS includes several outfits (all 2 sizes too small), a karaoke CD containing a wide selection of overproduced dance music, fan mail from Bob Dole, a tattered and dusty Mickey Mouse-ears hat, authorized pictures of Barbie BS's wedding, stepdaughter, and unauthorized pictures of the honeymoon. Coming Soon! Barbie BS's Las Vegas Wedding Chapel and No-Fault-Divorce Courtroom.

Rose...Gambling...Oh, yeah!

Stew, thanks for the reminder about the insipid Pete Rose biopic (just when I'd almost purged it from my memory!) I have since changed my last post as a result. Joey is now Petey.

Yes, this is the sausage-making end of comedy blogging. Petey should just be glad that the Baseball Comissioner got him and not Dennis Farina's character.

Think of the possibilities!!

"an extraordinary one involving a professional athlete, a sports mascot, twelve cheerleaders, an Indy car, and a broom."

I think I've had a dream like that, only change broom to harmonica. Another problem I can think of for ESPN "entertainment" is that they could run short of ideas for sport-related movies. Sure, Bobby Knight and Pete Rose make for exciting biopics but soon ESPN might find a paucity of interesting people or stories. Here are some of the titles we might expect to see:

  • Comb-over - The Lou Henson Story
  • In a Pinch - The Manny Mota Story
  • Whacked-out - the Tonya Harding Story
  • The Smallest Celtic - The Nate "Tiny" Archibald Story
  • Short Shrift - the Dave Concepcion Story
  • An Angel in Rome - The Roman Gabriel Story
  • Boling Alley (oop) - The Manute Bol Story

Just as long as they don't start showing Xtreme Basketball, I don't care what they do.


Update: Just heard that ESPN is going to be showing a retrospective on the off-court life of Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain called Send It In Big Fella. I hope they don't show that in primetime, some of Wilt's grandkids might still be awake.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Booyah! He's dead Jim.

What on earth has crawled up the bums of ESPN programming executives? I was sitting with Mrs. Fando this evening at one of our favorite Latin eateries, when I noticed that on one of the 72 televisions in the place was some sort of gangster show. It had the look and feel of the Sopranos, only without the insincere comic tone and insincere comic violence. It had brutality, Las Vegas, mystery, and it was on ESPN. I watched with the same queasy, disoriented feeling I had upon viewing the opening credits of The Straight Story ("Walt Disney Pictures presents a film by David Lynch".)

For those of us who are longtime watchers of the network, this is all wrong. It's wrong like Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, wrong like Angela Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton (or Angela Jolie's brother for that matter), wrong like Michael Jordan and baseball. This is wrong in the way the Olsen twins on Sex in the City would be wrong, wrong in the way Greg Brady would be singing "Clowns Never Laughed Before" on That 70's Show.

ESPN is the network of wacky, zany, would-be stand-up comedian sportscasters (who, in the case of at least one, move on to jobs at MSNBC as bitter, self-important, bloviating newscasters...but the person in question was spectacular on ESPN. I keep hoping the aliens from Woody Allen's Stardust Memories will visit him to say, "We prefer your earlier, funny broadcasts.") ESPN is the home of "Boomer", Sportscenter, college sports, the World's Strongest Northern European Man, and at least in the early days, Aussie Rules Football. ESPN is a sports channel, not a cheap PG-13 rated knock-off of HBO. The USA Channel already has that market.

Now, I realize that many of you observant readers (all 5 of you) will recognize that ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. You're probably thinking, "They've finally decided to get around to the "entertainment" part after about 26 years. Isn't it about time?" No, it bloody well isn't. ESPN isn't capable of dramatic programs. They do lovely commercials, charming comic vignettes that capture a special mood, usually an extraordinary one involving a professional athlete, a sports mascot, twelve cheerleaders, an Indy car, and a broom. The only other place you can find that kind of combination is on Cinemax (or as Stew calls it: Skinemax) and only in certain states. That's comedy though, and short. ESPN can get away with that.

Not drama though, drama is dark and steady, serious and sober. ESPN is about as serious as a Pat Buchanan/Dennis Kucinich Presidential ticket. Their profanity-laden dramatic production on Bobby Knight was uncomfortably like watching a sweater-clad Fred Rogers suffering from Tourette's Syndrome. Leave the drama for HBO, the big 4, WB, UPN, USA, A&E, the Disney Channel, Nick at Nite, Oxygen, the Game Show Network, QVC, or Boomerang. Anyone of these outlets is far more suited to mastering the grumpy side of Janus' visage than the home of Dick Vitale, Bill Raftery, and Tommy Smyth.

Speaking of those 3, with ESPN's new focus on the dramatic arts, they're bound to turn up in a show, sooner or later:

Announcer: Tonight on "Tilt"!

[4 hitmen in an alley surrounding a potential victim who is wearing a Cinncinatti Reds ballcap and incessantly chewing bubble gum.]

1st Hitman (Dennis Farina): You shoulda paid up Petey! You gamble and lose, you gotta pay. You don't pay, you gotta die!

2nd Hitman (Dick Vitale): That's right ba-bee! You gonna get a permanent T.O.! Consider yourself a prime-time-dandy-dunkeroo-dead man!

[1st Hitman pulls out a semi-automatic and fires 350 rounds into the victim]

3rd Hitman (Bill Raftery): Send it in big fella!

4th Hitman (Tommy Smyth): After you're done, put him in the back o' the ol' onion bag.

2nd Hitman: Hey baby, do you know what they call a Big Mac in France?...

What's next, a version of Star Trek with Stuart Scott as Dr. McCoy?

Worthy of the Algonquin Round Table!!

Still waiting to hear from Chico y Jose or Zimpter? I see they are getting around, apparently they are going a different route with their comedy currently. I didn't know the street sign method was so popular these days.

See what they're up to here, here, here, and here. I wonder how much they pay the guy?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

qaStaH nuq?

Posted by Hello
No, I'm not a Klingon!!! I just tan really bronze.
BTW, I just want to point out that I was in favor of crossing the neutral zone, before voting at the Rigel 6 Interstellar Standards Conference against it.

Sppppooocccckkkk!!!! I mean Dick.

Scenes from the Series (as told by Stew Miller below)

Posted by Hello
Capt. Bush: First Officer Cheney, Dr. Rumsfeld thinks you're being too logical.

First Officer Cheney: Captain, after considerable thought and careful analysis of the situation, please tell Dr. Rumsfeld to go **** himself.

Space, the final frontier or: How I learned to stop whining and love the balm.

Ok, I will admit from the start that this is not my best post but I am fascinated by the possibilities so it cannot be labeled a truly unfortunate idea. The cast of characters in a Star Trek/White House parody just seem to write themselves. Cheney as Spock and Rumsfeld as McCoy are just begging to be explored. We enter, if you will, a theater of the mind. Take yourselves back to the days of the original Star Trek series. Now don’t get me wrong, the group of series that followed had their merits, but for this exercise I would like us to envision the original cast. We begin as the screen is filled with glowing stars on a field of deepest ebony…

Space, Democrats say it’s what’s between my ears. These are the voyagers of the good ship Election-prize. Its four year mission; to seek out new strict constructionist judges, to find new ways to cut the budget, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Theme music

Captain James T. Bush: Captains log, after my mornin’ jog, heh heh I was a poet didn’t know it. Anyway, I was sitting in the captains chair in the Oval Office working on an alliance with the Klingons over on Capitol Hill and talking with my pointy-eared first officer.

Captain Bush: Mr. Cheney, I want to reach out to the Klingons and try to get some things done in the Federation. I want to compassionately conservate them and use the force on ‘em and stuff.

Mr. Cheney: Uh, that’s highly illogical captain… and the force is from Star Wars.

Captain Bush: Why can’t we have something cool like the force?

Mr. Cheney: Well, uh, captain we are working on it, I have Dr. Rumsfeld exploring the issue right now. There is a joint bi-partisan task force being put together to explore that issue.

Captain Bush: I like the way you put those task forces together, Dick. Call Dr. Rumsfeld to the bridge. Lt. Rice have you been able to make any headway with “Old Romulus” as Dr. Rumsfeld likes to call them.

Lt. Rice: I’ve been hailing them on all frequencies captain but they seem to all be on holiday at Deep Space Disney, as usual. I think they’re still mad at us for our last incursion into the neutral zone. I do have Commander Kerry of the Klingon Empire, I’ll patch him through to the main viewscreen.

Captain Bush: Commander Kerry, you look a lot less wrinkly than usual. qaStaH nuq?

Commander Kerry: As a warrior and having fought in the Battle of Khitomer, I understand the need for restraint in our relations with the Romulans and not getting stuck in a quagmire.

Captain Bush: Election's over, horse face, go back to your homeworld.

Commander Kerry: No blood for Romulan Ale! No blood for Romulan Ale!

Captain Bush: Close hailing frequencies Lt. Rice.

Dr. Rumsfeld: You wanted to see me Jim.

Captain Bush: Rummy, what’s up with my favorite doc. Hey, you got any more of those pills, they helped me sleep last night.

Dr. Rumsfeld: Damn-it Jim, I’m a Defense Secretary not a doctor…at least not a medical doctor.

[Long Pause]

Dr. Rumsfeld: You just wanted me to say the “damn-it Jim” line didn’t you.

Captain Bush: Yeah, you can go now. Lt. Rice, raise Engineer Kennedy for me please.

Engineer Kennedy: Ah, hello bridge. I hate that I hawve to use that word when cawling you cawptain, cawn I just say “Kennedy to Cawptain Bush”?

Captain Bush: No, I like it that way. Hey Teddy, can you give me some more power over on Capitol Hill? I need everything you can give me.

Engineer Kennedy: I would try but we have to remembaw the deficit and cawn’t forget the quagmire and ah the otha ah prawbla fawcing ah the ah clawm chowder ah rezelawt fawzwizzle blawviating. And ah I think one of my nephews tried to smoke the ah dilithium crystals.

Captain Bush: And they say I can’t pronouncicate my words right. I think we’ll have to form a landing party. Spook and Rummy you’re coming with me, Lt. Rice have someone from security meet us in the transporter room.

They make their way to the transporter room where they are met by the security man before beaming into the dangerous world of Capitol Hill.

Captain Bush: Hi son, what’s your name?

Security: Ensign John Edwards sir.

Captain Bush: Keep your eyes open Edwards, you never know what to expect down there.

Of course at this point they beam down to the planet and the red shirt, or “target” as they are known to most Trekkies, is blasted within the first ten minutes.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Don't let the teacher give you any lip

I recently came across a heartwarming story about a psychotherapist who conducts kissing classes for the osculation-challenged.

All right, heartwarming isn't really the first thing that comes to mind. "Annoying nut-job" was first, followed by "arrogant busy-body", followed by "She's a spectacular little... (see previous post)."

First of all, she's a psychotherapist. While I'm sure there are some very talented psychiatrists and psychologists who practise psychotherapy, they usually do so retaining the titles of "psychiatrist" and "psychologist". People who actually fill in the "occupation" line on federal forms with "psychotherapist" are announcing that they could use psychotherapy themselves. They're the kind of people to share office suites with dowsers and holistic healers, and go to dinner parties featuring Judith "What I meant to predict was" Crist and Uri "Watch me bend this spoon with my mind" Geller.

Anyway, the quotes are just lovely. The teacher got the idea of starting the class after "dating a man who was a horrible kisser". Of course it had to be him. It couldn't have been her, stopping between pecks to critique the precise angle of his head tilt, making him do that little exercise over and over where you tie a cherry stem in a knot with your tongue, or writing prescriptions for extra moisturizing lip balm afterwards? That would put any bloke off his game.

She also is deranged enough to describe herself as a "luscious kisser". There was no evidence the reporter of the story, Linda Thomas, did any follow-up on that (and all of us not named Guccione are forever thankful). How could she possibly know? Did she walk around Seattle randomly kissing people and having them fill out surveys? (Choose the following: A. Luscious, B. Rapturous, C. Wet, D. Funky, E. Lizard-like)

The last paragraph is the clincher for me. "Byrd went home to an empty house. The kissing school teacher is not married and at the moment doesn't have a boyfriend." I wonder if that's in the ads for the class?


Could this be the woman? It would explain everything.

That was uncalled for...

Pop Quiz:

On which of the following television programs this evening was heard the following phrase: "She's a spectacular little bit**"?

A. The Lindsey Lohan/Hillary Duff Reunion Special
B. Crossfire: James Carville vs. Ann Coulter
C. Highlights from the Grammys
D. The Westminster Dog Show

The answer is "D" (but only because the other programs didn't actually appear tonight). This is probably the reason they show Westminster on the USA Channel.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Some Valentine's highlights...

...and then right there in the elevator in front of us she put one foot on the ceiling, held up the handcuffs, and he did a somersault, making a noise like a Mazerati engine, and then they... No, it's not that kind of Valentine's Day highlight reel (or for those of you old enough, Madonna video). Just some odds and ends from today and last night.

  • As Stew's already reported, CFL all-time leading gridiron rusher Mike Pringle has retired. His reasons were sound enough, as he tearfully stated in a farewell press conference, "Now I'll have plenty to time to help Mom and Pop stuff all those little potato chips into those cans." Edmonton will now have to turn to young sensation Frit O. Lay for their ground game.
  • I was glancing at the cover of this month's Readers' Digest today and noticed the following blurb next to a picture of John Travolta: "His Passion for Flying High". Typical celebrity favoritism. Some people get roughed up by the FAA police for one miniature bottle of Glenlivet too many on a transcontinental flight (or so I've heard) and Mr. Big-Shot, Disco-Dancing, Movie Star can get in the cockpit totally baked. Maybe it's a Scientology thing?
  • The Grammys were on last night, but I, like so many others according to this Yahoo! article, wasn't watching. The brilliant Ray Charles won several awards posthumously, which ironically is the title of Green Day's next album. Record executives have to be worried when their premiere television event is outdrawn by Desperate Housewives (AKA Sex in the City PG-13 for Suburbanites, AKA Teri Hatcher's Working Again). Desperate television viewers is more like it. (Note the one actress on the website playfully nibbling her finger in that uniquely housewife-ish, come-hither manner. Obviously the mailmen on that block are in way over their heads. If milkmen were still in fashion the homogenized would curdle before it was on the doorstep. Also, note the apple and the snake, the suggestion of the sin and lust underneath the calm, domestic veneer...or does this mean that ABC is run by Satan? That would explain Wife Swap.) Oh, U2 played at the Grammys. I was sorry I missed that.
  • Christina Aguilera, as part of her conintuing friendly competition with Britney Spears, accepted a proposal of marriage. No word on whether she will be married in Vegas, divorced within 48 hours, and then remarried again at a later date.
  • Update: Apparently the article on Travolta was supposed to have had something to do with his passion for flying at high altitude. Sure it did...

The Canadians and sport

Reading Earl's post just now makes us wonder how the Canadians are taking the news. Are they crying in their Labatts or Mooseheads? Are they saying to themselves; "at least we still have curling"? Are they checking on the schedule for Ice Capades? Maybe they are keeping up with the latest news out of the Canadian Football League. Something tells me that Emmitt Smith's retirement got more news play north of the border than Mike Pringle's got in the US.

Emmitt will now enjoy sitting in whatever network sports booth making the occasional color commentary and retelling stories from one of his three Super Bowl victories. Mike will enjoy a lifetime supply of back bacon and the occasional Tim Horton's endorsement. Emmitt will probably be a first ballot NFL Hall of Fame inductee joining the likes of Jim Brown, Vince Lombardi, WalterPayton, Roger Staubach, and Johnny Unitas. Mike will undoubtedly make his way into the pantheon of CFL legends like Tommy Joe Coffey, Don Warrington, and Frank "Pop" Ivy.

At least they still have curling.

Gosh, this ice is rough!

Tomorrow the NHL will reportedly cancel its season. Many people have blamed this on the labour disputes between the League and the Players Association. Both have denied this charge and say that the cancellation was necessary because the league ran out of Zambonis.

Update: The league turned down a late attempt to salvage the season, refusing Pat Morita's claims that he could replace Zambonis with his patented "wax-on, wax-off" technique.

Update: Ralph Macchio's press agent released a statement saying that Mr. Macchio was very disappointed by the league's refusal to accept Pat Morita's earlier offer. He stated that the decision would hurt hockey fans all over North America, and also continue to leave his client unemployed.

Chico y Jose, Renaissance man

Chico y Jose is a man of many distinctions, as well as many names. Actually his full name is Chico y Jose Portillo Hermoso Chalupa de la Enfermedades Gastrointestinales. Chico y Jose is said to own one of the largest suet producing ranches in the Northern Hemisphere and spends his time waxing poetic or funny as the muse leads him. And he’s one hell of a golfer to boot.

My first run in with Chico y Jose occurred during the finals at Wimbledon in 1980. We were both there at Centre Court as Bjorn Borg beat John McEnroe in five thrilling sets. Earlier in the day I was sitting at a small café nearby when I spotted a man devouring strawberries and cream like it was Peter the Great’s caviar. By the time he was finishing his fifteenth bowl I just knew this was a man I wanted to know and introduced myself. CyJ (that’s the brand you were asking about) let out a good-hearted chuckle and asked me to join him for a few bowls. Over another five bowls we conversed about our lives, struggles, poetry, iron smelting, fly-fishing, and origami before going to our respective hotels where I had the runs for three days.

I next came across CyJ at the 1988 Grammy Award as I was a place-holder who happened to be in his seat. Surprised to see him there I asked what would bring an old ranch hand like him to a music awards show. He admitted to me that he had co-written Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. Seems CyJ’s had done the first version and Bobby had altered it to suit a wider audience. We’ll never know what would have become of “Don’t Worry, Pack a Snub-nose .38”, but I take solace in its inspiring words.

Well, not to get too long-winded on Chico y Jose but the man is like a brother to me now and I am proud that he will join us to dispense his brand of humor to our growing audience. I used to have a photo of CyJ and myself at the 1996 Academy Awards where he was to support his good friend Billy Bob Thornton on his nomination and win for the screenplay, “Sling Blade”. The movie was partially based on a novella that CyJ had written entitled “I Reckon, Mmm’hmmm”.

This is NOT Chico y Jose. These are not Chico y Jose's ranch hands.

Chico y Jose reports in

I received this message from soon-to-be DOUI contributor Chico y Jose (he of the galactic bacon menace):

Well Earl I've been kinda busy with my heifers. I'll report in when the trail ride is over. Chico y Jose.

I had no idea he was a cattle man. Stew, did you know? I wonder if he can get us some steak at cut-rate prices? Does he ranch Holsteins? Longhorns? Angus? Kobe? I wonder what the Chico y Jose brand looks like?

All this is probably pointless to a reader who has not personally met the man. The mental image of him in cowboy hat and on horseback is a peculiar one indeed (the only stranger one would be imagining Max Speebek as a rancher).

Anyway, he's not forgotten us, which while small consolation to readers, is of immense satisfaction to those in the government whose job it is to monitor the intentions of potentially hostile extraterrestial bacon. Maybe the ranching gig is a subtle counterplot?

I just realized that this is probably the most obscure post I've made on this site yet...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

BAFTA Madness

All movie awards shows are infected with a certain kind of madness. I'm not talking about the kind inflicted by massive drug use, egomania, or the other usual afflictions of those in celebrity business. Think about it, these performers, directors, writers, cinematographers, gaffers, etc. spend anywhere from 3 months to a year and a half working on a film (except for Owen Wilson, who has only 2 weeks to complete each shoot so that he can get onto his next picture and break the world record for most appearances, currently held by Johnny Depp). At the end of this long work, they quite naturally look upon the finished product as having some kind of special grandeur and magic, be it The Aviator or Son-in-Law. Obviously in the vast majority of cases they are completely off their bean, and might as well be on rock cocaine for all the judgement they've displayed.

For example, Mike Leigh said of his film Vera Drake, "It's an immense privilege to have been allowed the freedom to make as uncompromising a film as I think we've made, and to make such an epic film with such a small budget." (Italics mine) Epic film on a small budget? I think that's exactly what Phil Tucker had in mind when he created Robot Monster (in glorious 2-D!!), and can't you imagine Ed Wood describing his bargain basement work, Plan 9 From Outer Space, as "epic". "That scene where the paper plate flying saucers burst into made me think of the burning of Atlanta in Gone with the Wind!" The normal translation is, "Hey, this turned out pretty well, considering someone financed it on credit cards." Although, to the modern studio director, a low-budget is simply one where they didn't get their usual seven-digit fee.

So while I'm sure Leigh's politically-saturated potboiler of a mid-twentieth century illegal abortionist is probably well-directed and acted (a best actress award for Imelda Staunton, in fact), pardon me if I withhold the term "epic" for films like Shichinin no samurai, Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes, The Passion of the Christ, and Lawrence of Arabia. Maybe Epic Records handled the soundtrack for the film? That's as close as they'd get.

Several awards were handed out last night, most of which even movie buffs will have forgotten by this time next month, as we all gather to hammer the Motion Picture Academy of America for their usual insufferable shortsightedness and insularity, and to see what monstrousity Lindsey Lohan will wear to the show. Some awards and events of note last night, however:

  • The best foriegn-language film went to The Motorcycle Diaries, a remake of The Wild One, only with Che Guevara offered in the Marlon Brando role, in an attempt to include far more gratuitous violence that the original. The award was presented to Mr. Guevara himself, who was located and dug up for the occasion. He had few remarks however, being quite dead.
  • Mike Leigh won the best director award, causing the frequently overlooked Martin Scorsese to mutter something about finding an abortion-related screenplay as soon as possible, so he could "finally win a frickin' best director award".
  • Scorsese's film, The Aviator, did win best picture, breaking the otherwise expected Citizen Kane curse, which states that no film about an eccentric billionaire shall be allowed to win a major award in an English-speaking country. This bad omen was balanced by the fact that the film contained a characterization of Katherine Hepburn, who has won more awards than any living human being after John Williams.
  • Finally, the Orange Award, for best British film as decided by the public - which is a bit like winning Miss Congeniality at the Miss America pageant, went to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban (which was voted by our writers as the most likely movie to up our readership if we included it in a post). Producer David Heyman and the charming lead actress Emma Watson accepted the award and thanked the millions of people who voted for the film, most of whom weren't even aware of the existence of Scorsese's and Leigh's films, and have probably forgotten all about them since last night.

Of course the Grammys are next. The BAFTAs will seem like the Nobels and Pulitzers compared to that.