Wednesday, December 15, 2004

So long, suckers

Hey there everyone,
This will be probably be my last post until early January because I'm heading out for the big Nebraska road trip early Friday morning. We're going to drive to Lincoln, hang out there for a week, then drive across the state to see my mom and dad (which will also involve a lot of driving because my mother and father live in different towns), then drive back across the state to spend New Year's Eve in Lincoln, then drive back to Austin a few days later. Lots of driving. I'll be writing a lot more about my previous jobs when I come back from the road trip.
I watched four more movies this week. Here they are:
After the Rehearsal (Ingmar Bergman)
The Family Jewels (Jerry Lewis)
Frat House (Todd Phillips, Andrew Gurland)
Red Line 7000 (Howard Hawks)

Merry Christmas, jerks. See you soon.

Currently reading: Mainlines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste by Lester Bangs

Monday, December 13, 2004

Can you still call it the weekend when you're unemployed?

I had a pretty good weekend, give or take a couple of bad movies and some unsolicited criticism of my personal appearance (see comments under "Unemployment Journal: Day Five" post). My life is so much fuller and busier now that I'm unemployed, oddly enough, and my sugar mama wife treated me to not one, but two, concerts: The Magnetic Fields on Friday and Neko Case backed by Kelly Hogan and The Sadies (the latter's opening set was pretty stunning as well) on Saturday. I even ran into friends from the old job and their equally friendly significant others at both shows. Ah, the glories of being a kept man. Also got to see the James Agee/Walker Evans exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center on the UT campus on Friday and had some drinks with the old co-worker friends on Thursday night. I don't miss the job, but I miss seeing the fine people that work there. On the movie front, I'm going to start with the two disappointing films:
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (Peter Weir) Not particularly terrible, and opening with some intriguing scenes of the everyday routines on a British warship during the Napoleonic Wars, the film ultimately gets bogged down in the cartoonish simplicity of the characters, confusingly edited battle sequences, and sluggish pacing. The open-ended conclusion is too obviously a plea for a sequel rather than an interestingly ambiguous touch.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (Michael Curtiz) This is a wildly overpraised musical biography of super-patriot George M. Cohan, Broadway actor and writer of the flag-waving anthems "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "Over There," "Grand Old Flag," ad nauseum, that changes most of the facts to suit the story. James Cagney plays Cohan and is pretty great in the role. There are some nice moments at the beginning of the film showing Cohan's rise to fame on the vaudeville circuit as part of a traveling act including his sister and his parents. Even with Cagney's performance and a handful of good scenes, the movie is mostly vulgar, stupid, boring propaganda. Filmed and released shortly after our involvement in World War II, the film was obviously meant as a morale booster, but is so cloying in its rah-rah jingoism I'm surprised we won the war. If you really want to vomit, watch the scenes of Cohan receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from a patronizingly smug FDR lookalike. And those songs. Ugh. Imagine Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" or "God Bless the U.S.A." or whatever the hell it's called given a John Phillips Sousa arrangement. Then imagine about thirty more songs that sound exactly the same. This movie is interminable and even a force of nature like James Cagney can't save it.
Leave it to those freedom-hating Saddam-lovers, the French, to keep my movie-watching weekend from being a total bust:
Story of Women (Claude Chabrol) Isabelle Huppert is so good in this movie, and her character is beyond complex. Trying to figure out the motivations for her behavior in this film could be a full-time job. The other actors are wonderful, too, and the period recreation (the movie is set in Occupied France during World War II) is flawless. It's not like I was in France in the early 1940s, but the film seems like a document of a living, breathing corner of the world, not a hollow, stagey movie recreation.
Under the Sun of Satan (Maurice Pialat) This might be a great movie, but I think I need to see it a few more times to decide. And seeing it a few more times might not be much fun. This is a somber, austere, cerebral, dense, joyless film. Gerard Depardieu plays a humorless, zealous priest who feels the world is manipulated by Satan, not God, and is constantly tormented by this belief. This is such an artfully composed, deeply felt film, but its lack of humor and narrative confusion throw some obstacles in the viewer's way. Like its most obvious influence, Bresson's "Diary of a Country Priest," the movie is based on a George Bernanos novel.

Currently reading: Werner Herzog's original script for his movie "Fitzcarraldo"
Just finished: The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell

Thursday, December 09, 2004

We live in a scary world

This is really creepy. I'm sure a lot of you have read about the shooting of ex-Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell while he was performing onstage, a bodyguard, a club employee, and a fan by a lunatic who was later killed by police in Columbus, Ohio last night. I'm disturbed by the news, partly because it makes me feel like we're basically unsafe anywhere, partly because a bunch of people got killed for no reason, mostly because I was at that same club less than two months ago seeing Guided By Voices. Here's the AP story about the whole frightening incident for those who haven't heard about it yet.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Oh yeah

I saw an excellent movie tonight at the Alamo Drafthouse downtown as part of the Austin Film Society's Recent Spanish Directors series. It's called Lovers of the Arctic Circle (Julio Medem), and it's a great love story with a tough ending that doesn't give you what you want. Instead, it gives you something much better, harsher, and more thoughtful. A magical realist fable, the film is a sweet romance but never ignores the disappointments, darknesses, and brutalities that fill our lives.

Working for the weekend: Job 2

I can't remember how old I was when I started mowing my grandparents' lawn. Maybe it started before the babysitting thing, which would make it Job 1, but I already wrote that one so fuck it. I would ride my bike to this job as well, eight blocks this time. My grandparents lived on the other side of town, which was the three or four blocks west of Main Street. My hometown is very small. Don't make fun of it. I have heard (and said) it all before. Some people brag about escaping my hometown (by the way, it's Bridgeport, Nebraska), but everyone who leaves has little choice. There are only so many jobs in a town of 1,500. No college, no record store, no movie theater (though there was a drive-in theater open in the summer that closed only about four or five years ago), no bookstore, nine or ten churches, not many interesting people, an unhealthy fixation on high school sports, lots of white houses, and a hatred and fear of anything slightly different or new, unless it was something like the new Super Wal-Mart in nearby Scottsbluff. If this was even remotely not your cup of tea, you had little choice but to get the motherfucking fuck out of there once you graduated. Maybe three or four people from each graduating class stay in town. The rest get out. After some time passes, four or five more usually come back. That's about it. There are some good things about the place. It's very safe (houses and cars stay unlocked most of the time), which made it an exciting place to be a little kid. You had the run of the town, even after dark. There is a really nice lake, some wonderful rock formations a few miles outside of town that are great for climbing, the aforementioned drive-in theater where I saw on-screen boobs for the first time ("Police Academy") and got drunk and stoned in my friend Clint's blue van with tinted windows. And I would be lying if I didn't say that some really great, interesting people live there (though there aren't many of them). Luckily, much of my family and friends from Bridgeport are in this category When I remember my childhood, my memories of the way the town looked contrast sharply with the way it looks to me now. It seems so gray, empty, deserted, narrow, unfriendly to outsiders, ugly, plain, ridiculous, backwards, laughable. I feel a haughty sense of superiority to it, which makes me feel ugly about myself. The way I remember it is different. As a child, Bridgeport seemed healthy, happy, green, expansive, full of possibilities, friendly. Then puberty hit, everyone turned into an asshole, the town seemed to shrink, I had to drive to Scottsbluff to buy music and books, I learned about all the stuff I was missing from the music and books, I felt lonely and unhappy, blah blah blah. Basic teenager shit, but at least you city teens had a little more at your disposal to fuel the angst and loathing. (A digression: one positive aspect of being from the small town and living in the city, though I'll never feel totally comfortable in either place, is that the city always seems so exciting and new to me. I still get excited knowing I can see bands I like in concert, buy CDs the day they come out, go to great movies, buy great books, meet new people in unexpected circumstances, eat in different restaurants, etc. This seems like a privilege and a thrill, and even though I've lived in cities for nine years, the novelty hasn't worn off.)
What does all this have to do with mowing my grandparents' lawn? Not much. It's just that the transition from small, happy, small-town Josh to teenage, unhappy, small-town Josh occurred while I was mowing their lawn. Thinking about riding my bike to their house made me think about what I saw when I rode my bike, which got me reminiscing about all that hometown shit. That job wasn't bad either. Mowing a lawn isn't much fun, but it's physical, not too hard, and you actually accomplish something, unlike the job I just quit. I show up. The grass is too high. I cut the grass. Not an amazing feat, but fulfilling in its own small way. A far cry from the endless bureaucratic loop of my last four years, in which I would a) proofread a document b) document would undergo slight, usually meaningless revision c) document would return d) I would proofread document again e) rinse and repeat. Sure, the grass grows back, but that's what grass does. It's nature, baby. A document won't revise itself. It takes an army of jackasses to handle that one.
Also, after I finished mowing, my grandmother would give me a ham and cheese sandwich and strawberry soda. If they were out of strawberry soda, I would have a Coke. Then I would get a five dollar bill from my grandfather. Not too shabby.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Working for the weekend: Job 1

Is there anything worse than terrible world music? Right now I'm listening to a multinational clusterfuck of badly overproduced swill on an otherwise decent compilation album. It's the aural equivalent of Peter Gabriel rubbing his engorged member on every item in your local Pier 1 Import. Sorry about the digression, but I can't stomach that shit. Remember, protesters, globalisation is also to blame for the horrible miscegenation of 1987 stadium rock production values and watered-down, scrubbed-up indigenous musics located in the record collections of pseudo-intellectual (often pony-tailed) assholes who think culture is something you can purchase. Also, at least one of these guys owns a ferret. I know, because he brought it into the record store with him every time he decided to buy some masterpiece like "Sting and Youssou N'Dour Celebrate the Music of Bulgaria: All-Gregorian Chant Version." I don't care how many Putamayo compilations you own, no self-respecting woman is going to sleep with you if you walk around with a ferret on your shoulder. Fuck those guys.
Anyway, my first job was pretty good. I rode my bike three blocks to my aunt and uncle's house whenever they called me, and babysat my cousins Mariah, Andy, and Gunnar. My uncle has a large television and a great record collection. In addition, the kids were easy to watch and usually well-behaved. Their favorite game was to turn some music on pretty loud, turn off the lights, and run around like crazy people. That suited me since I could bring over a bunch of my favorite music, play it loud on awesome speakers, and wait for the kids to get tired and fall asleep. I thought most of the music I listened to then was deeply on the cutting edge. I'm embarrassed by it now, albeit affectionately embarrassed (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Murphy's Law, Follow For Now, Infectious Grooves, Metallica, a predilection for slap bass in a heavy metal context, etc.) I'm glad I also explored my uncle's record collection (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, Howlin' Wolf, Alice Cooper, Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, etc.), which elevated my musical taste a few notches. Once I found a dirty joke book in my uncle's room. I read it and memorized as many jokes as I could. I had great material for the entirety of eighth grade study hall. Solid gold. That was a pretty good job. Better than most. Mariah's getting married soon. Gunnar just finished his first semester of college. He's majoring in physical therapy. Andy's in Iraq. He's already been there longer than he should have been, and he has to go back again next year. I'm sorry this post ended like "American Graffiti."
Tomorrow, or whenever I get around to it: Mowing my grandparents' lawn.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Unemployment Journal: Day Five

Things haven't been very productive on the writing front, excuses being sickness, lost mail, minor but affordable car trouble (timing not so great, am I right?), ennui and self-loathing, worrying about money, doing a lot of reading, buying music and listening to it, watching movies. Sometimes I think I might have made a mistake quitting the comfortable state job, but I didn't quit my job because I want to be comfortable. Patterns need to be broken for life to move forward. Discomfort, unease, change, uncertainty. These are your friends. You can't spend your life doing something you don't want to do because you're worried about insurance and a steady paycheck. Money is meaningless. Money isn't worth shit. You don't need that much to eat. All you can do with money is spend it. You can save it, but then you end up spending it later. If you never spend it, someone else will spend it after you die. That dollar in your wallet is eventually going to be spent. What else can it do? Nothing. At the same time, I realize that I grew up in the middle class, I'm white, I'm an American, and I have a college education. It's a privilege that I get to quit my job, that I have enough to tide me over three or four months until I'm forced to prostitute myself for rent and turkey sandwiches again. Instead of having a horrible life, I was lucky enough to be born into mediocrity. Hooray for me!
I watched these movies during the weekend:
Intervista (Federico Fellini)
M. Butterfly (David Cronenberg)
Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle (Eric Rohmer)
Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk)

I bought some music (already budgeted in before I quit the job):
Various-Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures Vol. 1
Dramatics-The Best of the Dramatics
John Frusciante/Josh Klinghoffer-A Sphere in the Heart of Silence
Oneida-Nice/Splittin' Peaches

I'm also growing my beard again. Right now it's at the stage where it itches and I look like a fucking derelict. Another week or two and maybe I won't look like trash.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Working for the weekend: a tragedy in ten acts

I have had ten paying jobs in my life.
1. Babysitting my cousins Mariah, Andy, and Gunnar.
2. Mowing my grandparents' lawn.
3. Stocking shelves and bagging groceries at Jack and Jill.
4. Flipping burgers at Hardee's.
5. Telemarketing Part One: Working for assholes, selling subpar NASCAR videos to big dummies.
6. Telemarketing Part Two: Selling tickets to a charity dinner for firemen.
7. Bagging groceries and cashiering at Russ's Market.
8. Cashiering at Homer's Music and Gifts, a record store.
9. Writing and copy editing for The Daily Nebraskan, my college newspaper.
10. Proofreading for the Texas Legislative Council.

I will get into the specifics of each job, and which ones deserve their own little corners of hell, each night for the next couple of weeks.

Unemployment Journal: Day One

I thought today, my first day as a free man, would be awesome. It was decidedly not. I woke up feeling a little sickly, which I assumed was the remnant of last night's boozefest with my pallies from the former job, but it took such a turn for the unbelievably sickly that I had to rule out the hangover theory. I had a headache so intense that it made me vomit up a little bit of bile and remained intense even after taking four Ibuprofen. I was also nauseous, too hot, and too cold. I didn't accomplish any of the day's goals, which included going to the grocery store, getting an oil change, and doing some writing and revising on a few stories. I did drift in and out of consciousness, drool on several pillows, clutch my head in agony, punch myself in the forehead a few times, and curse everything. In addition, the wife and I have been stressed out about post office woes. We were out of town last week and had the post office hold our mail. Except they didn't hold our mail. They fucked up. There was mail in the box when we got home. When Kristy went to the post office to see why there was mail in our box, they were holding what they claimed was the rest of the mail. It was three magazines. We should have also received some packages, bills, etc. They couldn't find those. Then we find out that our regular mail carrier was on vacation, and the substitute carrier set the packages down in front of our door. These packages were stolen. This is the tenth time we've had trouble with this particular post office. I hope the motherfucking place burns down with the incompetent staff inside. Back to today. The combination of post office stress and sickliness pretty much turned me into a nasty little prick. Needless to say, I had a fight with my wife. Then I felt a little better, so I vacuumed the apartment. This made me feel a little nauseous again. Then my wife started feeling sick and went to bed early. There is no way tomorrow could be worse. I'm still looking forward to the unemployment experiment, but day one sucked a horse cock.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This is the Big Easy, baby. We do things a little differently down here.

Today is my last day at work. As of 6:00 p.m. tonight, I will be unemployed. I am happy about this. Also scared. So I'm going to change the format of the blog to reflect this change in my life. I'll still tell you about movies I watch and absurdities I witness, but the focus of the blog will primarily be a journal of my unemployment and my thoughts about working for a living. I will also be soliciting bad and absurd work stories from you instead of having a Robot of the Week contest. Tally ho.

I guess I need to pick a robot winner

Let's put this Robot of the Week contest to bed. It's been two weeks plus since I put up the robot. So, the winner is Kristy for her name Trumpetino, the Tiny Tooter. Congratulations, Kristy. Hopefully, Blogspot hasn't posted a link to any advertisement this time. Cocksuckers.

I'm going to kick this blog's ass

Weird. I just noticed that certain words in old posts (e.g. "guitars," "no plans," "t-shirts") have been turned into links directing you to sales of guitars and t-shirts and, weirdly, a search for the phrase "no plans." I attempted to erase these links and repost the posts, but it didn't work. Is this some insidious, underhanded attempt by Blogspot to insert advertisements in my blog against my wishes and without notice, or am I being hacked? Anyway, if you click on a link and it leads you to an advertisement, I apologize. It's not my fault and it's not what I want. And fuck you, Blogspot.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I'm back, M.F.'s

I'm back in town after a week in the wilds of western Nebraska, my homeland, for Thanksgiving. I'll spare you the details except to mention that my five-year-old cousin Dylan came home from school a few weeks ago, walked into the house, and calmly announced to his parents, "George Bush has lied to the American people." Excellent. He also unwittingly coined a fantastic new phrase, to be uttered when you are stunned by someone's unexpected behavior (in this case, my aunt squirting canned whipped cream into people's mouths after sprucing up the pumpkin pie): "Man, I can't even talk to that!"
I saw a wonderful movie tonight, and if you live in the Austin area, you have one more chance to see it at the Alamo Drafthouse downtown on Tuesday night. It's called Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen), and it's a three-hour essay film about the city Andersen grew up in and how it has been portrayed on film. For those of you who are turned off by the phrase "three-hour essay film," let me mention that it flies by, is accessible, engaging, and funny, is filled with clips from nearly 200 movies set in Los Angeles, and, if you've spent any time thinking about film, architecture, Los Angeles, Hollywood, memory and nostalgia, a city's gradually changing landscape, and the disparity of wealth between classes in the United States and the effect of your class status on the way you observe art, this movie can change the way you think and the way you watch movies. I'm serious. This is a phenomenal achievement, and one of the greatest pieces of film criticism this country has produced. If you're interested in any of this stuff, see this movie. See it, see it, see it. Tuesday night. I'm not being paid. It's just really fucking good. Alamo Drafthouse downtown. Come on. See it. 9:30 p.m. I know that's kind of late for a three-hour movie, but take your diaper off and go see it. It's not on video or DVD, and so far there are no plans for a DVD release. What the hell happens on a Tuesday anyway? Nothing.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Gone for a few days

Hey everybody. There will probably be no new posts until a week from Monday because I'm going home for Thanksgiving. I might be able to get to a computer this week, but most likely not. Here are the movies I watched over the weekend:
Wedding in Galilee (Michel Khleifi) This was the first, and maybe only, Israeli-filmed movie with a Palestinian perspective.
Lost & Found Video Night Vol. 4: All Music Edition (Various) Awesome.
Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara) Creepy, beautiful, excellent.
The Color of Money (Martin Scorsese) Great entertainment, but not really up there with Scorsese's best stuff. Lots of interesting supporting players. There is something weirdly unsettling about young Tom Cruise.

Currently reading: The Immediate Experience: Movies, Comics, Theatre, and Other Aspects of Popular Culture by Robert Warshow

Friday, November 19, 2004

Adventures after hours

Last night was pretty good for a Thursday. After work, I went to a happy hour and had some drinks with work friends. When I got home, my friend Aaron left a message saying to call him back no matter the lateness of the hour because he needed to know if the singers involved in "We Are the World" wore sweaters or t-shirts. My gut instinct told me sweaters, but I had to call him back after checking it out on the Internet. (Answer: sweaters and t-shirts. Everybody won.) Then I felt like having another beer even though I had three giant ones at the happy hour, so I walked to the creepy convenience store two blocks from my apartment. The convenience store is creepy because there is a thin film of dust over everything except the beer, transients like to hang out in the alley next to it, the owner relentlessly hits on my wife when she goes there so she doesn't go there anymore, and I'm pretty sure I caught the aftermath of a drug deal gone bad when I was there once because a drunken, bearded man wearing camouflage was arguing with the owner about why they didn't get their "shit" from another party and how he was pissed off and willing to do something about it. Anyway, I was glad I went last night because I was privy to this wonderful scene:
(Young blonde kid, maybe 19 years old at the absolute most, walks into the convenience store with a big grin on his face.)
Kid: Do you have a beer garden here?
Owner: A beer garden?
Kid: Yeah, a fuckin' garden with beer in it.
Owner: We have beer in the cooler back there, but I don't know what you're talking about with a beer garden.
Kid: Cool.
(Kid walks to the cooler where I am already standing, trying to decide what beer to buy. Kid is looking at the cooler full of 4os. Kid grins even wider and nods head rhythmically. He looks at me and smiles and nods his head even more.)
Kid, in Spicoli tone: Yeahhhhh. Alright. Ha ha. Yeahhhhh. Yeahhhh. Alright.
(Kid grabs two 40s and walks to counter. I grab six pack and stand behind him in line. Kid is still smiling, saying "Yeahhh" and "alright" and nodding vigorously. Kid looks out front door of convenience store, nods, smiles, and waves. I look out door and see an even younger kid, maybe 17, sitting in a Bronco. Younger kid smiles, nods, and waves back. Kid stretches arms out in guitar shape, a 40 in one hand and a 40 in the other, and plays air guitar on his beers.)
Owner: You have some ID?
Kid, in exuberantly exaggerated game show host style: Yes, I certainly do!
(Kid plunks ID down on counter, buys beer, and leaves.)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Wads vs. Warts

Last Saturday, the old lady and I felt slightly shitty, on the verge of fevers and/or colds, and it was rainy outside, so we ordered Chinese food for lunch instead of going out to eat or whipping something up. "Weird Science" was on TV, and we watched it while we ate. It was edited for television, so all the profanity was cleaned up (e.g. "tits" became "bosoms," "shit" became "shoot," etc.). So far, so predictable. Then came the most baffling network censorship decision I've seen in some time. Bill Paxton, playing Chet, says "You're stewed, butt wad," in the original version. For some unexplainable reason, this line was changed to "You're stewed, butt wart." Why? Can someone explain this to me? If you are the kind of person who gets offended by the phrase "butt wad," wouldn't "butt wart" also cause you much consternation and chagrin? Would anyone watching "Weird Science" on Saturday afternoon be offended by either term? Is "wad" on the network blacklist? What the fuck? What the fuck indeed?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I was unaware of this fetish and still do not know exactly how it is performed

My friend Matt received a porno spam e-mail with this subject heading yesterday:
"Sluts suck cock through slice of pizza"

Splat! Bort! Zert!

Hey, everybody. Go over to my friend Joolie's blog and check out the dick puncher button. You'll be glad you did.
I saw Only Angels Have Wings (Howard Hawks) last night at the Alamo Drafthouse. It was pretty great, which didn't really surprise me since every Howard Hawks film I've seen has been great. It was part of the Austin Film Society's Jean Arthur retrospective, but it wasn't one of Arthur's best roles. She seems a little too polite and subdued to be a Hawks woman. She has a couple of really funny scenes, but the reason to see the movie is Cary Grant and his interactions with Thomas Mitchell and Richard Barthelmess.
You know, I always mention what movies I've been watching, but I never mention what books I read or music I listen to. This is probably because music is such an ongoing constant around the apartment that it would be too hard to effectively document and name-dropping a bunch of authors could make me look like a pretentious twat. But, this blog is also a way for me to keep a record of what I've been doing, something I can go back to and check out what I was listening to/watching/reading at a particular time. So I should mention that other stuff too.
Currently reading: Searches & Seizures by Stanley Elkin
Last big music splurge: Doug Gillard-Salamander, John Frusciante-Inside of Emptiness, Isis-Panopticon, Flat Earth Society-Isms, Ted Leo + Pharmacists-Shake the Sheets, Neko Case-The Tigers Have Spoken, and The Residents-Commercial Album.

Monday, November 15, 2004

A new friend

I would like to direct everyone to the blog of my new friend, Bobo Teebo. He moved to Austin from the remote Teebo islands last month and is very anxious to make new friends. Say hello to Bobo at and feel the positivity. He's a very positive fellow, and a true gentleman.

Iron Man

I forgot to mention I was summoned for jury duty. Pretty exciting, eh? Since I work for the Texas Legislature, I am exempt from jury duty, but I will be free and easy (unemployed) when they call me in, so I couldn't get out of it. I am confused/excited/irritated/curious/angry about this so-called "jury duty." I searched Google for my judge to find out what kind of juryin' I am expected to supply and was dismayed/relieved to find out he presides over civil, not criminal, court. I was also momentarily excited to find out my judge was involved in this bizarre incident, before realizing it was probably someone else with the same name.

Am I Going Insane (Radio)

Nothing much to say, just wanted to use another Black Sabbath song as a post title. Here are a few more of my favorite Black Sabbath song titles:
Children of the Grave
National Acrobat
Spiral Architect
Electric Funeral
Fairies Wear Boots


Oh yeah, R.I.P. Ol' Dirty Bastard.

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath

Here are the movies I watched this week, lightning round-style:
On the big screen:
Undertow (David Gordon Green) He's 29 years old and he's already made three distinctly original, flawed but wonderful movies. I would be resentful and jealous if I didn't like what he was doing so much.
On video:
Miller's Crossing (Joel Coen) I've seen this a few times, but my wife (that's still weird to say) hadn't seen it yet. I have mixed feelings about the artistic worth of the Coen brothers, but I do love some of their movies and am always entertained. I like this one a lot.
King Lear (Jean-Luc Godard) Confusing as hell, frustrating, sometimes illuminating. As far as I know, this is Godard's only entirely English-speaking film, and the cast is really bizarre: theater director Peter Sellars, film director Leos Carax, Godard himself, Norman Mailer, Molly Ringwald, Burgess Meredith, and Woody Allen.
35 Up (Michael Apted) A film crew interviewed a group of British schoolchildren from different class backgrounds when they were 7, and director Apted has been back every seven years to see what's happened to them. All the films are compelling, but I found this one less interesting than either "28 Up" or "42 Up." Most of the subjects at the age of 35 were settled into a routine, most had small children, and had found a career they wanted to stick with, so it wasn't exactly cinematic dynamite. Still, to be able to see footage of people at ages 7, 14, 21, 28, and 35 is a rare opportunity that made me think about what I'm doing with my own life.
Summer (Eric Rohmer) This seems fluffy and inconsequential, and the heroine seems whiny and melodramatic, but it slowly turns into yet another excellent film from a guy who's made 70 billion of them, mostly with similar themes. How does he do it? Rohmer is in his nineties now and still making good films, the majority about young, attractive women and their ethical and emotional problems. And most of them are distinctly different from each other, funny, and visually exciting.

War Pigs (aka robot of the week)

This week's robot of the week winner is Nick for F. Scott McGizmo Nuts. Congratulations, Nick. Here is the new Robot of the Week. This is the second-to-last chance to name a robot. At the conclusion of the next monthly contest, I am retiring the Robot of the Week contest. The novelty has run its course.

Black Sabbath Monday

Hey, everybody. I work for the Texas Legislature. They are in session every other year. When the legislature meets, we have more work than our small staff can handle so a shitload of temporary workers are hired. Most of them have started now. My little office, which is just the right size for little ol' me, is now home to four people. They're all nice, but it super-sucks. I like my alone time to read, surf the Web, stare at the wall, etc. It's not really possible with four people in a room, so I have limited blogging time today. That's why I'm declaring it Black Sabbath Monday. Today, my posts will all have Black Sabbath songs for titles. Also, my posts will be very short.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Obligatory post

I don't have much to say, but it's been a few days, so I should probably post something. I've been feeling sluggish and surly for a few weeks, not much enthusiasm, anti-social. I still hate my job even though I put in my notice and will no longer be working there as of December 1. You'd think this would make it easier to come to work knowing the end was in sight, but I still have to give myself a pep talk every morning to get out of bed. Also, I hate the president. And the vice president. And his cabinet. And Congress. And all the titty-baby Democrats who have no guts. I'm tired of what I eat for lunch. I'm trying to keep the misanthropy at bay, but it's taken hold for now. It will eventually leave and I'll like people again, but it's really going to take a while this time. I had yesterday off, that was something. And I watched a couple of movies I liked a lot, Forbidden Zone (Richard Elfman) and The Son (Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne). Both movies made me feel good, momentarily: "Forbidden Zone" for its enthusiasm toward old Tex Avery-style cartoons and musicals and its offbeat sense of humor, and "The Son" for its minimalism, an emphasis on forgiveness instead of revenge, and its ability to be hopeful without any sentimentality or manipulation. It's funny how much I like humanist art but how little I like actual humans, including myself. Nah, that's not entirely true. People, you're alright. Except for the fundamentalist Christians. You can eat shit. Sorry for the incoherent post, everybody. Goodnight, and God bless.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Man Who Refused to Take His Gorilla Mask Off, Part 10

(This segment to be read aloud in the tone perfected by friendly elderly narrators of made-for-TV Christmas specials, especially those involving claymation reindeer)

It has been a whirlwind month for our hero, dear readers, a whirlwind month indeed. Steve Smithers, a former office worker, an Average Joe if you will, has transformed himself into an ape in shining armor, a rescuer of children, two little children not unlike yourselves. His days are filled with praise and glory, with adulation, with parades and ceremonies and commercial endorsements and carnivals and complimentary meals. The citizens of Fancytown have embraced Apeman Steve. They've adopted him as their mascot. Mayor Brannigan even gave him the key to the city, an honor bestowed on only a fraction of those who live in our glorious metropolis. Yes, children, Apeman Steve's life has taken quite an interesting turn. Just a quick peek at what he has been up to in the last four weeks is enough to make your kindly old narrator's head spin. Let's gaze into our crystal ball at just a few of his recent activities, children. Look, everyone. There he is as the grandmaster of the annual Fancytown parade. Doesn't he look wonderful? Local billionaire Jackson Whittaker Harkington allowed Steve to ride his famous Clydesdale, Old Fuckface, and Steve proved himself a worthy horseman. Look at his poise astride the huge beast, kids. He cuts an almost presidential figure, wouldn't you say? What's this? A podium at the end of the parade route? And Mayor Brannigan again? How fantastic. The mayor is making a very special announcement. He's declaring it Apeman Steve Day in Fancytown. He says there will be a carnival on this date next year. Shifting my gaze on the crystal ball, I see Steve in front of a camera crew, holding an enormous sandwich. And who's that standing next to him, children? Why, it's none other than former NFL great John Elway. Steve is appearing with Mr. Elway in a commercial for Crazy Louie's Really Big Sandwiches. This commercial is going to be broadcast all over Fancytown. Isn't that wonderful, kids? And what do we have here? Steve is appearing onstage at the Fancytown Municipal Auditorium. He's been given the incredible honor of introducing the nationally acclaimed extreme gymnastics and dance troupe Keep It Real Tony & The Just Say Yes To Life Dancers. What an honor. Look at those kids move. They're quite an amazing troupe, aren't they? Now look at Steve walk down the street. Everyone waves to him and calls out his name. He's become quite the local celebrity. Ooh, now we're in Apeman Steve's apartment. It's a nice little place, not too fancy but a comfortable and attractive home nonetheless. Steve's taking his shoes off and relaxing in his favorite chair. Now he gets up from the chair and takes a few items from the cupboard. Here's where we cut the shit, kids. Apeman Steve is drinking vodka from the bottle, straight, through a silly straw. He's also looking at pornography. Deviant pornography. He wants you and all the others in Fancytown to know, children, that you can stick your accolades and attention right up your ass. He's tired of your insincere flattery and self-serving starfuckery. He wants you to know that John Elway was a boring dick, the Clydesdale was poorly behaved, and the dance troupe completely sucked. He's an apeman, kids, and he needs an apewoman. Guess what else, children? Maybe he needs to get out of Fancytown to find her. Maybe Apeman Steve will take his commercial endorsement money and hit the road. Maybe Apeman Steve wants to see what this crazy country really looks like. Maybe he wants to get in adventures, stay in hotels, get in bar fights, and feel the open road. And maybe, just maybe, Apeman Steve will find love. But that's another story for another time. Until then, keep reaching for the stars. Goodnight, children, and get the fuck out of my house.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Am I a bad person because I don't like office potlucks?

I guess I'm the devil, but I fucking hate organized, forced leisure activities and potluck dinners, especially those of the holiday variety. Maybe I'm an antisocial prick, but I just get so grumpy when stuff like this happens. Whoopee, it's not bad enough that I have too many organized family dinners, now I have to figure something out for work, too! I can't really cook Thanksgiving food, I've never been a big fan of Thanksgiving food, I don't like anything that's been planned and/or organized, and I just want to go to work in peace without a lot of forced whoop-de-doo. I also get really anxious when there's more than, say, five people in a room unless they happen to be really good friends or I'm pretty drunk, so the idea of 50 people standing around the conference room, exchanging pleasantries and/or witticisms while holding paper plates full of holiday food fills me with complete and utter dread. Maybe I'm an asshole, but why do extroverts and planner-types get to control the world, and why do I look like a dickhead when I don't want to participate?

Robot of the Week contest winner and new Robot of the Week

The contest winner this week is Cuttyblacksow and his robot name, the McSweeney Dick Kisser 5.0. Congratulations, Cutty! Here is our new Robot of the Week. Give it a name, for the love of Christ. I'm considering retiring the robot of the week contest after the next monthly winner in two weeks. I will probably still post pictures of robots from time to time, but I'm getting tired of the old robot-naming game. Maybe I'll think up a new contest.

Films: The Movie (dinner version)

Hey, kids. I watched some more movies this weekend. I don't feel like writing about them, though, so I'm going to rate each film by assigning it a particular food item. Maybe you can guess whether I liked these films or not based on their corresponding meals.
First up, on the big screen at the Arbor:
Sideways (Alexander Payne) Cheese enchiladas with poblano sauce, rice, tortillas, and whole black beans.
On video:
The Legend of Suram Fortress (Sergei Paradjanov, Dodo Abishidze) Asparagus and broccoli.
Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica) Bobos de camarao a.k.a. shrimp and yucca with rice in a tomato cream sauce.
The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky) New Orleans-style shrimp po'boy, red beans and rice, and homemade macaroni and cheese.
Mystic River (Clint Eastwood) Supreme pizza, but the last couple of slices taste fucked up.

Jonathan Rosenbaum's review of "Mystic River" gets at some of the problems I had with the film and says it better than I could. His review has even more relevance in our Bush-reelected present than it did when he wrote it last year. Read it, if you're interested in that sort of thing.

The poetry of the streets

I was watching "Blind Date" either late Friday or Saturday night while lying in bed, and I was introduced to a couple of ass-kicking colloquialisms that had hitherto escaped me. The first of the show's two dates went horribly awry, and, during the post-date interview segment, the woman on the date said she would "rather be sucked up by a tornado of farts" than go on a date with the man again. During the second date, the woman asked the man how many women he'd been with, and he answered: "I've been with them all, age eight to eighty, dumb, crippled, and crazy." The U.S.A. may be okay after all.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm going to have a stomach ache for the next four years

Things couldn't have gone worse yesterday. It's almost unbearable to think we have four more years of that arrogant, dangerous prick. I hope I'm out of the office when the nuclear holocaust starts. On the plus side, I could be wrong. Boy, will I look stupid four years from now when terrorism has been vanquished from the earth, money drops from the trees, and the Middle East is an exotic resort. Until then, I'll be in my room crying, drinking whiskey, and putting a gun in my mouth.

Monday, November 01, 2004

I just saw something totally whacked out, dudes

I was returning to my office after getting a seafood salad sandwich at a local sandwich shop (sometimes I get an odd craving for the vaguely mysterious "seafood blend" of non-seafood restaurant fame and must acquiesce, i.e. I am filthy) when I saw something disturbing/endearing. A family of three (middle-aged couple, maybe 13-year-oldish son) were waiting for the light to turn green at the crosswalk so they could cross ... and all three were riding Segway scooters! Part of me wanted to vomit and the other part of me was touched by the cute family of nerds riding their nerdmobiles. I was sweetly horrified.

I watch a lot of movies instead of actually going out and doing stuff

Hey, everybody. I watched some more movies over the weekend. I also went to a Halloween party. FYI, cherry-flavored blood capsules are also shit-flavored.
First up, I saw a movie on the big screen, Tarnation (Jonathan Caouette), at the Arbor. This is one of the most unbearably disturbing films I've seen, so unbearable at times that I wanted to run from the theater. It's also a hopeful, positive experience. Just the fact that it was even made is a positive action. Caouette's mother was given electro-shock therapy as a young girl, setting off a chain reaction of madness, abuse, fragmentation of family, drug use, suicide attempts and many other awful things that extended to her son and flowed back up to her parents. Caouette documented a lot of this on video since he was 11 years old and weaves this home movie footage, answering machine messages, old TV and movie clips, pop songs, white noise, recorded conversation, computer graphics, nightmare imagery, and text into an experimental narrative that gets closer than any film I've seen to externalizing a person's internal life.
On video:
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick) I admire Kubrick as an artist, but I'm not a big fan. I like his films, but he is too disinterested in human beings and too concerned with Big Ideas for me to feel much connection to his work. There are two Kubrick movies, however, that I love without much reservation: "The Killing" and "The Shining." I've read a lot about how "The Shining" is really about Kubrick and the tyranny of artistic control, with Jack Nicholson as the Kubrick/tortured artist character, but I don't really believe it. Even if it's true, I'm not that interested. The reason I don't believe it is because very few scenes are filmed from Jack Nicholson's perspective. Most of the action is filmed from the little boy's perspective, or that of the hotel itself. It's basically a simple story of a little boy terrified of his drunken, violent father and the wide open spaces of a strange environment. Now I want to get a sandwich so I'm going to cut this short.
Therese (Alain Cavalier) True story of the French saint and Carmelite nun done in a series of vignettes with a blank, gray background. It's a lot more exciting than that description made it sound.
Trouble in Paradise (Ernst Lubitsch) Great old romantic comedy about thieves that is full of explicit-by-1932-standards references to sex since the film was pre-Code. The criminals get away with it, too, which is great.
Mauvais Sang (Leos Carax) This is one of those rare films that is heavily stylized and interested in its human characters. It's a vaguely futuristic crime thriller with lots of nods to silent films, classic Hollywood, and French New Wave that takes lots of detours away from its plot. I liked it a lot.

Robot of the Week contest winner and new Robot of the Week

Hey. This week's Robot of the Week contest winner is Archivaria for her name, Assimo. Congratulations, Archivaria. Here is our new Robot of the Week. Give him a name, leave it as a comment under this post, and you could win the glory of a weekly victory and/or the prizes of a monthly victory.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Saw a good movie

Watched the Ramones documentary End of the Century (Jim Fields, Michael Gramaglia) at the Dobie last night and was very pleased. We've all seen a million rock documentaries (and by we, I mean me), and most of them suck. An endless parade of admirers, fellow rockers, producers, fans, etc., spout platitudes about how great everyone was and how great they all were to work with, a timeline of chronological events is trotted out, and we learn about the rise, fall, and death and/or return to spotlight of said artist in the most generic way possible. This documentary is nothing like that. It follows a basic documentary template, a mixture of old footage and talking-heads interviews, but turns into something much greater due to a couple of factors. First, the editing is so sharp and efficient. They interview other rock people about the Ramones, including Blondie, Thurston Moore, John Frusciante, and Rob Zombie, but the editing slices away any ass-kissing or hero worship and leaves only the interesting points. They're not trying to sell anyone on the Ramones, just trying to figure out how they happened and who they are, and the
editor(s) know when to leave the footage alone and when to slice it up. Second, you could not find more honest guys than the original Ramones and the handful of replacement drummers and bassists interviewed for the film. Whatever the filmmakers ask them, they get honest, surprising, pretense-free, no-bullshit answers. I've never seen a rock band this unwilling and unable to spin its past history. The Ramones, especially the four original members, couldn't possibly be more different. Johnny was a tee-totaling, business-obsessed, right-wing Republican who forced the bandmembers to wear leather jackets, jeans, and bowl haircuts and kept written records of the money earned and the crowd attendance at every show they played. He also stole Joey's girlfriend in the early eighties and later married her. The two rarely spoke to each other again, even though they shared a van for eighteen more years touring the country. When the directors ask Johnny how he felt after Joey's death, his answer is blunt, cold, surprising, yet somehow respectable. Joey was a quiet, shy, strange-looking, sickly music geek with OCD who had to touch every other step outside his building before he could leave. He doesn't say anything bad about anyone, but he had a strained relationship with the rest of the band that was never resolved before his death. Dee Dee seems like a moronic drug casualty at first, but is so sweet, funny, sad, inarticulate, and shockingly intelligent he wins you over during the course of his interview. His self-deprecating comments about his rap album are especially funny. Tommy seems the most normal, into producing records and the first to leave the band. The other band members barely aged, but Tommy looks like a greying hippy. It's unfortunate that Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Joe Strummer (also interviewed for the film) are all dead now. In a way, this movie is like a big wake, for punk rock as well the dead Ramones, but it's funny, endearing, sad, and smart and definitely worth seeing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

One more funny thing about "Easy Living"

I was very surprised how little the audience laughed at the hilarious thirties' movie-slang. Words are funny. Language is funny. The fat banker character, J.B. Ball (Edward Arnold), is trying to get a room at the Hotel Louis. His character is always grumpy and shouts every line in the film. He's hitting the bell at the front desk impatiently, and shouts out, "What do you have to do to get a room in this shebang?" Kristy and I thought this was the funniest line in spoken history. No one around us did, which made us laugh even harder but also feel stupid. I'm giggling right now just reading about it. On second thought, "giggling" is an emasculating word. Let's say I'm tittering. No, even worse. Guffawing? Chortling? Chuckling? Hee-hawing? Snickering? Sniggling? Tee-heeing? None of these words are manly, with the exception of "chortling." But "chortling" is too frat-macho, too business fat-cat for consideration. We need a word for small, mischievous laughter that doesn't sound like I'm sprinkling pixie-dust on myself and dancing around in a pink tutu. Does anyone have any suggestions? That gives me the idea for a contest. Come up with a tougher word for "giggling" by Nov. 15 and I will use the best one in a sentence at some point in the future. Pretty awesome prize, am I right?

That's a spicy-uh meatball-uh

I'm feeling sluggish, sleep-deprived, ennui-riffic, and bored this week, and I don't feel like writing in the blog. I'm tired of writing about gorilla masks, robots, movies, etc. I have no enthusiasm. I just want to stay in bed and sleep, but I can't do that because I'm at work. I feel like I'm neglecting the blog, but I don't really care. I want to be lazy. Lazy. Laziness is good. I did manage to see a movie last night, Easy Living (Mitchell Leisen), at the Alamo Drafthouse downtown. "Easy Living" is a screwball comedy from the thirties and a part of the new Austin Film Society series about the career of actress Jean Arthur. It's the kind of movie they haven't made for a long time, full of twitchy, jittery character actors with rubber faces, clever puns, goofy slang, and one pratfall after another. In fact, the entire cast is made up of character actors, including Jean Arthur, an unconventional, unglamorous movie star who moved from shy embarrassment to huge bursts of action with an off-kilter timing all her own. The movie is an odd case for me because I generally prefer films where the director is the primary author/architect of the film's content, style, and form, and this one is a true collaboration. Preston Sturges, one of the all-time great directors, wrote the screenplay, and his humor and cadence are stamped all over the movie. Mitchell Leisen directed, and his placement of the camera and the actors has a style all its own, separate from Sturges's. The actors also function as co-authors, since much of the humor depends on the way a line is spoken or a facial expression is performed. Now I want to go outside so I'm going to cut this short. Goodbye, everyone.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Robot of the Week winner and new contest

Join me in congratulating this week's robot name winner, #54 Tangerine Lightning by Krouchdog. Congratulations, Krouchdog! Here's our new Robot of the Week. You know the rules. You have until Nov. 1.

My favorite Neil Hamburger joke

Q: What do you get when you cross Sir Elton John with a saber-toothed tiger?

A: I don't know, but keep it away from your ass.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Taking a break

Hey everybody. There will be no more posts until Monday because I'm going to lovely Columbus, Ohio to visit some friends and see the mighty Guided By Voices on their final tour! With Tobin Sprout opening! Whoo!

Bono says a lot of dumb shit

I like to read interviews and articles about U2 because, inevitably, Bono says something megalomaniacal and idiotic. I was reading an article about their new album, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," and the writer was speculating on the significance of the title. He then related the news that Christian singer and friend to Bono Michael W. Smith (what the fuck?) was hanging out with U2 recently. Bono asked Smith if he knew how to dismantle an atomic bomb. Smith said that he did not. Bono then supplied the answer: "Love. With love."

This Microwave World, Round 3

It's not often that I find myself sharing a drink with someone who I advocated punching in the face, but that's what happened to me last night at Club DeVille. As most of you reading this already know, I was not the biggest fan of local band This Microwave World, and I jokingly suggested that punching singer/guitarist Sean O'Neal in the face would get you into heaven. O'Neal happens to work at my favorite video store, and he found out about my little rant. We had a brief, mildly confrontational, awkward exchange about it at the video store a few weeks ago, and I worried about ending up on some kind of video-store blacklist. We both happened to be drinking at Club DeVille last night, and he bought me a shot and talked with me about the whole thing. We had a pleasant, respectful conversation, and he seemed like a very nice guy. I almost feel bad about all the nasty things I said about him and his band. I was definitely exaggerating my own prejudice against anyone sporting an indie-rock "look" and trying to make my friends laugh. At the risk of sounding like a back-pedaling wimp, I don't hate his band as much as I said I did. I think the reason they struck such a powerful chord of dislike in me is that they are a band too concerned with image and fashion and are good enough players to be doing so much more with the skills they have. They're good at synthesizing a small group of influences from a few eras in rock that are particularly fashionable right now, basically post-punk with a new wave beat. It's been done and done too often. If you want to create some art, why be so self-conscious about it? Why not throw every single influence you have in the blender and see what happens? O'Neal told me his band has a lot of different influences and the sound is evolving and that I should check them out in nine months and see what I think. That sounds interesting, though I'll look like a jerk if I still dislike the music and a pussy if I say it's good. I'll try to be honest about it either way. He told me my blog entry was the first negative criticism his band has received and that he appreciated it. He also told me a few people at the video store wanted to kick me out but I should feel free to continue to rent videos there, though I am listed on their computer as the customer who wants to punch Sean O'Neal in the face. This whole weird feud thing has turned into an interesting experience, and I've definitely changed my mind about O'Neal based on last night's conversation. He seemed like a thoughtful guy, and I've got respect for him for thinking about my criticism, buying me a drink, and confronting me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Las Vegas: The Belated Report: Part 2: The Las Vegas

Las Vegas is one weird son-of-a-bitch of a city. There are more fake breasts within one square mile of Vegas than in the entire city of Los Angeles. L.A. has been derided for being a phony, artificial city, but L.A.'s artificiality is just one layer, and a relatively recent one, of the city's rich history. Vegas is a completely artificial universe plopped down in the middle of a desert, surrounded by mountains. There's a purity in its artificiality that was very attractive to me. The whole reason this city exists is so people can gamble, drink, smoke, attend expensive and thrilling spectacles, and catch fading celebrities and entertainers in intimate settings on their way down the ladder of fame. Where else can you find mini-replicas of Paris, New York City, ancient Egypt, Roman palaces, and medieval castles? Where else will you find Cirque du Soleil, wealthy sleazebags, deluded white trash families dreaming of the jackpot, call girls, old retired couples, and terrible comedians like Rita Rudner and Howie Mandel inside these mini-replicas? I was glad to get the hell out of there after five days, but I really want to go back. We stayed in the New York, New York hotel and casino on the Strip, which is a miniaturized forgery of the NYC skyline. We had a hot tub in our room. This was awesome. I like to sit in hot tubs, but as soon as I sit in one at most hotels, large, hairy men with irritating wives and obnoxious kids somehow always seem to be close behind. With a hot tub of one's own, no hairy men show up unless you want them to. Besides the hot tub, comfortable bed, and great view, there really was no reason to hang out in our hotel room. Everything in Vegas is designed to get you back onto the casino floor as quickly as possible. The room's television had the weakest selection of channels this side of the Motel 6 in North Platte, Nebraska. And I'm convinced they're shooting chemicals into the food. I know we've all heard enough about my bowel movements on this blog, but allow me to give you even more information. My bowel movements, in general, are pretty regular, once-a-day occurrences. In Vegas, however, I needed to take a shit the second I was done eating after EVERY SINGLE MEAL I ate in the confines of the city. As soon as I got back to Texas, everything went back to normal. This is a conspiracy concocted to prevent gamblers from getting the urge mid-gambling session. Vegas wants you to shit right away, so you can gamble comfortably and uninterruptedly. It gave new meaning to their advertising slogan "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas."
My other bones to pick with the city were the horribly dry climate and the people handing out information about the legal prostitutes outside city limits. As soon as I stepped outside, which one doesn't have to do too often on the strip because most of the casinos are connected by walkways, trams, etc., my eyes became severely bloodshot. I had to squirt Visine in my eyes several times a day so I didn't look like a degenerate. As most people know, prostitution is legal in certain parts of Nevada, and on every street corner, there are nearly two dozen people who try to hand you a card with a naked blonde on it and a caption reading something like, "I like to suck dick." These people all have the same technique. They whistle loudly, make some weird snapping noise with the stack of cards, and shove them in your face. This happens so many times that it's hard to refrain from grabbing these people by the throat and shoving the cards up their ass.
On the plus side, Vegas has no open container law and the casinos on the Strip all have the same glasses, so you can take any alcoholic beverage you buy or are given out on the street with you as you walk from place to place. This should happen all over America. Also, smoking is allowed and encouraged in most places. I don't smoke, but I like bad habits and I like to see people smoke when they gamble.
The Strip is fun, but it's also gaudy and overstimulating. Downtown Vegas was just what I was looking for. It's somehow sleazier and classier than the Strip. It's the Vegas you see in the movies. It's also the place where I learned that Jesus is constantly angry. My favorite casino is downtown, Four Queens. This place is exactly what a casino should look like. And they have cheap drinks.
We saw a show while we were there, too. It was called Zumanity, and it showcased the erotic side of Cirque du Soleil. It consisted of semi-nude acrobatics, striptease routines, dirty jokes, and a shirtless midget, and was hosted by a drag queen. I highly recommend it.
A couple of Vegas anecdotes:
The MGM Grand casino has a glass cage with two lions in the center of the casino floor. While we were walking through to rent my tuxedo, we saw the two male lions engage in 15 seconds of lackadaisical anal sex, to the delight of the crowd. I took this as a good omen.
Two of my friends gave me great toasts during the reception. I decided to get them some gag gifts from a magic and joke shop in my hotel/casino. I bought my friend Dan a fart whistle and a fake book entitled "Mr. Johnson's Sex Report" that makes a snapping noise when you open it. I bought my friend Aaron a whoopee cushion and a pack of gum that squirts people in the face. The man ringing up my order gave me a look of utter disgust when I bought the items, even though that is what the store he worked at sold and what he made his living from.
In conclusion, Vegas is great.

Las Vegas: The Belated Report:Part 1: The Wedding

As I mentioned previously on the "old Robot" (which is what I call this blog when mentioning it at business conventions, revival meetings, and Powerpoint presentations), I got married in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago. I've been meaning to write about the wedding and trip since I got back to Austin, but I'm also the kind of person who hates hearing about other people's weddings and I never envisioned this blog as a place to talk about my private life. I figure enough of my personality comes through without anyone having to read personal details about me. Some people do a great job writing about their private lives, but I don't think I'm one of them. However, it was a strange, absurd, wonderful week, and I feel like writing at least a little something about the interesting turn my life has taken. First of all, I can't fucking believe I'm married. I never thought I would be married at the age of 27, and I never really had the desire to get married before I asked my girlfriend late last year. So why the hell did I do it? I can't really answer that. It was an impulsive move, and it just sort of felt right. It's not explainable. I was having second thoughts a few days before the ceremony, mostly along the lines of "things are going good right now, we've been together for five years, why screw it up by getting married, it's just a bullshit phony ceremonial boring tradition, will I turn boring once I get married, etc., etc." Once the wedding actually started, though, it was really meaningful, it felt right, and I was happy about it. I made a good decision, and I feel really good about it, but I really have no way of explaining why. I'm also not a wedding advocate or zealot, so I won't be preaching to anyone about how great marriage is and how you should do it immediately. We had a couple of acquaintances and friends freak out on us because they had been dating as long or longer than Kristy and I, and they felt like we were putting pressure on them, which is a total crock of shit. Some people get so weird about weddings. I'm not making any value judgments about your life or pushing you to do anything. Stop being weird. I make all of my major life decisions by feel, not plan, and it works for me. If something works better for you, then do it and shut up about it. Everybody should do whatever the hell they want and everybody else should leave them alone to do it. Most people were supportive and happy and great, though, including everyone who attended, so I really have no complaints. Okay, enough about my personal life. If you want to see the wedding footage on the Internet, click here. If you would like to see what we looked like, click here. If you would like to see our name in lights (the best part of a Vegas wedding), click here. The next post will be more fun, I promise.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Watched movies

Guess what? I watched more movies this weekend. Guess what else? I'm not really in the mood to write about them, so, for the first time ever, I'm turning this blog over to an outside writer-- my friend, Over-Enthusiastic Tony. Take it away, Tony!

Wow! I can't believe I'm really on the Internet! I watched some movies last weekend with my pal, Josh! Holy shit, here's what we watched! Yippee! Or, since we're talking about movies, I should say Yippee-kai-yay motherfucker! Bruce Willis! Die Hard! Movies! Whoo!
Scene of the Crime (Andre Techine) Scene-riffic! Crime-tastic! Catherine Deneuve is one sexy older lady! Josh thought Techine's earlier film, "Rendez-vous" was dumb! Cool out, Josh! It's really hard to make a movie! Focus on the positives, why don't you, Negative Nelly! Then you can become a Positive Pete! Josh liked this one a lot more, but he still had a few bad things to say! As for me, I thought it was cinematic dynamite! And it was a French movie, so I learned a lot about the country of France and that crazy language they speak! What a riot!
Hail Mary (Jean-Luc Godard) Hail-riffic! Mary-tastic! I learned even more about France! I was very confused by this movie! That means it's art! Hooray for art! Art makes our world a nicer place to live and prettifies our country's rest stops and museums! French ladies in movies often take their clothes off! Europeans are more comfortable with nudity than us Americans! All I say to that is, knock yourselves out, sexy French ladies! I give this movie an 11 out of a possible 10! The video tape also included a short film, The Book of Mary (Anne-Marie Mieville)! I call that a bargain! Value for money, my friends, value for money!
The Third Man (Carol Reed) Third-riffic! Man-tastic! Orson Welles! Joseph Cotten! Vienna! Penicillin! Ferris wheels! Sewer chases! Fingers through grates! Put it together and what do you have? Cinematic gold!
Martin (George A. Romero) Martin-riffic! Martin-tastic! Vampires are scary! It's almost Halloween! Whoooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! I love Halloween! See you later, guys and ghouls! Ha ha ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah! Back to you, Josh!

Thanks, Over-Enthusiastic Tony. To those of you wanting my opinions on the films this week, let me quickly say that I liked all five, especially the last two, though I had reservations about the first one. I liked "Martin" even more than I did the first time I saw it, five years ago.

New Robot of the Week

Here is our lovely new Robot of the Week. You know the rules. The winner will be announced on Oct. 25.

Robot of the week and month contest winners

I want to thank the participants of this week's robot-naming contest. What a top-notch collection of robot names. Unfortunately, only one can win, and this week's winner is Mr. Thor Jenkins for Gay Dr. Ryan w/ Right-Arm Recruitment Ray. Congratulations, Thor! It's also the end of another four weeks of robot contests, so one lucky winner will receive a prize package containing a lot of useless and baffling ephemera and effluvium. Just kidding about the effluvium. Calm down, everybody. Here's a recap of the month's winners:
Week 1: Lonely in Sacramento by Cuttyblacksow
Week 2: Legless Love Bot by Thor Jenkins
Week 3: Guy P. Pennycuffs by Kristy
Week 4: Gay Dr. Ryan w/ Right-Arm Recruitment Ray by Thor Jenkins
And the winner is ... narrowly defeating Lonely in Sacramento by virtue of a coin toss, my other favorite, Gay Dr. Ryan and I'm tired of typing this name, by Mr. Thor Jenkins. Congratulations, Thor! And near-congratulations, Cutty!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Bill O'Reilly is an idiot

Now that you've read all about Bill O'Reilly's penchant for phone sex and hot, steamy shower loofahs on, it's time to read his first novel, Those Who Trespass, about a series of murders of high-profile network executives. No one can crack the case until a tough New York cop who plays by his own rules named Tommy O'Malley steps into the picture. Hmm, I wonder if there are any parallels here? O'Reilly. O'Malley. O'Reilly. O'Malley. O'Reilly. O'Malley. Wow. That's really subtle, but if you look for it, the parallels are there. O'Reilly is truly a modern-day Renaissance man. In just a little more than a decade, he's conquered tabloid television, network news, radio, literature, shouting, interrupting, sexual harrassment, and our hearts, and I hear he's almost able to suck his own dick. He's set a November 1 deadline, and I, for one, believe he'll reach that goal. Bill, you're truly the living end. I leave you now with a user comment from about O'Reilly's novel and its book-on-tape counterpart:

"The audio version is recommended for the graphic oral sex descriptions, narrated with gusto and verve by the author."

This is really funny

Check out Query Letters I Love. Apparently, query letters are little two- or three-sentence plot synopses prospective screenwriters send to Hollywood studios to see if they can get financed to write a script. A guy whose job it is to read and discard the bad query letters puts up the most unintentionally hilarious of these queries on his blog. Pay special attention to "Baby, You Need Some Writing Lessons." If they're passing on that one, I want to finance it. By the way, thanks, Kristy, for sending me this site.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The Man Who Refused To Take His Gorilla Mask Off, Part 9

Steve waits nervously behind a white curtained partition behind a makeshift stage in the center of Dickie Stoolz Park. Local historian Grizzly Jim McKiltner slaps him on the back and begins speaking in between bites of a Ritz cracker topped with cheddar cheese.
"I just think it's great what you did, rescuing those children," McKiltner says to him. "It reminds me of the summer of 1982, when good ol' Charlie Wilkes -- do you know Charlie? He's the gentle retarded man who mows lawns for the elderly -- good ol' Charlie saw the Flavins twins drowning at Lake Chichihawhaw and dove in and rescued them. Gotta love those Flavins boys. Always causing trouble, even then. Anyway, I think that piece of local history is a remarkable parallel to your own story, Steve."
"I'm not retarded," Steve says.
"Of course not," McKiltner says. "But the gorilla mask thing is a mental aberration that can be compared with Charlie's retardation. A lovable mental aberration, of course, but a mental aberration nonetheless."
"What about calling yourself Grizzly Jim and having a stuffed and mounted grizzly bear in your living room?" Steve asks. "That's a mental aberration, if you ask me."
McKiltner's face reddens, and he stares into Steve's gorilla-masked face with chilling intensity.
"Listen, motherfucker," he says. "I'm the local historian here in Fancytown. I own your legacy. You may be well-liked in your lifetime, but I'm the one recording this shit for posterity. I control future generations' perceptions of you, and I can say anything I want. Don't fuck with your local historian, monkey boy."
"You're a small man, Grizzly Jim," Steve says, chuckling quietly. "I have archivist friends who can preserve a little history of their own. And guess what else? How many keys to the city do you have?"
"The question is irrelevant," McKiltner says.
Steve grabs the historian by the throat and leans in close enough that the hair on the mask tickles the man in the face.
"How many keys to the city?" Steve asks. "Answer me."
"None," McKiltner croaks out. Steve lets go.
A young man with a headset and a clipboard appears behind the partition.
"Grizzly Jim," he says. "You're up."
McKiltner runs on to the stage and waves to a cheering capacity crowd. The park is filled with the denizens of Fancytown, Steve notices, from the prominent to the wasted, including the roughnecks he'd shared an uncomfortable Schlitz with a few hours previously. McKiltner takes the microphone and gives a predictably pompous introduction for the mayor. Steve zones out until the mayor's name is called.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to present our mayor, Rodwyn Q. Brannigan!" McKiltner shouts. A middle-aged, thin, well-dressed man, Mayor Brannigan saunters amiably to the podium, where he shakes McKiltner's hand. He gazes at the crowd and pauses for a considerable length of time.
"Thank you, Grizzly Jim," Brannigan says. "And thank you, citizens of Fancytown, for filling this great park on this great afternoon."
He clears his throat and continues.
"Webster's dictionary defines heroism as heroic conduct especially as exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end. Today, we honor a man who, though he has taken his own strange path in life, truly exemplifies this definition. This man, though he chooses to spend his days and nights wearing a gruesome ape-like Halloween mask, is a hero. He is a great American, a great Fancytownian, and most of all, a great human being. On September 11, this great country was attacked by evil terrorists. We were down, but we were far from out. We came together and we are now working on being stronger than we've ever been. Heroes like Steve Smithers will ensure that we reach our optimal strength. I'm not gonna lie, Steve's a little different than you and me, but that didn't stop him from saving two small children from imminent death. He rushed into a burning home to save two kids he didn't even know. Two wonderful little children, and you know I believe children are our future. That was one of my platforms. Now Steve may be a little odd, a little different, but that's what makes Fancytown great, and, by God, that's what makes this country the greatest in the world. It's a true melting pot. Think about it. Where would be we be without the fine cuisine of our Chinese citizens, without the business acumen of the Jews, without the athletic and musical talents of our African American friends --yes, Lisa, I am trying to get into rap music--that's my daughter, everybody. She likes that rap music. And where would these two precious children, God's little wonders, where would they be without their apeman? Ladies and gentlemen, at this moment I would like to present the key to the city to a true hero, Steve Smithers! Come on up here, Steve!"
What a nauseating speech, Steve thinks. He contemplates going home, but a cheer rises up in the crowd and the blood rushes through his body. "Apeman! Apeman!" The roar is deafening. Steve feels as though he's been injected with enthusiasm intravenously and tears onto the stage with what his dead grandfather would have referred to as "gusto."
"This one's for you, big guy," Steve yells as he's given a hilariously oversized key by a neoconservative glad-hander. "This one's for you."

Next week: Steve enjoys his local celebrity and is the guest of honor at a parade. Everyone loves a parade.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Weekend movie report (speedy version)

I don't feel like writing in any depth about the movies I watched over the past few days, so here's the "quick and dirty" version, as some of my high school teachers and bosses like to say and which always gives me the creeps. First, I saw two films in the theater:
The Yes Men (Chris Smith, Sarah Price, Dan Ollman) This is a documentary from the same people who made "American Job," "American Movie," and "Home Movie," about a group of activist/pranksters with a fake WTO website. The website looks identical to the WTO's real website, except for the text, so they get a lot of invitations to speak at conferences on behalf of the WTO, which they gladly accept, even conning CNBC at one point. What's amazing about this film is the lack of reaction they get for their outrageous speeches from the rest of the conference attendees, even when those speeches include a tear-away suit revealing a gold jumpsuit with an extended inflatable phallus with a television screen on the tip so a boss can observe his workers when he's on vacation or at the gym and a plan to reconstitute McDonald's hamburgers from human waste and sell them to Third World countries. The documentary is slight (no background is given on the WTO and little is revealed about the Yes Men), but it's well worth seeing for the footage of the pranks.
I Heart Huckabees (David O. Russell) This movie is full of good ideas. It's also a total mess. It plays like a rough draft, with eight main characters and almost as many story lines fighting for air in a movie that is less than two hours, and sometimes the script feels too much like a Charlie Kaufman wannabe. Mark Wahlberg, weirdly enough, is the only actor who really gets it. He plays his very funny character completely straight, in the process acting circles around Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jason Schwartzman, Naomi Watts, and Jude Law, all of them trying to act as quirky as the script. He's the main reason to see it.
Here's what I watch on video:
The Thing (John Carpenter) I remember really liking this as a teenager. After seeing it again, I have to say I was disappointed with the script and its complete lack of characterization. But I loved the special effects, the atmosphere, and the scary scenes, and these things go a long way in a horror movie. In addition, fuck CGI. Modern special effects are so unbelievably crappy. The best looking effects were in horror movies in the seventies and eighties. Bring back hand-crafted effects, please. Also, Kurt Russell wears a hilarious, giant hat in a few scenes which my wife (that's so weird to say and type) and I dubbed the "Russellbrero."
Detective (Jean-Luc Godard) Light, breezy, cerebral, confusing, and funny. I liked it, but I did not love it. Sometimes Godard makes my brain hurt, sometimes he makes great movies, sometimes he's just fun. This one is fun, with a little bit of brain-hurt.
The Thin Man (W. S. Van Dyke) This is a great murder mystery/comedy with one of the most likable depictions of a married couple in American film. There's a great scene where the husband, William Powell, is being hugged by a woman, and his wife, Myrna Loy, walks in on them. The camera pauses on them both for several seconds, then Powell makes a funny face and Loy makes one back. No need for a big fight, an explanation, and a reconciliation. It's 1934 and the film has already deflated a generic scene we've seen too many times since.
No Telling (Larry Fessenden) What a disappointment. Fessenden makes intelligent, interesting horror films. "Habit" is one of the best vampire movies I've ever seen, and "Wendigo" is really good, too. This one, though, pretty much sucks. It's preachy, heavy-handed, and poorly acted. I'm glad I didn't see this first or I wouldn't have checked out his other movies. I can vouch for "Habit" and "Wendigo," though. Rent them. They are good.

Toni Bentley is an idiot

If you remember the quote I took out of context from a Salon interview about the connection between anal sex and spiritual enlightenment, it was from a conversation with Toni Bentley, a former Balanchine dancer and literary critic who has written a memoir about the 250-odd times she has had anal sex and how it turned her from an atheist into a spiritual being. In the interview, Bentley came across as a pretentious twit who thinks the entire world can benefit from her not very thrilling conclusions. She also seems to think she is the only person who's ever had her ass pegged, particularly in her references to the act as the "final taboo." Apparently, she's never heard of homosexuality. Hey, idiot, when you write a memoir about the wonderful things you've learned from bukkake or being mounted by a dead rottweiler, then we can talk about final taboos. Reading a few excerpts from the book on her website, the only enlightenment I can glean from Bentley is how to guarantee a book deal with limited skills and intelligence as a writer. The title of the book makes me laugh the most: "The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir." Have some dignity, please. Have some dignity.

In a related note, I recently discovered a list of alternate titles Bentley was considering before deciding on "The Surrender." Here they are:
"The Underground Railroad: An Erotic Memoir"
"Gone Ass-fuckin': An Erotic Memoir"
"It Puts the Dick in the Ass: An Erotic Memoir"
"Dark Passage: An Erotic Memoir"
"I Like it in the Butt: No, Seriously, I Like it in the Butt"
"Erotic Memoir: An Erotic Memoir"
"Being Toni Bentley's Ass: A Spike Jonze Film"
"Masturbate Here" (arrow points to inside of book)
"Dr. Stupid's Crazy Mixed-Up Erototorium (Anal Version)"
"Stokes Birdfeeder Book : The Complete Guide to Attracting, Identifying, and Understanding Your Feeder Birds" by Donald Stokes
"Toni Bentley's Ass Totally Got Fucked: An Erotic Memoir"

Rocker invades my home state

This is awesome. Apparently, NBC is shooting a reality series on the campus of my alma mater, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in which "rocker" Tommy Lee goes to college for six weeks. The idea was born when Journey's Steve Perry told a television producer friend that he wished he had gone to college. Light bulbs went off in the producer's head: Rocker goes back to school! But Steve Perry is yesterday's news! Let's get Tommy Lee instead! Whoo hoo! Yeah!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Robot of the Week contest winner and new Robot of the Week

Hey everybody. This week's robot contest had the lousiest participation yet, only three people. They all had good names, though. The winner is Kristy for Guy P. Pennycuffs. Congratulations, Kristy. Here's our new robot of the week. You all know the rules.

Friday, October 08, 2004


I would like to present to you, completely out of context, a question taken from an interview in today's edition of
"Can you talk a bit about the connections you make in the book between being anally penetrated and finding God?"

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Robot extension

Hey, everybody. The robot of the week contest will be extended until Monday since I was out of town for a week and we only got two entries. There is still time to name our robot. Whoop!

The duality of man, Yahoo-news style

The top two news headlines on Yahoo news on Thursday morning, 12:46 a.m.:
"Bush blisters Kerry on Iraq"
"U.S. report finds no evidence of Iraq WMD"

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Bunny hop

Caught The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo) at the Arbor last night. It's unfortunate that this film is already infamous for a couple of reasons that don't really have much to do with the style, form, or content of the movie and have a lot more to do with the lack of serious thought in current American film criticism and the media in general. Let's get those two reasons out of the way right off the bat. Firstly, the film premiered at the Cannes film festival last year in an unfinished rough cut that was about 25 minutes longer than the finished, released version. Many critics at the screening, most famously Roger Ebert, got all hot and bothered about what a horrific piece of garbage the movie was and called it one of the worst films of all time. Several months later, the finished film hits theaters and many of the same critics quietly and sheepishly backpedal, most famously Roger Ebert, and announce that the re-edited film is great/good/mediocre and hardly the worst film ever made and what a testament the finished film is to the editing process. While I agree that editing can drastically and dramatically change a film, for better and worse, I also feel that one can't polish a turd. I've read about three changes Gallo made to the film in re-editing, and I agree they probably made for a much better movie, but I suspect that the critics who so violently hated the film (most of them American critics for mainstream newspapers and magazines) were deep in lemming mode and are a little embarrassed at their rush to judgment. Secondly, too much has been written about the graphic oral sex scene. Near the end of the film, Chloe Sevigny gives Gallo a blowjob onscreen in a scene that's about as far from erotic as you can get and a natural progression of the scene's events that hardly seems prurient or gratuitous. The obsession with and reaction to this scene (roughly a fraction of 1/31 of the film's total screen time) from American critics and audiences and the reason most of the people in the theater were there to see it last night makes it painfully clear that our society is still in the midst of the death throes of both Puritanism and early adolescence and we can't decide which one to kill off first. Some critics even seem offended/obsessed with Gallo's penis, wasting paragraph space debating whether it's real or prosthetic and marveling at its size, as if their impressions of the movie's worth would change if Gallo had a more modest package. These same critics have kept oddly silent about Sevigny's breasts, which are even more on display than the aforementioned wang, though if she were credited as the writer/director maybe the size of her tits would come under the same scrutiny as Gallo's cock. However, I seriously doubt it. Something about penises and aggressive sexual activity in a non-pornographic film makes everybody turn into giggly 12-year-olds. Well, forget all about these two controversies because they don't matter very much. What does matter is that "The Brown Bunny," despite its handful of flaws, is a very fine film that shows male loneliness and the American landscape in a way I've never seen before. It's a film in love with long, unbroken takes of dirty windshields, highways, rainstorms, road signs, hotel rooms, human faces, and the houses and cars we spend our lives inside. It's the kind of movie that bores boring people. It's a movie that lets you look, really look, in such detail and for such a long time that Gallo lets you decide for yourself what you think about the images you're seeing. It's a film that has more in common with a mood, a poem or a song than a cohesive, tightly plotted story. I don't think it's perfect. The final scene is hungrily, honestly, embarrassingly, and desperately acted by Gallo and Sevigny and would make a beautiful short film in its own right, but I'm not sure it belongs in this movie. It supplies an explanation and a motivation for Gallo's behavior when what I really wanted was a deepening of the mystery. It provides closure for a film that otherwise refuses to be enclosed, answers for questions that should be left open and frustrating. But the scene, like the rest of the film, deserves to be seen on its own merits, not attended like a circus of dick-sucking and wrestling matches with Roger Ebert.

Funnyman down

Rodney Dangerfield is dead.
So what?
So let's party! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Punching people in the face (Dos and Don'ts)

Hey everybody. Read an old post from August called "Rock Show" first. As you may be aware, especially if you just read the old post, I suggested that punching the singer/guitarist of This Microwave World in the face would get you into a Kirk Cameron-sanctioned corner of fundamentalist Christian heaven. Said singer works at the video store where I always rent my movies. When I was renting my movies today, he asked me if I still wanted to punch him in the face, and he let it be known that he thought I had gone way too far in telling others to punch him in the face. I told him he should be prepared for criticism if he gets on stage and that I thought it was pretty obvious I wasn't being serious about the whole fisticuffs part of the post. It was a fairly unpleasant conversation, especially since I don't enjoy conflict, and this particular video store has my favorite selection in town and is on the way home from my job. But, I have to admit, he might have a (very small) point. He chooses to get on stage and perform, opening himself up to criticism. I choose to print harsh criticisms of his band on a website that anyone in the world with an Internet connection can read, so I should be able to take it when I get some criticism of my own. Maybe he's right. Maybe I shouldn't have suggested punching him in the face. So, I take it back. Not what I said about his band. That still stands. Just about the punching in the face stuff. People everywhere, even affected hipsters, deserve to walk the streets of their cities and towns without fear of being socked in the face by random weirdos searching for a 1980s child star-approved fire and brimstone afterlife. So, please don't punch this guy in the face, dear readers, and don't punch anyone else, either. I apologize for suggesting a good punching was in order. If you have been punched because of my website, I will pay your medical bills or buy you a drink, whichever you prefer. Just ask me the next time I'm in the video store, if I'm not banned now. I hope you have a fulfilling, punch-free rest of your life, and I still dislike your band.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Away from compute-box for days

Hey, everybody. There will be no more posts until next Tuesday or Wednesday because I'm going to Las Vegas to get myself all married up. More about this later. Also, I thought about writing a gorilla mask segment, but I think I'll have to pass because I just found out that Silkworm has had a new album out for two weeks and I haven't bought it yet, so I just might have to do that. I'm on vacation, suckas! My bachelor days are almost over, and I haven't even completed my pre-nuptial Vegas to-do list yet. Step 6: Snort half a gram of Bangkok junk off the pert backside of famed comedienne Rita Rudner. She's performing in our hotel, you know.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


I just remembered something that happened to me at work last year that I forgot to mention during the big shitting at work debates that occurred on this here blog and my brother's blog ( I work on the first floor of my particular office building. One day I had to drop a dump, and it couldn't wait until I got home. I went into the first-floor bathrooms, and both stalls were covered in diarrhea and urine. It was indescribably foul. Have some dignity, fellow work-shitters. Anyway, I moved into Phase 2 and took the elevator down to the basement to check out the stalls there. Two guys were right in front of me, and I followed them into the bathroom. They went straight to the urinals, making a lot of noise the whole time. They kept joking loudly to each other about pissing on the wall and the floor. I noticed that one of the stalls was occupied, so I got into the empty one, and it was actually diarrhea-free. Excellent. I'm sitting there on the toilet, listening to the two guys continue to joke about pissing everywhere. Finally, they leave, just as loudly as they entered. This is where it gets weird. I start to hear some noise in the stall next to me, which sounds a lot like someone masturbating. I'm willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but, after a few minutes, it's pretty unmistakably the sound of a furious beat-off. I don't know what to do. If the guy doesn't know I'm there, which is slightly possible since I came in at the same time as two insanely loud, obnoxious guys who were making a lot of noise when I went into the stall and since the stalls are big enough that it's hard to see someone's feet in the next stall, it's kind of creepy. If the guy does know he's not alone in the bathroom, it's tremendously creepy. I finished my business as quickly and quietly as possible and got the hell out of there. I have only used the basement bathroom a few times since, and both of those times were right after it had been cleaned. For the love of god, workers of the world everywhere, DON'T MASTURBATE IN A PUBLIC BATHROOM IN YOUR PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT! This is not something that should have to be learned. It should be understood. In addition, anyone who can remain aroused with the olfactory delight of urine, fecal matter, and bad cologne permeating the air should not be allowed to work with others. That is all.

Monday, September 27, 2004

New Robot of the Week

Yo, dudes,
Here is our new Robot of the Week. Give him a name in comment form under this post. I will be in Las Vegas next Monday, so the contest winner will be announced on Tuesday or Wednesday. Good luck, suckers.

Robot of the Week winner

Yo, everybots,
This week's Robot of the Week contest winner is Mr. Thor Jenkins and his robot name, Legless Love Bot. Congratulations, Thor!

One more ridiculous thing about the movie "Year of the Dragon"

It's set in New York City's Chinatown. It was filmed in a studio in North Carolina. Huzzah?

Dang! Movies! Whoop!

Here's the movie roundup for the weekend.
I saw The Five Obstructions (Lars von Trier/Jorgen Leth) at the Alamo Drafthouse Village on Sunday. Von Trier is a weird case. I don't know what to make of him. I love his movies. A lot. But most of the critics I like either intensely hate his films or have deep problems with them. Usually several people in the theater walk out. A lot of my friends hate his films. The most common criticism is that he is a sadist who loves to see women being tortured (e.g. "Breaking the Waves," "Dancer in the Dark," "Dogville"). Maybe they have something there, but I'm not sure. I found the three female leads in those films some of the most interesting women characters in recent movie history. And, yes, they went through absolute hell, but show me a film where the main character isn't being tortured in some way, and we'll be watching...what? Anything? Maybe "My Dinner With Andre," but the audience is being tortured in that case. Ba-dum bum ching! But seriously, folks. "Five Obstructions" is more of an academic exercise, an experiment, and the point is not really whether it succeeds or not, but whether it actually is attempted. On this count, I think the film is worthwhile and deserving of a look.
I watched these on video:
Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero) I have to watch this every couple of years. I was 11 years old when I first saw it, behind my mother's back at a friend's house the weekend after she stopped me from renting it because it was rated R. It's one of the best horror movies I've ever seen and, besides that, just a great movie. It's funny, smart, beautifully made, disgusting, scary, and fuckin' awesome.
The Home and the World (Satyajit Ray) This is an intriguing little drama set in 1908 about an Indian woman who has been kept in seclusion by first her parents, then her husband. Her husband, a progressive liberal, decides to let her out of the house for the first time in her life and allows her to meet his friend, a radical political activist and mooch of her husband's fortune. What happens next is overly simplistic and a little predictable, but the movie says a lot with the actors' body language and subtle glances, and it was compelling enough to keep my interest.
Swing Time (George Stevens) This is a great Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire musical with a ridiculous plot that functions as an excuse for a lot of fantastic dancing and funny jokes. And how in the hell was Fred Astaire so graceful with that weird hydrocephalic light-bulb of a head?
Year of the Dragon (Michael Cimino) This movie is a colossal piece of shit. Cimino as a visual filmmaker is exciting and unique. Cimino as a writer of dialogue and story and director of actors is a bombastic hack. The latter Cimino drags the former Cimino down in this miserably ridiculous crapshack of a film. It's hardly a surprise that Oliver Stone co-wrote the script. It shares Stone's penchant for hamfisted political sermonizing functioning as dialogue, horribly written female roles, and overblown bombast as far as the eye can see. It doesn't even make sense. It's obvious the script was much too long for the movie because the editing makes little sense, important characters are introduced only to disappear from the movie entirely, and scenes are nearly over before the viewer even knows what he's supposed to be seeing. The female lead, Ariane (yes, just Ariane) is one of the worst actors in the history of any kind of moving picture, and, yes, I am including home movies and student films. And why the hell is Mickey Rourke's character "the most decorated cop in the city of New York" when his policing skills consist of screaming at his chief, getting everyone around him killed, and rushing into places without a warrant so he can punch and kick suspects in the head? (As a sidenote, why is the lead male character in every mainstream American film the best blah blah in his field. Ben Affleck is the best lawyer in the world, Greg Kinnear is the best scientist in the history of science, Bruce Willis is the best cat burglar we've ever seen, shit like that. I can't take any movie seriously with a premise like that.) On the plus side, the movie had some "so awful they're gold" one-liners from Mr. Rourke. Here are my favorites:
Bad Guy: You're a dead man.
Rourke: I'll live long enough to piss on your grave.

Rourke, to Ariane: I hate everything you stand for. So, why do I want to fuck you so bad?

Rourke, to his police cadets: I've got scar tissue on my soul.

Rourke, also to his police cadets: Any cop I catch taking bribes, I'm gonna punch you in the mouth.
Female cop: What about the women?
Rourke: You better bend over.
(all the cops cheer)

Rourke, complaining to his fellow detectives about the heat the chiefs put on his renegade ways: The honchos are going apeshit.