myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Totally Biased Book and Movie Review: 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Green Street Hooligans Movie Review

Green Street Hooligans (formerly known as Hooligans)

starring: Elijah Wood, Charlie Hunnam Directed by: Lexie Alexander rated R for: brutal violence, pervasive language and some drug use. 109 minutes

In the beginning of originally titled Hooligans, now known as Green Street Hooligans, Matt (Wood), our presumable hero, is a wimpy, almost-graduating (2 months away) Harvard student. Why do I harshly call the boy “wimpy”? Welp, because when his upper-class roomie hides his upper-class stash of cocaine in Matt’s stuff and subsequently allows him to take the fall for it, Matt not only doesn’t fight, he doesn’t even argue with the roommate’s contention that he has a lot more to lose, because of his family and his father’s re-election. Matt gets his butt kicked out of school, and with ten thousand dollars of guilt money from Coke Boy, he just meekly packs up his shit and flies off to England, to visit his sister and her family.

There, he gets the education that Harvard couldn’t quite give. Shortly after his arrival, Matt falls in with an interesting sort of crowd. Football fans. And if when I say, “Fans”, you imagine rabid young men slavering to beat the crap out of the supporters of the enemy team, after drinking and smoking and singing it up in pubs on their way to the match that day, then you have the correct mental image! These guys are not fans in the quiet, “boy gazes longingly at the pitcher’s mound while caressing the mitt on his hand, whispering “Someday”, in the middle of an Iowa cornfield” way. These guys are a “Crew”, and since some of you might not be from the UK or have a working knowledge of crews as such, I’ll explain it as best as I can. And remember, I got my info from a movie that was hard for me to hear and even harder for me to understand because I was too lazy to turn on the subtitles and the dudes talked really fast and used slang.

Ok, Crews are gangs unofficially associated with various soccer (sorry FOOTBALL) teams. They drink a lot, as mentioned, and smoke and talk in undecipherable (to a silly lil’ American girl like me) slang, they sing rousing, comradely songs that we presume are also associated with their teams. (And, what’s more, even though they’re singing about bubbles, they don’t sound half gay at all. We’re talking serious testosterone here.) They go to matches and cheer on their team, and, in their spare time, shag a few chickies, and, this is the important part, peeps… they fight. They fight A LOT. Now, as mentioned by Pete (Hunnam), the tattooed, shave-headed obvious bad boy ruffian who takes Matt under his wing, these guys aren’t like gangstas in the good old US of A. Driving by in a car and shooting an eight year old is cowardly, he correctly points out. No guns for these gents. Not even many knives or other weapons. We’re talking good, old fashioned, fists and feet ass whoopin.

If you don’t like to watch violence, spare yourself a tummy ache and don’t watch this. If, on the other hand, during schoolyard fights, you did not huddle against the fence in disgust and revulsion with your eyes squeezed shut (yes, Jessica, I am making fun of you), but rather moved as closely to the action as you could get and shouted, “hit him harder!”… well, my friend, you just might be the exact target audience the filmmakers were aiming for with GSH. There’s plenty of action. Lots of crunching sounds and booted feet flying and blood spewing, slo-mo, from various punched mouths. And our little Matt, he of the early-in-movie wimpiness, soon finds himself embroiled in this lifestyle, kickin ass with the best of them, a full-fledged member of the Green Street Elite.

The message of all of this brawling and singing, is not, “violence is wrong”. The message of GSH is “violence can be wrong sometimes, but not when combined with loyalty, comradeship, and reputation.” The viewer finds themselves pulled into the modern-day mythos of these men, their codes of honor, their black and white views. Before you know it, you’l be longing to hop a lane to England and go to a game, not to necessarily watch the match, but to scan the crowds with a discerning eye and find a crew you can join.

Of course, things always go wrong in movies like this. Here come your spoilers now, so click the x if you like surprises.

Did I mention that Matt was a journalism student at Harvard and his distant father is a foreign correspondent? Did I mention that the crew members don’t merely dislike journalists (Journos as they call them) but mistrust, hate and absolutely revile them? Did I say that one of the crew spots Matt with his dad at the Times, and then his diary is found, which reads an awful lot like an undercover journalism piece? You can see where I’m going with this. A wee bit o’ information is misunderstood, hunches lead to assumptions that lead to actions that can’t be taken back. You are stuck watching the unfolding mess with a clenched gut and a wince, knowing that when the crash comes, it won’t be pretty.

And it’s not. But despite it all, the movie doesn’t end “badly”, as I’d dreaded. In fact, it’s almost embarrassing how the filmmakers feel they need to spell out the moral messages they’re serving. I expected Matt, on his way back to the states, to have Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” playing in the background. “You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run….” Of course, with GSH, the running time part is never. Matt, by the time he heads home, has learned valuable lessons (we assume) about what it means to be a real man. Come to think of it, there’s probably another Rogers’ song with that message in it, too. And guess whose door he heads to when he gets home? Oh yeah…. the roommate’s. Rub your hands with anticipation.

I give it 3 &’s...

& there were lots of good fight scenes

& it tugged at the strings that control your “loyalty and true friends” feelings

& it was cool to see a slice of life than most of us would never even hear of otherwise

Monday, September 25, 2006

Waiting Movie Review


Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Justin Long, Anna Faris, Katlin Doubleday, and lots more people

Written and directed by: Rob McKittrick

Rated: R for strong crude and sexual humor, pervasive language and some drug use.

94 minutes

Can you believe I forgot to review Waiting?

I certainly can’t. Especially considering that this was one of the funniest movies of the year to me. Pee-in-your-tighty-whiteys funny. Had to stop the DVD momentarily to wipe both my eyes, crying from laughing so much, and my nose, dripping from laughing so much, and various other body parts which will remain unmentioned because this, by golly, is a FAMILY blog, but I believe you get the picture.

Haven’t seen Waiting? Well, let’s see if you should, first of all.

I will tell you, straight out, that this movie is childish, it is rude and nasty. It is a big penis joke. It has disgusting parts that will make your stomach want to heave out its contents onto your nice hardwoord floors (I have a mental picture of your living room, yes…). It is men behaving badly and women allowing them to and did I mention that the whole movie is just a big, huge, penis joke? And by that I don’t necessarily mean it’s a joke about a big, huge penis, but rather a big, huge joke about…. Oh, you get it.

So, if after reading that, you’re still all, “Hey let’s watch this thing!” then I think it’s safe to say you’ll probably like it.

Shenanigans, where our characters work, is like, Applebee’s or Cyrus O’Leary’s, or Red Robin. Or whatever restaurant-equivalent you have in your lovely home town. Think steaks and hamburgers, retro cool posters and stuff like records, or hubcabs or baseball caps, or other unidentifiable “things” on the wall as decorations. Think smiling young wait-people dressed in low key, green polo shirts and khakis, bringing you drinks without you having to ask and happy to tell you what they like to eat here, and politely listening to you tell them about your Aunt Margaret’s 98th birthday, and then coming back to sing for the old gal, too, some twisted version of the “Happy Birthday Song” that has hand-clapping and a lot of enthusiastic smiling, and you’re thinking, oh my, these people are so nice! I’m going to leave a good tip!

Shows how much you know.

Waiting is about that we all fear might actually happen behind the scenes as places such as these. Yes, the characters are seriously stereotypical, but come on, part of the way things get to be a stereotype is that they’re for real. And we all know people like the young-girl chasing Monty (Reynolds), although our Montys probably don’t speak so quickly, smoothly, mesmerizingly. Monty is in charge of teaching the new guy all of the ins and outs of Shenanigans, and of course we are amused and interested by the first question he poses to the dude… “How do you feel about full frontal nudity?”

The answer to that leads us to The Game that all the guys at Shenanigans play, involving, yes, you got it, full-frontal nudity, much of it, for the eyes of the other men, and kicking each other in the ass. Hey, I told you this was a childish movie.

But it’s funny as hell too, even, or especially, the Game part. I will say that to my dismay, as soon as my teenage son and his friends watched the movie, they promptly began playing it. I now walk around them with my eyes half shut, prepared to close immediately and tightly if anyone should be playing the game and I’m unaware of it.

We have an ensemble of your usual crazy folks; man-hating, fire breathing dragon waitress whose autosmile turns on as she faces the customers. Then there’s really nice, wholesome kind waitress who still has to wait on assholes, and slutty, too-much-makeup waitress who gets good tips from guys. We have the balding, wholly unattractive middle aged manager preening around the young hostess, who is all of seventeen. We have overly-anxious-to-please waiter who is eternally damned to repeating the same loser-loop over and over, hence never to get the girl. And there’s Mr. Indecisive (Long), Dean, who doesn’t know if he wants the position of assistant manager or if he should move on into other areas of life. We have the wanna-be-black-so-damn-bad busboys (one of whom is Andy Milanokis, yay!) and the kitchen guru, Bishop, who gives out free philosophical advice in a zen-like way and makes you kinda wish you had someone like that in your life. Best for last, Raddimus, played by Luis Guzmán, his sweet and ugly face familiar from so many films, Raddimus who is creator of The Game and king of the makes-me-laugh in this particular show.

A few scenes shot away from the restaurant are just as funny and awful as the ones in it, such as the dialogue between Monty and his mother, as witnessed by Dean. Truly great moment in passive-aggressive-mother-son-mutual-hatred history, I’m telling you. The movie begins and ends with a party- the interchangeable sameness of the parties these guys hang out at every weekend, proving that yep, they’re all losers, but they are very funny losers while they’re at it. Funny losers who know how to have a good time.

I give it four &s

& it was truly funny in a gross way

& the dialogue was pretty slick for such a gross-out flick

& it had Andy Milanokis

& it didn’t try to make you learn any lessons, but just make you laugh

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Who Are We Blog Review

Who Are We

Blog asking questions and expecting answers

I have been tagged by Jessie at Who Are We. Since the tag is about books I’m happy to do it, and since Who Are We is my Sunday Blog, it makes into one twighlight-zone music playing in the background, creepy weird coincidental thing. So I’m doing my regular weekend post today, instead of Sunday, and I’m including the tag. Isn’t my life amazingly intricate???? Ok, maybe not…but I must add motion to my otherwise placid and sad little self. Sometimes drama is the only way to do it.

Who Are We is an interesting little place, and is fairly young in the blogworld, but going strong. Jessie started it up in August and it’s gained a little following already. People (including my purrfectly fickly self) come back, again and again. Why? Because Jessie aint afraid to ask questions, that’s why!

Who Are We describes itself like this: I'm just a girl. I thought I knew who I was, what I like, and where I was going with my life. Then my life changed. Now I'm not sure who I am... Do any of us really know? So I figure while I try to figure out who I am you can figure out who you are too... Let's take a journey.

You might be scratching your heads, or your pubic hairs, and wondering what the heck that’s supposed to be. Well, it was interesting enough to snag my attention, and I stuck around to see.

Every day or so, Jessie asks a question- and answers it. She invites her readers to respond in the comments section. For people who love to have contact with others in blogville, to read about others’ quirky little facts and expose their own to others, wyellll, this is a mighty cool blog to hanging at, let me say. Sometimes the questions are serious as a straight-browed-faced, sometimes they’re goofy and nonsensical. The same little pack comes back to answer and wait for more.

I can see this blog developing into something pretty big, with lots of regular readers eventually, and many, many comments. I hope so. I hope everyone…. from the preacher down at Tiny Jesus’s Pentacostal Church O’ Fire to the drug addicted Hollywood photographer with greasy hair and big hands who types like a muppet… eventually comes here to answer questions. Mostly ‘cause I’m nosy. But also because I think it’s a cool way to get to see the differences, the blurring of the lines, between us all. Sometimes I answer questions. Sometimes I just read the responses, because people fascinate me, they really do. Especially the people who read this blog. So I hope you’ll head over, bookmark the spot, and at least occasionally answer. Otherwise, you know what that says about you…. You don’t play well with others. And you probably eat glue.

Oh go check it. Won’t hurt you to be cooperative for once.

Tuh Tuh Tuh TAGGED….

1. One book that changed your life- hardest question first.
No question about it- Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, by Susan Jeffers. Took me from a quivering mass of exposed nerve endings, always jumping in fright at my own shadow, or the thought of my own shadow, and led me toward serenity… ok, so I’m not there yet, per se… but I’m on my way.

2. One Book That You've Read More Than Once.
Wraeththu by Storm Constantine…. In fact I’ve read this like six or seven times, all billions of pages of it. My favorite science fiction. Ok, so it’s really more of a fantasy, romance, modern sort of thing… but just let me set it up for you… a hermaphroditic race is slowly overtaking the world, but they are so girly that even the female reader wants to be one too. Erotic, exotic, evocative…my favorite of ALL TIME lose-myself-in-a-story story. And it’s a million pages long, which I like.

One Book That You'd Want On A Desert Island.

Shogun by James Clavell. First of all, because it’s one my my ATF (All Time Favorites), secondly because it’s thick as hell so it’d last longer than a day…but who are we kidding? If I had only one book on an island, I’d use it to beat myself to death.

4. One Book That Made You Laugh.

Well geez, lots of them…all the time. Don’t you read my reviews? But most recently… I read Jenny McCarthy’s three books about being pregnant, having a kid, and getting a divorce. They were all hilarious, but I think I really peed a little while laughing at the last one, Life Laughs: The Naked Truth about Motherhood, Marriage, and Moving On...
Hint- she tells her most embarrassing moments and they are so embarrassing I’m amazed she didn’t kill herself immediately, with a butter knife, both times. We are talking poop moments. Yes, poop. Don’t read if you have a weak stomach (or a small sense of humor).

5. One Book That Made You Cry.

One? Again? What is it with this “one” shit? Books make me cry all the frickin time. Like a baby. Much snot and red eyes and clogged voice trying to sound normal when I answer the phone. Most recently, it was Delusions of Grandma by Carrie Fisher (see my review about it if you’re nosy, or interested)

6. One Book That You Wish You Had Written.

Dammit, I wish I had written a book that sold…anything, as long as it sold, you know, more than a copy or two to like, my Grandma, and her book club.

7. One Book You Wish Had Never Been Written.
One? How can I choose one of the many Harlequin romances I was forced to read while babysitting my neighbor’s kids in junior high? There was no other printed material in the house, unless you count the words “Charmin- Don’t squeeze it” and directions for sleeping pills printed on the bottle. Those books SUCKED. Leading me to believe, of course, that I could easily get published when I grew up…so they lied to me as well! BITCHES!

8. One Book That You Are Reading Right Now.

I'm reading Jennifer Weiner’s (what an unfortunate last name) In Her Shoes…and yes, people, the book is indeed better than the movie.

9. One Book That You Have Been Meaning To Read.
Song of Soloman by Toni Morrison. Sitting on my desk, but I’m afraid it will be sad, of COURSE it will be sad…what am I, an idiot? So I’m waiting for a nice big round of PMS to kick it off for me, and then I’ll read it.

10. Tag five others that you would like to do this meme. Isokesa, Bitty, Homegirl, SockPuppet, and AleTheGoodSoul

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret Book Review

Can You Keep A Secret?

By Sophie Kinsella

Published by The Dial Press, 2004

368 pages

Happiness is finding a book you literally cannot put down. Further happiness involves said book making you laugh until tears squeeze out of the corners of your eyes while you read it at the doctor’s office, to the point that other patients are trying to get a glimpse of the cover, so they can see what’s so damn funny. Such was my happiness the other day when I grabbed a pink-covered hardbook thingy I picked up at Goodwill months ago. It was placed on the table when I brought it home, moved to the chair, dropped to the floor, and gradually migrated its way under the couch. With greatest of luck, my new puppy (and I will certainly review her when the time is right) snuffled it out and I picked it up. From that point on, there was no putting it down. GLUED to the sucker, I tell you.

Can You Keep a Secret? Is what I would call a “gem”. If I could have it set in gold and wear it as a necklace on happy days, I would certainly do so. This story made me laugh out loud- yes! No joke, I was LOLing all day long.

Basic breakdown- on a plane going through considerable turbulence, Emma believes she is going to die. Does she pray? No. Does she scream? Nope. Does she curse the heavens and struggle for life? Not exactly. Instead, she turns to her seatmate, a perfect stranger, and proceeds to tell him all of her secrets.

Yes all of them, even ones about weight, clothing sizes, and the lying involved therein.

Which would be all well and good, were she actually about to die, and the stranger with her. But…you can see where this is going…. She doesn’t die. Survives admirably, in fact, and manages to get off the plane with life and limb intact, mortified that she’s told a complete stranger all of the intimate details of her sex life ( like the fact that her boyfriend is boring in bed and couldn’t find a G-spot if he were given a map and headlamp.) yet relieved that she will never have to see the dude again.

Guess what?

Oh dang, you guessed. She does indeed see him again. At work. In the capacity of… well, sort of her boss.

It is British humor at its finest (Think Bridget Jones) and Emma is neurotic and delightful and frustratingly dense at times, but that’s sort of the fun of this kind of book… you get to be glad you’re not her, and at the same time wish you were. I love British authors, and Irish ones too come to think of it, they have such a marvelous way with words, and the slang is like nothing we ever say in our day to day lives here in the United States of bad grammah. I liked this one so much, it’s going onto the Shelf of All Shelves- that’s right, the Keeper Shelf… and I’m off to Amazon to buy everything else she has ever written.

I give it a red on the Reading Rainbow.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

DOG: The Family Speaks Special A&E Episode

DOG: The Family Speaks


September 19, 2006 (that's tonight)

Airtime 10 pm/9 central

Has the world gone mad?

When I was casually channel surfing, you know, in my regular impatient, eye-rolling way, I caught a glimpse of long thinning blonde hair with feathers sticking out of it, old muscles, sunglasses and a black leather vest. Well, we know exactly what that is, right? Dog, the Bounty Hunter. Eager to see if it was a new show, and not a re-run, I paused the surf.

Imagine my surprise when it turns out that this was not an episode of Dog’s regular show at all, but a preview for a special episode, entitled, “DOG: The Family Speaks”. Okaaay…the family speaks all the time, any regular viewer knows that. They speak about family, and drugs (how veddy, veddy bad they are) and the healing powers of Jesus Christ even as they say, “Now oh Lord, help us catch this F*cking bad guy, amen.” They speak about how all of their lives have gone from absolute shite to the beauty of Hawaiian living. All of this whilst stroking canisters of mace, flexing tattooed arms and chain-smoking cigarettes. Beth bounces across the screen with her enormous shelf of a bosom heaving in indignation occasionally, snarking off to everyone in sight, or, if the other side of her coin was tossed that day, stopping to give a barefoot convict her shoes and a pep talk on the meaning of existence. The family- including assorted peoples who have no relation to the Chapmans, but still call him brother, her sister, Leland cousin, you know… The Family… speaks quite a lot, actually. We know this. So what on earth were they “speaking about” for a special show?

After some fast internetty searching, I found my astonishing answer. Dog, and the posse, including adorably elf-like Leland, have been arrested. You’ll excuse me if I say… as I do in any baffling situation…. what, what, WHAT?

Ok, so a fast break down for those of you as flabbergasted as I am. Wait a minute and you’ll understand why the big daddy and crew have been locked up and are currently awaiting extradition to Mexico for trial. Here it is…. And hold your breath, ‘cause it’s a doozy….Mr. Duane Chapman apparently tracked down a convicted serial rapist in Mexico and had the nerve to arrest him in 2003.

I know, can you believe it? That is just so NOT something Dog would ever do! (This is sarcasm, for those of you not yet familiar with my particular brand of writing.)

Of course this is something Dog would do. I’m fairly certain that he’s “guilty” of this-whatever guilty means in this whole ball of ridiculousness. He always gets his man, right? And imagining him after a guy who brutalizes women…well, yeah, I can definitely see that he committed this crime. Went into a foreign country after the convicted RAPIST. Ignoring the fact that Mexico, enlightened country that they are, doesn’t allow bounty hunting, even when it’s to get convicted RAPISTS. Nabbing the RAPIST (currently in the good old USA again, thanks to Dog and pack, serving 124 years of prison time, as opposed to sunbathing on some Mexican beach somewhere, drinking a beer and plotting his next big “date”) and taking him home to be locked away. Apparently, Mexico is delighted to have resident rapists, and if you dare take one away from them, well, they'll get even!

In three years or so.

That'll teach bounty hunters everywhere. You leave those rapists in Mexico where they belong and are (apparently) wanted!

So do I think Duane did what they say he did? Yep, all of the above sounds just like him. That's not really my question.

The question is, why is this something that our own US marshals would do- leaping upon Dog, Tim, and Leland in the early hours of the morning and arresting them at the bequest of the Mexican government three years after the fact? Why has Dog all of a sudden become this big, bad fugitive that they are determined to get? Rumors of trade-offs surface. Angry citizens protest (or plan to make money off this) . Petitions are being signed.

Of course, this is American, land of the free, home of the people who said OJ is not guilty, but that Dog should be behind bars.

I will update after the show tonight.

... I was so tired I couldn't update this until this morning... unfortunately when it said 9 central, what they actually meant was 10 central, at least according to my television programming. So I sat up until eleven (you do the math) to watch this show.

It was much as I expected it to be. Lots of shots of Dog and the boys taking down ice heads, close ups of Beth's quivering lips as she described the agony of seeing her husband in chains. Leland looked and sounded nervous, he said "I don't know," a lot. Tim "Youngblood" wore the other face of being arrested....shame, shame, shame. Apparently no one told Tim that if you haven't done anything wrong, you don't need to waste any time on that particular emotion. Dog, in his customary woofier than thou manner, said he thinks he whole thing is a "big mistake" due to a rumor started on the internet about them bringing the fugitive (RAPIST, remember, who drugged and did violent horrible things to beautiful young women, one of whom was featured on the show and has started a legal defense fund for the Chapmans.) back to the US, naked and chained in the trunk. I guess that's what thy call being an optimist. Dog also calmly said that his life would be over if he was sentenced to prison, and he hoped that if it happened, he died peacefully… I suppose as opposed to dying in a gut-clenching agony of pain and gore. Yes, Dog is a bit of a drama queen, but still…. I don't think the Mexican government is out to get these guys based on a google gag. And, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Dog’s tactics, the trunk idea is prolly not true, although he does indeed hate women-hurters, he’s also humane to the lowliest. The question really does seem to be, why IS the Mexican government out to get these guys? No answer yet.

There was a lot of talk about the seven days the trio spent in prison already, a Mexican prison, and you could just see the people on the show struggling to maintain their P.C.ness while getting across to the viewing audience that this is a bad, bad place to be. They didn’t actually say the words “dark ages”, “prehistoric”, or “monstrous” but they were floating around for sure. Apparently the dog pack were already arrested and detained, back when they first went and got the guy (RAPIST) and following some mixed-message legal advice (another idea carefully tiptoed around in the attempt to not malign the Mexican justice system and/or sound like we might possibly have a better one here) they returned to the US, sure that the incident would never be brought up again. If it was, it certainly was not expected to be brought up in the form of US Marshals bursting in on their sleep, their government attempting to extradite them.

In watching the show, there weren’t any new bombshells, short of getting to see one of that crazy kid’s (THE RAPIST’S) victims cry all over herself about the violent degrading things he had done to her and how she could sleep once Duane had put the guy behind bars. Never mind that, now. Dog broke the law by putting the chump behind bars. Except there’s a whole lotta people who figure since he was just a US citizen who went into a foreign country and got another US citizen and brought him back, and since bounty hunting is not illegal in our country…well, those whole lotta people think that this whole thing is Bullsheet with a big set of horns on it.

As cynical as I pretend to myself to be, I have to admit the word that kept running through my head while watching this was “travesty”. There were other words too, but most of them involved swearies and I promised my mommy I’d tried to keep my language clean.

I guess I'll just sit back and watch the legal dance unfold, but I have to say on this one, I'm rooting for the canine crusader.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Youragonyismyagony Blog Review

Youragonyismyagony Blog Review

Blog where a fictitious “agony aunt” (Read “Dear Abby like person, only Scottish") answers fake emails asking for advice with truly disgusting and wickedly funny instructions to improve their miserable lives.

So… if you’re in the mood for sheer nastiness. If you feel like laughing at other people. If you enjoy off-color jokes (really, REALLY off color in some cases), then I invite you to visit this little gem of a website, Youragonyismyagony.

This little blog is about as gross and nasty as it gets. It’s run by Pat, the Agony Aunt, who invites anyone with a problem to write in. In Pat, the Agony Aunt’s own words, “A small warm place, where your troubles can be aired and shared. A place of great love and compassion, A place where ,if you leave a problem you will pick up a solution. Think of it as A cure for all that ills you.”

And if you believe that, I have beautiful bridge you might want to look at investing in.

Patt Phatman from Scotland lists his profession as cartoonist on his profile page, and that is easily verified by the cartoons placed on his Agony Blog. I haven’t decided if all the bad grammar and misspellings are part of his enjoyable act or if he’s just careless and doesn’t believe in spellcheck, but I gotta say, I don’t really care. His “letters” asking for advice are always silly, his answers are what makes you chuckle. So off the wall and beyond anything resembling reasonable advice, it was inevitable that after reading here once or twice, I’d end up coming back often.

The blog has only been up and at ‘em since July, but just to give you an idea of what it’s all about here’s an early post that explains it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


.........And no one can help .......Ask pattagony who will give poor quality and probably very wrong or dangerous adive that will probably make things worse.But fuck it it might be fun.So if you have a wee willy.or you think you have mange,or you've had a 3some and you need advice ask the agony Patt.No prob;em to small.No advice senciable.So comment away and i will try to solve your every problem.......Oh no Gay problems ,I dont have a clue about all that stufff.

Come on, after reading that, you’ve got to admit you’re now curious, so go check it

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Jeffery Deaver's The Twelfth Card Book Review

The Twelfth Card
by Jeffery Deaver
published by Pocket Books in 2005
576 pages

There’s only so much I can watch of CSI. I admit it. I know, I know, this has become a national obsession, hence the four or five prime time television shows that have the initials “C”, “S” and “I” in them, presumably those stand for “Crime Scene Investigation”, not “Can’t Stomach It (anymore)”, which is what I would name it. Why? Outraged CSIers might demand.

Because I just don’t believe it all. I mean, I’ll try to watch it. I do find it fascinating. The idea of catching criminals using a tiny piece of fiber from their pants, or from a ketchup stain on the footprint they left in the kitchen is cool. I remember one show where they had vacuumed up the scent of a bad guy from a crime scene and apparently froze it, then later, they unfroze it and waved it under a dog’s nose before releasing him into a ghetto-like neighborhood. The dog, of course, ran straight to the perp, the arrest was made, the show was over.

But does that REALLY happen? I just can’t see someone getting convicted on the basis of a dog sniffing his crotch. I’ve heard that some actual court proceedings have been all fudged up because jurors, fans of these great TV shows, incorrectly assume that they know all about forensic science. They demand “CSI”-like evidence or they won’t convict. They ignore the fact that some of what they see on TV. is, well, fiction. It’s called the “CSI Effect” and it apparently really pisses lawyers and judges off.

Why the above blah dee blah? Because I wanted to point out my total hypocrisy for the world to observe. You see, I feel that way about those shows, but when it comes to Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhymes novels, such as The Twelfth Card, all of my objectivity flies out the window. You see, when it comes to these books, well, let’s just say- I saw his case… and I’m a believer.

For those of you who live in caves and haven’t read a Jeffery Deaver book, don’t worry. There’s plenty of them out there on Amazon, some just for pennies (plus shipping, of course). And for those of you who live in the alternate reality, the same one populated by the jurors with CSI Effect, who think that “book” and “movie” are interchangeable words and say, “Well, I’ve seen The Bone Collector”, hmmm… how can I put this kindly? Just be quiet... please. You know how people always say, “the book was better”? Well, those people are right.

….And WHO chose Denzel Washington to play Lincoln? That’s what I’d like to know! But I’m getting off subject. I apologize.

Now, Lincoln Rhymes is the main dude in a series of novels written by Mr. Deaver. I like all of his books, by the way, but crusty, snarky, crabby old Lincoln holds a special place in my heart. He is the greatest forensic mind to ever be invented on the pages of a book. Confined to a wheelchair due to an accident some years earlier which crushed his fourth vertebrae and left him completely paralyzed except for his head, neck and some shoulder movement, and the ring finger on his left hand. Despite this, he is frequently called upon by the NYPD as a criminalist consultant. Read- he solves the really tough cases for them. He owns an impressive townhouse in NY City and runs it from his candy apple red Storm Arrow wheel chair, using voice commands and that previously mentioned digit. Joining him in his adventures is his partner and lover (Yes, lover, paraplegics have lovers too, surprise surprise) Amelia Sachs, former fashion model, current NYPD detective. Sachs is his legs and arms. Connected by radio headset, they “walk the grid” (search the crime scene) together, and let me tell you, not much gets past these two.

Lincoln has a mind like the metaphoric steel trap. It is so much fun to read the loop-the-loops in which his nimble brain processes information, leading them to the bad guy, again and again, and usually just in the nick of time. This is one author I cannot second guess. I can’t guess ahead, in fact, I rarely do much guessing at all when it comes to Mr. Rhymes and Ms. Sachs.The Twelfth Card is the latest (paperback) in the series.

This time, Rhymes and Sachs are up against seemingly impossible (even for him) odds- cracking a cold case from the eighteen hundreds. The main character, aside from the usual bunch, is a young black girl from Harlem who has been studying one of her ancestors, a freed slave who was accused of a horrible crime. She has a few letters he wrote, an article or two, and the rest is up to Rhyme’s brain. Targeted by a stone cold killer, Geneva at first seems to be a victim of an attempted rape/murder. As the evidence points out, however, it seems that this killer doesn’t want her to find out any information about her great-great-great grandfather (or however many greats there are in there). How could something that happened nearly a century and a half ago affect our world today? What does Geneva have to do with it? Who else is involved? What’s with the tarot cards this dude leaves at his crimes scenes? Can Lincoln and Amelia, and Roland Bell (another reoccurring character in Deaver’s novels) keep her alive long enough to find out?

If you’ve never read a Lincoln Rhymes novel before, as I said, just trot on over to Amazon and order yourself a copy. But don’t start here- start in the beginning of the series, and work your way on up. You won’t regret it by the time you get to The Twelfth Card where you’ll actually be invested in the characters to the point that one little thing at this end of this novel will make you wanna shout. But no more spoilers. This is a good book. In his usual masterful way, Deaver cleverly takes us through a twisting maze, making you sure you know what’s up, and then changing your mind the next second. As with all of his novels, you’ll be left trusting no one, suspecting everyone and wondering who will turn out to not be what they seem. The one thing you will not be, is bored.

This one gets an orange-red on the reader's rainbow.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tribute Edward K. Oliver 2996 Project

In Memory of Edward Oliver
Edward Oliver, 31, met his wife Sheryl while on vacation in Florida ten years before. Although neither of them had any intention of finding a romantic adventure on that vacation, fate seemed to have something special in store for them. Each of them stated that it was Love at First Sight and said that they knew they were going to get married from the day after they met. "Even before I left Florida," said wife-to-be Sheryl Budke, "I told him to tell his mother she had her daughter-in-law."

After a two-year relationship that spanned the miles between Cincinnati and Staten Island, their respective homes, they proved that not all long distance relationships are doomed to fail. In fact, theirs thrived, and they were married in February of 1994. Together, they lived in Staten Island for five years before they decided to start a family. Shortly afterward, their daughter Emily was born and they made a move to the more family- friendly atmosphere of Jackson. Their son, Eddie Jr. was born in May of 2001, and the Olivers considered their family complete. The couple felt that all of their dreams were coming true, and indeed, it did seem so.

Edward was a devoted family man, and spent every second from the moment he arrived home with his children. He couldn’t wait to teach his daughter how to ice skate that winter and to eventually passed on to his five month old son his passions- golf and hockey. Edward took the time to practice his obsession, golfing nearly every weekend with his father. In addition to golf, he was dedicated to Rangers hockey and was a true Mets and Giants fan. He was born and raised on Staten Island and graduated from Tottenville High School in 1988, where he played as number-two man on the golf team and finished his senior year as the number-two ranked golfer in the entire city. Edward loved "The Honeymooners" and, most of all, sitting on the couch with Emily, eating reduced fat Cheez-Its. (He was careful about his health.)

Edward was in a meeting on the 92nd floor of World Trade Center Tower One on Sept. 11. He was a commodities broker for CARR Futures (one of the “best to work with” according to co-workers) and normally worked at the NYMEX blocks but on Sept. 11, he had an early meeting at the main office in the World Trade Center. After his death that day, in tribute, his fellow floor brokers, Charles Crispino, who coaches the Wagner College club ice hockey team, and Joseph Pia, organized a four-day college hockey tournament—the Eddie Oliver Invitational.
Wagner and seven other college teams competed, and New Jersey Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko provided autographed hockey sticks which were raffled off. The tournament raised $25,000, most of it from members on the floor, for Oliver’s family.

He was survived by his wife, Sheryl; his children, Emily and Eddie Jr; his parents, Donald and Barbara; and his siblings, Don, James, and Barbara.

… the following is just some random rambling of my own, a few biased thoughts that I suggest you not read if you don’t want to hear any more of my “emotional memorialism”. Simple reminder- my blog. I haven’t used any magical internet glue to stick your eyes to this page, so just click the little x up in the corner if it bugs you, ok? There, I’ve been nice twice.

I realize that the post above might seem dry, sparse… but I was hesitant to add anything except the facts that I found online. It seems little, doesn’t it? Such a small group of words to pay tribute to a man who was alive, and in love, a father and husband and friend, a man whose life was cut short by an act of senseless brutality, by people of ignorance and fear and hate.

You know, the other day, I read an article that stated that in a recent poll, a good portion of US citizens believe that our government is responsible for the attacks on September 11th, that bombs brought those buildings down, that there never was a plane that hit the Pentagon, that the entire scene was an elaborate setup to make the war in Iraq happen, Bush’s personal agenda driving him to murder thousands of his countrymen.


I certainly hope the poll isn’t true. I don’t hold a whole lot faith in such things, after all, the polls before the last presidential election proved “beyond a doubt” that Kerry was going to win. So, hopefully, the “fact” that roughly a third of my fellow Americans believe this, is not a fact at all, but the skewed perspective of a few conspiracy theory nuts. Good press. Creating controversy. Making “news”.

On that day, lives were snuffed out like so many candles in a hard wind, regardless of who, or what, or how. Today, we remember them. The 2996 project is intended to be a tribute to their lives, not their deaths, and controversy doesn’t belong here today, so I’ll shut up about it now.

I looked at the photos of Edward Oliver and made up my own story. Based on the easy smile, the twinkle in the eye, the relaxed expression. The tenderness with which he cradled his child. I imagined an entire life for him, and it wasn’t hard to do. I bet he was always up for a joke. I bet he was slow to anger. I bet he was a gentle father and a loving husband. He had bad days and annoying habits. He got sick. He got angry. He also had great days, wonderful traits, a strong, healthy body and a laugh that came from his belly. He had goals and dreams and imagined how the rest of his life was going to unroll. He wanted to watch his children grow, see them step onto a school bus, play sports, ride a bike, graduate. He wanted to see his grandchildren. He wanted to grow old with his wife, celebrate a fiftieth anniversary with gold bell decorations and a big white cake. He dreamed of getting a raise or promotion. He loved to tee off on a warm summer weekend, grinning at his dad over his shoulder, and yelling at a hockey game, jumping up and down in his seat when his team scored a goal. He slept, woke up, took showers and went for jogs, worried about eating properly, occasionally indulged in a little junk food. He fought with his wife, and made love to her, he watched his baby son sleeping and smelled his daughter’s hair. He lived, and he was loved.
Never forget.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Carrie Fisher's Delusions Of Grandma Book Review

Delusions Of Grandma

By Carrie Fisher

Published by Pocket, 1994

288 pages

Who knew Princess Leia could write so well? Ok, so the answer to that is “a lot of people”. I mean, “Postcards from the Edge” is not exactly an unfamiliar title to me. So, there’s probably a few hundred, ok, maybe million, readers who are aware that once she put the light saber down and picked up a pen, she did it with flair. (Yes, people, I am aware that Princess Leia didn’t really wave around a light saber, as a general rule. I was trying to make a Star Wars refrencey kind of joke, ok?) Anyway, I have to admit, voracious reader that I am, I have never read a book by Ms. Fisher until this one. It was a pleasure to discover that she writes much better than she acts. * The Carrie Fisher As An Actress Fan Club Grumbles Ominously *

Delusions of Grandma stars Cora Sharpe, screenwriter, citizen of the fantastic realm we mere mortals call “Hollywood”, friend to many interesting characters, and soon to be mother to “Esme”, the child she carries within her womb and writes the occasional goofy letter to. Is she prepared for motherhood? Nope, not really. Is she afraid of being a parent? Most definitely. Is she going to give it her best shot and hope the pieces don’t fall in too nasty a pattern? Yes, because that’s how Cora faces the firing squad of fate.

Cora sees life as a sort of roller coaster of events- taking care of her Committee (circle of buds), falling in love with the occasional man, facing the man’s inevitable disappointment in her, writing a screenplay here and there, watching the unavoidable collapse of the relationship, allowing her Committee to take care of her in the wake of its demise. When she meets and starts dating Ray, a man a little- a lot- different from her usual type, she knows from the beginning that it can’t possibly work. See, in a weird sort of Hopeful Pessimism, Cora runs a constant balancing act in her head, a see-saw of duty and letdowns.

If a lover does something wonderful for her, she immediately wonders how she will ever fulfill the task of doing something equally wonderful for him in the future. Since she’s admittedly self-centered (but generous) she realizes she’ll never be able to meet the expectations of the lover and therefore, expects the relationship to end even as it begins. Ray, a sweet, compassionate, perfectly perfect sort of guy, is the worst one yet. He gives of himself with such freeness and affection, Cora knows she will never possibly be able to reciprocate. Yet, in an earnest attempt to love him back, she tries her best. Pathetic at times, humorous at others, her constant war- within herself- between devotion and duty, obligation and love, is a delight to read, even if only so the reader can reassure herself , “At least I’m not this frickin neurotic!”

Raised by an eccentric yet endearing mother (whose future plans include running a costume museum where people can ride in little carts and be attacked by crows as they go past the costume displays for The Birds), and surrounded by a cast of friends (the previously referenced Committee) who are each interestingly odd in their own unique and attractive way, Cora has a “big, loud life” and struggles to fit Ray in somewhere he’ll be assimilated. Discovering that she’s pregnant adds a whole ‘nother joker to the swaying deck of cards.

As she writes the occasional letter to her future daughter (she has decided that she would never be able to raise a boy- a “man-baby”, war-like creature who will play with guns and resent her for her ignorance of ballgames and whose genitals she will never “feel comfortable getting perfectly clean”) we follow Cora’s life (though not in a straight line- Fisher jumps between future and past with ease) as she works with her writing partner, the bi-polar, towel-wearing Bud, who has a habit of stealing Ray’s watch and wearing it when he’s not around. As she tries to please Ray, knowing full well that eventually, assuredly, she will fail to make him happy. In between, Cora ponders (delightfully) about the meaning of life and the point of it all and how she will be when she finally gets to wherever she’s going.

Particularly touching is the thread in the story that deals with William, one of Cora’s dearest friends, who comes to live with her…well, die with her actually…. as he is in the advanced stages of AIDS. Fisher writes about the slow dance of death from terminal illness in a way that only one who has been there can do, and I found myself in tears more than once. The manner in which we help those we love move out of this life, a labor as real as that which brings us into the world, is portrayed in truly beautiful terms. On another thread, Cora and her mother hatch a daring, brilliant kidnap plan to rescue her grandfather from the clutches of an old age home where his faithless wife has plopped him.

You would think all of these threads would end up scattered, a messy book that is hard to read. However, Fisher pulls it off heroically, taking her reader by the hand and introducing each act, each character, as a friend who will stick in your head even after you’ve finished the last page. Totally biased I may be, but a gold-mine-book sniffer I am as well, and I say to you, try this one on.

I give it a red on the Radical Reading Rainbow.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter Review

In Loving memory of Steve Irwin, "Crocodile Hunter"
born: February 22, 1962
died: September 4, 2006
Wildlife conservationist, television star, family man, awesome guy

The earliest memory I have of the late, great Steve Irwin was when I was up, a god awful hour of the night, with a fussy baby on my lap, my eyes grainy and my head numb, basically a walking, talking zombie…read “New Mother”… and I was flipping aimlessly through the channels, trying to find something to distract me.

Something to get my mind off the stench of vomit that seemed to rise from my clothes, my hair, god, the very pores of my skin. (And poo…did I mention the baby poo?)Something to refresh my weary brain that had thought of nothing but diapers and pacifiers and nursing bras for the past months. Something that would make me forget that I was responsible for the life of this squirming, crying thing flopping itself around in my arms, completely uninterested in any kind of soothing I might have up my sleeve, and to be quite honest, I was running short on soothing tricks. I was looking for something to capture my attention, something that would strike my interest, something, on the six hundred thousand million channels selling Ronco products and re-running The Beverly Hillbillies and Love Boat, 24-7, that was different.

I don’t know if I deliberately ended my surfing on “The Crocodile Hunter”, or if a magical genie (perhaps the genie assigned to bewildered new mothers the world over) pressed my finger on just the right button to stop the drifting on Steve Irwin’s face. That shaggy hair creeping over the collar of his khaki shirt. That big and brassy grin, the twinkling eyes, the aura of good nature and confidence, topped off with the sometimes almost un-understandable Aussie drawl. He was holding a dangling snake in front of his face, deftly ducking his head backward to avoid the slashing fangs. “Oh she’s a beaut, alright,” he breathlessly shared with the camera. “Looker getting all puffed up. Whatsmatter. Girl? You getting a lil upset with me?” A wide grin split his face as she darts at his chin again, a bite he narrowly avoided. “Oh yes, she’s brave and tough, yes she is,” he added in tones usually reserved for beloved toy poodles and fluffy cats with jeweled collars. The love he bore for this vicious retile was obviously real. Vaguely interested at first, and then spellbound, I sat there watching this strange man leading a sometimes-afraid, but always willing-to-try American woman through a jungle like environment, whispering animal facts over his shoulder at her, encouraging her to hurry up. I noticed, at some point, my son had fallen silent as well, perhaps soothed by Steve's harsh whispers, maybe only sensing the peace that had suddenly overcome me. It became a regular habit, those nights, for he and I to plop ourselves down in front of the screen and get revved up for another crazy outback adventure with Mr. Irwin and his companion, the intrepid and way-braver-than-me Terri.

At first I thought the woman was a journalist who had signed on to follow this outback man around, ala Crocodile Dundee. It was only after some serious watching that I understood that Terri was his wife, that his name was Steve, that by crikey, the guy was crazy, and fun, and absolutely fantastic. He bore little to no resemblance to the croc-killing Dundee of movie fame. Steve would never kill a croc, he’d catch them gently, and cover their eyes with his palms to keep them calm, and he’d speak soothing words to them while they were being relocated to a safe place, for them and for people. Steve Irwin, although he was called the Crocodile Hunter, was actually more of the Crocodile Champion, the Crocodile Lover, the Crocodile Man.

I told people about the show… “Have you ever seen Crocodile Hunter?”

“The one where the guy goes to New York…?”

“No, not Crocodile Dundee, this is different. It’s a show on Animal Planet. His name’s Steve? He’s…really Australian? Has a long, ponytailed wife named Terri? He says ‘by crikey’ a lot?”

“Nope never heard of it.”

“Oh boy, are YOU missing out!” It was then my delight and my duty, I felt, to explain exactly what Crocodile Hunter was, who Steve and Teri were, what it was all about. One by one, I trapped friends and family members at my house, turning on CD while they were helpless to escape and had to watch this show I’d been raving about, whether or not they wanted to. I used to watch their faces, as they went from indulgent indifference to the same thing I remember spreading across my features- amazement, awe, fascination, excitement. This guy was different. This guy was crazy. This guy was cooler than shit. And by that, I mean the shit that is cool shit, not stinky shit. He was THE Shit. On every level.

Over the next decade or so, I watched Steve and Terri faithfully, every chance I got. I cried when Sui the dog, their companion on many adventures and a model for “pitbulls” the world over, died. I laughed when they named their firstborn after that dog and one of Steve’s favorite crocodiles, Bindi. I winced when the (rare) bite occurred. I smiled proudly as Terri grew braver, and braver, leaving behind the (almost) timid girl from the first shows and stepping up next to her husband, helping blaze forward on their conservation trail. I ran ( not walked) to the theater to see his movie, and despite its somewhat cheesy nature, I simply pretended to be a mouse and ate it up, because, hello, it was STEVE. I scoffed at the people who thought Steve was putting little Bob in jeopardy while holding him and feeding a crocodile. If there was a man on earth that could be trusted to keep his children “safe” from a croc, that’d be Steve.

He was larger than life, a personality that seemed too big to fit inside a mere human skin. He took chances that made you gasp, said things that made you burst into laughter. He was a self-proclaimed wildlife warrior, and every rabid fan, like me, knew that someday, something might happen to him. Involving teeth or fangs or…something. But you never really worried about Steve. (Opposite to how I felt about Timothy Treadwell, admiring his dedication but softly whistling at his foolishness. When Tim died, I was sad, but not surprised.)

Not the case with Steve Irwin. He seemed invincible. The dancing away from the dangerous snake mouth, the flying leaps onto alligator backs, the dodging of nightmare-inducing spiders, the running down of venomous lizards- all of it seemed enchanted, he was enchanted.


When I heard the news of his death, I was stunned, and then crushed. Wait a minute, I thought, this cannot be right. I mean, a stingray? Those things are practically harmless! Stabbed in the heart? Dead instantly?

What what WHAT?

Followed quickly by …NO NO NO!

And thoughts along the lines of….He did so much good! He was so full of life! He had such a loving, close family! So many friends, fans, admirers! He knew wildlife so well! How could this happen? Why would this happen? HOW would this happen? (Only three Australians have been killed by stingrays, Steve being the third). It is a freak accident of the highest irony, absolutely unexplainable and unexpected, nothing anyone could ever foresee and the last possible way anyone would ever think Steve would die.

It sunk in slowly. I’m not ashamed to say I cried. A lot.

He wasn’t only my company on lonely, fussy baby nights. He was my teacher. I learned more about wildlife from him in one half hour than from all the Jack Hanna television specials I ever watched, combined. He taught me that some animals which seem to have no function other than to terrorize we fragile humans, are simply misunderstood, that everything has a place, a reason. He saw the big picture, how all the puzzle pieces fit, and he was dedicated, with every breath of his body, to teaching others everything he knew. I admired him…”tremendously” isn’t even an effective word.

He was my hero.

If I’m mourning Steve so hard, I can’t imagine what his family is feeling, his friends, even those lucky people who actually met him face-to-face. The world has lost a valuable human. He did so much, for animals and environment, and educating stupid viewers like me. With humor, with passion, with energy and life and love. If you don’t know him, who he was, if you never watched him (and I‘m sure there are five or seven people out there that didn’t) trust me on this one. The man was one-of-a-kind. Unique. Broke the mold after making him and all of those other things you say when you cannot find the quite-right words to say, Damn this guy is irreplaceable!!!!! If my views on snakes and spiders and sharks were changed by Steve’s teaching, I imagine there are countless others who were taught alongside me. So…here’s the big Q, the one we always have to ask, even if not out loud, when something of this ironic magnitude, of this absolute senselessness, happens. I’m wondering, ok, where was God that day? Was He or She or They, just not watching? I’ve always believed in the Big Plan, the things we cannot see… the silver lining and the hidden blessing, but it’s hard, really hard, to see it here.

Perhaps his death will bring about a conservation wave, a huge tidal wave that cannot be stopped. Perhaps laws will be passed through his memory, animals and earth will be saved. Perhaps his death will not be in vain. People are donating in his name, as per the family’s request, to Wildlife Warriors. Perhaps. I don’t know, I don’t pretend to know, I only take meager and thin comfort from thoughts like these. Words his wife probably wants to slap people for. Words that won’t bring their daddy back to his young children. Words that don’t change the reality that he is gone… no more Crocodile Hunter… no more Steve Irwin, no matter who tries to carry it on, even Terri, they won’t be him- larger than life and bursting with joy and excitement and enthusiasm, carrying you along on a ride you didn’t even intend to get on… and his loss will be felt by me, and many others, like a big, ugly hole in the fabric of the world.

“When I talk to the camera, mate, it's not like I'm talking to the camera, I'm talking to you because I want to whip you around and plunk you right there with me.”- Steve Irwin

It worked, Steve.

Rest in Peace.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fuggetaboutit!!! Blog Review


Blog by middle age Italian male who makes fun of…well, everything.

Profile: I’m a 49 year old shrinking Italian comedian. I've been married for 28 years... In a ROW! I have two grown sons and two grandsons so I'm basically an overweight, middle aged, balding ATM machine.

That profile snippet was what made me take a second look at Fugetaboutit!!! - not the Italian-pride colored blog page. I figured it might be some stereo typical “Italian” humor, maybe funny, maybe not… he would say “Yous guys” a lot and talk about pasta.

Well, there is some pasta talk. But his grammar is actually just fine

Mr Tony Calabrese of San Diego, California, always makes my day. I save his blog for the moments when I really need a laugh, sometimes for weeks, and then I go and just read through them straight until I get to the last place I left off. By the end of it, guaran-frickin-teed, I’ll be laughing.

It says on his webpage that as far as a profession is concerned, he’s actually a banker. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to get a loan from this dude. It also explains that he’s a stand-up comedian (since 1995, folks) and I can definitely believe that. I only wish I was closer to his hometown so I could go to his stand-up show, or at the very least become his stalker.

Because he makes me laugh.

Fugetaboutit!!!! Is spare, large in font, and easy to read. It’s like reading a comic strip in blog form. He is one of those gifted people who takes a simple, ordinary occurrence like say, a telephone conversation with his son, or a trip to the grocery store with his wife, and turns it into comedic gold. Most of his posts consist of written conversations, between Tony and the patient, or baffled, loved ones in his life. As you read the blog, you’ll quickly become familiarized with his style of writing and smile in helpless anticipation when you read a title such as, “Vince Lombardi… Pray For Us…” or at a post that begins with, “Babysitting…”

Mr. Calabrese is one of the best of the best. It’s worth your time to scroll back through the archives, because this guy’s sense of humor did not grow up along with his new blog template. He was funny from the get-go. In his own words, from the very first post, I could click back to:

"I can tell you this. Fat people don’t bounce when you drop them.

They say your life flashes before your eyes at the moment of your death but when you’re just going to be seriously injured the only thing you can think of is “Shiiiiii…………”

Using my catlike reflexes I was able to brake my fall, most cats land on their feet, I landed on my face.

I wasn’t unconscious that long. Just a few seconds actually. At the moment I regained consciousness I was thinking, “Auntie Emm, Auntie Emm it’s a twister! It’s a twister!” Then I checked for my teeth."

Heehee. It’s funny when people call themselves fat. It’s funnier when they say they are fat and they fell down. (Oh, you think that's mean? So I’m sick, sue me.)

Looking at his profile page, you can see that he intended to run more than one blog. There was supposed to be one called “My Weekly Rant” that I probably would have paid a small fee via paypal or epay to read. Sadly, it doesn’t exist. Then there’s another one that looks like it was supposed to be about, for and completely made up of jokes. That one, also, presumably never got off the ground. Thanks the wide blue heavens that Fugetaboutit!!! did. Otherwise I’d have some pretty gloomy moods to contend with, like giant squishing slugs trailing across my life, and no Italian salt like this Tony to pour on them.

The Italian banker with a mouth. Check it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine Movie Review

Little Miss Sunshine Movie Review

Starring: Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Toni Collette. Steve Carell, and Alan Arkin

Directed by: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Rated: R for language, some sex and drug content.

101 min

If you’re me, and you see a trailer that has Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell ( incidentally made BEFORE he made 40 year Old Virgin and became some kind of gigantic comedic genius) and odd assorted people, including an old Alan Arkin and the mom from The Sixth Sense, driving in a VW bus across America, well… you know you’re going to see this movie. This is before you realize what the plot of Little Miss Sunshine is about, that the plain, chubby, little girl in big glasses is going to be a contestant in one of those godawful beauty pageants that so many insane people put their daughters in, as if they are little living dolls, with glazed smiles, glazed hair, glazed eyes… and the family that is accompanying her on her strange journey is weird in the way that only real people are.

Despite the fact that sometimes “Sundance films”, or “indie amazements” are starting to not always be what they’re cracked up to be, in your honest opinion. But. If you like movies such as Napoleon Dynamite and the aforementioned 40 Yr. Old V., if you would have liked those movies even if NO one else would have, had they not become Indie Success Stories overnight, if you’d liked them just because they have the quirky, desperate kind of humor that tickles your odd funny bone, and you are a tickle junkie, constantly searching for the right funny-bone-tweaker… you just know you are going to see this movie. That is not in question. The questions are….are you gonna laugh? Are you gonna cry? Are you gonna get up and demand your money back, like when you were a brave young teen and Ernest Goes To Camp didn’t strike the right tone with you?

I’ll tell you, two out of three is not bad at all.

This is a rare movie. There’s nothing common about it. There’s nothing common about the storyline, except for the possibility that a lot of indie films seem to have storylines where shit just keeps getting worse, and worse. Check for this film. And indie films seem to cast people who are, well, not exactly Hollywood handsome. Check. But that’s because they are INDIE films, their very name implying that as independent films, they are nothing like the usual films that come to your friendly neighborhood theater. Check, check, check.

Olive, our small heroine, has somehow, almost miraculously, ended up being the state of New Mexico’s contestant for the Little Miss Sunshine, a national contest being held in California. Her family, who are all very strange ducks indeed, have one thing in common throughout this movie. That is, they love Olive. So there is never a doubt that the child is going to get to go to the LMS contest. The question is, how? And who has to go with? And oh my gawd, what else is going to happen on the way?

The family includes her father, played by Kinnear, who is attempting (very hard) to become a self-success guru along the lines of that really tall Robbins guy, who spouts off frequently about his motivational mantra “ The Nine Steps”, often making poor Olive his target, including when they stop for food and she wants ice cream. Do winners eat ice cream? Well, do they? The guy is so predictable you want to slap his smirky jerky face, but hang in there, you’ll like him by the end.

Her mom, Collette, now she’s the one I could relate to, the harassed, tired woman who just wants everyone to get along, please…. Trying to ignore the fact that she recently picked up her brother from the hospital after a suicide attempt (Carrel, who plays a depressed gay man suffering from unrequited love just about as well as anyone ever could, I declare.) Then there is her son, Dano, the silent (and I mean that literally) teenager who reads Nietzsche and has made a vow not to speak a word until he gets into flight school, thereby fulfilling the first step of his dream to become a jet pilot. He hates everyone, he lets his uncle know, via notebook, in the beginning of the show. Surprisingly, or maybe not, although filled to the brim with the angst people of his age are typically filled with, he doesn’t hate very much, after all. Nor is he stupid, predictable, or typical. This movie isn’t, either.

The grandfather, who is Olive’s coach, who has taught her “every move she knows” for the talent show, is a heroin-sniffing, foul-mouthed old lech, played spectacularly by Arkin, who redeems every other rude and nasty thing he says by his shiny love for his granddaughter. In one laugh/cry scene, she asks him if she is pretty. The old man does not hesitate when he tells her, “Olive, you are the most beautiful girl in the world. I’m completely in love with you. And it’s not ‘cause of your brains or your personality, it’s because you’re beautiful…” a perfect example of the kind of writing in this movie that makes it so scrumptious.

Yes, the goofy-family-dramady has been done before, many times. Not with this panache, though, I have to say, not with this kind of sweet craziness. There is a plaintive quality to LMS, something that plucks at the heartstrings even as you’re wiping tears of laughter off your cheeks. This film makes something as lame as a broken horn RFF*. It makes you change your mind about the characters, rethink them as people. It makes you hurt, and hope, at the same time.

As this family of misfits makes their way across the country, on a deadline, if you decide to go on the ride, you will go from laughing to crying, back to laughing again. I know some people are furious when their emotions are “manipulated” in this way by the filmmakers, but not this kaat, nuh-uh. I go to movies to have my emotions manipulated, jerked around, switched up, moved, in short, and LMS did all that and more. It pushed all the buttons, not only the “laugh” and “cry” ones. I believe there was also a few “cringe” and “gulp” ones in there, too. If a movie is a ride, then this was my very favorite kind. I positively loved LMS, to the point that I sat watching the credits for at least three seconds, and usually, I am that first person out the swinging door, as the credits barely begin their descent, thrusting my popcorn ahead of me like a shield, smackng my way past the usher, just trying to get out. I don’t sit there to watch the funny “goof” reels. I get out, because I’m thinking, now was this, or was this not, a waste of my life? Usually, sadly, the answer ends up being Uh, yeah.

In the case of LMS, it most emphatically was not. It’s rare that I’m sitting there, wishing it wasn’t over. I was, so much, in this case.

I give it five &’s.

& it was unique

& it was hilarious

& it was sad (but in the very best way)

& the characters were wonderful

& the ending didn’t suck

*Really Frickin Funny
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