Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Random Scenes of Hollywood and Elsewhere

Is it just me, or do these Wal-Mart greeters seem to be getting kind of hardcore?

The Pope + The Queen = Hot Sex. This may be the worst logic puzzle HIGHLIGHTS magazine has ever done.
This motto may be true, but I could also say the same thing about that mercurochrome I licked off my elbow at age 4.
Any random movie theater.

The "Hollywood Renaissance" continues apace, with a multitude of construction cranes looming over the skyline like so many Brobdingnagian drinking birds.

The infield at Santa Anita Racetrack. Seems somehow a little less Runyonesque with the palm trees.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Scenes From a Marriage: Episode 423

[SCOTT opens the freezer and stares into it for a moment.]

SCOTT:  Well, this is sad.

MARY: What?

SCOTT: This may be the most depressing thing I've ever seen.

MARY:  What?

[SCOTT pulls freezer door wide, to reveal a single half corn-on-the-cob, laying on the ice trays.]

SCOTT: Frozen, pitiful, alone. He was the last of his polar expedition...

[MARY rolls her eyes.]

SCOTT:  Tragically, he perished only a hundred yards from Base Camp...

[MARY sighs and grabs the frozen cob.]

SCOTT: His journal is heartbreaking...

[She tosses it across the kitchen; it hits the bottom of the trashcan with a THUNK! like a rock.]

MARY:  That'll teach you not to be so fussy about eating your sled dogs, Commander Cobb!

SCOTT:  I was going to ask what's for dinner, but I think...now I won't.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Post Friday Beast-Blogging: The Talent Competition Edition


Friday, September 25, 2015

Operation Afreet is Afoot!

If you've been following the comments to Hank Parmer's latest post (a study of P-51 Dragon Fighter, which is, I daresay, a far more exhaustive review than the filmmakers ever expected to receive, and every bit as snarky as they deserve), then you've learned much about Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, a series of novellas which shares a superficial similarity to P-51 (dragons, witches, and other magical beasts doing their patriotic duty in World War II), and our friend Li'l Innocent's efforts to translate the tale into sequential art.

This part of Anderson's oeuvre was new to me, and I found the discussion fascinating; Li'l was kind enough to follow up with a little more background:

I found a scan of the 1950-something Fantasy & Science Fiction cover that Frank Kelly Freas did to illustrate Operation Afreet. It's almost abstract, and yet - in its ​SFish way - in the grand mid-century pinup tradition. There's no justification in Anderson's text for the lady's outfit! But I remember as a 12 year old grooving on the magazine, that the magical elements of the art fascinated me as much as the glamour aspects. Such a cool pictorial narrative teaser! 
I did a bit of research on Freas and was interested to learn that as a kid in his early 20s, he was an Army Air Force reconnaissance photographer in the Pacific Theater in WW2 -- and also painted pinups on bomber noses.

Anyway, I thought you and Hank might enjoy seeing this, in more ways than one!
Let me count the ways that I might enjoy this!  Mid-century pulp mag? Check! Busty, flame-haired, cat-suited sorceress with unnecessary spurs? Check! Actually, I better stop there...
I've dug out the presentation (book size) versions of my Operation Chaos pgs. Will take a bit o' scanning to reduce them to blog-postable jpgs. I'll let you know when they're on my Lady's Mantle blog.
Personally, I can't wait to see the images, and I'll post links as soon as they're up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, acrannymint!

As a professional deadline-blower I'm currently blowing deadlines like a badly procrastinating Category 5 hurricane, and as a result of all this roiling toil, I nearly let a very important occasion pass unremarked: Today is the natal anniversary of longtime Crapper and accomplished cat-owner, acrannymint!

Unfortunately, I'm so far behind on work that I didn't have time to scour the Internet for some commercial image of disgusting food, then do a long, unwanted exegesis of the ad copy that leaves everyone feeling vaguely queasy and resentful.  Fortunately, I confessed my plight to Sheri (who, as old-timers will recall, gave the recipes in The Gallery of Regrettable Food the test kitchen treatment in the early days of Wo'C, thereby unimpeachably establishing her bad food bona fides) and she found the perfect meal for today's political climate: "Sexist Soup!"
It's the He-Man Women Haters Bisque. Just season with Pick-Up Artist to taste, garnish with a Mens Rights Activist, and you're ready to cater your next Gamer Gater affair!

Speaking of men who like to drink other men's milkshake but don't like women drinking their soup, you may have read that a number of GOP politicians and mouthpieces are playing hooky from the Pope's address to Congress, because he might mention stuff Jesus talked about (e.g., piling up riches won't get you into heaven, be kind to the poor, etc.) and not the stuff Jesus implied with a wink and a St. Nicholas-like finger laid along his nose (e.g., don't vaccinate your kids, because without leprosy to cure, what would Jesus do all day? And also remember to support God's holy warriors, your local County Clerk -- I'm sure some artistically inclined wingnut is hard at work photoshopping an Andrew Breitbart-like tribute, showing the Archangel Michael bestowing a flaming sword upon Kim Davis and Howard Sprague).

Anyway, you know how people who you don't really know all that well can wind up as a Facebook "friend" because they share one of your particular interests? And how sometimes they turn out to be, in Sheri's words, "the wingiest of nuts"?  Well, the image below showed up in Sheri's FB feed, much to her amusement, and she decided to share it with me, and I thought I'd share our conversation about it with you guys, because I really don't have anything else ready, even though I was told to have a two minute song prepared and come dressed to move:

SHERI:  I just thought you might enjoy Brian Kilmeade exhorting the Pope to "take on Islam." Because the Crusades worked out so well.

Bring On Your Pope Fatigue!  Brought to you by Rebooting Liberty, who suggest that before calling Freedom's Help Desk, first try turning the Constitution off and then on again.

SCOTT:  Wow. I mean...Yeah. The Pope should be able to cajole a billion Muslims out of their heartfelt faith, but he should stop trying to talk the Koch Brothers out of their profits, because that's Holy Hubris! Actually, I bet Fox news would be okay with another Crusade -- thrilled, even. Of course, you know what Christendom did to the Jews the last time they conquered Jerusalem, but I guess that might come as a relief, since Fox could finally stop pretending to care about Israelis as people rather than Apocalypse fodder.  (Does Fox even have any Jewish hosts? It seems like they're all other either dim-bulb Irish guys like Kilmeade, red-faced shouty Irish guys like O'Reilly and Hannity, or leggy blondes who all have "Tri-County Summer Squash Queen" somewhere on their resume.

SHERI:  I think that's how Fox gets their News Bimbos: they hold regional harvest festivals, and the blondest, dimmest girls get to be news hosts, and the rest are thrown into volcanos, to appease Rupert Murdoch. Anyway, I love how people are claiming to be God-fearing Catholics, but won't support the Pope when he urges people to follow the teachings of Jesus instead of the teachings of The Holy Tea Party.

SCOTT:  You've uncovered their secret recruiting process! I just assumed Murdoch sent someone (probably Jesse Watters) to Midwich to hire away all the grown Children of the Damned, which I'm sure came as a relief to the locals, because who wants creepy, dead-eyed blondes pumping your gas or selling you Dilly Bars? I also have a scene in my zombie movie set at FNC, where they all realize that despite being Second Amendment badasses, none of them has a gun, because they're in New York City, which is a Constitutional No-Go Zone! So tough guys like Hannity and O'Reilly have to hide under their desks as the ravening hordes pound and claw at the studio doors.  Fortunately, all the lady hosts have "Baton Twirling" under "special skills" on their resume, and suddenly it looks like The Walking Dead meets the Super Bowl Halftime Show! 

And you're right about these foul-weather Catholics (who were only too happy to tell us we had to do everything the Pope said when he was Benedict). Turns out they have so many deep-seated issues with Mother Church they should skip confession and go to Freudian analysis instead.

SHERI:  I want to see your zombie movie now! I want to invest in it and get screen credit as an executive producer!

SCOTT:  It's a deal! Full disclosure, the last producer did have a slight problem with story logic: "Zombies eat brains, right? So why are they bothering to attack Fox News?"

SHERI:  Well, it's like how humans eat food, but they still buy Pop Tarts and Doritos.

SCOTT:  "Brian Kilmeade: He's not just a Fox News host, he's junk food for the undead!"

So I think we've settled that. In the zombie apocalypse, loud, ham-faced guys will die first, majorettes last, and zombie moms will make zombie kids eat all their Shep Smith, and save their tooth-rotting Brian Kilmeade brain for dessert.

But no birthday would be complete around here without a Sexy Birthday Lizard! I believe Cranny is an Atlantic Seaboarder, so I looked up a reptiles from her neighborhood, and decided to go with this Eastern Fence Lizard, because he's giving such a suave, knowing look to the camera:
Well hello, there. I hear it's your birthday...

Please join Sheri and me in wishing acrannymint the very happiest of birthdays!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Rise and Fall of the Absurd Reich: P-51 Dragon Fighter


By Hank Parmer

After reporting on Jack the Giant Killer, math-challenged auteur Mark Atkins' unremittingly crappy foray into the world of epic fantasy,  I fully intended to take my own advice viz. treating any of his movies in much the same spirit as I would a pathologically jolly weasel sporting an anthrax-squirting joke carnation.

What I did not know at the time was that far from being a first effort, Jack was in fact Renaissance guy Atkins' thirteenth outing as director, etc., etc. (What I'd like to find out is: who keeps financing these things, and how do we make them stop?)

But despite my resolution, the Fates decreed otherwise. Almost a year after I reviewed JtGK, while scanning through Hulu's cornucopia of cinema merde in search of some review fodder, I stumbled across what seemed a promising title and saved it to my queue for later. Even though Hulu displays the director's name in the blurb, my mind must have been clouded, because up until the moment the opening credits ran I swear I hadn't the slightest inkling that P-51 Dragon Fighter was an Atkins film.

And boy, was it ever.

I have no excuse, really, because a quick glance at Atkins' IMDB entry would have shown me that in addition to his blatant attempts to fool the inattentive viewer with titles like Snakes on a Train (2006), Battle of Los Angeles (2011), the aforementioned Jack, and this year's Road Wars, cheap, crappy films involving dragons -- Dragon Crusaders (2011), Dragonquest (2009), Merlin and the War of the Dragons (2008), plus the immediate follow-up to this movie, Dragons of Camelot -- constitute a substantial portion of his direct-to-video output. The guy really has cornered the market on this sort of thing.

The good news is that compared to JtGK, Atkins managed to scrape together a bigger effects budget for this one, and even had some change left over for costumes and props. I suspect most of that came from economizing on his actors; this time he didn't even try to rope one semi-recognizable face into this thing. Maybe word has gotten around.

Not that even the most stellar cast could have made the slightest difference, because the bad news is that once again Mark Atkins is the director, director of photography and screenwriter. The worse news is he shares a story credit with producer and lead protagonist, Scott Martin. Who is proof positive of the dictum that you never let the lead write his own part.

But enough of that. Time for a rip-off -- er, thrilling tale ripped from the pages of history, as a ragtag band of misfit fighter jockey stereotypes battles Nazi dragons, while the fate of the Allied offensive in North Africa hangs in the balance.

The film opens at an excavation in the desert. An excited Arab bursts into the tent of the movie's store brand Belloq. Inside a cave, they've uncovered a really big egg. Send a message to the Fuhrer, pronto: Our quiches will soon astound the world!

Sometime later, a lone American tank is clanking through the North African desert. The driver catches a glimpse of a vehicle before it ducks into a canyon, and they radio the artillery spotters.

Cut to two Joes in a jeep. They check out a column of what appear to be Panzers -- but one of them takes a closer look through the binoculars and realizes they're decoys. Then he notices a group of women standing above them on the hillside. Sound of wings flapping. He looks up in the sky, sees something, although he doesn't seem very perturbed at the sight. The driver yells, "Oh shit!" Flames, blackout.

Back to the tank. They call in air support, and a squadron of P-51s responds. It's amazingly quiet inside those cockpits. All the better for us to savor every nuance of the sex-and-booze banter from our cocky young pilots.

The tank is incinerated by a hovering dragon! The P-51s spot the flames, and peel off to investigate. They're wiped out by a flight of dragons, although one pilot survives long enough to radio he's under attack from a dragon bearing the Iron Cross on its wings before he too is crisped.

Next there's an establishing shot of a seedy bar in a squalid North African desert hamlet. Inside, Lt. John Robbins (Scott Martin) and a friend are playing a drinking game, in which they each down a shot of whiskey, and then take turns punching each other. The game continues until one of them can't get up. Just good, clean, manly fun.

Robbins suffers from some terrible psychic wound, which is fortunate, because a stoic, some might even say impassive mien combined with doleful puppy-dog eyes seems to be the only expression this thespian has mastered. 
His character drinks to forget. And if the alcohol doesn't do the trick, the cumulative brain damage from utilizing his head as a punching bag will.

Predictably, Robbins is the last one standing. As he picks up his winnings, a large and very Nordic bloke from the SAS demands to go a few rounds with our hero -- loudly predicting it'll be easy money. Robbins fakes him out and kicks him smartly in the groin. An MP shows up with a timely order for the lieutenant to return to Headquarters, where General Ward informs us that Robbins is super-heroic and has a buttload of commendations and medals. For some unspoken reason he voluntarily relinquished command of his squadron. However, he's the most decorated pilot they have on the North African front.

"Sorry to hear that, sir," deadpans Lt. Robbins. (He's got … attitude!)

The general asks Robbins if he'd like to get back into the air. He then shows him some film salvaged from one of the downed P-51s, taken by its nose camera just before it got torched by a dragon. Good thing they were using that new heat-resistant film stock ...

The general thinks these things are alive. (Brilliant deduction, that. It could have been one of those flying Nazi flamethrower robots, tricked out to look like a dragon.) He wants Robbins to assemble a team, track down and eliminate the dragons. Then he'll get his wings back. Robbins agrees, but only if he can do it his own way; the general says he doesn't care how the lieutenant does it, as long as he gets results.

Cut to the infirmary tent, where we're introduced to the romantic interest, Nurse McKee, as she tends to Robbins' boo-boos. That is, she dabs at his face a bit with a cotton ball, though she doesn't appear at all concerned about the blood leaking from his ear. There's clearly some history between these two.

The next day, Robbins' old buddy, Drake Holdrin, arrives from the RAF. Drake will be the squadron leader and designated doomed hot-shot.

Cut to Afrika Korps headquarters, in Benghazi. Enter Feldmarschall Erwin Rommel -- played, naturally, by a jowly actor who looks almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the famous warrior -- and his new aide-de-camp. In case we've forgotten, Rommel reminds us all he's planning to drive the Allies from North Africa.

Belloq is waiting outside. He's dolled up for the occasion in the Nazi Archaeologist/Dragon Whisperer uniform, which has apparently been designed with the specific intent of humiliating the wearer: khaki shorts and shirt, wide-brimmed hat, neckerchief and an Iron Cross. He looks like a scoutmaster from Dubuque.

An armored personnel carrier pulls up and disgorges a bevy of sinister babes cloaked in black. Rommel is not pleased. He warns the Doktor that he doesn't have the troops to protect these women, but Belloq proudly contradicts the Feldmarschall, saying it is they who will protect his troops.

Back to the Allies' camp, where it's nighttime, and the right time for the script to introduce our colorful dragon-fodder: First, another RAF guy. Then a Czech, a Frenchman, then yet another RAF guy. And last but not least, the American contingent: a farm boy, a Chicagoan and another guy, of indeterminate accent.

But their roster is not yet complete. They're awaiting the arrival of the final member of their valiant band, who has some business to take care of first, explains Co-General Anderson, something to do with Life magazine. (The guy's been spending quite a lot of time by himself lately, since the Kate Smith swimsuit issue arrived in the mail.)

To kill some time while they're waiting for him to finish whatever it is he's doing, crusty, irascible CG Anderson shows them a short subject titled "Project Skywurm". It was captured from a German reconnaissance plane that landed at the wrong airfield during a sandstorm. (And was that pilot ever red in the face!)

The film-within-a-film opens with the camera panning past a line of ladies wearing full-length black silk nightgowns -- with black peek-a-boo lace trim -- and hooded black cloaks. Could be they're extras from a cheesy death metal video. Or they might be a Goth sorority.

Then we see one of the Goth sisters, standing on a rock, her mouth open and arms outstretched. Since there's no soundtrack, it's difficult to tell whether she's singing, or demanding a feeding. A glimpse of a dragon. Then a German soldier in a cave, inspecting dozens of big eggs. Whoo-hoo! They found the Easter Bunny's secret stash!

Next, we see Scoutmaster Belloq, standing in a doorway, while the spooky ladies file out of the building and walk past him toward the camera. The Herr Doktor allows himself a tight little smile of satisfaction.

Co-Gen. Anderson identifies him as "Dr. Heinrich Gudrun", who's an archaeologist, cryptozoologist and specialist in the occult. (One thing you have to admit: the guy's got an unbeatable resume for this gig.)

Anderson then reveals that the women are sorceresses, who call themselves the Vrill. He says they believe in telekinesis, mind control, telepathy, and communication with non-human entities. They can also pick winning Lotto numbers and find missing jewelry and lost pets. Anderson believes they've been training the dragons. Drake, the cheeky devil, suggests it's just like the legend of the unicorn and the virgin. All they need do is drop him behind the lines with a couple of bottles of wine, and he'll solve that little problem. Har.

CG Anderson is not amused. While he's chewing Drake out, the final recruit shows up: Lt. Marx, who's on loan from the Tuskeegee Airmen. And he insists on handing out pamphlets about the struggle of the urban proletariat. This might not end well ...

Back to the seedy bar, where our newly-assembled team is getting to know each other. It's not like they have to worry their pretty little heads about sissy stuff like how to locate these monsters, or what tactics they'll use when they run into them ...

Since they don't officially exist, they decide to call themselves the "Ghost Squadron". (Not exactly the most auspicious name they could have chosen, if you ask me.)

Nurse McKee and her friend, Sue Strickland, enter the place and pause for a moment at the bar. Cocksman Drake sits up and takes notice, arrowing in on the pair like a bird-seeking missile. Sue is awestruck by Drake's fame and captivated by his rugged smarm, but McKee says she's there to meet someone, and leaves. Temporarily forgetting they're not in a 60s disco, Drake remarks to Sue that her friend is really "uptight".

Cut to Lt. Marx, who's trying to order a drink, but the bartender won't serve him. When Robbins walks up, the bartender immediately relents, subdued no doubt by the sheer force of the lieutenant's dolefulness. Meanwhile, McKee appears at the Ghost Squadron table, to a chorus of appreciative wolf whistles.

Back at the bar, Lt. Marx picks up his drink and walks away. This, by the way, is the only racism he will encounter during the course of this film. You have to marvel at a story that introduces a situation so rife with possibilities for some dramatic tension, and then resolutely refuses to do anything with it.

SAS bloke now makes an appearance. In the ensuing fracas Robbins inadvertently gropes McKee's breast and gets roundly slapped. Then she cracks a beer bottle over SAS bloke's head -- what a gal! -- rendering him hors de combat, while his partner tussles with the rest of the Ghost Squadron. We can now check "bar brawl to swing music" off our list of Good War film cliches.

Everybody gets in on the fun, except for Drake, who's busy snogging with Sue. Their merry free-for-all is suddenly interrupted by an air raid warning: dragon attack!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Happy Birthday M. Bouffant! I Took a Disgusting Survey For You!

Sorry for the ghostly silence around here. My blown-out disc has been getting progressively worse, to the point where I'm now grinding my teeth even while awake, and completely lack the patience necessary to play the Wingnut Game (even the Special Ann Coulter Edition with its fun mini games like "Guess the Number of  F---ing Jews in This Jar and Win a Prussian Blue CD!").  But today I'm just going to suck down the granulated tooth enamel and pretend it's the contents of a Pixie Stick, because this is the natal anniversary of our old friend, the entertainingly caustic and refreshingly radical M. Bouffant.  So let's unite, and party for Ten Days That Shook the World!

I remember the first time I read M.'s blog, Web of Evil (then called Just Another Blog From L.A.); I was immediately taken by its proprietary tone of smart, world weary vitriol, and utterly flabbergasted that its author was homeless and composing these thoughtful dispatches from the public library. Happily, M. is ensconced in his own bat cave now, but I try to remember his example whenever I notice I've let a week go by without writing a post because my back hurts, boo hoo.

Speaking of which, the handmaiden of lumbar-specific suffering is insomnia, and one of the things I do in the middle of the night when I should be blogging is sit in my recliner and fill out online surveys. This usually produces one of two results: either a series of brief, boredom-induced naps, or a gift card to Pizza Hut.

Most of the subjects are so intensely dull and oft repeated (car insurance, sports talk radio) that when a new topic is introduced I've actually heard myself exclaim, with genuine enthusiasm, "Ooh! Pet food survey!"  Unfortunately, since Google knows where I live, the survey senders can tell I'm an American, and therefore naturally assume that I'm horribly unhealthy; so a lot of these surveys have to do with what a mess my body is and how fast it's falling apart, and just how many of my friends and family are also quickly liquifying like the Nazis at the end of Raiders.

Now I don't mean to imply anything here, merely that I know M. is one of our senior Crappers, and is presumably also subject to the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. So let's do one of these surveys together, shall we? And perhaps by pooling our efforts, we can earn enough to get one of those pizzas with the hot dog stuffed crust.

No...No...No...

No...Wait--what?

What sort of weekly care could I possibly be giving to someone with impotence? Am I supposed to play a pungi and charm his crotch cobra out of his basket?  I thought this caregiver business would involve holding the hand of a delicate ingenue as she languishes from a vague but photogenic disease.

No. Just...No.

Okay, this one actually makes sense, except here I'm much more likely to receive care than give it.

It's never Lupus.

I don't think the same person who cares for Irritable Bowel Syndrome should have to care for Overactive Bladder. At least not on the same day. We need to share the wealth here.

I finally decide to volunteer at the hospice, and this is the shift I draw.

No...No...No...

Actually, I have been spending a lot of time lately injecting arsenic and mercury into the urethras of sailors, but it's really more recreational.

I'm afraid I'm not selfless enough to minister to the victims of a communicable and potentially fatal disease -- because I don't want Chris Christie to make me live in a tent -- but I'm not a complete monster, so I'll meet you halfway and agree to watch Camille.

Would I give care for this condition? Depends.

M. asked me to go easy on him this year, by which I assume he means "don't post pictures of disgusting food and then yammer on about it for five paragraphs." Fair enough. So let's skip the entree and head straight to the Dessert Buffet. Today's pastry selection comes to us courtesy of the October Revolution and Bolshevik Betty Crocker:

While our cheesecake comes courtesy of blacklisted activist Lena Horne:

And just to seal the deal, a pensive rhinoceros iguana will serve as our traditional...
Sexy Birthday Lizard!

Please join me in wishing M. Bouffant a very happy birthday. And feel free to supply your own survey answers below -- I'm confident there'll be plenty of hot dog stuffed pizza crust left over.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Happy Birthday Sheri!

It's a big day here at Wo'c, because we're celebrating the natal anniversary of our founder, s.z., without whom none of us would be here today, looking at the nauseating food I'm about to show you.
Noted Supermodel/Astronaut/Spy. Artist's conception.

Sheri is, as I've said before, that most rara of avis, a saint with a sense of humor. She spends her time and energies looking after the widows and orphans in their distress, yet still manages to keep herself from being polluted by the world. Which is obvious when you read her stuff, because no matter how vile and deserving her targets may be, she never stoops to their level, instead rinsing their dirty laundry and mixed metaphors in gentle but thorough snark, so they come out -- not fresh and clean, exactly, but so entertainingly tie-died that Jonah Goldberg has to go into work on Monday and explain why his Grateful Deadish Dockers make him look like an Arby's manager trying to sneak into Woodstock.

And as a rara avis, her writing is sui generis -- devastatingly witty but never mean-spirited, deeply moral but never moralizing. And always, always funny. In fact, Thers of Whiskey Fire once said, "SZ in particular doesn't get anywhere near the credit she deserves. SZ invented left internet snark in a lot of ways."

For that alone she deserves some sort of monument (I understand the Church of Satan is practically giving those Baphomet statues away, and it should be a simple thing to swap out the heads like Barbie dolls), but the reason we don't see her around here as much as we'd like is because she helps run an animal rescue operation (but not, I hasten to add, Operation Rescue) in a town which not only lacks a shelter, but also apparently believes in preserving the lives of animals only long enough for them to become delicious. So Sheri spends most of her time and nearly all of her money fostering strays, nursing sick and injured animals, and adopting them out to their "furever homes", if you'll pardon my jargon.

And now, without further ado, let's start the festivities!

Sheri said she wanted a prune party for her birthday, just like preznit got back in July, but apparently that was a short-lived fad (you know how the kids are these days, with their phat pants, their hula hoops, their desiccated plums). But meat loaf, well...meat loaf is eternal. And glorious, once you add the magic ingredient -- no, I don't mean "love," or some such crap, I mean rubbery snap beans that savor faintly of the Bolivian tin can in which they were entombed by Del Monte.

So belly up to the buffet, birthday revelers, and tease your taste buds with Meat Loaf Glorified by Green Beans.

Try pizza-style seasonings on meat loaf and DEL MONTE Blue Lake Green Beans!
I dispute your right to an exclamation point.
Firm yet tender, these beans have the rich yet delicate garden flavor you need to do it right.
Do what right?  If you find yourself making a meat bundt cake and interring it beneath a neolithic burial mound of green beans, you need to question whether you've ever been right about anything in your life, and if the answer is no, you need to do a further personal inventory to figure out if you're actually Bill Kristol.

I won't bore you with the entire recipe, since there's really only one crucial direction, which comes at the end, and I predict that this single sentence, once seen, will haunt you for the rest of your natural lifespan:
Serve piping-hot in the meat ring.
Words to live by. Especially if you live in West Hollywood.

You know, over the course of twelve years and three separate domains, World O' Crap has served over three million unique visitors, and that's entirely due to Sheri's all-too-rare belief that goodness should be a thing one lives every day, and evil should be a thing one pokes gentle fun at.

Speaking of goodness, I've been trying to think of something nice to do for Sheri's birthday, some token of appreciation for the years and years of gratis snark (plus all the free refills), and it occurs to me that maybe today (adoption day, as it happens, which she spends trying to find families for homeless dogs and cats) we could make her life and the lives of those she saves a little bit easier by contributing to Four Paws, her animal rescue organization. And as it just so happens, they're having a fund raiser right now, the 15th Annual Moondog Ball...
What?!

Anyway, if you click on that link, you'll see a Pay Yer Pal button on the right side of the page. Or you can send a cash, check, cheque or czech to:

Four Paws Rescue
P.O. Box 422
Millville, UT 84326
435.752.3534

As Sheri has noted previously, "[W]e are an all-volunteer, no-kill rescue group, [so] 100% of your donations are used to feed, house, or provide vet care for the cats and dogs we are caring for and hoping to find homes for."

And now, let us close in the traditional manner, with a:

Sexy Birthday Lizard!

Happy birthday, Sheri.

Friday, September 11, 2015

How To Put Ketchup On a Fishhook

She telephoned him with enticing promises. You'll never believe what happened next!
----------------------------------
They had eggs with ketchup together. So, I guess you would believe it. But maybe something shocking and titillating happened after that. Who can say? This message brought to you by all those click-bait sites, who wish to remind you that all the good stuff happens on another page.

[Cross-posted from s.z.'s Facebook page]

S.Z. Sunday (Special Friday Edition!)

Remember America's Worst Mother™, Meghan Cox Gurdon? While rooting around for blog fodder (because tomorrow is the birthday of someone very special and important and particularly beloved in the World O' Crapverse...) I discovered that Meghan Cox Gurdon (who was giving her kids lavishly stupid monickers years before anybody outside of certain Wasilla meth labs had even heard of Sarah Palin) is now reviewing children's books for the Wall Street Journal (I can't wait for her boffo critique of Julius Streicher's Der Giftpilz). Naturally, this made me nostalgic for s.z.'s indispensable DVD commentary tracks to Meghan's columns, so I thought I'd dip into the archives and repost one of my favorites:

[Originally published March 19, 2004]

"The hormonal tide that leads, ultimately, to coffee"


Yes, there's lots of hard-boiled action on the means streets of America's Worst Mother® (registered trademark of TBOGG, P.I.) today, as Meghan out-Chandlers Chandler with the Fever Swamp column entitled The Big Sleeps.  But it's a great day to be alive, for from this noir for numbskulls, Tbogg has created I, The Mummy, the definitive story of a treacherous dame with gams that just won't stop until they kick somebody.  You should just savor it for a while.  But when you're done, here's . .. the REST of the story.

Page 1

The cowardly appeasement of the Spanish, and rain, cause Meghan to wonder What Sort of World the children are growing up in, and if it might not be better to just kill young TiVo, Larva, Oceania, and Euthanasia for the insurance money.

Larva happens to catch a glimpse of the front page of the Washington Post while in the outhouse, and immediately assumes that a bundle of clothes in a photo is a dead baby.  You know, based on his experience ... 
But Meghan assures him that it's not a baby, because the man has a cell phone.
Paris' face clears instantly. "Phew. Can I have porridge and toast for breakfast?"
"You may have anything you like," I say. There's nothing like a terrorist bombing to make a mother feel indulgent.
And so, in honor of terrorism, the lucky Gurdon children get both gruel AND bread crusts for breakfast.  Well, not just because train bombings always make Meghan feel the love, but also because she's relieved that Larva is so gullible that he'll believe that people who own cell phones never have dead children.  Meghan figures that since he knows SHE has a cell phone, he won't suspect a thing when Double Indemnity time arrives.

Eldest daughter TiVo comes downstairs, much the worse for wear after an all-night bender.  She doesn't want any gruel and bread crusts, which delights Larva, because it means there's all the more for him.  The two youngest girls creepily speak in unison, a new trick they picked up from the Children of the Damned, their friends from down the block.

TiVo's extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, sudden unsociability, and lack of attention to personal hygiene don't worry Meghan at all.  So what if TiVo is a junkie -- the kids are all going to be killed by terrorists anyway, thanks to the cowardly Spaniards, so the child might as well have some fun first.

Page 2

Meghan, still bitter after having spent literally HOURS of her precious time putting together place cards for a party that teachers were allowed to attend (even though they're just the hired help), rails at educators for making strung-out kids get up in the morning.  And since kids have to get up in the morning, it means that hung-over mothers also have to get up in the morning and fix gruel, and it's just not fair!  Damn it all, if school started at 11:00 or so, then the lazy teachers could sleep in and still get off work before all the people with real jobs. Meghan thinks about making Hugo do an editorial to that effect for The Hill, then remembers that he hasn't been speaking to her ever since she packed his briefcase not with cheese sandwiches and clean underwear like he'd asked her for, but with plutonium (as recounted in Meghan's column from a couple week's back, "Kiss Me, DoodyHead"). 

But Meghan is still cheesed at the school for forcing her to get up before noon.  And also because teachers have boyfriends who love them and go to Gala Dinners with them to request "Lady in Red," while she has to raise three or four children all alone.  So, she reasons, they probably wouldn't appreciate her brilliant idea for running schools on Meghan time -- the bastards!
But perhaps I am wrong about the amiability of educators, for as a bunch they seem to get flintier and more tough-lovey by the year. First they came for the arts and music programs, and I said nothing. Then they came or recess, and I said nothing. Now they are coming for afternoon naps, and a least the Washington Post has something to say about it.
And when the Child Welfare people came for Oceania and Euthanasia, Meghan said nothing either, because frankly, she needed a nap, and it was much more peaceful without the little brats.  But then the state gave them back, and they've never been the same since, always whining for milk and meat and stuff.  Where was the Washington Post then???

Meghan then muses about the sad life of a preschool student who isn't allowed to nap.
Denied a snooze, the poor little wretches will spend an extra 45 minutes a day yawning and drooping at their tiny tables, coloring shapes, connecting dots, and navigating mazes.
And the whole thing reminds Meghan so much of her experience of having to make place cards under the watchful eyes of the stern, Germanic PTA Capable Moms while nursing the mother of all hangovers, that it brings a tear to her eye; she decides to drive the kids to school so she can punch out the principal.

Page 3

Meghan has four kids strapped into the car when TiVo asks about Twitchy.  Meghan is back in the house before she remembers that Twitchy is a rabbit, and doesn't have to attend school.  She decides to check on the thing anyway -- besides, she recalls have left an emergency bottle of gin in the utility room where the rabbit is stored.
"Bunny...?" I draw closer and pull a bit of hanging twine that clicks on the light. In the cruel glare of a bare bulb, Twitchy is motionless. Perhaps it's only because there's been so much death in the news, but I seem to be seeing the Reaper everywhere I look.
Yes, the terrorist attack in Spain (and the fact that she hasn't fed Twitchy for a week) causes Meghan think that Twitchy might be dead.  Damn the news for making Meghan worry about the living creatures in her care!

She guiltily murmurs, "Oh, poor bunny," opens the cage to retrieve his carcass (lapin avec gruel being one of Meghan's special dishes), and then --
Scuffle-pow!
Twitchy springs up like a man who hit the snooze button an hour ago and just realized he missed his plane.
And then, his possum act having lured her in, the vicious rabbit goes for Meghan's carotid artery, his thirst for blood only intensified by his long, vampiric coma. 
"Bunny, you're alive!" I cry, my eyes prickling with tears of relief.
Relief over the fact that the Goth cross Meghan had been sporting for a couple of days (she can't recall quite where she got it -- maybe at that rave she attended with Gunther) worked to deflect the rabbit's sharp, yellowed teeth.  She knocks the bunny back into his cage, loops a silver chain she stole from one of the PTA mothers around the lock, and finds that bottle of gin, the children strapped into the car now completely forgotten. 
There's been something very odd about the last week.
Um, yeah.  TiVo is addicted to heroin, Larva is in fear for his life, and Oceana and Euthanasia are talking like the creepy twins in The Shining.  But that's not the odd stuff Meghan is talking about.  She is referring to the Islamofacists again.  After all, it's all THEIR fault that school starts so early in the morning. 
We just want to get a little rest. Our enemies want us to drop off into the Big Sleep.
Hey, it's ChinaTownHall, Meghan.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Spam as a Second Language

The "Too Long for Twitter" Edition:

"GREETINGS IN THE NAME OF GOD!"

Any god in particular?

YES! BELET-SERI, THE MESOPOTAMIAN RECORDER OF THE DEAD ENTERING THE UNDERWORLD!

Huh...Is that a powerful god--?

VERY!

--because it sounds kind of like a clerical position.

IT'S MOSTLY DATA ENTRY!

Okay...

TO BE HONEST, WE USUALLY FILL THE POSITION WITH TEMP GODS.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Happy (Belated) Birthday, D.Sidhe!

Okay, I'm still one day behind, and there's no time to catch up, because the birthdays are rolling relentlessly toward me like a tsunami of amniotic fluid! But perhaps today (meaning yesterday) will provide some respite, since D.Sidhe declined the traditional accoutrements (sexy people, sucky food) in favor of Moondoggie pics. And maybe a lizard.

Can do!

"I'm the meat in my own sandwich..."

"My dreams are a Kama Sutra of tiger-on-tiger action...!"

"I could be the new Maru. There's no reason I can't.  This is America -- I could be President if I wanted to. For all I know, I am."

"I'm...I'm having a moment of pure epiphany! I'm afraid this may be impossible for your tiny, unenlightened minds to grasp, but let's just say...it involves chicken skin."

"Oh, oh...I'm stuck between a duvet and a soft place. Did you guys see 127 Hours? Totally like that. I guess you're just gonna have to bring me my food..."

"Yeah, I know you're into your fancy camera angles an' all, but this forced perspective makes me look like I have one giant Stone Crab claw for a paw, and now I can't sleep because I'm afraid someone's gonna harvest it and suck out all my meat."

"Yeah, still trapped, and you guys haven't even brought my appetizer yet. Don't make me borrow your phone while you're in the shower and leave you a scathing Yelp review."

"Okay, wait, wait!...I'm just gonna come right out and admit that when you suggested we play "Whack-A-Mole," I didn't totally understand what I was getting into..."

And finally...

Moondoggie: First Known Photograph (2007)

And thus, by combining a Birthday post with Post-Friday Beast Blogging, I think I'm back on schedule, all thanks to the birthday girl!  So please join me in wishing our D.Sidhe the very happiest of all possible birthdays, in this, the best of all possible cat-themed birthday posts!

Bonus SBL! Hat tip to Doc Logan for today's suggested Sexy Birthday Lizard, the Cuban Knight Anole:
"Yeah? What're you lookin' at?"

Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy (Belated) Birthday, AnnPW!

Sorry guys, but yesterday was a bear, and not the fun, Pendleton-wearing kind that'll take you to a Lady Gaga concert at LA Live, then buy you a round of artisanal mojitos in West Hollywood and let you groom him for nits. No, it was more the driving-to-the-Valley-for-meetings type, and when it was all over I just didn't have enough surplus vim to throw a birthday bash, so I missed the natal anniversary of charter Crapper AnnPW. Sorry, Ann! (Or as the guy who played Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables used to say it, "Sore-ry, Anne").

But one day late, that's not so bad, is it? There must be some grace period, I mean they give you a whole year to send someone a wedding gift, right? (They do, right? Otherwise I'm in kind of a lot of trouble...)

So let's just pretend that instead of a surprise party last night, we brought Ann breakfast in bed this morning!

"What's that sizzling sound I hear?" the husband asks.  Any rational person would assume the answer is "Bacon!", and wonder why he even bothered to ask. But Hubby clearly knows his wife, and I suspect the question is posed more in a tone of dread than anticipation. The best possible reply he can hope for is, "A grease fire. RUN!"  But no, she says eight little words which, if they must be spoken, should never be shouted out with glee:  "Get up! It's SPAM and eggs, my dear!"

Sensibly, they choose not to show us Hubby's response (I can only imagine he rolled over with a muttered, "I thought I left a wake-up call for half past divorce," but by this point the odor of unfertilized poultry ova and fried swine jowls must be impregnating the knotty pine paneling, so he might as well get up and try to dull his olfactory sense by igniting the first of many Old Golds.

But enough of his problems! What about the known side effects of SPAM, such as homicide, and involuntary rhyming? Look at that woman in the middle left box. She asks a leading, but reasonable question, "How can I cook without much fuss?" To which her husband screams the atypical rejoinder, "SPAM bake would tickle all of us!" At first, you might just assume her husband was insane, and move on with your life. But if you have no life, you might do one of those "enlarge and enhance" things they do on TV procedurals, and reveal that the mouths of Hubby and the children are all frozen in mirthless grins, like Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs. The son appears to be screaming in terror, but his dead eyes, gazing listlessly into the void, suggests that he accepted the inevitability of death a millisecond before the cleaver struck him down. Sister's eyes, popped wide and rolled to the side, suggest Mother was listening to Eddie Cantor on the radio as she taxidermied her daughter, while Father's fixed look of agonized servility is perfect for a corpse whose killer imagines him so eager to ingratiate himself that he seconds her menu-related musings in rhyme.  But a crappy rhyme, of course, because he's no better as a dead poet than he was as a husband and provider, which is why Mother keeps her cutlery collection buried in his back. Oh, a bit of sawdust trickles out when she withdraws the butcher knife, but at least the bastard is finally helping around the kitchen.

The ladies in the middle right box appear to be alive at least, but not only are they also speaking in rhyme, they're speaking in code as well. Lady #1 says, "Here's a lunch that's good and quick..." to which Lady #2 replies, "Hot cheese SPAMwich does the trick!" Which clearly it does not. But despite their effort to throw gossips off the trail by randomly inserting nonsense words like "cheese SPAMwich," it's obvious from the context, i.e., the words "lunch", "quick", and "trick", that one of these ladies had a nooner at the Mayflower Hotel with Roger Sterling.

Finally, we're left with the main message of the ad: "Look at all the fun you can have with SPAM, the Hormel meat of many uses." Just imagine if Joseph, instead of his storied coat of many colors, had sported outerwear fashioned from reprocessed pork remnants. While it probably wouldn't have hindered his ability to interpret Pharaoh's dreams, I bet he would have spent a lot more of his time getting treed by jackals.

Everybody full? Nobody wants seconds? Okay then, let's bring on dessert!
Today's birthday beefcake features Cary Grant and Randolph Scott (in living color!, posing outside the Spanish-style home they shared in Santa Monica), mostly because -- if memory serves -- the whole SBL tradition first came about as a consolation prize when Ann balked at Cary's chin divot.

And speaking of Sexy Birthday Lizards!...
...we have a lovely Tokay Gecko which appears to be tasting its own eyeball, because it's gotta be better than SPAM.

Please join me in wishing AnnPW a very happy (belated) birthday!

P.S.  As a resident of Hollywood, I'm naturally concerned about any threatened SPAM-related program activities going on around here, so I'm hoping Ivan will drop by and explain just what the hell Hormel's new idea in radio entertainment was, and how I can kill it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Happy Birthday, Ivan!

This is an unusually busy week for me, involving a lot of non-blog writin' an' thinkin' and wishin' and hopin'. But it's also a week with an unusually high Birthday Index (as longtime Crappers know, the first week of September signals the beginning of Peak Nativity Season around here, because something about wingnuts and bad movies attracts the kind of people whose parents liked to get randy in the bleak midwinter), so I hope you'll forgive me if the celebrations aren't quite so elaborate as they've been in years past. Rest assured, we still have the saucy mammals, the sexy reptiles, and the disgusting food, because apparently that's now a thing (don't ask me how these traditions get started, I just work here, and my manager's already making me stay late and help with inventory, so I can't even...).

Today's celebrant is both a classic movie maven par excellence and a historian of Golden Age television nonpareil, an eminence grise of noir et blanc, an authority on Old Time Radio (and the kind benefactor who made it possible for me to know more than I ever hoped, expected, or believed possible about Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons), the sort of vacuum-tubed human ENIAC who will respond to a Facebook friend's querulous queries about what the hell's the deal with "Rio Grande 'Cracked' Gasoline" by calmly explaining that Rio Grande was the sponsor for Calling All Cars, a 1933-39 police drama that aired on the West Coast over the Columbia Broadcasting System. It doesn't help, but you feel smarter for knowing it.

And by now you've probably guessed (from the title, if not the above description) that today is the natal anniversary of Ivan G. Shreve, Jr., proprietor of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear. So let's get this party started!

See what delicious things happen when A.1. Sauce lends its flavor blessing to cold dishes!
Bless me A.1. for I have sinned...against flavor!
You can keep cool while you're making this attractive tuna mold--and you're sure to collect compliments when you serve it. 
When they taste it, however, you're sure to collect knife and shrimp fork wounds, so serve it quick, and maybe leave the motor running...
In fact, A.1. Sauce is about the easiest possible way to add a flavor flourish anytime . . . both when it's used as a table pour-on sauce and when it's an ingredient in cooking.
I agree, pouring A.1. sauce on the table would probably be tastier. Nevertheless, we're in no position to be choosy about our sponsors, so let's just swallow our gorge and gather around the Philco, because the show's about to begin!

The A-1 Tuna Mold Hour brings you the exciting adventures of Ivan Shreve, Master Blogger!

(Cue Dramatic Theme Music: The Yodeling Chinaman, played in a minor key on the Hammond organ)

Oops! Sorry guys, we won't have time for this week's episode. Sadly, while Ivan stars in a taut, weekly suspense drama, I'm in one of those daily 15-minute sitcoms like The Goldbergs, and as usually happens, my wacky neighbor Seymour Fingerhood just walked in. And seeing as he's played by Arnold Stang, I really need to concentrate on getting him back out as quickly as possible.

Also, and I hate to say this, but I liked the early episodes of the show better, when it was Ivan and his Doc Savage-like companions, "the 'rents", solving crimes in the gritty big city of Athens, GA. Once they moved the action to Winterville ("the City of Marigolds"), the pace suffered, and it began to feel like The Doris Day Show, but in reverse.

So let's just get straight to the cheesecake, shall we? Here's a rare photo of TDOY goddess Jane Greer actually smiling, because it's a beautiful sunny day and she's just finished burying the sap she double-crossed, and smothering his body in quicklime.

And of course, no birthday would be complete without a...
Sexy Birthday Lizard!

(I believe this is a Green Carolina Anole, which can supposedly be found in Georgia, but I make no guarantees because this is the Internet, and the Internet means never having to say "I fact checked.")

So please join me in wishing Ivan the very happiest of birthdays! Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go see if I can foist Arnold off on the cast of That Brewster Boy, or The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour.