Christmas Shopping for Dummies

Last Friday’s blog was my one hundredth post.  Someone last week said my blog sucked and that stings a little because I work very hard at this and that I have put content out weekly (even if it sucks) for almost two years without compensation is something I am very proud of.  This is my first repeat.  I consider it a public service announcement.

I am an expert at post-Thanksgiving Day shopping.  I plan my shopping day like Rommel in the European Theatre.  I seldom leave the house before 6:00a and I am done well before 10:00a.  This is how I do it.

  1. Doorbusters.  These are the items they sell at crackhead prices.  People spend Thanksgiving Day sleeping on cold concrete to get a 60″ LCD television for $700.  Most of the really high end bargains are very limited.  Maybe ten or fifteen to a store.  Places like Best Buy open at 6:00a but the line starts forming well before midnight.  Honestly, if you aren’t one of the first hundred people in line, don’t waste your time.  If it is that important to you, bring some snacks and something to keep warm.  Generally the way it works (or at least does when I worked at Best Buy) is at 5:00a or so employees will start at the front of the line and ask what you’re there for.  You say $50 digital camera and they’ll give you a flyer for that item.   The flyer guarantees you that item for a fixed time (maybe until 11:00a or noon, ask to be sure).  If you want, go home and get some sleep but just make sure you come back in time to claim your prize.  If you don’t come back by the allotted time, they’ll sell it to someone else.  Personally, if I stood in line that long, I would just get it then and know I had it.
  2. Know what’s on sale.  I registered on www.blackfriday.info and I get weekly emails of leaked deals.  The sales used to be a closely guarded secret.  Not so much anymore.  Visit the websites of the stores you frequent Tuesday or Wednesday, they’ll often have their ads up then.  If you don’t get the newspaper delivered, don’t expect to find one after 8:00a Thursday morning.  They’ll be gone.  You can print items from the website.  Circle the stuff you want so you know what you’re looking for.  If you have a flyer, take only the pages with stuff you want.  If you don’t need a dishwasher, throw those pages out, they’re dead weight you’ll be flipping through in a pinch trying to remember if Kyan or Keron was the Bratz doll you were supposed to get.
  3. Only buy what’s on sale.  Black Friday is no picnic.  Don’t waste your time trying to complete your Christmas list.  If it isn’t on sale, ignore it.  Come back next Wednesday and get it then.  You’ll spend money on an iPod and then see something on sale and question whether you should get it since you already spent the money on an iPod.  Always buy the sale item and if you change your mind that leads us to…
  4. It’s better to have it and not want it then want it and not have it.  This is no time for wavy decision making.  Snap judgements have to be made now.  If you see something for a great price, buy it.  If you don’t know if ‘lil Alex has Modern Warfare 2, don’t bother calling his parents and asking, just buy it.  You can literally decide against it and ten minutes later they could all be gone.  I find things like $10 DVD box sets and I just throw them into the cart and when I get home, I decide who they’d make good gifts for.  I keep a few as “backup gifts” and whatever I don’t want I return and get my money back.
  5. Some things don’t go on sale.  Things like iPods, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 or Disney movies always sell.  If you see a deal here it’s going to be because they bundled several items together and deal is taken from the accessories, not the main item.  Don’t expect to see $300 Playstation 3 for $200 but do expect to see them given away with an LCD television.  The markup was always on the TV, not the game system.
  6. Do your homework.  Know what you’re looking for.  Most of the employees are holiday help.  Don’t ask them what the 3:2 pulldown is or what’s the resolution on a Blu-Ray player.  Three weeks ago that guy was working at Orange Julius in the mall.  This goes double if you’re in a Walmart or Target where the employees couldn’t find their own ass with an electric ass-finding machine.  Get the ads early and go online and do your research and your comparison shopping then.  Your only interaction the retail monkeys should be pointing and saying, “I want that one.”
  7. Have a teammate.  Split the list in two and split up.  Even better, when one of you gets done, head for the registers even if you have nothing.  This way your partner can find you and give you the stuff and not have to wait in line.  When I shop waiting in line to check out takes three times longer than the shopping does.
  8. Don’t expect things to be where they normally are.  The electronic stores will have a pallets of stuff in the centers of the aisles.  Walmart will have movies in a stack in Produce.  It’s a madhouse.  Go to where you think the item may be and if it isn’t there, ask the first employee you see and if they don’t know, which they may not, ask the next one.
  9. Cell phones are useless.  Don’t try and call anyone for advice or clarification of an item.  Don’t try and call your teammate on the other side of the store.  There are often so many people in the store you won’t be able to hear on your phone, anyway.  Text message and if possible, hold your phone so you can feel it vibrate because you won’t hear it ring.
  10. Leave all unnecessary items at home.  Bring your flyers, your cell phone and your money cards.  Everything else, leave in the car or at home.  It will slow you down.  Trust me.
  11. Don’t wait for the good parking spot.  Just pick one.  There will be so many people coming and going there are bound to be better spots that’ll piss you off as you walk in from the back forty.  You’ll wait forever just getting through the parking lot aisles so you’re better off just picking one.  And while I am here, when you get in your car to leave make like a seventeen year-old boy at prom and pull the fuck out.  Don’t check your cell phone for messages or balance your checkbook.  Make sure your packages are inside, your seatbelt is on, and pull out.  Sitting there sorting your receipts and check marking your list at 6:00a while people who haven’t had coffee or sleep are waiting for that spot is how people get shot.
  12. Read the fine print.  Is there a rebate?  Are there “per customer” limits.  Don’t be surprised when you get there and the Bluetooth headset you thought was $14.99 is really $49.99 before two mail-in rebates.  Best Buy almost never does rebates anymore so whatever is marked is what you’re paying.  Staples does online rebates which are very quick and I highly recommend.
  13. Know your accessories.  If you’re buying certain items they are going to do the suggestive sell and recommend other items.  Know what they’re talking about and it’ll save them the time of explaining it to you which they will because accessories is where they make their money.  If your neighbors cousin knows a little about home theatre or computers and will give you some free advice, take it.  So when when they ask do you need a backup battery or a flash drive, you’ll know the answer.  In Home Theatre equipment, they will always try and sell you expensive cables so know whether you’re going to need an HDMI or component cable.  Again, if it’s on sale it better to have it and not want it and make those decisions later.  A personal note: There is are two Big Lots in my town.  They sell all kinds of cables.  I bought an RCA HDMI cable for my tv for $14.99… it was $70 at Best Buy.  USB cable is $4.99 and it’s $29.99 at Best Buy.  Also visit www.monoprice.com.
  14. Leave your kids at home.  With your mom.  Hire a babysitter.  Few things piss me off more than a packed store at 7:00a and someone toting a six-month old.  Child Services should just drive through the parking lot and if they see anyone with a kid under ten in a 40 degree line at 3:00a they should just be arrested and sent to the pokey.
  15. If you need a computer or television, now is the time.  There are a few times of year stuff really goes on sale.  For televisions and home theatre equipment it’s Christmas, Father’s Day and January (the Super Bowl).  For computers it’s Christmas and Back To School.
  16. Have your money ready.  Have your check cards and credit cards.  If fact, have backup money.  I pay everything on my check card but sometimes banks have issues.  I also carry my American Express and Citibank card just in case one of them gives me crap I whip them out to the cashier and play, “Pick a card, any card.”  NEVER pay cash because they don’t track cash at the register.  If you pay with a card and lose the receipt, they can look it up.  You pay with cash and you’re screwed.  People who whip out a check and present their two forms of ID and make the other ninety-seven of us wait for a manager approval should be beaten within an inch of their lives.  Complete asses, I tell you.  The only thing worse than these idiots are the jackasses who have no credit and decide the time to apply for a Best Buy card is at 6:30a after they’ve spent four hours in a line only to get rejected because their longest employment was the job they had pushing in carts at the Walmart for eight months which doesn’t look good with their four priors, three illegitimate kids and two years of spotty child support payments… and this guy thinks he needs a Playstation 3 so he can watch Crank 2: High Voltage in high-def.

Happy hunting.

Girl Nerds and the Vampire Boys Who Love Them

Hey look!  There is another Twilight movie out!

I am not going to kick Twilight since I already did that last year.  I also don’t like bashing things without having seen them and I haven’t seen Twilight because 1) I am thirty-seven and 2) I don’t have a vagina.  I also like my vampires nasty, my zombies fast and my homosexuals fa-laming!

Girls don’t get a lot to nerd out about.  Boys get to nerd out about every three weeks over something.  In the last month alone there has been a World Series, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Star Trek and a four hour director cut of Watchmen on DVD and that’s leaving out college and pro football.

Girls get Twilight.  Enjoy your twinkly vampires.

The first time I saw girls nerds en masse was last year at the Sex and the City movie.  If you’re wondering what I was doing there it was my mom’s birthday and that was the movie she picked (and she doesn’t read my blog and that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).  As I walked through the parking lot I felt severely underdressed.  Small tribes of women, the kind you generally find bottlenecking a ladies room, stood in clusters wearing heels and dresses like somewhere a New York & Company exploded and they were the victims.

I knew something was wrong when I saw nine women climb out of a limo like clowns at a circus.

These are girl nerds.  The ever-elusive girl nerd.

Not to say that these women lack social skills.  I’m not talking about that kind of nerd.  You know the kind… the ones that show up at a Barnes & Nobles at midnight dressed like small British boy wizards.  Even then, I would say those scenarios have the fifty/fifty male/female split.  You could argue there are fashionista nerds but they seldom have a reason to gather in packs.  A movie, however, provides that event for women to dress up where had this been your basic movie with the word “Saw” and a random roman numeral in the title, they would have worn what they wore to Target that afternoon.

No, what I was witnessing was the female equivalent of this:

For women, this is their Star Wars.  Their Star Trek.  Their X-Men, Lord of the Rings or whatever else would have gotten you laughed at by Claire Standish for asking her to prom.

Someone told me the lines were already forming to buy tickets weeks beforehand.  I asked were there any dudes there and was told, “Only gay dudes.”

That’s to be expected when you have movie with these images:

… which does make it look a little like gay porn.

 

You got off lucky.  I could have showed you the cover to Brotherhood of the Travelling Pants.

The closest I can tell it looks like this is a movie about a boy vampire who loves some skinny pale girl and a boy werewolf who tries to put the moves on said skinny pale girl.  Whatever… if you’re into that kind of thing so be it.  I just wonder what kind of girl is this that these are the dudes that are attracted to her?  I knew a white girl who, how can I say this gently, had a big round ass.  She told me one time she was getting sick of getting hit on by black guys.  She had nothing against black guys and had dated several but this was before she realized she was part of a fetish.  Not her fault.  It was just the kind of guys she attracted.  If two movies in and we’re already at vampires and werewolves I’m waiting for the next movie where she lies to a mummy varsity football player that she’s having his baby when really it belongs to a zombie she cheated on him with.

And like everything in our culture you have to identify yourself and your group.  Star Trek has Trekkies (or the in-denial Trekkers).  Lord of the Rings has Ringers.  My personal favorite are X-Philes.

Twlight has Twi-Hards.  This barely makes sense to me and if anything, makes my head hurt that someone used the pun of a legitimately great movie (which spawned a sub-genre of dudes getting stuck in things with terrorists) and applied it to this tween bullshit.

My friend Jessica (no, the other one) on her Facebook page, was handing out Team Edward pins.  This woman is completely grown, married and has a small son.  A few months earlier we and a co-worker of hers were having lunch and they told me how they were going to buy their copies of the first film on DVD the next day.  It was at this point Yvonne let loose this guttural, throaty purr generally reserved for large jungle cats, or in this case more specifically, cougars.

This was followed by the phrase, “Mama like, mama like.”  Again, two women with families and husbands clearly pushing the back half of thirty.

I always felt a little bad for boy bands knowing that even as the Jonas Brothers, the youngest of which is seventeen and the oldest is twenty-two, have, literally, millions of fans screaming for them, their average fan is probably fourteen.  This kills the whole glory of being a rock star which is to get women.  They can’t very well point into a crowd and have random girls taken backstage to have their way with since it’d be illegal in most states and they’d probably have their moms with them.

Somehow, this Robert Patterson has stumbled into a way out of this managing to appeal to tween girls who he makes tingly and they don’t know why and their mom’s who tingle and they know exactly why.

Good for you, Bobby Patterson.  Ride that gravy train until the biscuit wheels fall off.  We give you shit but all us dudes wish we thought of starring in our own girly vampire movie when we were twenty-two.

Reason the Terrorists Hate Us #36 – Dogs in Strollers

I was at the Best Buy customer service counter when out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman pushing a poodle in a stroller.

JIM: Did I just see a dog?

CUSTOMER SERVICE CLERK EVELYN: Yeah.  That happens.

It’s no secret I have no real love for animals.  They make noise, chew things, require attention and there is absolutely no chance they’ll take care of me when I get old.  It doesn’t help that I am allergic which is why I stopped eating puppies years ago.  I can stomach dogs more than cats knowing when I am eighty-five and die in my home, the odds that a dog will be waiting at my side for me to wake up is greater than a cat which will probably wait two days and then start eating me.

I’m not even going to get on the principals of dogs in strollers when animals should be walked.  I barely like kids in strollers.

If you’re not old enough to walk through Disney World you’re not old enough to go to Disney World.  I’ll be hot damned if I’m paying sixty bucks to carry you through this plastic park.

I have yet to see anyone who actually has a toddler put a dog in a stroller.  I have never seen one of those twin strollers with a toddler in one side and a Shar Pei in the other and if I did I’d probably have an aneurism.  This is behavior reserved for people who don’t have children and want to play parent with another living thing thinking it feels the same way back.

They’re like our babies.

I hear this a lot and it’s complete horseshit. Only someone without babies would ever say this like “Mo Money, Mo Problems” is only said by rich rappers.  My friend Jennifer works for a vet and I think at most they had something insane like five dogs and seven cats in their home which is unusual if your last name isn’t Clampett.  They now have three kids.  If I went all Sophie’s Choice on her and put a gun to the head of two of her kids and told her she has ten seconds to choose we’re going to have a problem.  If I did the same thing with one of her kids and her favorite dog the smart money is she answers with nine seconds to spare and sleeps like a baby that night.

It’s the same logic that makes this happen.

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My mall used to have a gourmet pet treat store.  I am eating at the swill at Panda Express and on the other side of the mall they are selling gourmet pet treats.  Just out of curiosity, who the hell comes up with the recipe for this?  Are pets really that discriminating? You know, the dogs that overturn your trash, eat your coffee grounds and spend most of their time licking their own junk.

I’d like to think the gourmet pet store closed because people aren’t stupid enough to buy that but someone must because I saw a commercial for this the other night.  What kind of country do I live in where we have to have food drives for the needy at Thanksgiving and Christmas at the same store that sells appetizers… for pets.

Enjoy the canned beets I found in my pantry, sucker, because those are gonna have to last you the other three hundred and sixty three days of the year…

Earlier in the year a woman got mauled by her best friend’s pet chimpanzee.  She was on the Today show this morning and she’s “recovered” and by that I mean she is missing both hands, an eye and her face looks like a lump of dough someone stuck on her neck.  She wears a veil to keep from scaring people.

They had a press release from her friend, the chimpanzee owner, which basically said we’re very sorry and we did our best by calling 911 and we wish for a speedy recovery.

Well, there really isn’t much of a recovery when your hands and face have been ripped off.  Those are pretty permanent.

I feel horrible for this woman and maybe she didn’t have enough sense to stay away from a house where there was ninety pound wild animal someone dressed in cutesy clothes and let it sleep in a bed like it was a person not realizing it could kill everyone in that house if it felt like it.  I saw Cinder, a chimpanzee in the St Louis Zoo with a skin condition that didn’t allow him to grow hair and let me tell you if you could see a chimp without hair it will scare the hell out of you.

chimpanzee alopecia

It’s like the most ripped old man you ever saw which is what happens if you only eat fruit and dangle from trees all day.  A monkey arm is essentially a steel bar wrapped in fur.  This goes back to when people say stupid shit like, “My dog doesn’t bite,” which really should be, “My dog doesn’t bite me.”

Of course not.  You feed it every day.  I’m just the schmuck in your house.  He has no allegiance to me.

This isn’t to say that all animals should be feared because they shouldn’t.  I’ve watched my brother tug in his Pit Bull’s tail and ears and stick his fingers in his mouth but again… that’s his dog.  The majority of dog bites in this country are by Jack Russells and every generation demonizes a breed of dog.  After the sixties (and the Civil Rights Movement) it was German Shepherds.  In the seventies and eighties it was Dobermans (see The Omen) and for the past twenty years it’s been Pit Bulls.

The difference is Bobby never forgets that a Pit Bull is, for all intents and purposes, a dog with a shark’s head.  My policy with animals is don’t forget they’re animals… that and never have one you can’t punt if it loses its shit for no reason.

Everything that’s cute isn’t meant to be your pet.  I heard of a woman who had taken in raccoons because their adorable.  True.  They’re also feral and have thumbs so fuck if I’m letting them in my house.  She found this out the hard way when they tore ass out of her kitchen.

People who push their dogs around in strollers or dress monkeys up like little butlers clearly have lost the delineation between people and their pets and have made the mistake that other people care for their pets as much as they do.  We don’t.  When I see a woman with a dog in a purse at Applebees giving me the stink-eye because he wants my Queso Blanco, I don’t think it’s cute.  I think there is a woman who doesn’t respect other people’s boundaries and places of business.  I think that person is inconsiderate and thinks everyone likes her dog as much as she does or values her dog more than people, in which case, she’s an asshole.

Knock it off.

Do You Want To See Something Really Scary?

My twelve-year old nephew has been asking me a lot about scary movies.  I think there is a little man peeking out and since at that age only sex and violence are really forbidden, it’s easy to venture into a horror films which at twelve you understand… sex, maybe not.  He looked at the cover of my Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and commented, “That guy’s wearing a tie… and he’s fat,” at which point my brother told him, “You want to know why he’s so fat?”

I explained to him that he’s a lot more sophisticated than I was at twelve.  The previews for movies are scarier than a lot of movies I grew up with.  Gene Siskel used to say comedy is like love in that you either get it or you don’t.  You can explain a joke to me the same way you can explain why you love your wife and that won’t make the joke any funnier or make me love your wife.  Horror isn’t much different.  Everybody is scared of something different and some people close their eyes and go to sleep.  Other people close there eyes and see things.

With Halloween nearing, I decided I’d pick out ten horror movie suggestions for anyone interested.  If you’re a movie nerd or a gore hound, today you’re on the wrong blog.  I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.  These aren’t my favorite horror films.  These aren’t the best horror movies ever made or even the important ones.  These are the ones I like that you probably haven’t seen because people don’t talk about them as much as they should.  Anybody can slap The Shining (1980) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) on a list and I guarantee on Halloween weekend neither will be at the Blockbuster.  Also keep in mind I am assuming you’re all adults.  Don’t email me with your, “that movies wasn’t scary” bullshit.  You’re grown people.  You shouldn’t be scared of movies in the first place.

If you’re counting, the list includes one remake, one sequel, three adaptations and six good old fashioned original ideas (one of which has been remade but you can’t win them all).

That being said, here we go.

In The Mouth of Madness (1994)
Sam Neill is an insurance investigator hired to locate a missing horror novelist whose latest novel is so scary people who actually complete it are driven insane.  I consider it the best Stephen King movie never made (with a little HP Lovecraft for flavor).  It’s directed by John Carpenter who also has his name all over Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Escape From New York (1981), The Thing (1982), Starman (1984) and Big Trouble in Little China (1986) and it would do you no harm to watch all of them.  This was the last movie he made that I liked and he hasn’t made a movie since 2001.

Best Tagline:  “Lived any good books lately?”

The Others (2001)
Nicole Kidman is the mother of two children who suffer from light sensitivity and must always be kept in the dark.  Strange things start happening and she questions whether they are being tormented by ghosts or if she’s gone insane.  I’m a big fan of well done haunted house movies and before The Others, I’d say the last good ones would have been The Shining (1980) and Poltergeist (1982).

Best Scene:  The reveal.  You’re going to think you know where it’s going… you’ll be wrong.

Black Christmas (1974)
Christmas Eve and a sorority is tormented by a prank caller.  It’s weird to see the word “Christmas” in a Halloween list. Halloween (1978) gets a lot of credit for creating the slasher genre with the masked killer and the completely shocking first person POV kill.  Whatever.  All that stuff appears in Halloween four years earlier.  Truth be told, Halloween was originally intended as a sequel to Black Christmas with their idea to have rotating killers at holidays.  This movie has the absolute creepiest phone calls ever and I’ll watch anything with Olivia Hussey in it.  Make sure you don’t get the 2006 remake which eschews all the tension and makes it into a slasher movie.  Ironically, director Bob Clark was also responsible for A Christmas Story (1984)… so much for pigeon-holing.

Best Shot:  The shot of the eyeball from the door… you’ll know it when you see it.

The Mist (2008)
Giant monsters attack a supermarket.  Trust me on this one.  Very reminiscent of my favorite book, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, where the situation isn’t as much of the problem as the people it happens to.  That and Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999)) should be the only person allowed to direct Stephen King adaptations.

Best Scene:  The finale.  Nerve-wrenching, horrible and we’d all wish we had the guts to do the same thing.  It’s not in the novella and (which has no definitive ending) because King said the movie ending never crossed his mind and he wished he though of it.

Land of the Dead (2005)
Zombies… enough said.  Let me get some things clear.  Love zombies, hate a lot of zombie movies.  George A Romero pretty much wrote the bible on the whole affair with the original Night of the Living Dead (1968) which is a work of genius.  He’s been riding that gravy train ever since.  I think Dawn of the Dead (1978) is one of the most overrated horror films in history.  Day of the Dead (1985) is a ridiculous joke.  Land of the Dead redeems itself understanding zombie films have to be about more than zombies.  They have to be about society (and before someone emails me, a shopping mall is not a metaphor for commercialism, it’s just a location).  With a budget three times larger than that of the previous three films combined, he actually hires actors instead of his drinking buddies and people he found in front of the Home Depot.  It should be noted that Romero doesn’t consider his films sequels as much as movies with the same premise.  No need to feel you have to watch the three previous movies.

Best Cameo:  Actor Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) as zombies in a photo booth.

Frailty (2001)
A father hears the voice of God and is given a mission to carry out his will and uses his two boys to help him.  There is a thing in movies that people with religion are quickly revealed to be either hypocrites or kooks (see The Mist).  Let’s just say Frailty doesn’t do that.  And again, small kids never hurt a horror film.  It’s Bill Paxton’s directorial debut and stars Matthew McConaughey when he used to act before he realized he could make a fortune making shitty romantic comedies like Failure To Lose A Ghost Of Girlfriend’s Past… Fool’s Gold.

Best Scene:  The reveal.

Stir of Echoes (1999)
Man, do I hate The Sixth Sense (1999).  All tension.  No plot, no character development and the whole thing hinges on a two minutes twist ending.  It’s like eating a plate full of maggot casserole followed by bananas foster and somehow the dessert makes the rest of the meal better.  It doesn’t.  Kevin Bacon’s son communicates to his imaginary friend and then Bacon begins to have visions of murdered girl in his home.  This is movie The Sixth Sense should have been and being released six weeks later didn’t help it.  Points for being based on a book by Richard Matheson.

Best Scene:  Kevin Bacon getting his shoes.

Near Dark (1987)
This is what happens when you make a very clever vampire movie and then have it released three months after The Lost Boys (1987) with virtually identical premises.  Young girl seduces a boy only to turn him into a vampire where he never quite gets the hang of it.  Where Lost Boys had California hooligans, Near Dark one-ups them with quasi-biker vampires.  Note to readers: Kiefer Sutherland has nothing on Lance Henricksen.  Directed by Kathryn Bigelow who’s also responsible for Point Break (1991), the often forgotten Strange Days (1995) and recent Hurt Locker (2008).  It stars pretty much everybody from Aliens (1986).  I guess Sigourney Weaver doesn’t do horror.  It was on the remake bus until Twilight became a success because the premises were too similar… except Near Dark is good.  No twinkle here.

But don’t think the Near Dark people are above riding someone’s coat tails.

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Best Scene:  Bikers picking fights with Vampire Bikers.  Bad move.

The Blob (1988)
In the wake of David Cronenberg’s masterwork The Fly (1986) comes this little gem riding on it’s coattails.  Directed by Chuck Russell and co-written by Frank Darabont before he went the Stephen King route with The Shawkshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999) and The Mist (2008), The Blob is a clever remake and take on a classic and considering there isn’t one computer effect in the film only makes it more impressive.  Nothing more disturbing than a translucent blob that starts clear and becomes more and more pink with chunks of bones after it’s devoured people.  Kevin Dillon is no Steve McQueen… for that matter he’s no Matt Dillon but Shawnee Smith is always adorable so it’s a wash.

Best Scene: Guy getting sucked through a kitchen sink.

The Exorcist III (1990)
The only true sequel on the list.  William Peter Blatty wrote novel and screenplay The Exorcist (1973) was adapted from although it isn’t required to watch this film.  Seventeen years later he wrote and directed the sequel based on his novel, Legion.  George C Scott is a detective tracking The Gemini Killer who is believed to be a man possessed with the demon that once possessed 12 year old Regan MacNeill.  Statues cry blood.  Catatonic old ladies crawl on ceilings.  Fabio appears as an angel and Patrick Ewing as Death.  Seriously, I’m not making this up.

Best Scene:  Nurse in a hallway.  That’s all I’m telling you.

And as a bonus, if you’ve familiar with The Exorcist mythology, you’ll appreciate where I’m standing.  Have a safe and Happy Halloween.

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Treats for Tricks

I’m a lazy Trick or Treater.  I always have been.  This is partially because I don’t like candy and partially because when I was a child, Halloween was a fairly kitschy affair.  This involved my mom buying costumes from the K-Mart made from plastic and horrible masks with very little visibility and even less breathing room.  These masks were held in place by what I am fairly confident were defective rubber bands deemed unsuitable for sale and the cheapest staples ever created.

It didn’t help that in my head, I dreamed I would actually look like Batman.  Instead I looked like this.

erickbatman

Of course that isn’t me because as crafty as my mom is she isn’t good enough to make me into a 1976 white kid in shitty Batman suit but you get the idea.  I had that exact same plastic bullshit suit

I can deal with not having boots and instead my own white Keds sneakers or a utility belt that doesn’t hold anything.  What I couldn’t deal with was the Bat-emblem on my forehead and the words BATMAN written across my chest.

All that being said, I still passed on the Superman costume because it had a mask.

Hey dipshit, Superman doesn’t wear a mask.  Clark Kent is the real persona.  Superman is the mask.  Sheesh, I’m six and surrounded by morons.

This all ends in marching house-to-house only to have the costume tear a block away while periodically going back home and dumping my candy on the living room carpet and picking out the stuff we liked and tossing the rest into a container so my mom could give that cheap crap to other unsuspecting kids.

Enjoy your black licorice… suckers.

I’m not very elaborate with my costume choices (and by that I mean downright lazy).  I once went to a Halloween party as Charlie Brown in khaki shorts and yellow shirt with the zig-zag pattern.  I have a South Park Chef costume which is literally a red shirt, an apron and a chef hat.  I supposed to paint on a beard but that is a little too close to blackface for my liking.  When Natalee had a Halloween party I dressed as a surgeon because hospital scrubs are amazingly comfortable.

I don’t like cute baby costumes.  I think I should be able to dress them as insane asylum escapees, crack whores and other tasteless things.

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Babies are cute all year round.

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This is the one day I should be allowed to do completely inappropriate (but legal) things to babies and nobody can say shit.

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That costume is six different kinds of awesome and the look on that baby’s face says, “Sigourney Weaver can suck it… Gorillas In The Mist my ass, this is my house!”  Babies aren’t little people to me as much as they are very cool props.

Which brings me to costumes.  Look at this kid…

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This kid can’t act for shit.  You’re the Beezlebub… Prince of Darkness… Lord Satan.  You have to sell it like this kid.

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He just looks diabolical like he’d offer someone a million dollars to push a button knowing someone, somewhere will die.  Then there is this kid who is just in it for the paycheck.  Like he’s just saying, “Moo… what the hell do you want from me?”

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I think of how great the costumes are today with the cloth capes and padded muscles and it makes me sick I walked around in a Hefty bag.  You know you can be Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow from GI Joe?  And still there is some kid who will end up like this…

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You know, you’ll have the rest of your life to deliver packages wearing shorts… you can’t indulge the Optimus Prime fantasy forever.  Even if your dad was a UPS delivery guy he should want his kids to want more than he did.

I always felt that Halloween was an excuse for men to dress in drag (every party has one) and women to dress as whores.  I don’t know when exactly being a Hooters waitress was a prerequisite for Halloween but it’s pretty much a standard now.

You want to know why we have a problem with people sneaking across the borders… here you go.  I’d be sneaking across the border, too.  America… where ladies drink free.

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This next one is one of my favorites.  I picture Barack Obama flanked by Victoria’s Secret Service… how cool would that be.  I’m curious where she keeps her gun.

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I think the homophobes that fight to keep “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are afraid this is going to be the Marine uniform… only worn by a dude with a faux hawk names Kian.  Heels and all.

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Here is something I find interesting.  Taking established properties and forcing them to be something they shouldn’t.  I’ve read a lot of comics.  Ironically, the store we went to didn’t have a male Flash costume (all three Flashes have been men) but they did have this.  I would think heels and a skirt wouldn’t be wise running at one hundred and fifty miles an hour.

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True story… when Christini Ricci did Addams Family Values when she was thirteen, they taped her over-developed breasts back to make her look younger. I guess that would be to prevent this from happening.

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Then there is this Britney Spears Ghostbuster uniform.  I like that she doesn’t have a Proton Accelerator.  I am assuming she catches ghosts with her “Come Hither” smoky eyes.

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And another one that leaves me puzzled… Mrs Krueger… because nothing says Happy Halloween like dressing up like a sexy demonic child molester.  I like the detail of the slashes across the belly.  Not sure who would be slashing her since she has the claws.  Maybe she has trouble getting dressed.

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And then there is this Alice In Wonderland.  Adorable.  Get used to that skirt..

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… it ain’t gonna get any longer.

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We Interrupt This Program

I was watching Everybody Loves Raymond in the evening when in the middle of a scene the image froze.  I looked up from my leftovers and immediately thought this is going to be thirty minute conversation with the Cox Cable monkeys about this shitty DVR people keep telling me is as good as Tivo and if by that they mean Dane Cook is as good as George Carlin, they’d be right… but they aren’t.

Right as I am about to go for my phone, comedian Bill Engvall walks out across the screen and says, “Hey, sorry to interrupt your show but I wanted to let you know my sitcom starts this Wednesday at 9:00p.”

Then that hillbilly pulls a remote and unpauses my show and exits stage left.

What the hell was that?  Are they fucking kidding me?  Superstation my ass.  What are those TBS assholes trying to pull?

I had grown accustomed to the in-show advertising which never bothered me.  You know, the ones where a little tag pops up and tells you:

You’re watching Friends.  Next up… King Of Queens.

Fine.  Maybe I didn’t know what I was watching or I am one of those insane people who don’t know how to use the Info button on their remote.  Maybe you’re my mom and you just have cable with no magic box to give you lots of information and what else will be on tonight and you rely on that insipid TV Guide channel with the talking heads that are always yattering on about Survivor and American Idol.

This small text graphic gave way to full motion people, Kyra Sedgwick glowering at me to confess things that aren’t her business or Tony Shaloub bumbling around the forty six inches of my Sony avoiding the edges like it’s a gas station bathroom in Caracas.

Hey Jim, what’s the difference between that reminder and that dude from Damages telling you when their show is on?

I’ll tell you.  The first bit of information is relevant because King Of Queens is coming on next.  It’s a heads up.  The TV equivalent of a sticky note.  It’s like the sign on the interstate that says your exit is in two miles so you might want to stop signing Tom Petty’s American Girl and pay attention.

The other is a gaudy billboard.  A shitty LED billboard that is just painful to look at taking up a third of my screen reminding me I can get fireworks in one hundred and fifty miles from Pedro at South of the Border, or in this case, Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.

More and more I notice I’m being sold stuff.  I think it’s become worse in the last ten years or so.  Natalee and I were at Universal and about a half dozen people stopped us to fill out credit card applications.  This is worse than telemarketers because I can hang up on telemarketers (I don’t, but I can and that’s another blog).  I expect them to try and get me to by Spiderman drink cups or King King messenger bags because that’s their gig.  It’s a theme park… but credit card apps?

I paid seventy bucks to be here.  The last thing I am going to do is get another credit card so I can lose more money to stupid interest rates at ShitiBank.  Why don’t you just have some dude with an open suitcase on a stand luring me into a Three Card Monty game?

And here is another thing that ought to be a law.  I am sure there is some kind of requirement that credits have to be shown or disclaimers read.  You should have to do them where a normal human being can understand them otherwise, what’s the point?  Reading car disclaimers like an ADHD auctioneer on crack makes no sense.  And the genius who figured out they can take the end credits of a show and crush them down to the bottom fifth of the screen and run them ten times faster while they show the opening to the next show on the top four fifths of the screen should be dragged out into the street and throttled.

A few years ago I was watching TV and saw this:

Now I am going to explain to you what you just saw.  I am watching a commercial in a commercial.  Sure, that happens every time someone sells a Disney Hannah Montana Happy Meal but pay close attention.  It’s a D-List superhero getting his taxes done.

Jackson Hewett Rep: So what have you got for us?

Marketing Ass-Snack: There is a new comic book movie coming out with Nicolas Cage called Ghost Rider.  We make a commercial with Ghost Rider getting his taxes done by Jackson Hewett.

Jackson Hewett Rep:  What’s Ghost Rider?

Marketing Ass-Snack:  It’s a comic where a guy sells his soul to Satan and becomes a leather-clad biker with a flaming skull for a head.  And what do kids like more than demonic superheroes and doing their taxes?

Jackson Hewett Rep:  You’re right.  We’re in!

It was probably when Jim Carrey had that abortion they released as Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Universal marketed the ass out of it lunch boxes and action figures and video games for a movie that’s about the non-merchandising of Christmas that I realized people just don’t get it.  These are the same people that went out and bought their kids clown fish after Finding Nemo because their kids are too dumb to understand in a film that climaxes with fish trying to escape and aquarium that, “All drains lead to the ocean,” means maybe you should have fish.  Then again, these are the same people make sales in Saint Bernards spike after Beethoven because having a fur covered Buick designed for the tundra in my house seems like a great idea.

Then again, maybe we ask for this.  People will buy anything.  It’s what keeps this douche in whores that he bangs on a large pile of cash and cocaine.

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It’s the same logic that think a six inch logo on a Nascar moving at two hundred miles an hour is a good idea.  It’s the reason Snuggies exist, people buy stairs for their dogs and anybody knows who Billy Mays is.  I knew a guy years ago who’s mother was a QVC addict.  One day he turned the television off and as we were leaving I noticed the 1-800 number had burned itself into the screen.

That’s a lot of cosmetic abs for men.

Gross Encounters Of The Third Kind

I am thirty-seven and at this point I don’t “discover” things about myself anymore.  I pretty much figured out who I am and what I am capable of about twenty years ago.

I know who I am because I often create “what if” scenarios for myself.

What would you do if you saw a bag of money fall off an armored truck?

What would you do if your brother called you in the middle of the night to help hide a body?

What would you do if your loved ones are infected by zombies… do you kill them immediately or do you wait for them to turn?

Having watched a few movies in my day, I would like to think in the event of an alien encounter, I would be a mature spokesperson for humankind.  I wouldn’t make any sudden movements or noises and instead try to communicate like I would to anyone who doesn’t speak my language with simple hand gestures and pleasant faces.

Then I saw this and realized I would be wrong.  Completely fucking wrong.

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I have seriously overestimated my abilities.

The story goes like this.  These kids were playing in the forest and this creature crawled out from a cave and moved toward them at which point they took rocks and stoned it until it stopped advancing, then beat it to death with sticks and ran home crying to their mothers.

As would I.

Seriously, look at that thing with its slick amphibian skin, beady eyes and thick tongue hanging from what I guess is a snout?  What the fuck?  Be glad I didn’t have a gun and gallon of gasoline because I probably would have shot it until my clip was empty, loaded a new clip, emptied it, and then set it on fire.

Why can’t more aliens look like this?

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You know, hot alien chicks that just want to get laid?  Is that so bad?

What I have never understood the movie stereotype of human women cross-breeding with aliens.  In the TV mini-series V: The Final Battle where the girl gets pregnant with a human lizard hybrid.

You banged a lizard dude?  Did you know he was a lizard dude and if not, how the hell did you not know?  And seriously, what kind of back alley Guadalajaran Obstetrician do you have that he didn’t see this in a sonogram? And you thought your dad was angry when he found out you kissed Quantrell Jackson.

I have always found it ironic that all bi-species characters in Star Trek have human mothers and alien fathers which must be some kind of nerd fantasy that women will have sex with anything.  Men, yes, I would totally believe that.

So she’s Vulcan with dark hair, pointed ears and no sense of humor, empathy or emotion of any kind?  But she does have tits and a rockin’ ass?  I’m in.

Why a man would sex a Vulcan is understandable.  We’ll hump a sofa if the cushions are soft enough.  But what a woman, a gender overflowing with emotion, would find appealing about a man devoid of it?  Sell that horseshit to the tourists, I’m not buying.

But human males and Klingon females?  No explanation necessary.  We like it like that.  Pon Farr for the win!

I was watching ET The Extra-Terrestrial a few years ago and remember thinking Elliot is maybe ten.  Gertie is about four.  I expect them to be morons but Michael is the older brother and he’s like sixteen.  He should have enough sense to 1) not know what the hell ET is and 2) it might be diseased.  The same goes for that kid in Gremlins who’s like twenty and when he’s given some animal nobody’s ever seen before and reproduces with water, his solution is let me take it to my middle-school science teacher?  Really?  It reproduces with water!  It’s not a Sea Monkey!  What reproduces with water?  For that matter, what does it drink and how does it keep hydrated?  Cells are made of water, moron!  Even if you kept it out of water what happens when it cries or pees?  None of this makes any sense so you take it your teacher (and I’m going to ignore that you have a relationship with a teacher by all accounts you should stopped communicating with almost a decade ago).  Are there no zoos near Kingston Falls?  At least call a Pet Smart, dumbass.  Hell, I’d have that crated bastard at Animal Kingdom in Orlando in about twenty minutes and if the cops pulled me for speeding I’d tell them I have some weird shit in my trunk and they can ticket me in the Disney World parking lot.

Sorry about all the bruises but I didn’t know what it was so I hit it a few times with a bat… and a shovel.  Yeah, I can see Gizmo is cute but I don’t know him.  There are lots of things that are pleasant to look at that are baseball bat crazy.

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Long story short.  Those kids in Panama lied.  That thing was dead when they found it.  They didn’t see it crawl out of a cave mostly because it would have taken the better half of the afternoon to witness.  It’s a sloth.

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Obviously it has something wrong with it since it has no hair but I have seen monkeys with skin diseases that leave them bald and slightly odd to look at.

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The point is I learned a little something new about me last week.  That I am just as scared of things I don’t know as anyone else and I have to work on that.  Unless I see something crawl out of a cave that has watched too much Star Trek and don’t see nothing wrong, with a little bump and grind.

Of course if the flip side is this is I am rational and civilized and spend the better part of my afternoon trying to make alien contact with a hairless sloth.