Monday, February 28, 2011

Re-Animator

There is a point in Re-Animator that is so over the top that you may sit there, jaw-dropped, staring at the screen, unsure if you're really seeing what's unfolding, and you'll likely ask yourself this question: Did that guy just use his own decapitated head to eat that girl's pussy?

The answer is, of course, yes.

This movie is so self-assured, so confident in its willingness to cross the line, its depravity becomes nearly transcendent. It is the best kind of horror, a film that makes the audience laugh and squirm, but not from disgust or revulsion, instead in astonished disbelief.

The story revolves around Herbert West, a cocky young medical student who has developed a serum that, when injected directly into the brain, will bring the dead back to life. A groundbreaking discovery, sure, but far too unconventional an idea for the medical establishment, and the very idea will likely get him expelled from Miskatonic U. Not that West is very concerned about that. One doesn't get to keep their mad scientist union card by sucking up to the status quo.

No, one hangs onto it by re-animating small animals on the sly, like a roommate's cat, and then maybe a cadaver or two in the morgue. Of course, it's that latter act that nearly brings the whole enterprise crashing down. The college's dean saunters into the morgue and headfirst into one particularly agitated corpse who quickly snaps his neck. West and his partner Cain aren't too keen on taking the fall for Dean Halsey's death, but quickly figure, hey, he doesn't have to be dead. One quick injection and Halsey is as good as... Well, he's not dead anymore, at least.

Halsey ain't exactly himself after re-animation. It doesn't take long for Miskatonic's eminent brain researcher (and yes, that is how he is described) Dr. Hill to figure why the dean is acting more than a little off. Of course, being an eminent brain researcher, Hill realizes pretty quickly that Halsey is dead, yet not quite immobile as a cadaver should be.

Being an eminent brain researcher, and somewhat of a schmuck, Hill attempts to blackmail West. He wants the secret formula for himself. What Hill doesn't seem to know is that he should never piss off a mad scientist, and he should never turn his back on someone he's blackmailing. That's how you end up headless, if not entirely dead.

To say things then go from bad to worse is an understatement. "Bad" and "worse" are words that possess not nearly the substance to put across just how far gone things are in this film. Mind you, this isn't to imply the film itself is bad. No, quite the opposite. Re-Animator is a gleeful film, horrors and all.

Directed by Stuart Gordon • Unrated • 1985 • 86 minutes

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Nine

Book review time! No, not my review of The Overton Window, but Noah's review of Molly's Cut-n-Paste Patriot Quote Book. We're through the looking glass, people. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night! (Not really.) But fasten your seatbelts. The light just came on. See:

The fasten-seatbelt light had just blinked on above Noah's head, accompanied by an intercom announcement that the flight would soon begin its on-time descent into McCarran International.

He rubbed his eyes and they felt as though he hadn't blinked in quite a while. The time had apparently flown by as he'd been occupied reading and rereading the many quoted passages that filled the pages of Molly's book.

I am glad the flight is on-time. Good to know Molly and Noah will get wherever they are going without any delay. Unlike the rest of us who, it seems, may never get to the end of this story.

In the course of his supposedly top-shelf schooling he must have already been exposed to much of this, and if so, it shouldn't have seemed as new to him as it did. And in a strange, unsettling way—like reading a horoscope so accurate that its author must surely have been watching you for months through the living-room window—it seemed that each of these writings was addressed to this current time, and this very place, for the sole, specific benefit of Noah Gardner.

Here's the thing that bugs me about this book. One of the things. One of the many things. The constant bouncing from third- to second-person. Was the metaphorical astrologist watching you (me?) for months, or watching Noah? I don't know much, but I do know this is something one should learn in middle school grammar class, and I didn't even have the benefit of supposedly top-shelf schooling. (I went to Traweek junior high, a public institution. Go Titans! Or not. I didn't particularly like P.E.)

Noah learns some things from Molly's book. Like bad analogies:

The phrase "too big to fail" had been reborn for propaganda purposes during a brainstorming session at the office last year. This was in the run-up to the country's massive financial meltdown, the multiphase disaster that was only now gathering its full head of steam.

The original purpose of the phrase in business was to describe an entity that was literally too large and successful to possibly go under— think of the Titanic, only before the iceberg. But this newly minted meaning, it was decided, would be a threat, rather than a promise.

So, "too big to fail" meant a business that couldn't fail, because of its size, like the Titanic, which could never go down because it was unsinkable? Huh? What. Bad example, Noah. Bad example, Beck. Very bad example.

We have no choice—that was the sad, helpless tone of both the givers and the receivers of those hundreds of billions of dollars, monies to be deducted directly from the dreams of a brighter future for coming generations. AIG, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Citi, Bear Stearns, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Fannie and Freddie, and the all-powerful puppetmaster behind it all, Goldman Sachs—these companies are the only underpinnings of our whole way of life, so the breathless story went, and if they go down, we all do.

You know, if I had supposedly top-shelf schooling, maybe I'd know what "deducted directly from the dreams of a brighter future for coming generations" meant. The money used to keep the economy from collapsing would have otherwise gone to a brighter future? Whut? Though, I guess, Beck doesn't seem to think the world economy would have been in shambles if the government just let the U.S. banking system falter. Hey, Beck, have you taken a look outside lately? For all your common man pretenses, you really have no idea what the American populace goes through. Period. So, please, just shut the fuck up.

In Molly's book this quote was unattributed but the ideal it conveyed was ancient, and the central pillar of the rule of law. Thomas Paine, quoted on the same page, had put it a different way, in Common Sense: "In America, the law is king." Even the most powerful can't place themselves above it, the weakest are never beneath its protection, and no corrupt institution is too big to fail.

So that's what a principle is, Noah thought, as though he were pondering the word for the very first time.

Whut? Noah didn't know what principles were? Huh? Sure, he's unscrupulous, shallow, dim, easily manipulated, and seemingly disloyal. Faults, most of those. And certainly, I can understand not having principles, but somehow not even knowing what they are? And here's the thing about our hero: It's taken him all of two days to change his allegiance. He's turned his back on his father, the man who has gone out of his way to protect his son, got the awesome lawyer to spring him from jail, the mercenary henchman to rescue him, doctor to patch him up. And Noah turns his back on that to join the people who duped him, drugged him, burgled his house, and have basically manipulated and lied to him from day one.

Now, I'm not saying one can't become a better person, one can't do the right thing. People do turn themselves around. They have life-changing moments, they see the proverbial light. People do spend time reflecting, thinking, sussing out the way of the world and their place in it, and for better or for worse, change tack, and find a purpose. I'm just not sure how much soul searching one can do in three days, when most of that time is spent unconscious.

And given that Noah is so easily manipulated, so clearly out of his depth here, this is who Beverly chooses to look after her daughter? Noah is suddenly and unquestioningly allowed into the teabaggers' inner circle? I thought conspiracy theory-loving fringe groups were notoriously paranoid and suspicious and hostile to strangers. Let me just say: This book is not very realistic.

Blah blah blah, Noah reads more quotes from John Adams and Sam Adams and basically acts as Cliff's Notes for the reader, explaining what each bit means, in a modern context: "Put up or shut up, in other words; go hard or go home. Freedom is the rare exception, he was saying, not the rule, and if you want it you've got to do your part to keep it." And yes, that's a quote. Beck's interpretation of the words of the founding fathers is, essentially, a bumper sticker.

The plane lands, Molly wakes.

"Hey, Molly?"

"Yes?"

He touched her hand. "I think I get it now," Noah said.

"You get what?"

"I really didn't before, but I understand what you're doing now, you and your people."

"Oh." She nodded, and continued to check over her things.

"I mean it."

"I know you do," she said, in the way you might address an overly needy child in recognition of some minor accomplishment. "Good. I'm glad."

Noah gets it now. I'm glad someone does. I think maybe we'd have all been better off reading Molly's book than we would have reading The Overton Window. It seems that maybe her book at least makes sense. Good for Noah, is all I can say.

On the concourse, Noah suggests they stop for dinner. Does McCarran have a Rainforest Café? I hope McCarran has a Rainforest Café. Oh, nevermind: Molly ignores the suggestion and demands Noah rent her a car. Noah, I think, is a little hurt by this. Really? The woman who lied to you, drugged you, stole your keys, isn't being nice to you?

Huh.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Get Out Your Keytars!

Because it's on like Donkey Kong! To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man, Rock Band is releasing Buckner & Garcia's opus Pac-Man Fever. In its entirety. In addition to the title track, the album (which went gold, according to the RIAA) includes clever video game-themed ditties like "Froggy's Lament" and "Ode to a Centipede". Awesome. Huh?

Pre-order yours today. Or not. Maybe this is all a hoax. It could be a hoax!

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Eight

You remember Bailey and Kearns, don't you? They made wine coolers back in the Eighties, right? No, Bailey and Kearns did not make wine coolers. Well, I suppose maybe they could have made wine coolers. It's possible. What the pair did in their free time is not discussed. Which is weird, since so much unnecessary stuff is discussed.

Bailey, internet patriot, and Kearns, undercover (or maybe not) agent, are still trying to deliver their fake (or maybe not) bomb to Elmer and his gang. Hopefully, they'll get that done soon. There's only 50 pages left. We've been through 85% of the novel, and at some point the author is going to have to relent and introduce a plot. Typically this is done early in a book. Typically books are written by competent authors.

Now, before you get your hopes up, let me just put it out there, nothing happens in this chapter.

There is the requisite driving, and since the chapter features Bailey, a whole lot of talking. Swell.

The pair stop at a gas station, somewhere. Bailey notes ominous headlines on a newspaper. "NATIONWIDE TERROR ALERT STATUS ELEVATED ONCE MORE" and "DHS CHIEF: INTEL CONFIRMS 'CREDIBLE THREAT' FOR WESTERN U.S." Oh, goodness, what's the threat? I hope it's not a bomb!
Bailey looked up into the corner and saw a dusty security camera looking back down at him. Even out here, he thought, on the outskirts of civilization, some backward distant cousin of Big Brother is still watching.
First of all, someone does not understand the concept of Big Brother. Secondly, is Beck pro-shoplifting? Is Beck saying Small Business Owners, the backbone of the Free Market, shouldn't protect their businesses from sniveling little thieves?

Danny becomes thoughtful, and he and Kearns head back out to wherever they're going. In the van Danny asks about the heightened alert level. (What level is it at now anyway? Purple?) "What are you getting at?" the agent asks.

Thanks, Kearns. You shouldn't encourage him.

Danny then proceeds to blather on about various dildobrained conspiracy theories relating to the London Underground bombings of 2005. It boils down to this: It was an inside job by Scotland Yard. I think. And there is something about a double agent named Haroon Rashid Aswat trying to set up an al-Qaeda camp in Oregon. Maybe this is faction again. Though, I hope, for Scotland Yard's sake, this is simply more bullshit.

Mohamed Atta, mastermind behind the September 11th attacks, was also known as Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir. And...

Wait for it...

el-Amir = Elmer!

Umm... Okay.

"Mohamed Atta is dead," Kearns dutifully notes. Danny explains:
"Yeah? So is Osama bin Laden, but that doesn't stop him from putting out a tape every six months. And I'm not even saying it's a real live Islamo-fascist behind any of this, but making it look that way will make the story that much scarier when something happens."
Osama bin Laden is dead? Or was that sarcasm? Or another conspiracy theory? I don't know.
"In English, el-Amir translates to 'the general.' It could be a code word. Atta used el-Amir back then in 2001, and this guy's using it now. If this whole thing is part of some false-flag operation—if they're really trying to bring this war back home — they need a new boogeyman right here on U.S. soil, and they need to connect him to past events and to the patriot movement so they can demonize the resistance."
Oh, okay. That clears that up. Elmer is code. For something. And a patriot resistance something something.

Really, by this point, I'd hope things would be clearer. But no. Everything is as murky as a wet fart. I really thought I had some sense of what was going on here. But now even I am confused. Fortunately, at this point Bailey shuts up.

Awesome. Totally Awesome.

A little something to start off your day:


If I lived in New York (I don't) and rode the subway (I can't) I'd totally have a joyful moment of private relief (not so private, probably) as I walked out onto the platform and saw the Xylopholks jamming. Like the old advertising jingle says (advertising jingles never lie) the best part of waking up is furry costumes at the subway station!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Seven

"Could you remove any metallic items and step back through for me, ma'am."

Polite and professional though it sounded, it was a command and not a request.

Despite this being the Celebrities-Only No-Hassle VIP Waiting Room For Celebrities, Fanboy is giving Fake Natalie Portman a hassle. Oh, Kyle, won't you interject! These VIPs need your manicured hands to intervene. Maybe you could clear your throat meaningfully from where you're standing. Or not. Just stand there like a buffoon, taking crap from some nerd. I'm sure that's what Noah is paying you for.

Okay, so, Kyle takes her cell phone and jewelry and blah blah blah she walks through the metal detector again.

The vertical line of indicator lights twitched upward from dark green to barely yellow—maybe in reaction to the tiny hinges in her sunglasses—but this time there was no audible alarm.

Noah was the only one in a position to notice a touch of private relief on Molly's face.

Private relief? Sounds like some sort of polite way of saying she went pooh. But seriously. What does "private relief" even mean? Who is writing this garbage? A less awkward sentence could have easily been constructed. Should have been constructed. I mean, this works better, just off the top of my head:

"Noah noticed a subtle expression of relief flicker across Molly's face." See? That's not so hard! I'm not even a professional writer or nothin'.

She was nearly to the end of the exit track of the detector when she was stopped by the officer's voice.

"Miss ... Portman?"

When Molly turned around she must have seen exactly what Noah was seeing. The TSA man wasn't focused on her at all. He was staring down at her possessions in his plastic tray.

Molly must have seen what Noah was seeing. Well? Did she? Or not? You're the author here. Why is it unclear, Narrative Voice, what the main fucking character may or may not be seeing? Ugh. What garbage. What fartful, unrepentant garbage.

What everyone is (or perhaps not) seeing is Molly's silver cross necklace. "I thought that you were Jewish," comments the nerd. For No-Hassle VIP Waiting Room staff, this guy is really fucking nosey. Kyle, why don't you do something to stop these shenanigans? If I were Noah, I don't know that I'd give Kyle a tip.

It felt like the temperature in the room suddenly dropped by fifty degrees. Noah's mouth went totally dry, his skin tingling as though all the moisture had flash-frozen out of the atmosphere, settling into a thin layer of frost on everything exposed, suspending those six words on the air.

To whom exactly did it feel like the temperature dropped? Noah? Ah, nevermind. I don't care.

Cops know liars like plumbers know leaks. They encounter them every day, all day; they know all the little signs and symptoms, and they're trained to understand that where there's even a little whiff of smoke, one should always assume there's a fire. As they challenge a person they study their reactions, pick apart the little telltale movements, listen to the timbre of the voice, and more than anything else, they watch the eyes. Most suspects have already made a full confession by the time they begin their denial.

Why are we talking about cops? There are no cops here, are there? This is the No-Hassle VIP Waiting Room For Celebrities. I thought the staff consisted of an x-ray tech, a bartender, maybe a couple of fluffers. Certainly the x-ray tech nerd fanboy isn't a cop. Is he? Oh, I know, he's a Stormtrooper! Which is why he demands Molly take off her sunglasses. Just like that scene in Empire Strikes Back.

Molly turned to the officer, pulled back her hood and let it settle onto her shoulders, removed the baseball cap and let it fall to the floor at her feet, and then slow and sure, began to walk toward him.

"The Force is strong with this one," Molly said, as calm and smooth as a Jedi master. Her accent was gone, and her voice was just breathy enough to obscure any other identifying qualities of the real McCoy.

Oh, for fuck's sake. You're joking right? This is a fucking joke, isn't it? No one puts garbage like this into their little espionage novel. Do they? No. No, they don't. Yoda help me, this is a terrible, terrible book. What the fuck is the point of this? Is it supposed to be funny? I think it is supposed to be funny. But it isn't. It's not funny, it's not clever. Fuck, it isn't even timely.

The TSA man's cheeks began to redden slightly. A power shift was under way, and as Noah had learned firsthand, when this girl turned it on you never knew what was about to hit you.

She continued nearer, put a finger to the frames and lowered her sunglasses partway down her nose, tipping her chin so she could look at the officer directly, eye to eye, just over the top of the darkened lenses. As she stopped barely a foot away she subtly passed an open hand between their faces, and spoke again.

"These aren't the droids you're looking for," Molly said. After waiting a moment she gave him a little nod, as though it had come time in their close-up scene for his own line of dialogue.

There was an eternal pause, and then before his eyes Noah saw this big, intimidating young man begin his grinning transformation from the TSA's most vigilant watchdog into Natalie Portman's biggest fan.

This isn't the ghostwriter you're looking for, Beck.

After holding his rapt gaze for a few more seconds Molly pulled out the secret weapon more fearsome than any light-saber—that sweet, wicked smile that made your knees feel like they could bend in all directions. She slipped the pen from his pocket protector, clicked it, took the hand that still held her necklace, and autographed his palm with an artful flourish.

Oh, barf. Then Kyle whisks them away to the safety of the tarmac. Whew! That was close! Or something. It was stupid. Definitely stupid. And a waste of time. Pointless, stupid, hackneyed garbage. But, guess what: It gets even stupider!


"I need to ask you something," Noah said.

"Sure." It seemed she could see that he'd become more somber.

"When we were there in Times Square, when we kissed that time ..."

She took off the sunglasses and hooked them on her pocket, moved a little closer to him, brushed a windblown lock of hair from his eyes. "I remember."

"Is that when you pickpocketed my BlackBerry?"

Molly smiled, and pulled him willingly into her embrace. It was no real surprise, but this kiss was every bit as stirring as that first one had been, and as he realized then for certain, as good as every single one would be thereafter.

She stood back a step, her face as innocent as a newborn lamb, and held up his wallet between them.

"I love you," Noah said.

Molly looked up at him with all the courageous resolve of the doomed Han Solo at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

"I know," she replied.

Why? Why does he love her? Because he's the hero and she's the heroine? There is no other reason for them to be in love aside from them both being characters in this book. They are complete fucking strangers, brought together not by fate but through manipulation, deceit, treachery. Take away all the lies, the murder, the NWO, the poisonings, the burglary, espionage, treason, et cetera et cetera, the two have had a couple breakfasts together and little else. I tell you what, if some dude I met three days prior told me he loved me after one date, I'd not be flattered but a little fucking unnerved.

Garbage. This book is total garbage.

On the plane, Molly sleeps and Noah reads some Jefferson quotes as he wonders why they're heading to Vegas. Good question. Didn't Danny text her and tell her to stay the fuck away from Nevada? Ah, well, I'm sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Super!

Neo-Nazi fuckneck Jesse James, AKA Mr. Sandra Bullock, is penning his memoirs. And people ask why bookstores are going out of business.

Sure, Why Not?!



[Link.]

At Least We're Not Mississippi

Monday, February 21, 2011

Something To Waste Your Money On

If you're like me you like your bourbon, and you like it on the rocks. And if you're like me, you're probably a bit of a Star Wars nerd. Finally, drinking and Star Wars nerddom come together.



Ice cube trays in the form of R2-D2 (who cares) and Han Solo Frozen In Fuckin' Carbonite (frozen in fuckin carbonite!)! Get your Jim "Laser" Beam on the way it was meant to: With Han Solo just chillin' (HA!) in your glass. Available soon wherever stuff like this is sold.

Also suitable for chocolate, if you're into that kind of thing.

More info here.

[Tip of the ill-fitting Stormtrooper helmet to Red Sonja.]

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Six

I've said more than once that a particular chapter was the worst one of this whole fart of a novel. But this time I mean it. The next two, in fact. Thirty-six and –seven are unbearably, insultingly, aggressively stupid. To the point of offence.

Here is Noah's grand plan to sneak Molly out of NYC. They have to get to Vegas (so they can see the nuclear explosion up close?) and driving just won't do! I guess taking a train is out. And Noah, rich, powerful scion of America's Number 1 P.R. Genius does not have access to a private jet, nor the means to charter even a Cessna. (Also, there are no hot air balloons in New York. Look it up.) So, to the airport they must go.

For as much time as Beck spends dropping faction into everything, name-checking chicken-and-waffle shops, bringing authenticity by placing every bit of action in some real location, the airport is not actually named. Maybe Beck just didn't want to mention JFK, a popular Democrat. Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself. Those crazy kids haven't made it to the runway yet.

"Okay, we're all ready."

"What do you mean, we're all ready? You made one call and shut down security at an international airport?"

"I did better than that."

He did better than that! I guess when you're the rich, powerful scion of America's Number 1 P.R. Genius, you can pull all kinds of strings. Especially completely ridiculous and made-up strings! For example:

"Have you ever wondered how celebrities and public figures avoid all the hassle the rest of us have to go through when they need to suck it up and fly commercial?"

"I've never thought about it."

"They make a call like I just made. All the major airlines have a VIP liaison in the big cities, and there's a service company we've used from the office, KTL, that's going to grease the way even more. They'll meet us at the curb and walk us right to the plane..."

Ummm... Okay. Celebrities get to cut in line at the airport. Because of KTL? I guess. But, Molly points out the flaw in the plan: They're not celebrities! Or are they?? No, they're not. But!

Noah smiled. "I'm now dating Natalie Portman."

She looked at him as though his head had just turned into a pumpkin.

"Wait, what?"

Wait, what? Yeah, it turns out Molly is a dead ringer for Natalie Portman. Close enough, anyway. Besides, "she's done mostly art-house films, so the average Joe probably couldn't pick her out of a lineup." Oh. Okay. Good for Natalie. Even better for Molly. That's some plan, Noah.

Molly came back from the bathroom after ten minutes in there with her kit and a few instructions from Noah. She was in her Vanderbilt sweatshirt, her hair was up in a casual bun at the nape of her neck, and she'd done just enough to her lips and brows and lashes to suggest a layman's conception of a movie star who was wearing no makeup at all. The great advantage of this whole thing was that when celebrities are out in public trying to avoid a mob of fans and paparazzi, the last thing they want to resemble is who they really are.

She "came back from the bathroom after ten minutes in there"? Really, that is terrible writing. And certainly, one can blame that one Beck's ghostwriter, sure. But the good folks at Simon & Schuster certainly have a few editors on staff, no? Where were they with their red pens? I suppose it is easy to image that by this point they too quit caring one way or the other. It's a shame really, what with all their (presumed) love of personal responsibility, it seems such a cop out. They should have stayed the course, but no. I almost can't blame them. Almost.

"Perfect," he said. "Absolutely perfect. Oh, wait." He took her makeup kit and searched through its contents until he'd found a small dark pencil with a dull tip. "Lean your face over here." Molly did, and he carefully and gently went to work. "Natalie has got two little tiny beauty marks, one here ... and one ... over here." He leaned back, squinted, and studied his masterpiece. "That's it."

I guess this means Noah isn't the average Joe. He hardly seems the average Noah, either. But what do I know? I've never cut in line at the airport, so I'm just a layman.

On the short ride to the airport he told her the backstory he'd given to Kyle, the executive service agent from KTL: Noah and young Ms. Portman had spent a wild weekend together painting the town, and things had gotten a little out of hand toward the end. She'd had her purse stolen, she wasn't feeling well at all, and some nasty aggressive photographers had begun to bird-dog them. Now the mission was to spirit her out of the city while keeping her off Page Six of the New York Post.

Yeah. Okay. That's a great plan. By which I mean not at all. It reads like a childish fantasy. What someone without much in the way of critical thinking skills might imagine the world works. Secret rooms and velvet ropes and the rich and famous and powerful slinking through hidden doorways behind every oak bookcase. Of course, "someone without much in the way of critical thinking skills" does describe the average Beck fan.

"Now remember," Noah said, "the whole idea is that you don't have to deal with anybody. You don't have to talk to anyone and you don't have to make eye contact with anyone, which is good because your eyes are the wrong color. I told them you've lost your ID so no one's going to expect you to show it. You're in the big club now, you're a hotshot movie star who's had a few rough days of partying, and you're in no mood for any inconvenience. That's what we're paying all this money to avoid. But just keep thinking all that in your head; our guy and I will do all the talking."

I guess, really, what Beck is saying here is that the rich and famous are kind of assholes who think the rules don't apply to them. Whew! Good thing Beck isn't rich and famous! I'm not sure why he chose to include Natalie Portman in this mess. What did she ever do to him? She's from Israel for Christ's sake! Beck should love her. Maybe he does. Maybe this is his way of guaranteeing her a role in the inevitable big screen adaptation of The Overton Window.

Kyle from KTL, "in his dapper suit" meets them at the curb "and with a practiced sweep of his manicured hand" he whisks them away to the airport's underground.

Most people know there's a whole hidden part of Disney World the tourists never get to see. Underneath the sidewalks and behind the scenes, in a vast complex every bit as big as the park itself, this insider network of tunnels, workshops, machinery, and control rooms is where the magic really happens. Likewise, a major airport has its own sublevel of secrets, and our man Kyle held all the skeleton keys to this particular enchanted kingdom.

Snort. Heh. Yes, excellent writing. Very good. Quality stuff. I want the same ghostwriter on my next novel. (Instead of Natalie Portman, I'm having Joseph Gordon-Levitt guest star in mine.)

Halfway into the terminal Kyle stopped along the wall, looked furtively both ways, and then keyed open a featureless gray door. Like some portal from rural Kansas into the Land of Oz, inside this door was a large VIP room with elegant furnishings and sitting areas, a bar and some bistro tables, and down the center, a privately staffed setup for dignified, one-on-one security screenings.

Hahahahahahahahahaha!!! Seriously? Oh, okay. Awesome. Totally awesome. The VIP screening room. For celebrities. Perfect. With a bar. And elegant furnishings. I wonder if it's as quiet as Darthur's office. And I bet you can even smoke there. Because, you know, celebrities.

As perfect and expensive as Noah's plan is, it does have one flaw: "That's a Star Wars geek if I ever saw one," Noah quips in regard to the VIP X-ray tech.

Beck spends the next couple paragraphs badmouthing Star Wars fans. Pitiable losers, social pariahs, bowl haircuts, blah blah blah, hitting all the usual marks. I don't know what purpose this serves. I guess there's no crossover between Star Wars fans and Beck fans. Referring snidely to Star Wars shows how far out of touch Beck really is. Star Wars has come a long way in terms of respectability. Besides, Reagan loved him some Star Wars, and he's infallible, right?

Now, why someone so objectionable as this "Star Wars geek" would be stationed in the Elegantly Furnished VIP Waiting Room For Celebrities instead of, say, a supermodel or whatever, is beyond me. Well, no, it's not really. This guy is there just to create some tension. And like all moments of tension in this novel, it's pretty clunky and not very tense. Noah and Molly quickly huddle to discuss the prequels. Noah wants to bolt. Yeah, wow, he's just the guy to look after Molly, obviously. She, however, votes to bluff her way through security. That Molly! What a firebrand! (I am pretty sure that's not the proper use of firebrand, but what can I say, Beck has me inspired.)

Noah walks through the metal detector without a problem. The geek eyes him suspiciously nonetheless and considers having a go at him with the wand. Fortunately "Kyle cleared his throat meaningfully from where he was standing." Whew! Good thing he didn't clear his throat from where he wasn't standing. That would have been soooooo awkward.

This subtle, perfectly pitched intervention was sent to remind the room that this trip had already been preapproved from positions much higher than their own, and these two very important people weren't to be unnecessarily troubled by the rigors of the standard inquisition.

Now, some chapters back, way in the beginning of the novel, wasn't Beck lamenting how tough it was getting on an airplane these days? Did he forget all that? Because all it takes, from the looks of things, is a bit of cash. I know, I know, up until now this novel has been pretty consistent, so I guess we'll cut the authors some slack.

Noah puts his belt on and breathes a sigh of relief. Looks like they'll make it on to the plane afterall. Whoops! Maybe not! Molly sets of the metal detector! Oh noes!

End of chapter. Because, duh, that's tension: ending a chapter right when something happens.

Except, you know what? She doesn't have a gun. She doesn't have a knife. She doesn't have fillings. Nope! But she does have a crucifix around her neck. Whoops! So much for being from Israel!

Friday, February 18, 2011

You Know What You Need?

A trailer from the greatest arm-wrestling movie ever made, Over The Top:



[Video Paraphrase: Stallone. Underdog. Estranged father. Angsty teenaged boy. Mean rich guy. Cheering crowd. Big rig trucks. Stallone. Mean bald guy. "You ain't got a prayer in Vegas!" Mean rich guy. Mean bald guy. Stallone. Angsty teenaged boy. Arm wrestling. Stallone. "Over the top, dad! Over the top!" Hugs. Over the Top: Part 1. (Just kidding.)]

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back In Time


Photographer Irina Werning is working on a pretty cool project. She's invited her friends to recreate their childhood photographs with their grown-up selves. See above. That's her friend Lucia in 1956, and again in 2010. It's brilliant really.

The project is called Back To The Future, and more photos can be seen on her website.

The images are somehow heartwarming, poignant, and hillarious all at the same time. Take a peek.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Can't Wait To See This!

I've Got Good News, And I've Got Bad News

I've Got Good News, And I've Got Bad News

First, the good: Maryland is on the verge of legalizing gay marriage. Yay!

Two more state senators — Edward J. Kasemeyer and Katherine Klausmeier — announced this week that they will support same-sex marriage legislation, and Sen. James Brochin of Baltimore County said last week that he had switched from opposing the measure to supporting it. Those three Democrats bring the total of announced supporters of the bill up to 23, just one shy of the 24 necessary for passage.

Just one shy. Yay! It seems an inevitability for Maryland. Even an aggressive push back by homobigots might prove counterproductive. "Confronted with the contrast between the alarmist rhetoric of same-sex marriage opponents and the reality of healthy, stable families asking for nothing more than equal rights" Sen. Brochin was moved to support the legislation.

Now the bad news.

The Indiana house of representatives approved a constitutional ban on marriage equality Tuesday evening with a 70-26 vote.

The measure still has to go to the senate, but it is expected to pass there easily. Boo!

Legislation needs to survive another vote in either 2013 or 2014, and then go to the voters to make it into the constitution. Whether that will happen remains to be seen. Indiana lawmakers have made it pretty clear they don't like queers. Especially when you consider that Indiana had already banned gay marriage back in 1997.

But as the ban's author Eric Turner (R-Eprehensible) notes, a constitutional amendment is necessary to keep the state's courts from overturning that law.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Five

I know you've all been waiting for some more faction and here it comes! And by faction I mean there's a scene that takes place in a real restaurant (unlike the Stars 'n Stripes He-Man Patriots Club). Yay for faction! Boo for cab rides. Yeah, you didn't think you'd get away without another cab ride, did you? Remember, cab rides = movement. You can't say the story isn't moving because it is! Literally! See? Noah moved from the hospital to the Buccaneer Diner. A real page turner! Oh, and yeah, that's the faction part. The diner. It's real. Click here if you don't believe me. (You believe me, right?)

I'm not sure, but the writing actually seems to be getting worse as the novel progresses. That hardly seems possible. You'd think through the course of a couple hundred pages the ghostwriter might hit his stride. I guess not. Look at the opening paragraph:

The street address that had been scrawled on the hospital's notepaper didn't lead him to another of the so-called safe houses that Molly had described. When Noah looked up as the cab pulled to a stop he found he was outside what looked like a quaint family-style eatery, the Buccaneer Diner on Astoria Boulevard in Queens, about a mile from La Guardia Airport.

That first sentence is clunky and awkward. As if the author couldn't quite figure out how to express his ideas clearly, and just sort of jammed them together into one uncooperative sentence. Look, it's no secret that Beck is a wealthy man. He could have hired on any number of competent ghostwriters. Instead we're saddled with prose that reads like a tenth grade writing assignment. (No offense to tenth graders.) This is, quite literally, the worst thing I've ever read. And I've read Bret Easton Ellis. Yeah, I've used that joke before. This book is so crappy I can't even be bothered to come up with fresh insults for it.

Honestly, the only thing that keeps me going at this point is that we're only about ten chapters from the end. I can't wait to see how it turns out. (I can wait.) (p.s. I already know how it ends.) The truth is, it shouldn't have taken us 200 pages to get where we are, considering we've not come much anywhere. Right? There's a bomb, and a stolen Powerpoint, and the New World Order. Really, this could have been covered in the prologue. All of which is to say, you've probably guessed by now everything in this book exists solely to set up a sequel.

We're going to get our Casus Belli moment (bye-bye, Harry Reid!), then fade to black. No resolution, no closure, no nothing. Just 275 pages of fear-mongering, pseudo-libertarian wankery, and the worst writing this side of Stephenie Meyer. That end can't come quickly enough as far as I am concerned. Bring on the New World Order, I say. So long as they put a stop to this sort of hackery, I'm okay with being under the thumb of the Nicolae Carpathia or Horatio J. HooDoo or whomever.

The only good thing about this chapter is it is free of any dialogue. It's crap writing, sure, but I guess it could be worse. There's are lot of "Molly explained" and "Noah told her" without actually detailing any of what they said. It's quicker that way, I guess. And sort of frees the author from having to put too much thought into anything.

The two are quickly reunited. I guess if this were a movie (this soooooooooo needs to be a movie) the scene would be warmly lit, and in slow motion, and they'd talk, sure, but we, the audience, would only hear the swell of Howard Shore's tear-inducing score.

Inside the restaurant the lunchtime rush was winding down, with most of the tables emptying out and the floor staff busy doing cleanup and taking care of departing patrons at the register. But sitting alone in a booth near the back, in the nearest thing to a dark corner that was available in such a place on a sunny Monday afternoon, was the young woman he'd come to see.

When Molly looked over and saw him walking up the aisle she stood and was suddenly overcome by a flood of tears she must have been barely holding at bay. She ran to him and threw herself into his arms.

Yay. Star-crossed lovers.

One question: Why are these two lovebirds so thrilled to see one another? They've spent, what, a total of three or four hours in each other's company? (If you cut out all the time Noah's been unconscious. And Noah's spent a lot of time unconscious.) They chatted briefly at work. They barely talked at the teabagger bar. They briefly talked, I guess, in the back of the police wagon. There was a limo ride and chicken and waffles and a nap. Then they watched the Powerpoint, followed by a silent cab ride. Then another brief chat in Molly's safehouse apartment. They hardly know each other. And what Noah knows is largely a lie. He's twice been drugged by Molly. Manipulated by her evoking the memories of his late mother. Had his career nearly destroyed. So why does he want to see her? And Noah represents everything Molly despises. He is colluding to install the NWO. Noah's father just had her mother murdered, her ex-boyfriend arrested, her friends beaten. Why does she want to see him?

This romance, much like everything else in the book makes. no. fucking. sense.

Neither forgiving nor forgetting, he put it all aside for the time being and just held her for a while.

Swell.

Hey, I'm no cynic. (Okay, I am.) I liked Sabrina. I'm all for love where a couple that has nothing in common manage to find romance against all odds and somehow make it work. But it's not that Molly and Noah have nothing in common, they have actually been on opposites sides of a conflict fraught with murder plots, violence and deceit. And I'm not talking some Romeo & Juliet shit here either. Molly and Noah have been active participants in this treachery.

Nonetheless, the two are back in each other's lying, deceitful arms. And there is no time make-up sex.

Molly's traveling companions had gone on ahead to test the waters at La Guardia in preparation for their flight west toward less hostile environs. According to the news the DHS had taken the nation to high alert over the weekend, and that put the airports at the very highest level; this was obviously cause for concern. Sure enough, word had reached her that the first of her friends to pass through the TSA checkpoint had been singled out and pulled aside. They weren't just searched and harassed, as had often been the case in recent years; this time they were arrested and detained.

Molly explained that she had to get out of town and make it to a rendezvous across the country as quickly as possible. Driving wouldn't do; she had to fly in order to make it.

You know, I think maybe at this point, we're just reading the author's outline. It doesn't read like an actual novel. Just some jotted down ideas, some notes that will need to be fleshed out, later perhaps. I feel like I've stumbled onto Tolkien's background sketches for The Hobbit. If Tolkien was a dumbass.

Noah was listening, and he was also studying her face as she spoke. The passing resemblance to that picture of his mother was almost gone now that she'd ceased to maintain it. That likeness had been subliminal at best, just enough to hook into his subconscious. But now, as they sat under the bright fluorescent lights of a Queens diner, he realized that there was absolutely no denying who Molly did look like.

And that gave him an absolutely brilliant idea.

Anyone care to guess what Noah's brilliant idea is? No, don't bother. You'll never guess. You're not a dumbass. You could never guess. No one could. It's that bad.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Bloody Valentine

They take Valentine's Day very serious in Valentine Bluffs.

When two mining foremen leave work a bit early to get to the annual Valentine's Dance, five hapless miners blow themselves to bits. Lone survivor Harry Warden learns that while everyone in town was boogeying the night away, he and his chums were dying. This doesn't sit right with Harry. Next Valentine's Day he murders the two foreman, wraps their hearts in little candy boxes and delivers them to the dance with a note: No more Valentine's Dances. Ever.

Twenty years later when most of the townsfolk except the elderly have forgotten all about Harry and the murders, another dance is scheduled. And what happens? Harry immediately returns and starts pick-axing people again and sending their hearts via currier to the Mayor and his cronies.

Being as how this isn't Amity Beach, but somewhere in Canada (whenever someone apologizes, they intone a heartfelt "soory"), the Mayor cancels the dance. A couple freshly plucked hearts is all it takes to get his attention. But for good measure Harry kills another person, which makes him sort of an asshole. Maybe he was just trying to make a point.

In another genre-defying touch, our victims here are all coal miners and their girlfriends, not amorous teens. (Oh the Canadians are so cute, aren't they?) Sure they're amorous, and they all get killed for it, but they're actually a bunch of blue-collar types.

But in the end this is a slasher film, so certain precepts still apply: the killer is able to be in two places at once; has the ability to teleport wherever he needs, usually right behind someone; and once it's discovered a deranged murderer is on the loose, all parties immediately split up into kill-friendly little groups.

Not wanting to be denied their first dance in memory, the miners relocate things on the sly to the mine and surrounding property. This of course lures Harry closer to his victims and gives him a definite home turf advantage. As expected, they are knocked off one by one, usually with a pick axe, or some sort of mining equipment. Harry even throws in the classic two-lovers-skewered-together, using an industrial drill. Though, the nastiest death is the poor schmuck who gets dunked face-first into a pot of boiling wieners. Drowning in hot dog water! Damn, that's just nasty.

By the time the end rolls around and the bodies are piled up we're given a "surprise twist" ending that will mostly leave you scratching your head if you think too hard about it. With some films, it's best not to do that. My Bloody Valentine is no exception.

Still, this film is much better than it has any right to be. Worth checking out on Valentine's Day.

Directed by George Mihalka • R • 1981 • 91 minutes

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Oh, Dear God, No...



(Via.)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Four

Turns out the reedy woman was nobody. She's not mentioned again this chapter. In fact, I probably shouldn't have written about her at all. And fuck, now I've dragged her into two of my posts. She's not even named and I've given her more ink than Beck et al did.

So, yeah, about Beverly. She's dying. Been poisoned. That's the big reveal here. Well, one of them. The other is that Molly pulled the Mata Hari routine on Mom's orders.

"I don't expect you to understand why Molly did what I asked her to do. You should blame me, and not her."

Oh, well, I guess that's the old Conservative mantra of personally responsibility: Blame someone else! Huh? No, that's not right.

Beverly is on her deathbed. She's been beaten, she's been poisoned. She put her daughter up to duping Noah ("Noah, from the Bible, you know?" she says.) And then asks that same sap to get her daughter out of danger. Huh? What? I don't even... Zuh?

She trusts him why exactly? She has no reason to. None. It makes zero sense. It's illogical, and only serves to reunite Molly and Noah. Because star-crossed lovers. Or something. Seriously, this is some stupid shit right here.

Anyway, backing up a bit. When Noah first enters the room, it is overflowing with flowers.

Flowers were arranged all around the room, in baskets and vases and water pitchers, on extra rolling tables that seemed to have been brought in just to accommodate the overflow of gifts from well-wishers.

In case you didn't know, Everyone Loves Beverly (Mondays on the UPN!). Because she is such a Good Woman. And despite being beaten and poisoned, "the only thing that remained undimmed was that unforgettable spark in her light green eyes."

Really. The unforgettable spark. That is quality writing.

And even though she's dying and all, she finds the strength to comfort Noah. Because there's nothing better than being on your deathbed (literally) and having to soothe the soul of some over-privileged wankstain. That's totally how I want to go out. Just FYI.

Blah blah blah there's some inane dialogue, more eye twinkling, and general silliness. Beverly tells Noah to read Ephesians 6:12, rescue her daughter and save the world. Or at least America, I guess. I am sure Beverly could give two fucks about Mauritania.

My daughter is in danger. I need for you to promise me you'll see her to safety."

There were so many conflicting things hammering at his mind, but despite all that mental noise and everything that had happened, for once in his life he could see it all arranged in its true order of significance, and so he knew for certain there was only one thing to be said.

"I will."

Wouldn't she be better off with Hollis looking after her? I mean, he's a legendary survivalist. Noah, the manicured dildobrain so easily duped my Molly and Co. just two days ago, is Beverly's first choice as her daughter's protector? Whatever.

I sent Molly away, but she isn't safe yet," she said. "She's waiting now, near the airport. Look in the top drawer of the nightstand. She called and told one of the nurses where she'd be and they wrote it down for me."

Oh, that's not clunky or anything. No, definitely a very normal bit of dialogue. Speaking of things totally not clunky:

"I knew of your mother many years ago, and the good she wanted to do. That's what Molly saw in you: she told me. Not your father, but what your mother's given you. And I see it, too."

I don't really know what "I knew of your mother many years ago" means. Like, what, she'd read about her in a magazine? Like how I know of Justin Bieber now? Or something else? Like they were acquainted? I dunno.

Before Noah leaves, Beverly drops some mad science on him. Okay, no one says droppin' science anymore. Except me. Of course, we could bring that phrase back, right? Do me a favour. Use the phrase "droppin' science" in conversation today. Just for fun. Yeah, so Bev drops science, except she's a conservative, and probably very anti-science. Nonetheless:

There was that tiny glint of a smile again. "Noah, from the Bible, you know?"

He nodded, and despite everything, he smiled a bit himself. "Old Testament."

The weak hold on his hand tightened once again.

"He wasn't chosen because he was the best man who ever lived," she said softly. "He was chosen because he was the best man available."

Heavy. (Or not.)

Noah leaves and bumps into his doctor friend again out in the hallway. She tells him Beverly was pumped full of paraquat. What? They still make paraquat? Who knew? Glenn Beck knew, that's who! Or maybe this is the 1970s.

Then Dr. Meg Ryan offers up some foreboding words.

"I don't know how you're involved in all this," Ellen said, "but you'd better know something, Noah. There are a million kinds of murder, but anyone who would do to a person what they did to her? It only means there's nothing at all they wouldn't do."

Because, no doy, the New World Order ain't all unicorn farts and ice cream cones. Was anyone thinking it was? I thought we'd established back in the prologue that these were mean motorscooters, what with the assassination of the janitor and whatnot. They're planning to nuke Vegas, for fuck's sake. Why is the author trying to shock us with the notion that this PR firm is very, very bad?

Oh, yeah, because he's terrible, terrible writer.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Monoculture



Soft Cell: "Monoculture"

Number of the Day

83. The percentage of Kentuckians who believe gays should not be discriminated against, according to a survey released today by the state's Fairness Coalition. That's Kentucky, mind you, not one of those heathen states like California.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

The Worst Action Figure Ever

Seriously. Just look at this guy:

Happy Birthday, Ronald Reagan!



(Via.)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

My Inbox This Morning at Gays.com

So, I get this random message (an all-too common experience) from an African fellow on gays.com. I'm not sure why I seem to attract only men on distant continents, but that's neither here nor there. Check out this totally random greeting:

hello man how are u doing? i think am the one u can be seeking for , I just wana be ur friend and we can share each other pic at yahoo. SO WE CAN TALK ABOUT THE GAME THAT WE PLAY WITH NO PISSING i wana get ur yahoo id to add u for some chating or u can add me . and i cant wait to hear from so gladly soon .
[redacted]@yahoo.com
thank you

Huh? The game that we play with no pissing? So this guy is not into watersports? Fine by me, I am reasonably sure nowhere in my profile does it say I am into that either. (If that's your thing, good for you, no judgements here, it's just not my thing.) But, what the fuck? What a strange thing to say to a total stranger. "Hey, maybe we could be friends, so long as there's no urine involved!" Yeah, totally normal thing to say.

p.s. I do not have a Yahoo ID.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Random Eighties Music Video



Device: "Hanging On A Heart Attack"

Statistics

Top ten most-played songs on my iPod (total plays in parenthesis):

"Filthy/Gorgeous" by Scissor Sisters (9)
"Isaac" by Madonna (7)
"Mania" by Murder Inc. (7)
"The Name Gam"e by Divine (5)
"New Deal" by Martini Ranch (5)
"Kill All Hippies" by Primal Scream (5)
"Brilliant Blues" by Pete Townshend (5)
"Love Is Sweeping The Country" by Ella Fitzgerald (4)
"I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" by The Ikettes (4)
"When Fools Say Love" by John Kilzer (4)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter Thirty-Three

Part three, of course, means new characters. We get two this chapter. One is Ellen Davenport ("of the East Hampton Davenports"), the other "an older woman, frail and thin as dry reeds." The second woman has no name. Yet! Or maybe she won't get one. Who knows? Who cares? No, seriously, who cares? Anyone?

The chapter opens with Noah in a cab (of course), heading to the hospital. On the way he calls his childhood "friend who was a girl," Ellen, and asks her to meet him at Lenox Hill Hospital.

As he walked down the hallway of the ward Noah saw three things: the crowd of people overflowing from the double doorway of the floor's small chapel, a smaller knot of visitors waiting outside a single room down near the end, and Dr. Ellen Davenport, still in her wrinkled scrubs, waving to him from an alcove near the elevators.

So, who thinks Beverly Emerson will be cured by The Power of Prayer? Or do you think she'll die holding Noah's hand, maybe after revealing some profound Truth to him? Or, back to my early question: Who cares?

Ellen gave him a hug when he reached her, and then held him away at arm’s length and frowned. "You look like hell, Gardner."

Oh, those old friends! What cut-ups! Ha ha ha. Bleh. Here, have some backstory:

Noah and Ellen both also seemed to realize that dating each other was the last thing they should ever do. They'd actually tried it once just to be sure, and the discomfort of that terrible evening was matched only by its comic potential when the story was retold by the two of them in later years.

Wow. That's just like When Harry Met Sally. But in two sentences instead of 90 minutes. Wow, this book isn't even trying anymore. Just pretend that was a charming moment between two old friends. If it's helpful, go ahead and imagine Meg Ryan as Ellen. (Link!)

So, blah blah blah, except not blah blah blah because this whole chapter is a page and a half long and there isn't exactly a superfluity of words spilling out of the pages here. But short story even shorter, Ellen tells Noah the pills he is taking is methadone (whatever) and Noah asks Ellen to get a good doctor for Beverly.

And somewhere in all that is this:

Noah was preoccupied, looking over the people milling through the hall, every bit as afraid that he might see Molly as that he might never see her again.
Whatever.

Noah was interrupted by the approach of a stranger. It was an older woman, frail and thin as dry reeds, and from the corner of his eye he'd seen her come from the direction of that room near the end of the hall. The woman nodded her respect to Ellen, turned to him, and then spoke with a gentle gravity in her voice that said more than the words (Link!) themselves would convey.

"She's awake now. Somebody told her you were here, and she says she wants to talk to you."

Whatever.

The chapter, of course, ends on that dramatic note. I think the author went to the Soap Opera School of Dramatic Writing. Ominous dialogue + Moody close up of smoldering eyes + music sting = Tension. Okay then. Cut to commercial. (Link!)

And for the record, chapter thirty-four picks up right where thirty-three leaves off, so the break serves no purpose outside of some misguided attempt to create suspense with page breaks.

Whatever.