Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Face is My Fortune Cookie

When Vice President (really - just check his jacket) Mike Pence paid a visit to the DMZ Scenic Overlook, he arrived while the wait staff was still setting up for the Early Bird Special, so he decided to wander outside (even though this was contraindicated by the people assigned to shoo him away from landmines, snipers, and unaccompanied woman who might swoon over his snow-capped pate and musky cloud of Hai Karate).

Being a natural tough guy, VP Pence manfully crossed his arms, hunched his shoulders so his epaulets made little McDonalds-like arches, and immediately picked a staring contest with the Orient:

“I thought it was important that we went outside,” he said. “I thought it was important that people on the other side of the DMZ see our resolve in my face.”

NORTH KOREA: Oh, hey, you got a little...Yeah, on your face - little lower...No, it's still there...Corner of your mouth...It's like a little smear of resolve, or a blob of staunchness or something...Look, just use your napkin...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

O'Really, O'Reilly?

On this day of mingled mourning and celebration, depending on whether you have a penis or not, and if you do, whether you keep it in your underpants or your nightstand, I think it's important that we remember the good things Bill O'Reilly did during his tenure at Fox News. And by "good", I mean "not legally actionable" or "liable to result in plaintiff receiving a record-setting multi-million dollar award for compensatory and punitive damages".

In other words, let's spare a moment to remember that Bill didn't sexually harass every women he ever met or worked with. To wit: this interview from September, 2003 with Condoleezza Rice, who was at that time National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, but would one day grow up to be Secretary of State, and a footwear fancier whose shoe lust would earn her the nicknames "Jimmy Choo-Choo Charley" and (in Doghouse Riley's famous formulation) "the Fabulous Condimelda".

So let's wave farewell to Bill's long and extinguished career by revisiting this piece written by Sheri in the glistening, dew-flecked dawn of World O' Crap:

[Originally posted September 25, 2003]

I DO Believe in WMDs, I Do, I Do, I DO!

National Security Advisor Condoleezza was on Bill O'Reilly's show tonight, advising him on the steps the nation is taking to keep him safe from vicious NY Times terrorists.

No, actually, the White House remembered that Bill had said, "If the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clear he had nothing [WMDs-wise], I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush administration again." And just like Santa Claus going to Macy's to restore little Natalie Wood's faith in miracles, or Clarance coming down from heaven to renew Jimmy Stewart's faith in the FDIC, they sent Condi to restore Bill's faith in the Bush administration.
While I didn't see the show (my house is a "Yes-Spin Zone"), I did read the Fox News online transcripts (Condi Saves Christmas). Sadly, it appears that the transcriber for the show has been arrested for espionage and the janitor is filling in, since we got a lot of this kind of thing:
O'REILLY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the USA (UNINTELLIGIBLE) send a couple of divisions up there, in conjunction with American Special Forces, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? 
RICE: We have very good cooperation with the Pakistanis. That's why we are being so optimistic (ph)...
O'REILLY: I don't mean to sound (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 
RICE: Probably not the right word (UNINTELLIGIBLE). 
Um, I theorize that O'Reilly and Condi were cussing up a storm, and in deference to her position, Fox is pretending they couldn't make out that part of the conversation. But why the need to indicate that the optimimism is just phonetic?

Anyway, despite all the garbles, the transcript does give us the White House Yes-Spin on lots of stuff. For example, that while we haven't actually found any WMDs in Iraq, Bill does not have to apologize to the nation and can continue to trust the Bush administration because:
RICE: We went to war -- the president has led (ph) the people to war because this is a dangerous tyrant who had used weapons of mass destruction before. 
So, Saddam USED to have weapons that posed a threat to us, so we sent our troops in now, to prevent him from destroying our past. Something like that.

But unstoppable truth-teller O'Reilly was unsatisfied:
O'REILLY: All right. But on March 30, 2003, Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defense, said this, he said, "We know where the WMDs are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad." That turned out to be a mistake. 
RICE: Well, they're still searching. The areas around Tikrit and Baghdad happens to be one of the most difficult areas, of course. It's in the Sunni triangle 
So, the WMDs are really there, but in the Sunni Triangle, which, like the Bermuda Triangle, sometimes lets things slip into another dimension. But we'll find them, all right! We have Leonard Nimoy on the case!

Okay, the subject of WMDs dealt with, and Saddam and Osama located (Saddam has slipped through the Sunni Triangle, and Osama is in "Afghanistan, Pakistan, someplace in that area"), we can move on to more important topics, like invading France.
O'REILLY: Why don't you send a couple of American divisions over to get Jacques Chirac? Can we do that? And... 
RICE: We're always going to have our differences with the French. [snip] 
O'REILLY: Jacques Chirac and France have hurt this country and put our servicemen in jeopardy. Am I wrong? 
RICE: Well, I think that the French position is not one that we would have taken. We think that... 
O'REILLY: But they put our service people in jeopardy. 
RICE: And we think, Bill -- and I think this is what Americans are reacting to -- after all that was done to liberate France in World War II -- that we could have expected better cooperation. But that's behind us now. 
O'REILLY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) American servicemen. 
RICE: No, I don't... 
Since Condi undoubtedly had Secret Service protection during this visit to the Fox News Planet, Bill couldn't cut off her oxygen for refusing to agree with him that France endangered our servicemen by sneering at them. But I bet he called her a bitch behind her back.

So, let's move on to the next threat to our National Security: Kennedys!
O'REILLY: All right. How about a couple of divisions to get Ted Kennedy up in Hyannis (ph)? Can we do that? American divisions? [snip] Look, I'm not a partisan guy. I mean I'd vote (ph) for anybody. But I think Kennedy is saying that President Bush -- and you work with him very closely -- contrived the war in Texas for political gain. 
And anybody saying something like that is putting our service men in danger, and that's treason! Am I wrong? AM I WRONG? But Condi just called it "a very unfortunate comment," and took Ted to task for bad manners in war time.
RICE: I would just ask everybody to be civil. Everybody should be pulling together now to deal with the situation that we have in Iraq. This is a historic and important moment for American security, and certainly we can get past our differences and support the policy. 
See, this is the President's Big Day, and so we should just support his policy, even if we think that it's killing American servicemen for no good reason. But after this is all over and the policy either suceeded or failed miserably, THAT will be the time to talk about it.
 O'REILLY: All right. You know there are some people actually rooting against the Bush administration for political purposes. They want to see chaos in Iraq. They want you to fail so that the president won't be reelected and somebody else will. What do you think? Is that un-American to carry that point of view? 
RICE: Bill, I think we can have debates about anything. About policy, about how we've handled it, how it's going to turn out. I think that's perfectly American, and it's a good thing to do. Let's just keep it civil and let's keep it at the level of debate... 
O'REILLY: All right. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), right? Maybe I would. No, I wouldn't. 
I think Bill's garbled last remark was:

"All right. Be civil to people who have opposing viewpoints and not accuse them of treason. Novel idea. Hmm, that's something I could start doing right here, to make the world a better place! Maybe I would. No, I wouldn't".

Then our dynamic duo talks about Iran for a while, and Bill is bitterly disappointed to hear that the administration is going to use cooperation, diplomacy, and the UN to deal with them, instead of A-bombs.
O'REILLY: But don't you understand -- I mean, I'm sure you do, and I know you have to be diplomatic -- there's not this sense of urgency on the part of many countries in the world to help the United States. We're at risk here. We're target number one. In Belgium, they don't care. 
They just don't care, the bastards! Our President is calling on them to send us troops and money, and then they get all pissy when we tell them if they don't do things our way, we're taking their ball and going home. Here we are, fighting a war that they didn't agree to, but will they bail us out? NOOO! And now we're in remote personal danger in our own country, just like people who aren't priviledged to be Americans, and they couldn't give a damn! I say we nuke the Belgians too.

But wait, a hero approaches to unite the world in dealing with Iran, Texas-style! It's George Bush, international sex symbol.
RICE: Can I tell you something, Bill? This president, because he's strong and steadfast and speaks the truth, is making more progress on getting international pressure on Iran than was made in the last...
O'REILLY: I read "The New York Times" today. And "The New York Times" said that President Bush is a total buffoon and nobody likes him and he's not making any progress. 
And Billy said that Sally said that The NY Times said that George Bush is icky and smelly and that nobody wants him on their kickball team 'cause he's got cooties. So we should invade them too, don't you agree? Well, DON'T YOU?!?

 But she doesn't, and neither will she agree with Bill that we should have deadly electric fences around our borders to keep out terroristic Mexican migrant workers and Canadian news anchors. She says the Prez has a better plan, which apparently involves a "Mission Impossible"-style plot to make Mexicans think that they're already in the U.S. through the strategic use of false Walmart storefronts and California recall rhetoric. Bill indicated that he can't get down with that, nor with her Bart-killing policy, but he does like her Selma-killing policy.
RICE: OK. Well, one out of three isn't bad. 
O'REILLY: No. Listen, the mail is going to say, although you're an idiot, we love Dr. Rice. I know what the mail is going to say. Last question for you. President has dropped 21 points in the favorability polls since last spring -- 21 points. Why?
RICE: The president? 
RICE: Because this president is dealing with America's problems. And he's a president who is in touch with Americans. 
LOL. Yes, and I love his plan to inspire the nation to lose confidence in him by keeping in touch with the citizens. If his advisors are smart, they'll keep him incommunicado before his approval ratings drop any lower.
O'REILLY: But why would he fall 21 percent? 
RICE: The president -- first of all, I think one has to look at polls. And he was at astronomically high levels. But see, when you go out there and you talk to Americans, they trust this president. They know that this president is doing everything that he can on the war on terror. 
And that's why he's dropping in the polls--we know he's doing everything he can, and we see what a mess he's making of things. And then we think, "Well, if this is the best he can do, maybe it's time we let Gary Coleman have a shot at the job."
RICE: They know that the economy is starting to recover. They trust this president. 
Um, no and no. Sorry Condi, but thanks for playing Spin Zone with us. You get a case of Rice-a-Roni, plus a copy of Bill's new book, Who's Picking Out a Thermos For You?

Now, let's review what we've learned:

First, our nation's enemies, in descending order of how much we hate them, are:

1. Iraq
2. France
3. Kennedys
4. North Korea
5. Terrorist Illegal Aliens
6. The NY Times
7. Iran

Second, the WMDs and Saddam have fallen through the Sunni Triangle, and so will either reapear in the middle of a WWII sea battle, or will get eaten by a giant turtle.

And third, the President is strong and steadfast and tells the truth, and so the nations of the world want to do our bidding. But he is in touch with the American people, and so his approval ratings are going down. Hope this helped.

Scott here again, pulling you out of the war-torn past and back to the pre-war present thanks to the advanced Time Tunnel technology I picked up at Irwin Allen's yard sale in 1991.

So...there you go. Bill got through an entire interview with a black woman without calling her "hot chocolate", demanding she refill his motherFing ice tea, or suggesting she get a couple of wines in her and loofa his falafel.

Credit where credit is due.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Crisis on Infinite Slumgullions!

WORLD'S COLLIDE in this massive, CW-style crossover clip show between The Slumgullion and the Writer's Block podcasts!

Jeff and smutty author Indy McDaniel discuss geeky stuff!

Jeff and Mary pull out their hankies and wave a tearful farewell to the TV series Bones! (I don't know, but they seem to care...)

Scott talks Kong: Skull Island and Ghost in the Shell with one third of the New Movie Crew!

Scott and Jeff squeeze their geek glands all over the new Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Star Wars!

[cross-posted from The Slumgullion]

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Beauty and The Be-EEEK!

By Bill S.

Sure, that enchanted castle in Beauty and the Beast where everything talks, sings, and dances, might seem like a fun place to live...until the first time you need to use the bathroom.

 "And every time I walk into the room, this dry erase board magically writes, 'Shave your ballsack!'"

I haven't yet seen the new version of Beauty and the Beast, but I fondly remember the animated version from 1991, and still have the soundtrack with all those memorable musical numbers. One of the best loved is "Be Our Guest", sung by Jerry Orbach as Lumiere the Candlestick. But you may be surprised to learn the song was meant for a different character that was dropped from the film. Fortunately I have the original script.

After greeting the strange variety of talking household objects, Belle, needing to compose herself, enters the the powder room..

 "Uh...Do you have a magazine?"

MONSIEUR TOILETTE: Good evening, Mademoiselle!

Belle gasps in surprise. The music swells..

Poop in me, poop in me
Or perhaps you need to pee
When you do your daily business there's a certain guarantee
I'll be here-please don't blush
Any time you need to, flush!
To assist the Master's Beauty
Is my willing, honored duty
And when you're wiping off
I won't giggle, joke or scoff
It will be just as discreet as it can be
You've got a lifetime pass
So go and park your ass
And poop in me, poop in me, poop in me!

But they decided to go a different way with the song. I have no idea why.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool's Day...In Your Ear!

Ah, April Fool's Day, the Johnny Knoxville of holidays. Between the pukin' and the pinchin' of St. Patrick's Day, and the punkin' of April 1st, this is traditionally the most annoying time of year, and I'm not taking it lying down. Which is why the upcoming sequel to Better Living Through Bad Movies has a chapter (who knows, maybe two or three chapters! I'm way more easily annoyed than I used to be) about dumb holiday movies.

We got some nice responses to our previous audio previews of the new book (Happy Valentine's Day! I Got You Some Lesbians! and It's A Wonderful Life), so I asked the brilliantly funny John Szura and Blanche Ramirez -- who narrate the audiobook of Better Living -- if they'd work their magic on this individually wrapped slice of mid-Eighties cheese.

Friday, March 31, 2017

How Do You Role Play "Silent Running"?

In a very special edition of The Slumgullion, Jeff and Scott are joined by Sleepy Hollow Executive Producer/Showrunner Albert Kim. They talk about the show in general, last week's episode in particular, and tonight's finale in vague, teasing terms. They also talk a surprising amount about 70's sci fi.

[Cross-posted from The Slumgullion]

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Happy Birthday, MaryC! As Seen on TV!

By Bill S.

Well, it's once again to wish the happiest of birthday to World O'Crap's very own MaryC. That means it's time to do a little birthday shopping, and so I've decided to look through a couple catalogues to find that very special gift. First, let's flip the the pages of the ever reliable Carol Wright Gifts!

Give yourself a perfect trim every time you comb your hair! Unique comb has built-in razor that trims your hair automatically according to length--short or long.
Thank you for explaining what the hair length options were.
"Save money on Expensive Haircuts"
Yeah, and with the money you save, you'll be able to buy bandages you'll need from cutting your scalp every time you try to comb your hair.
Enjoy heightened sensual pleasure this powerful Butterfly Kiss personal massager. It features three speeds, and an--
Holy crap! THAT'S what a butterfly kiss is? Maybe DJs should stop cuing up that Bob Carlisle song  at weddings during the father-daughter spotlight dance then!
LONG-REACH COMFORT WIPE Why pay $39.99? Ours only $9.99
If you have trouble with personal hygiene, this long-reach comfort wipe is the answer. Its soft, flexible head grips toilet paper or pre-moistened wipes securely, while its ergonomic design reaches where you can't. After wiping, simply press the release button for fast, sanitary disposal.
I did not make that up. This is an actual thing that exists. I cannot imagine how using it could make the task it's designed for easier. It looks like a prop you'd find in an Adam Sandler movie. No, worse, a Rob Schneider movie. I'm not sure who'd need this. I'm not sure I want to meet that person.

[Scott adds:  On the other hand, over 5,600 people have liked this post-poop tool on Facebook. Can you be the first of your friends, or is it already too late? (And by "too late," I mean "for us, as a species".)]

Last year I came across another catalogue for gift ideas, called "Things You Never Knew Existed"

Let's see what they have--
300 years? Are they predicting 60 years into the future?
An intimate look at the death row inmates, from last wishes and words to the clothes they wore to their deaths. Heavily illustrated with rare pictures of the condemned criminals, their executioners, the official instruments used to carry out the sentences and in many cases, the actual executions.
So, light bedtime reading then?
TALKING CHATIMAL MONKEY-Funny Monkey Repeats What You Say $29.98
Cheeky little monkey knows how to get the laughs! Press his hand and talk to him--when the red light goes off, he repeats what you say in a silly high-pitched voice while bobbing his head.
Get it now, before Donald Trump appoints it to a cabinet position. Assuming he hasn't already.
Whoops! Guess they forgot they weren't behind closed doors! Plant this very cheeky couple in a special spot in your yard...and wait for the roars of laughter!
And wait and wait and wait...and hope your neighbor's kids don't see this grotesque thing when they arrive home from school.
If you're so messed up you can't remember what day of the week it is, forget the clock and call AA.

Made of pliable vinyl composite, this woodland spirit molds to the trunk of your favorite tree, blending right in.
 "How'd you like it if somebody picked your apples?"

That is the creepiest damn thing I've ever seen.

CROWN OF THORNS T-SHIRT (LG, XL) $19.98, (2X) $21.98
Striking image of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns is so realistically printed that it has a 3D-like quality!
I take back what I just said. THIS is the creepiest thing I've ever seen. Especially since it looks more like the Medusa than Jesus.

Sometimes, the best way to communicate is with your hands. This useful guide explains how to make 50 highly offensive gestures from all over the world, including how to: curse a perfect stranger; express explicit sexual interest; defame a friend's mother; and call someone stupid, crazy or ugly.
Ah, so it's educational! Well, I don't think we need to look any further!

Happy Birthday MaryC!

[From Scott: I don't have any lizard photos on hand, but here's Shadow smirking in a way that makes me wonder what I'm going to find in my shoe...]

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Logan is an Hairy Man, and Xavier is a Smooth Man

New Slumgullion! Yes, it's time for our so-late-nobody-gives-a-damn-about-the-spoilers-anymore review of Logan. We drop all pretense of format and genre ecumenism, and plunge in-depth to this, the meatiest, the bloodiest, and most albino-y of the Marvel movies.

This episode, Scott and Jeff are joined by the New Movie Crew (John Szura, Blanche Ramirez, and smutty book author Indy McDaniel). But first, Jeff and Mary do that weird thing where they pretend they're characters from Happy Days and chat about the TV show Bones, which I'm happy to say is coming to the end of its run soon, because I never have a clue what they're talking about (who the hell are "Buck and Wanda"?).

Stick around after the closing theme to hear Mary's take on the movie. She generally shies away from films with violence and gore, so she probably hated Logan, right? Or did she...?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lust and Rockets: Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)

By Hank Parmer

A Futurama Entertainment Corporation presentation. (Approved by the Space Pope)

Directed by: Robert Gaffney
Story by: George Garrett

As the movie opens, cool, haughty Princess Marcuzan, and her mutated asthma hound toady, Dr. Nadir (which is stunningly apt, as regards both his performance and this point in the actor's career) are cruising through the ionosphere, doing their cosmic thing.

 "And I am getting a spot, right here..."

You can instantly tell this princess is the real deal. Not merely from her imperious manner, and her regal Egyptian-style headdress, but also because she rigidly eschews contractions in her dialog.

Dr. Nadir excitedly informs the princess that the mysterious planet below is the source of the radio signals they've been tracking. She has him move their spaceship in for a closer look. After a quick scan, Dr. Nadir declares the planet suitable to sustain their form of life. The princess decides to land and check it out. For some reason -- and it's definitely not because it saves the production a major outlay on bald wigs and pointy ears, okay? -- even though she's just been told the air down there should be fine, she orders the landing party to wear pressure suits and helmets. Just like every other member of the crew we see in this spaceship's control room, except for herself and the doctor, is already wearing.

Ha! Dr. Nadir announces there's a missile attack -- and it may be aimed at us!

Cutaway to stock footage, first of a Saturn rocket lifting off, then a brief clip filmed by a rearward-pointing camera on a V-2 as it arrows into the clear desert skies above White Sands. If you've seen any Grade-Z space epics from the drive-in era, you'll be all too familiar with this sequence.

The princess orders the doctor to destroy the missile. (Just to be on the safe side, you understand.) Dr. Nadir eagerly seizes on this opportunity to whip out his favorite catchphrase. Rapidly reeling off some coordinates to a crewman, he concludes with: "Focus force fields! And now ... MAXIMUM ENERGY!"

The rocket instantly morphs into an Atlas booster, which then blows up real good, to much eeeevil cackling from our gnomish, pointy-eared doctor.

Fun facts: The actor who portrays Dr. Nadir, Lou Cutell, appeared in no less than three movies with "Frankenstein" in the title during his long career -- this one, Young Frankenstein and Frankenstein General Hospital. (Didn't Roy Thinnes have a cameo in that one, as the creature's gall bladder?) Princess Marcuzan, incidentally, is played by June, 1959's Playmate of the Month, Marilyn Hanold. Her other challenging roles to date have included that of a cannibalistic Venusian Amazon in the Three Stooges short Spaceship Sappy, and a minor part in the horror "classic" The Brain That Wouldn't Die. And yet, she gets top billing in this one.

Cocoa Beach, Florida: The score swings into a jazzy secret agent theme featuring twangy bass guitar, bongos and saxophones, while the audience gets a nice, long drive-by gander at the rocket garden in front of Patrick Air Force Base. Cut to the back of a strictly-observing-the-posted-speed-limit Lincoln Continental, where we meet our earthly protagonist, two-fisted scientist Dr. Adam Steele. Played, in his first motion picture appearance, by prolific Broadway, film and TV actor James Karen. Crammed into the back seat with him are his (colleague? secretary?) and love interest, Karen Grant, as well as Gen. Bowers and Col. Frank Saunders -- who throughout this scene stares stonily ahead. I think he's had it up to here with the never-ending Kentucky Fried Chicken jokes.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spam as a 2nd Language

From the ol' mailbag:
SCOTT! Why is "fisting" seen as taboo?
I'm glad you asked. At its best, the hand -- along with its handmaidens, the fingers -- is capable of great beauty and subtlety, realizing the mind's loftiest ambitions and producing art, music, and the vast, enduring monuments of industrial and scientific progress, while the fist is regarded as the hand's dumber, drunker, more violent brother. Think of it as the Billy Carter, or Randy Quaid of the body.  You may love the fist -- and in turn be loved by it, forcefully and greasily -- but you'd just as soon it not put in an appearance at Thanksgiving.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Givers Must Take It

Discovering the remains of The Giving Tree in a bare, ghostly forest, Donald Trump, Jr. pauses to lift a cheek and fart on the loser stump.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Rather than getting drunk, the traditional American method of honoring the founder of Christianity in Ireland, let's put down the bottle, pick up the remote, and watch a crappy movie. At least then you'll have a reason to get drunk.

Leprechaun (1993)
Written and Directed by Mark Jones

A limousine pulls up to a rustic cottage and an Irishman climbs out. At least, we assume he's Irish, because he's stinking drunk and speaks in a brogue so thick it can't be natural, and was probably produced in post-production by a team of Foley artists who soaked a Cranberries CD in Bushmills and strained it through a cable knit sweater. He's also apparently a criminal, because he tells his long-suffering wife that he captured a leprechaun (that's false imprisonment -- a misdemeanor in California, where the film was shot), made the wee person reveal where his gold was hidden (criminal coercion-- usually a Class A misdemeanor, but in this case used in furtherance of larceny, so the DA will probably bump it up to a Class D felony) and stole it (this can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, as the law does not specify the monetary value of a pot of gold. However, California considers it grand theft if "domestic fowls, avocados, olives, or other farm crops are taken of a value exceeding two hundred fifty dollars." So I'm going to recommend this guy plead out.

Drunk Irishman smuggled the gold from Ireland to Saugus, California in his mother's urn, which was brilliant, because ashes and gold coins are both unusually heavy, and cremains also make a merry jingling sound when you shake them. Unfortunately, the Leprechaun stowed away in his suitcase and got through customs, presumably by impersonating one of Jeff Dunham's ugly ventriloquist figures. He pops out of the Samsonite and Long-Suffering Wife promptly falls down the basement stairs and breaks her neck.

But Drunk Irishman brandishes a four-leaf clover, which apparently works on leprechauns like a crucifix, and seals him up in a crate, which apparently works on leprechauns like a crate. Then he has a stroke.

10 Years Later. Jennifer Aniston arrives to spend the summer with her Dad, who is apparently a professional Billy Ray Cyrus impersonator. Jennifer complains that she doesn't like being in New Mexico, but Dad reminds her that it's actually North Dakota, hinting that she's a professional idiot. She's also a whiny little brat from Los Angeles who hates the tumbledown cottage, bitches about the lack of cable, objects to the free-roaming tarantulas, and isn't thrilled about the musty scent of dwarf in the basement.

Jennifer dials her early 90s cellular telephone, but before she can make a reservation at the local hotel, she bumps into the local hunk, Nathan, who gets her feminist dander up by chortling at her distaste for tarantulas and pointing out that no man fears a house! (Except William Katt in House.)

Naturally, the hunk's insults have a profound effect on Jennifer and she immediately decides to stay in the filthy, spider-infested murder house, because horny.

"It's hard to tell from this angle, but you look like you might have a penis somewhere on your person..."

Nathan's ten year old brother Alex arrives in a truck with his large, dumb friend who's like Lennie from Of Mice and Men, if Lennie had spent less time dreaming about rabbits and more time talking crap about magic and alien abductions. Nathan, Alex, and Lennie are all here to paint the picket fence, having been hired by Jennifer's dad, or maybe just talked into it by Tom Sawyer.

Jennifer decides to stand up for Girl Power and Third Wave Feminism and rebuke Nathan's sexism by bringing him a nice cool drink. Because horny. He repays her kindness by tossing a dusty canvas sack on her head, then suggesting they break open the crate containing the imprisoned Leprechaun for no apparent reason except he's also stupid. I dread to think of the child these two idiots would produce, but since they both have amazingly bouncy, shiny, Pert Plus-quality hair, I'm sure their progeny could get a job as a TV evangelist, or successfully run for Congressman from New Mexico even though he's really in North Dakota.

Nathan and Jennifer’s efforts to unleash hell are stymied in the nick of time when Lennie has a slip and fall mishap while painting and accidentally joins the Blue Man Group. But then, after washing all the paint off himself in seconds, perhaps by using one of those turpentine-based shampoo and conditioners, Lennie frees the Leprechaun. A rainbow suddenly appears in the sky, and Lennie and Alex follow it to the Leprechaun's gold, where the two immediately start re-enacting the last act of Treasure of the Sierra Madre. But don't get your hopes up they're going to kill each other, because Alex decides to use all the gold to pay for a brain operation that will make Lennie smart, just like in Flowers for Algernon, proving that Alex only seems rude and self-centered, and that deep down he's really the stupidest person in this movie.

The Leprechaun crawls under Nathan's truck and sensually caresses Jennifer's shins, then gives her a nasty scratch. Dad instantly deduces it was a cat, maybe a rabid one, and sticks his arm into a hollow log to catch it; instead sustaining a bloody Leprechaun bite. Okay, I may have been hasty about deciding who's the stupidest character here, because at this point, it's anybody's game.

The gang drives Dad to the hospital in town, with the Leprechaun in hot pursuit on a tricycle. Alex and Lennie give one of the gold pieces to a coin dealer to study. After they leave, the Leprechaun leaps out of the dealer's safe, advises him that "it's not nice to steal from leprechauns" seizes the gold coin, then gives him a nasty bite on the upper thigh. This is not strictly legal, because under California law, a peace officer may impound stolen property, "except coins, monetized bullion, or commercial grade ingots in the possession of a pawnbroker, or coin dealer." So the Leprechaun is clearly a bad cop, a loose cannon who doesn’t play by the rules. Joe Friday would never have taken the coin; he would have followed LAPD procedure and merely bit the guy's thigh.

Back at the house, the kitchen has been torn apart: cabinets and drawers have been ripped open, food has been strewn all over the floor, and Jennifer's shoes have been polished and neatly arranged on the table, so Nathan figures it was a bear.

Jennifer, Alex, and Lennie cower inside while Nathan goes outside with a flashlight to find the ursine foot fetishist, but he trips and falls in a bear trap. It's ironic, but he shouldn't have fingered a bear for the kitchen B&E, because those bastards always get even.

Nathan blasts the Leprechaun with a shotgun, and they try to escape in his truck, but in accordance with the California State Penal Code, Section 2467, the gun doesn't kill the monster and the truck won’t start.

Things haven gotten desperate. Nathan's laid up with a leg injury and the others are stupid, so now it's up to Jennifer. She retrieves the gold from its hiding place and turns it over to the Leprechaun. But there's one piece missing, because Lennie swallowed it. So now they must fight for their lives against the murderous and immortal creature while waiting for Lennie's bowels to move. Nathan repeatedly shoots the Leprechaun, even though he's immune to bullets because hey -- it's something to do. Meanwhile the Leprechaun, equally bored, tries to liven things up by sticking a disembodied hand out of a drawer and fondling Nathan's balls. It's not scary or funny, but if you've ever wondered what it's like to watch a Japanese-style molestation porn video starring Thing from The Addams Family...

Our gang drives out to the nursing home where the Drunk Irishman has been ever since he had his stroke in the first scene. Jennifer finds him hanging upside down in the elevator like a bloody side of beef, but he's still full of helpful exposition, and explains that you can only kill a Leprechaun with a freshly plucked four-leaf clover.

Jennifer, Nathan, and Lennie pick through a clover patch, but Jennifer has lost her faith in magic, or something. Lennie tells her she has to believe, she just has to! Jennifer agrees, and promptly finds a four-leaf clover. Which is a relief, because while the action sequences haven’t exactly bowled me over, it turns out they're better than watching the main characters weeding.

Alex uses a slingshot to shoot the clover into the Leprechaun's mouth, which makes the monster get gross and gooey, and then fall into the well. And just to make sure the local water table is thoroughly poisoned, Nathan pours in a 5-gallon can of gasoline and lights it on fire, blowing up the well. But the Leprechaun's voice rises from the smoldering depths to assure us that while he's been killed fair and square, he will be back, in Leprechaun 2, Leprechaun 3, Leprechaun 4: In Space, Leprechaun in the Hood, Leprechaun: Back to tha Hood, and Leprechaun: Origins. Jennifer Aniston, on the other hand, had to spend the next ten years of her life explaining her haircut and listening to Matthew Perry uttering words in a wry tone of voice.

So what have we learned from this film? Mostly that Law & Order's opening credits didn't tell us the whole story, and that any future series in the franchise should begin with these words: "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by three separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders; and the Leprechauns, who harass the future sitcom stars and punish drunken Irish stereotypes for gold theft and excessive brogueing. These are their stories."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Bill S! The Minx! And Fearguth!

It's Big Birthday Day here at World O' Crap. Partly because I'm running late -- Fearguth's natal anniversary was yesterday, for which I deeply apologize. I mean, I don't apologize for his birthday being yesterday; I have no control over his parents' sex drive, but I'm sorry for failing to get a post up in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, Mary and I tried to remove our old, dead, CRT-technology TV from the bedroom on Sunday, and in the 15 years it sat on the dresser, it's gotten much, much heavier. Or I've gotten much, much weaker. And frailer. While Fearguth, who is a bona fide senior citizen, has only gotten stronger, feasting on dub step, and the life force of the young people drawn to it. Will the police stop him? No, how can they?! Clearly Fearguth's otherworldly hunger requires a supernatural expert, a Van Helsing, or a John Constantine, to stop his reign of terror, but it's his birthday, so instead of driving a stake through his heart and burying his decapitated body at a crossroads at midnight, let's just serve him some sheet cake.

But that was yesterday. Today is the dual overhead birthday of our friend Nadine (AKA The Minx), and World O' Crap staff writer, Bill S. (who is legally referred to, on his birthday, as Bill S!).

Nadine, as you may know, suffers from the rare neurological disorder, Stiff Person's Syndrome. Last year she was forced to ask for help as she faced a new round of treatment, and this year she asked me to thank everyone who pitched in last year, because as W'OC Chief Medical Officer Dr. BDH said, "When World O' Crap calls for help, we Crappers must respond."

You guys are the best.

But on to the birthday celebration. Nadine emailed to request a "great cheesecake shot with as much naughtiness as possible," which I was only too happy to supply. Unfortunately, when I searched for "glamour shot", this is one of the first things that popped up:

Handy Glamor seems like a contradiction in terms, but I guess it's okay if you're talking about a glamorous salad. So which shall we have for our party this year? Melon Boat Salad? Sounds like a rejected first draft of a Harry Belafonte song. Frozen Party Salad? That's got kind of Donner Party sound to it and frankly looks like a cross section of a white person's thigh. Or perhaps Confetti Salad, which tastes like crap, but can be used -- under the right mystical circumstances -- to summon Rip Taylor.

Whatever. I Googled onward and came up with what I think is a decent response to Nadine's request: Anna May Wong, the first Asian-American sex symbol...

Meanwhile, Bill S! requested Stephen Amell, of Arrow fame, who apparently showed up at John Barrowman's recent birthday party and taunted the former Captain Jack with his perfect abs...

And of course, no World O' Crap natal celebration would be complete without a...

Sexy Birthday Lizard!

So there you go. I've taking a Vicodin and going to bed. But before I nod off, please join me in wishing Bill S!, The Minx, and Fearguth a very happy birthday.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Between Meals Mini-sode

It's a new Fun Size Slumgullion!

In a heaping helping of happiness, Jeff and Scott interrupt their regular podcasting schedule to bring you this special minisode.

Jeff has seen Beauty and the Beast, Scott has seen the musical Finding Neverland, and both of them have seen Get Out.

It's short, but pungent, with praise and bitchiness a'plenty.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The Golden Bough Edition

SCOTT: Hey kitties. What's going on?

MOONDOGGIE: I don't know these "kitties" of whom you speak. I am Moondocrates, the Felinotaur.

SCOTT: Really. What's a Felinotaur?

MOONDOGGIE: A mythical beast with the upper body of a cat, and the lower body of another cat.

SHADOW: He said I can be the ass.

MOONDOGGIE: Shhh! I have been charged by Zeus with guarding the Seven Golden Treats.

SCOTT: How's that going?

MOONDOGGIE: Pretty good.

SCOTT: So where are they?

MOONDOGGIE: I ate 'em.

SCOTT: Uh-huh.

MOONDOGGIE: It was just a temp job anyway.

SCOTT: No more Heroes & Icons Channel for you guys.

MOONDOGGIE: Okay. It's exhausting being mythical anyway...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Final Exit

Paul Ryan said "We are doing an act of mercy by repealing [Obamacare]."

Mr. Speaker, I got my start in advertising, and while I'm no Don Draper, I can't help feeling -- politics aside, and speaking purely from a salesmanship perspective -- that your product may be in trouble if you've begun promoting it with quotes from Dr. Kevorkian.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Farewell to Fred

By Hank Parmer

I first met Fred, the Maine Coon cat, a couple of weeks after his family moved in across the alley.

Something in the bushes by our shed caught my eye, as I exited from my car on that bright, early autumn afternoon. With his "classic" tabby markings in shades of ash, Fred blended in with the hatchwork of light and shadow under the honeysuckle so flawlessly that it took me a moment to realize I was being intensely scrutinized by a pair of yellow eyes, belonging to a fairly large and strikingly handsome cat. I said "Hello", to which he responded with neither an "Eek! I've been seen! Run away!" nor a "Feed me, long-lost buddy!" glomming-on, only a complacent narrowing of his eyes. He obviously felt he belonged there. So I said "See you later" and went inside.

We became better acquainted over the next few weeks, as he'd supervise us while we were doing yardwork, or join us while we were sitting on the porch. He may have nominally resided with the family across the alley, but they weren't really cat people. I think it was more at their six-year-old's insistence that they'd taken Fred in a couple of years previously, when he was a kitten. (And a devastatingly cute one, I'll wager.) But he was full-grown now, and they were clearly more attached to their two dogs. While Fred, even though we hadn't been feeding him, preferred to hang out around our place.

Sometime in that period, Fred made up his mind to check out our house. We had two indoor cats then: Puck, the elderly Turkish Van, and Smudge, the fierce little salt-and-pepper calico who at that time was about five or six.

Whether it was jealousy or simply calico cantankerousness, she absolutely detested this newcomer from the first. To the end of her days, she mercilessly bullied him -- a diminutive seven-pound termagant who took a fiendish pleasure in tormenting this big, amiable fuzzball. Her favorite trick was to run up to him while he was sleeping, hiss, smack him on the nose and then stalk away, leaving him blinking groggily, with this "WTF is her problem?" expression.

Puck, on the other hand, immediately took to this inquisitive stranger. Which was only to be expected, for he'd had always been a serenely amicable little cuss. He was about 16 years of age then, our benevolent feline overlord, who ruled the roost through the sheer force of his adorableness. As you can see, the two quickly formed a mutual admiration and snuggling society.

I often wished the two could have spent more time together. Fred's fondness for the old man must have outweighed Smudge's hostility, because he soon became accustomed to banging on our door to let us know he'd dropped by for a visit. If we didn't hear him the first time, he'd bang the door with increasing emphasis until one of us let him in.

Eventually I was able to talk to Fred's people about having him vaccinated for rabies and feline leukemia, and started on heartworm preventative. (We lost a cat to feline leukemia long ago, before it was generally known there was such a thing, and by this point -- as I'm sure you'll have guessed -- we'd grown fond of the furry goof.) I offered to take him to the vet and pay for his vaccinations. Fortunately, they were okay with that. I'd have done it anyway, without their permission, but still ....

To make a long story short, when the family left a few months later, they asked if we'd like to keep him. Although this was only acknowledging what was by then a fait accompli, we still appreciated the gesture: So many assholes seem to think nothing of moving away and leaving an inconvenient pet behind to fend for themselves. Thus Fred officially took up residence at our home for wayward pets. We kept the name their boy had bestowed upon him. Somehow, it seemed to suit him.

Fred remained an indoor/outdoor cat for the next twelve years. This wasn't so much our choice as due to the fact that by the time he joined our household he was thoroughly set in his free-roaming ways. Whenever we had to keep him inside against his will, let's just say he made our lives ... difficult.

He spent the major portion of his time outside, particularly after Puck passed on about three years later. He'd come inside to eat, for some attention or to crash out, and to avoid the worst of the heat and cold -- although sometimes he stayed out all night even when the temperatures dipped into the lower teens.

Though it was a constant worry for us, in all that time he managed to avoid being hit by a car or carried off by a coyote -- not uncommon fates in our neighborhood. Ironically, what finally did him in made those other alternatives in retrospect seem far kinder.

So what words come to mind, when trying to describe Fred's personality? Well, "solidity", for one. If your household has been graced with an example of his breed, you'll know what I mean. Although he wasn't one of those monster Maine Coons, at between 17 and 18 pounds he was nonetheless a substantial presence. He was a low-slung beast, built like a tank, with the broadest chest I've ever seen in a house cat. When he'd conclude his regal progress across the yard with a sudden burst of speed as he galloped up our front steps, it wasn't with that typical feline bounding lope, but a motion more like a dry-land version of the breast stroke.

Maine Coon cats are sometimes described as "vertically challenged" and Fred was no exception. He was very much a ground dweller. Although once, while we were outside seeing off some visiting friends, he must have overheard us remarking to them that he wasn't a climber. Of course Fred had to give us that day's lesson in Cat Zen by immediately scooting over to a tree and swarming up it like a champion lumberjack scaling a mighty Scots Pine. But for that one instance, though, I never saw him up in a tree, or for that matter, anywhere which would have required much of a leap or a climb to reach.

He was a quiet cat, except on those occasions when he felt it necessary to make his extreme displeasure at being kept inside known to us. Despite his friendly and curious nature, Fred was fortunately never a lap kitty. His thing was to park himself on the flat wooden arm of my mission-style recliner to demand a neck, chin, ears and chest scratch. (His deep, resonant purr always reminded me of Baby, the eponymous leopard in Howard Hawk's screwball comedy.) That arm of my chair also doubled as a convenient ledge on which he could stretch out and do his "boneless filet of kitty" act. He was big enough to cover it completely, with his chin and a paw or two dangling off the edge.

When he wasn't in one of those gracefully flung poses at which he so excelled, catching up on his beauty sleep, Fred had an immense sense of his own dignity, as you could see from my post here riffing on his reaction to the big (for these parts, anyway) snow back in the winter of 2016. Which made his kittenish moods all the more hilarious. There are few things as endearingly comical as the sight of a big, fuzzy, roly-poly cat gleefully wrestling with a little catnip mouse, pausing occasionally to glance your way, to make sure you're watching. It's one of the many things that I miss about him more than I can possibly tell.

The end began in late June of last year. Fred would occasionally absent himself for a day or two, even three days, so at first we weren't too concerned about him. After he'd disappeared for five days straight, though, we were getting a bit frantic and about to start posting "Lost" signs and checking with the shelter, when to our great relief he showed up that evening. He ate a few bites of his food -- and vanished again. Joan then had a hunch, and walked over to the apartment complex at the head of our street. It turned out that some of the tenants had been feeding him because they thought he was a stray. A stray, mind you, who was wearing a new flea collar, and had a collar with a rabies vaccination tag and a name tag with our phone number.

Fred allowed her to carry him home, which in itself was a major tell he wasn't feeling up to snuff: His typical reaction to being picked up and held was to wriggle and kick like a fractious toddler. He'd lost weight, too. Ominously, among other problems, he'd picked up an intestinal parasite which the vet informed us normally only affects kittens, before their immune systems are up to speed. We were able to cure him of the parasites, though, and he began to fill out again.

As you might guess, Fred wasn't at all pleased about having to be confined indoors. Every morning I went through this routine with him where he would sit beside me on the arm of my chair and stare out the window, complaining loudly and bitterly, because I just couldn't seem to get it through my thick human skull that he should be let out nowwww! We could tell he still wasn't up to his usual self, though, because he was neither as vehement or persistent about it as he normally would have been. Still, it tore at my heart to keep the big guy cooped up.

In early August, Fred began sneezing frequently, and we noticed a slight swelling between his nose and his right eye. At first the vet thought it might be a type of fungal infection, which would have been easily treatable. But the tests showed it wasn't. It was cancer. There was simply no way we could afford to consult a veterinary oncologist, much less pay for the surgery and then the chemotherapy. Especially since by that point we were already into our own vet for almost a grand from the tests and treatments he'd needed earlier in the summer, including a teeth cleaning which also involved a couple of extractions.

(Fortunately, we are blessed with a veterinarian who'll let us pay them off over time when we run up a big bill, and they won't even charge interest. Of course, it didn't hurt that Fred was one of their favorite patients.)

I'll spare you the details of the next few months, as the cancer grew and that disastrous year dragged to its close. Just that it made a sad, horrible time exponentially more awful. It seemed a particularly cruel thing to happen to such a handsome creature.

If you've ever dealt with a pet's terminal illness you'll know what I mean when I say one of the worst parts of it is determining when it's time to end it. Fred was the one who let us know the unavoidable had come when he stopped eating. Nothing we tried could tempt him, and we weren't about to let him starve himself to death.

Fred took his last trip to the vet in the grey, chill afternoon, on Friday the 13th of January. That morning, I sat on the floor beside him, because by this point he was growing weaker and could no longer hop up onto the arm of the recliner. He leaned his chest against my leg and rested his chin on my thigh, while I petted him for so long that afterwards my arm was sore for a couple of days. Clearly, he was ready for this to be over.

The knowledge that fourteen years is a pretty good run for a cat, particularly an outdoor cat, is a small comfort. It's been over a month-and-a-half since we took him on that final journey, and months since he was last allowed outside. Yet even now, whenever the north wind rattles the screen door in back, I still find myself thinking I should drop what I'm doing and go let the big guy in. He had me just that well-trained.

Goldurn Kidney Thieves!

There's a new Slumgullion out. Jeff and Mary chat about Bones. Scott reports from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiere in Hollywood, and Jeff is scared straight by Jean-Claude Van Damme's relentlessly naked ass in Pound of Flesh (2015). Check it out:

Friday, March 3, 2017

Post-Friday Beast Blogging: The "Cover Me! I'm Goin' In!" Edition

MOONDOGGIE: Now you stand guard while I clean my butt.

MOONDOGGIE: Watch carefully, all right? You watching? 'Cause I'm really diving in!
SHADOW: Okay. (PAUSE) Is it okay if he watches too?


MOONDOGGIE:Well...Heh! This is...awkward.
SHADOW: He's also taking pictures. Is that okay?
MOONDOGGIE: You're fired.

Monday, February 27, 2017

"We're Gonna Build a Wall And Monsters Will Pay For It"

Thanks to Bill S. for keeping the Skelly Awards going for a fifth consecutive year, for enduring the existential pain of sitting through the worst movies made by the Best Actor nominees, and for not screwing everything up like PricewaterhouseCooper.

Speaking of screw-ups...

...Jimmy Kimmel noted that Matt Damon palmed off an Oscar-worthy (and winning) role on his friend's kid brother so he could go off to make "a Chinese ponytail movie" which nobody saw. Except us. Yes, it's time for another Slumgullion. This episode Jeff is Where's Waldoing it, but the New Movie Crew joins me to talk about Star Wars toys, underrated Sci-Fi and Fantasy films, and The Great Wall (2016). Check it out, then join longtime Crapper and multi-media raconteur Doc Logan in the comments section for a weenie roast and some Monster A-Go-Go references.

Click here to listen...

 Or subscribe to us on iTunes.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Fifth Annual SKELLY Awards!

By Bill S.

The Academy awards are airing this Sunday night, but before we see who'll take home a golden statuette, it's time for one more pre-Oscar award: The SKELLY.  Each year, I look through the year's nominees in the four acting categories (excluding any past SKELLY winners/contenders), and determine who among them has the most embarrassing prior role, for which they win the not-so-coveted "Skeleton In the Closet". This requires a certain amount of research, including actually watching bad movies, which sometimes leads to a dead end--in Michael Shannon's case, literally. When I learned he appeared in Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I assumed he'd be a shoe-in, until I sat through the damn thing, all the way to the end, and found out he only appears in it for a few seconds, as a corpse, which means he fared better than literally everyone else in it. And there are some stars whose acting resumes just don't contain any true embarrassments. I'm afraid Ryan Gosling will never qualify for a SKELLY, which puts him in the same company as Dame Judy Dench...

"...albeit for slightly different reasons"

But before we get to this year's winners, let's look at the runners-up.

7th place: EMMA STONE. Ryan Gosling's frequent co-star -- the ginger Ginger to his Fred, the Hepburn to his Tracy, the Chong to his Cheech -- is one of the hottest young actresses around. Like Ryan, she got her start as a teen, but unlike Ryan, whose teen years were spent on the star-making '90's incarnation of The Mickey Mouse Club, Emma (then billed as Emily) did time on a reality show called In Search of The Partridge Family. As the title suggests, it was a competition series focused on finding cast members for a proposed reboot of The Partridge Family. Emma was one of the young hopefuls vying for the part of Laurie, and actually won it.  She and the other winners filmed a pilot, The New Partridge Family and...absolutely nothing happened. The pilot didn't get sold. I can't find any footage of it, and the only surviving footage from the competition series that I could find was this 30-second clip of Emma auditioning with a wobbly rendition of Meredith Brooks' "Bitch" (a song no 15 year old girl should be singing)

Emma probably does feel a little ashamed.

6th place: NICOLE KIDMAN . Like Emma, Nicole began acting as a teenager, beginning in the 1983 TV movie Skin Game. Most of her work in the '80's was on Australian TV, and when I was perusing those early ones I ran across a 1987 TV movie about teens involved in martial arts games called Nightmaster, which sounded ludicrous. But it turned out to be enjoyable; entertaining trash as opposed to dismal trash. And Ms. Kidman is quite good -- tough, sexy, confident, good humored -- in fact, if you're a fan you'll get a kick out this on-her-way-to being-a-star-role. (Here's the link to the whole movie)

With that flick out of the running, her most embarrassing role is actually the first of her three films with future ex-husband Tom Cruise: Days of Thunder. I have to confess something: I haven't seen this movie since it came out in 1990, and I don't really remember a whole lot of it. I did buy the soundtrack because I liked the songs by Elton John and Maria McKee, but it wouldn't be the first, or last time I bought a soundtrack to movie I found otherwise negligible.

However, Scott and Sheri covered this exhaust-belch of a film rather exhaustively in Better Living Through Bad Movies, in the chapter entitled Live Fast, Die Young, And Leave a Bad-Looking Movie, highlighting certain flaws it had, including the one that stuck out most for me back then: the casting of then 23-year old Nicole as a neurosurgeon.  She was hand-picked by star Tom Cruise himself, after the part had been turned down by more than a dozen other actresses, most of whom were also far too young -- only Kim Basinger, then 36, was remotely age-appropriate. There was really no way to sell an audience on this ridiculous role. Ever the artist, Ms. Kidman actually planned to read up on the topic of neurosurgery, but was told by the director she'd be wasting her time. The movie wasn't all that interested in realism anyway. It was allegedly inspired by real-life race car driver Tim Richmond, but any connection to any real person was tenuous at best -- this story was sanitized for your rejection.

5th place: CASEY AFFLECK.  He made his acting debut at age 12 in the TV adaptation of Lanford Wilson's Lemon Sky, and frequently works with older brother Ben Affleck, brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix, and brother-from-another-mother Matt Damon, who produced Manchester By the Sea, his best film role to date. But sandwiched in between such prestige roles was a 1999 movie that trapped him, Ben, and a number of other young-up-and-comers in the worst New Year's Eve ever: 200 Cigarettes. Set in 1981 (and boasting some great oldies of the day by the likes of Elvis Costello, Blondie, the Go-Go's and others), the story jumps from one set of characters to another, all on their way to a New Year's Eve party, desperately hoping for some excitement and romance. Casey and Guillermo Diaz (sporting a giant mop of orange hair) play a pair of roadies who meet up with a pair of Lawn Guyland teenagers (Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffman seem to be competing for best impression of Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny) and like the rest of the characters, very little happens between them. How best to describe this movie? Well, have you ever looked forward to a holiday hoping something cool and fun would happen, only to have the night feel like a total bust? This movie captures the full blown sense of "that's it?" from the opening frame and sustains that level of dejection for 101 minutes.

 "13 characters in search of a decent subplot."

 4th Place: VIOLA DAVIS. Considered this year's sure bet to win Best Supporting Actress (although Donald Trump is rooting for Hattie McDaniel). Viola seems like one of the most gifted actresses around; she managed, after all, with just a couple of scenes, to steal the entire movie Doubt -- a picture that contained Meryl Streep, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I wouldn't have imagined she'd be in the running for a Skelly, But then I  ran across an obscure 2001 flick titled The Shrink Is In.

Okay, I'm going to do my best to describe the plot of this thing in a way that makes sense: Star Courtney Cox plays a travel journalist named Samantha who suffers a mental breakdown after her boyfriend dumps her. She's sent to a therapist (Carol Kane) who suffers a breakdown herself during a session with Samantha. After the doctor is carted away, Samantha, through a Wacky  Misunderstanding, is mistaken for the psychiatrist by a patient (David James Elliott) who turns out to be a neighbor Samantha is crushing on. Samantha decides to pose as a shrink to get closer to him, and to keep the ruse up, also councils other patients, including a flaky delivery man (David Arquette) who develops a crush on her. Since Cox and Arquette were married at the time and David James Elliott is the Brand X version of a real sex symbol, you know exactly how the whole mess will turn out. How does Viola Davis fit into all of this, you may ask? She plays Samantha's best friend and the movie's voice of reason (because what else would she be?) which means her sole function in the movie is to get trotted out  every so often to remind the heroine that her deception is incredibly stupid and will inevitable backfire. I'd call it a thankless role, but there's no other kind in this thing.


Incidentally you can find this movie in its entirety on YouTube. Here's the link, if you're feeling brave/masochistic/eager to see David James Elliott with his shirt off. (If it's the third thing, your estimation of his star wattage is such that you probably already saw it when it first came out in whatever theater it played the week or so it may have played)

3rd Place: VIGGO MORTENSEN. He made his movie debut in Witness, probably sparking the only erotic fantasies women ever had about Amish farm boys. The Lord of the Rings trilogy made him a star. But in the '90's, he was still mostly getting secondary roles. One of the few leads he snagged was in a 1997 remake of the 1971 flick Vanishing Point. The original was a pretentious mess about an asshole who drives like a maniac from Denver to San Francisco to deliver a car, destroys a ton of property, endangers peoples' lives and becomes a folk hero. The remake centers around an idiot who drives like a maniac to reach his dying wife, destroys a ton of property, endangers peoples' lives, and becomes a folk hero. I will admit I enjoyed Jason Priestly's over-the-top performance as a radio DJ who's following the hero's exploits, but this movie's a mess.

Vanishing Pointless remake

This movie is also available on YouTube in its entirety. Here's the link if you're feeling brave/masochistic/eager to see Viggo Mortensen semi-naked. (If it's the third thing, you're better off renting Captain Fantastic. MUCH better off)

2nd Place: JEFF BRIDGES. Jeff is one of my favorite actors. I'm not alone in that assessment -- his performance in Hell Or High Water brought him his 7th Oscar nomination. Maybe it's because at 67 he still has the same boyish charm that made him a star back in the 70's. He's always had a knack for playing nice guys. That was one of the things that made him so effective as the villain in Jagged Edge -- we, like the heroine, couldn't believe he was capable of rape and murder.

One role he wouldn't be cut out to play is an obvious psycho. Which is why he was so miscast in the 1993 thriller The Vanishing. It's a remake of a 1988 Dutch film, and though the same director worked on both, the differences are huge. In the original, the hero becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to his girlfriend, but we never know for certain if she was kidnapped or simply took off and didn't want to be found. We also don't know for certain if the villain has anything to do with her disappearance, which makes the ending especially chilling. The American remake offers no such ambiguities. Jeff's character is obviously guilty and obviously nuts, and the happy ending is so ridiculous I was actually laughing. This remake didn't just dumb things down -- it scooped out the brains of the original with a melon baller and flung the chunks around like a monkey in a cage hurling poo.

The Vanishing even more pointless remake.

And that brings us to this year's winner of the Fifth Annual SKELLY AWARD:

The French actress made her acting debut in the 1971 French TV film Le Prussien. For the next decade she appeared mostly in films and television in her native France. Then she was hand-picked to star in an American film helmed by an Academy Award winning director, a lavish western featuring some high-powered American and British stars. This would seem to be a prestigious vehicle...except that it was...well, HEAVEN'S GATE.
A Fiasco For Mr. Cimono

What could be said about this that hasn't been said before -- it's one of the most notorious box-office bombs of all time. It cost $44 million dollars, and broke a movie studio. The original print when premiered in New York ran nearly four hours. It was recut by the studio down to 149 minutes for its wide release. I didn't see either of those versions (like most of America I avoided it) and only finally watched it for the purpose of this column. The version I saw was the Criterion Video release that clocks in at about three and a half hours, and is said to be director Michael Cimono's favored version. It might be the best version--but it seems no matter what version you're watching, it still sucks.

From what I understand, the other prints of the film used subtitles during the scenes involving the European immigrants. This version eliminates them -- if you switch on the closed caption feature, it simply reads "speaking Slavic language", which leads me to believe nothing they say is important, which tells you how much the director cared about developing them as people. Not that there was much interest in developing the leads either. Huppert plays a madam involved in a love triangle with Marshall Kris Kristofferson and hitman Christopher Walken. Their characters are much different from their real-life counterparts. (The real Ella Watson was never a madam, and she and Jim Avrell probably never met Nate Champion) But historical accuracy is the least of this movie's flaws. It's a lumbering incoherent mess, stuffed with pretentious and ridiculous scenes. The cast also includes the late John Hurt, Terry O'Quinn, Sam Waterston, Joseph Cotton and Jeff Bridges. (Jeff has far less screen time than Isabelle Huppert -- and the less screen time in it the better -- so he still comes in second place. ) Thankfully most of the people involved recovered from this mess (save for Cimino, whose career was destroyed. He passed away in July of 2016. I hope the In Memoriam segment is kind enough to remind the audience he also directed The Deer Hunter).

One of them could take home this year's Oscar for Best Actress.
 Isabelle Huppert has made 100 films. 99 of them were better than Heaven's Gate

-Bill S

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! I Got You Some Lesbians!

As made-up holidays designed to keep candy manufacturers in business until October go, this has never been a particularly big one for me, unless you count the size of the fights that occasionally ensued when I ignored it. Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm unromantic, it's just that I loathe sappy greeting cards, I think flowers are a silly gift unless you're dating a horse that just won the Preakness, and I lack the energy and organizational skills necessary to stage a massacre. But this year, when silver linings are at a premium and it seems like we can all use a morale boost,  I finally decided to break with tradition and get you a little something.

And in honor of the occasion, I prevailed upon voice artists John Szura and Blanche Ramirez (who performed the audiobook version of Better Living Through Bad Movies) to narrate ancient history's most clueless courtship. It's the story of one pantless man's love for Sappho, Venus of Lesbos.

Monday, February 13, 2017

S.Z.'s Guide to Valentine's Day

[Cross-posted from Sheri's Facebook]

Here's a thought: Valentine's Day isn't the boss of you. You don't have to celebrate it if you don't want to - but if you want to have a fun holiday tomorrow, you can celebrate it however you want to.
You can:

1. Have Valentine's Day for your pet. Do something fun and/or nice. Share your string cheese with the dog. Put construction paper hearts on the cat while she is asleep and take her picture. Make them both watch crappy movies about people who turn into cats or dogs, so they will know how good they have it, and will be nicer to you.

2. Send anonymous Valentines to your friends, neighbors, or coworkers. See if you can make somebody's day, or break up somebody's marriage.

3. Be your own Valentine. Treat yourself to a steak dinner, or some chocolate mousse, or one of those TacoBell things where the taco shell is fried chicken. Binge watch "Simpson's" Halloween episodes. Re-read a favorite book from childhood. Whatever makes you feel special and appreciated.

4. Have that expensive, super-romantic dinner with your spouse or boyfriend girlfriend if you want. But only if you want to, not because it's expected. If you don't want to, you can help me make cat cookies.

(Disclaimer: there is very little chance I will do this, because real cats would try eating the batter and stepping on the frosting, but they are sure cute. The cookies, I mean - the cats are jerks. But cute.)