Archive for January, 2011

Alice’s Adventures in the Tom Zone

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2011 by tom

If you read my post from the Rainy Monday Film Festival, I watched Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”  Since then, I’ve watched it about five more times.   Something struck me as curiouser and curiouser.

Namely this: it’s far more likely that if Alice went down a rabbit hole  she’d end up, not in Wonderland, but  in a stifling relationship, living with some guy named Wayne in a trailer park.  Instead of futterwackening, they’d go to the Dew Drop Inn, where she’d drink beer and sing karaoke with the other girlfriends while Wayne shoots pool with Jimmy and Bobby.  There’d be no tea party, just sweet tea at KFC when Wayne’s unemployment hit their bank account.  She’d “drink this,” but “this” wouldn’t be height-reducing pishalver, but sobriety reducing “shooters.”  When it came time to “eat this,” it would be a late-night “Village Inn Skillet.” The only queen in her life would be Brendan at the beauty parlor.

Okay, I’m a little cynical about what would happen.  I mean, Hamish isn’t exactly exciting, but there are worse lives than being married to a quadrille-loving Lord with a delicate digestive tract.  If she needs a good rogering, I’m sure Alice could find a stable-boy or gardener to lend a helping hand (or other parts).  Good Lord, I’d help her out (just in the name of chivalry 😉 ).

I guess what struck me is that Wonderland was really a dangerous, horrible, maniac-intensive place.  For God’s sake, Alice had been in Wonderland maybe five minutes, and she was stabbed by a dormouse, insulted by a stoned catterpillar, and attacked by a bandersnatch.  It’s tragic that this nightmarish world seemed more pleasant than being a corset-eschewing she-rebel on the path to aristocracy. 

Yeah, Hamish is a goober.  I get that.  Alice would definitely have to improvise to live with him and not go bonkers.  If she’s just ungodly rich, though, I don’t think that bonkerslessness would be that difficult.  On the other hand, if she were to fall down the rabbit-hole into a trailer park, that wouldn’t be as easy.  Poverty limits your options. 

As colorful and exciting as Wonderland is, Alice downed a shooter of Jabberwock blood and got the hell out of there the first chance she got, back to dorky Hamish and a mother who checks for stockings and corsets.  She set sail for China, but she did so as an official of a wealthy trading company.  She definitely wasn’t in steerage or swabbing decks.

I know “Alice in Wonderland” is just a kid’s story, a tale meant to amuse and entertain.  The reality is that far more of the little kids who read it (or see the movie) will end up in the trailer park than in the country manor.  It’s sad, in a way, that more kids won’t end up having to wrestle with the misery of manor life.  They’ll end up with their Waynes and Jimmys and Bobbys, only seeing the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat if they down enough Jaeger-bombs Saturday night at the Dew Drop Inn.

Wednesday Night Mental Chex Mix

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2011 by tom

*- I want to read a book about Lisbeth Salander and Luna Lovegood teaming up to fight crime. Somebody please write this.

*- Seriously, if Stinki, (or whatever her name is) from the Annoying Jersey Skankwhores (or whatever it’s name is) can have a bestselling book, surely a tale of two eccentric young women who find love and satisfaction using magic and mad hacking skills to fight crime would kick chart ass.

*-  Maybe in one book, they can team up with Stephanie Plum.

*- Thanks a lot, Christina <3.  I had to buy Gummy Bears while I was at the Infernal Store™.

*- Technically, the Infernal Store™ brand Gummy Bears are made in Mexico, and should perhaps be called “Gummy Osos.”

*- With apologies to Mexico and Mexicans, I can’t help but picture Mexico like the Mexico Pavillion at EPCOT.

*- The beauty of Disney’s Mexico is that not only will the water not cause Montezuma’s Revenge, you can walk to China and Norway in ten minutes.

*- Did Montezuma come to the U.S. and get “loose culo agua” from the water?

*- Were I Montezuma, I think i’d be a bit angry that all most people know me for is gleefully causing them to expel gallons of acidic butt gravy.

*- Happily, I note that there is no water in Los Gummy Osos, and I’ve never heard of any Mexicans seeking revenge via carnauba wax or FD&C Red 40.

*- I hate to admit this, but when it comes to Gummy Osos, I’m pretty segregationist.  In a perfect world, I would only eat red osos with other red osos.  However, I will allow red and orange to be eaten together. Same with yellow and green.  Occasionally, orange and yellow, but that’s really pushing my tolerance to the max.

*- Tonight, I was able to determine that Infernal Store™ is exactly one “One” by U2 from my home.

*- This pleases me, for I know all the words, and it’s in my range.

*- In Bruce Cockburn’s anti-1984-US-Central-American-policy song “Nicaragua,” he sings, “Now Washington panics at U2 shots of Cuban-style latrines.”

*- My roommate Freshman year actually asked me why U2 would take pictures of latrines.

*- Thank God I didn’t have to explain that B-52’s existed in more than just his own private Idaho.

*- The first in the Luna & Lisbeth series could be “The Girls Who Wrangled the Snorkack.”

*- Or, “The Girls Who Caught Nargles From A Young Married Couple They Picked Up In Montego Bay.”

*- Stieg Larsson will come back to life and sue me.

*- Hey, Lisbeth liked when Miriam Wu tied her up. Imagine the fun she’d have if Luna “petrificus totalis”d her.

*- I want to get a Kindle, but have it supercharged with a “combine” feature.

*- That way, you could see how characters from different books would react with one another.

*- You know Hermione Granger would’ve been useful in “The Lord of the Rings” series, just as you know Mikhael Blomkvist would try to mount Stephanie Plum, only to have her rebuff his affections.

*- Lula would take him, though, and Kalle Fucking Blomkvist would return to Nørågdrthsïÿdhtrãkj a broken, yet certainly less boring, man.

*- And Luna and Lisbeth could rid the Northwest of whiny, sparkly vampires.

*- Ah, well. Time for more stabby feet meds, and reading.  Robert Langdon is teaching Runes at Hogwarts this term.  We’ll see if Harry Potter and his new soulmate, Holden Caulfield, can pass.

*- Enjoy your week.

Rainy Monday Film Fest

Posted in Uncategorized on January 26, 2011 by tom

A stormy couple days here in Gomorrah, and I got some lovely, sedating new stabby feet meds, ergo I figures I’d just chill and watch some movies.  Herewith, my reactions.

*- “Stoned” is a 2005 biopic of Rolling Stones founder and guitarist, Brian Jones. If you’ve seen the world’s most successful rock band ever, Mick Jagger is the lead singer with the big lips. The little guy playing drums is Charlie Watts. The two scary looking skinny guitarists are Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. Brian Jones, you’ll recognize as the one who’s been dead for 40+ years and was largely unimportant the last few years before that. Being a classic rock fan. I knew his story before I popped this in the dvd player. Basically, the guy had too big a drug problem to be in the Rolling Stones.

Think about that: too big a druggie to work with Keith Richards. According to the surviving Stones, he became paranoid and stopped showing up for recording sessions, etc.  They fired him. A month later, he was dead in his swimming pool.  The movie posits that he was drowned by builder/hired hanger-on Frank Thorogood. I’d posit that if Frank Thorogood truly did drown Brian Jones, then he should have been knighted.  Jones was a dick. 

The performances were great. The problem is that the main character is so unlikable, that no actor could make me feel bad when he bought it. 

It was worth watching as a colorful chronicle of the 60’s “revolution.” I’m glad the Stones survived, at least.
GRADE: C+

*-Inception
Just, damn. The whole movie is just…damn.  Amazing performances, tight story. Just unlike anything else.  The sequences with Joseph Gordon-Leavitt fighting in the hotel hallway are mindblowing. I had to watch it a few times, but Inception is the kind of movie you can watch repeatedly without growing bored. How could anyone who’s had the NyQuil dreams I have not just adore a movie about people breaking into other people’s dreams? Spectacular.
GRADE: A+

*- Alice in Wonderland is Tim Burton’s latest remake. I wasn’t a big fan of his “Charlie & the Chocolate Factory” with Johnny Depp playing Michael Jackson playing Willy Wonka. I figured this would be a similar retread. I was wrong. I thought Alice was a happy surprise, funny, well-acted, and splendidly adapted. Burton added a plot, tying together many of the well-known “Adventures.” Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (two Burton veterans) both chew up the scenery, but it’s the lovely Alice that gives the movie its heart.  There were some marvelous voice actors, but my favorite was Stephen Fry’s drawling take as The Cheshire Cat. Alan Rickman was great, too, as the caterpillar.  I give it a B+ instead of A-minus, only because as amazing as the Cheshire Cat, rabbit, and dormouse are, some of the CGI images creeped me out after awhile–The Tweedles, namely. Ookey little bastards. Then again, they were pretty ookey in the book, too.  Loved the Danny Elfman score, and Crispin Glover in an awesome supporting role, too. Good fun.
GRADE: B+

*- Hot Tub Time Machine just sounded dumb, but i’d heard good things about it. If you were a young adult in 1986, you’ll probably laugh as much as I did.  Old friends John Cusack and Craig Robinson accompany their demented asshole friend, Rob Corddry, on a ski weekend. They end up going back in time in???? Yup. You guessed it.  Cusack won an award for “Best Pot Smoking Scene,” and deservedly so.  The movie is chock full of vile language, sex, nudity, and other misbehavior. These traits aren’t necessarily bad, if the dialogue is good. There are a lot of marvelous jokes in HTTM. I don’t usually like Corddry, and his character is on the despicable side, but he makes it work. It would’ve been easy to make his Lou redeem himself at some point, but he’s still an asshole at the end.  Just in a better way. It’s fitting that Cusack stars, since he was in so many 80’s teen films.  Everybody seemed to have fun with this, especially Robinson, who sobs while a buxom groupie mounts him in a giant bubble bath. Loved the 80’s music soundtrack, and Crispin Glover in an awesome supporting role, too.
GRADE: B+

Note: I haven’t seen Crispin Glover in quite some time, then he pops up in two 2010 films? On the same night? Freaky.

*- Zack & Miri Make a Porno is a Kevin Smith movie. That tells you there’s voluminous profanity, hockey, shit jokes, and a lot of sex dialogue. Having seen most of his work, i’d say this one is his most-accessible. It’s funny, and it actually has more heart than a movie about making a porno would be expected to have.  There’s a warm chemistry between Zack and Miri, and Craig Robinson (again!) is solid and funny as Zack’s friend, who’s waiting on a settlement to become “Oprah rich.”  The story isn’t surprising, but the movie works. Well.  As good as everyone else is, I think Justin Long steals the whole movie as Miri’s high school crush’s gay porn actor boyfriend. “I will be your sherpa up the mountain of gayness.”  Hysterical.
GRADE: A-

Just my take. Happy Wednesday.

Friday=Brain Chowder Day

Posted in mental chex mix on January 21, 2011 by tom
  • Brain Chowder is like Mental Chex Mix, only creamier, with diced bits of starchy brain organisms, mixed with mucus-like things pried out of calciferous thought-shells.
  • Plus, at Babalu’s and the late Gamble’s, Friday is Clam Chowder Day.
  • I informed Ashley that we (meaning I and my four readers) decided that her forthcoming baby will be named “T-Bone.”
  • She was absolutely ecstatic to find this out! She thanked me, and decided to name me Godfather to her currently baking daughter.
  • Actually, she threw something at me.  It was a cup of coffee.
  • Thank God, Ashley throws like a girl, so it just doused Lynn.
  • Okay, that’s not true, either.
  • Anyway, T-Bone will be due in June, hopefully on the Tenth, which is my birthday.
  • Thanks to everyone who has sent cards, etc, for my dad’s 70th birthday.  Y’all rock.
  • OH! This is disturbing.
  • Not my dad’s birthday.  That was a bad segue, and I apologize.
  • So, I was unaware of this phenomenon until a couple years ago, but I now have a harem of work wives. 
  • And I didn’t even have to become Mormon. 😀
  • When I started in my current job, the lovely Aimee told me on my first day that I was her new work husband.  Bonus.  Well, I changed shifts, so I added Wendy as a work wife.  Sadly, Wendy only works two of the same days I do, so I had to add Brittney as a co-work wife.  Well, now BRITTNEY has changed shifts, so I had to replace her, or I’d be left work wife-less.  (this would be a bigger problem if there were actual work-spouse responsibilities)
  • So I was IM-ing the lovely Christina earlier here at work.  She sits next to the lovely Christen (sp?).  Apparently, Christen told Christina that I was her (Xtina’s) work husband.
  • YAY! Problem solved!
  • Except that Christen told Christina that she (Christen) is our work daughter.
  • This would be fine, except that Christen has an olive complexion and brown eyes, while Christina and I are both relatively pale and blue-eyed.
  • No problem there.
  • But Christen just HAD A BABY!!!!
  • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! I’m older than dirt, but I’m far too young to be a work grandfather.
  • Although, my buddy Jim from grade school has a grandson.  As he put it, “My boy had a `whoops.'”
  • Hey, at least Jim’s the Grandpa, not me.
  • Anyway, Happy Friday. 
  • (Oh, and sorry: no matter how many packages of those little crackers you dump in here, it will still suck! lol) xoxox

Monday Night Mental Chex Mix

Posted in mental chex mix on January 17, 2011 by tom

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*- “They call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday’s just as bad.”
*- That’s kind of an appropriate musical sentiment, as it was stormy as hell most of today.
*- The song “Stormy Monday” was written by legendary blues man T-Bone Walker.
*- “T-Bone” is not Mr. Walker’s given name.
*- “T-Bone” is a nickname for Porterhouse Mignon Walker, Jr.
*- Sorry.  His real name was Aaron Thibeaux Walker. *- If you add an “n” to Thibeaux, it sounds like T-Bone, almost like he was destined for being the first man to combine blues, electric guitar, and meat names. (T-Bone Burnette, Haggis MacGregor, Jean-Luc “Boeuf Bourgignon” Lejeune, etc)
*- Expressing a similar distaste for inclement Monday weather, we have “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.”
*- “Rainy Days and Mondays” was famousized by legendary blues man Karen Carpenter.
*- Karen is not Ms Carpenter’s real first name.
*- Her original birth name was “Blind Lemon T-Bone Carpenter.”
*- She took “Karen” as her confirmation name.
*- Anyway, I had to drive a lot today.  Lynn had a doctor’s appointment in North Tampa. Since her car is broken, and it would have taken her three hours each way on the bus, I offered to take her.
*- I didn’t get much sleep, since her appointment was at 1pm.
*- It’s okay. But I hate driving in heavy traffic when it’s raining. People do stupid shit, and it’s harder to avoid them when the roads are rain-slicked.
*- Blah, blah, blah. Made it to the doctor’s office.  They were busy, and I sat in the waiting room for nearly two hours, but it was fine. They have a 47″ LED tv, and they always show awesome documentaries. 
*- Last month, it was a BBC documentary about the Ganges. Today, it was about how oil, mass production, the Civil War, etc, shaped America’s economy.  Liev Schreiber narrated. (In Hebrew, “Liev” translates to “T-Bone.”)
*- Liev Schreiber is an excellent narrator, and I mean no affront to him, but I liked last month’s documentary better.  It was narrated by an Indian woman now living in London. (Yes, I imdb/Google/Wikipedia’d the issue)
*- So while I learned how Clara Barton revolutionized battlefield medicine (and that, according to this Hobbit-like lady who felt compelled to share information with any and all people in her vicinity, there is a Clara Barton service plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike), Lynn consulted with her physician.
*- We stopped by a pharmacy to get her prescriptions filled, and I drove her to work. After a quick jaunt to the store, I finally came home.
*- I love rainy days when I don’t have to go anywhere, when I can just sleep or read, and enjoy the peaceful sound of rain falling on Lake Tom.
*- Instead, I ended up driving 100 miles in heavy traffic, and–
*- Holy crap! Have you seen McDonalds’ new breakfast item?
*- OATMEAL! Yes, oatmeal, with diced apples and cranberries, a little light cream, and brown sugar.
*- I had to try it.  It was nice. Warm and filling and very tasty.  No special sauce or mysterious cheese-like substances. Just oatmeal.
*- One of the toughest things about being in hospital a few years back was their insistence that I eat oatmeal and yogurt. I clashed about the yogurt–I refused to eat the sickeningly sweet ones. The oatmeal was just (yawn) boring. I made it work by dumping sugar-free jam on it.
*- I’ll give it this: after 5 weeks of oatmeal, my cholesterol was lower than my iq.
*- I actually bought oatmeal at the store today.  I’m trying to eat better and (heaven forfend!) lose some weight. This will help with the stabby feet, one of my archnemeses.
*- We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, I’m happy to report that my friend and co-worker, Ashley, finally made it to her OB-GYN. They used their expensive ultrasound machine and found what?
*- That the DorkFone’s (imaginary) Ultrasound 2.0 for Android app was 100% right! She’s having a girl! Hooray!
*- They’re going to name her Savannah…
*- But she’ll always be named “T-Bone” in my book.
*- Happy Monday.

Holy Cuticles!

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2011 by tom

Here on my subtropical sandbar, we’ve had an unusually cold winter, which has led to my hands getting dry and my cuticles cracked.  Naturally, I contacted Annie the Soapmaker at www.erdastudios.com for assistance.

Thank God I did! She has a product called ERDA Winter Care Hand Creme.

There’s nothing worse than cracked, bleeding cuticles. 

Okay, that’s not true.  Being kicked in the face would be worse.  So would scrotal surgery, or nipped to death by yappy dogs.

But whoa! I opened the jar, and was immediately transported to the top of a mountain, breathing in the cool, fresh, Alpine air.  It was like one of those York Peppermint Patty commercials, only without any candy.

But then, freakin’ Jessica Alba showed up with a bag of York Peppermint Patties! Really! She wanted to dance with me.  Can you believe it? Right there on top of some mountain. 

I didn’t care.  I had a York Peppermint Patty to consume.  I told her to dance by herself.

Whoa! She did it! She started dancing to beat the band.  In fact, a band walked up.  Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, to be precise.  They started singing “You and Me and the Bottle Make Three Tonight.” It was awesome.  She was dancing; I was chewing.  It made my teeth hurt a little, though.  Partially the cold, and partially that really sweet goo in the middle of the Peppermint Patty.

Not Marcy’s life-partner–Lord only knows what sort of goo would be found in the middle of THAT Peppermint Patty–but that white, pseudo-minty stuff beneath the chocolate covering.

So I couldn’t help myself.  I dropped the bag of candy there on the snow, and started dancing with Jessica. Wow.  She can move.  I was amazed, too, that my knees and back felt absolutely great! I’m sure it was the organic aloe juice or grapefruit seed extract I’d absorbed through my hands.  And the weird thing is, my Reebok hoodie had turned into a freakin’ zoot suit jacket.  Jessica Alba can flat out dance too, let me tell you.

So they slowed the pace.  It was “Rhapsody in Blue.” Jessica came to me.  We held each other close, and swayed there on our mountaintop.  She was soft and warm, like a cat sleeping on a sunny beach.  And she smelled like peppermint, like freedom and life and money in the bank.

All because of Erda Winter Care Hand Creme.  Available exclusively through www.erdastudios.com  (your results may not be like mine)

(Well, actually.  Most of that stuff didn’t happen, per se.  But my hands are no longer dried out and ookey, and the peppermint smell is pretty awesome.)

Happy Sunday.

Handbags and Gladrags (and Abrasive Beatings of the Corporate Wage Slave’s Soul)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2011 by tom

I used to watch the NBC version of  “The Office.”  I always laughed at the antics of Dwight Schrute, Jim and Pam, and the indefatigable Michael Scott–comedy legend in his own mind.  “The Office” was well-written and nicely acted, and gently poked fun at life as a cubicle jockey.

Last week, I used a Target gift card I’d received, and I ordered the original, BBC series, “The Office.”

Holy crap.

The American version has already pumped out 127 episodes over seven seasons.  The original ran two six-episode seasons (2001 & 2002), plus a two-part  Christmas special in 2003.  That was it: 14 episodes, soup to nuts.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote and directed all 14 of the BBC episodes, and they were frequently very funny.  What got me, though, was how awfully bloody sad they were as well.  The folks in Scranton dealt with some tough issues from time to time, but there were moments in the UK version that just hurt. 

Michael Scott comes off as a sort of slightly buffoonish buddy character as he runs Scranton’s Dunder-Mifflin .  He fancies himself a comic genius, but he has a big heart.  He has a warm smile and kind eyes.  Even at his most-misguided, he’s not intentionally cruel.

David Brent, GM of Wernham-Hogg’s Slough location is a different sort entirely.  He, too, envisions himself as being full of comic bonhomie, beloved buddy of his employees. 

Instead, his crew don’t find him funny at all.  His manic desire to be liked and to be found entertaining…it’s like biting tinfoil.  In one episode, he’s talking to one coworker about his love of practical jokes, which he demonstrates by telling the receptionist he’s firing her for stealing.  Shockingly, she didn’t find that especially amusing.

To me, there are few things sadder than somebody trying to be funny and failing.  I used to see that a lot in radio.  I worked with some really funny people, professional entertainers and comics.  Sometimes, a group of us would be riffing and cutting up, and somebody would try to jump in only to fail.  Ouch. (Lord knows I had my share of excruciating failures, too (but I was better than Jennifer the Traffic Girl (whom my boss required to raise her hand if ever she tried to make a joke, since her attempts never worked)))

That’s what Ricky Gervais’s character David Brent does.  Other people will be effortlessly funny, and he’ll try to jump in and…Ouch.

In the Christmas Specials, we follow David Brent after he’s been laid-off.  He’s doing promotional appearances based on his small flicker of fame from the “Documentary on BBC-2.” He ends up doing a sort of Dating Game appearance, and he tries to channel Austin Powers (all the way down to a rented costume).  Once, he comes out and throws hats into a nightclub crowd, only to have partyers throw things back at him.  Worse yet, he keeps going back to Wernham-Hogg, where he’s desperate to find that he’s being missed. 

He really isn’t–not only is the office running just as smoothly without him as it did with him, people still manage to laugh without him.

The highs in the U.K. version are higher, and the lows are lower. 

Martin Freeman’s character Tim Canterbury is the emotional heart of the show.  There are all manner of oddballs around him, and Tim does enjoy mocking his crazy desk neighbor, Gareth, but we pull for Tim, both to succeed in his day-to-day life, and in his seemingly impossible relationship with Dawn, the engaged receptionist. 

Shortly before the end of the very final episode, Tim has a great soliloquy about work: The people you work with are people you were just thrown together with. You know, you don’t know them, it wasn’t your choice, and yet you spend more time with them then you do your friends or your family. But probably all you’ve got in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for 8 hours a day.

It’s sad but true.  I see that here in my workplace.  My fellow cube-jockeys and I are like a family.  We have all manner of dysfunctional members, but we’re in it together, being nice and following the rules (well, to some extent ;-)).  Nobody in the Scranton Office is really that abrasive.  In Slough, as in St. Petersburg, people do not always play so nicely.  The rewards are there, as are the pokes in the pancreas, as we try to navigate through our 40 hour weeks. 

Just spare me, Universe, from people committing comedy suicide and not even knowing it.

Oh, and “The Office (U.K.)” has the better theme song: “Handbags and Gladrags,” a suitably bittersweet melody for the show. 

In summation, I quote a reviewer on IMDB.com, who just nailed it: Simply revel in the glorious dissection of the human condition, the frustrations of under-achievement and personal delusion on a grand scale, cringe at excruciating faux pas and marvel at pomposity and sexism of breathtaking scope. All without a laugh track.

And God knows, life just doesn’t have a laugh track.  Happy Saturday.

(It looks like you can watch all 14 episodes of The Office (U.K.) on IMDB.com, via hulu.com; check it out here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0290978/)

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