You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Bum...Bum...Bum, Bum...Bum...

No, that's not a Madonna song entitled "Ode to My Posterior" that you're hearing. It is in fact the well known Olympic Fanfare, because it's time for the Torino Olympics! (Or as they say in Germany, Der Olympische Torgenfarfenugen!)

Yes, tonight was the opening ceremonies, and it was a fantastic gala. Some of the highlights included Mummenchanz forming a giant symbolic Euro in protest of the €32 million cost of the Opening Ceremonies (Mummenchanz were not on the official programme), Luciano Pavarotti singing Born Free and Who Put the Bop in the Bop-Shoe-Bop-Shoe-Bop, A giant spaghetti noodle that was manipulated to form the words "Touch Our Pits" (to be fair, you try to form words out of a single strand of spaghetti...also, my Italian is quite rusty), culminating in the release of a flock of doves, who immediately flew down and pecked to death Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had snuck in to Turin (or as the Russian's call it Turgenstanovich) to see the games...And they call the dove the "bird of peace!"

The athletes marched in afterwards, starting with the country in which the Olympic Games originated: Barbados. No, you caught me, I was only kidding. It was in fact Burma. The loudest applause was for the Tahiti Olympic team, which wore traditional costumes made of air. The United States and Great Britain were warmly welcomed by everyone but the dead Iranian President whose tape-recorded boos were played by Iranian security staff. When asked why they did it, they responded, "Well, we didn't like our President very much, but it's better than just standing around covered in pigeon crap."

Finally, the crowd at the the Torino Stadium (or Shingen Turugatumarumashita in Japanese) got to see what they were waiting for, as Paul McCartney arrived in the Italian President's private box. After that, the torch was brought in by Soupy Sales, who is 1/29th Italian. He passed it off to Tony Danza, who handed it to the ashes of Federico Fellini, who handed it to the grandson of Chico Marx, who passed it to Al Pacino, who then handed it to Sophia Loren by mistake, because dammit, even at 85 the woman is still gorgeous. At last the Olympic flame was lit by that most revered figure of Italian sport, Pele...and the Games are now underway!

More reports, as they come in or as we see fit to make up.

Stew's Film File

Like many of you, I love a good horror movie. I just can't get enough of horrible maimings, hellish creatures, scary twists, and typically stale acting that makes Pauly Shore's turn in Bio-Dome look like Olivier in comparison. That's why this week I would like to do a review of The Pink Panther starring Steve Martin. Just kidding, I actually want to aim my vitriol and daggers of sarcasm at what I feel is the most predictable movie of the last century, Final Destination 3. FD3, as it's known to pimply faced teens in black overcoats, is the continued story of young people escaping death... or do they! That's really all there is to the plot of this ungodly trilogy; kids escape death due to a vision, then spend the rest of the movie snuffing it in more and more gruesome and unlikely ways.

One of the multitude of questions I have concerning this slimy trio of movies concerns the prognosticator's lack of effectiveness post original "vision". Sure they can save their friends once, so that they can enjoy a few more days of working at McDonald's and fighting the scourge of acne, but then they come up short when it really counts. The other questions I have concern what kind of warped individual would pay a single cent to engorge their dark hearts with this tripe and why can't I get a good corned beef and rye sandwich anymore. I think I'll have an easier time answering the first question, since the box office for the first two versions of this unholy triumvirate have apparently spurred the producers to offer them another helping.

Since I am (thankfully) unfamiliar with the earlier films due to my love of life, truth, beauty, and corned beef, I decided to interview two of the young actor/victims of FD3, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ryan Merriman.

Stew: Thanks to both of you for coming by. Let's start with you Mary. Why Final Destination 3, why not do something useful with your life?

Mary: Well Stew, I was promised an audition with James Cameron if I took this role. Here's crossing my fingers.

Stew: But is that really a step up?

Mary: Well after this and The Ring 2 I'm hoping to get a part in an original picture.

Stew: I see your point. Ryan, do you hold any hope for some more wholesome casting anytime soon?

Ryan: I was in The Ring 2 also so it...(suddenly a large arc light falls from the rafters and crashes inches away from Ryan)

Stew: Good heavens, I'm terribly sorry. Are you alright?

Ryan: Yeah, but that was too close for comfort. (A bumble bee stings him on the ear. Mary tries to help him but ends up pouring a bottle of sulphuric acid on his crotch. He jumps up and steps back, tripping over Stew's bottled water and falling down 10 flights of stairs)(from the bottom) I'm OK, just some bruises.

Stew: (running to the top rail and accidentally dislodging a 10,000 lb. safe sitting precariously on the rail) Oops!

(The safe falls on Ryan crushing him into an unrecognizable pulp)

Stew: I didn't see that one coming. (returning to his seat) Mary, I just had a vision of the next twenty years of your career and it prompts me to tell you to avoid roles like Final Destination 3 or suffer the death of your hopes and dreams.

Mary: Did you see anything else?

Stew: Yeah, you were fantastic in your role in Titanic 3 - My Heart STILL Goes On.

Mary: CHA-CHING!!!!!!!

My research on the movie and interviews with the young actors left me with two conclusions concerning Final Destination 3. First, that if every other movie at the mega-multiplex cinema you frequent is sold out, this movie might be a good alternative. Especially if you enjoy a plate of predictable plot devices, sprinkled with a hint of suspense, and then lovingly frosted with copious amounts of gruesome death and vile dismemberment. Secondly, I have to find a better place to put that safe when I'm not using it.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Grammy Surprises!!

According to the Associated Press, via Yahoo! (Exclamation point optional if accessing Yahoo! via Google in China), the 48th Grammy Awards, celebrating the music industry's, well... stuff they want to celebrate, were full of surprises.

I'm very happy to hear about my favourite band U2 winning 5 Grammys, but I think the AP missed out on some of the real surprises at the Grammys:

  • The Awards ceremony was reduced to only 150 awards from last year's 47,000 (FYI - I just missed out on Best Spoken Order at A Red Lobster's: Humor Category - I got beat by Louie Anderson). Even so, they still only got the programme done on time by handing out all the non-rock, pop, and rap awards from a UPS van on Wiltshire Blvd. (Zimpter, did you manage to bag one?)
  • One of Kanye West's three awards was for "Best Bush Quip". Presumably, this was a reference to the President. (Hey, it's the Grammys, not the Dove Awards.)
  • Who knew Dick Cheney was a member of Green Day?
  • Madonna came dressed as Olga Korbut. She scored a perfect 10 on the "floor exercise." (Reminder: Grammys, not Doves)
  • The incidental music was conducted by Kirstie Alley.
  • Beyonce Knowles only performed 12 songs.
  • Burt Bacharach won a Grammy. Burt Bacharach? Apparently, someone was fiddling around with the time machine from the Austin Powers movies and what do you know...the bloody thing works!
  • Burt Bacharach's children are adolescents. Burt himself is 104 years old.
  • Someone wore a tuxedo. This caused no fewer than 3 heart attacks and at least 7 LSD flashbacks.
  • Bono made only 4 appeals for important causes, one of which was re-igniting Bob Geldof's musical career.
  • Terri Hatcher wore her nightgown to the show by mistake.
  • Destiny's Child took a day off from their Breaking Up the Group World Tour to present awards. There were no fistfights, but at least one cat hiss was picked up by the network microphones.
  • Surprise Host: George W. Bush. He did mispronounce Kanye West's first name, but I suspect it was on purpose, since he pronounced it "Krappy".

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Cartoon Network presents: Warren Buffett? Zoinks!!

Apparently the "Oracle of Omaha", as he was known by his mother, Warren Buffett is going to star as a character in a new cartoon aimed at kids with nothing better to do than watch a cartoon starring Warren Buffett. Mr. Buffett gained fame and his vast fortune at an early age when he wrote and recorded the song "Margaritaville" while working at Berkshire Hathaway the famous English recording studio started by Jane Hathaway of The Beverly Hillbillies fame. After a infamous run-in with Max Baer Jr. at the cee-ment pond (providing inspiration for the later Brokeback Mountain I hear), Buffett left Beverly Hills in disgrace and settled into a humble $4 million dollar home in Laguna Beach.

Somewhere along the line, some knucklehead of a cartoon producer has decided that what kids want to see is MORE economic theory in their animated offerings. I don't know if there was some sort of poll but I can just imagine the questions:

"What would you like to see in a new cartoon? A.) A cat struck by a large hammer. B.) An animated Donald Trump firing Smurfs. C.) An animated Warren Buffett discussing the death tax. D.) all of the above.

Apparently there is a large demographic of 5 to 9 year olds that just can't get enough Buffett although I think they may have mistaken that for the buffet at The Sizzler. We just may never know.

I know many of you are asking, why should I care about Warren Buffett's new cartoon? The answer is that if we don't ridicule it and hopefully somehow assist in the cancellation of this tripe we may end up with an animated Al Gore or Dennis Hastert out fighting crime, and unlike Robert Smigel's cartoons these will be completely serious, although they will probably have less references to gay sex in them. That said, as always, I wonder what the cartoon will be like and how the Oracle will spread his arrogant economic rantings on our children.

The Oracle and the Supply & Demand Kids

We cut in on the Keynes-mobile as it arrives at a spooky old mansion. Warren and the kids hop out and all stand around wearing jumpsuits emblazoned with S&D Team. Warren's is uncomfortably tight almost busting at the seams.

Warren: Kids, who wants to hear more about Keynesian theory as it relates to resource utilization in the macroeconomic environment?

Zippy: Jeepers Mr. Buffet...

Warren: That's Buffett... t t t t not ay ay ay.

Zippy: (looking as if he's about to be horse-whipped) Sorry sir, it won't happen again. I think we'd all love to hear you expound on resource utilization but I think we need to talk to Mr. Blodgett, the man who requested we assist him with his finances.

Warren: Very well, but don't come crying to me when aggregate demand slacks and you're wondering where your next unemployment check is coming from.

Mr. Blodgett: Welcome to Blodgett Manor, I'm Mortimer Blodgett the owner and I hope you can help me with my ghost problem. The little blighters are always coming around and it's hard to run a top notch B&B with spectres floating about the place.

Warren: Ghosts? I think you've got the wrong people. I could give you a fine recitation of the multiplier effect and its irrelevance in laissez-faire schools of economics.

Mr. Blodgett: Will that scare the ghosts?

Zippy: (under his breath) No, but it'll bore their asses to death.

Warren: I heard that, Zippy!!!!!!

We see the Keynes-mobile leaving the mansion as the Mystery Machine enters the picture with Scooby Doo hanging out the window.

Scooby Doo: Rarren Ruffet? Rrrraroww

Warren: (in the distance faintly) Buffett. Buffet-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cartoon Violence

Did you miss us? Sorry about the lack of posts over the last 24 hours. I was asleep. (You have no idea how close that is to reality.)

Anyway, the big news this week is cartoons and the amazing reaction they've provoked in some more, well, reactionary quarters of the Islamic community. Frankly, I'm perplexed. I can't believe that somewhere in Indonesia or even dour Syria that they're burning cute little Droopy, Bugs Bunny, or Donald Duck in effigy.

All right, Donald is quite annoying at times, and I concede the possibility that his quackish squawking might be misinterpreted by some as a steady stream of Arabic expletives. That, and he doesn't wear pants. That would be offensive to all of us were Donald not completely neutered.

What is it that radical Islamists find appalling about cartoons?

Is it that Tom and Jerry occasionally have a slice of ham in their diet? You don't see Hasidics setting fire to reels of Puss N' Toots or Touché Pussy Cat round the local temple, do you? Even with the offensive stereotype of "Mammy-Two-Shoes" in many of their pictures, the NAACP wouldn't dream of boycotting the otherwise loveable cat and mouse.

Is it that Mickey and Minnie live in open affection and, one presumes, lust (they are animals, you know) without being married? The Southern Baptist Convention hasn't made a peep. They simply recognize that mice will not abide by decent standards of marital convention and get on with the vital business of preaching the Gospel and avoiding dance halls... No giant rat traps left in the streets of Disneyland, or D-Con mouse packets hidden under seats on the Monorail. The Church of England hasn't issued a single denunciation either.

Is it the suspiciously Brokeback Mountainesqueness of the relationship between Dr. Quest (Johnny's father) and Race Bannon? The obvious off-screen drug use of Shaggy? (You do know there was a reason Scooby's catch phrase was "Scooby Doobie Doo", don't you?) The rugged pompousness of Desperate Dan? The flashy and revealing costumes of Josie and the Pussycats (not to mention the obviously euphemistic quality of the band's name)? The irreverance and mean-spiritedness of Dennis the Menace and Gnasher? The pure and obvious evil of Dick Dastardly and Muttley?

Yet, no other group, save the International Society for Anti-Cartoon Hitler Youth (and for sport mostly, it seems), engages in death threats against the creators of these works, torches their studios, pours hot sauce surreptitiously on their hamburgers when they aren't looking, or drops anvils on their heads, leaving them only the tiniest of umbrellas as a defence.

This is madness, and I'm not referring to the band. Shame on you. You're behaving like that psycho Strawberry Shortcake.

UPDATE: Ah! Apparently the violence is the result of specific cartoons depicting Mohammed, which by some interpretations of Islam is verboten. OK - but none of the cartoonists were Islamic. Why should anyone expect them to adhere to a religion they don't practice or believe in? Does this mean I, a Christian, have to wear a beard, travel to Mecca, and avoid black puddings? (I do this last bit, but for other reasons, having to do with taste.) If that's how the game is played then perhaps we Christians should protest in outrage if an Imam fails to cross himself whilst passing a crucifix. Maybe we should all get really offended the next time an Islamic newspaper draws an unflattering picture of the Pope, or of a Jewish leader.

Oh, that would be most days, in the case of the latter. I'm leaving out all the scurrilous details, since many Arabic cartoons of Jewish leaders involve pigs, Hitler, the sacrifice of children, etc. I'm also not including the Bible burnings that occur in some countries. Mind you that I believe that most Islamic people are sensible enough that they don't contenance any of this stuff. Unfortunately, someone's let some of the nutters in charge in a few places and people are afraid to lift their heads for fear some blighter will swing at them with a scimitar. Sometimes, it's difficult to tell the cartoons from the real world.