Job, My Stupid

Hard At Work

Spammers are getting desperate, it would seem. That or just more fucking fiendish; I’m part of a couple of my workplace’s group mailing lists for the cancer committees I work on: lymphomas and gynecological cancers, to be specific. So today I was sitting at my computer with one of my bosses hanging out, because I was showing him some programming errors I’d found (this is a large part of my job too–the programmers build an incredibly sophisticated program for us, and I sit there and flail away at it like an angry caveman until it breaks), when I got a new email. “Hang on a sec,” I said, and opened it, noticing that it was addressed to “gynquestion@whereskotworks,” and thinking that hey, someone out there has a question about one of my protocols.


“I say we check it out,” I told my supervisor, “I’m kind of horny.” In my mind I said that, anyway.

The spam-bastards had obviously keyed into the “gyn” part of the email and decided, hey, anyone who has to deal with at least the abstract idea of female crotches all day long probably is in need of some grounding in the topic, so have some beaver shots, my friend!

Work overall is getting kind of eerie and fearsome these days. Tomorrow, unbelievably, we have picture day. This is because there is some whacking great meeting coming up where all the doctors and nurses and research associates and us get together and glad-hand and confer and wither slowly during PowerPoint presentations and assure each other that we still have good jobs because nobody’s cured cancer yet. And for some reason, this involves taking everybody’s picture in our office, just like in sixth grade, and then displaying them all over the place, like we’re Wal-Mart employees and our field researchers are in need of cheap toilet paper. I don’t get it. I know for a fact that nobody out there gives a technicolor fuck what I look like, and I fervently reciprocate this feeling. “Hi, Skot, it’s Jodie from University of Rochester.” “Oh? Describe yourself to me.” “Uh, well, I’m a part-time cocktail waitress with an interest in adult modeling . . . “

Doubtful. Let me just assure you that there is a reason you don’t see a lot of cheese- or beefcake calendars that say anything like “Bikini Oncologists.” Unless you’re talking about me, of course, because I’m hotter than fucking acetylene. Want to trade pixxx? Hottest on the net.

Get Your Geek On

Ask Mr. Computer! (That’s Me.)

Q: Mr. Computer, I noticed that your internet site was fucked all to hell for a while. What happened? Do you have pears in your head?

It’s an excellent question. From what I can tell, the DNS was hacked at the root, causing a whole series of parsing errors. When your web bursar pinged my site, the apaches script gave out with problems, so you got the usual thing. I am taking the whole thing up with the server, and there might be legal action.

Q: Help! The people over at Metafilter are angry! I haven’t seen this before. Is it usual? Thank you for being smarter than Christ, Mr. Computer.

You are welcome. The people at Metafilter are strange and radioactive, and you should never attempt to visit there without at least Netscape 4.0 and counseling. Sometimes they put porno there and that will get into your hard drive, but you can stop this by packing magnets around your CPU (the big box you hide your whisky bottle in). Anyway, you can make friends at Metafilter by talking about packet swtiching or ugly fat people or just by mentioning my name, because they think I’m fucking great. Slashpot is another stupid place too.

Q: Hey, Mr. Computer, I was talking to a chat room today and the chat room told me to stfu. What the heck? I think the world is crazy with things like this and you should help me.

Don’t worry at all, I can help. When you were having computer sex a sex hacker saw you, because they look for that and use software to find it. The hacker was trying to log your sex with a Secured-Text File Upload so he could stream it on his bandwidth and post it to his own internet. Sometimes they even trade them so they can all whack it to different stuff; it is pretty sick. So this time you got burned, and it happens, but in the future you should make sure your computer sex uses an encryption key, which you can get pretty easy at Best Buy.

Q: stfu mr computer u r a dumbass if u think u no what u r tlaking about. u talk about shit u dont even understand u retard, so i guess that makes u mr retard heh. stfu

Nice try, Mr. Sex Hacker! You always have to be vigilant on the World’s Wide Web. Don’t worry about me folks, he is using the wrong font for my system! That’s why some of the commands he is executing are not being rendered properly in my bursar. It may look different in Mazilla if your tabs are not set too.

Q: I click links like you say, but all the time I think,What the fuck is going on? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?

Now you’re getting it. You are a shaman. This is how you net around.


The Fine Art Of Hemorrhaging Money

It’s a little silly given that I have a honeymoon to deal with first–including those dick-twisters who create the nonsensical airfare bafflemazes (aren’t they supposed to be going broke, for Christ’s sake?)–but I’ve been feeling a jones to get back to Our Nation’s Most Appealing Cesspool, Las Vegas. It’s a little hard to write about a place that was seemingly covered back to front by a certain Mr. Hunter Thompson, but hey, that was thirty years ago, and goddamn it, I love the place, even while I fully understand that the whole thing is a glutinous, cynical, cardboard fuck-factory that eats the weak and picks its marquee teeth with the bones.

The last time I was there was about a year ago, when I went down with about a dozen friends for a birthday jaunt. So we threw our Antabuse pills into the dumpster and hopped on America West (aka Afterthought Airlines) for a couple of hours before being kicked out into McCarran Airport’s cheerless smoke ‘n wait ‘n slot desmesnes. Then a quick taxi-cram to our hotels (Paris for the birthday boy, Bally’s next door for the rest of us), hurl our shit onto the bed and off to the Strip we scampered.

I can understand why people would object to the atmosphere of–or even idea of–someplace as fundamentally perverse and crass as Vegas, but I still maintain that if you can’t get over it long enough to even have a tiny bit of fun there, you’re just being obstinant. At the very least you can people watch: the racked-out trophy dates (or brides); the loutish, appalling white trash tourists; the horrid old-person-shaped giant funguses rooted in front of the slots. You can at least enjoy these things ironically, can’t you? Hey, is that a really attractive hooker? Or a pretty showgirl? Or a knockout cocktail waitress? Answer: it is a man in drag.

Over the course of our visit, we of course went all over the place. I always like to visit the desperately terrible Excalibur casino, if only to walk into the joint. Entering visitors “enjoy” (when it’s working) a moving conveyor belt while your ears are entertained by actors with awful plummy Olde Englishesque accents trumpet nonsense about the “MERLIN’S MAGIC!” being on your side as you gleefully yank the nickel slots. Meanwhile, on either side of the belt are two concrete alleys: these are for people leaving the casino, on foot, not as the Vegas Gods intended, which would be in either a limo or an ambulance. No, people exiting the casino in such an ignominious fashion not only walk out on their two sad loser feet, they walk past the glorious soon-to-be-winners who only have to stand there and be whisked inside without any perilous effort at all. Nothing else in the town for me sums up so succinctly what I think of as Vegas’ unspoken credo: LOSERS WALK.

At one point, a bunch of us decided to take a walking tour of wherever we led ourselves, with the idea that we’d just grab drinks wherever we were moved to. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a couple of them had some ecstasy, which they had gulped down (because yeah, in Vegas, you need heightened senses to pick out the subtle details, like the twenty-foot tall billboard showing a winged, double-dicked incubus sportfucking the Barbii twins on top of a Humvee). This led to trouble for one of our merry band; we settled down in some piano bar in the Venetian, and K. seemed jumpy and tense, and it was a little odd that he was wearing sunglasses, but whatever. We’d been carousing for two days, and we were all feeling kind of soul-mashed anyway. But what was going on with K. was, the ecstasy was warping his perceptions, and he kept catching a sideward glance of this tiny Asian woman at a nearby Pai-Gow table. She was enthusiastic about the game, and loud as hell, and she’d toss the dice in the shaker and wave it over her head and scream “PAI-GOW!” K., we found out later, was under the impression that she was staring directly at him as she did this, and that the screams of “PAI-GOW!” were some kind of terrible tooth-baring threat, and the dice sounded like bones rattling in a crypt, and that every time she screamed afresh, she was implacably inching closer and closer to him. K. held himself together all right, but I can still make him flinch by bugging out my eyes and howling with menacing cheer, “PAI-GOW!”

In the end, we naturally lost all of our fucking money–especially heart-tugging were the losses of C., the birthday boy, who went bottomlessly broke so quickly that the process seemed to require the employment of tachyons–and when we finally hit the airport to return home, we looked and felt like wraiths. “I feel like death’s chilly asshole,” I moaned when I hit the seat. “Me too,” said the fiancee. “I can’t wait to come back.”


Elementary School

THE NOBLE GASES are the student council. HELIUM is the nice guy who will come out of the closet in college. XENON is the ridiculously hot salutatorian candidate who is also a minister’s daughter; she will resist all romantic advances until the senior graduation party, when she’ll get drunk and make out with KRYPTON, captain of the glee club, who is resultantly quite gleeful indeed. Nobody likes NEON, who unsurprisingly goes into pre-law.

BORON is the nose tackle for the football team. He doesn’t like to be called “Bo,” so nobody does.

RUBIDIUM is the quiet kid who draws all the time and sometimes has unpleasant diabetic reactions. Nobody will remember his name after graduation.

The ACTINOIDS run the A/V club, and sometimes, when the coast is clear, put illicit slides of Bettie Page into the projector and honk at the images. They are furtive and sly and fearful of VANADIUM, who for reasons known only to himself, stalks the hapless Actinoids with single-minded fury, and has a penchant for dishing out cruel titty-twisters.

YTTRIUM is the foreign exchange student who roams the halls with a quizzical half-smile on his face, wondering why nobody will talk to him. (Because he’s different, of course.) Finally, gregarious SODIUM one day invites him to a party, where he stuns everyone with his unearthly capacity for alcohol. BISMUTH vomits unceremoniously into a houseplant.

BERYLLIUM has a sniggering reputation for terrible flatulence that isn’t really justified, but rather lives on through the typically cruel rumormongering so prevalent amongst teenagers. He will show up for the ten year anniversary driving a BMW, feeling pretty good, but will nonetheless be tormented with an onslaught of fart jokes anyway.

TUNGSTEN is just as comfortable smoking in the parking lot with HAFNIUM as he is playing D&D with dorks like LAWRENCIUM and TIN. He is friend to many and enemy to none; sort of the polar opposite of the widely loathed STRONTIUM, who resembles a malignant ox.

NIOBIUM reads Sylvia Plath, and is aggressively upfront about her sexual proclivities. She will briefly run away from home with the sinister and violence-prone COBALT, but will return amidst vague, hoarse rumors of gunplay and extradition, none true. They just ran out of money.

SELENIUM will break your heart every day if you let her, and you do.

You are IRIDIUM, bright and rare and largely unnoticed, and you’re just all fucking right with me.

We hang out with MOLYBDENUM, so there’s usually no trouble. Let’s go play pinball.


I Have Saved The Universe Many Times

Growing up in (mostly) rural Idaho and being an only child as I was, at an early age I got pretty proficient at keeping myself entertained. I had Andy, my good dog, to keep me company–and what company! He was a German Shepherd/Collie/St. Bernard/Malamute mix, so he was fucking huge–and of course I also had the great in- and outdoors; most of these efforts at self-amusement I now see as an adult were incredibly death-courting. I’m honestly stunned I made it past age ten. I found once an old abandoned buried water tank on our property; I thought it would be neat to crawl down inside and look for salamanders, delightfully heedless of the fact that once I dropped down the eight feet to the floor, I had no good chance of getting back up. After a couple hours of terrified, useless screaming, I literally rock-climbed my way up by finding teeny niches in the old concrete to hold on to, probably abetted by massive amounts of fear-adrenaline shrieking through my veins. We also had a barn on the property, and I spent hours dicking around in there, and it chills me to remember confidently strolling around on the thick 12″ x 12″ rafters that crossed the barn fifteen feet in the fucking air. I used to run across them, pretending to be Spider-Man. There’s simply no good reason I’m not a fading stain on the concrete floor.

On the non-lethal side of things, I of course spent a good amount of time playing in my room. Like a lot of boys, I had a jones for action figures–you know, dolls. And also like a lot of boys, they were a motley bunch, culled here and there from various toy lines demarcated by whatever passing obsession I happened to hold at any given moment. But that didn’t matter, because whatever the little guys originally were marketed as, they were renamed and reinvented by my own imagination when I felt that their original purpose was lacking. I invented whole mythologies for the little bastards and had them act out elaborate (by my reckoning) dramas, roughly along the lines of the SuperFriends or, much cooler in my opinion, the Justice League of America.

For example, Star Wars figures were obviously hugely popular around this time, and sure enough, I had a couple. I had a Stormtrooper figure, a little plastic white guy around four or five inches tall. But the thing is, being a faceless, expendable guard-dork doesn’t make for much superheroing, so I renamed him The METEOR! The Meteor’s origin was thus: he was some astronaut guy (I know I gave them all “secret identities,” but I don’t remember those) who was testing a brand new super whip-ass combat/supersoldier/outer space suit and he was kind of cruising around in space somewhere giving the thing a test ride when ALL OF A SUDDEN! (and this kills me to remember that I concocted this) he has, like, the most wildly improbable thing happen to him when he is caught dead smack in the middle of a collision between two meteors. What, he didn’t have enough room in deep space to get the fuck out of the way? Talk about being in the most incredibly wrong place at the most unbelievable time EVAR. But hey, I was a kid. Anyway, as if that bunch of horseshit wasn’t enough, this incredible blast obviously didn’t kill the poor fucker, but instead it somehow fused the suit to his body! This gave him some pathos: so now the guy was a superhero (The Meteor! Or, uh, somebody really fucked over by two meteors, but never mind), but he’d LOST HIS HUMANITY and could never feel the sweet touch of a spring breeze on his skin, etc. etc. I constructed lots of scenarios where The Meteor, a fundamentally good guy, would periodically freak out and and protest to the heavens and pick fights and stuff, because I thought it made him complicated or something. I really liked The Meteor; he was certainly cooler than some mook who gets ignominiously shot in the first reel by a goddamn Wookie.

I also had a Luke Skywalker figure, a much more tragic story, because it was just a guy in a white tunic, and who fucking cares about that? He became even more pathetic once I lost the little red piece of plastic that served for his light saber, so I hit upon a solution: Luke was the perennial victim, for whom my team of heroes would rally around when (always, always) in peril. So Luke got kidnapped a lot, and my heroes would stage a massive battle and save the little turd, over and over, and it kind of got boring after a while. Then I began to hate Luke a little, because, Jesus, can’t this fucking putz do anything other than get kidnapped? Of course he could: he could die. It was great! So from then on, Luke was the victim of countless unspeakable crimes, and suffered countless horrible deaths, each of which would either (a) drive a member of the team mad with vengeful fury or (b) drive the entire team of heroes mad with vengeful fury, depending on how ambitious I was feeling on that day. So useless Luke still served a function: eternal whipping boy, fated only for cruel kidnappings or horrifically fatal barbarities.

I also had a Boba Fett figurine, but Boba Fett was so fucking cool, he was just Boba Fett, and I was happy with that.

Micronauts were also big deals when I was a kid, and sure enough, I had me a cool blue one with wings. So he was the Blue Angel (yeah, yeah, Marlene Deitrich, shaddup); he was some alien guy from someplace unimaginably far away, like the planet Cleveland or something. He could fly, obviously, because he had this cool flip-up wing attachment that was just greater than shit, until I lost the damn wings, and then I was kind of stuck with what to do with him until I decided fuck it, he could still fly anyway. He was all but indestructible, and could shoot mysterious power bolts from his hands; I decided this almost immediately because Micronaut hands were sort of three-quarters curled into fists for gripping little always-lost ancillary toys, but they also looked perfect for generating blast rays that would shoot out from the palms of his hands.

I also had–you know it!–super-villains. One was a sort of planet-eating bastard modeled on Galactus named ROM. Remember ROM (I realize here that good portions of this post will be gibberish to a lot of women)? He was the coolest damn thing I remember having; a giant battery-operated silver guy with a whole boatload (well, three) of gadgets that would blink and make ooky noises. He had a jetpack and an audible Vaderish breath-noise and a distinctly Cylon-like set of red blinking eyes. Basically, Parker Brothers just ripped off every single sci-fi thing they could think of and dumped it into this fucker. He was great, and would inevitably nearly, almost, but not quite totally destroy my team of good guys, or their Hall of Justiceish Place, or the Earth, or whatever in these terribly epic battles that could last for hours. But he never succeeded, of course, except with Luke, whom he gruesomely killed many, many times.

I also had this weird thing called Baron Karza that I don’t remember where the hell I got. Baron Karza was another big robotish thingy with a kind of Camelot 2578 AD feel to him, but he had a kink: his arms and his legs were held on by magnets. I have no idea why. But this was pretty cool for my aforementioned epic battles; inevitably, Karza would be thundering about my heroes’ IMPENDING DOOM, MORTALS! or whatever, and then the Blue Angel would come up with some devastating mot juste and hit the bastard with an energy ray, which would sever the foul Baron’s arm or leg or head and he’d scream NOOOOOO! Or maybe he ticked off The Meteor by killing Luke for the millionth time, and The Meteor, wracked by a mad frenzy of grief and sadness would yell THIS IS FOR LUKE, YOU INHUMAN MONSTER! and smash him right in the gut and all his arms and legs would fly off from the impact, and The Meteor would kneel, spent from the effort of avenging his useless and dead pal.

You’ll be terribly surprised to learn that I was really bad with the girls all through high school. Comic books and sci-fi movies have a lot to answer for.

Freude, Schaden

Prance! Prance For Me, Celebrities!

Yesterday the fiancee and I did the big obvious thing and watched the Oscars; a couple friends of ours have a large annual party, so a couple dozen of mostly theater people got together for an old-fashioned evening of unwise pre-Monday drinking and outraged howling at the television set. We also participated in the usual voting pool, where we both naturally lost. E., the little bastard who won, had set the tone of the evening earlier by showing up with his “theme dish:” a half-case of “About Schmidts.”

J. and S., our hosts, were of course also enabling our profligate behavior; unfortunately, so was I. The house drink of the night was Manhattans, and I had brought along a couple quarts of Bloody Mary mix and a jug of vodka; there was also lots of beer, not to mention certain people other than myself making stealthy trips out to the balcony clutching lighters and sinister pipes. (Of course, by “stealthy” I mean “publicly;” a la, “I’m gonna go get high. Anyone want to come?”)

The food was also good. There was fondue, and cheese and sausages, and at one point my friend C.–who had proudly started drinking as early as possible–hauled out a homemade deep-dish pizza that looked like a fucking geological core sample of the Umbrian countryside. In addition, our host J. is an aspiring pastry chef, so he kept rolling out various fiendish tarts and choco-whatsits and all sorts of addling sweets. So we weren’t hurting for food and drink, unless one was in search of something remotely healthy, in which case that someone would have been laughed at raucously and then dragged out onto the balcony, and then probably would have had a belladonna suppository forced on them, or something equally deranged.

So the Oscars eventually started, and with it of course came the real sport: viciously mocking everything about them. C. got the ball rolling early on when he spotted the very pregnant Catherine Zeta-Jones (like you could avoid the photographer’s loving downshots of her rollicking uberbreasts), and shouted, “Hey, she’s not thin! Lose some weight, fattie!” On the other side of the equation, I noticed a certain cooling-off of my longstanding crush on Renee Zelwegger (which originated with Bridget Jones’ Diary), because she now looks like a piece of utility grade flank steak with a smile-shaped klieg light mounted on it, blasting out THIN-RAYS all over fucking creation, because Christ knows that a dry, desiccated woman is the only kind of tolerable woman. Sigh.

Anyway, things proceeded apace, and we were having a good time; we enjoyed Steve Martin’s calculated viciousness, for the most part, and suffered through all the contest categories that we had utterly no idea how to vote for: short form animation, sound editing, most enthusiastic fluffer, etc. And also the no-brainers, such as visual effects, where even on the small screen it was obvious that The Two Towers made Spider-Man look like it was made by hydrocephalic, piebald donkeys. Foreign films? None of us had seen any of them, of course, not because we wouldn’t enjoy them, but because when you do a bunch of shows it makes it hard to get out and see any fucking movies in the first place, and when it comes to choosing between Chicago and, say, Klimt et Pjuk der Gotterdammerung, what do you suppose your average actor is going to pick? Unless you’re my friends K. and E., who delight in getting stoned and going to see horrors like Dude, Where’s My Car?, an experience that in my opinion still counts as seeing a foreign film.

Then, as everyone now knows, including people trapped alive under miles of glacial ice, the Michael Moore Thing happened. It was another no-brainer vote for Best Documentary, and we waited suspenselessly for his name to be called, and plus nobody in the fucking world saw any of the other films anyway, so it was, and here came good old professionally pugnacious Mike, jowling up to the mic and wasting no time in unleashing his barbless screed to a suddenly booing audience. My friends, lefties all–as am I, mostly–loved it and cheered him on, but it made me sad and angry and despairing. Is this guy the best we can do? He’s just a carping, bloviating sack of crap, a tiresome pedagogue loudmouthing his way into the public arena with hoary nonjokes and toothless nips at our Prez about “fictitious elections” and duct tape references. Fresh, tough stuff, Mike! It really raises the level of discourse! The man is our very own fucking David Horowitz or Rush Limbaugh, a bomb-throwing little paper tiger whose own blast shielding of arrogance and attention-whoring provides the only protection against burning up from his own heat–though of course, precious, precious little light. If we’re taking wan cheer in this guy and his cock-waggling, I’m just going to go to bed for the next few administrations.

Anyway. Sorry, I’ve been doing that all day, and I think it’s out of my system.

So the evening went on, and with a bit more pizzazz than usual in the WHAFUCK? department. For example, Adrien Brody: WHAFUCK? This one knocked pretty much everyone right in the gut, including him, as his face seemed to register about as much hope as Diane Lane had alloted herself for the evening: none. It sure blew me away; I didn’t see The Pianist, natch, but I had pretty much written off the entire field anyway after I saw Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York, which was one of the most ferocious performances I’d ever seen. But Mr. Brody seems like a nice chap, and it was kind of endearing when he absentmindedly swatted away the annoying flybuzz of the orchestra’s “You’re done now” swelling with an annoyed, “Cut it out!” and then placidly continued on with his say, while the conductor stood around wondering who the fuck this anemic little shoe-pisser was.

And then of course the final WHAFUCK? was the Roman Polanski nod for Best Director, which brought a massive standing O, led by Marty Scorcese, who apparently doesn’t mind the decades-long cornholing he’s been receiving from these bastards, but never mind, POLANSKI! And poor Rob Marshall sat there with Harvey Weinstein lurking behind him whispering things like “I’ll eat your head if you show emotion,” and everyone else wondering who the fuck Rob Marshall was and where he came from, and secretly knowing, “Back to oblivion for you, you poor bastard. Harvey’s done with you and now he’s going to push you off the ice floe.” He’ll show up in a couple years on IMDB with credits like L.A. Doughnut Girls and Beckett’s Revenge with Tom Sizemore.

Finally, it was all over, and we sat around the living room like catatonics for a bit before people started realizing that it was 9:00 or so, and that we’d been drinking for hours, and we had to get to fucking work in the morning. The aftermath to an event like the Oscars or the Super Bowl is a lot like what I imagine the end of a porn shoot is like: people are shuffling around with their heads down, reality seeping back in to addled brains, mumbling about cleaning up and needing to get home to feed the dog. And then in the morning, America’s productivity takes a massive plunge as millions of muzzy-headed people listlessly fuck up their daily routines and gingerly sip coffee. That massive hit the stock market took today? That was our fault. That’s right. Me and my couple dozen friends. Who says a few people can’t make a difference?


Phrases I Would Rather Not Have On My Tombstone

Hoobastank 4Ever

Affable Nebbish

This Tombstone Redeemable For $25 Off Your Next Interment

Medical Research Is Richer For His Comical Demise

Frequent Crier

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

Has Finally Shut The Fuck Up

Active Culture Below

He Knew Exactly What Hit Him

He Knew Exactly Who Ate Him

He Thought It Was Gin

Goodbye, Stupid

No Spitting

Still Looking For The Head


We Will Miss Trouncing His Terrible Fantasy League Teams

Freude, Schaden

I’m Hungry. Let’s Eat The Young.

“Reality TV” will of course burn itself out, but it will probably get worse before it gets better, if that’s at all conceivable. I think I’m right on this; I know, right now we’re beseiged with ghastly things, from “Fear Factor: The Wonder Years,” which shows Fred Savage rolling around in a room full of thumbtacks to “Who Wants To Marry That Guy From Picket Fences?”, which features a haggard-looking Darva Conger steadfastly refusing to indulge “whodat?” actor Costas Mandylor’s penchant for cleansing enemas. And yet, all of these shudderingly awful spectacles are still more appealing than watching network war coverage. “And now, more blurry things turn bright orange and smoke. Brought to you by Colgate.”

Here’s what has to go first though: the fucking kids. Ever since “American Idol” hit the U.S. (ripped off from the identically suicide-pact-inducing Brit hit “Pop Idol;” I’d like to say it’s another example of America ruining another country’s fun idea, a la “Changing Rooms” or “Iron Chef” but this show was imported more or less intact and pre-ruined), we’ve seen a sudden disturbing ancillary phenomenon that can be classified as Those Cute Fucking Leather-Lunged Kids! Since it’s never too early to start destroying the lives of our children, first “Star Search” was exhumed, fortunately without the shambling corpse of Ed McMahon, who nonetheless remains conveniently brined should we ever need him. Then I started seeing ads for “America’s Most Talented Kid,” or whatever it’s called. And thus the sudden infestation of our TV screens of tiny, ostensibly cute little fucking buggers screaming Whitney Houston tributes until their platelet counts drop into the low ten thousands and the weaker ones discreetly expire offstage due to massive thrombocytopenia as their unclotting blood seeps out of their throats. Guess you just didn’t WANT IT ENOUGH, little Chantalle! Let’s hear it for Deron, the world’s only four-year-old chainsaw juggler! Ouch, Deron! Watch your femoral! Cleanup on soundstage four!

As hateable as these kids are (and let’s not pretend they’re unhateable just because of their youth; think Mary Kate and Ashley), they are almost certainly victims. But so what? America hates victims all the time. Sacco and Vanzetti. The Rosenbergs. Nancy Kerrigan. We hated the fuck out of all of them, not out of any provable rational ideology or reasoning, but more out of the gut notion that these people, no matter what the circumstance, were really just kind of fucking irritating. Anarchists? Commies? Figure skaters? Fuck those whiners. It’s easy to understand. But I think I might have a solution.

It’s a TV concept: “World’s Most Awful Stage Parents.” It’s got it all: reality TV, incredibly awful people, child abuse, psychological trauma, venality, self-delusion, Hollywood. This can’t fucking miss. Imagine the footage: you don’t see the poor, miserable children hoofing it around the stage as if hypnotized by a Coney Island magician, just the parents, before and after. “Corey,” the mother’s tone full of venemous sibilants, “you have to nail the glissando.” “Listen to your mother, Corey,” says the wispy-moustached dad, thinking only of long strings of zeroes written down on watermarked paper, “you don’t want to sleep in the woods again, do you, tiger?” And the child, terrorized beyond lucidity, goes out and belts a feverish version of “Sugar Walls,” hitting every other note perfectly and jerking like a damaged robot. The parents look on, razor-lipped, and when the beaten child comes backstage, Damocles’ sword falls. Loving Mom says, “Failed again. You knew what would happen. We’re shipping you off to study with nice Mr. Polanski.”

I think this could fly, big time. What else are you going to watch, footage of the war? Fuck that. Think of the children.

Visual Club

I Continue To Prejudge Movies Because Certainly Nothing Else Is Going On These Days

Well, we’re at war.

(Pause while washed by wave of despair.)

Yeah, fuck that. Let’s make fun of things.

So, movie wasteland. While most of us (the ones who like their shit solidly blown the fuck up, anyway) eagerly await The Hulk, The Matrix II & III, X-Men II, LOTR:ROTK, and of course BARL:VPN–NAMBLA III, the studios are having a field day flinging poo-balls at a slavering audience and watching us make terrible faces as we tentatively lick their dire swill. Basically, spring and fall movies are proof positive of Hollywood’s fundamental contempt for its audiences. “Look at those fucking jackals,” they hiss, “twisting our dicks over release dates on the blockbusters. Christ, I hate them. That’s it, I’m greenlighting Autumn in New York, just to see them howl.” How else do you explain such ghastly, unwatchable, incomprehensible movies? Oh, and now would be a good time to point out that I am passing judgment on all these movies purely on their ads and some judicious faux-research at IMDB. I haven’t seen any of them, and have no plans to, barring some sadomasochistic impulse. So yes, I’m full of shit.

But you can’t tell me any of these movies are any good. Well, you can. I just won’t listen to you.

Anyway! What else have we got? Oh, yes, there’s The Hunted, with slumming Oscar-huggers running around playing soldier; one evidently hacks civilians into chum, and the other one tracks him with silent, steely, baggy-eyed determination. Maw! Best take the bottle away from Brian Dennehy and give him a sponge bath! He’s gonna be pissed when he finds out they remade First Blood without tellin’ him! Directed by William Friedkin, a man who actually seems uncomfortable with dialogue, but who has obviously found his dream actor in Benicio Del Toro, a man who seems to revel in incomprehensibility. Also featured: minor characters with names like Crumley, Stokes and Boggs. At least one of these people, I am certain, will be chomping on a cigar.

Moving right along, we find Basic, a troublingly eponymous title. One is further discouraged by a relentless ad campaign that features an anonymous radio “critic” being quoted as saying “John Travolta proves once again that he’s one of America’s best actors!” Yes. And Jenna Elfman shall be his queen. Give me a fucking break. But the biggest danger sign here is the heart-stopping phrase, “Directed by John McTiernan.” AIIIEEEE! This is the same man who last year perpetrated the Rollerball remake as well as such turgid, humorless fare as The Hunt for Red October, Predator and the execrable Last Action Hero, itself an immortal Hollywood joke. A final stake in the heart: the IMDB capsule review from the user boards (always a pithy bunch) simply contains the rather direct summation: “AWFUL FILM.” I bet Ain’t It Cool News spends about three pages of gibbering ink to this effect.

Then there’s Stephen King’s latest, Dreamcatcher, which is of course directed by . . . Lawrence Kasdan? Oooookaaaay. Anyway, this movie is obviously about the voracious insects that live in Jason Lee’s brain and eat the sections of his mind that would normally allow this talented person to select good roles in good movies. He used to have this ability; I cite Almost Famous and . . . uh . . . Almost Famous. Okay, maybe he got lucky once. Perhaps Kevin Smith (this is flamebait, but it’s sincere flamebait: Kevin Smith is an awful hack who should be slow-roasted to an internal temperature of a million.) gave him this awful infestation. But things are looking up for Jason, yessirree! IMDB lists such stellar upcoming roles like “PR Exec #1” and “Dishevelled Man.” Yes, I’m serious. Anyway, this movie is evidently about weird aliens who inhabit human hosts and then are birthed via explosive, bloody anal expulsion. WHO WANTS POPCORN?

And finally, because I can hardly bear to go on, we have the obligatory Screemy-Queeny Offering! Fags are soooo funny, aren’t they? Especially to straight people! Hence, Boat Trip, which features the further horror of watching the Toboggan Ride of Terribleness that is the horrific career of Cuba Gooding Jr. See, Cuba is straight! And for some idiotic reason, he finds himself on a cruise! A gay cruise! Then he mugs a lot and runs away from the Scary Fairies until oh no! He has to pretend to be a ca-razy gay person! Holy fucking shit! Somebody kill me! Better, someone kill Cuba. He’s clearly begging for it. BONUS: I know the IMDB site chops off plot summary quotes on the main movie pages more or less arbitrarily, but the cut-off point for Boat Trip’s is really good: “Jerry and Nick are two best buddies whose love lives have hit rock bottom, Jerry’s especially, having just vomited… (more)”

Yes! More! More!

It’s just too bad we have to wait until fall for Autumn in New York II.

Visual Club

I Prejudge Movies

We’re still in that no-mans land between winter movie season and the feeding frenzy of the summer season, so the current crop of movies in release (or about to be released) are, of course, rotten piles of shit; the outcasts, the lame, the crippled, the unwanted. I say this with the attendant admission that I have seen none of them, nor do I intend to, because a mere look at most of the ads for these things is enough to confirm their intrinsic badness. I admit as well that this is not fair; I don’t care. It’s basic preservation instinct; sort of the same instinct that whispers to me, should you ever need a lawyer, you probably should not call one that advertises on TV in drag, or also, avoid eggplant at all costs, as it is a violent emetic and is harvested from old, deserted Superfund sites.

There are, as ever, the kids’ movies. For the youngsters, we’ve got Piglet’s Big Movie, a sensible enough title for a movie whose ads relentlessly feature, uh, Tigger, who is still tirelessly bouncing around, wisecracking maniacally. The really unfortunate thing about Tigger is, for me anyway, is that he just continually reminds me of Robin Williams any more. Have you seen any of the man’s horrible interviews? He’s up! He’s down! He’s speaking in an allegedly funny voice! Christ, he’s a fucking firecracker! Won’t he please stop the schtick for one goddamn second please? That’s Tigger. But if you’ve got little bastards, well, you’re probably fucked, because they’re going to scream until you go see it, and you wouldn’t want to miss Disney’s last bit of horrible money-grabbing before they lose the rights to pillage Pooh’s good name, would you? Of course not.

So while you and the little screaming bastards are gritting it through Piglet, you can send your twelve-year-old daughter off on her own–because as far as she’s concerned, you’re a frightening embarrassment-beast now anyway–and she can crack her bubblegum all the way through the not-at-all formulaic What A Girl Wants, in which another gleaming teenybopper girl–this time her name is Amanda Bynes, whom I’m evidently supposed to be familiar with, but I’m old and creaky–asks the question, duh? What does a girl want? Apparently, it’s to lose her dad at an early age, and then discover that he’s actually a really wealthy British guy who lives in a manor and has ready access to harmless cute boys who will indulge her in a bit of chaste necking before she scurries off to put on a godzillion-dollar gown and just knock the shit out of the stuffy English people, who all turn out to be really nice after all and everybody lives happily ever after. I don’t think that’s too much to ask! But then again, I’m not Colin Firth, whose every second even in the TV ads, appears to be broadcasting the message “I’VE MADE A HORRIBLE MISTAKE! CONTACT MY AGENT!” on all psychic airwaves.

But maybe you’re lucky and you don’t have kids. Whoops! You’re not lucky at all! There’s many fresh horrors lurking out there ready to indian-burn your helpless mind! My favorite guilty pleasure so far–right out of the gate, and I’ve already taken many shots at it–is The Core. This is a movie so strange, it almost cries out for the inclusion of Angelina Jolie, but alas, it has an almost aggressively b-list cast: Aaron Eckhart (“Call me Mr. Brockovich, won’t you?), Hillary Swank, Stanley Tucci, and Delroy Lindo all apparently have to go to the center of the Earth for some reason because the planet is going to stop spinning, and they have to go blow something up. The whole idea just makes me giddy, giddy like Amanda Bynes!!! in a Dior dress!!! because, well, what? This might be up there on the fun-o-meter in the “so bad it’s good” way were it not for a couple things: one, the actors. I have a feeling that Mr. Eckhart and Ms. Swank are going to be taking the whole thing way too seriously, while Mr. Tucci and Mr. Lindo are going to be skulking around wearing hunted, Colin Firthlike expressions. Oh, also, Alfre Woodard plays a character named “Stick,” which is a bad omen recognized by all rational people. And two, there’s the whole problem that this thing is clearly so fucking dumb, you’re going to be stuck in a theater filled with science dweebs who are going to loudly bitch about the stupid technical aspects and theatrically groan at every violation of natural law, which one assumes will be frequent. Geeks cannot be quiet at the movies.

The less said about Bringing Down the House the better. It is clearly a hateful thing created by sociopaths to punish the stupid and weak.

Certainly the most baffling entry out there crabwalking for your movie bucks is the unexplainable widget called View From the Top. This thing is pretty evidently a cookie-cutter bit of feelgood glop, but it features people who ostensibly have much, much better things to do with their time, such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Michael Myers. It then teams them up with people who probably really didn’t have anything better to do, like Christina Applegate and Rob Lowe. It’s kind of like you and a buddy going to the gym and finding Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson hanging out waiting for a game: it just doesn’t make much sense. So: Gwyneth is of course the small town girl who with just a little gumption and whole fucking lot of positive attitude makes it big time in the stewardessing game! You go, girl! Please? Will she succeed? I wonder if she finds true love somewhere along the way? Maybe she sportfucks Rob Lowe, and then gets a riotous case of the clap? Whatever. Oh, and also, Candace Bergen is lurking around in there somewhere biting the heads off pigeons and throwing hateful looks at Christina Applegate, who still looks really great in a bikini.

You know what? This is good fun. And I don’t even have to know what I’m talking about! It’s the whole premise! I may have to do more tomorrow. Whoopee!