Tuesday, June 30

Support our troops.

On a day when Josh was reminiscing about some of his favorite movies from 25 years ago, I got bored and ended up in one of those trances where you spend like a half hour bouncing from link to link in Wikipedia until you can't remember what you were looking for in the first place, and I stumbled upon a movie that time has mostly forgotten. Among other things, it features:

· Carla Gugino in her feature-film debut

· Tori Spelling, also in her feature-film debut

· Kellie Martin in only her third big-screen appearance, and still months before the premiere of "Life Goes On"

· The lead singer from Rilo Kiley

· Cameos including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Cheech Marin, and Annette Funicello

It's killing you, isn't it? Here's the film in question:

Yeah, I remember seeing this as a 10-year-old back in 1989, and have probably caught at least a few minutes of it rocketing through cable channels at some point since then. Here's a clip:

The girl telling the ghost story at the beginning of the clip is Emily Schulman, whom I know you remember as Harriet the annoying next-door neighbor kid on "Small Wonder." (Well, I know Josh remembers her.) In the two shot at 0:29, that's Kellie Martin on the left, and on the right I think that's Ami Foster, whom even Josh may not remember as Margeaux Kramer, the rich girl from "Punky Brewster." Shelley Long's daughter is played by Jenny Lewis, who went on to appear in "The Wizard" (yes, the Nintendo movie) and "Pleasantville" and then helped form Rilo Kiley in 1998. Tori Spelling doesn't show up until more than halfway through the clip, but she's helpfully marked by whoever posted it to YouTube.

And Carla Gugino is the one on the right at 0:17, playing "Chica Barnfell," whom the movie's Wikipedia page describes as a "stern girl who is generally left alone by her jet-setting parents." She appeared in "This Boy's Life" four years later, "Snake Eyes" five years after that, and appeared in 10 more feature-length films before making about the most memorable entrance in film history in "Sin City" in 2005.

And earlier this year, of course, she stole the show in "Watchmen" by looking like this:

Wow. I don't know whether to feel turned on, uncomfortable, or just old. I guess I'll go with "a combination of all of the three."

But anyway, the point is that "Troop Beverly Hills," despite its lukewarm reviews and negligible box-office performance back in the spring of 1989, might have just turned out to be one of the great bellwether films of our time. Prolific careers were launched here, people. So at long last let's give the movie some credit.

Oh, and Shelley Long was a fox back in 1989, too. Never should've quit "Cheers," but a fox all the same. I'm just saying.

Monday, June 29

Monday Morning Cage Match III:
The cyborg hunter meets the moose hunter.

This week's Cage Match pits two very strong women against one another: the ripped matriarch of the "Terminator" series, Sarah Connor, versus the bespectacled matriarch of Alaska's first family, Sarah Palin. I would avoid, however, characterizing this as a catfight. A pejorative definition like that one no longer applies when there's this much ammunition involved.

Sarah Connor

Sarah Palin
First jobWaitressWasilla, Alaska, city councilwoman
Defining momentConceives John Connor whilst being chased by the Cyberdyne Systems model T-101Chosen as John McCain's running mate
WINNER: Connor
How'd that work out?Pretty well -- successfully destroyed both the T-101 and its successor, the shape-shifting T-1000Not so great
WINNER: Connor
Stance on gun owners' rightsVery pro-Very pro-
Child(ren)'s achievement(s)Leading the resistance against SkynetImpregnated by Levi Johnston
WINNER: Connor
Quote"Fucking men like you built the hydrogen bomb. Men like you thought it up. You think you're so creative. . . . All you know how to create is death and destruction.""As Putin rears his ugly head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska."
WINNER: Connor

FINAL SCORE: Sarah Connor 5, Sarah Palin 3. Maybe John McCain should've picked Connor as his running mate.

Friday, June 26

The Friday Random Ten+5 gets its mourn on.

So Michael Jackson has died, and we're knee-deep in wall-to-wall media coverage that isn't as intense as 9/11 (so there, Ocho Cinco) but is every bit as intense, if not more so, than Princess Diana's 12 years ago. Honestly, I can say I was never that big a Michael Jackson fan; I think it goes back to when the "Thriller" video was released in 1983 and that final scene, where Jackson looks back at the camera with those glowing yellow wolf-eyes, frightened me about as much as anything I can remember from my childhood and scared me off of the King of Pop for quite a while. (Seriously, I was only six at that point and I was probably sleeping with the lights on for a solid week after that. Agghhh, that shit still scares the living crap out of me!)

So anyway, I'm not going to be one of those folks camped out in front of the hospital or in front of his mansion in L.A., not that I've ever been the type to get so worked up over a celebrity's death to do that anyway. But that doesn't make Jackson's death any less sudden or sad, and I'm certainly not above being affected by the death of a celebrity to some extent. And that's the subject of this week's +5: the Five Celebrities Whose Deaths I Took The Hardest.

Phil Hartman (1998)
Easily my favorite "Saturday Night Live" cast member of all time. In fact, I can't remember a single thing I've ever seen him in where he wasn't funny, whether it was any of his numerous "SNL" sketches, "NewsRadio," his voice-acting on "The Simpsons," his cameo as "Vicky" the tour guide in "So I Married an Axe Murderer," or anything else. And the thing was, he didn't go the coke-binge-and-numerous-unsavory-sexual-partners route that so many really popular comedians seem to go down; by all reports he was a faithful husband and a good dad. So that made it only that much more shocking when his wife (who apparently was drug-crazed) shot him and then committed suicide in the spring of '98. I'm convinced that if Hartman were still alive today he'd be hailed as one of the best comic actors on the planet, and maybe he'd have a recurring role on "30 Rock" or something.

Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel (1991)
I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Dr. Seuss is still my favorite writer of all time. I've still got bunches of his books proudly displayed on my bookshelf, and he saved my ass when I was taking the AP English exam during my senior year of high school, when the open-ended question was something like "Choose a book that deals with the topic of discrimination in society and how that book's depiction of a certain type of bigotry added to its message." Obviously we'd read a ton of books that year that would've worked for that question, but we'd covered the various eras of English lit in chronological order, which meant that the most recent material -- and therefore the stuff I remembered the best -- was postmodernist stuff that I couldn't make heads or tails of (while the older stuff I'd understood better was too far back in my memory to be able to pick out specific details). So I went for what NFL draftniks would call "a reach": I picked out Dr. Seuss's 1961 story "The Sneetches." I wrote the hell out of that essay, and you know what? I got a 5 on the test and got to exempt out of all the freshman-comp classes in college. Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for being a brilliant writer whom even doctorate-level literature scholars apparently have to respect.

Ann Richards (2006)
I've liked or agreed with plenty of politicians and elected officials; rarely, though, have I been naïve enough to admire any of them. But Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, was a major exception. She was unashamed of her liberalism on a number of issues and unafraid to call out people whom she thought were full of bullshit no matter where they sat on the political spectrum. And she was one of the last of an era in which certain Democratic politicians could actually be described as "badasses." Hopefully that era is on its way back, but either way, we could still use someone like Ann Richards right about now.

Optimus Prime (1986)
OK, yeah, Optimus Prime is a fictional character. But Transformers and Legos regularly traded the titles of my favorite and second-favorite toy when I was a child, and the "Transformers" TV cartoon was must-see after-school viewing all through elementary school, so when Prime finally bit the bucket in the feature-length animated film of '86, that was a biiiig, big deal. This Slate article explains it pretty well: As much violence as there was in the action cartoon series of my childhood, nobody ever actually died. But not only did Optimus Prime die in the movie (and not come back), he was gone from the subsequent season of the cartoon show, and didn't return until the three-episode "Rebirth" arc from the fourth and final season in 1987. Man, that show was a lot harder-core than I realized.

Johnny Cash (2003)
I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of country musicians I've ever actually liked (and probably still have enough fingers left over to do this). But I love Johnny Cash. And his death, less than four months after the passing of his wife June, was one of the saddest and somehow most romantic deaths of any popular musician that I can recall. He and Nanci Griffith are probably still the only two country artists whom I've deemed worthy of having entire albums' worth of material on my iPod.

Speaking of which, here's the Ten:

1. Nanci Griffith, "Love at the Five and Dime" (fancy that)
2. Underworld, "Born Slippy (NUXX)"
3. Pet Shop Boys, "It's Alright"
4. Radiohead, "Karma Police"
5. Dead Kennedys, "Short Songs"
6. Wu-Tang Clan, "Clan in Da Front" (which reminds me, Ol' Dirty Bastard should get an honorable mention on the above list)
7. Underworld, "Juanita/Kiteless" (live)
8. Elton John, "Bennie and the Jets"
9. A Tribe Called Quest, "Find a Way"
10. Talk Talk, "It's My Life"

Your turn, folks -- the celebrity deaths that had the biggest effect on you (Michael Jackson's is eligible, by the way) and your Random Tens go in the comments.

Thursday, June 25

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
Illicit affairs, meth-cooking Vikings, and other examples of people being s%$#ty to one another.

· Courtesy of a Twitter (a Tweet? I've been doing Twitter since before Christmas and I still don't know what the fuck these things are called) from the illustrious Dawgter Feelgood (a/k/a DAve), World War III propaganda posters:

· EDSBS's Orson Swindle became Public Enemy No. 1 for a while in the greater Shreveport-Bossier City metropolitan area for this column on Shreveport and the Independence Bowl. (Seriously, peruse that comments thread for a spell. I'm pretty sure there are a couple thinly veiled death threats in there somewhere.) Today, though, he gets at least a small measure of vindication:

In a mother-daughter fight that included pushing, shoving, wrestling, biting and wielding a pan, a woman kicked her mother unconscious and then defecated on her while she was lying on the floor, Bossier Parish sheriff's deputies said.

"It was a donnybrook," Lt. Ed Baswell said of the Tuesday morning brawl at a residence on Chelsy Drive in Benton.

The women -- Destinie Rechelle Duvall, 37, of Willis, Texas, and Patricia Ann Hacker, 62, of Benton were treated at LSU Hospital and then booked into jail.

Sheriff's deputies went to the house after Hacker's 12-year-old granddaughter called 911.

Deputies said they weren't sure what started the fight, but they said the daughter knocked her mother out of a chair and then kicked her in the head, causing her to lose consciousness. While Hacker was unconscious, Duvall defecated on her back, Baswell said.

OK, on the one hand -- and clearly the bigger of the two hands in this situation -- that's unspeakably horrible. But on the other hand, it kind of makes sense as a strategic move. Go big or go home, right? I mean, you're committed enough to this fistfight that you know you're probably ending up in jail one way or the other, you might as well go in there with a story that lets the rest of the inmates know you're not to be trifled with. "What are you in for?" "Robbed a guy at knifepoint." "What are you in for?" "Broke into someone's car and stole a purse and an iPod." "How about you?" "Beat my mom unconscious and then took a shit on her." "Whooooaaaa." That's a woman who doesn't have to watch her back in the prison cafeteria line.

· Yours Truly has two contributions to Dr. Saturday this week: a new installment in the Better Know an Embattled Coach series, this one focusing on Colorado's Dan "GO PLAY INNERMURALS, BROTHER!" Hawkins, and a rumination on bowl games' cockroach-like ability to survive economic catastrophe, nuclear armageddon, what have you. But I don't think Holly will mind if I point out my contributions to her preview of the 2009 UAB Blazers. In particular, I would like to claim credit for directing the Dr. Saturday readership to our UAB Magazine feature on the strange, random history of UAB's mascot.

Personally, I think our dragon mascot is teh r0xx0rz -- the raging-ass fire-breathing helmet/midfield logo more so than the cuter, kid-friendlier fuzzy sideline version -- but even if you don't share that opinion, you have to admit it's a step up from Blaze the Viking:

Supposedly this iteration of the mascot got the ax because he scared little kids. I don't personally find him that frightening at first glance; I think he looks more like Burger King's ne'er-do-well younger brother who's been in and out of jail for a string of petty assaults and public-intoxication charges, finally got a steady job on a construction site but got hurt and has been cocooning in his trailer ever since, collecting workers' comp and brewing up the occasional batch of crystal meth with his good buddy Purdue Pete. In that sense, though, I guess there's a sense of incipient murderousness about him, like if you were taking a walk in the woods and stumbled across his meth lab he'd really fuck you up. Nevertheless, I think we're doing fine with the dragon right now, thanks.

· Finally, we have South Carolina governor Mark Sanford. This is the guy, you'll recall, whose most recent political claim to fame was wanting to refuse hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus money that had been tagged for his state. Now he admits an extramarital affair with a chick from Argentina, and it's been one full day since this revelation and nobody's made a "stimulus package" joke yet? Come on, people. You disappoint me.

For once, I have nothing to add.

Baby sis, putting me to shame, as usual.

Tuesday, June 23

This is how it's done, Akron.

Since I've duly excoriated the city of Akron, Ohio, for their crimes against the integrity of the exotic-dancing industry, I thought it might be time to balance that out with some good news from a town that knows how to do strip clubs right: my former home of Atlanta.

First of all, some dancers at the Cheetah have challenged one of Georgia's many idiotic "blue laws," this one saying that under-21 strippers can't perform at clubs that sell alcohol -- and they're taking it all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court. As someone who had to watch the decline of one of his favorite strip joints (Topper's, oh-so-conveniently located across from what was then the Red & Black offices on Jackson Street in Athens) after Athens passed a ridiculous law saying strip clubs couldn't sell alcohol if they went full nude, I applaud the Cheetah girls' courage. If the good people of Atlanta can't convince their dumbass legislature to let them buy booze on Sundays, they should damn well be able to see a 20-year-old pair of boobs while they enjoy a beer the other six days of the week, by God.

Secondly, the building on Ponce de Leon that houses the infamous Clermont Lounge looks like it's fixin' to get foreclosed on, but fear not, Atlanta hipsters, curiosity-seekers and assorted pervs -- "the place where strippers go to die" ain't goin' nowhere:

The dank, smoky strip club is known for dancers old enough to be many patrons’ mothers, or even grandmothers. The most famous dancer, Blondie, is known for reciting poetry as she plies her trade.

In recent years, the Clermont has been adopted by urban hipsters who pack the venue for DJ dance parties. Recently, the actors Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray were seen taking in the sights at the Clermont.

Even if the hotel falls into foreclosure, the Clermont Lounge should stay open, said attorney John Ayoub, who along with Mansour represents Fairway Capital.

“There’s no reason to stop them,” he said. “They have a business. They make money. They pay rent.”

Yes, regardless of what happens to the building's ownership, you'll still be able to watch Blondie crush beer cans between her cartoonishly prodigious ta-tas. It's nice to see some people respecting Atlanta's heritage.

And yes, I know I'm defending a place that boasts at least a couple strippers who have to be in their 70s, even though I tsk-tsked Akron for having a strip club that hired a 52-year-old. But you know what? This is different. There's nuance here. There's a difference between "It's a Saturday night, I want to do something nutty, let's go down to the Clermont and pound some PBRs while we watch strippers who are collecting Social Security" and "Man, let's go to a strip club, I want to see some boobs, and OH MY GOD WHO IS THAT, HOW IS HER TITTY IN MY LAP, SHE'S STANDING UP FOR CHRIST'S SAKE." And the Clermont, Lord love it, embraces the crazy and falls on the proper side of that line.

I sure hope my mom's reading this. She'd be so proud.

Monday, June 22

"OK, but seriously, do you want to know?"

Since I discussed good movies in last week's Friday Random Ten+5, it's only fair that I balance them out with a horrible one. See how far you can make it into this clip before your brain cells start to spontaneously combust:

I don't know what movie this is from, I don't even know who those two actors are, but I can hypothesize two things: 1) The screenplay for this single two-and-a-half-minute scene is probably about 20 pages long, and 2) whoever wrote it had just started taking an ESL class and had only learned a handful of English phrases. (I don't know what kind of paranoid-ass English class opens by teaching its students "Don't touch me!", but that's just the world we live in, I guess.)

Oh, and if you'll permit me to go a little Patton Oswalt on you for a second, here's 3): Someone actually produced and released this film.

Enjoy your week, mofos!

Monday Morning Cage Match II:
The guy from "In the Bedroom" vs. one of the girls from Hugh Hefner's bedroom.

Well, last week's inaugural Monday Morning Cage Match was fun, wasn't it? Hey, shut up, I had fun. Well, maybe this week's will be a more competitive matchup -- one of my all-time favorite actors versus . . . uh, a pair of boobs I also like: Tom Wilkinson vs. Kendra Wilkinson (no relation, that I know of). Begin!

Tom Wilkinson

Kendra Wilkinson
OccupationStage and screen actorGlamour model
WINNER: Kendra
Big break"The Full Monty," 1997E! Entertainment Television's "The Girls Next Door," 2005-present
Nudity?Yes, rear onlyYes, full frontal
WINNER: Kendra
Awards wonBAFTA and SAG awards for "The Full Monty," SAG award for "Shakespeare in Love," Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy for "John Adams"Second place on MTV's "Celebrity Rap Superstar," 2007
Quote"You think you got the horses for that? Well, good luck and God bless, but I'll tell you one thing: The last place you want to see me is in court.""I don't really start planning my outfits until, like, a week ahead, because whatever I put on is gonna be hot -- you know, I could wear two Band-Aids and a cork."
WINNER: Kendra
Chest measurementUnknown34D
WINNER: Kendra
Upcoming projectBritish gangster film with Ray Winstone and Ian McShane"Girls Next Door" spinoff

FINAL SCORE: Kendra 4, Tom 3. Though Tom does get props for being a better actor.

Thursday, June 18

The Friday Not-So-Random Ten+5(+20) has its list of desert-island films.

Not that this is a huge news flash to any of you, but on Thursday I once again had it confirmed that I have waaayyyy too much free time: I hit 10,000 rankings on Flickchart. That makes an average of 666.67 either-or rankings in the 15 days since Holly ensnared me in its binary goodness, which, in my half-assed defense, really isn't as bad as it sounds. As Josh, who's an even bigger movie nerd than I am, explains, when all you're asked to do is decide which of two movies is better, you can burn through a whole bunch of those pretty quickly, until it's 3 a.m. and you're staring at a screen with aching, bloodshot eyes and thinking to yourself, "OK, I know I'm supposed to think 'The Godfather Part II' is one of the greatest movies ever made, but did I really enjoy it any more than 'Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers'?"

So anyway, now that I've hit five figures it seems like I should have a pretty definitive list of my favorite flicks put together. Sure enough, looking at what Flickchart has determined are my favorites, I might put some of them in slightly different order, but all the movies that have truly taken my breath away and/or entertained the piss out of me are all right up there. So in honor of this momentous (or maybe just momentously obsessive-compulsive) achievement, this week's +5 is My Five Favorite Movies Of All Time As Determined By Flickchart:

5. The Usual Suspects
To describe this movie as "clever" is to give short shrift to the superb acting, the excellent use of music, the beautifully noir-ish look, and a whole bunch of other things . . . but be that as it may, Christopher McQuarrie would deserve a Nobel Prize (if they gave out Nobel Prizes for screenwriting) for coming up with this brilliantly convoluted plot. As it is, he had to settle for an Oscar, which makes for one of the few times my favorite screenplay from a given year actually won anything. (And on that note, here's the above "lineup" scene rendered in Legos.)

4. The Life of Brian
I may or may not be in the minority here, but I like it better than "Holy Grail" and consider it to be pretty much the funniest movie ever made. Organized religion is only one of the many things this Monty Python flick satirizes to within an inch of its life, and one simple exchange from the above clip ("Yes! We are all different!" "I'm not") sum up modern society about as succinctly as any seven words can. My mom got this movie for me when I was 13, not knowing anything about it, and was horrified by how blasphemous it was; today, tellingly, she loves it. And if we're going to hell for loving this movie, then so be it. (Another great scene: the "sermon on the mount." To me, the fact that these people are walking around ancient Israel talking in cockney accents is funny all by itself.)

3. Hotel Rwanda
I've already summed up my feelings on this powerful movie here, and my sister, as is typical, did a better job here, so I'll simply say that I haven't ever seen a movie based on real-life tragedy that did a better job of avoiding exploitative theatrics and cheap heartstring-pulling. Which is not to say that it avoids the visual horror of the 1994 Rwandan genocide -- there are some very gritty and harrowing moments, particularly Don Cheadle's nighttime van drive through the countryside -- but hardly anything about this movie comes off as overdone, gratuitous, or melodramatic. It's definitely not the kind of movie you'd sit down in front of for a fun evening with your girlfriend/boyfriend and a bowl of popcorn, but it's uplifting in its own way, and if you're anything like my sister and me it'll have you thinking and talking about it for a long time.

2. Children of Men
This isn't a happy-go-lucky sort of film either, but it's an incredible story, and one of the most visually arresting films I've ever seen, for reasons that go far beyond the unusually long takes described by the director in the above video clip. (Though on that note, I will say that it's nice to watch a movie whose action scenes aren't cross-cut every thousandth of a second like some kind of epilepsy-inducing music video.) The world of the (near) future envisioned by Alfonso Cuarón is bleak but incredibly well-detailed, and it's that level of detail (seconded by Josh, who knows a lot more than I do about this kind of stuff, here) that creates the film's sense of realism and thus a substantial measure of its overall power. I remember audibly uttering the word "wow" as the closing credits started to roll; you might, too.

1. Heat
And here's where Flickchart proves its unexpected worth, because if you'd asked me what my favorite movie was a few months ago, I'd have been most likely to say "Casablanca" or "Pulp Fiction." And not that both of those movies aren't great, but every time Flickchart asked me to compare something to this 1995 crime flick, "Heat" came out on top. It's one of those very rare (perhaps I'd even go so far as to say one-of-a-kind) action/crime movies that's so well-written it makes you care about literally every single character on the screen; it's got action scenes that are actually coherently shot (as a brilliant example, here's the epic shootout scene from about two-thirds of the way into the film); and the cinematography of L.A. and its environs is so gorgeous you find yourself wanting to crawl into your TV. After all that, the fact that it was the first move to finally put Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in the same scene together (above) just seems like gravy, but there it is. Clocks in at nearly three hours long but it could've gone twice that long and I would've been enthralled for every last minute. Yup, this is my favorite movie of all time, no doubt about it.

Rounding out the top 25, as of my 10,000th selection on Thursday evening:

6. From Russia With Love
7. Out of Sight
8. Grosse Pointe Blank
9. Fight Club
10. Trainspotting
11. Defending Your Life
12. Three Kings
13. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
14. Monsters, Inc.
15. Knocked Up
16. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
17. Big
18. Wolf
19. Michael Clayton
20. North by Northwest
21. Friday
22. V for Vendetta
23. Pleasantville
24. Batman Begins
25. The Incredibles

Nothing really out-and-out embarrassing in there, surprisingly. "Grosse Pointe Blank" might be a little high at #8, but, well, I think my affection for that movie was already obvious. Kind of surprised to see "Knocked Up" in the top 25, too, but I just really, really liked it, and it hasn't lost a thing after repeated viewings. (And before anybody asks, no, I haven't seen any of the "Lord of the Rings" movies, and the more people ask me "What?? You haven't seen any of the 'Lord of the Rings' movies?!?", the more it increases my resolve to see them out of a simple desire to be contrary, so don't bother.)

And now the Ten:

1. Van Halen, "Jump"
2. Beck, "Chemtrails"
3. M.I.A., "Paper Planes"
4. Oasis, "Fuckin' in the Bushes"
5. George Michael, "Freedom"
6. Underworld, "Juanita/Kiteless" (live)
7. Orbital, "Halcyon" (7" version)
8. Pixies, "Debaser"
9. Massive Attack, "Risingson"
10. The Dave Brubeck Quartet, "Take Five"

Your turn: Your five favorite movies, please (Flickchart-assisted or not), and/or your Random Tens, in the comments.

A memo from the desk of Arnold T. Pants, Esq.:
Torturing Sims, executing flies, but still crying on the inside.

· As an addendum to the inaugural Monday Morning Cage Match post from earlier this week, an additional look at Jay-Z's "99 Problems," in visual form.

· My sister and I both got seriously addicted to the original "The Sims" back around the summer of 2002 or so, and we have, for the most part, maintained a respectful distance from the game ever since lest we both start rolling into work at 11 every morning going, "Hey, man, I am so sorry, but I've been trying to save up for an addition to my Sim's house and he's this close to getting a promotion at his job." Anyway, baby sis e-mailed me this link yesterday, and instead of wasting work time playing "The Sims," I found myself wasting work time reading about "The Sims," and by "reading" I mean "trying not to piss my pants due to sheer giggle-stifling effort." Behold, a mere sample:

Pinned to one spot, she refused to interact with Beef or me, almost as if the game forgot she was there. But Beef still knew. He refused to use the bathroom from the moment she arrived. He howled a picture of a toilet at her over and over, and she responded by staring through him until his bladder detonated where he stood.

Just to fuck with us, she showed she could move the whole time, and turned her back to give Beef privacy while he mopped up his shame. I’ll have to watch out for this woman . . . she’s pushing his fragile mind in directions I don’t have protocols for. Speaking of, since the government took the child away, I began removing toys from the home while Beef sleeps. I want him to think that maybe the kid was never there to begin with, which seems like an inadequate mind game now that ghosts are forcing him to pee on himself.

You simply have to read the whole thing; it's breathtaking. And yeah, now I'm probably going to go out and get "Sims 3."

· Among the many films that Flickchart has reminded me how much I like is Bill Murray's 1990 film "Quick Change," and I'm thrilled that The Onion's A.V. Club ran this article about it. Few people do cynical, world-weary gallows humor better than Murray, and while his movie and Spike Lee's "Inside Man" tread a lot of the same New-York-as-festering-cesspool-of-disillusion-and-resentment territory, "Quick Change" was the one I had lots more fun watching. (I also had a good time watching this.

· I can honestly say I have never been less interested in anything that was ever going to be published in Playboy, and that includes the time they did a nude pictorial of that chick from "Melrose Place" when she was like eight months pregnant.


· And finally: PETA, shut the fuck up and stick to what you're actually good at, which is taking pictures of naked supermodels.

Wednesday, June 17

This blog's new logo.

Keep on chasin' that dream, Pasty Rose-Wielding Pink-Shirted British Kid.

(Photo bogarted from With Leather.)

Praying for Tank Commander.

Robert Farley can insist it's "unoriginal" all he wants, but this is a great, great post, truly one of the best I've ever read.

And it speaks to a central truth about what's going on in Iran right now -- as much as we'd like to think we can help the Iranian protestors, or influence things, or push the country in a certain direction, it's not about us. What this all boils down to is whether Iran's "Tank Commanders" obey their Guardian Council masters or their better angels. Let's spend the next few days and weeks praying it's the latter.

Tuesday, June 16

Shut it down.

We're done, people. It's over. We had a good run, but after 233 mostly inspiring years, American culture, exceptionalism, and society are over. And it didn't happen because of Barack Obama, it didn't happen because of the Iraq War, it didn't even happen because of the Hummer H2 -- it happened because of this.

I know I've made fun of the Snuggie before, but compared to this little invention, the Snuggie is movable type; it is the fucking internal-combustion engine. That's right, America -- when the sarcastic question is posed "What, you need someone to help wipe your ass for you?", our answer is now apparently "Yes." We have become so lazy and disconnected that the act of wiping now requires a middleman. Coming soon, the Comfort Pee! Because nobody should have to endure something as icky and undignified as holding one's own penis while trying to urinate!

That's my favorite part of the ad, by the way, the part where the older lady talks about maintaining one's "dignity." Yes, because if there's one concept I associate with an ass-wiping wand, it's dignity.

So anyway, last person out of the country, turn out the lights. And please, please, let's all promise never to tell David Cross about this.

Monday, June 15

Kicking off your week with a new waste of time:
The Monday Morning Cage Match.

As you may have noticed recently, I have trouble coming up with material on a Monday morning. Actually, I have trouble doing much of anything on a Monday morning other than despairing over having to return to work for another week and wondering what happened to my professional hopes and dreams, but that's neither here nor there. But I think I've found a solution to the first problem, inspired partly by the fiendish binary simplicity of Flickchart and the fact that I recently took an HTML class where I learned how to make tables: The Monday Morning Cage Match.

There's nothing complicated about the Cage Match. Basically we match up two people, places, or things that have some superficial, barely-worth-even-talking-about similarity and compare them in seven categories. Whichever one is superior in the most categories wins. If you believe in the infinite-monkeys-with-an-infinite-number-of-typewriters theorem ("Infinite Monkeys" is totally going to be the title of my movie-production company, by the way, whenever I get that started), then if we do this long enough theoretically we should be able to rank every last thing on the planet from best to worst, a la Flickchart, but I'm keeping the goals manageable for the time being (i.e. making it remotely tolerable to read on a weekly basis).

So here's the first Cage Match: "99 Problems" vs. "99 Luftballons." Do your worst; I know I did.

"99 Problems" (Jay-Z)

"99 Luftballons" (Nena)
Subject matterMercenary media outlets,
corrupt cops,
annoying hangers-on
Nuclear armageddon
Proof of
artist's cleverness
Surprises policeman by
invoking 4th-amendment
rights against unreasonable
search and seizure
Releases balloons to
confuse Cold War-era
strategic-defense systems
Outcome of this
brilliant plan
Vehicle searched by
police dogs
Nuclear armageddon
Sample lyric"I got the rap patrol on the
gat patrol/ Foes that wanna
make sure my casket's
closed/ Rap critics, they
say he's 'Money-cash-
hoes'/ I'm from the hood,
stupid, what type of
facts are those?..."
"99 knights of the air/
ride super-high-tech
jet fighters/ Everyone's
a superhero/ Everyone's
a Captain Kirk..."
Primary negative
of song
Casual use of
the word "bitch"
Original version
sung in German
Other hits
by same artist
"Can't Knock the Hustle,"
"Can I Get A...",
"Big Pimpin'"
None that
I'm aware of
Questionable pop-
cultural usage
Cookie Monster remixAlly Sheedy dancing to it
like a fucking loon in
"The Breakfast Club"

FINAL SCORE: Problems 4, Luftballons 3. Jay-Z gets additional style points by virtue of being married to Beyoncé and managing not to have started a nuclear war.

Friday, June 12

The Friday Random Ten+5 would prefer that your bloodline end here.

Whatever else I try to accomplish here at Hey Jenny Slater, I try to be intensely focused on customer service. And you may not know this, but I take requests, as long as it's not an unbelievably stupid idea. An example of a non-stupid idea: Bestest friend Kristen, honorary HJS Exalted Hero of the Revolution, e-mailed me from Denver a couple weeks ago to call my attention to this article concerning the first five Coloradans who should be given the new male birth-control pill. Plus-five idea? You're damn straight, buddy.

I have to confess I'm a little mystified about how the male pill works -- does it prevent you from ejaculating? Or maybe it administers a tiny dose of THC to each of your sperm cells, meaning that all of your sperm are too tired to make it to the fallopian tubes and are too busy going "Dude, have you ever looked at a uterus? I mean, really looked at a uterus?" besides. But I'll leave that to doctors and other science people to figure out. All I can do is come up with the list of Five Guys Who Should Be Given The Male Birth-Control Pill Before Anyone Else, and here it is:

James "Jim Bob" Duggar
The Duggar name may not automatically ring a bell, but trust me, you've heard of him: He's the former Arkansas state legislator who evidently had it revealed to him in a dream that his wife's sole purpose on earth was to serve as a walking, sentient fetus factory. A quarter-century later, they've got 18 kids and have shown no inclination to cease spawning anytime soon. Somehow this has to be stopped -- if not for the sake of our overburdened planet, then for the sake of poor Michelle Duggar's uterus, which has to be held together with bulldog clips and duct tape by now.

Leonardo DiCaprio
Those of you who are heavily involved in fantasy football are probably familiar with the concept of a "Can't Cut" list, which basically sets aside the really elite players in the league, your Peyton Mannings and your LaDainian Tomlinsons and so on, and says no team can just summarily drop them from the roster because to drop a player that awesome would have to involve some kind of shenanigans. Why do I bring this up? Well, Bar Refaeli, international supermodel and confirmed HJS birthday buddy, would seem like an obvious candidate to go on the worldwide "Can't Cut" list of potential sexual partners -- and yet Leonardo DiCaprio gave her the heave-ho earlier this week. What the fuck? Leo, dude, you were awesome in "The Departed," but be that is at may, you're kind of a fucking ingrate, and if that's the best judgment you're capable of exhibiting then perhaps you're not someone who should be fathering children. Plus the more offspring wandering around out there with DiCaprio's DNA, the harder it's going to be for my sons to get tail 25 or 30 years from now.

Glenn Beck
Tough call between Beck and Sean Hannity here. Both are so dumb they'd lose a battle of wits to a Speak & Spell, and both seem to think volume and hyperbole is a reasonable substitute for actual facts or grasp of current events. But Hannity is merely an annoying asshole, like those tiny little dogs who think they're Great Danes and spend every waking hour barking and trying to nip at your ankles; Beck is full-on, raving, black-helicopter, shithouse-rats-won't-even-talk-to-him crazy. Not only that, but Hannity appears to have stopped at two kids; Beck has popped out four, and at the age of 45 he's got plenty more child-bearing years in him, provided Eli Lilly and Company manages to ride out the recession in good financial health. I've got a sinking feeling Beck is poised to fashion at least one more little Beckling whose head he can stuff with loon-ball Obama-is-Hitler propaganda, and we owe it to future generations to head that off before it happens.

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
"Date Movie." "Epic Movie." "Meet the Spartans." "Disaster Movie." These two asslicks should be denied the right to breed based on that résumé alone. But you just know that these guys are the kind of self-satisfied, douchey, aggravating, laugh-at-their-own-jokes dumb-jock types who were roundly despised even by their own fraternity brothers, and given fertile, unsuspecting young women to plant on their casting couch, they'll bring up their kids to be the exact same kind of people. Sorry, guys, can't allow that to happen. The rest of society can regurgitate pop-culture tidbits just fine on its own.

Tony Romo
Remember what a gigantic, inescapable f%$#ing deal it was when Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner had their first kid? Or when Gwyneth Paltrow and that dude from Coldplay whose name I'm too lazy to look up had theirs? We didn't -- couldn't -- stop hearing about it for weeks. And if Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson succeed in popping out an offspring, it's going to be every bit as bad. And that's just the start: If they have a boy, that kid's almost certain to start playing football at some point, which means that in 18 years we'll no doubt be subjected to a recruiting battle more exhaustingly annoying than Jimmy Clausen, Bryce Brown, and Nick Montana put together. (On the other hand, if they have a girl, then there's your 2028 Miss Teen South Carolina right there.)

And now the Ten:

1. Underworld, "Unruly July"
2. Dave Attell, "Gambling"
3. David Holmes, "Don't Die Just Yet"
4. The Breeders, "No Aloha"
5. Busta Rhymes, "Things We Be Doin' For Money Part 1"
6. Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back"
7. The Buzzcocks, "Why Can't I Touch It?"
8. Public Enemy, "Caught, Can We Get a Witness?"
9. Johnny Cash, "A Boy Named Sue"
10. The Who, "Who Are You"

Your turn: Your own Random Tens and/or nominees for the first round of male birth control go in the comments, please.

Thursday, June 11

SEC: THE MOVIE!, or what happens when yet another fun distraction gets completely out of hand.

So I finally got around to reading Michael Lewis's The Blind Side this past week, and tellingly, I only needed four days to devour it cover-to-cover; it was an amazing story, but also a fascinating history of the evolution of the left tackle position that explains precisely why a guy like Michael Oher (currently preparing for his rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens) would be in such high demand. As you may have already heard, they're turning the book into a movie, and three coaches who figured heavily in the recruiting battle for Oher -- Nick Saban, Phil Fulmer, and Ed Orgeron -- will be playing themselves in said film.

Having seen numerous interviews with Oher's adopted family and other people who figured prominently in the story that makes up The Blind Side's narrative, I had my own ideas for who should play whom in the movie, and had Saban, Fulmer, and Orgeron declined to appear in the movie, I decided I would've gone after . . .

Fred Thompson as Phil Fulmer
Who better to play Fulmer than a near-lifelong Tennessean? (Though if Thompson did decide to decline the role so that he could make another half-assed run for the presidency in 2012, Joe Don Baker would do in a pinch, provided he's not already booked for the long-awaited "Mitchell" sequel.)

Bruce Campbell as Nick Saban
The guy with the perfect look to play this pivotal role, of course, is Don Johnson, 20 years removed from "Miami Vice" but still as gloriously coiffed as ever. But I decided fairly early on that Bruce Campbell would have to be involved in this project somehow, and I can think of no more ideal role for him to play than that of the Armani Bear. Having gotten his big break playing a character who had to defeat hordes of demonically possessed, re-animated corpses, Campbell is perfectly suited to play someone charged with taming a massive fan base still convinced that Bear Bryant is coming back. Plus, can't you just picture Campbell saying the line "I just love those window treatments" in a perfect deadpan? I know I can.

Ed Marinaro as Ed Orgeron
Marinaro even played football himself (at both the college and pro levels), so all we'd need to do is get a voice coach to teach him to bellow incoherently and he'd be all set to play the coach whose program Michael Oher eventually chooses. Then again, if we wanted to throw caution to the wind and shift into total stunt-casting mode, we could always give the role to Sylvester Stallone, who is equally muscled up and has the incoherent-bellowing thing down pat already.

So that was all well and good, but then I got into an e-mail conversation with Dave from the quite excellent Michigan blog Maize 'n' Brew, and Dave had to go and mention the SEC coaches' meeting post from a few weeks back. And I got to thinking, how would I cast that as a big-budget slapstick comedy? And before I knew it, the morning was gone and I had a full cast for "SEC: THE MOVIE," coming the 12th of Never to a theatre nowhere near you! Let 'er rip:

Michael Douglas as Steve Spurrier
This was a challenge, as it takes a very special actor to convey Spurrier's unique blend of football-history-altering gravitas and snickering schoolyard douchebaggery. I think Douglas, who both delivered the legendary "greed is good" speech in "Wall Street" and played a sleazy toupeed hitman in "One Night at McCool's," could pull it off.

Alec Baldwin as Les Miles
Squint a little and they almost, kinda, sorta start to look a little bit alike. And if you've watched even five minutes of "30 Rock," you know Baldwin is well-equipped to play someone whose spectacular success and influence masks a core of barely contained insanity.

Christian Bale as Urban Meyer
Holly recommended this one, and while I would love to cast Robert "T-1000" Patrick in this role, Holly's right that there is a definite resemblance between Meyer and the guy from that other "Terminator" movie.

Seth Rogen as Lane Kiffin
In the TV series "Freaks and Geeks," Rogen played a class clown who was always trying to be the center of attention; in "Observe and Report," he played a disturbed individual who had delusions of grandeur far above his meager station in life. Is there anyone on the planet, then, better suited to play Kiffykins? I think not, and that's before we even get to the physical resemblance.

Dennis Quaid as Mark Richt
The physical resemblance is kind of meh, but Quaid has the right sort of freshly-scrubbed, All-American good-guy look to play Richt. (But he did play a sleazy drug-lord lawyer in "Traffic," so he's got enough inner villainy to order a team-wide end-zone celebration if it comes to that.)

Steve Martin as Bobby Johnson

Tom Arnold as Houston Nutt
Also duh.

Rob Riggle as Dan Mullen
For State fans' sake, I hope Mullen is even half as funny as Riggle; I dug deep into the MSU roster for a preview article I was writing for the 2009 edition of Roll Bama Roll's preseason publication, and trust me, the folks in Starkville are gonna need something to make them smile this season.

Dylan Baker as Bobby Petrino
Plenty of disagreement here: Holly says Kevin Spacey is too oily to play Petrino, while I think oily is exactly what the character calls for. So we'll go with Baker instead, who played a corrupt accountant in "The Road to Perdition" and a bank-fraud-committing "fixer" in "Changing Lanes," and is thus plenty capable of playing a sleaze.

Philip Baker Hall as Rich Brooks
Hall is a little old to play Brooks, but I think he'd be curmudgeonly enough. (Still, Holly had another good stunt-casting idea: Mel Brooks as Rich Brooks?)

Gary Cole as Gene Chizik
This one was hard, too, because there were just so many people who resembled Chizik to some degree. In the end, though, I decided there had to be a little bit of Bill Lumbergh in Auburn's new coach. I just know it. I can't tell you how I know; I just do.

With Ron Rifkin as SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, Buck Henry as former South Carolina coach/ESPN commentator Lou Holtz, and Brendan Fraser as Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow.

(Got any better ideas? By all means, let me hear 'em.)

Wednesday, June 10

How good is good enough in '09?

The term means different things to different people, but "rebuilding year" is a pretty commonly accepted definition for the state of Georgia's football team in 2009. The silver lining to such a situation, of course, is that we aren't burdened with the kind of hype and high expectations that, as last year's campaign proved, are extremely difficult to live up to. The flip side to that, though, is that we don't really go into this season with a set of clearly defined goals. With any team, even the most talented ones, you don't know what the team is capable of until you've actually played the entire season; with this team, though, we're still somewhat uncertain as to what they should be capable of. On the one hand we're having to figure out how to bounce back from the departure of guys like Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, but on the other hand, we've got Phil Steele saying we can still be a dark-horse national-title contender.

Without getting into too much detail about any one game on this year's slate -- we've got the rest of the offseason for that -- we've got only one game it looks like we should definitely win and only one game we're probably destined to lose. Between those, we've got three games we're at least fairly certain to be favored to win, two in which we'll probably be underdogs, and five (five of the first six games, in fact, by my count) that are complete toss-ups at this point. So if the absolute, end-of-the-world worst-case scenario is thus 4-8 and the best-case is 11-1 (plus, what the hell, a 12th win in a bowl game), that averages out to an eight-win season. There are a lot of similarities, though, between this season and 2005, in which we rolled out a physically gifted but largely untested QB who'd been patiently waiting his turn behind a superstar -- and yet we still won 10 games and an SEC title, despite having to replace far more defensive talent than the '09 squad will have to. Even in 2006, when we were also breaking in new QBs and managed to lose to Vanderbilt and Kentucky, we still managed to swing nine wins. So maybe 8-4 or 8-5 is still pegging things a little low.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that going 9-3 in the regular season, then notching a 10th win in a bowl game, would be huge for this team. Despite a supposed rebuilding situation, we would have matched the record (and likely the approximate bowl destination) of the previous year's team, which had been touted for the national title, and I can't think of a better case for "We don't rebuild, we reload" than that. That would also give Mark Richt a career tally of 92-25 and a seventh 10-win season in nine years; all of those factors together would serve to cement Georgia as a pretty elite program. And as history has shown us, it's certainly achievable.

But that's just my take on the subject -- what's yours? I've put together this poll to get a very basic sketch of what Georgia fans' (and non-fans') expectations are of this year's team; once the responses to this poll take shape, I'll put up some more polls to get into the specifics of which teams you think we should beat, which bowl we should go to, and that sort of thing. But for right now, I just want you to run this year's schedule through your individual brain computers and spit out what seems like a reasonable and satisfactory outcome to you. This isn't meant to be a prediction of what you think's going to happen; all I'm looking for is your baseline below which you'll be a disappointed fan, and at or above which you'll call this season worthwhile.

Again, more specific questions (and responses) will follow eventually, but in the meantime you're welcome to expound on your poll responses in the comments.