January 31, 2003
January 30, 2003
When A Boy Gives You An Incapacitating Spinal Injury, That Means He Likes You
Vanilla Ice demonstrates the correct procedure for wooing women.
After nearly thirty-two continual years of football apathy, I decided that, this year, I was going to take Not Giving A Rat's-Ass About The Superbowl to the whole next level. Instead of simply not watching the Big Game, I was going to seek out and engage in some activity that no true SuperBowl fan would even dream of undertaking.
So, last Sunday, I went to see Chicago.
(I later discovered that my father had trumped me by spending Sunday at -- this is true -- "The Superbowl of Poetry VI". He's always trying to one-up me, that dad o' mine.)
I'll admit to having a second motive as well. I will almost always go to see a movie in a cataegory that I fear is on the brink of extinction: Old Fashioned Murder Mysteries (Gosford Park), Animated Movies Made For Adult Audiences (Spirited Away), Contemporary Comedies That Don't Involve Flatulence (drawing a blank, here), and the like. I often go into these films more out of a sense of duty than out of any expectation of quality. This often leads to disappointment (did I mention Gosford Park?), but can also lead to pleasant surprise when a movie turns out to be more than just a excellent example of a particular genre. Such is the case with Chicago, which went well beyond the realm of Great Musical into Damned Fine Motion Picture territory.
Based on a play of the same name, Chicago tells the tale of three publicity hounds living in an era when even double-homicide only earns you six minutes of fame. That's bad news for those who make a living on the stage or aspire to one day make it big, because attracting and keeping the public's attention has become a Herculean feat. Fortunately for Velma (Cathrine Zeta-Jones) and Roxy (Renee Zellweger), they have more than just their good-looks and long legs to keep them in the spotlight, they also have several counts of murder between them. And their efforts to dodge execution bring in yet another Fame Attractor, defense attorney Bill Flynn (Richard Gere) who is one-third lawyer and five-fourths showman.
Chicago is two movies, show in parallel. The bulk of the story unfolds on death row, where Velma and Roxy navigate prison life and dream of using their publicity as a springboard for superstardom. But the scenes advancing the plot alternate with song-and-dance numbers which take place in a vaudeville setting. When Roxy meets the prison matron (Queen Latifah), for example, we first see the wardeness laying out the law in harsh, spoken-language, but the scene then abruptly switches to a cabaret, where Latifah, now decked out in a sequined gown and singing on-stage to a crowded nightclub, belts out a showtune entitled "When You're Good To Mamma, Mamma's Good To You". This very clever method of segregating the plot for the singing avoids what often annoys me the most about musicals -- the premise that, in real life, people are prone to breaking out into arias in the middle of everyday situations.
Furthermore, everyone gets a song -- this isn't just the Gere, Zellweger, Zeta-Jones show. The ladies accompanying Velma and Roxy on death row get to tell their tales in "Cell Block Tango," and even John C. Reilly gets to do a little soft-shoe. For a movie about folks jockeying for the limelight, Chicago does an admirable job of making sure no one actor dominates.
Throughout most of 2002 (until Das Experiment, anyway) I was bitchin' and moanin' about how few good movies I had seen that year. Now here we are, less than a month into 2003, and I've already seen two that would have made last year's Top Five list. Having gone to see Chicago just to avoid watching football, I certainly hadn't expected to enjoy myself to such a degree, but I can't deny that I came out of the theater feeling more energized and elated than I have after any movie in recent memory. Indeed, it looks as though I have no choice but to describe Chicago with the most unSuperBowlie of superlatives: absolutely fabulous.
January 29, 2003
I love how the media is describing "Sapphire" as a "virus-like worm".
For future reference, "virus-like worm" = "We didn't know if it was a virus or a worm, so we asked our IT department to explain the difference between the two and couldn't understand a damned thing they said, so we're just going to call it both."
Hey Washingtonians! How about that Governor Gary Locke, huh? Did he give a great Democratic response speech or what?
No seriously, I am asking you: did he give a great Democratic response speech? Because I have no idea. The Queen and I watched it, but we were able to hear very little over our own, compulsive editorializing.
Announcer: Ladies and Gentleman, the Democratic Nation Party's official response to the State of the Union Address.
Me and The Queen, we have a good time.
Locke: Good evening. I'm Gary Locke, the Governor of --
Queen: Oh my god! Look at his hair!
Me: How can I not?
Locke: My grandfather came to this country from China nearly a century ago, and worked --
Queen: Is it a toupee? Is he wearing a toupee?
Me: Why would he wear a toupee when he has a perfectly good head of hair?
Queen: Then what idiot styled it to look exactly like a toupee?
Locke: We also support the President in working with our allies and the United Nations to eliminate --
Me: Why is he doing the head-waggle?
Locke: Together, we can meet these global challenges ---
Me: Check that out: he's totally doing the head-waggle. Who coached him on this speech, Leslie Miller? He delivers every line with the Leslie Miller / barn owl / "ain't no man of mine gonna call me no skank" head-waggle. It's like watching the Democratic response given by a bobblehead doll.
Locke: Our plan provides over a hundred billion dollars in tax relief --
Queen: Why is he smiling? Who told him to smile? He looks ridiculous when he smiles. I've never seen him smile during a speech before.
Me: Well, that's because the only time he gives speeches is after some initiative he supported gets voted down five-to-one.
Locke: To strengthen America at home, there's much more to do --
Me: You can tell that he's forcing himself to smile. He frowns while talking and then gives with the smile at the end of every paragraph. He goes, like, "[Frown] Our parents shouldn't be forced to give up their doctor [Smile!]. [Frown] That won't save Medicare [Smile!], [frown] it would privatize it [Smile!]."
Locke: Environmental protection has been a tremendous bipartisan success --
Queen: Can't. Stop. Looking. At the hair.
Locke: Yes, the Republican Party now controls the executive branch --
Queen: The combination of the smile, the hair and the glasses make him look like a big nerd.
Me: I keep waiting for some bully to come on-screen and push him.
Queen: People from other states are going to stop us on the streets and say "My governor can beat up your governor."
Locke: That's the vision of the Democratic Party -
Me: You know what would have been great?
Me: If the Announcer Guy was, like,"Ladies and Gentlemen, the Governor of Washington State" and then they cut to Locke looking all somber and serious, and then he suddenly started flailing around and yelling "Bats! Bats in my hair! Get 'em off me! Bats in my hair!!"
Both: [Long Laughter]
Locke: Thank you for listening, and God Bless America.
Queen: What, it's over already?
Me: Yeah, but keep watching: I heard that Tim Eyman will be giving a rebuttal to the rebuttal.
Armed and Dangerous
Until recently, the only thing I ever did at the gym was run on the treadmill. Then, about three weeks ago, I started using the elliptical trainer -- that's the doohummer where you push and pull the handles that are connected to the pedals. Working out my arms is a new thing for me. The last time I did upper-body work was pushing bowls of oatmeal off my high-chair tray.
So yesterday I'm admiring myself in the mirror, as I do every day from 7:00 - 8:15 PM, and notice what appears to be a boil on my upper arm. Upon closer inspection, however, it turns out to be an honest-to-god muscle -- not a gargantuan Basedow-league muscle or anything, but more like a training muscle, like a Fisher Price "My First Muscle". Not that this comes as a total surprise. Just the other day I noticed that I could pick up the cat for three, sometimes four, minutes in a stretch before getting winded. Also, I've been able to press the buttons on my Playstation controller a lot harder.
Anyhow, now I'm trying to figure out what to do with this thing. Lift some heavy stuff, I guess, or go to the carnival and play Hit-the-Lever-With-the-Sledgehammer. One thing's for sure, though: no one is going to fuck with Matthew Baldwin now that he has a muscle. People will say to me "It's cool that you have so much self-confidence that you don't even try to brush your hair in the morning," and I'll be all like "That's a good one ... but not as good as this!" and roll up my sleeve and they'll get all quiet and respectful and run off to fetch me root beer. And when my boss calls me up and says "Matthew, your failure to come in to work for the last four days is unacceptable!" I'll say "don't you mean un-biceps-able?!" and hold my muscle up to the phone and then he'll promote me. Everything's going to change now that I have a muscle. I'm like a nuclearized North Korea.
January 28, 2003
defective yeti ¢ent $aver Tip!
Want to "rap" with your friends for two hours, but don't want to pay for a full-price movie ticket? Here's a defective yeti ¢ent $aver Tip: many theaters offer "matinee" showings earlier in the day at a reduced cost, allowing you to talk with your buddies for as little as $5. You could even rent a movie and chat in the comfort of your very own home.
And although it's not widely known, it's even possible to carry on a two-hour conversation without a movie playing in the background! Next time, try going to a Starbucks or strolling through a local park and talking there --not only will you save the eight dollars you would have spent on a ticket to Chicago, but you'll also spare me the trouble of having to glare at you every ten minutes, you fucking jackass!
Now that's an idea that makes ¢ents!
January 27, 2003
'Axies' Fever Sweeps Globe
"Axies" Fever is sweeping the globe, as leaders and citizens around the world eagerly anticipate tomorrow's announcement of the 2003 "Axis of Evil" inductees.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holds Iran's Axie aloft during his acceptance speech at the 2002 State of the Union Address.
The Axis of Evil Awards -- or "Axies," as they have come to be called -- are the brainchild of US President George Bush, who distributed the first four awards during the 2002 State of the Union address. Intended to "recognize those nations who have gone the extra, evil mile," the Axies have since become one of the most coveted awards a country can receive.
World leaders have spent billions in recent months to call attention to their evil deeds, some taking out full-page ads in The New York Times, others sending videotapes of atrocities directly to the White House. In an unusual move, a top Nigerian official has sent unsolicited email to millions of people documenting his nation's practice of "setting up companies and awarding themselves contracts which were grossly over-invoiced."
But despite the fervor, not everyone is looking forward to the event. "The Axies are nothing but a big anti-popularity contest," groused Bashar al-Assad, leader of Syria, whose nation is expected to be passed over again this year. "We are way more evil than Iraq, but just because they tried to assassinate Bush's father they got the award. Suck-ups." Others have insinuated that the entire selection process is rife with corruption. "The voting is totally rigged," says Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada. "How else do you explain last year's winners: Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and wilwheaton.net?"
Still, such accusations have not dampened the spirits of the hundreds waiting outside the Congressional building in Washington D.C., many of whom camped out for weeks in the hopes of securing a seat. Delegates from France and Germany stand near the front of the line and boast about how they became Axies favorites last week. A dozen Beijing officials, clad in "Go China!" t-shirts, predict that their nation will take home a statuette. And, nearby, a dozen bureaucrats from Iceland say that, while their country's chances are slim this year, the Axies are a perfect forum to spread word of Icelandic Evil. "Maybe in 2004," President Ólafur Ragnar says wistfully.
The 2003 Axis of Evil Awards will air tomorrow on all major networks, and begins at 9:00 EST with host Whoopi Goldberg delivering the State of the Union Address.
January 24, 2003
I will be appearing on the NPR radio show Rewind this weekend as one of their resident Know-It-Alls. So if you've ever wanted to hear the yeti howl, this is your big chance. You can also listen to it online -- my schtick begins approximately 28 minutes in.
The question I responded to was:
High school student and basketball phenom LeBron James is skipping college entirely and going straight to the NBA. And why shouldn't he? What does college offer that fame and fortune does not?My reply:
As I see it, college has two distinct advantages over fame.
First, in college you can wholeheartedly believe any stupid idea that comes along and no one will fault you for it. People assume that whatever crazy doctrine you currently subscribe too, you'll soon take another class or read another book that will send you off in new philosophical direction. After reading "On Walden Pond" you honestly believe that, upon graduation, you are going to renounce all your worldly possessions (except for your Phish CDs, obviously) and move to a remote cabin by a lake. And you tell your friends and family this, and they're, like, "That's a beautiful dream! We support you!" But inside they're thinking "Oh well, no need to worry. Next semester he'll take economics and be all like 'Greed is good! Invisible hand, yo!'."
You can't get away with that when you're famous. If you announce that you deeply committed to some position or another people will hold you to it forever. How many college kids, back in 2000, said they were going to move out of the country if Bush won the election? All of them, that's how many. But no one asks them why they're still around. Alec Baldwin, on the other hand -- that poor chump is still getting grief making such threats. Unlike college students, he can't just brush it off with a "Oh dude, whatever: I was totally stoned when I said that." And look at Trent Lott. If he were attending a university he could have just said "Oh yeah, I was way into segregation a few weeks ago? But this semester I'm, you know, taking a class in African American history? And now I think diversity is, like, awesome!"
College is like a big roleplaying game: three times a year you get a Course Catalog and have the opportunity to completely reinvent your personality. "Okay," you say, "I'm going to start this year with Ecology and Renaissance Literature and Nutrition," and you're essentially deciding, in advance, that for the next three months you're going to be a tree-hugging Eurocentric health-nazi. You take a class on Jean-Paul Satre, mope around for a season while listening to The Smiths and declaiming about the pointlessness of life, and your buddies just shrug their shoulders and gently suggest that, next quarter, you might skip "Existentialism 102" and take Microbiology instead.
Famous people don't have that luxury. We have these platonic ideals of celebrities -- Barbara Streisand is liberal and Charlton Heston is a gun-lover and Shirley MacLaine is a nut -- and we don't like anyone messin' with those, not even the celebrity in question. But in college you can mix 'n' match opinions and beliefs like Geranimals, and no one thinks twice. Bruce Willis is doomed to be Bruce Willis forever, but, in college, you can be anyone you want to be, one month at a time.
The second great thing about college is the free condoms.
Movies: Spirited Away
Standing in line to see Spirited Away at the dollar theater last night, I skimmed a Seattle P-I review posted in the box office window. "Japan's 'Spirited Away' has the makings of a breakthrough" read the headline, with the critic later wondering "Will [this] be the spearhead of the long-expected anime breakthrough in mainstream America?"
Apparently not. If you look at international 2002 box office grosses, Spirited Away comes in fourth, due, no doubt, to the fact that it's the biggest hit of all-time in Japan. But I can't even find it on the domestic lists -- not even this one which bottoms-out at #150 (but not before listing Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Juwanna Mann, Jason X, and Sorority Boys).
Which is too bad, because, if ever a film was going to bring about "the long-expected anime breakthrough in mainstream America," this would have been it. Spirited Away has an engaging storyline, a seamless blend of traditional and computer animation, excellent voice work, and not a single goddamned pony or jet-powered skateboard in sight.
Furthermore, the film opens with what could be easily mistaken for a typical American family: they are recklessly cruising along in their SUV, the father boasts about his "cash and credit cards," and the daughter comes across as sullen and whiny. They are en route to a new home, but take a wrong turn along the way and quickly [fall down the rabbit hole / travel through the wardrobe / get carried off by a Kansasian twister] and find themselves in [Wonderland / Narnia / Oz].
So, yeah, the premise isn't the most original we've seen. But once the protagonists wind up in the Otherworld, the similarities to traditional Western "through the looking glass" tales evaporate. The parents are soon transformed into hogs. The young girl, Chihiro, is besieged by specters and seeks sanctuary in a bath-house. It soon becomes clear that we have passed into a land populated almost exclusively by spirits, and where humans are as rare as they are disliked. And then the real weirdness begins.
It's important to realize that, despite the sometimes cartoony nature of the animation and the presence of a 10-year old girl in the lead role, Spirited is decidedly not a children's movie. For starters, it's long: two hours of story, with no songs or dance numbers to pass the time. It's also, at times, frightening, disgusting, and bizarre enough to ensure that your kid has months of nightmares featuring giant, walking, obese turnips. That's bad news for the many Americans who automatically equate animated films with "kid's stuff" (pity the poor chump who brought his daughter to this expecting a sequel to Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron), but a godsend to those of us who don't immediately dismiss the concept of "mature fantasy" as oxymoronic.
Daveigh Chase, the young woman who provides the English voice for Chihiro, is fabulous; this is the first time I've ever watched an animated movie and thought to myself "Wow, the person doing the voice work for this character is a damned fine actor." The music is also superb. And while the foreground animation is of the traditional "big eyes, small mouth" anime style, the backgrounds (landscapes and parallax shifts) are breathtaking. All this makes for a movie that should be seen by anyone who enjoys a good story well told. If I had caught this a month ago, it would have easily made it into my "Top Five For 2002". As it stands, 2003 will have to be a helluva cinematic year to keep Spirited Away off the top of this year's list.
January 23, 2003
defective yeti is pleased to annnounce that today marks thirty-two straight years of Not Giving A Rat-Ass About The Superbowl. A big "thank you" to everyone who took the time to send cards and congratulatory emails -- I couldn't have done it without you! *
Are you a fanatical, wild-eyed left-winger, prone to posting long USENET screeds with subject lines like "DID DUBYA KILL ANN LANDERS??!!!!!! (YES!!!)" and packed with air-tight logical arguments like "bush dint't want to invade iraq until the pretzle incident THINK ABOUT IT!!!!!!"?
Do you love those too-clever-by-half rhetorical shenanigans, like calling Bush "Resident Select" or "Commander In Thief" or "Republican, insofar as he 'can' steal an election!"?
If so, then, boy howdie, do I have a treat for you. Here's a neologism I just came up with, and you (you!) are welcome to use it incessantly -- in newsgroups, in letters to the editor, in long, spittle-intensive harangues delivered to the guy sitting next to you on the bus -- between now and the televised speech next Tuesday.
Are you ready? Are you sitting down? You'd better sit down. I know how excited you get about these things. I'm serious about the sitting-down. Well, anyway, here it is:
"George Bush's State of Buffoonion Address"Go nuts. No need to thank me. In fact, you can even claim you made it up yourself. I wash my hands of the whole thing.
Update: Last night I was describing to a buddy my campaign to insinuate the phrase "State Of Buffoonion Address" into the left-wing vernacular by publicizing it on my website.
"Oh hey," he said, "While you're at it, could you try and get everyone to adopt my new phrase, too?"
I said that I would. So here it is, everyone.
"Keepin' it real in two-thousand and threeal."Please employ it forthwith.
January 22, 2003
I Have A Crush
I just ordered theater tickets over the phone. "Okay," the customer service rep said "Let me get your name."
She clarified: "'Baldwin' like the piano?"
"Yes!" I was ebullient. "Thank you so much for not asking 'like the brothers'!"
"Which brothers?" said she.
I know it's a little early, but: Anonymous Theater Ticket Customer Service Representative, will you be my valentine?
Good morning. defective yeti is up for the "Most Humorous Weblog" Bloggie. I was sorta hoping it would get nominated for "Best New Weblog" or "Least Spellchecked" or something else I'd have a hope of winning, but "Most Humorous" it is.
Don't get me wrong: this is great news for my Brobdingnagian ego! But it's also bad news for the yeti-reading public, because now that I'm "on the spot," as they say, the next fortnight's worth of entries are certain to be violently unfunny, just as a multitude of visitors stop by to "check" me "out" before voting for Wil Wheaton. So if you're here four days from now, and you're wondering why every post after this one is all like "let me tell you about this great For Better Or Worse strip I read this morning, LOL!!!," that's what's going on. Go read these instead.
Or, better yet, go read Cockeyed or Mimi Smartypants or Torrez.org, pretend that it's me writing all that ha-ha, and vote accordingly. (That last one is kinda tricky, since Andre Torrez is also up for the "Most Humorous Weblog" award. So it's crucial that you remember, at all times, that you're pretending I wrote the funny stuff on his site. Otherwise you might get confused and vote for him. Here's a mnemonic you can use: "If Torrez makes you laugh so hard that you become sweaty, vote for the yeti".)
Thanks for the nomination, Bloggies-ers!
January 21, 2003
Great Ideas For Dead People
Apparently there's a company that will take the ashes of your deceased loved-one and turn them into a diamond. That's a great idea! But the prices are outrageous: ten grand for only three-fourths of a caret.
Why so much? Is it because it's expensive to generate the pressure needed to squeeze a gem out of carbon-based ashes? If so, they should offer a cheaper option for regular folks like you and I: pay for a lower PSI and turn your deceased loved-one's ashes into a charcoal briquette! Heck, that would be better than a diamond, because you could put the final product to good use.
Neil: Awesome barbecue, dude. These bratwurst are killer.
And for real cheapskates, they could just stuff your loved-one's ashes into a snowglobe for keepsaking. Actually, that's a pretty great idea in its own right. A few months back we had a Terror Alert here in Seattle after some Brainiac dropped a baseball fan's ashes onto Safeco Field. And the FAA prohibits the release of cremated ashes over urban areas anyway. So they should make custom snowglobes, with landscapes (or baseball stadiums) in the bottom and Dead Guy Ashes in the air. Why drop Grandpa Willie over Manhattan once, when, with a daily shake, you can scatter his ashes over the city day after day after day?
Carl: The secret is in the Uncle Milton.
I Have My Doubts
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 16:50:18 -0800
From: Jason Knight
Subject: I want to sell your bagels through our stores
I've spent a lot of time at your website and I think your bagels are perfect for the stores we work with ...
January 20, 2003
I am two-thirds of the way through The Fellowship of the Ring and enjoying it immensely. Nonetheless, as I left for work Friday morning I reluctantly set aside Tolkien, stuffed a copy of “Basic Wiring” into my backpack, and spent my bus ride reading not about Aragorn son of Arathorn, but about the installation of flush-mounted jacks. Let this serve as a warning to all who were entertaining the ludicrous notion of buying a home.
I was preparing for the major wiring project I worked on over the weekend. Well, sort of worked on. Actually, Pa-In-Law did most of the work. My chief contribution was to stand behind him, occasionally say things like "Is it true that electricity can shock you?," and look befuddled whenever he asked if I owned specialized tools like "receptacle analyzers" or "screwdrivers."
I should explain. I'm not exactly what you would call a "handy," unless by "handy" you mean "someone who enjoys drinking beer," in which case I'm a freakin' Bob Villa. It's true that I had to maintain a home while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer, but home repair in San Marcos, Bolivia, generally consisted of taking mud from the ground and using it to spackle the holes in your adobe wall. Now that I'm back in the States -- complete with luxuries like a phone book full of plumbers -- about the most ambitious home improvement project I will voluntarily embark on is feeding the cats.
Pa-In-Law, on the other hand, is one of those guys who can build an entire house from lichen, a superhuman anti-entropy agent whose home repair skills could gain him admittance into the Justice League of America. Case in point: on Saturday morning we went to the hardware store, and, having never patronized this establishment before, he stopped an Aproned Hardware Store Guy to inquire about the wire conduits and the spigots; after that he never had to ask anyone where to find anything, because, knowing the location of the these two items, he was apparently able to triangulate the position of everything else in the store. "Let's see," he'd say, "fluorescent lights are on aisle 7, so mulch must be on 29. Left-hand side."
The remainder of the weekend was pretty much a blur. Upon our return, Pa-In-Law pried open the main service panel to the house, gestured at the Lovecraftian tangle of tentacles inside, said “I’m sure you know about all this,” and transmorgified into a Tasmanian Devil of electrical work. I’d wander into the house to fetch a grape soda and return to find that he had installed two outlets and drilled a hole into our crawlspace during my absence. He kept referring to "The Code," leaving me to wonder whose code he was talking about -- Morse's? Hammurabi's? -- until I realized he was citing the National Electrical Code from memory.
But I don’t want to give you the impression that he did everything. I held the flashlight sometimes. Also: I hammered.
All in all it was two days of blissful ignorance, minus the bliss. Of course it was understood ahead of time that Pa-In-Law would be doing most of the labor; my role was to observe, assist, and learn from the master. And I did pick up a trick or two. But most of the time I felt like I was trying to learn how to run a four-minute mile by watching Hicham El-Guerrouj in action. Pa-In-Law seemed to take my ineptitude in stride, but I suspect that's because he knows I am a prerequisite for grandchildren. And believe you me, the instant those grandchildren are born I’m going to ship them off to Pa-In-Law's Home Improvement Summer Camp and leave 'em there until they know how to wire a football stadium, to ensure that I never have to look inside my service panel again.
January 17, 2003
Tonight for dinner I ate both pasta and antipasta. When they collided in my stomach it set off a chain reaction that annihilated the universe.
So if you were wondering who had done that .. yeah, it was me. Sorry everyone. I'll make sure it doesn't happen again.
The Bad Review Revue
Kangaroo Jack: "Virtually every shot of the kangaroo was digitally created, and perhaps that was an insurance policy masterstroke. Forcing a real live one to act opposite these co-stars could have easily constituted animal cruelty." -- Joe McGovern, VILLAGE VOICE
A Guy Thing: "Sets the bar of taste low, then proceeds to limbo underneath it." -- Sean O'Connell, ECLIPSE MAGAZINE
Half Past Dead: "Absent one original moment and bathed in de rigueur steel blue punctuated by sporadic bursts of flaming orange, the movie is notable only for its creative approach to Seagal's bulky gracelessness: Not since Apocalypse Now has a film gone to such lengths to hide what its star looks like." -- Manohla Dargis, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Equilibrium: "Could be stupider only if it were longer." -- Elvis Mitchell, NEW YORK TIMES
Just Married: "Just Awful." -- Luke Thompson, DALLAS OBSERVER
Dr. Phil Addresses Nation's Consumers
Self-help guru Dr. Phil McGraw addressed the nation's consumers last night during a speech televised by all major networks. "You cannot play the game of life with sweaty palms," McGraw told the estimated 50 million viewers, adding "I'm not trying to beat you up, I'm trying to wake you up." The speech was given at the behest of the Bush administration after consumer confidence plunged to a two-year low in the fourth quarter of 2002. Dr. Phil, noting "it's sometimes its hard to see your own face without a mirror," suggested that consumers write down their good qualities on a sheet of paper and bring it with them to the mall as a way of bolstering self-esteem while shopping. Oprah Winfrey, meanwhile, has been dispatched to North Korea, where she will speak to Kim Jong-Il about his constant need for validation.
January 16, 2003
The Price is a Riot
These are great. Watch them all. But if you don't watch them all, at least watch Daniel.
And defective yeti readers: please spay and neuter your pets.
Guys sitting behind me on the bus yesterday:
: I hate that guy Alec.
: He's a dick.
: No kidding. [Pause] I did his girlfriend. Right after they broke up. Whatshername.
: Which one? The blond one?
: No, the other one. Whatshername. The one with the big tattoo. What was her name?
: The tattoo on her belly? Oh yeah, I did her too. What was her name?
: I can't remember. But she was wild.
: She was totally
wild. She stole my truck once. Shit, what was her name?
January 15, 2003
From now on I'm going to jot down questions as they occur to me, look 'em up on Google, and post my findings on the 15th of each month. And I shall call it: Research Day!
What's the origin of the phrase "Soup to Nuts"? According to this Straight Dope column, traditional British meals began with soup and were followed with port and nuts. Thus, "soup to nuts" came to mean "everything, and then some." (Bob concurs: "They're the courses in a (Victorian?) formal banquet. Soup is the first course, and the nuts are served with the brandy and cigars as the gentlemen retire to the billiards room.")
Why is is easier to maintain your balance on a moving bicycle than on a stationary one?: This is actually something I've been wondering for, oh, a couple decades now. And here, at long last, is the answer. In a nutshell: it's not easier in the short term. Upon a stationary bicycle, if you tilt in one direction and will just fall over; on a moving bicycle, however, you tilt one way and the whole bicycle moves in that direction (pulled by your weight) and gets under you again, thereby restoring your balance. The faster you are moving, the quicker the bicycle gets under you again, the more you feel un-topple-able.
Will a woman who has not just given birth begin to lactate if she allows an infant to nurse over the course of a few days/ weeks?: This question arose after I told The Queen that I thought infants adopted by lesbian couples must be totally psyched (because twice the feeding stations meant no waiting), and she announced that it didn't work that way. The answer, according to this article, lies somewhere in the middle: yes, a woman will start to "produce drops of milk after two to four weeks," but probably never enough to completely sate a newborn.
How long would would I have to search Google to find photos or an account of a couple that exchanged wedding rings engraved with the Elvish inscription on Sauron's ring?: Ready ... go! Sixty seconds -- Found this: "The tengwar Quenya inscriptions on the rings ... are very closely based on the style of Tolkien's own Ring inscription (indeed the Tengwar text was not handwritten, but a cut-and-paste job made from photocopies of Tolkien's inscription)." Close, but I want the inscription on the actual One Ring. 140 seconds -- closer: "My wedding ring is a replica of the One Ring, complete with Elvish script inside (although what it says is much more benign than the Black Speech inscription and is in Quenya)." 150 seconds, closer still: "The rings read: One ring to show our love, one ring to bind us / One ring to seal our love, and forever to entwine us." (Damn, that page has photos and everything, and is probably about as good as I'm going to get. Well, I'll keep looking a for another minute or so ...). 200 seconds: E-weddingbands.com sells One Rings, so I ought to be able to find some couple that exchanged them. 230 seconds: Got bored, declared the "One ring to seal our love" guys the winner.
Should I eat chili for lunch and then go to the gym in the afternoon? I did a little inadvertent research on this subject yesterday, and discovered the answer to be a resounding no.
January 14, 2003
: Hello, Maury Povich show.
: Hello, is this the Maury Povich show from TV?
: Hi. I was watching your show today, "Your Boyfriend Got Me Pregnant," and at the end the screen said "Do you have a secret you want to reveal to someone on the Maury Povich show?" with this phone number, and I thought "I have a secret that I want to reveal to someone on the Maury Povich show," so I'm calling the number.
: Uh huh. And who do you want to reveal the secret to?
: Maury Povich.
: Maury Povich, the host of the show?
: Yes. He's the person on the show that I want to reveal the secret to.
: What's the secret?
: "Maury Povich, your show isn't very good."
: That's not a secret.
Whoa, did you see that chick, the one dressed all in black? She was totally checking me out. No, seriously. She kept looking at me from across the room, and then I would make eye contact and she'd look away, but a few seconds later she'd totally look at me again. I kept waiting for her to come over to our table and chat but maybe she's into the long-distance thing. And I guess she was busy presiding and stuff.
She was hot, though. I love strong women, and she seemed really, you know, "authoritative". It was cool the way she keep telling people what the could and couldn't do. Like when you said "I object" and she was all like "Overruled!" That was a total turn on. Power, baby, power. When she walked into the room and that one guy said "all rise," I was, like, "yeah, I'm all rising, if you know what I mean!" Hah hah!
She wanted me, I could tell. At first she was acting all uninterested, but after she told me to stand up and everyone was looking at the jury while they read their verdicts, she was giving me that "oh, you bad boy" look. And I don't mean "bad" in the sense of robbing a Taco Bell -- which I didn't do, by the way -- but bad in the sense of "baaaaaad!" You know what I'm saying.
Maybe the bailiff knows her number. I'm gonna ask him. Remanded? What the hell does that mean? Well, maybe you could ask the bailiff for me, that would be cool.
Aw man, you wanna discuss a possible appeal right now? Jeeze, I dunno. If I appealed, would we get Judge Hottie again? Because, if so, I'm like so there.
January 13, 2003
You Heard It Here First
I can see where this is going.
Women are in it for money, men are in it for sex. Or so we're told by the recent rash of "relationship" reality programs hitting the airwaves.
FOX (as usual) fired the first volley with Who Wants To Marry A Multimillionaire, in which a gaggle of attractive (but not especially well-off) women competed for the nuptials of a well-off (but not especially attractive) man. ABC then ripped off this premise and turned it into a series entitled The Bachelor. FOX is now satirizing the trend with Joe Millionaire, where a bunch of sexy girls vie for the affections of a man they (erroneously) believe to be wealthy.
ABC, meanwhile, has rolled out the next iteration in this downward spiral: The Bachelorette. Here again we have a dozen people competing to wed a member of the opposite sex. But unlike the stars of Marry and Bachelor, the Bachelorette is not a millionaire. She is, however, Smoking Hot -- or, at least, she fits the criteria set by TV for "Smoking Hot" designation: blond, buxom, under thirty and entirely too thin.
The question then becomes: how will FOX parody this? It's easy to make a man appear rich and then pull the rug out from under those competing for his attention. But how do you hornswoggle a bunch of shallow suitors into thinking that someone is Smoking Hot when they are not? Announce, in the final episode, that she is a brunette that dyes her hair? Reveal that her breasts are not authentic? Stun the contestants with the knowledge that Ms. Right consumes two, sometimes three meals a day?
I pondered each of these possibilities, but decided that they weren't outrageous enough for FOX to consider. And I was left wondering if this could be It, the logical end (and low) point of the genre. What could they possibly do to lower the bar even further.
And then it hit me.
"FOX is proud to present the next generation of reality television: The Crying Game-Show!"
You so totally know it's gonna happen.
January 10, 2003
Fifty-Two Weeks of Blah Blah Blah
Today is defective yeti's one year anniversary. How you like them apples?
Keeping a blog for a year was a 2002 New Year's resolution of mine. My intentions were fivefold:
Jot down the assortment of random thoughts
that stampede through my mind like tapirs in a Wal*Mart and leave no trace when they vanish immediately thereafter.
Write reviews of all the movies I saw in 2002
. I can't for the life of me remember why I thought this was an important thing to do. There's a good example of a random thought that should have been jotted down.
Improve my writing skills by using them on a daily basis.
Become an Internet Superstar (or at least create a meme
Bore the crap out of you, personally, by droning on and on about my motivation for blogging.
Woohoo: five for five!
Like all bloggers, I am, at heart, a Glutton For Attention, and wouldn't have been able to accomplish any of the above goals without the knowledge that at least somebody
was stopping by from time to time. In other words, the yeti is a monster of your creation as much as it is of mine, you enabler, you. Thanks for reading -- I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.
Well, that's more than enough sincerity for one year. Smarm and wisecrackery will resume on Monday.
January 09, 2003
I Know Something You Don't Know
Scene: Last week, after seeing The Two Towers in the theater.
The Queen: I know who puts the ring in the Crack of Doom.
Scene: Last Tuesday, after rewatching The Fellowship of the Ring on DVD.
Me: You do?
M: I don't see how. You haven't read the books.
Q: I tried to read the books! But they were really really boring. Stupid and boring.
M: Yes, I believe you've mentioned that several dozen times.
Q: But it doesn't matter, because I know who puts the ring in the Crack of Doom.
Q: It's Sam.
Q: I'm right, aren't I?
M: Why would it be Sam and not Frodo?
Q: Because Frodo isn't going to make it. He's almost dead and there's another three hour movie to go. Only Sam will make it.
Q: I'm right, aren't I?
M: So you tell me.
Q: I'm right.
Q: Okay: now I know who throws the ring in the Crack of Doom.
Scene: Last night, 20 minutes after we turned off the light, as I lay sleeping and The Queen apparently lay awake thinking.
M: Could be.
Q: Because it's his destiny. There's that whole scene where they talk about that king that tried to put the ring in the Crack of Doom and couldn't do it, and then later they said that Aragorn was the heir to the Throne of Whatever, and then he had the chance to take the ring from Frodo but he didn't so he's stronger than his grandfather so he could throw it into the Crack. It's his destiny.
M: You seem pretty confident that someone destroys the ring. How do you know that Sauron doesn't get it?
Q: Shut up. It's Aragorn.
Q: Matt, I need to ask you something.
Q: I need to ask you a question. And it's important that you answer me.
M: [Suddenly wide awake and alarmed]: What is it?
Q: Who puts the ring into the Crack of Doom?
Postscript: It would be cool if, at the end of Return of the King when Sauron finally gets the ring, they played I Got The Power by Snap, and Sauron could dance around and do the rap part ("it's gettin' kinda hectic!") and then be all like, "BOOYAH! It your face, hobbits!!" I think that would really drive home how evil he is.
(What? You didn't know Sauron gets the ring and enslaves all of Middle Earth? Christ, I though The Queen was the only person who didn't know the ending. Jeeze, sorry man. **spoilers!** Sorry.)
Movies: The Gangs of New York
The last movie I saw in 2002 was a wonderful, sprawling epic that clocked in at 180 minutes. The first movie I saw in 2003 was also a three-hour, sprawling epic. But unlike The Two Towers, The Gangs of New York was less "sprawling" in the sense of "grandiose" and more in the sense of sprawling on the living room floor after tripping over the coffee table.
Maybe it's because they came at it from different angles. Tolkien, in writing the Lord of the Rings, started with a strong narrative and then crafted a vast and exhaustive world in which to set it, filled with larger-than-life characters and steeped in history. The screenwriter of Gangs, on the other, began with the history -- as documented in Herbert Asbury's (mostly) nonfiction Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld -- and had to add a narrative to string the people and events together. Too bad he elected to just pull Plot Number Four off the shelf and use it as his framing device. Plot Number Four is perhaps better known as Standard Revenge Fantasy: Boy has Father murdered by a Powerful Figure; Powerful Figure takes over Father's kingdom; years later, Boy (hereafter "Young Man") joins Power Figure's inner circle in the guise of an ally; Young Man is consumed by his lust for vengeance, Young Man takes on Powerful Figure, everything goes to hell in a handbasket, the end.
Where have we seen this before? Oh, that's right: Hamlet. The Prince of Denmark, though, is at least contemplative, stopping every few minutes to wonder aloud about morality and mortality. The Young Man in Gangs, meanwhile, goes about his assigned role rather perfunctorily, as if he too has seen Plot Number Four in action, knows how it's going to end, and therefore opts not to expend any energy on introspection. In other words, we have Hamlet minus the philosophy, which you may have enjoyed when it was entitled The Lion King.
(I wonder how many different movies I can compare Gangs to in a single review. Let's explore.)
There's nothing inherently wrong with using a hackneyed plot to tell a historical tale; James Cameron, for example, turned Plot Number Two ("Forbidden Love") into a Best Picture award. But Titanic succeeds because it uses the plot to explicate the backstory: Leonardo Di Caprio, in the role of Jack, serves as a primer on early 20th century class distinctions, and guides us through one of the most shocking disasters on record. Yeah, you had to sit through a few love scenes, but the focus of the film was always on the history. Gangs, on the other hand, lavishes so much time and energy on its one-dimensional characters that the real story, the setting, is eclipsed. The Leonardo Di Caprio role doesn't showcase the history so much as obscure it.
Gangs of New York isn't bad, but it sure ain't no Two Towers. By staking out the middle ground between Titanic and Hamlet, it gives neither the world nor the characters enough depth to be of much interest. That adds up to a three-hour bore -- and there, as they say in Plot Number Four, is the rub.
First Jim Henson, And Now This
Dear Diary: Today, while sitting teary-eyed at my desk at work, I prayed that no coworkers would wander by and put me in the awkward position of having to explain that I was sobbing over a rabbit in Asia that I had never met and had only seen online pictured with pancakes on its head.
I am never looking at the Internet again.
January 08, 2003
Hello. You may have come here expecting to find the "Funniest Weblog Ever!" If so, please see this important announcement.
(Seriously: thanks to Robot Wisdom, and thank you for stopping by.)
Joke I Made Up On The Bus This Morning
A sentence was at a job interview, and the interviewer said "we're starting a new paragraph and we have an opening for an unambiguous, declarative sentence. Do you fit that criteria?"
"Well," replied the sentence, "I'm pretty sure that I am probably the sort of sentence you may be looking for."
And the interviewer said "Sorry, but I'm afraid you are over-qualified."
January 07, 2003
And The Award For Best Performance In A Dramatic Role Goes To ...
Story told to me by a friend:
On the evening of New Year's Day my two girls were jumping around on the big bed. Eve accidentally whacked Cynthia in the mouth, loosening a very loose tooth. Blood was shed; Cynthia panicked. She ran to the bathroom, saw blood, and started howling. She put a cold cloth on it but wouldn't allow us to touch or even look at it.
So from 8:00 to 9:00 she sat with the washcloth pressed to her mouth as the flow of blood abated. We told her to try to move it with her tongue, but she said that it hurt too much. She finally agreed to rinse out her mouth -- carefully
. We told her that we'd have to do something that night, because we were concerned that, if the tooth fell out during her sleep, she could choke and die.
Well, she was a bit worried about that prospect, so she finally allowed us to take a look. But then she got more and more scared of our pulling it out. I was trying to hold her arms and face while my husband looked in her mouth. Meanwhile she was screaming
! We were afraid the neighbors would call the police on us.
So finally we said, "Okay, Cynthia, look: you either have to let Daddy pull out your tooth or you'll risk choking in your sleep."
To which Cynthia replied "I CHOOSE DEATH!"
One Size Fits All
BUSH UNVEILS PLANS FOR ECONOMIC STIMULUS, HOMELAND SECURITY, HEALTHCARE, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, EDUCATION, PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
President Bush formally annouced his 2003 economic stimulus, homeland security, healthcare, environmental protection, education, and perscription drug plans today in a speech at the Economic Club of Chicago. "Tax cuts," said the President. When pressed for details, Bush added "you know, for the wealthy." Leading Democrats said the plans would "put the United States on a collision course with ruination," but said they would vote for them in the interest of reelection.
January 06, 2003
Now Showing on Kit-TV
My New Year's Resolutions, As Dictated By Spam Subject Lines
To Do in 2003:Jeeze. I have a busy year ahead of me.
January 03, 2003
The Bad Review Revue: Loser By A Nose
Bad Review Revue: Loser By A Nose
A few months ago, defective yeti was excited to discover Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, The Worst Movie Ever as evidenced by its astounding 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. We naturally assumed this would forever remain a feat unequaled, like Cal Ripkin's 2632 consecutive games, or that guy who got into the Guinness Book of World Records by eating a bicycle.
That'll teach us to overestimate Hollywood.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio:
"Benigni's Pinocchio is meant to be adorable, but he comes off as less an enchanted puppet than as a harmlessly deranged middle-aged man prancing about in the kind of froufrou cream-colored pantsuit that Dinah Shore retired to her back closet in 1977." -- Owen Gleiberman, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
"Lethal for kids and an unspeakable insult to adults, this unreleasable fiasco is a torture for all." -- Rex Reed, NEW YORK OBSERVER
"An oddity that will be avoided by millions of people, this new Pinocchio. Osama bin Laden could attend a showing in Times Square and be confident of remaining hidden." -- Elvis Mitchell, THE NEW YORK TIMES
"Creepy, in a Michael Jackson sort of way." -- Sean Means, SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
"Here's hoping Benigni doesn't tackle The Little Mermaid
as his next project." -- Phil Villarreal, ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Friday Afternoon Scratchpad
Politics of Parking
Here's the deal, people. If you are parallel parking on a busy street, and you are blocking traffic as a result, you get one try. One. We'll patiently stop and wait while you take a crack at it, but if you miscalculate your turn radius or your angle of entry or whatever, and you wind up with your back tire on the curb and your hood sticking out into the road, you're done, buddy. Now we're just going to start driving around you, even though this prevents you from making a second attempt. No, don't glare at me while I pass; you had your chance and you blew it. You wanna blame someone, check out your visor mirror. Sucks for you, but I don't make these rules, I just articulate them. Miss Manners will back me up on this one.
Chris M. Dickson's site is defective yeti's third child blog.
I've been meaning to add Fussy to my sidebar for a while, but thiS ENTRY SEALED THE DEAL. OH LOOK, I ACCIDENTALLY HIT MY CAP LOCK KEY! HAVING A CAP LOCK KEY ON MY KEYBOARD IS LIKE HAVING TOURETTE'S: ONE MINUTE I'M AMICABLY CHATTING AWAY AND THE NEXT I AM SCREAMING! AND WHILE I AM OFFENSIVELY COMPARING MY KEYBOARD TO SERIOUS AND NOT-HUMOROUS-IN-THE-LEAST NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS, I'D ALSO LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT MY "PAGE UP" KEY IS EXACTLY LIKE ATAXIA! WELL, THAT DIGRESSION PRETTY MUCH DERAILED THIS WHOLE "LINKS" SECTION NOW DIDN'T IT?!!!
Nice Work, Scott!
Overheard on the streets of Seattle.
: What about Scott?
: Scott? Pff. He's a bastard.
: What happened? Last week you said --
January 02, 2003
What Venomous Egg-Laying Mammal Are You?
January 01, 2003
Bait and Switch
Hmm. This feels suspiciously like 2002.