You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

World Cup Fever, Chapter 27

Nuffy has the World Cup fever! Stew even has it, even if he slept through part of the U.S. game today whilst recovering from his marathon U.S. Open-watching sessions. Stew is one of the few people I know who celebrates a twelve-foot putt the way Italian players celebrate a goal.

The U.S. were splended today, despite the best efforts of the Uruguayain referee to turn the match into Reservoir Dogs II. Couple that with a smashing English victory on Thursday and I'm rather chipper, despite my heart stopping at least seven times during the match today.

The sending off of Pope was particularly harsh, today. I did scream "Goal!" at the top of my lungs when the Italian player put the ball in the back of his own net, and I also confess to loud chants of "Arrevederci!!" when De Rossi was sent off for a vicious elbow on Brian McBride (which required 3 stiches and half a tube of Krazy Glue to close).

It's the fever. I have it! Nuffy has it! Stew is succumbing! Even Chico y Jose called me the other evening to tell me he actually watched the U.S. vs. Czech Republic match (Despite his name, he is not a footie fan). Somewhere, in his Witness Relocation safehouse, Jorge is screaming at the telly for Portugal to beat Iran, not realizing it's a replay. I have no doubt that even Zimpter looked up from his intensive studies on Peter Brook's The Empty Space when he felt a sudden cool and refreshing breeze lasily drift across his face.

It's the World Cup, Zimpter! Catch the fever, lad!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Five Times the World Cup

I haven't spoken of it much, and I want you to know that it is because I feared that if I opened the floodgates, the very foundations of the history of time would crumble void-ward. Nevertheless, now I must tell you that I love the World Cup. Yes, I love it the way a husband loves a wife, the way a horse loves a scratch 'n sniff sticker, the way the 80s loved Jheri Curl. Every day, from noon until midnight, I sit upon pillows of silken velvet, in my Television Entertainment Room, staring at my 60 inch high definition projection screen, and I watch match after match, I watch them until my eyes puff out of my head and fall into my lap. I watch until the sweat of non-movement seeps through the pillows and warps the polished wood floor of my hillside A-frame mansion.

It is like watching the cosmos being born. It is like watching the spark of eternity in the eyes of a newborn infant. It is like watching the blossoming purity of eternal springtime. It is the World Cup. Yes, it is the World Cup. Give me a moment or two, please, while I pause in typing this to go over into the corner of my bedroom and quietly weep....

...Okay, I'm back. Thank you for your patience. The World Cup is not just a bunch of people from all over the world kicking a tiny speckly ball all over the grass. No! If this is what you thought it was, please note that your destruction at the hands of Grandfather Fate draweth nigh.

On the contary, what the World Cup represents is a thousand multi-national Warriors of Liberty defying the sphere of tyranny by kicking it back and forth across the glorious Fields of Decision! Mark Northover would be proud, I tell you, proud! When Ghana blazed to everlasting victory over Namibia, it wasn't just one win, but it represented a thousand million wins, the victory of all mankind against the encroaching darkness of the Unmaker!

It is the World Cup, and it is Five Times Better than any event which could ever possibly happen in the history of human achievement. It is the World Cup. Yes, my damp-pantsed friends, it is the World Cup.

Excuse me while I recommence weeping.

Are you a man...or a mouse?!?!?!?

That is the question I ask you the reader this week. Most of this year, besides being absent from the blog, I have been trying to put up a review of some of the latest that the Hollywood crap machine can generate. This Friday however, I am stuck between writing a review of the latest from Jack Black (or as I know him: Johann Schwartz) Nacho Libre and this article I found concerning how wild rats are less prone to contracting disease than lab rats who live in antiseptic conditions. So I'm going to combine the two.

Nacho Libre, starring Johann Schwartz, is the story of a rat who lives and works in a Mexican monastery that oddly enough includes a nun, the fetching Sister Encarnación. The remarkable thing about Nacho is the fact that his immunoglobulins are four times higher than your standard monastery rat. Nacho is forced to become a Lucha libre (Spanish for Free Luka an obvious metaphor for the abused children at the monastery's orphanage)...where was I, oh yes, a lucha libre wrestler fighting to win money to feed the orphans better food.

Jack Palance stars as Nacho's nemesis, El Quijada Cuadrada, who uses his jaw to open beer bottles for the other Lucha libre wrestlers. El QC uses a 20 penny nail to fasten his left forearm to an antique sideboard to impress the lovely Sister Encarnación, which in turn drives Nacho to the point of insanity which isn't too far if you've seen any of Johann's other movies. Nacho whips up a postre which contains bubonic plague, E. coli, Ebola, and Splenda and serves it to El QC in hopes it will do away with his challenger. El QC is not affected by the dessert but does get a blister on his fist from the repeated beatings he metes out to the rubbery Nacho.

In the end Nacho inadvertently sets off a thermonuclear explosion beneath the monastery which only further enrages Jack Palance to the point that he incinerates half of the population of the earth with laser beams from his eyeballs. Nacho is then disemboweled by Palance who uses him for a ventriloquist dummy in a surprisingly poingnant show about youth suicide.

Sister Encarnación cries.

(Sounds of Stew being wheeled off to the insane asylum for another round of shock therapy.)

Inspire This!!

The American Film Institute (AFI) has finally released its list of the all-time top 100 inspiring films. Many of you will recall my own suggested list from last November, and will be absolutely shocked to find that I was actually correct about one of the films being on the list. Yes, Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan made it, as I expected! Congratulations to Bill Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Ricardo Montalban's fitness coach.

[transmission interrupted]

Whoops! I've just been informed that I was wrong. Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan was not on the list at all, due to AFI's secret pact with the late James Doohan to never include a William Shatner film on any list of theirs whatsoever, unless that list was printed on the bathroom paper in the men's loo.

The actual film on the list that I, Earl Fando, predicted would be there is Shane, the heartwarming tale of a tall, good-looking, vaguely metrosexual loner, his rather large gun, and the little boy who idolises him so much he wants to grow up to be David Beckham.

I'm sure you remember the plot. Van Helsing, sorry, I mean Van Morrison, erm...Van Halen? Van Basten...which is it?

[Consults Leonard Maltin's Big Wishy-Washy Guide to Movies]

Ah, yes! Van Heflin plays the homesteading husband, mentally cuckolded by Alan Ladd's cool, self-possessing, long-barrelled, gun-wielding Shane (I mean the gun has a long barrel), and also by the fact that his wife, played by the charming Jean Arthur, uncontrollably drools on Shane any time he gets within breathing distance of her.

Meanwhile, their son little Joey, played by Clint Howard-lookalike Brandon De Wilde, follows Shane around like a Welsh Terrier, nipping at his feet and bringing him dead mice as a sign of his affection. Little Joey wants to be just like Shane, meaning he wants to brutally kill lots of people and have the most intimate relationships of his life in bordellos, pool halls, and behind the large cactus somewhere between Dodge City and Barstow.

Spoiling this idyllic little hippie commune is the evil Jack Palance played by Jack Palance. Jack wants to kill Shane because Shane's gun is longer, and also, as a bonus, for the money. After humilitaing Shane in a one-armed push-up contest, during which little Joey stands on Jack's back while he does the push-ups, Jack further ups the ante by telling a little story about the harrowing ghost of a man director George Stevens lost $40,000 (American) to in a poker game, "Believe it, or not."

Shane, enraged by such an obvious joke, shoots Jack to death in a bar, killing 4 barflys and a temperance protester as well. He then pistol-whips Jack's corpse and a passing Jehovah's Witness, just to show them who's boss.

Little Joey is only winged in the incident, when one of the barflys falls on him and breaks a bottle of "Old Muleskin" over his noggin. He declares his complete and totally innocent adolescent adoration for Shane, in the hopes that it will prevent this lunatic gunslinger from silencing his annoying whinging with a .44 caliber slug between his beady, crossed eyes.

In the final scene, Shane departs, unable to bring himself to silence annoying little Joey once and for all, and unable to stave off Jean Arthur's repeated offers to "polish his pistol." Little Joey, being quite deranged, follows Shane into the desert, crying, "Come back, Shane!" and "Daddy's all right, as long as you don't let him take the plane to Rome!" Unfortunately, little Joey wanders too far, loses his way, and is eaten by diabetic vultures, who are then instantly killed by the syrup that the film's producers exchanged for Joey's actual blood.

Shane lives a lonely but happy existence, killing old Hollywood actors in drunken sprees of gunslingling, waving his gun around in a drunken rage, drinking, and raising his daughter Cheryl. Van Heflin and Jean Arthur rekindle their love, passion, and her baked beans, and have two more boys, named Bert and Ernie, both of whom may or may not be gay, and who love beans.

Meanwhile, AFI's number one pick for the most inspiring film of all time is It's A Wonderful Life, a film about a man who throws away all his dreams to become a loan agent, is betrayed by big business and a sodden family employee, and consdiers suicide, until an angel appears and points out that he really is extremely wealthy, and that people will show up at his house with loads of cash, if only his attractive wife goes about town asking for money. I can hardly argue with that choice. At least George Bailey doesn't put a bullet through Uncle Billy's aorta at the end.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Ultimate Comic Taboo!

The AFP article touts it as the "ultimate taboo" for a comic-book hero.

What could this be? Super steriods? Dating Catwoman? Wearing a "Bill Shatner" autograph-series girdle under the costume? Kryptonite codpiece under the tights? Wondering aloud why the Incredible Hulk's pants always manage to stay on when he turns green ...and why they're always purple? Doesn't Bruce Banner own a pair of Levi's for heaven's sake?

No, it's revealing your secret identity. Spiderman does it in the latest issue of the Marvel comic "Civil War," right before he changes history by preventing John Wilkes Booth from shooting Lincoln. (Instead, he's disintegrated by Doctor Doom's pinky cannon, while on the way to the Ford Theater Bar for mai-tais.)

The AFP article says that Marvel is calling this, "arguably the most shocking event in comic book history," beating out the DC issue where Batman reveals his secret feelings for the "Boy Wonder."

What's so shocking about Marvel Comics turning their comic-book kingdom topsy-turvy for a bit of free publicity and some quick dough? I always thought that was standard operating procedure since Stan Lee was retired to emeritus status. Now, Marvel's characters die and are reborn with such alarming frequency that you'd think Tim LaHaye was the editor in chief. To recap a little Marvel history, the world's been threatened, nearly-destroyed (depending on the timeline), remade, the universe turned inside out, characters have died, been reborn or rediscovered, or unfrozen (I half expect a Disney-man comic to be in the works one of these days), betrayed one another, cheated on one another, killed, maimed, stabbed, shot, lasered, thumbscrewed, "pantsed", spitballed, goosed, and blown up characters by the thousands... and we're supposed to line up at the local Wal-Mart because Peter Parker decided to let J. Jonah Jameson know who he really is in a press conference?? "It's Parker!! No wonder he was able to get all those close-up photographs!!!"

Somewhere, Oprah is yawning.

What's next, Brett Ratner directs Spiderman III?

How the mighty have fallen. No, what would really be shocking in the world of comics is for Marvel to return to the detailed, personal stories that built their comic empire in the first place. The trouble is, what do you get the superhero who's done everything? DC ran into the same problems decades ago. Their answer: Start all over again. Batman Mark II. Superman, hey can you grow up again so we can make up some new Smallville adventures? That sort of thing.

How about something even more shocking: New superheroes?

That's not bloody likely, because it would take real work. Now excuse me, I must return to my pile of Flaming Carrot Comics.

World Cup coverage now resumes.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Nuffy's play...

All three hundred pages of it at once?

Noe... I mean "No."

However, you can publish it in installments. Anything to get your post rate up.

Excuse me, now, please. I have to go back to the catatonic state the U.S. vs. Czech Republic match put me into. To paraphrase Michael Palin at the beginning of Golden Gordon, "Three bloody nil!"

Fives Times the Play

It's what America has been requesting--nay, demanding--and who am I to resist the clamoring of hundreds upon thousands of people? At your request, America, I have finally completed the five act dramatic masterpiece Five Times: The Play, a magnum opus covering my entire life from birth to approximately thirty minutes ago. An open casting call will take place soon (fingers crossed), if I can ever get the owners of that coffee house to call me back. Personally, I am holding out for my part to be played by Mark Northover, but we'll see what happens.

Anyway, here is a sneak peak, pretty much the deliciousest tidbit of Off Broadway magic in the history of time. This is from Act Two, scene 3, a dramatic encounter between Mrs. Pectlasisty and myself, Nuffy Noe (envision my part as portrayed by none other than Mr. Mark Northover, please). As our scene opens, it is the first day of class, Third Grade, Rountree Elementary School (where roadrunners run and marigolds bloom, the live oaks grow, and the people do, too).


(Nuffy Noe, youngish, already rogueishly handsome, Five Times better than any other kid in the school, enters the classroom. He is confronted by his teacher, the mole-laden tanless Pectlasisty).

Mrs. Pectlasisty -- Welcome to Third Grade. What is your name, please?

Nuffy Noe -- Nuffy.

Mrs. Pectlasisty -- Nuffy? Okay. (She makes an unnecessarily intricate checkmark on a page of notebook paper) And please tell me your last name.

Nuffy Noe -- Noe.

Mrs. Pectlasisty -- (her rectangularish head swings up) I said please tell me your last name.

Nuffy Noe -- Noe.

Mrs. Pectlasisty -- (eyes narrow so completely that they disappear inside her cranium) Don't you get smart with me, youngish man, not on the first day of class. That is a recipe for armageddon and the dissipation of man! I said tell me your last name! I don't want to hear "NO" from you ever again, or by all the sacredest gods of the Celtic pantheon, I will unleash St. Elmo's fire upon thee! What is your last name?!

Nuffy Noe -- Noe.

Mrs. Pectlasisty -- *SCREAM* (She flings her piece of notebook paper so violently at the floor that the corner of it embeds in the concrete) You go to the principal's Slap Chamber right now! Right now!

Nuffy Noe -- No, I just said Noe, you know, because Noe is my name, not No, don't you know? No? Well, I reiterate, it's Noe.

Mrs. Pectlasisty -- (thrusts her fists skyward) By the lustful wrath of Abellio, Celtic god of apple trees, I can't take it! I SHAN'T TAKE IT!

(Mrs. Pectlasisty implodes, disappearing from the universe with a loud POP and a whoosh of air. Nuffy quietly takes his seat, basking in his Five Times Betterness.)


Man, that scene right there is what we call in the trade the Tony Moment. Mark Northover will no doubt smash it out of the ballpark. There are still some details to work out, though, before it begins playing at the Neil Simon Theater, such as whether or not we will only allow people who are at least Two Times Better to actually purchase tickets and see the play. I hear that's what they did with the all-male Swan Lake, and they had rousing success with that one, on account of it was, like, swans and, like, all men, and the libretto was written, if my sources are correct, by none other than Felbentheil Walhdehl IV.

I will post the entirety of the play, all three hundred pages of it, as soon as I can get that Earl Fando guy to look the other way. Begin mentally preparing for the lovely Ben Jonson-ish qualities of it, even now!