You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

You know, for a pacifist, you're quite brutal.

So enthralled were those who read my post about Billy Jack the other day (all right, it was only Stew) that I decided I should follow up on the tale.

I called Tom Laughlin and asked for an interview, but he said he'd be busy all day watching film of himself kicking a stunt man in the crotch for his new film Billy Jack's Crusade. Mrs. Tom Laughlin (DAMN HER PACIFISM) helpfully told me that, if I wanted to find out more about Billy Jack, I should go and meet the real article, the actual Billy Jack on whom the films are all based. Surprised as I was that there was a real Billy Jack, she explained that they had to base the film on someone, as it's quite hard to make up characters when the cast and crew are all as baked as the pavement on an Albuquerque summer day.

I caught a late flight out to Phoenix, Arizona, and then took a rental car 600 miles into New Mexico, because Mrs. Laughlin's directions were about as clear as a Billy Jack scenario. I arrived at a small, deserted one-mule town called Laughlinville on the vast Navajo Indian reservation, where I had a chance to speak with a middle-aged and still menacing-looking Mr. Jack. We talked in his front room, which was an abandoned shack furnished entirely with folding chairs stamped with the logo "Tom Laughlin School for Pacifist Hippie Children".

Just in case you're wondering, he wore the hat.


Earl: Billy Jack, it's good to finally meet you in person.

B.J.: You got any peyote on you?

Earl:, sorry? Peyote, did you say?

B.J.: Never mind. Umm. It was for a friend.

Earl: Billy... do you mind if I call you Billy?

B.J.: Just don't call me "Jack".

Earl: Whatever fries your sausages, mate. Anyway, I wanted to start by asking you how you felt about the films about your life.

B.J.: Earl, I want you to know... that I try.

Earl: Try what...

B.J.: When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I'm supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see those films...films of such a beautiful spirit... so degraded by Leonard Maltin... and that boy Tom... that I love... sprawled out rhetorically by that bigape Ebert... and this little girl, Mrs. Tom Laughlin, who is so special to us we call her "God's little gift of sunshine"... and I think of the number of years that she's going to have to carry in her memory... the savagery of those idiotic reviews of theirs... I... just... go... BERSERK!

(Earl's note: It was at this point that Mr. Jack delivered a swift kick to my sternum, followed by several chops to, in order, my cranium, left shoulder, liver, right heel, and right pinky fingernail, the crazy bastard.)

Earl: (spitting out blood) You crazy bastard! Why did you do that?

B.J.: I'm sorry. Even though I'm a committed pacifist, sometimes my temper gets the best of me.

Earl: (Staggering to my feet) Well...I suppose I can forgive you this time... but knock it off! That really hurt!

B.J.: Sorry!

Earl: Anyway, I'm not responsible for the film reviews. I just wanted your take on how accurate the films were in comparison with your real life.

B.J.: Earl... Earl, I want you to know... that I try. when Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I'm supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like the people who play them in the picture are, I try. I really try. Though when I see those films...films of such a beautiful spirit... so accurately capture the brutality of this world... and that boy Tom... that I love... play me with such ferocious and egocentric devotion... and this little girl, Mrs. Tom Laughlin, who is so special to us we call her "God's little gift of sunshine"...

Earl: (Sensing the danger) Erm...I think you said that part before.

B.J.: and I think of the number of years that she's going to have to carry in her memory... difficulties she endured to bring my tale to the screen... I... just...

Earl: Oh, bloody hell.

B.J.: go... BERSERK!

(Earl's note: This time Billy Jack kicks me square in the face, then the neck, then the face again, then the neck, the neck, the neck, the ribs, the neck, the pelvis, the neck, the pelvis, the groin, the neck and for good measure, he pulls out a shotgun and fires both barrels full of rock salt into my back as I lay sprawled out on the floor. Then he kicks me in the neck again. I'd have been killed if I weren't wearing my extremely durable "Highbury Final Season" Arsenal jersey with my name stitched on the back.)

Earl: (Coughing up blood) Billy... I thought... you weren't going... to do that... again.

B.J.: (Helping me up into one of the chairs) Sorry! Sorry, Earl! Man! I just don't know what's gotten into me today. I'm normally much more in control of my temper than this.

Earl: This does... (spits tooth out) explain why no one else... lives within 10 miles of the place.

B.J.: Please continue. Here you, can tie me to the chair, if that will make you feel more comfortable.

Earl: That sounds like a good idea. (I tie him to the chair with the rope he provides.) Now, erm... let's find a good question to pick back up with. What is your happiest childhood memory?

B.J.: Bernard...

Earl: Earl.

B.J.: Earl, I want you to know... that I'll try to answer that question. When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I'm supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I think of my childhood...

Earl: Here we go again...

B.J.: ...a childhood of such a beautiful spirit... so degraded by war and bigotry against people who enjoy mind-altering substances... and this boy... that I was and loved... sprawled out by the bigapes from the Department of Indian Affairs...

Earl: I hope those knots are going to hold.

B.J.: and this little girl, that my mother dressed me up as, who was so special to us we call her "God's little gift of sunshine"... and I think of the number of years that she's going to have to carry in her memory... the... the...

Earl: ...the savagery...

B.J.: ...Right..the savagery of being dressed up like a Barbie doll by her...I mean his mentally unstable mother... I...

Earl: Ropes, do your stuff, lads!

B.J.: ...just...

Earl: Hope they're not hemp based...

B.J.: ...go... (Billy Jack suddenly stops, looks at the ropes around him, takes a deep breath and relaxes.)

Earl: (wipes sweat from brow...blood from lip...carefully adjusts compound fracture)

B.J.: (after a sixty second pause) ...BERSERK!

(Earl's note: Billy Jack snaps off the ropes, which I later discover were old cheap prop ropes from an unfinished production Billy Jack Goes to the Goodwill Games, he then kicks me in 117 different parts of my body, shoots me with two different handguns, and attempts to strangle me with the rope, finally giving up after realizing just how cheap and flimsy it is.)

Earl: (adjusting spine) Billy...(adjusts separated shoulder) Billy... (quickly fashions splint for shattered tailbone) Billy...

B.J.: Sorry, Earl... I really should have skipped the coffee today, eh?

Earl: Billy, I want you to know... that I tried. When Jean and the kids at the school told you that you're supposed to control your violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, you should have tried. I mean really tried...

B.J.: Oh, I get it... you're teasing me now, Earl. Turn the old man's words on him. I understand.

Earl: You don't understand the flippin' half of it mate.


I didn't bother finishing the speech. I found out later from the kids at the Laughlin School that, stoned as they were, they could hear the screams ten miles away. I left Billy Jack at that point in our conversation, I left him with his inner demons, torturing his peaceful spirit with temptations of violence. I left him with his distinctive hat and his inimitable style of speaking and battling his many enemies. I left him with his royalties from the movies and his life-sized personally autographed photo of Tom Laughlin and Mrs. Tom Laughlin, who you can see, barely, just over Tom's shoulder in the car in the distance. I left him with his bleak and lonely future.

More to the point, I left him with a broken spine, a fractured skull, a dislocated prostate, and a folding chair up his arse, the stupid git.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Best of DOUI for 2005

To celebrate our upcoming first anniversary on January 20th we decided to look back to the highlights from our first year here at The Dictionary of Unfortunate Ideas. (And not simply to impress the people from the Bloggies. Although if it helps...)

We start with our Top 30 posts, as chosen by us, listed in chronological order of their appearance. After that is a selection of honourable mentions that didn't quite make the top thirty.
So, look back, reminisce, laugh with us, weep with us, and wonder along with us just what the hell we were thinking when we wrote this crap.

The "TOP 30"

The Honourable Mentions

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

He's Billy. He's Jack. He's Billy Jack!!!

A lot of people who read my post the other day mentioning Billy Jack (all three of you) asked a very cogent and penetrating question: "Just who the hell is this Billy Jack bloke anyway?"

I'm glad you asked! Billy Jack is a character, played by cult actor Tom Laughlin, from a series of of three high-grossing films in the 70's. (There was an earlier film in 1967, but it was just about biker gangs and college students and was thus completely overshadowed by Easy Rider, because Tom Laughlin is no Peter Fonda. I'm not sure that's an insult, by the way.) The titles of the three films are Billy Jack, The Trial of Billy Jack, and (get ready for it) Billy Jack Goes to Washington. As you may have guessed, Billy Jack really fancies Billy Jack.

The plot of all of these films is as follows:

  • A group of gentle hippie pacifists attend a school on an Indian reservation.
  • The gentle hippie pacifists are threatened by "the man" (played by either E.G. Marshall or Richard Nixon, if I remember correctly.) Someone is either beaten up and raped, or raped and then beaten up, or beaten up, raped, and beaten up again. This gains the sympathy of the audience, while allowing the producers to focus ten minutes on the foul little sex film they'd rather be making in the first place.
  • Billy Jack, a half-Indian, half-white, 100% egomaniac, pacifist, ex-Green Beret with a mean streak that would make George Galloway soil himself, decides to take matters into his own hands.
  • Taking matters into his own hands translates to dealing karate death, usually with a kick to the throat in extreme slow-motion, to the slimiest represenative of "the man". He also shoots a few people, just for variety.
  • Billy Jack is unjustly arrested for murder. Unjustly means, "the guy I killed had it coming when I crushed his windpipe."
  • Teenage girls play acoustic guitars. The remaining survivors hold hands and sing Give Peace a Chance, while the school burns down in the background.
  • Everyone heads for the wrap party to snarf the hashish brownies.

The only difference in the third movie is that Billy Jack is a U. S. Senator when he does all this.

Reading this, I'm sure you can appreciate what an incredible phenomenon this was.

All right, what if you realized that almost everyone was completely stoned in the 70's? Now, I'm sure you can appreciate what an incredible phenomenon this was.

The most incredible part was the dialogue. Even I, a semi-professional comedy blogger (we've had to cut back on salary around here) find it difficult to imagine topping the magnificent heights reached in the following actual lines from Billy Jack films (Acquired via The Internet Movie Database):

Billy Jack: Bernard, I want you to know... that I try. When Jean and the kids at the school tell me that I'm supposed to control my violent temper, and be passive and nonviolent like they are, I try. I really try. Though when I see this girl... of such a beautiful spirit... so degraded... and this boy... that I love... sprawled out by this big
ape here... and this little girl, who is so special to us we call her "God's little gift of sunshine"... and I think of the number of years that she's going to have to carry in her memory... the savagery of this idiotic moment of yours... I... just... go... BERSERK! [General kicking of necks and crotches ensues]


Cindy: I pray Billy kills him!
Jean: You mustn't tell Billy, Cindy.
Cindy: Why not?
Jean: Because he will kill him.


Jean Roberts: You did matter what anybody says about you now, you did it. And you didn't have to even once take off your boots.

There's not enough room to do the dialogue justice. For those, like myself, who delight in such florid prose there's more here, and here.

Even today, Billy Jack holds an incredible appeal for a number of people, especially Tom Laughlin, his wife Mrs. Tom Laughlin, their children Tommy, Thommy, Thomas, and Thomasina, Monsieur Thomas Laughlin, T. L., Puff Tommy, Senor T. Laughlino, T. O. M. Laughlin, and Mr. Thommy L. O'aughlin.

Even today they maintain an Official Billy Jack Website where Tom Laughlin and Mrs. Tom Laughlin continue to apply their philosophy of "peace through kicking the crap out of someone's larnyx". On this site have suggested that there are extensive parallels between the Billy Jack films and the current peace movement. One interpretation: Billy Jack is Howard Dean. The Man is George W. Bush, The School on the Reservation is Joe Leiberman, the death-dealing karate kick is Donald Rumsfeld, the guitar playing teenage girls are the Dixie Chicks, and the hashish brownies are Jacques Chirac.

Probably the most exciting news of all for the legions of Billy Jack fans (almost as large as our following) is that Laughlin and Mrs. Tom Laughlin are producing a new Billy Jack film entitled The Gentle Peturbations of the Nightengale.

Nah, I'm just kidding. It's called Billy Jack's Crusade and ends with Billy Jack kicking the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Toilet Seat Appropriations to death in a strip joint and being sentenced to Guantanamo Bay as an enemy combatant. Meanwhile, Mrs. Tom Laughlin sits in front of a burning Starbucks holding hands with Hare Krishnas and singing Imagination from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.

I'm sure there won't be a dry eye, or seat, in the house.

Sign me up!!!!!!!!

Are you an audiologist? A librarian? A personal coach? If you find yourself in any of these positions, congratulations, US News and World Report thinks you've got one of the top jobs in the country for 2006. Granted if you're the personal coach to say Sean Penn or Jorge Garcia you may not be reaping the rewards you desire but I guess the point is things could be worse. However, if you're an audiologist to a professor of landscape architecture, the sky's the limit and you can expect your life's path to be paved in gold. (Sorry, sarcasm is not my specialty)

Anyway, as we all know these type of articles and theories are a two-sided coin and for every landscape architect there are several thousand busboys, fry cooks, and chicken gut shovelers getting their hands dirty with the commerce that is the backbone of our fine country. Just think of the money generated by the common busboy in his day to day activities. Someone has to make the tub he uses to clean up the dishes, the acrid spray that he cleans the table with, and the biker wallet he uses to hold the $500 bucks a month that he makes. I'll put that up against anything that an occupational therapist or personal coach could generate in real world revenue. Nonetheless, we must face the facts that there are positions that are less than attractive and so I put my nose to the grindstone and came up with the:

Worst Jobs for 2006

10. Ear, Nose, & Throat Physician (Note to self, no nose grindstoning, very painful)
Upside - Loads of money to play golf at your private country club.
Downside - Phlegm

9. Hollywood Divorce Attorney
Upside - Also loads of money to play golf etc. etc.
Downside - Leather chairs smell of Brute everytime Nick Lachey comes by.

8. Lickspittle or toady
Upside - Potential to win Sycophant of the Year Award
Downside - Licking spittle or toads not very pleasant.

7. Dutch Rock and Roll musician
Upside - Bevy of orange-clad hotties chasing you around.
Downside - Mutation

6. Howard Stern's Wardrobe Technician
Upside - Meeting various dubiously famous scumbuckets.
Downside - Ironing Howard's G-string.

5. Suicide Bomber
Upside - All that talk about 72 virgins.
Downside - What, you can't figure this one out for yourselves?

4. Saddam Hussein Lawyer

Upside - Body armor and a wide berth at parties.
Downside - Either're toast.

3. Kim Jung il's Hairdresser
Upside - The joy of working for the "dear leader".
Downside - Partial blindness due to the volume of hairspray use.

2. Crash Test Dummy
Upside - Free snacks in the lounge.
Downside - Decapitations 24/7

1. Blogger
Upside - Bringing joy to your readers.
Downside - Bats!!! Bats!!! Get them off me!!! AAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A time to reflect...and be silly

We are now safely passed the 666th post and I have come out of seclusion. I haven't told many people but I have a horrible fear of satanic numbers, Regis Philbin, lamb kebabs, and Mexican soap operas. As we struggle to get things going in the new year I have found myself reminiscing about the past and wondering if we made the right decisions in regards to our blog. For instance did we do the right thing when we joked with Chico y Jose that the blogs headquarters were in Antarctica? He hasn't been seen or heard from since except for a rambling letter he mailed to me from Santiago, Chile on July 15th talking about "fearing the worm". We all should probably learn a lesson from that, I know that I have.

Looking back over the past year the one thing that has stuck out like a sore thumb is the title of the blog. While it's a great name I thought maybe we could come up with something more timely, to shake it up and give it some spunk. This is a list of the top names that come to mind.

  • Couch Jumping, with Special Guest Tom Cruise
  • The Non-Gay Version of Brokeback Mountain
  • Lukas P. Short's, Short Shorts, Short Subject
  • El Carnicería de Juan Carlos Vega
  • The Mansquito Fan Club
  • Elvinova Has Left the Building
  • The Donald, The Blog, The Scandal
  • Richard Gere's Dance Studio
  • The Onion...No, Not THAT One
  • Peter Jackson Presents: Blog, the Motion Picture
  • The Homespun Leathern Satchel
  • Warwick, Warwick, Warwick, Warwick, & Devito (sorry that's our old law firm)
  • Harry Potter, The Story of a Middle-aged Name Dropper

Well there you are folks. If you want to send me any others I'll be glad to consider them.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Memories... of course my memory is not so good these days.

As DOUI approaches the first anniversary of the creation of this site, I thought I'd look back to some personal highlights from the blog. I'm not sure how accurate these will be though. Between getting mononucleosis in the summer, this sore shoulder I have now, and the constant telemarketing to get people to nominate us for the 2006 Bloggies (RIGHT HERE!), things are a little fuzzy... (cue horribly overused dream transition effects)

January 2005 - We launch the blog to worldwide acclaim. Britney Spears, John Quinones, Sandra Bullock, Cheech Marin, Michael Jordan, Beverly Sills, and Prince Andrew are among the luminaries at the premiere party. Jordan bets Prince Andrew "a bajillion dollars" that we don't last six months. (Pay up Michael! That's only a month's endorsement salary for you.) Britney Spears and Cheech Marin are found making out behind the giant inflatable DOUI logo. Sandra Bullock vows repeatedly to "kill my agent for getting me stuck at this lame gig." Beverly Sills sings David Bowie's A Space Oddity. Good times.

February 2005 - Groundhog Day happens at least a dozen times for some strange reason. No, sorry, I meant the film Groundhog Day on TBS. I was wondering why Zimpter looked so much like Bill Murray.

March 2005 - The offices are accidentally flooded with green beer when Stew's attempts to set a world record for "largest keg" goes awry. Fortunately, the actors from the Guinness commercials are at the party and drink all the spilled beer inside of 20 minutes...the lushes.

April 2005 - For April Fools Day, Juan Carlos Vega posts a serious drama about two people fighting for their lives on a liferaft in the Indian Ocean. Unfortunately, his attempt to put a serious-minded backwards spin on the April Fools' tradition is spoilt due to his repeated misspelling of the word "dinghy."

May 2005 - The DOUI maypole goes up! By up, I mean we launched it into space. We also celebrate Cinco de Mayo with the largest plate of carne asada ever seen in the Northern hemisphere. The difficult part was finding flour tortillas big enough to handle it all.

June 2005 - We take the month off. The blog is ghost written by Salman Rushdie. Strangely enough, the Tehran Gazette called it "their funniest and most engaging month yet."

July 2009 - Juan Carlos Vega accidentally sets off the time machine.

July 2005 - We're back from the future in time to launch the first annual DOUI Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. Due to budget constraints, this consists of Zimpter, Stew, and myself doing interpretive dance whilst Juan Carlos attempts to light a wet sparkler.

August 2005 - It's too bleedin' hot to post. We play golf instead and submit posts generated by a random computer program called "Microsoft Comedy for Idiots - Weblog Version 1.0." If you look at those posts, you can spot the bugs in the program. For example, some of the posts state that I was on vacation. If only!!!

September 2005 - Fall arrives. We rake leaves and post about the meaning of decay. Our funniest month according to Rolling Stone.

October 2005 - All activity for this month was classified by government officials due to the accidental reference to secret alien autopsies in New Mexico by Stew during a post on Eggo brand waffles. Stew was flogged by Sandra Day O'Connor. According to her though, the flogging had absolutely nothing to do with the classified material. I had no idea there was so much leather in a Supreme Court Justice's robes.

Update: Erm... she said she was Sandra Day O'Connor.

November 2005 - Zimpter dressed as a pilgrim and walks up and down Hollywood boulevard taking pictures with people and earning tips. For some strange reason, all the tourists keep calling him "Billy Jack."

December 2005 - We decide to sing Christmas carols door to door to celebrate the season. Unfortunately, some Scrooges respond by throwing a bucket of water on us. Do you realize how dangerous it is to throw water on 4 blokes with electric guitars plugged into 100 watt amps?? (For those who care about such things, yes, they "go to 11.") Of course, people may just have been on edge. There were a lot of broken windows in that neighborhood for some reason.

January 2006 - The big anniversary party is already planned and Sandra Bullock will be returning. I've found that her agent's voice and mine sound very similar on the telephone. Plus, I told her it was a party for Dave Barry's blog. Shhhhh!!!!!!!

Would you like the eye-gouging or the spine saw?

Hostel: Presented by Quentin Tarantino was this weekend's number one film according to a Reuters story. According to the story, the film is about "hapless backpackers who are sliced and diced at a Slovakian torture chamber by paying customers." No word on whether the torture menu included repeatedly subjecting victims to showings of Bio-Dome (as depicted here.) That might have got an NC-17 rating here in the US.

According to some observers, one reason the film may have opened so well is because viewers thought it was directed by Quentin Tarantino. While a film about people paying to watch individuals being maimed and tortured might someday make a pretty convincing autobiography of the Pulp Fiction auteur, most experienced cinemagoers know the difference between directing a film and presenting it. Directors rehearse and guide actors through emotional scenes; storyboard, set up and lead the execution of complex shots; as well as oversee the editing and continuity of the film. Presenters, on the other hand, have the highly complex and detailed process of slapping their name up on the film in gigantic letters once the adverts start.

Of course, this sort of confusion happens all the time with the average cine-goer. For example, this year alone the following confusion has occurred at the box office:

  • Viewers stayed away by the millions from Aeon Flux, because they mistakenly though it was an overintellectual European film about watchmakers.
  • Viewers poured out to see Rumor Has It, with Jennifer Aniston, because they it was a documentary about her highly publicized breakup with Brad Pitt, as produced by The National Enquirer.
  • People avoided The Family Stone because it sounded way to much like "The Family Jewels" and as filmgoer Franklin Quatloos of York remarked, "Who bleedin' wants to see that?? If I'd wanted to see family jewels, I'd shuffle 'ome and 'ave a look at me own!"
  • Viewers are staying away in droves from The New World, starring Colin Farrell, because they are still healing from the psychic scars from Alexander.
  • Viewers are avoiding Fun with Dick and Jane because they are under the mistaken impression that it is an "adult" film. Other viewers, mostly clad in long overcoats, are selling out screenings for the exact same reason.
  • Viewers stayed away from the adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, entitled She's the Man, and starring Amanda Byrnes, because they thought it was titled She's A Man and starred Jaye Davidson as Viola.
  • Viewers neglected to Cheaper by the Dozen 2 because they assumed it was a film about egg production and were afraid of contracting salmonella poisoning.
  • Viewers flocked in droves to see Brokeback Mountain because the media description of the film as being the "gay cowboys movie" made them think it was a remake of the Busby Berkley musical scene in Blazing Saddles.
  • Viewers have not turned out in expected numbers to see King Kong because of a news leak that Jack Black's character is killed in the first five minutes when he steps into an open manhole on the way to the boat.
  • Viewers completely ignored Memoirs of A Geisha when they discovered that the kimonos worn in the film are not in fact early 20th-century era, but are instead early 17th-century era. A riot broke out at the premire and at least seven studio wardrobe personnel had to treated for gunshot wounds. Also, Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang's mispronounciation of the Japanese word for "poodle" during the submarine scene, meant the actual line read "All your base are belong to us," which creates an international incident concluding in the Japanese boycott of all Chinese production of those cheap little plastic toys that come with your child's fast food dinner.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what kind of confusion erupts when X-Men 3: The Revenge of the Sith comes out.