Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween II: This Year I'm Going as Hyperglocemia

Mary and I never buy Halloween candy, because in the 14 years we've lived in this building we've never had a trick-or-treater. Well, we did once get a Russian girl with smeared make-up pounding on our door late at night, and I got excited thinking her pale, puffy face and runny mascara meant she was going as Pagliaccio, or The Crow, but it turned out she was just confused about which apartment her Craigslist hookup lived in. The point is, I haven't tasted seasonal confections on Samhain since I was young enough to unironically wear a plastic Ben Cooper mask of Superman, or Caspar the Friendly Ghost, so imagine my joy (my Almond joy) when we heard a knock on the door and discovered it was not a slutty Dora the Explorer demanding candy, but a postman delivering it:

This was sent to us by a very kind Crapper who shall remain nameless (unless they don't care about preserving their anonymity, in which case let me know and I'll name names like Elia Kazan at HUAC).  In any case, thank you very much. As it happens, chocolate and peanut are my favorite combination, so I plan -- just this once! -- to get into the spirit of the thing and celebrate the holiday season in style, with a diabetic coma.

We now join our First Annual Horrible Halloween Movie Bash already in progress below...

Happy Halloween!

Welcome to the First Annual World O' Crap Horrible Halloween Movie Bash, chosen by you, the World O' Crap reader. The totals are in, and this year's top vote getters are World War Z (2013) and The Lost Continent (1968). Both are sad botches worthy of inaugurating this feature, so it came down to a question of accessibility. And since I already had it saved to my DVR, World War Z is the winner (and I, needless to say, am the loser). However, I've found a source for Lost Continent, so look for that to appear in a future Monday Movie column.

Now I invite you to sit back, grab some candy (the good stuff, not that dross you've been giving the snot-dripping urchins on your doorstep) and learn how the filmmakers turned an unfilmable book into an unwatchable movie.

World War Z
Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Drew Goddard & Damon Lindelof (screenplay), Matthew Michael Carnahan and J. Michael Straczinski (screen story). Based on the novel by Max Brooks

It’s morning in Anytown, U.S.A. In a charming clapboard house, Brad Pitt and his wife are asleep, which means that two giggling children are about to come running in and jump on the bed, because that’s what families do in movies, as opposed to real life, where I would have gotten in so much trouble for waking up my old man on his day off. Unless it was Christmas morning, which is like The Purge for the specific crime of parent-waking.

Cut to the kitchen. Brad has long blonde locks and a beard, because someone apparently told him this movie is about Thor. Instead, it’s about a guy who used to work for the UN in some vague capacity, and now makes pancakes for his daughters all day, wielding a spatula like it’s the mighty Mjolnir.

Cut to Philadelphia, where Brad and his family sit in traffic while we learn that Brad’s wife used to be British, but has lost her accent, and there are rabies in Taiwan. Turns out there’s also zombies in Philadelphia – quite a lot of them, actually – but no one thinks to mention it until suddenly they’re swarming all over the traffic jam like it’s Black Friday at Wal-Mart. And not only are these undead fast – they can outrun a Winnebago, which suggests the zombie apocalypse is going to hit Texas and South Dakota particularly hard – but so is the virus which creates them; Brad watches one discount hipster get chomped and go from Old Navy model to full-blown revenant in about ten seconds, which strikes me as premature incubation. I like a little tension in my zombie movies -- the pathos and suspense of waiting for a bitten friend to turn -- but here the transformations are over quicker than an Amish wedding night.

Brad jacks an old RV – personally, I would have stolen something faster than a zombie, but it does come with its own hunting rifle – and immediately pulls over because his daughter is having an asthma attack. So fine, let’s all stop the Apocalypse because Brianna can’t find her inhaler. Just then Jack’s former boss calls; he's fleeing the UN building in a helicopter because New York is in flames and overrun by the undead. On the bright side, he got his whole staff killed, so there’s got a job opening in Ordinary Premium Accounting.

Brad and his family loot a Shop-Rite in Newark, where Brad shoots an irritated consumer near a Prestone point-of-purchase display, then they invite themselves to squat with a nice Latino family. Brad fiddles with their radio and gets the Emergency Broadcast System, and even though, for once, it’s not a test, he is still not instructed where to tune in his local area for news and official information. Instead, he makes shitty armor out of magazines, and duct tapes a steak knife to his rifle, then leads his family into a stairwell where they hunker down to wait. After awhile, Daughter Number Two says, “I’m scared” (in a tone of voice that suggests she really meant “I’m bored, but was trying to be polite), but Brad tells her a helicopter is coming for them, and to “keep your eyes on Mommy and Daddy.” Really? I’d tell the kid to keep an eye out for zombies, but I’m not the guy with the bayonet from Chicago Cutlery.

The chopper flies Brad and family to the United Nations Command Ship, the U.S.S. Exposition, where his Boss explains that the president is dead, there are gun battles in the streets of Washington, D.C., and Ted Cruz’s erection has lasted longer than four hours. Big cities are the hardest hit, because “airlines are the perfect delivery system,” which seems odd, since the disease has a ten second incubation period, so I’m pretty sure the passengers would start leaping around and devouring each other well short of their destination, and making it extremely difficult to maneuver the drinks cart through the aisle.

Anyway, young Dr. Fastback wants to go South Korea to see if he can find a vaccine or something, and the military blackmails Brad into going along. In the plane, Fastback explains his theory that “Mother Nature is a serial killer,” and “like all serial killers she can’t help the urge to want to get caught,” so she cuts out letters from magazines and mails cryptic messages to the newspaper.

When they get to South Korea they’re met by a Welcome Wagon of extremely athletic dead people, and Dr. Fastback immediately slips on the wet tarmac, shoots himself, and dies. (I saw it, it was his own fault, he can’t pin this one on Mother Nature.)

So Brad’s business trip was a complete waste of time. Fortunately, he meets David Morse, who just happens to be in midst of a nice juicy cameo role as a disgraced CIA agent with a lot of convenient information, and he tells Brad that Israel made its borders zombie-proof, so Brad takes off for Jerusalem (but first a bunch of soldiers have to refuel his plane while getting attacked by the undead, as Brad rides a squeaky bicycle in inclement weather like Miss Gulch from The Wizard of Oz).

During the flight Brad calls his wife to chat about the kids, but then someone sets off an atomic bomb right under the plane and the call drops. But it was such a boring conversation that neither one bothers to call back.

Israel has built a 100-foot high wall all around the country (meanwhile, John McCain stands on the U.S. southern border shouting, “Finish the dang fence!”, but nobody pays any attention to him because they’ve all turned into cross-training carrion). The people inside, Jews and Arabs alike, all so filled with a love that they gather together and sing a happy, Kumbaya-like song, which drives the zombies into a fever of organization, and they build a human pyramid from a million undead cheerleaders, and spill over the wall.  So the lesson here is: hootenannies kill.

Brad immediately runs for his plane like a little wuss. His Israeli bodyguard gets bitten, so he lops her hand off to stop the infection, or to prove he saw Evil Dead II. Unfortunately, his pilot is an even bigger wuss, and takes off before Brad can even get on the plane, even though he’s a Premiere Club member and entitled to early boarding.

Brad thumbs a ride with a taxiing airliner, dragging along the woman he mutilated, and as they fly to Cardiff, presumably to see if Torchwood can help, he figures out the ANSWER! Unfortunately, somebody brought a zombie as carry-on and the passengers start eating each other rather than pay eleven dollars for one of those crappy box lunches they give you. Brad throws a grenade into Coach, blowing a hole in the fuselage and scattering zombies across the idyllic Welsh countryside. The aircraft plows into a forest and completely breaks apart, but Brad survives, although he’s got a huge aluminum splinter stuck through his body.

Despite being speared like a cocktail weenie, Brad and his amputee victim walk to the nearest World Health Organization facility. But back aboard the good ship Exposition, Brad has been written off as MIA and his wife and children evicted, their bunks turned over to a family whose father isn’t stupid enough to chuck grenades around an airliner.

Brad wakes up at the WHO, and finds himself staring into the face of Doctor Who! (The cranky, 12th one.) Unfortunately, the Doctor’s not that helpful, but he is still cranky, especially after Brad tells him about his plan to infect everybody with a terminal illness so the zombies won’t find them appetizing.

Unfortunately, the pathogens they need are stored in the Plot Point Memorial Wing, which is occupied by zombies, so the next twenty minutes consist mostly of people sneaking and running and sliding around hospital corridors like a particularly wacky episode of Scrubs.

Anyway, Brad injects himself with a fatal disease, and what do you know, his stupid plan works. So he takes a boat to go pick up his family, but suddenly announces in voice over: “It’s not over,” which strikes me as needlessly cruel, like taunting a garden slug after you’ve already poured salt on it.

To sum up: it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature, mainly because she’s a serial killer, so don’t pretend your smooth, creamery margarine is butter, or she’ll give you zombies and Brad Pitt will give you swine flu.


The end.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

To B Or Not To B Movie

Before we start the show, I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone for the many kind birthday wishes -- they truly made my day. And while I'm at it, I'd also like to thank Ivan, who really got me in the Halloween mood with his spot-on Renfield impression (seriously, by the time his gibbering encomium got to "I would rather be sealed in a pit of my own filth," you could almost taste the dead flies and rat tartare).

And I especially want to thank Sheri for braving Blogger's mind-boggling back end to post some extraordinarily nice words about me which -- as she  helpfully suggested in a message -- I should be able to repurpose for my funeral.  Having her return to the wonderfully weird little community she created was the best present I could have received.

And I have another treat for you guys: Hank Parmer, the Human Oven Mitt is back, providing a protective layer of quilted fabric between you and sizzlingly bad cinema. Today Hank examines the motion picture which answers that age-old question, "Just how crappy does a movie have to be before it rates second billing to Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster?"

Curse of the Voodoo (Original title: Voodoo Blood Death)

A Galaworld production, in black and white. In 1965. Keep in mind that we're not dealing with just any old voodoo here, but the Voodoo.

The movie opens with some African natives jumping up and down around a bonfire, to the pounding of jungle drums. A female dancer is really getting into it. One warrior seems to be practicing with his spear. He needs all the practice he can get: he's got a bad case of the shakes, so his aim is bound to be awful. The dancer falls down. (She'll do that a lot.)

Stock footage of Africa, accompanied by the hyper-manly, John-Barry-knockoff score we'll come to heartily loathe during the course of this film.

Voice-over:  Africa - a country [so what if those snooty geographers call it a “continent”] that for centuries was hidden from civilized men. [e.g. White male Western Europeans] Africa - a country of grandeur, power, beauty and sudden death. Africa - where primitive tribes still practice evil religions which weave a dark web of death around all who sin against their gods. One such god is Simba, the lion. [There's also Goomba, the wiseguy, and Skwishi, the slug, although for some reason these don't attract as many followers.] And for any man who dares to kill a lion, the penalty is death!


The veldt – actually, Regent's Park, but let's not quibble – where we're introduced to our hero, the extremely manly Great White Hunter, Mike Stacey (Bryant Haliday). Alright, so he's actually a pale, cadaverous gink who sort of resembles George F. Will, if Will ditched the glasses and bow tie, grew about a half-inch more chin and got an ash-blond rinse ... but he's got a very masculine musical theme!

He watches through binoculars as his dweebish client Radlett shoots at, but, predictably, only wounds some stock footage of a lion, which promptly takes off into the stock footage bush. Maj. Lomas – played by Dennis Price, the Real Actor in this mess, who's obviously been diligently cultivating his gin blooms since his star turn in Kind Hearts and Coronets – tells Radlett that they can't leave a wounded lion roaming about. Especially in Regent's Park, where it might raise havoc with joggers.

Mike disgustedly informs his client that he'll be the one who has to go in after it. More hyper-manly theme, as  Mike and his "boys" spread out and go after the lion. Bad news: not only is the lion wounded, but he's gone over the hill and taken refuge in territory inhabited by the dreaded Simbaza tribe, which is verboten to lion-hunting honkies. The others refuse to go any further.

Mike: "Don't tell me you believe in that mumbo-jumbo."

Lomas: "I've been here long enough never to dismiss anything as mumbo-jumbo!" (Boogedy-boo, however, is a different story.)

Mike insists he can get in, kill the lion and be back in time for tea. Mike's faithful gun-bearer Saidi tries to dissuade him, but he persists in his mad scheme. Saidi reluctantly follows him.

Meanwhile, Radlett dithers and halfheartedly suggests he really ought to go with Mike, since he was the one who wounded the lion. (Uh-huh.) In a vain attempt to divert everyone from his wimpiness, he asks Major Lomas what all the fuss is with the Simbazas.

Lomas explains they worship lions, and practice a potent brew of black magic and merciless passive aggression. Radlett scoffs, but Lomas is deadly serious: "Mr. Radlett, this is neither Southend nor Surrey. These people are further from civilization than Stone Age men!" (The Major would sing a different tune, if he'd ever attended the charity jumble at St. Dunstan's.)

Radlett: "Yes, but he didn't seem frightened!"

Lomas: "He's either a fool – or a very brave man."

Cut to Mike and Saidi, stalking the dweeb's wounded lion through a stand of "African" maples, to the exotic chirping of British songbirds. Underscoring his manliness, Mike tells Saidi to wait, while he continues the hunt alone. Stock footage of lion. Mike follows it through a lush forest and rain-wet leaves. More lion footage, shot on the dry and dusty veldt. Mike hears a growl. Stock footage of lion running at camera. Mike shoots. Stock footage of leaping lion. The camera's POV savagely attacks Mike, who drops the rifle and puts his arms up.

Lomas and Radlett hear the gunshot.

Radlett: "He got him! I wish I'd been with him!" Right. You know,  you're not fooling anyone.

Back to Mike. The (off-camera) lion's dead, though he did give Mike a nasty boo-boo in the left shoulder. Saidi runs to help him. I never knew you could fend off a charging, fully-grown, 500-pound African lion by simply putting your arms out in front of you.

Back to Lomas and Radlett. Ominous thunder of drums. Radlett wants to know that it means.

Lomas: "It means the hunter has become the hunted!" Thank you, Major Exposition.

Back to Mike and Saidi, who's applying some first aid to where the lion nicked Mike in the shoulder. Mike takes a swig from his hip flask. The drums are getting louder. Saidi's worried: "We must get out of here, Mr. Mike: this is a bad place!" But Mike insists they skin the lion for Radlett, first. Of course, they won't be attacked by outraged Simbazas – that would be too easy. Plus, as we'll see, the Simbazas are major wusses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Scott - I Got You a Cliff!


Yes, for a few more hours it is the birthday of Wo'C CEO and MVP,  Scott C.! 

As most of you can attest, Scott is one of the wittiest people on the Internet - fast with a quip, possessing a way with words like few others, and with an unrivaled knowledge of history, politics, and the wingiest nuts in existence.  And many of you also know that he is a caring, compassionate man: a guy who remembers birthdays,  helps those in need, and fights for the underdog and overcat.  And a good friend.  But did you know that he loves bad movies, MST3K, and old-timey stuff?  Okay, you did.  Fine.  Then here's Renew America's Cliff Kincaid with "Can marijuana fuel jihad?"  I am having problems with Blogger, so just pretend that the parts in quotation marks are indented. We join Cliff already in progress.

 "It may be too early to draw a direct connection between jihad, marijuana, and mass murder,"

No, it's never too early to say, "The Tsarnaev brothers were terrorists, they used marijuana, and so marijuana causes mass murder."  So, let's find some more examples to further your theory.

"We also have the case of Michael Brown, the black thug who was shot and killed in Ferguson, Missouri. An autopsy and toxicology report finds that he had marijuana in his system and had been a user for some time."

So, there you have it: having used marijuana at some time in the past causes the police to shoot you, and the wingnut press to label you a "black thug."  Although I wonder how many "white thugs" Cliff has written about.

"There is no hint of jihad here, only anti-police violence."

Yes, kids, it's Opposite Day!

 "But the role of marijuana in this violent confrontation deserves extensive coverage, not just a footnote. Trayvon Martin, the black juvenile delinquent shot and killed after he assaulted anti-crime activist George Zimmerman, also smoked marijuana regularly."

Cliff, if you're just going to say idiotic things in any effort to get attention, I have no more time for you!

So, on to the ceremonial sexy birthday lizard:



 And because Scott birthday is extra-special, here's the sexy Ann Coulter birthday lizard:


Now, won't you all join me in wishing Scott the happiest of birthdays!
..

Monday, October 27, 2014

We Had Joy, We Had Fun, We Had Treason in the Sun

You may remember Douglas MacKinnon -- former flack for Bob Dole, ex-Commander of Joints, and the author of novels so abysmal they make Snoopy look like Trollope.  But Doug is vast, he contains multitudes, and like all men should be judged not solely by his deeds, but by the content of his character; so I'll just point out that he's also a traitor.

Recently, Douglas huddled in a corner booth at the Shake Shack with members of his seditious Breakfast Club and planned the dissolution of the Union over a plate of Eggs Benedict Arnold.  The result was his new book, The Secessionist States of America: The Blueprint for Creating a Traditional Values Country . . . Now.  But I know what you're wondering: who are these shadowy members of Doug's Early Bird Cabal?  Fortunately, commenter jackd performed a Herculean feat of taxonomy and broke them down by alleged area of expertise, and where they'd likely get to sit in the A-Team van:
Let's see how low we can go and still qualify for MacKinnnon's Brain Trust: 
a constitutional law expert 
Someone who attended law school. Might have graduated. Might have passed the bar. Might be practicing. Might even be teaching Con Law, given how many for-profit colleges and law schools are out there. 
two former military officers 
Note he didn't say *commissioned* officers. 
two former diplomats 
Guys who used to be in the State department. Somewhere. 
a minister 
Volunteer youth minister? Leader of a storefront church with a congregation numbering firmly in the dozen? 
another special operator 
And here I'm going to quote Sheri: "I was believing his whole back story about him and his unemployed men's group getting together to foment an uprising until I got to the mention of "another special operator." Is this a Time/Life operator, or does he mean "special operative"? Is Douglas implying that HE was a special operative?

I had to track down this mystery. So, I read his bio, that said that he had a Government Top Secret clearance - which means only that his treasonous hadn't yet been discovered, because everybody in the DC area has a TS clearance."
and experts on banking, energy, farming, and infrastructure 
A guy who worked at a bank, a guy who worked for a power company, a guy who worked on a farm, and a guy who dug ditches. Note that this could be as few as two people to merit the plural of expert. 
And that's the kind of expertise you bring together to agree that the right thing for true patriots to do is commit treason.
Well, Doug's book is out, and he's hitting the trail to promote it.  A number of sites have already printed some of the juicy bits from his appearance on evangelical talk radio host Janet Mefferd's program, so I decided to go the extra six inches and transcribe the whole thing. It was extremely illuminating, much like someone driving toward you with their highbeams on until it triggers a migraine.  Take it away, Doug...
We looked at what states would be viable in terms of doing something like this and in fact what states would provides sort of the new land mass for a new republic dedicated to traditional values, and the consensus was that the three best states in the union would be South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. 
Suck it, Alabama. Even the neo-Confederates would rather not have to explain you.
Because of not only their population and so many folks in those states have, you know, a strong belief in traditional values, but also because of the natural resources within those states, the infrastructure within those states, and their access to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico
Yeah, about that infrastructure...A lot of it was subsidized, or entirely paid for by the Federal Government of the United States, so...you're gonna give that back, right?  And don't just leave it out on the lawn, either; when we come by in the U-Haul, you need to get off your ass and help us load I-95 in the truck. There's pizza and beer in it for you.

As for the natural resources, South Carolina's top crop is tobacco, which kills its consumers, so it's not really a huge growth industry. Number two is cotton, but there's no real textile industry in this country anymore, and most of the sweatshops are overseas, so who knows how long that'll last. On the bright side, the third top cash crop is marijuana, which Larry Kudlow advises you to buy, buy, buy!, so you'll stop trying to bum his cocaine.

Georgia's top three crops are cotton (see above), peanuts, and -- once again -- marijuana, so while they may be pining for the past, they're planting for the future!  Florida's number two crop is dope, behind oranges, while in my native state of California the Devil's Weed with Roots in Hell and Humboldt County is number one, ahead of grapes, almonds, and Kryptonian Hamster Ball Babies.
A lot of folks of course talk about Texas, and I’m a huge fan of Texas 
Although I prefer their early, funny stuff.
but one of the problems that we discussed as a group in regard to Texas is what problems would crop up if that ever came up – and we’re only talking in academic discussion here and in theory – and just so the government understands. 
At this point Doug chuckled in a way that said, "Even though I've just published a plan to carve a three-state empire out of the U.S. like some 19th Century filibuster, the Feds can't arrest me for sedition because I uttered a fake laugh, which is the audible equivalent of crossing your fingers behind your back. You know, most historians agree that Hitler wouldn't have gone to jail for his part in the Beer Hall Putsch if he'd only paused periodically to snicker and say, 'Just kidding.'"
But if in fact you tried to do something like that, then would the government of Mexico look at Texas as sort of you know, in more hostile manner than it already does now
Does Mexico look at Texas in a hostile manner?  I mean, I know I do, but then I look at most things that way (I've been throwing shade at this Otter Pop for like fifteen minutes).
because there has certainly been a number of incursions into Texas and other places from SOME of the folks in Mexico. 
I made an incursion into Texas once.  I mean, American Airlines called it a "layover," and all I did was eat cole slaw and drink a Tab, but I prefer to think of it as an act of aggression.
And so that’s one of the things the group looked at, And then it’s one of those things too, where again, the state legislatures, you know, have the ability, as they did, you know – people tend to forget the PAST, you know, at their own peril, but when the America Civil War, before it happened, you have to remember that ALL ELEVEN STATES, from the South – including ultimately Texas – seceded LEGALLY. And so they left the Union PEACEFULLY. They left the Union LEGALLY. 
You may wonder why Doug repeatedly bellowed those particular words. Well, it actually goes back to the siege of Fort Sumter, when U.S. Army Captain Abner Doubleday asked his commanding officer, Major Robert Anderson, if the South Carolina militia hadn't committed an act of war by firing on them. Major Anderson replied, "That's what I thought too, but according to the Constitution, they're shelling the shit out of us legally and peacefully." Except that Anderson had to shout the words "legally" and "peacefully" so they could be heard over the sound of his horse exploding.
Then President Lincoln – and part of the problem there was that the NORTH realized very quickly that it could not survive economically without the power of the South.
They controlled nearly the entirety of America's strategic reserve of Honey Boo-Boo.
... lot of the historians, at least on the South, and scholars from the South will certainly tell you that President Lincoln waged an ILLEGAL war that was in fact not declared against the South, after the South, you know, basically did what we’re talking about in this book now in terms of peacefully, legally, and constitutionally leaving the Union.
Douglas is right that the U.S. never declared war on the South, because it never recognized the Confederate States of America -- But then, neither did any other nation on earth.  To quote Doghouse Riley: "There’s a famous precedent that no one could be tried for treason after the Civil War because the United States never recognized the CSA."

But despite these superficial disagreements, we're not really so different, Doug and I. He merely wants the South to repeat what it did at the start of the Civil War, while I only want the North to repeat what it did at the end.

Okay, that's about all I can take of Commander Joint. More later.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If Cyrano de Bergerac Were a Mortician

Along with the large volume of spam I deservedly receive, there's the occasional, loosely targeted marketing appeal from proprietors of various virtual emporia. The last time, it was from Ken Myers, "a leader in the nanny industry" (I'll just note that this was back in 2013, so the couple of Robin Williams jokes were in no more than average bad taste).  Today, the vast combines of the Sympathy Card Ghost-Writing business have turned their cephalopodan tentacles on World O' Crap:
Hi,
I'm Suzie Kolber and I’m a volunteer at ObituariesHelp.org. I visited World o Crap online
Yes, that's usually where you'll find it.
I’m wondering if I can contribute some content to your website (http://world-o-crap.blogspot.com/) about “How to Express Your Condolences For a Loved One." What do you think? 
I think you just neatly demonstrated the difference between "visiting" a site and "reading" it.
 Let me know if you like the idea or if you have a better suggestion.
I actually do have a couple of ideas. Let me run 'em by you:
  1. What about an anti-aging cream made from embalming fluid and driveway sealant! Or...
  2. How about if mortuaries made plastic deathmasks of your loved ones, then added an elastic string so kids could Trick or Trick as their recently deceased Grandpa? (Homeowner: Awww, and what are you supposed to be?  Trick or Treater: A reminder of your own mortality, Ma'm!)
Anyway, back to Suzie...
If not, would you consider sharing my new advice page that lists how to write a condolence message with your visitors? (http://obituarieshelp.org/words_of_condolences_hub.html
Sure, Suzie. It's been my sad duty to write a few obituaries over the years -- for Jim Capozolla,  beloved Crapper Marq, and the irreplaceable Doghouse Riley (and I just noticed, in looking these up, that Marq commented on Jim's obit, and Doghouse commented on Marq's, which is either a bittersweet reminder of the Circle of Life, or these posts are like that video in The Ring) -- and it's a hard, emotional experience that could only benefit from the introduction of crib notes.
The page was recently endorsed by the International Funeral Directors Association and I think this would be helpful to anyone that has recently lost a loved one or is about to attend a funeral.
Yes, if there's one thing that can improve the grieving experience, it's making it less personal and spontaneous.
I’m proud to say the website receives over 400K visitors per month and helps lots of people during their most difficult time.
Wow, I should be asking you for a plug, except I don't actually help anybody, even when the livin' is easy.
Please let me know your thoughts and if you’re able to add me as a resource, please share the URL with me so that I can look at it.
Actually, I seem to have deleted your email, Suzie, but just know that my thoughts are with you as you work through this difficult time of networking and marketing.

And if any of you guys are worried that your elegy is thin gruel and could use a nice starchy thickener, consider Suzie's Obituary Helper.

(Speaking of death: Actor212 has produced a timeline on the Duncan Ebola case which demonstrates with remarkable, cool-headed clarity, that the U.S. is in danger of coming down with a fatal case of Texas.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tell Ya What, Cap'n, I'LL Go Down With the Ship

Once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Biggest Box Office Flop of All Time.

Cutthroat Island (1995)
Director: Renny Harlin
Writers: Michael Frost Beckner & James Gorman and Bruce A. Evans & Raynold Gideon (Story), Robert King and Marc Norman (Screenplay)

“Jamaica, Caribbean. 1668”  Geena Davis puts on her pants. And a vest. And a monkey. The man she just boffed (who has a luxurious mane of ringlets that makes him look like a languid, post-coital Tiny Tim) pulls a pistol from under the sheet and says, “You were amazing in the sack and I hope we didn’t shock the monkey, but I know you’re Morgan Adams the pirate, even though you look more like Maud Adams from Octopussy, so I’m turning you in for the reward” (I’m paraphrasing slightly). But the monkey hands Geena some ball bearings and she says “Ha! I took your BALLS!” (Not a paraphrase.).

Geena rides a horse through the surf at sunset for awhile in an apparent effort to sell us on some brand of pirate douche. Then she jacks a man’s dinghy and rows out to a pirate ship, where Frank Langella has part of a map and is making Geena’s dad (Pegleg Harris Yulin) give him the other half. But Harris foils them by jumping in the ocean. Geena tries to catch him but accidentally breaks the boat and falls in the water too; fortunately the movie manages to beach itself.

Pegleg Harris is slowly dying. He has time to bequeath his pirate ship to Geena, and ask her to shave his head (I’m guessing he has the other half of the map tattooed on his scalp, although it’s possible the RID shampoo and nit comb are proving ineffective). But when he hears her listlessly lisping lines like “I’ll fly his blood head [sic] as my banner!” he suddenly can’t die fast enough.

Cut to a fancy ball, where Matthew Modine is playing a Silence of the Lambs-style serial killer, since he appears to be wearing Cher’s scalp as a wig. He pilfers a woman’s barrette, but burly men, also in Cher wigs (let’s call them the Cher Bears) immediately catch him. The Top Fop in the room instantly condemns him to slavery; and since Matt’s the love interest, I guess we’re in for a neurasthenic, All-White revival of Mandingo.

Back at Pegleg Harris’s ship, Geena declares herself captain by waving her father’s scalp, which is indeed tattooed with a map, and which she apparently carved off his skull, giving new meaning to the phrase, “a chip off the old block.”  Unfortunately, it’s only one third of a treasure map. Her uncle has one piece, and Frank Langella has the other. Even worse, her Dad’s skin is written in Latin and Geena can’t even read English (I mean her character can’t, although her delivery does suggest she learned her lines phonetically).

Geena puts on a dress and trolls the prison for Latin scholars (personally, I would have tried the library, but I’m not the one with the photogenic overbite), where she decides to buy Matthew at auction after he confesses, in Latin, that he wants to wash her feet. Another buyer is interested, but Geena stabs him in the ass and the auctioneer bellows, “SOLD to the lady with the monkey!” (I myself like to shout this every time I make a successful bid on eBay).

The Cher Bears recognize Geena from her super-glam police sketch, and start a chase scene which is long and dull, but punctuated by moments of hilarity whenever Geena is replaced by her brawny stuntman.

Meanwhile, Geena’s friend Maury Chaykin is the Kitty Kelley of the pirate world, writing gossipy, tell-all books about Who’s Keel-Hauling Who, and the Top Fop wants Maury to betray her so he can get a slice of the treasure and we can all pretend there’s a plot.

Geena has to dress like a prostitute to visit her uncle (I guess we’ve all had to, especially around the holidays) and titillates him with her Dad’s scalp, which she’s been carrying around in her bikini area. He agrees to join her on the quest but says they’d better hurry, since her map is developing dandruff.

Frank shows up and demands the map, threatening her with a moray eel, but she refuses to admit that she’s using her father’s skin as a panty liner. He kills her uncle, but it’s okay, because it turns out he’s also her uncle, so she’ll still have an excuse to dress like a whore on Thanksgiving.

Frank gut-shoots Geena, then there's a stupid chase through the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, which ends when Matt turns into a 17th Century MacGyver, and blows up a lot of stuff like firkins and pantaloons.

They get back to the ship, where Geena is hemorrhaging to death from her gunshot wound. Fortunately, Matt is also a doctor, and he and Geena flirt shamelessly as he digs a rusty musket ball out of her perforated intestines.

Matt secretly stole the second piece of map off her uncle’s corpse, but Geena catches him with it and sentences him to be marooned. But just then her crew mutinies, and maroons her first. (What I wouldn’t give for Bugs Bunny to show up and comment on the quality and quantity of maroons in this picture.) But the joke’s on them, because Geena washes ashore on Cutthroat Island, which just happens to be where the treasure is! 

Frank and Geena’s disloyal crew also show up and camp on the island. During the night someone steals Frank's purse, and when he wakes up he realizes Geena must be alive, and screams, “Bitch STOLE…MY…MAP!” And just to demonstrate how peeved he is, he juices a tarantula with his bare hand. Meanwhile, I look at the time code on the DVD, scream “There’s STILL…AN HOUR…LEFT!” and squeeze the juice of one lime into two ounces of vodka.

Actually, it was Matt who stole the map, because he also washed up on this island that nobody could previously find without three separate maps, but now everybody's plowing into by accident.  Geena discovers him sinking in quicksand, and they do the old “Throw me a rope!” “Throw me the map!” bit, and anyone can see how this is going to end from a mile away, but the film takes a surprisingly dark turn when he gives her the map and she throws him a rope.

In the mood for scenes of people walking around the jungle? How about if they count off each and every step, just to rub it in? You’re in luck. Eventually, Matt and Geena find a cave where the treasure is just lying around loose. Geena goes for help, gets captured, she and Matt wind up dangling by ropes from the top of a cliff, and just decide to put us out of our misery by falling to the rocks below. But they’re saved by an act of Providence, as a rogue wave catches them just before impact. But it’s an incredibly fake-looking CGI wave that fools nobody, which I think is God’s way of saying that he secretly hates them and wants them to die.

Forty minutes to go. At this point I’d actually be fine if God spared Geena and Matt and smote director Renny Harlin instead, since that would let the producers invoke force majeure and write the whole film off as an insurance loss.

Maury Chaykin finds Matthew washed up again (they probably should have called this Washed Up Island, but looking at everybody’s IMDB page now, it seems redundant). He takes this as a cue to finally pay off that subplot we’d forgotten about, so he turns Matt over to Top Fop, who has apparently also stumbled onto this secret, uncharted island. Top Fop then sails off in Frank’s ship with the treasure and Matt.

Geena sneaks around her mutinied ship all ninja-like and secretly de-mutinizes it, then sails to intercept Frank’s ship. At last! An hour and 35 minutes into our pirate movie, and we’re finally getting our first battle at sea. But both Geena and Frank order their men to stealthily creep and crawl to their battle stations like kids sneaking downstairs to catch Santa, because what's your hurry?

Okay, I got a little ahead of myself; they’re not actually fighting yet. However, we do get a bunch of shots of hairy men squatting, if you’re into that.

Still not fighting.

Okay, now they’re fighting.  Wait.  No.  False alarm. 

Wait – I think they are fighting.  Yes, they’re definitely supposed to be fighting. It’s not really a qualitative difference from when they were squatting, but on the bright side, the primitive CGI flames and explosions make it look like both ships are filled with molten lava, and every time they get hit with a cannonball, a tiny volcano erupts. It actually looks less like a pirate movie and more like the cover of Dianetics.

I have something to confess…I’ve been sitting here for like ten minutes without typing a comment. I don’t usually do that, but this whole thing is just so snoozy and confusing. It’s consnoozy! Or snoofusing. I should get back to watching the movie.

Geena gets the brilliant idea of grabbing the treasure from Frank’s ship and blowing up the powder magazine; unfortunately, that’s not the order in which she does it. Eventually, she gut-shoots Frank with a cannonball, just to one-up him, then she and Matt jump off the ship as it explodes for the second time. But this time it means it, and is basically reduced to a blizzard of Ohio Blue Tips and hot lava scattered over a two square mile area. 

Crap, it’s not over yet?  Look, you don’t care, I don’t care, but we started down this road together, so dammit, take my hand, and let’s see it through to the bitter end.

Cut to the next day. Somehow they recovered the entire treasure from the vast area of ocean floor over which was scattered by the explosion, without sonar, or diving equipment or – hey, my will to live just left me. I could feel it. I think I actually heard a door slam…

No, no...I promised we’d get to the end credits together. After that, we may turn on each other like two hamsters in a cage. There may be death. There will be blood. But a promise is a promise.  So….The pirates are all rich, yay! But they want to stick together and keep pirating because maybe sequel! In the meantime, the monkey has gotten into the treasure and is draped in so many pearl necklaces it vaguely resembles Barbara Bush.


The End.

(P.S. There's still time to nominate a crappy horror film for for Wo'C's First Annual Horrible Halloween Horror Bash. Just leave your suggestion here. A review of the winning loser will be posted on October 31st.)