Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alone in the Dark

I'm going to admit something to you. I fell asleep twice watching this movie. I had to watch it three times before I was able to stay awake through the whole thing. This film is not good. To be fair, maybe I just fell asleep because I was tired.

Though I was fully awake the last time I watched it, I am still not sure what happened. It's a jumbled mess of bad ideas, bad dialogue and bad special effects. There's a story here, I think, something about orphans, and monsters, and secret government agencies, and an ancient civilization. I assume the video game on which this was based was better because, you know, you got to shoot at things while playing.

In the film version, a bunch of stuff happens, there's some bad nü-metal on the soundtrack, a sex scene (I fast-forwarded through it), and lots and lots of bullets. There are monsters too, which you can't really see, they're blackish, and tend to keep themselves to the shadows, making them hard to get a good look at. A bunch of marine-types try to kill them in a museum, and a loft and a mine shaft.

All through this, Tara Reid fumbles her dialogue. As Bunny Lebowski, she was fairly convincing as she offered "I'll suck your cock for a thousand dollars." But here, playing a scientist, she has trouble with big words like "radius" and "Newfoundland" and "how many?"

Stephen Dorff blusters his way around, swearing and generally being a prick for no reason. He constantly insults our hero, despite his barbs making little sense in the context of this film. He is so transparently "bad" that I think we're supposed to be surprised by his sacrifice at the film's end. Unfortunately, it's a gimmick that's been used in roughly 9000 movies already. But, he does get the film's best line of dialogue: "This doesn't make any sense." No shit.

And Christian Slater? His career never really recovered from his drug bust in the late Nineties, and the subsequent string of shitty film roles soon after. Which is why he's forced to do crap like this. Then again, he's not really a great actor, he never was, and maybe crap like this is the best we can expect from him.

Directed by Uwe Boll • R • 2005 • 96 minutes

Funkmaster Corey Haim!

Tetras



My tank at home.

Bernie Sanders' Guide To Corporate Freeloaders

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Commercial Break

Jane's Getting Serious + Matt LeBlanc = Heinz Ketchup.

Rooster: Spurs of Death!

Cockfighting was once the sport of kings, noblemen, a tradition as old as civilization itself. But as is often the case, certain things fall out of favor over time. Workhouses, for example, or wicker furniture. A general consensus develops and diversions once considered acceptable are now deemed as reprehensible, tacky even.

Such is the case with cockfighting. Shunned the world over, especially since the advent of televised bowling, cockfighting is now practiced solely by Rednecks and Filipinos. (This may not be true.) And that's where Stoke and Wyatt come in.

Stoke and his son Wyatt are heading to a cockfighting tournament in Kansas. It'll be Wyatt's big debut as a cocker. (Yes, "cocker" is how these guys refer to each other, making this sport sound much gayer than it really is.) Wyatt wants to prove he's a man. Nothing does that quicker than tossing hostile chickens at one another. And Stoke, he hopes to win enough money to buy the affections of his cheating wife. So Stoke, Wyatt and their mute farm hand (I don't know, it's never explained) head to Kink's. Kink is the Midwest's leading cockfight promoter, sort of a Don King of Midwest cock rings.

And what's waiting for them? A whole lot of heartache and midget with a gun.

Along the way Stoke details his "weakness for knockers," Wyatt meets a hooker with a heart of gold, and the mute, well, mostly he just nods. There are also various subplots about nefarious bookies trying to manipulate the odds, dirty cops on the take, and Stoke's troubled marriage. Oh, and the midget. The midget, cheerfully nicknamed Chicken, has the hots for Kink's daughter. It seems he too has a weakness for knockers.

All of this leads up to the exciting finale of the cockfighting tournament. It's kind of like The Karate Kid, but with chickens. The end of this film is fraught with intrigue (yes, intrigue), lust, and violence. Plus that midget with the gun I'd mentioned earlier. But I don’t want to spoil it for you...

See this movie. If not for all the slow-motion cockfighting footage then for the primo dialogue. Like Stoke's argument with his wife where he defines her role in the relationship: "You're just an egg-layer, Gaylee. You're my hen!" A look into the life of a cocker doesn't get any better than this.

Directed by Brice Mack • PG • 1983 • 92 minutes

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Straight To Hell



Alex Cox's Straight to Hell, 1987. 82 mins.

Sure, Why Not?!


The Boy With Pink Hair by Perez Hilton tells of a boy with a "shock of fabulous hair" and "celebrates individuality and acceptance" will be released in September.

An Invention the World Doesn't Need



I'm pretty sure this is a joke. Right? It has to be, doesn't it?

Baller jeans. Jeans with a built-in glove so you can scratch your nuts. Really! For the man who has everything, including crabs? Well, I guess that's thoughtful.

Decisions, Decisions

I bought some blank DVDs recently. Inside, was a coupon for a free movie download. Yay! Free movies! So I logged onto the website and check out the selection of free films:

21
All The Pretty Horses
As Good As It Gets
Big Daddy
Blue Streak
Charlie's Angels
Cops And Robbersons
Finding Forrester
Ghost Rider
Guess Who
Hero
Last Action Hero
Multiplicity
Real Genius
Return To The Blue Lagoon
Stomp The Yard
Stuart Little
The Age Of Innocence
The Da Vinci Code
The Wedding Planner
Vertical Limit
Vice Versa
Thanks, Sony! Gee, I don't know which of these fine films I want to own. Really. I don't.

New Music!

This week is mostly re-issues, live albums and best-of collections. So, basically, fuck you, March 29th.

Quicksilver

Jack (Kevin Bacon) is a stockbroker. Not a very good one. In just one day he manages to lose his parents' entire life savings. Diversify, Jack, diversify! It's not pleasant when Jack returns home to break the bad news to his old man.

Then suddenly Jack is a bike messenger. I think maybe there is a missing reel of film somewhere. One moment Jack is telling his father he's lost everything, next thing he's pedaling down the streets of L.A. with no explanation as to what's happened in between.

At Quicksilver Messenger Service it is Terri's first day. She is introduced to her new co-workers who all have clever little names like Teddy Bear, Airborne, Apache and Hector. But it's Voodoo who she's most interested in. Voodoo (Laurence "Don't Call Me Larry" Fishburne) always has cash, because he's willing to do the occasional delivery job for Gypsy, the local black-market gun dealer.

Terri (Jami Gertz) also witnesses lots of clever antics by Jack and his fellow messengers. There are a lot of scenes of bike stunts (Look, Ma, no hands!), races, and feats of dexterity, all set to Giorgio Moroder-produced pop tunes. If you like to watch people on bikes ride in circles and hop around on their rear tires, this film is a sure-fire winner.

When Voodoo double-crosses Gypsy, he's killed and Terri is quickly recruited to replace him. Halfway through the film and a plot finally starts to develop. When Jack realizes Terri is in trouble he does the only thing he can: He returns to the stock market and raises enough cash to help Hector buy a hot dog cart. It's up to Apache and company to defend Terri.

But amid all the turmoil Terri runs to Jack's warehouse/home, Gypsy in tow, and forces a confrontation between the two. Another extended chase scene follows, with Gypsy in his car and Jack on his bike dueling it out on the mean streets of L.A.

This film is a mishmash of bike stunts, disconnected plot points, and stupidity, all strung together with a pop soundtrack. There isn't much here to recommend, unless you like bike stunts set to horribly outdated music. If that's your thing, track this film down. Otherwise avoid like a flat tire.

Directed by Thomas Michael Donnelly • PG • 1986 • 105 minutes

Monday, March 28, 2011

Push It To The Limit (of The Blu-Ray Pricepoint)



Scarface Limited Edition Blu-Ray with Humidor. MSRP: $999.99.

Now, it's beyond me why anyone would spend 1000 USD, or the comparable in Bieberdollars (or even in CUP), on a DVD of one of the world's most terrible movies. Yeah, there are some extras including a documentary (yawn) "on the film's effect on culture," and a copy of the original 1932 version. There's a scorecard "allowing you to keep track of the number of F-words said and bullets fired" because I guess in the long history of the internet no one has ever bothered to count those before and you couldn't google that or anything. Speaking of the internet: link.

There's a humidor too, which is nice, I guess, though I am not sure how any of this adds up to $1000.

The film, despite being awful in just about every way, is exceedingly popular. I'm not sure how it became such a cultural milestone. It is so ridiculous and over the top, every moment of it, from Pacino's terrible accent to Giorgio Moroder's sitar-heavy score to whomever's direction (De Palma maybe?) All of which rests on a pile of garbage known as the script.

How does anyone watch Pacino spit out lines like "All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don't break them for no one" and not burst out laughing? Because that's my reaction. The only redeeming quality this film has is that it is just fucking hilarious. Sadly though, it was meant to be deadly serious.

So, yeah, I won't be picking up this one. But hey, don't let that stop you!

[Via.]

Blow

Ke$ha makes out with unicorns and Dawson Creek. So, cool, I guess.



Ke$ha: "Blow"

Evil Baby of the Day



"Come to the dark side, we have cookies."

Blood Freak

I'm not going to bother explaining the plot of this one because, first, it's totally irrelevant, and second, it's completely idiotic. All you need to know about Blood Freak is this: Herschel (Steve Hawkes) smokes some pot, eats some tainted poultry, and turns into a blood-sucking, lady-killing, turkey-headed monster!

That's my review. Sorry, folks, there really isn't anything more to say other than you need to see this one, right now.

Notes:

The cinematographer appears to have ingested 9000 demitasses of espresso. Some shots are jittery enough to induce vomiting. He may have also been working with his eyes closed, as the camera is often out of focus, and/or framed at random.

The sound is a mess. It varies widely between shots, ranging from being barely audible, to tinny, to muddy, to every so often being passable. On the other hand, the music is consistently mediocre throughout.

The narrator (Brad F. Grinter) did not bother to learn his lines. He pauses every few words to look down and read his script. He trips up a few times, but there are no retakes. Best part: when he has a coughing fit near the end of the film.

The turkey sounds at the farm are obviously people saying "gobble gobble" and making other "animal" noises.

In my youth, my mother had the exact same painting hanging in our house as the druggies in this movie (see here).

When Herschel and Anne are seen smoking weed, the director can be heard saying "action."

Directed by Brad F. Grinter and Steve Hawkes • R • 1972 • 80 minutes

Akira Coming to (A Very White) Big Screen

Hey, remember The Last Airbender? That was a movie that came out last year and pissed a lot of people off because: A) the whitewashing of the cast, and B) it sucked. I haven't seen it, so I can't confirm nor deny it's suckitude. But if the internet is any barometer, and the internet is always right, the film was garbage. Also, no one was really arguing that it wasn't whitewashed, were they?

Well, along those same lines, a live action adaption of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira is coming to the big screen. For those who don't know, the comic series is about (forgive me, I'm working from memory here and it's been 20+ years since reading it) about rival gangs of motorcycle hooligans made up of reform school delinquents from Neo-Tokyo who stumble into a government conspiracy involving psychic children. Or something. Anyway, there are motorcycles and laser beams and lots of Japanese kids in the thing.

So, naturally, Hollywood's top choices for actors to fill the roles of these Asian teens include:

Robert Pattinson, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake and Joaquin Phoenix.

Because when I think Asian teen, the first person that pops into my head is thirty-six-year-old Joaquin Phoenix. I especially loved his performance in the biopic Walk The Line, as famed Japanese singer Johnny Cash. Plus he was awesome in Space Camp back when his name was Leaf.

Hoo boy. What a disaster. Discuss.

Doomsday Pinpointed


Hold onto your bootstraps, kids! The end is fucking well nigh. As they say. Very nigh at that. Like two months away. Less than, really. Nevermind all that Mayan bullshit about 2012. The world is set to end May 21, 2011.

That is according to Harold Camping of Family Radio Worldwide. I don't know who Family Radio Worldwide is, but I checked and they run two stations here in town. They're on AM, so I've never heard them. Not even by accident. Nonetheless, Camping has pinpointed the exact day of dooms, using the following method:

  1. According to Camping, the number five equals "atonement", the number ten equals "completeness", and the number seventeen equals "heaven".

  2. Christ is said to have hung on the cross on April 1, 33 AD. The time between April 1, 33 AD and April 1, 2011 is 1,978 years.

  3. If 1,978 is multiplied by 365.2422 days (the number of days in a solar year, not to be confused with the lunar year), the result is 722,449.

  4. The time between April 1 and May 21st is 51 days.

  5. 51 added to 722,449 is 722,500.

  6. (5 x 10 x 17)² or (atonement x completeness x heaven)² also equals 722,500.

See? I dare you to argue with that. It can't be done. Seriously, I am sure it is impossible to counter any type of argument against that. Of course, I am not a mathematician, so I could be wrong. Camping isn't a mathematician either, so who knows if he is wrong. I bet he believes he's right. I bet a lot of people believe he is right.

If Camping is wrong, then a lot of people have wasted a lot of money painting RVs. If he is right, there'll be a lot less traffic after the Rapture.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jack Rebney, One Pissed Off RV Salesman

Suede Working On New Material

Good news, Britpop fans: Legendary band Suede are working on new songs. Woot! Oh, but there's a catch. They may never see the light of day.

Speaking to Rolling Stone Indonesia, singer Brett Anderson said that though the band were working on new songs they won't release them unless they are "outstanding".
Harrumph!

Frankenweenie

Victor Frankenstein is your typical suburban kid. And when his dog is run over by a car, he does what any typical kid would do: He brings the dog back to life.

It's rumored the Disney balked upon seeing this film, Tim Burton's first, and refused to release it, unsettled by the dark subject matter. Not your average boy and his dog film was this. Of course, after Burton became one of the most successful directors around, Disney had a change of heart.

What is clearly apparent, though Disney may have been blind to it, is Burton's talent behind the camera. Not only is there a mastery of style but Burton knows how to tell a story. Frankenweenie captures perfectly the spirit of whimsy mixed with the grotesque that typifies the Burton oeuvre. It wasn't a big jump from this to his follow-up, Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

So much here foreshadows Burton's later work. From the angry mob of Edward Scissorhands to the burning windmill of Sleepy Hollow, and the overriding theme of misunderstood outsider, this is vintage Burton.

But is the film too dark? I found it more cute than anything. Given that Burton's fan base are largely adults, I can't see anyone objecting to this film. That aside, I think we tend to be overprotective of children when it comes to such weighty subjects as death, and it's probably to their detriment.

Frankenweenie is definitely worth searching out.

Directed by Tim Burton • PG • 1984 • 30 minutes

Thurgood Marshall Statue


Corner Pratt and Sharp Streets, Edward A. Garmatz Federal Bldg. & U.S. Courthouse in the background.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Random That Mitchell and Webb Look Clip



SS Captains

Alucarda

Alucarda is a strange girl. I'm not sure if she's naturally predisposed to sketchy behaviour, or if it comes from being raised in a convent.

She wears nothing but black and skulks in the shadows. She collects rocks and calls them secrets. She speaks in conspiratorial tones as if everything she says is a new revelation, only to be whispered about in hushed silence. None of these things would lead you to think she was inherently evil, but when Alucarda does become possessed by demons, you can only shrug and say "Yeah, that figures."

The convent is run by the Sisters of the Perpetually Bloody Snatch. No, that's not the official name of the order, it's just what I like to call them. The Sisters wear grubby white habits, all of which are stained blood-red at the crotch. It defies any sort of explanation really. (Or, if it does, it is beyond me.)

Things don't start going badly at the convent until Justine (Susana Kamini) arrives. She's been recently orphaned and sent to live among the nuns. Justine and Alucarda become fast friends and it's not too long before they're frolicking in the woods surrounding the convent. It's on one of these excursions that the two happen upon a gypsy (Claudio Brook).

He's a goat-bearded man with fluffy, sheep-skin pants. (Think Torgo without the overgrown kneecaps.) He tries to charm the girls but his poetic gibberish just freaks them out and they flee to the safety of a mausoleum. I told you Alucarda was a strange girl: she immediately starts poking around the caskets and manages to release some sort of demon that seemingly possesses the girls.

It's bad news from here on out. Later that evening the goat-faced gypsy materializes in Justine's room at the convent and strips both her and Alucarda naked. Incantations are chanted, the skies rain blood, and the girls are transported to a satanic orgy. Old Scratch himself makes an appearance, though his only participation in the debauchery is rubbing everyone's heads. Frankly, that may be far creepier than if he'd actually humped someone.

Needless to say, the girls' attitude towards the Sisters grows a bit hostile after this. And spewing heresy in bible study does little to help the situation. This outburst, and an incident in the confession booth, reveals Alucarda and Justine's true nature. It also reveals that some nuns have Brooklyn accents.

Of course, Father Lázaro immediately calls for an exorcism. A naked exorcism to be exact. A naked exorcism with knives. Do I need to tell you things don't go well? (But really, do exorcisms ever turn out well?) Lázaro and the Sisters seal their fate, performing unspeakable acts upon Justine's body.

One of the benevolent sisters and the town doctor attempt to intercede, but it's too late. Justine is dead. Or is she? When they inspect the mausoleum where she has been interred they find Justine isn't lying still in her coffin, she wide awake and thirsty for blood.

Now, I must note a few things about the doctor. First, he's played by the same actor that portrayed the demonic gypsy. Secondly, he's wearing a pair of glasses that are clearly from the wrong century. Thirdly, the only thing he's carrying in his little black bag is a bottle of holy water. Sure, that last thing comes in handy as he douses Justine, but in the long run, it turns out to be a bad move.

See, now Alucarda is really pissed. She wants revenge. And she gets is. One by one she destroys the sisters. She screams "Baphomet!" and a nun explodes into flame. "Beelzebub!" and there goes another. This goes on and on until the convent is engulfed, a pyre of burning sisters satisfying Alucarda's taste for vengence.

Overall, this is a fun film, you know, for one that features heavy on the torture and sadism. But you can never go wrong with exploding nuns.

Directed by Juan López Moctezuma • Unrated • 1978 • 85 minutes

Headline of the Day

"Would You Wear an Ascot?" Ummm.... Maybe.

Bonus image accompanying article:

Born This Way

I have no idea what's going on here. But there are pink triangles and unicorns, so it must be gay.



Lady Gaga: "Born This Way"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor RIP

Reuters is reporting that Elizabeth Taylor has died of congestive heart failure. She appeared in over 60 films, won two Oscars, in a career that spanned five decades.

In addition to acting, Taylor helped found American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation.

She was 79.

AT-AT at Work

AT-AT model, protects my desk at work. Note ramen cup for scale.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Music!

Tuesday is new release day! What's on tap for March 22, 2011:

Duran Duran: All You Need Is Now
It's fair to say I like Duran Duran more now than I did in the Eighties. That's no reason for them to hook up with Mark Ronson and put out a new album.

Pet Shop Boys: The Most Incredible Thing
I love PSB. But this has something to do with a ballet they wrote. So, I guess, technically, it is still dance music.

Soundgarden: Live on I-5
Remember when Seattle was relevant?

Yellowcard: When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
Yellowcard have been around forever, but I have no idea who they are or what they sound like. Maybe I should visit Hot Topic and find out.

Green Day: Awesome as F**k
Somewhere about 2/3rds the way through their career, Green Day were unexpectedly hailed as geniuses. Now they're giving us a live album.

Chris Brown: F.A.M.E.
This guy is an A.S.S.H.O.L.E. If everyone ignores him, he'll go away.

The Strokes: Angles
At least it's not a concept album titled "Angels" about our heavenly watchdogs. True fact: Over 50% of Americans believe in angels!

William Fitzsimmons: Gold in the Shadow
It's folk rock à la James Taylor but it's on Nettwerk? What's going on at Nettwerk, anyone know?

Panic at the Disco: Vices & Virtues
At least they've removed the stupid exclamation point from their name.

Ke$ha: I Am the Dance Commander & I Command You to Dance: The Remix Album
Who are we to argue with someone who makes out with unicorns? She commands it, we do it.

My Inbox This Morning at Gays.com

As I mentioned previously, gays.com is people entirely with con artists intent on squeezing a few bucks out of hapless faggots. Unfortunately for them, I'm not hapless. I know my way around a 419 scammer. Nonetheless, they give it their best shot.

Recently I began communicating with a gent who claimed to be a barrister from Baltimore who was interested in a date. First off, no one in this country calls them barristers, so red flag right there. This alleged lawyer's English was, to put it nicely, very idiomatic. Whoops, another red flag. Third ill-considered move on his part was insisting we chat via email, instead of gays.com messages. The bad thing there is that sending email lets me see the originating IP. And after the first email I knew for fact this fellow (assuming our con artiste was even a dude) was from Calicut, India.

Knowing all that, I figured I'd play along. I knew there would be, inevitably, a plea for money. What I wasn't sure of was how exactly this would manifest itself. But I was curious.

So we talked.

Alsmost immediately Barrister John Bedford peppered his missives with lots of dears and sweethearts and love yous. Yeah, I don't know you. We're not in love. We're not even friends. This went on for weeks. Mostly because I'd forget about him and after five or six days I'd get another plea that we meet.

Okay, I figured. Why not? Knowing he was not from around here, I tried to get him to choose a time and place. That didn't work. But finally, after suggesting both Fudge Palace and Fisty McGee's, we agreed to meet. I then put the matter out of my mind.

I didn't hear anything from the barrister for a couple weeks. Until:

Hello Dearie,

How are you doing? sorry i have to be able to write you all this while,it was due to some kinda of thing that happened to me, i was coming back from where i went to somedays back when a running car hit me and i fell unconscious that moment and after that,the next thing i saw was that i found my self in the hospital,actually i didnt sustain much injury but just fainted. Im still in the hospital right now as i write you now,using the hospital computer.Am really conffused here,The doctor has discharged me but one thing is holding me which is the hospital bill in which i have no idea on how to raise the money to pay the bill.I was only having $200 on me here now,I therefore use this medium to ask you for help if you can render any assistance to me.I will be glad at your kind gestures towards me.I will be needing atleast $700 for the bill or less depending on what you are capable of giving me.Hope to hear back from you asap.love you dearie...

John cares..

Ah, so there's the con! Perfect. Explains why we never made it to our date. Woe is him! What a buffoon.

I wonder though. Does anyone actually fall for this? I think I should suggest I pay the hospital directly, just to see how he reacts.

This Night I Will Possess Your Corpse

Coffin Joe is not dead.

Despite appearances at the end of the previous film, Joe has not been struck down by angry spooks, he's merely been rendered catatonic. And blind. And under arrest on some very serious charges. You remember all those murders, that rape, the lesser charges (the whipping, the dismemberment.) Seems the authorities have had enough and want him to pay for his crimes.

Unfortunately, the charges don't stick and Joe is freed. I think maybe the prosecution team was from L.A. So, Joe returns to his home and, having regained his sight, resumes his mission to find the perfect wife to spawn him a child. This doesn't involve him taking out a personal ad in one of the weeklies. No, he abducts the five most eligible gals in town.

But how can Coffin Joe determine which one of the women is most worthy of his seed? He locks them in their communal boudoir and dumps a couple thousand tarantulas on them. The only one who doesn't screech her head off earns Joe's love. It's sort of like Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire, but with giant arachnids.

And the losers? They're sent down to Joe's underground lab and fed to the snakes by his hunchbacked assistant. Yeah, I didn't know Joe had an underground lab or a hunchbacked assistant, but such is the Secret Life Of An Undertaker.

But all is not well in Joe's life. No, it seems Joe's crimes are so vile that Satan himself wants a word with him. Joe is sucked through the ground (headfirst into a freshly dug grave, no less) straight into the underworld! And what a psyche-fuckin-delic Hell it is! For the next ten minutes the film switches to full-colour, and we're witness to muscle-bound demons pitchforking the damned. Sinners writhe and bleed, are whipped and beaten, all for the merriment of Satan. It really has to be seen to be believed! (Click here to view the scene.)

Joe is returned to Earth, and he's a better man for it, having learned the error of his ways. Okay, I'm lying. He's still a miserable son of a bitch, but the townsfolk have finally had enough. A mob gathers, and pursues Joe through a swamp, and to his doom. Again.

As sequels go, this one is pretty decent. Marins is clearing operating on a bigger budget. The hunchbacked assistant and underground lab are great, if incongruous, additions. And the trip to Hell must be seen. Seriously, I suspect Marins must've been on the really good acid when producing this segment. On the down side, the tacked-on moralizing ending comes across a bit forced, but this is otherwise worth seeing.

Directed by José Mojica Marins • Unrated • 1967 • 108 minutes

Nemesis



Shriekback: "Nemesis"

Sure, Why Not?!



Randy Quaid and the Fugitives: "Star Whackers"

[Via.]

Monday, March 21, 2011

Nothin' But Dengars

See? I told you:

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul

Coffin Joe is a sinner: he eats meat on Fridays. That may not sound like a big deal to you, but in a devoutly Catholic country like Brazil, it's a mortal sin.

Coffin Joe (or Zé do Caixão as he known in his native tongue) has a unibrow, top hat and a very foul disposition. He bullies townsfolk around, harasses Gypsies and threatens to charge double for burying anyone he kills. He is not your ordinary undertaker.

He wants what all of us want: A son to carry on his name. Unfortunately for Joe's wife, she's barren, and can't give him the progeny he deserves. It's also unfortunate for Antônio, Joe's best friend, and his girl Terezinha, as Joe devises a plan to inseminate Terezinha. But first he must get his own wife and Antônio out of the way.

Brutally, sadistically, Joe does away with them. He poisons his wife with a giant spider, then he bludgeons Antônio before drowning him in the bathtub. Coffin Joe quickly then puts the make on Terezinha. Of course, she's not having any of it, as she suspects Joe of treachery.

Running around in a top hat and a cape can definitely spoil your reputation. As can flaying the insolent with bullwhips and stabbing them with broken bottles. And when Terezinha rejects him, Joe punches her repeatedly in the face, knocking her unconscious. He then rapes her. (Joe is a serious douche. How he's evolved into something of a folk hero is beyond me.)

When Terezinha awakes and finds herself bloodied and abused, she vows she'll never have Joe's baby. She'd just as soon kill herself as spawn anything from her violated womb. But before she takes her own life, she swears revenge upon Joe, and promises she'll be back for his soul one midnight when he least expects it...

Hey, Joe, a word of advice: Don't go lurking around graveyards on the Day of the Dead. There are more than a few pissed off spirits on the prowl.

But fear isn't something Joe cottons to, so wander among the headstones he does. And it isn't long before vengeful ghosts set upon him and exact their revenge.

Directed by José Mojica Marins • Unrated • 1964 • 84 minutes

Teabagging Is Forbidden At Fudge Palace



In other (sad) news: The Fudge Palace is now a titty bar.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Yellow Moon



Neville Brothers: "Yellow Moon"

Headline of the Day

"Strip Search Finds Crack Between Buttocks." Ummm... yeah.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Satan's Children

Holy Jesus.

It's generally known that Christians don't much like homosexuals. Apparently there is a line in the Bible somewhere stating that homosexuality is a sin, so Christians take it very seriously. Anyway, if Christians don't like homosexuals, you'd think Satanists would be all over them. After all, if something flies in the face of God, well, one would assume those who live to defy Him would embrace it.

Apparently not. As much as one would think buttfucking and blowjobs would be the purview of Satan worshippers, it isn't. Nope. Satanists hate homosexuals almost as much as Jerry Falwell does.

In this film, our hero, Bobby (Stephen White), has a pretty wretched home life. His stepsister wavers between berating him, trying to seduce him, and making fun of his penis. His stepfather is verbally abusive, yelling his way through every scene. And the director, he mostly films Bobby in his underwear, luridly focusing on his crotch as often as possible.

Having had enough, Bobby runs away. He wanders the streets for what seems a very long time. Truthfully, every scene in this movie seems to go on for a very long time. Long after we've got the point, the director will allow a scene to linger, as if the concept of pacing is foreign to him.

Bobby meets a kindly fellow named Jake. Jake offers him a place to spend the night, so Bobby goes home with him. But instead of letting him sleep on the couch, Jake and his three buddies gang rape Bobby. And, yes, this scene goes on far too long as well, but it does allow the director to get lots of shots of Bobby's bare ass. When the gang has had their fill, they dump Bobby, naked and bruised, by the side of the road.

Unfortunately, he's found by a group of nearby Satanists and things go from bad to worse for Bobby.

Now, at Camp Satan, Sherry (Kathleen Archer) has a problem of her own. Monica, one of the other Satanist girls has been putting the moves on her. "I can't help it," she cries, but Sherry warns her gruffly "You better start trying to like guys" or she'll tell Simon. And who is Simon? Chief Satanist, it seems, though he is away on business at the moment.

Bringing Bobby into the fold creates a second problem for Sherry. Another Satanist challenges her authority. Apparently Joshua doesn't like the idea of Bobby being allowed into the group because "he's queer." And worse yet "Simon don't like victims." But Sherry is pretty decisive, in a way that middle managers sometimes are when the boss is at a conference in Duluth, and they make wrongheaded decisions, only to end up in worse trouble when the real person in charge gets back.

Her first decision: Slaughter some goats, tie up Monica, and offer her up as a sacrifice. But before things can really going on the lesbian murder, it is discovered Joshua is praying to Lucifer for Simon's speedy return. (The idol of Lucifer, by the way, looks as if it were purchased from Toys 'R' Us.) The insubordination is quickly dealt with, by hanging Joshua and couple of his girlfriends. Unfortunately, his pleas to the Dark One are answered, and Simon unexpectedly returns that night.

Simon (Robert C. Ray II) is none too pleased with what he finds. Joshua is in the noose, Monica is still bound up, and Sherry is sharing her bed with a stranger. Needless to say, she's in for something of a rude awakening. Simon immediately sets about dispensing justice and restoring order to the ... coven? commune? whatever...

First up is Monica. She's been accused of lesbianism. Simon questions her about Sherry's charges. Monica denies it all, but is soon choking on her words. Literally. Blood spews from her mouth, as she screams, gurgles, and dies. The Lord of Lies, much to my surprise, has a low tolerance of liars, and Monica's oath to him has come back to haunt her.

Next up is Sherry. She's overstepped her bounds by both killing Joshua and giving sanctuary to Bobby. Her punishment: she's buried up to her neck in the sand, doused in syrup and fed to the ants.

But Bobby, he gets the worst of it. He's forced to listen to one of Simon's plodding soliloquies. It, much like everything else in the movie, goes on far too long, and is delivered in a halting, deliberate manner and peppered with so many dramatic pauses it's like watching Shatner on Quaaludes. (It's a performance that David Cain Haughton would later pay tribute to in Ator the Invincible, right down to the ridiculous accent.)

Bobby says he's willing to give his soul to Satan, but Simon responds, "He doesn't want it."

"Why not?" Bobby asks.

"You're weak, you're a loser. Satan wants winners. A winner is someone who gets what he wants, and you never have. Right now you want to get up and out of that bed. You've been wanting to ever since you woke up in this room. But you haven't. And you won't."

"I'm hurt," Bobby pleads.

"You're in pain. To be hurt is to be physically incapacitated. You just don't feel good. Your ass is sore. Poor little boy got raped by some queers and he's perfectly willing to forget all about it. You must believe in Jesus. Inherit the Earth, blessed are the poor in spirit. You must be an expert on turning the other cheek."

Fearing another monologue, Bobby flees the compound. For the next fourteen (fourteen!) minutes we're treated to a sequence of the boy, clad only in his underwear, as he tears through the woods pursued by the Satanists. He scurries through the brush, falls in the mud, is bloodied and bruised. It's like a painting of Saint Sebastian come to life. Now, I'm not saying the director of this film must've been queer, but man, the director of this film must've been queer. By the end of the chase Bobby is covered in sweat and mud; this has moved far beyond art and straight into fetish.

Bobby outfoxes the Satanists and finally makes it home. Does he live happily ever after? Hell no. He bashes dad over the head, abducts his creepy stepsister and heads back to Jake's place. After shooting him and his party pals, Bobby hacks off their heads, stuffing them in a pillowcase.

With the severed heads and his stepsister delivered to Simon, Bobby has proven once and for all he's a winner. Way to go Bobby! Jesus would be proud.

Someone please, please, please tell me what they put in the water down in Florida that makes them turn out crazy films like this?

Directed by Joe Wiezycki • Unrated • 1974 • 83 minutes

Is Vic There?



Department S: "Is Vic There?"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Overton Window: Epilogue and Afterword

Okay, friends, this is it. My final post on The Overton Window. (Until the movie adaptation, anyway.) It's been a long ride, hasn't it? Seven months and 50,000 words and I don't know how many comments. I am, honestly, a little relieved to done with it, and a little saddened too. It feels like breaking up with an old lover. An old lover who wasn't particularly good in the sack and thought discussing tax code was the kind of thing that might give me a boner.

There are, at this point, two chapters left: The epilogue and the afterword. The afterword is the longest section of the book, at nearly thirty pages. It's where Beck lays out the "factional" parts of his story. They're sort of like footnotes, I guess, but without the annoying superscript. Here's an example, just to give you the idea:

More from Chapter 3:

Virtually the entire speech that Arthur Gardner gives in the boardroom is based on fact; of course, in keeping with his character, he presents his own version of those facts. Here are a few specific examples:

Committed $8 trillion to those that engineered the financial crisis: David Goldman, "The $8 Trillion Bailout," CNNMoney .com, January 6, 2009, http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/06/news/economy/where_stimulus_fits_in/index.htm

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme: Jeff Poor, "Cramer: Social Security a Bigger Ponzi Scheme than Madoff's," Business & Media Institute,

A hundred thousand billion dollars: Also known as "$100 trillion," this is a chilling estimate of our unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities. Pamela Villarreal, "Social Security and Medicare Projections: 2009," National Center for Policy Analysis, June 11, 2009, http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba662

$17 billion in underfunded union pensions: Nick Bunkley, "Automaker Pensions Underfunded by $17 Billion," New York Times, April 6, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/business/07cars.html

We're borrowing $5 billion a day from Asia: Statement of C. Fred Bergsten, Director, Institute for International Economics, February 2-4, 2005, http://www.uscc.gov/hearings/2005hearings/transcripts/05_02_3_4.pdf

In keeping with the overarching theme of The Overton Window, it's not very interesting reading. There is, however, the occasional nugget. Like this:

In Chapter 11 we hear from spirited conspiracy theorist Danny Bailey for the first time. Danny is the kind of guy who likes to string together a variety of facts in an attempt to make something crazy sound plausible. His speech is important because it shows how selected facts and truths can be used as the foundation for an overall thesis that is entirely fictional.

I think if anyone knows about theses that are entirely fictional, it would be Beck. I wonder if he at all understands irony. Your guess is as good as mine.

That is, essentially, the afterword. If you're interested in all the links and explanations, by all means, get down to your local library and ferret out a copy of the book.

On a slightly different subject, if you'll allow me to digress, there has, along the way, been some question as to which character is supposed to represent Beck. I actually have that answer. Straight from the horse's ass's mouth, as it were. From an interview last year:

The two characters, Noah and Molly are actually, when I started this years ago, were actually my business partner and I, without the … well we never had sex.

For the record, Noah and Molly never had sex either. Beck, unsurprisingly, doesn't know what happens in his own book. Maybe he's thinking of something that happens in the sequel. "This is actually only half of the book I originally outlined. This ends at the halfway point. But we a) ran out of time, and b) I didn't want to inflict an 800-page book on people." I suppose I should thank Beck for not dragging this garbage out another 500 pages.

The whole interview is terrible, nothing but softball questions and Beck's meandering answers. Beck speaks and makes little sense, which I guess is a lot like his TV show. I tried to watch it once, and all I could wonder was, "What is he talking about? This is so incoherent. How is this even on TV?" Ah well, someone's tuning in, no? Beck says he spent two years writing this heap, which just doesn't seem possible. He claims to have "channeled a little George Bernard Shaw" too. Which is, of course, laughable.

The best part, for me, was this quote: "The only problem with [The Overton Window] was the book could be so dated by next week." Ummm... no. That is soooo not the only problem with the book.

Read the whole thing here, if you're so inclined.

To the epilogue, the final bit of our tale.

"A month to the day has passed" and Noah is in some sort of detention center. I'm not really sure what it is. It's kind of a prison, or maybe rehab. Noah is in a work program where he writes press releases for the NWO. Whut? Yeah, I dunno. If you're expecting this thing to suddenly start making sense, you're certainly a lot more optimistic than I.

This wasn't a prison, not at all, the welcoming committee had gone on to emphasize. This complex and its surrounding buildings might have been originally constructed as a prison, but funding cuts and changes in policy had orphaned the place in recent years. Local officials in the small Montana town nearby had been delighted to learn that their costly investment might finally be put to profitable use, providing local employment and helping the country deal with its recently declared emergency.

Noah, unfortunately, is having a little trouble adapting. His first PR gig was something of a fiasco, so he'd been booted out of the non-prison's penthouse suite, and sent closer to steerage. Whoops!

This failed assignment had been pretty straightforward: He was to write up an in-depth piece for the news, outlining the inner workings of the recent homegrown conspiracy that had nearly led to the destruction of Las Vegas and San Francisco. The story was to be told from his own point of view as a courageous hostage and unwilling insider.

His first draft was rejected immediately; there'd been a consistent undertone in the text that seemed to paint the ringleaders, the Founders' Keepers, in a subtly but unacceptably positive light. His second try wasn't an improvement, it was even worse. The strange thing was, if only out of self-preservation, Noah had been trying hard to write what they wanted, but the stubborn truths just kept elbowing their way in.

After an informal inquiry, this first glitch was chalked up to the lingering effects of the Stockholm syndrome, that passing mental condition through which hostages sometimes develop an odd sympathy for the cause of their captors. For the time being it was determined that, until he was better, Noah would be given less-demanding duties and an additional editor to watch over his work.

I know I keep bringing this up, but Stockholm syndrome after one bad date? Really? That seems as likely as Noah and Molly falling desperately in love after their weekend spent, largely, not together at all. And what "stubborn truths" did Noah know about the Founders' Keepers? Molly told him her mother had founded the group. What else? Since that moment, Noah's hardly had time to research them, has he? He was drugged, rescued, had a couple cab rides, flew in a plane (with Molly in reticence mode), jumped out of a car, witnessed a nuclear explosion, was interrogated, and sent to rehab. Is that about right? I don't see much free time in there for catching up on the Ragnar Benson reading list. This book is really rucking stupid.

There was no shortage of things to do, large and small. A lot of PR spin needed to be applied to the changes that were already well under way across the country. Noah was given a stack of small writing tasks, mostly one-liners and fillers that required far less of a commitment to the web of new truths being woven for consumption by the press and the public. For one of these jobs, he was to simply come up with a suitably harmless-sounding name for a new Treasury bureau that would be put in charge of the next wave of government bailouts for various failing corporations and industries.

This was the work of only a few seconds; Noah called it the Federal Resource Allocation & Underwriting Division.

Of course, not trusting his readers to see the joke, Beck has to explain "The five-letter acronym for this new government bureau would be FRAUD." Yeah, duh. In fairness, when I was ten and read The Plague Dogs I totally did not get the joke about Animal Research, Scientific and Experimental. But I'm not a child now. And neither are Beck's readers.

Once you know the truth, Molly had said, then you've got to live it. What she'd apparently neglected to add was that you'll also tend to randomly tell it, whether it gets you into trouble or not.

Whoops! And, barf! Living the truth isn't easy! It's tougher than putting a "freedom isn't free" bumper sticker on your car, that's for sure.

There's some text here explaining how Darthur is controlling the media and keeping everyone in a constant state of fear. Noah brushes his teeth, and cleans the toilet and does a lot of pondering. He falls asleep and has a dream about Molly's cabin.

Snow fluttered down outside the wide windows, big flakes sticking and blowing past the frosted panes, an idyllic woodland scene framed in pleated curtains and knotty pine. He was sitting in front of a stone hearth. A pair of boots were drying there, with space for another, smaller pair beside. A fire was burning low, a black dutch oven suspended above the coals, the smell of some wonderful meal cooking inside. Two plates and silver settings were arranged on a nearby dining table.

A simple evening lay ahead. Though it might seem nearly identical to a hundred other nights he'd spent with her, he also knew it would be unlike any other, before or after. It always was; being with Molly, talking with her, listening to her, enjoying the quiet with her, feeling her close to him, thinking of the future with her. Every night was like a perfect first date, and every morning like the first exciting day of a whole new life together.

Like Molly had said, such a simple existence certainly wasn't for everyone. But the freedom to choose one's own pursuit of happiness— that's what her country was founded on, and that's what she was fighting for.

I get the distinct impression Molly and Noah, in the dream, live in a Thomas Kinkade painting. I guess that is preferable to living in a Bruegel painting. Which makes me wonder, since I could really not give two fucks about Noah's dream, what it would be like to live in an Escher painting. Probably frustrating. You're trying to get to the bathroom but you keep ending up on the living room ceiling when all you really wanna do is pee.

Noah's dream is interrupted when an orderly with a dinner cart arrives.

"Say, I see you here every day, and it occurred to me tonight, we've never been properly introduced."

Noah put down his tray on the side table inside his door. "I'm Noah Gardner."

The man nodded, and casually glanced left and then right down the hallway before he answered, quietly, "My friends call me Nathan. I've got a message for you," he said. "Would you mind if I came in for just a moment?"

Uh oh! Nathan has a message! How skullduggerous! I mean, right, it's gonna be skullduggerous? Nathan didn't invite himself in to tell Noah to put away the checkerboard when he was done with it because no one likes a messy rec room. Of course, Nathan wants to be sure Noah understands the importance of the message, and naturally slams Noah into the wall of his non-cell. Whut? Yeah.

Noah found himself pushed hard against the wall with a forearm pressed against his neck and the other man's face close to his.

"This is a wake-up call," Nathan hissed. "You're in a valuable position, my friend, and we need for you to snap out of it and start doing the work we need done." He adjusted his grip on Noah's collar, and continued. "Now listen closely. Tomorrow, at your job, you sign into your computer right before you leave for the day, but you don't sign out. Here's a key." Noah felt something shoved roughly into his pocket. "You're going to leave it under the mouse pad on the desk two places down from yours, to your left. Got all that?"

If anything, the teabaggers are consistent in their treatment of Noah. The never miss an opportunity to abuse him or otherwise treat him like garbage. I can see why he is so fond of them. And their plan seems to be to use Noah's access to get to sensitive data. Which was the same plan they used to steal the Powerpoint. And somehow, Darthur and the NWO is gonna fall for this again? Brother, Big Brother is pretty incompetent.

Nathan tells Noah to eat his dessert and then walks out. Noah jabs his spork into the pie on his plate and finds something unusual. "It was Molly's silver bracelet." Oh, barf.

He held it close to his eyes; maybe the words engraved there were a little more worn than they'd been before, but he would have remembered them even if they'd been gone completely.

She was alive. Whatever other message he'd been hoping for, whatever guidance he'd been seeking, this was better. Not just a plan, because a plan can be defeated. This was a foundation.

Huh? Okay, whatever, nevermind. I ain't even going to get into the difference between plans and foundations and how either of those were represented by Molly's bracelet. Noah is a lunkhead, so is Beck, as is his ghostwriter.

As he returned to the bedroom he remembered the key he'd been given and he pulled it from his pocket. It was wrapped in paper, and, as he unfolded it, Noah saw the simple words written there, in Molly's familiar handwriting.

"We're everywhere. Stay with us; I'll see you soon. The fight starts tomorrow."

Fin.

Seriously. That's the end: "We're everywhere. Stay with us; I'll see you soon. The fight starts tomorrow." This is, I suppose, the moment that really sets our hearts a-pounding, the hair on our neck standing up in awe at the inspiring finale. But all I can mutter is a half-assed "meh." Especially when I think about how fuck all really happened up to this point. And what did happen, like the nuclear detonation, really didn't even involve the hero or the heroine.

Our protagonists have been supporting characters in their own novel. How tragic. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if this novel had anything interesting to say. If anything interesting had happened. Hell, I can't really say anything uninteresting happened, because, truthfully, almost nothing happened. I'm not going to count cab rides, by the way.

I've read plenty of bad writing in my day. I've written plenty, for that matter. But this is the worst thing I've ever read to come out of a major publishing house. I've stated before, there seems to have been minimal, if any, editing done. It's sloppy, nonsensical, inconsistent. It's an embarrassment, really. It's hard to believe something this awful could come from the same people that publish R. L. Stine's work.

I don't know how many copies this thing sold. I know Beck has a built-in audience huffin up just about anything he farts out. My local library had twenty copies on the shelves. I imagine it lined Beck's faux-everyman pockets with more cash than he'll ever spend. Critically speaking, every review I saw concluded that the books was awful, and at the same time it holds a 4 stars out of 5 rating by Amazon's customers. Obviously, someone likes him.

I'm not one of those. And after reading The Overton Window, I like him even less.

I Walked With A Zombie

Betty is new to San Sebastian. She's just taken a job as live-in nurse at the Holland family plantation. The plantation owner, Paul Holland, has a sick wife who needs looking after, and Betty receives a bit of a shock upon her arrival. "I didn't know this was a mental case," she gasps.

Jessica is catatonic, but not quite bed-ridden. She has a penchant for sleepwalking. Maybe this wouldn't seem like such a big deal if this weren't Haiti, home of voodoo. And Betty soon discovers the Holland family has its fair share of secrets.

One evening, while in town, Betty (Frances Dee) hears a folk song being sung by a street musician. In fact, the singer damn near assaults her with it, in just one of many truly creepy scenes in the film. As the lyrics reveal, Jessica was preparing to flee the island with her lover, her own brother-in-law Wesley, when she was suddenly struck ill.

She never recovered from her fever. None of the Hollands really did. Paul is burdened with the guilt of having driven his wife into another man's arms. Wesley (James Ellison) has become an alcoholic, having had the woman he loves ripped from his arms in the cruelest way imaginable. And their mother, Mrs. Rand, all she wants is to keep the family from falling apart further.

But Betty, she's fallen for Paul, knowing full well he'd never be unfaithful to his wife. Not now. How could he? So Betty vows to cure Jessica. By doing so, maybe she can make Paul (Tom Conway) happy again.

When an experimental treatment fails, Betty comes up with another plan. She takes Jessica to the local houngan. If modern medicine can't cure her, maybe the island magic will. Things don't go so well there either. Not only does she remain uncured, the houngan is convinced Jessica is a zombie. It's a notion that doesn't sit well with the locals.

As Paul noted at the beginning of the film "There's no beauty only decay, everything dies here even the stars." The final outcome can only be tragedy, voodoo or no.

This film is amazing. The writing is sharp, intelligent. Every scene is beautifully filmed, stark shadows and all. And most importantly, it manages to be pretty damn frightening too. The scene of Betty and Jessica pushing through the sugar cane on the way to the houngan is just plain chilling. It's a far more effective movie than most anything you'll see today.

Directed by Jacques Tourneur • Unrated • 1943 • 69 minutes

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Overton Window: Chapter Forty-Seven

I don't even know where to begin. Which is maybe ironic since we're at the end of our tale. Honestly, a lot of what's gone on in this book bothered me. But I am finding myself exceedingly uncomfortable with this scene. Noah's torture has moved to the next phase. The make or break period, if that's an appropriate term here. Noah is wired up for electroconvulsive therapy, better known as electroshock. The "main purpose was plain: to destroy any remaining will to resist or evade, so the truth would be the only thing he'd be left capable of speaking."

I've some knowledge of the hows and whys of ECT, and if my experience can be used as reference here, let me just say, the author's whole notion of electroconvulsive therapy completely misses the mark. Not that this is a surprise, not much in this book strives for realism.

A rubber hose is jammed in Noah's mouth and "technicians administered the voltage with a jeweler's precision."

His mind, once his greatest, if least used, asset, was no longer under his control. He couldn't focus on the technicians or the pain and he'd long ago stopped wondering how much longer it would go on. All that was left were random snapshots of the past that flashed uninvited into his head.

All his defenses had left him hours before. In this state if he'd had any information to reveal he would have gladly offered it, but they were now probing for something much deeper than mere intelligence. Each time he thought there was nothing left, they found another fragile layer of his soul to peel away. In the end, when all he could see was darkness, whatever was left of him finally gave in and tried its best to surrender.

I'm not sure what "his mind, once his greatest, if least used, asset" means. Noah is, I thought, something of a PR genius, like his father. Or is he just a doofus who's excelled because of nepotism? The later doesn't seem to fit with Darthur's worldview of "it's the fit who'll survive." (See below.)

"Now, now, Noah, I think we are both finding out what kind of man you are, and I have to tell you, it's quite disappointing." He referred briefly to a sheet of notes he'd been handed. "Inconclusive. I'm sure you know, that's a word I hate more than any other. And doesn't it place a sad little period at the end of the story of a rather aimless and forgettable young life?

"While you've given us nothing that implicates you in the treachery of the preceding days, you've also said nothing to exonerate yourself to my side of the conflict. A true believer or a traitor to the cause, either one of those I could at least respect. But you're weak, aren't you? And fatally so."

Aimless and forgettable young life? Doesn't Noah work with his father at Doyle & Merchant as a PR executive? As I recall, Noah went to college, took up the family business, and seemed to excel at it. But now this is aimlessness? Whatever.

Speaking of aimlessness. A long passage of dialogue from Darthur:

"Noah, I last told you this when you were only a boy, so I doubt you'll remember. It's a rhyme I made up for you, in answer to some childish question you'd posed. I think it fitting in our present situation."

'There are men who are weak and few who are strong / There are men who are right and more who are wrong / But of all the men huddled in all the world's hives / There's but one thing that's true: It's the fit who'll survive.'

"Noah, the meek will not inherit the earth. A faint heart is as great a weakness as a feeble mind. It pains me to say it, but I'm afraid we've reached a parting of the ways."

Also aimless? (Or something.) Garbage ghostwriting:

It was then that Noah felt something beneath him, and behind him, all around him—something outside himself that he couldn't quite identify.

His father's mind, his mother's heart. What the old man had given him was all that these men could tear away, but it was her heart that they couldn't quite reach. His mother had passed it on to him, and even after her strength had lain unused and scarcely remembered for all these wasted years, it seemed that Molly Ross had somehow awakened it again.

The idea of dying wasn't nearly as frightening as he would have thought it would be. But somewhere he also knew that this wasn't how it was supposed to end. Molly had taught him the importance of living to fight another day. She hadn't been captured, she hadn't been killed. A spirit like that doesn't die so easily. He had no facts whatsoever to assure him of this, but he knew it. Maybe it was a bit of that faith that she'd spoken of.

Barf.

So, basically, Molly's ghost, or non-ghost (a spirit like that doesn't die so easily) has awakened his heart. With the lying, and the drugging and the manipulation? Huh? And, as I've mentioned previously, how is that Noah was so easily and completely brainwashed by the teabaggers? If he's so easily led, why can't Darthur bring him back? What garbage. Thankfully we're just a few paragraphs from the end of this chapter. Hang in there, kids!

Darthur tells the techs to "finish the job and then craft a story to ensure my son is remembered in a way that will bring dignity and honor to our family." Whuh? Wevs.

There was a way out of this, but Noah didn't know what it was until he heard the answer whispered at his ear, as though Molly were there right beside him. The fight would go on, she'd said, with her on the outside and him on the inside, where she'd already shown him that the deepest kind of damage could be done. And then she added one thing more:

Don't be afraid.

Barf.

"As it will be in the future," he whispered, "it was at the birth of Man."

He didn't even know if he was saying the words aloud or reciting them only in his mind. "There are only four things certain since Social Progress began." His father's hand was on the doorknob when he suddenly froze and looked back.

"What did you say?" the old man asked.

Noah continued, his voice becoming stronger. "That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire." His father had taken a few steps closer to him now. "And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire."

Arthur Gardner's usually dispassionate face, so long accustomed to the denial of emotion, could not contain his surprise.

Barf.

For those who don't remember, that's from Darthur's favorite poem. See chapter eighteen. I do love the totally not cliché bit where Darthur's "hand was on the doorknob" as Noah speaks. Ah, the tension, you could cut it with a spork! Noah, seconds from death, suddenly turns the tables.

Noah realized something else then, another thing that Molly had taught him: When you lie for a living, you sometimes can't see the truth even when it's staring you right in the face. That's a weakness that could clearly be exploited.

Oh, Noah! You cheeky monkey! You've got Darthur right where you want him, haven't you? " The fight would go on, she'd said, with her on the outside and him on the inside." Goodness, this is certainly a surprise! Okay, well, it's certainly something.

Noah felt himself fading, and he spoke again, but scarcely at a whisper. These words were meant for different ears, and wherever Molly was, he knew for certain she would hear them.

"We have it in our power," Noah said, "to begin the world over again."

Dry heave.

Okay, that wraps up this chapter. Molly hears his words, he hears hers. Maybe she really is a Jedi. I dunno. Discuss.

(One more post to go, just FYI.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Xtro

Aliens, killer clowns, a man emerging full-grown from a woman's vagina: This film has a lot going for it. Too bad the good bits come in fits and spurts and the result is a film that is less than the sum of its parts. Xtro isn't a bad film, but it's not a very good one either. It's a jumbled, mess of a movie with a few memorable moments thrown in here and there.

Don't ask me to make sense of this one, because I can't. Shit happens and you've just got to accept it. One bright summer day, a father and son are playing fetch with the dog when, zaaaappp... dad disappears in a flash of light. Abducted by aliens, if you ain't already guessed from the poster (left).

Three years later an alien being comes to Earth, landing in the English countryside, and immediately gets down to business. And by that I mean it impregnates a local coed. (It's rape if you want to get down to brass tacks, and certainly no way to endear the hero to the audience.) Our victim wakes the next morn to find her belly plump, but before she can get a coat hanger, a fully-grown man pops out of her vagina. So much for a late-term abortion.

The man turns out to be Sam, that father who disappeared at the beginning of the film. After washing up, he too gets down to business. And by that I mean insinuating himself back into the life of his estranged wife and son. Of course, mom is not too keen on the idea. Even less so is her new boyfriend.

The boy, Tony, is a little weirded out by dad's behavior, like his snacking on snake eggs. But Sam puts the boy at ease by confiding in him his plans to take him home to... wherever... someplace in space. He also imbues the boy with psychic powers by... I dunno... nibbling on his neck a bit, it looked like.

Tony's newfound abilities allow him to will things into existence, like Billy Mumy on that episode of The Twilight Zone. The sudden appearance of a midget circus clown and a black panther turn the boy's room into a... umm... circus. The crotchety widow downstairs doesn't take too kindly to all the racket but Tony dispatches her quick enough.

Not personally, no, he sends up a life size G.I. Joe to gun her down.

Then things get really weird when Tony impregnates his nanny. He doesn't do this in the usual way, instead sucking on her belly and wrapping her up in a cocoon. I'm not sure if this was better or worse than Oskar's sex scene in The Tin Drum. Well, at least Tony kept his pants on.

With the clown left to gather up the eggs dropping from the nanny's... well... it ain't a vagina... ummm... nevermind... Tony and Sam head to the hills to meet up with the mothership.

Of course, I was left wondering why Sam had to hang around for the ship to come back. Why not just zap Tony up at the beginning? I had a lot of questions by the end, but I also realized if I thought too much about it I'd just be wasting my time.

Directed by Harry Bromley Davenport • R • 1983 • 84 minutes

The Overton Window: Chapter Forty-Six

Oh, you didn't think, just because we're nearly done, that wrapping this mess up would be easy, did you? Because if you were under the assumption we were through with speechifying, dear reader, you've got another thing coming. (Judas Priest reference!)

Noah had been savaged for many hours, of course, brought to the brink mentally and physically in his interrogation. No one would blame him if he didn’t immediately recognize his visitor—the man was so rarely seen outside of his natural, elegant habitat. Yet despite all of these mitigating factors, Noah knew instantly whom he was staring at because it was his own flesh and blood: the legendary Arthur Gardner.

No surprise. We all knew it was Darthur, right? I still haven't quite figured out why he's a legend. The book keeps vacillating between Darthur being this celebrity PR genius, and him being the invisible puppetmaster. Besides that, who refers to their own father as "legendary"? I sure don't. And my father is a grade-A asshole, worthy of legendary bigot douchebag status. But you didn't come here to read about my daddy issues. You came here to read about Noah's daddy issues.

But before we discuss that, let's look at the author's consistency issues.

From chapter forty-five:

They spent a few minutes cleaning Noah up as well as they could, unstrapped one of his hands, adjusted the table to a more natural recline, and even slipped a couple of flat pillows beneath his head.

From chapter forty-six, less than 300 words later:

Arthur was taking the high ground, as usual; seated in this way the old man towered above his son, who was still bound securely to the metal bed.

Whoops! Editors? Who needs em! Though, according to the acknowledgements at the front of the book, Beck has an editor whom he thanks profusely. I guess that's nice of him to do, but it seems he's only enabling them at this point.

"This woman you became involved with," Arthur Gardner began, "do you have any idea what she has cost us?"

"I don't know," Noah said. His voice was hoarse from lack of moisture, and from the suffering they'd already put him through. "Billions?"

The old man's fist came down on edge of the table, hard enough to break a bone.

"She cost us impact!" he shouted.

Ugh. More diarrhea of the keyboard. You know what would have been better: "I don't know," Noah said, his voice hoarse. "Billions?" No need to go on about how he's thirsty and been tortured. We're all adults here, we can all grok why Noah might have trouble speaking.

But of course, Darthur isn't concerned about the fiscal impact of Molly's meddling, it's the PR he's concerned about. Duh. Let's look at something here, shall we? Molly had nothing to do with their plan going to pot. At all. Remember a couple chapters back when she was arguing with Noah?

"Open your eyes, for God's sake. They've got everything, and you've got nothing. All you're going to do is get us both arrested or killed or put into an unmarked hole in the middle of the desert."

"I have to try."

Molly all but admits her efforts are futile. She knows it. Noah knows it. Neither of them had anything to do with the nuke detonating early. It was Danny Bailey who'd set it off. Bailey, who'd had no direct contact with Molly since he'd been picked up on Friday. Remember that? The bogus cop raid on the teabagger bar, presumably arranged by Darthur and the NWO? Then he was conscripted into service with Kearns, secret agent and patsy for the same NWO. It was Bailey who'd figured it out, sort of, on his own that it was a false-flag op he'd been duped into. It was, with absolutely no help from Molly or Beverly or Hollis or Noah, that Bailey ruined the operation. So, what the fuck is Darthur talking about? It was his fault, more or less, that Bailey was there to make muck of things.

You know what's the worst thing about this book? It isn't the crap writing, the infantile worldview, the garbage political philosophy. No, it's the insulting way it presumes the reader is a fucking dolt who can't remember what happened chapters earlier, or even paragraphs earlier. Fuck you, Glenn Beck, and your dogshit book.

Darthur continues:

"It was to be a clean and spectacular event, a thing to be leveraged into a leap forward toward our new beginning. Instead it's become a complete debacle. We were left with an almost unnoticed explosion out in the empty desert that barely rattled a teacup in the nearest town. There aren't even any pictures—we've had to resort to artists' conceptions and special effects. We'll be up all night trying to make a credible story of it all, to salvage the greatest effect we can. After all the years of preparation it was rushed forward, against my advice, due to the actions of this meaningless resistance. Which my son was somehow a part of."

No pictures? So the super spy network that Bailey just went on about on the phone with 911, with their satellites and Big Brother cameras everywhere, didn't catch anything? Wow. You think they'd at least have their spy satellites trained on Nevada since they knew there was going to be a nuclear explosion that very day. And no one felt it? That seems ... unlikely. There was never any indication what type of nuke it was Kearns had, but assuming it was something in the 100 kiloton range, that is likely to trigger a pretty big fucking blast, maybe equivalent to a 5.0 magnitude earthquake. I'm no earthquakologist, but that shit is going to be felt for a few hundred miles, at least. No? Oh, who cares. The point is, Darthur is pissed because no one died, and their coup or whatever it was is in jeopardy. (No Greg Kihn joke, sorry.)

Darthur's next bit is a bit odd.

"Not that it's been a total failure. Your friends lost before the fight even began. We've spent years painting them as a fringe group of dangerous heirs to the likes of Timothy McVeigh, and of course they'll be revealed as the villains behind this failed attack." He stared off into the distance as if he were talking to no one in particular. "It's too bad that these friends of yours have been so transparent in their desire for violence. They wave signs with slogans about 'reloading' and watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants. They wear shirts that endorse the 'targeting' of politicians, and, Noah, let's not forget about that unfortunate incident you got yourself caught up in at that downtown bar. These people never wanted to give peace a chance—and now they've shown just how far they are willing to go to send their message." He was actually smiling, clearly enjoying a sadistic satisfaction with it all.

Because, really, they have been transparent in their desire for violence. (Note actual teabagger violence for reference.) Maybe Beck is trying to tell his readers to tone it down a bit. I dunno. It certainly isn't an inappropriate suggestion. Then again, the vibe I am getting from this is exactly the opposite. It reads to me more like "Hey, they're gonna call you a bunch of violent whackos, so why not really give 'em something to complain about?!" Especially since it's the only thing standing between them and the NWO. Oy.

"Thankfully, there's already talk of suspending the presidential election. Though either candidate would have been equally useful in the aftermath, it will be a powerful bit of symbolism nevertheless. Many sweeping pieces of helpful legislation will be rushed through in the coming days with little or no debate, and those will be used to clamp down further on what remains of this Ross woman's pitiful movement. And naturally, a wholesale roundup is under way to ferret out all those connected with these backward revolutionaries, with full support of the media and the cowering public."

For the record, I am still unclear when exactly this is supposed to be set. Sometime after 9/11, sure. But is this 2008? 2012? I don't know which election year they keep referring to. And speaking of 9/11, this is obviously a reference to the Patriot Act™, ushered in after 9/11 with little to no discussion. Of course, it was Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity who were its biggest cheerleaders. I don't get why Beck thinks no one will remember that. Then again, he thinks we can't remember what happens paragraph to paragraph in this mess.

Darthur then goes on for five paragraphs about Saul Alinsky and "selfish and ignorant meddlers" and how people are too incompetent and foolish to govern themselves. The same shit he went on about before. The same fear of the NWO and the UN or whatever Beck is always blathering on about. "The United States should never have survived as long as it has, but all good things must come to an end. The system is broken beyond repair." But coming in its stead is "One world, ruled by the wise and the fittest and the strong." Blah blah blah. " We'll give the people a purpose: a simple, regimented, peaceful life with all the reasonable comforts, in service of something greater than any single, selfish nation." You get the idea. Communism, I guess? Or Socialism. That's a popular word these days.

There's some talk then about Noah's mother. (Did she ever get a name? I don't remember.)

"Your mother," Noah's father began, "meant a great deal to me. I saw in her my last hopes for humanity. She had her weaknesses, but in thinking back on it now, those weaknesses may have been what drew me to her. She believed in people, for one, that the good in them could outweigh the bad. For the brief time I was with her, a touch of those weaknesses even spread to me. We had a child together, though I'd sworn I'd never bring another human being into this world. But she poured all of her innocent dreams into her son.

"And as she lay dying, your mother told me that I should expect to see wonderful things from you, Noah. I've held on to that hope. But as I stood out there just now, watching outside this room for the preceding hour, I had to wonder if this was to be the end of my ambitions for you."

So, Padmé Noah's mother was good and pure and kind, and maybe there is some bit of her in Noah. How sweet. By which I mean "trite." And Darthur coldly watches his son be tortured. What a jerk! By which I mean "yawn." But still, Darthur has hopes for his son.

Blah blah blah. More paragraphs of Darthur speaking. Which I don't care about. Neither do you . Trust me.

The old man stood, walked to the door, rapped on the frame three times, and then came back and took his seat again. After a moment, others entered the room, a different group of professionals than Noah had seen before.

The technicians had already begun their preparations. Now some brought heavy copper cables and electrodes and fastened these to various points on Noah's body with wraps of white tape. A cold dab of conductive gel was applied to his temple on one side, and then on the other.

Really? They're going to electroshock Noah back to health? Oh, god.

Arthur Gardner nodded to one of the seated technicians.

"And now," he said, "let's find out together, once and for all, if Noah Gardner is really his father's son."

Wow. Okay. Is this thing almost over? Yes. One more chapter to go! Thank the maker.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Well... Fuck!

In a surprise move this afternoon, the Maryland House of Delegates has sent SB116, the same-sex marriage bill, back to committee, effectively killing it.

Two weeks ago the Senate passed the bill and the governor indicated he'd sign it.

Two steps forward, one step back.

You Still Need Some Zydeco



Clifton Chenier: "Bon Ton Roulet"

The Overton Window: Chapter Forty-Five

The best thing I can say about chapter forty-five is that there is no dialogue. So that's nice. The bad news is Noah gets waterboarded. It's all part of the three chapter arc detailing Noah's torture at the hands of ... whomever. I don't know. Darthur's PR firm? It's kind of like that final section of Nineteen Eighty-Four, except, you know, not good.

It could have been most of the night that they worked him over. It could have been days for all he knew. All sense of time had left him while he was still out there on the road.

The questioning had started in one place, and at some point they'd satisfied themselves that the worst they could do wasn't going to be good enough. There'd been a dark ride in a car, and then a flight somewhere. At the new place they'd started in on him again.

They (whomever they are) have determined Noah gave access to "classified files and information" to the terrorists teabaggers. Powerpoints at PR firms are classified? Then he helped one of them sneak through security at the airport. The terrorists stole two nukes and set one off. The other nuke was still missing.

They (whomever they are) waterboard Noah. Of course, Noah doesn't have much to tell them. Noah is, as we've all kind of gathered, largely clueless. Great hero though, excellent character for a novel.

In the course of their work they told him a lot of things to encourage him to break his silence. They told him that Molly's mother, under similar questioning, had revealed the entire plot, including the depth of Noah's involvement. They said that Molly herself had been apprehended and they described in excruciating detail the particular techniques they had employed on her. She'd given him up almost immediately, they'd claimed, along with all of her co-conspirators.

After all they'd put him through, Noah would have gladly believed almost anything they'd said, but even to his clouded, brutalized mind these last two assertions didn't ring true—those two would never betray their cause. If Molly was going down, she would go down swinging and silent. Knowing that gave Noah the first bit of hope that he'd had in a long time.

Ummm... Noah's spirit is lifted because perhaps Molly didn't vaporize after all, but instead was captured and tortured? Huh? That's ... well, it's shitty, to be honest. That is, again, assuming she wasn't killed in the explosion. If I had the choice between a loved one dying in an instant, painlessly, without even knowing it, versus them spending their last hours, days perhaps, in complete physical and psychological anguish, I'd choose the former. But that's just me.

They (whomever they are) continue to torture Noah, "and then they stopped." The torture squad briskly exits the room, thought they "made it clear that they'd be back if necessary after this brief interlude."

A number of dark plastic surveillance domes were distributed across the ceiling. The chief interrogator looked up at one of the cameras and made a gesture to those watching to indicate that the subject was now ready to receive his guest. On that cue, the tiny red lights of the surveillance cameras winked out in sequence.

A few seconds later, a figure appeared in the open doorway.

Oh, brother.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

White Zombie

Charles Beaumont is a bad man, despite what he wants his guests to think. He's invited his new friends Neil and Madeleine to his manse outside Port au Prince, not to offer them a lovely place to wed, but to woo the girl for himself.

When his attempts at charm Madeleine fail, Beaumont becomes desperate. That desperation leads him to a local sugar tycoon named Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi). Anyone named Murder can't be too scrupulous, and when Beaumont visits Legendre's mill he finds it staffed entirely by zombies. Instead of fleeing to the safety of daylight and sanity, Beaumont succumbs to Legendre's offer.

If Beaumont (Robert Frazier) wants Madeleine as his betrothed, unquestioning, servile, all he has to do is turn her into a zombie, just like those working the sugar mill. So, on her wedding night, Madeleine raises a toast to her new husband, sips her wine and a little drop of poison, and falls into a stupor. Neil (John Harron) is shattered, but the bride is laid to rest, only Beaumont and Legendre knowing the truth.

Later, Beaumont and Legendre return to her tomb to steal her body. Legendre reveals how all his foes, his competitors, those who crossed him, are now his slaves. Still, it seems, Beaumont doesn't realize his made a deal with the devil. When he discovers Madeleine the zombie isn't anything like Madeleine the woman, he begs Legendre to reverse his curse.

Unfortunately, Legendre has taken a liking to Madeleine too. He just needs to get Beaumont out of the way, just like he's got all the others out of his way. Of course, he wasn't counting on poor, distraught Neil interfering.

Reportedly made on a shoestring budget in under two weeks, White Zombie is an impressive film. It's moody, atmospheric, with great sets and spooky zombies (the scene in the mill is quite unsettling). And Lugosi turns in one of his great performances.

Directed by Victor Halperin • Unrated • 1932 • 70 minutes

The Overton Window: Chapter Forty-Four

You know what's awesome about Molly and Noah's relationship? All the arguing they do. Ah, young love! Yes, Noah's complaint "You people got me again" puts Molly on the defensive.

"We got you?" Molly shouted. "We got you? Are you really selfcentered enough to believe that any of this is about you?"

Well, yeah. Noah's one character trait is that he's self-centered. We established that long ago. Besides, Molly and the teabaggers unending manipulation of him might make him just the teensiest bit skeptical of their intentions. Noah is upset they tried to kill him. Molly says they didn't really. "Hollis stayed with you every minute until they came for you." Oh, okay.

"That's just great to hear. You know, you people are really incredible. My father told me this morning that something is going to happen that's going to change everything, and I'm thinking, okay, a big stock market correction, or another war going hot in South Asia or the Middle East, or a couple of planes crashing into buildings like the last time everything changed forever. And your mother asked me to help you get away to somewhere safe"—he held up the paper in his hand—"and idiot that I am, I let you lead me right to the last place on earth we should go."

So, the last place they should go is to ... where? It's not like Noah knows what's going on in Nevada with the bombs and Elmer and all that. He doesn't know there will be a nuclear explosion, a major fucking terrorist attack. Bailey's note simply says "Big mtg today, Monday PM, southern Nevada." I thought Noah was good at big meetings! He's a PR whiz, ain't he? Jebus, this book is stupid.

"I'm here to stop this thing if I can."

"Well, you can't!" he shouted over her. "Open your eyes, for God's sake. They've got everything, and you've got nothing. All you're going to do is get us both arrested or killed or put into an unmarked hole in the middle of the desert."

"I have to try."

Jebus, this book is stupid. And who says "unmarked hole" anyway? No one, that's who! Noah and Molly argue about the fantasy cabin and how Noah can take care of Molly and blah blah blah.

"Before we got off the plane you told me that you got it; you said you finally understood what I was about."

"I do."

"No, you don't, Noah. You have no idea. You think knowing the truth is enough? A lot of people know the truth, and nothing changes. So today, after twenty-eight years of drifting through life and taking everything from this country and never giving anything back, today you tell me you've finally seen the light and that's supposed to mean something to me?"

Whut? Noah's been "taking everything from this country and never giving anything back"? I thought he had a really good job, was a devout capitalist, paid his taxes and spent money like we're all supposed to. That's a bad thing now? That's taking from the country? I don't get this book's philosophy. At all. Sure, I understand that being a patriot is good, and everyone should defend freedom and be white. I understand that part. But the rest? It's just an ill-thought mishmash of bumper stickers and sloganeering with no cohesion and no uniformity.

Maybe this will help:

"Once you know the truth," Molly said, "then you've got to live it. That's all I'm trying to do."

Nope, that doesn't help. You have to live the truth? Not even Truth with a capital T? Yeah, like I said, bumper sticker.

He saw her look up at the rearview mirror, and something froze in her.

Noah turned to look through the back window. The visibility must have stretched for miles and miles, and way back at the edge of what the eye could see, a tiny line of strobing police lights had appeared.

She was driving as hard and fast as she had before, but there was something in her face, in her eyes, that he hadn't seen before. Molly was afraid. And he knew then that she wasn't afraid of the police, or of going to prison; she wasn't afraid of getting killed in her cause; she wasn't even afraid of Arthur Gardner. She was afraid only that her fight was over.

Awww. Sad face. Also: whatever! Have I mentioned lately how stupid this book is? Dreck. Total dreck.

There'd been turning points in his life that he'd seen coming months away, but this one appeared in an instant. He was safely on one side of it a second before, just being who he'd always thought he was, and then he blinked and he was on the other, waking up to realize who he was going to be.

Huh?

Up ahead he could see that the road narrowed onto a short bridge over a shallow chasm, which ran across the terrain for several hundred yards.

You see the truth, and then you have to live it, she'd said. It was too late, maybe, and too little, but he knew what he needed to do.

"Slow down," Noah said. "I'm getting out."

Huh.

He took a last look at Molly. There were tears in her eyes but she kept them firmly fixed on the way ahead.

"Good-bye," Noah said.

She answered, but so quietly and privately that the words clearly weren't intended to reach him. If they were never to see each other again, it seemed, this was just something that she must have wanted read into the record. Wishful thinking, maybe, but he felt he knew in his heart exactly what she'd said.

I love you, too.

Huh? I don't even know. She loves him. Even though every moment they've spent together, even now, even up until this very moment, he's proved to be kind of a putz as far as she is concerned. But she loves him. Which maybe she does and maybe she doesn't because Noah didn't actually even hear her. Yeah, it could all be wishful thinking. You know what I wish? I wish this book was over.

So Noah jumps out of the car and flops around in the road. Some time later, the cops arrive. It's unclear who they are. The FBI? Military? Blackwater? Who cares! It doesn't matter! Noah stands in the middle of the road, at the bridge, and brings them all to a halt, allowing Molly to escape. I guess.

By the time the lead car had skidded to a stop he could feel the heat on his face from its headlights. Some of the vehicles behind were backing up and their drivers were trying to find a way around the bottleneck, but off the road the sand was too soft for traction and those who'd gone into the gully were stuck, their tires spinning uselessly.

He looked up and saw five uniformed men approaching, their guns drawn. They were all shouting orders he couldn't really understand.

And then:



I guess that's the end of Molly's story arc. Right? Noah helped her escape. And she drove right into the mushroom cloud. Oh, that can't be good.

And then they disappeared, as did the rest of the world, in a silent split-second flash of bright white light from behind him. It was so bright that it crossed the senses. He could feel it on his back, he could hear the light and smell it. When his vision returned Noah saw the officers standing in the road where they'd been, some covering their eyes, but most looking past him, blank-faced, their hands hanging down at their sides.

He turned to look back over his shoulder, in the direction Molly had gone, and miles away he saw the rising mushroom cloud, a massive, roiling ball of fire ascending slowly into the evening sky. The expanding circle of a shock wave was tearing across the desert toward them, toward everything in all directions, and a few seconds later it arrived with a crack of thunder and the sudden gust of a hot summer wind.

Blammo. Eyes melt, skin explodes, everybody dead. Except Noah. Noah lives. To carry on the teabagging torch left by Molly and Bailey and Beverly and Hollis? Swell. Just swell. Also: he could hear the light and smell it? Okay!