You mess with Harpo Marx, you get the horns.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Faux Pas

The big Thanksgiving holiday is coming up here in the States. Many of us will be preparing big meals, family gatherings and other events. Here's some advice to help those of us prone to screwing things up. Avoid the following like carrot stuffing.*

  • When printing a menu, avoid abbreviating Turducken.

  • The Pilgrims were the English immigrants who befriended Native Americans at Thanksgiving. They were not just John Wayne's pals.

  • When slicing turkey, use a knife designed for simple meatcutting. A machete is overkill.

  • Serving ham at Thanksgiving is unusual. Serving ham sandwiches is just lazy.

  • Catfood is not an acceptable stuffing for turkey.

  • Grace for the meal should never be preceded or followed by slapfights.

  • When seating guests, never seat #BillCorbettDoppelgangers ahead of the real one. (It's a Twitter in-joke. Just avoid doing this. Especially if you're @Virginia Corbett.)

  • Traffic cones are inappropriate substitutes for cornucopia decorations.

  • When removing leftovers, never feed dogs carrots. Dogs are voracious omnivores, but they won't eat just any old crap.

  • Regardless of what Paula Deen says, there is a limit to how much butter one can use in meals. Let cardiac arrests at the table be your guide.

  • Gravy should never be eaten with the fingers. In an emergency though, one may sip directly from the bowl.

  • Use your finest china for Thanksgiving dinner. Paper plates are considered poor form. Flinging food and shouting "catch" should be reserved for leftovers.

  • After Thanksgiving meal - Burp: acceptable. Fart: not. Loudly announcing "I gotta take a dump": severely frowned upon.

  • Under no circumstances should anyone be allowed to wear the turkey.

  • The giblet gravy bowl should never be referred to as a barf bag, no matter how pink the gravy is.

  • Where helpings are concerned, seconds are recommended. Twelths are considered slightly excessive.

  • Electric carving knives are for turkeys, not for shaving toenails at the table.
  • Anyone making a turkey breast joke may be beaten about the head with the gravy ladel.

  • Real drinks should be offered as beverages, rather than just offering that there is "significant water on the moon."
  • While turkey does contain tryptophan and this can cause mild sleepiness, dozing in the mashed potatoes is frowned upon.

  • Although they are sometimes called drumsticks, turkey legs should never be used with actual drums.
  • Green beans should never be worn in the nostrils.

  • Never mix sweet potatoes and regular potatoes in one bowl. This could collapse the space-time continuum.
  • When helping oneself to a dish, always be sure to avoid knocking down elderly guests who may be between you and the food.

  • Whatever variation of succatash you serve, never, ever include bananas.
  • Avoid excessive chatter at the table about how big the Macy's Day parade balloons were, as this is boring nonsense.

  • Alcoholic beverages should never be served before the Thanksgiving meal, unless it truly sucks.
  • The "eating corn on the cob as though you were a typewriter" gag is at least 40 years out of date. Making the little bell sound at the end of each row of corn will only mark you as a social outcast.

  • All Pilgrim outfits must include pants.
  • Christmas decorations do not have to be put up right after the meal, no matter what your grandmother says.

  • Everything does not automatically go better with gravy at Thanksgiving. Iced tea, for example.
  • Watching the football games after a Thanksgiving meal is a time-honored tradition. Tackling grandmother and spiking her crocheting bag is not.

  • During Thanksgiving the terms "sweet potato" "wishbone" and "corn on the cob" are not to be used as euphemisms.
  • Do not slurp cranberry sauce from the plate. Only jello may be consumed in this way at the table.

  • In disfunctional family fights, avoid stabbing relatives with the same knife used to carve the turkey.
* Some of these originally appeared on Earl's Twitter account. (Some may yet appear there, depending on how lazy Earl is.) Follow him @earlfando! Follow Stew @stewmiller42! (Yes, Stew's still alive.) Follow Cakey the Jacked-Up Clown @cakeyclown!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Worst of the Worst of the Worst, Sir! With Honors!

Back in September, or as I refer to it around the house, that last mostly warm month, Rotten Tomatoes came out with their list of the worst films of the last decade. Being a fan of bad film riffing (MST3K, Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic, etc.) and bad films in general (I'm very fond of the Medved Brothers's work in this field from way back - Without these guys, Edward D. Wood might still be the private pet whipping boy of National Society of Film Critics), I was deeply intrigued.

I'm not sure "fan" is the right word. Help me out here. Does being a fan of something involve showering the object of your attention with unrelenting mocking laughter and a numerous volleys of disrespectfully satirical verbiage? If so, then yes, I am a fan. A massive, massive fan.

Anyway, the list contains Rotten Tomatoes' choice for the 100 worst films. Naturally, the list is loaded with crapulent stinkers about which Leonard Maltin on his most diplomatic day would gleefully pen obscenities that would make Michael Caine blush. How bad are the films on this list? Gigli is number 73. Number 73! There were 72 films worse than Gigli this past decade. If you'd have told me three years ago that would happen, I would have assumed Hollywood was to be in rubble, overrun by giant, mutant voles who somehow managed to produce four or five dozen films before the end of the decade.

One interesting thing about the list is the ratings system used to pick the films. Rotten Tomatoes used their standard system of the percentage of approval by the critics. The best-rated films in the list had a full 7% approval rating. Essentially, this means that those films only got positive or mediocre reviews from critics who were so incredibly desperate to see their names in film adverts that they settled for these films. In other words, they got fair to positive reviews from unknown critics who knew they would soon be unemployed or deceased. That's my best guess anyway.

The lowest films on the list did not even get these critics. They got big stinking naughts. Nil. Zeroes. These are films so completely reviled they didn't even get mercy reviews.

Astonishingly, Battlefield Earth was not in this category, having mustered the two to three percent of critics who are. apparently, Scientologists. B.E. amazingly finished in a respectable (all things considered) 27th place.

Most of the worst ranked films are comedies. This is very sobering to the co-editor of a humour blog. And very familiar. Nothing rankles people so much as the promise of an evening of jovial festivities unexpectedly replaced by the dour, strained embarrassments of underachieving would-be entertainers. (Editor's note: Please save any blog analogies for your e-mails to the staff.)

I must confess, I have not seen a single film in the top ten of this list and have only heard of a few. Admittedly, I don't get out as much as I used to. I've a blog to run, dammit. Nonetheless, I felt I should give a cursory report on these films, so the next time a friend drunkenly suggests catching one of these on Encore or Flix you can excuse yourself to do more productive activities, such as washing the cat, scraping off scar tissue, or both.

  • Witless Protection - This is a Larry the Cable Guy film. If the the pun in the title isn't an instant clue as to the quality of this offering, the poster with Larry clumsily holding a gun and a brunette should quickly convince. The brunette is looking moodily off frame, a look that says, "If Larry's gun wasn't full of blanks, I'd use it to kill my agent."* Gives "Git 'er done" a whole new ambience, doesn't it?
  • Redline - From the poster, I assume this is a film about a car so hot it's tires are constantly being set ablaze. Eddie Griffin is the only actor I recognize in the credits. I assume his lines are worse than the ones he was given in both Deuce Bigalow films.
  • 3 Strikes - Strike one: Not a bowling film. Strike two: Not a bowling film. Strike three: What was David Alan Grier thinking? Not about bowling, that much I can tell you.
  • Strange Wilderness - This is a movie about people searching for Bigfoot that was bad enough to get no critical support whatsoever. (I'm not sure I can think of a more critical comment than that.) Appalling? Yes, but even more appalling is that this thing runs three hours and seven minutes. That's the length of more than two 3 Strikes, or 187 Jack Links TV adverts.
  • Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 - I saw the adverts for this. Any filmmaker that can make you hate babies deserves more verbal abuse than I can muster here.
  • National Lampoon's Gold Diggers - Remember when the words "National Lampoon's" in front of a film signified a reasonably funny time in the cinema? Me neither, it's been so long.**
  • King's Ransom - It'd take a king's ransom to get me to sit through this disaster. I'm assuming the film is even worse than my joke about it.
  • Pinocchio - Roberto Benigni as the beloved wooden son of Gepetto! What could go wrong? The cinematic equivalent of termites, apparently. Maybe people just aren't ready to accept a fifty-year old as a wooden boy. I mean, besides Ralph Macchio.
  • One Missed Call - Apparently, the title is much scarier in Japanese. The mask, too. To me, it resembles one of Cakey the Clown's more sensible accquaintances.
  • Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever - Without a doubt the worst title for a film since Highlander 2: The Quickening. However, what shocks here is the sheer, incredulously incompetent marketing prowess of the filmmakers. You have a cast consisting of the gorgeous Lucy "I'm a Charlie's Angel" Liu and Antonio "Too Sexy, but I Must***" Banderas. Obviously, a romantic, sensual drama or adventure would be simply too easy. No, this lot decided a film comprised almost entirely of senseless shooting and violence would best suit this pairing. Well, who said Hollywood is all about making money? Perhaps we can just admire the producers and director for sticking to their vision, as cretinously, wastefully self-destructive as it was. That's art for you.

* Good readers, you can decide for yourselves whether that line was a double entendre or not.
** Yes, I know, Animal House. A one-off apparently.
*** The SNL sketch of course. Not a personal observation, though if I had to look like another guy I wouldn't complain if the surgeons chose that bloke.

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