Thursday, August 31, 2006

the wrong sandwiches

starved lion on rye with hot mustard

peanut butter and febreeze on white

gentlemen's club sandwich

on-fire sandwich

ab salad sandwich

tuna felt

any Scandinavian sandwich

beef dick (with au jus for dicking)

grilled cheese and damn

po' boy po' boy sandwich

sloppy seconds Joe

gluten burger

Monte Fisto

last night on a bun of shame with cheap wine aioli and fries

soup-salad sandwich

zero sandwich

a radish

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Aidancles and the Wasp

Today I saved a wasp's life.

I walked up the steps to the front door of my apartment and found it there, crawling on the inset glass face of the door, trapped inside the building. I knew that if I didn't lend him a hand, he'd spend the rest of the day crawling back and forth, buzzing and batting against the glass, unable to process the fact that an invisible wall was keeping him from the great outdoors, where dead things and spilled soda awaited him. As the day went on he'd get weaker and weaker, crawling ever slower, until even the miniscule grips of his feet could no longer hold him, and he would fall dead to the floor.

So I opened the door and held it for him as he slowly bumped along the glass, finally hitting the edge of the door and flying off. I wished him well, knowing that one day in the future I too would be lost and trapped, cut off from everything I know and slowly ebbing away, and on that day, this wasp would hear my call and come to me.

And he'll sting me, the nasty fucker.

Next wasp I see is dead.

six to twelve

6:00 - alarm

6:09 - alarm

6:18, 6:27, 6:36, 6:45 - alarm

6:54 - alarm

6:56 - Schmutzie gets up. Seriously late.

7:03 - alarm

7:12 - alarm. Get up.

7:13 - make coffee. Schmutzie in bathroom, talking to cat or self.

7:14 - boil water for eggs

7:18 - eggs placed into hot water without breaking (egg) or burning (hand). First success of the day.

7:32 - Schmutzie says Are eggs done? Get up with alacrity, serve eggs.

7:35 - read

7:53 - Schmutzie leaves for work. Still in bathrobe. Running late. Read

8:00 - read

8:10 - read Mildly disagree with article's point of view.

8:18 - definitely going to be late. Put on clothes.

8:19 - no fucking clean and ironed shirt?

8:22 - fast frantic ironing of long deep wrinkles into shirt

8:28 - fast frantic ironing out of iron wrinkles

8:30 - pour remaining coffee into thermos

8:30 - where's the fucking thermos?

8:32 - coffee poured. Premonition of thermos failure

8:35 - brush teeth, shave excess facial hair. Run to check clock.

8:39 - Call cab.

8:40 - where's the fucking thermos?

8:41 - find thermos. Stuff book, thermos, wallet into bag and go outside to wait for cab.

8:48 - Didn't the dispatcher say 'right away, sir'? Mental note made to hate dispatcher.

8:49 - cab arrives. Topics discussed include: weather, brevity of autumn, new hotel, old abandoned department store, upcoming musical events. Tabled for discussion: sporting events.

8:53 - Too busy to see the turtles.

8:50 - show up for work. Late. No one notices.

8:54 - look in inbox. Nothing in inbox.

8:55 - check email. Nothing in email.

9:00 - read

9:02 - remember thermos in bag, remember premonition of thermos failure. Take thermos from bag, unscrew lid.

9:03 - thermos failure. Move all papers off desk, run for paper towel.

9:15 - phone contact to follow up on outstanding report. Contact has quit job. No report forthcoming for forseeable future.

9:30 - decline coffee break invitation from Suzanne

9:40 - get a phone call. Wrong number.

10:00 - decline coffee break invitation from Heather

10:10 - phone Schmutzie with news that Movable Type software is now free

10:45 - go get muffin

10:50 - carrot cake muffin unavailable, choose blueberry

10:52 - visit the turtles. New turtle spied! Second sucess of the day. Makes up for thermos failure.

11:10 - eat muffin back at desk. Almost inedibly sweet. Resolve to eat only half because muffin is so disgusting.

11:12 - entire muffin eaten.

11:20 - realize that, despite resolve, entire muffin eaten.

11:25 - do work

11:30 - about to go to lunch. Receive ridiculous email from department that should know better.

11:35 - track down everyone addressed by ridiculous email. Formulate strategy.

11:40 - calculate value of net pay versus annoyance involved in implementing strategy and following up.

11:45 - resolve to ignore ridiculous email.

11:47 - read

12:00 - go for lunch

Monday, August 28, 2006

the opposite of opposition

This, if you are not a frozen crystal of anger, will thaw you but good.

Or as an anonymous commenter on Jim Woodring's blog says:

Did I ever say it? I am the son of Sluggo, who carelessly wasted the best of his dew kissed days, and who looked neither forward nor back, choosing instead to lovingly know each day platonically and lay down with every dusk and know it carnally.

Sluggo, whose gaze fell when they passed the hat. Sluggo, for whom every cooling pie was a gift from God. Sluggo, the enemy of effort, the opposite of opposition.

Man, I wish I'd written that.


Tonight, out in the courtyard, as I sit here in the dark, reading, no light but the laptop screen, a window lights up. Someone home. I like it.

Important update: Shadows across the curtain in the lit-up window, flashing across the fabric. Shadows flashing? Why not. By night, all things inverted, reverted and made possible, light and shadows flash equally. I can't imagine the morning right now. I'm so awake.

phoque this and that

Unlike a lot of weblogs and webzines that I read, readers of my site rarely disagree with my posts. If they do, they keep it to themselves. Sometimes a person will email me to respectfully contest my conclusions in a private forum, and on very rare occasions (I could count them on one hand) they dissent via comments. Who can forget the time that I was called an evil anti-Semite for poking fun at a particularly strange direct-mail charity, or the time that a fellow took umbrage at my umbrage over the Robert de Niro Amex commercial? I couldn't find a link to that commercial on Youtube (which is good, since it's an exploitative piece of trash), so I recommend that you watch the Wes Anderson Amex commercial instead, because it's awesome.

The answer to "who can forget," by the way, is everyone but me. I can't remember any of my good lines, but I have the details of all slights on my writing memorized.

Anyway, someone else has finally disagreed with me, on an ambivalent but slightly curmudgeonly piece I wrote about those T-shirts that say "fuck cancer" (I can't provide a link because I'm writing from work). When I wrote it I was trying to figure out how I felt about the shirts, putting myself in the position of a cafe owner that catered to a white-collar crowd. Given that point of view, it's not surprising that I drew up a very loose equation that 'fuck cancer t-shirt = bad, or at least not great'.

Not long after I posted the piece, a few friends wrote to tell me that the proceeds from the Fuck Cancer shirts (for some reason I keep on typing Fuck Canada - what's with the subliminal traduction?) went to cancer research. Whoops, I thought. I spent all this time being thoughtful and it turned out only that I was ignorant. I made a mental note to provide an update, which I promptly forgot to do. Once a post drops off the front page of my weblog, I behave as if it's retreated to some untouched filing cabinet somewhere, available only to those who make the trek to the archives, business hours only, and good luck getting the archivist to retrieve your file in a timely fashion (not to mention the Beware of the Leopard sign tacked to the office door). I should know better - whatever you commit to the internet never disappears.

So an anonymous someone disagreed with me - better yet, they actually disagreed with me. Not just seemingly, but actually. I'd argued that the shirt sent the wrong message, that the phrase 'Fuck Cancer' was a bit adolescent and unconsciously dismissive of the issue. Anonymous actually liked the Fuck Cancer message, considered it robust and properly agressive - maybe even inspiring. Man the ramparts, people! It's time to fuck cancer! With a T-shirt!

What I appreciated about anonymous' comment most is that it solidified my position and revealed to me what it is that actually bothers me about the phrase 'fuck cancer'. Cancer is a horrible replication of a mitotic mistake, an error initiated at the cellular level. It's the end result of a series of decisions that originated outside your body. I say fuck the causes of cancer, not the cancer itself. Fuck DDT. Fuck PCBs. Fuck red meat, heavy with hormones and antibiotics. Fuck industrial agriculture. Fuck the petrochemical poisons that sustain and destroy us. Fuck the emissions of automobiles, those two-ton belchers of shit and killers of children. Fuck methylene chloride, say, and carbomyl and diazinon. Fuck 'em in the ear. Fuck acetone and morpholine, quaternium 5 and acid blue 9. Fuck benzene, people. Fuck para-dichlorobenzene and hexachlorobenzene - make it a threesome. Fuck cadmium and cobalt, plutonium, uranium and silica. Fuck tobacco while you're at it. Have a cigar.

Fuck lead. Fuck 2,4-D. Tetrachloroethylene and tetrachlorvinphos, fuck them too. Ever fucked trisodium nitrilotriacetate? Do it now. Don't forget to fuck dichloromethane before you turn out the light. Fuck oil of orange (surprise!). Fuck propylene oxide.

All this without even leaving your home.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

site update bidness

I have moved my weblog from the old Blogger to the burning new Blogger Beta. According to the people who created, designed and marketed Blogger Beta, this is a good thing. We shall see. That fucking navbar is back atop my blog, which burns me some, but otherwise all looks well.

What does this mean for you folks out there? Well. It really only affects the elite few who leave comments. If you currently leave comments under your Blogger account, you will need to either switch the Blogger Beta or leave remarks under the "Other" or "Anonymous" options. Mind you, I'm no great fan of anonymous comments, mostly because I like to follow the commenter back and read his or her weblog.

The best part of the new Blogger is the tag function, which they insist on calling "labels". Possibly because they're two years behind the curve on this one.

Also, as far as I can tell, they haven't implemented label functionality yet. Or perhaps they have, but have shoved it into a closet somewhere and said "Shhhhhh!"

Update: The labeling function only works if you forsake your current template for one of Blogger's new drag-n-drop templates, which are all, down to the last one, uggly-buggly and do not come with my Chris Ware background image. I imagine they'll figure out a way to add labels to custom templates soon.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

the enemy

[Afternoon. Outside. The air is full of, whaddyacallem, dust motes. And poplar spore and warm slanting beams of sun with wedges of soft shade between. 'S nice. Palinode and Schmutzie are taking a walk to somewhere or other.]

Schmutzie: Have you seen all the cabbage moths flying around today? [It's true. There's a crazy explosion of the little things this summer. You can't walk a block without a dozen or more fluttering by.]

Palinode: Cabbage moths and wasps.

Schmutzie: Flying around.

Palinode: They're at war.

Schmutzie: What? No they're not.

Palinode: Absolutely. You see all the cabbage moths and wasps out, right? They're at war with each other.

Schmutzie: No. That doesn't make any sense.

Palinode: War doesn't make sense, and yet they still fight.

Schmutzie: You can't just say there's a lot of one thing and a lot of another thing and say they're at war with each other. "Oh look, there's a lot of trees and people, they must be at war".

Palinode: Trees can't fight. They just stand there while we attack.

Schmutzie: That's not exactly warfare.

Palinode: All they do is wave their limbs a bit and fall over.

Schmutzie: You suck.

Palinode: Considering how wussy trees are, you'd think we'd have won already.

Schmutzie: All done listening now.

Palinode: I mean, we've got axes and flamethrowers and farmers and everything. And yet our forests are still overrun with the enemy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

commenting troubles

Are people having difficulties posting comments to my site? Anyone? If so, wave.

Or try and post a test comment on this entry. Make up sumpin' funny. Or not.

The Drunken Lime

Children of the internet, I have some advice for you. Don't make up drink names and order them from the waitress with an instruction to the bartender to "just make it up and I'll drink it". You're only turning up the burner on the bartender's most sadistic instincts.

The decisive moment came when Friday threw her lime wedge into a friend's beer. Thinking more of cooking than alcohol, I croaked out the phrase "Drunken lime!" It was agreed that the Drunken Lime would be a great name for a bar. Or a drink. Which led to the obvious question - what kind of drink is a Drunken Lime? The less obvious question, What kind of drink does a lime get drunk on, was not addressed. I thought that maybe any kind of hard liquor with a shot of lime and a lime twist would qualify. Somebody else thought of a lime-heavy sangria, which would make a nice summer patio drink.

In a move that does not speak to the wisdom of crowds, we decided to order one and see what we got. Our server was a woman in a black dress whose booth-tanned flesh had shrink-wrapped itself over stringy muscle and bone. She seemed to be smiling when we outlined what we wanted, but I think that was the natural result of not having enough skin on her face to cover her teeth.

The drink came in a short tumbler, a syrupy, almost milky, green-on-green liquid holding a short purple straw and a few cubes of ice. I took a sip and was confounded: the tang of lime hit the roof of my mouth, but a sweet licorice flavour rolled over my tongue. Lime and ouzo? Lime and anise? Who the fuck thought that one up? Sven, who's worked in plenty restaurants and bars, took a sip and decided that it contained melon bull, or melon ball, or something like that. Nobody else would try it (I think the mention of ouzo scared them off). I kept drinking.

After a few minutes the waitress stepped over to ask what I thought of the drink. We ventured our guesses and she actually looked impressed. Bear in mind that any expression on her face is a remarkable feat, considering the limited amount of coverage. 'Good guess!' she chirped. Clearly the melon bull, or melon ball, had indicated some expertise on Sven's part. She swivelled towards another table full of people who ordered non-fictional drinks.
"Wait" I called. She turned back. "What's in the drink?" I asked.

"I'm not telling," she said, and zipped off. Or maybe she turned sideways and we couldn't see her anymore.

I kept on with the drink, which seemed to be taking an awfully long time to finish. It actually came with a natural braking mechanism; if I didn't pause at least a minute or so between sips, the licorice-tasting liquid would tear off a layer of epitheleals on its way down my throat and leave me raw-voiced. I got the hang of it after a bit, chasing the foul stuff with sips of beer. The waitress came by periodically, taking orders and good-naturedly refusing to tell me what I was drinking.

Eventually I decided to go and find out from the bartender what I'd been putting in my system. It turned out that I'd been knocking back a glass full of absinthe with a bit of lime to mask the horrendous fucking bitterness of the stuff. Without the traditional burnt sugar, the drink didn't carry the weird crystal-edged alertness that keeps the alcohol from rubberizing your limbs and makes the experience worthwhile. On top of that, this was tamed absinthe, the thujone-reduced stuff that's legal in Canada. No dreamy drugged hallucinatory flights for me. Stupid bartender.

Today I feel depleted, pithed and thrown out. I feel midden-heaped. Beer hangovers leave you bleary and mumbly, your brain coated in sugar crust. But absinthe can drain you out completely. I will never go back there for a Drunken Lime.

I will, however, go elsewhere for one. I've decided, over the next few weeks, to go to various bars and order a drunken lime. I'll take photos, provide ratings and report back on the best places in the city to get a good made-up drink. In the meantime, I encourage others to do the same. It doesn't have to be a drunken lime. It can be a Golden Toad, or a Short Stack, or maybe a Pope's Wang. I totally dare you to order a Pope's Wang at an Irish bar. See what happens.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Lucky me: there are turtles swimming in the fountain in the lobby of my office building. So far I've seen two, although there may be more; they tend to hide out behind the miniature waterfall that rings the trench at the fountain's perimeter. Whatever space lies behind the falling water serves as the turtles' home. The trench is there for our mutual entertainment - at least, I'm hoping that the turtles find us entertaining when they emerge from the waterfall to pull their bodies up on the decorative rocks and stretch their necks out to stare back at us. Are we not equally as strange and ugly to them as they are to us? When my eye meets the dark eye of the turtle, I imagine that its stare communicates the following message - You are amusing to gaze on, Unshelled Thing, and one day you will be my food.

The turtles in the lobby are probably the closest this city gets to a zoo. I believe there are koi ponds in select backyards, and every Easter the ritziest hotel in the city installs a wooden pen full of chicks and bunnies in its lobby. And there's a neurotic parrot at the pet store on North Albert Street. If you close your eyes and imagine all those creatures together in a field, then you've got a really lame zoo. But it's free.

Across the road from my high school you could cut through the woods and come to a river about twenty yards in. It was shallow, fast-flowing, the colour of weak tea. Trout flashed brightly and snapping turtles sat on granite rocks near the bank. Once my girlfriend waded out and picked one the turtles up. She cooed at it while the creature swung its head around on its neck and tried hard to bite at her forearms with its weird curved beak. Once it realized that it couldn't get at her, it pulled its head as far under its shell as it could manage. Snapping turtles aren't generally very good at retracting their body parts under their shells, so it mostly just lowered its head and affected a really pissed-off look. You could tell, as my girlfriend rocked it back and forth, that the turtle had given up on fear and simply decided to wait until it could bite off a thumb.

Ever since then I've admired turtles.

This post, by the way, is my first foray into using Writely, Der Web's spanky free full-feachah word processing app. lication. It's not bad, but in the bottom left hand corner a little strip of text claims that "No one else is editing this document". This phrase, quiet and unassuming, has been taken up by my brain and turned into a deadpan voice muttering into my left ear. This is my personal Voice of Paranoia and Sleep Deprivation, and is usually the first sign that my neurotransmitters are all a' flooey, jumping synapses and pulling out normally dormant regions of my consciousness to the fore. Consequently, I don't feel informed; I feel as if someone at any moment could start editing this document. Someone living in a cave in the heart of a mountain, sitting there with a year's worth of rations and a dial-up connection. Weird bastard.

Monday, August 21, 2006

interactive outdoor theatre is dangerous

I'd like to think that my weekend was pretty normal, depsite the fake moustache and eyebrow thing. So why did I drop my pants in a downtown alley behind a dumpster on Sunday night? While I was tied to a couple of friends and three complete strangers?

Because the lady with the clown nose and the whip told me to. Duh.

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

the lost riddles of proust

In 1906, a young Marcel Proust, still in grief over the death of his mother and uncertain about his literary prospects, approached Le Journal (and possibly several other Parisian newspapers) with the notion of writing a humour column featuring Proust's own jokes and riddles. Primarily Proust saw this as a means of offsetting the sensationalist and gruesome (and wildly popular) faits divers, which featured lurid tales of murder and suicide.

It has generally been assumed that nothing came of his discussions with the various publishers, but a recent discovery has shown that Proust wrote and submitted a number of his jokes. None of them made it to print. Despite the damage inflicted on the papers by the owner, who fed much of the material to his pet goat Sylvain, there is still more than enough extant text to reveal a writer approaching the height of his powers. We present his manuscripts here in serial form.

Q: For a long time I had trouble crossing the road. The lane that ran from our house in Combray like a thread laid carefully along the lap of our housemaid Clothilde, winding its way to the town centre, where at the hook of the cathedral it wove itself into the great hub of streets and alleyways that radiated outwards, carrying all the members of my family and the citizens of the town back and forth on their myriad duties, also ran from Combray out into the countryside, and from there to meet with greater roads yet, highways of ancient Rome that still bore the impress of foot and hoof from classical times, roads that ran to Paris and beyond. To stand on one side of that unassuming road, with its low ditch on one side and its border on the far side marked by a yet greater ditch, an incubator of bulrushes and long waving grasses, which in their willowy grace called to mind the women that would visit me in my sleep and in my waking dalliances with the imagination, trading light and shadow in a graceful economy of exchange, producing a serrated beauty that seemed to inflame a dormant sense of touch transmitted through the eyes, seemed to drain me of resolve and produce a sensual reverie that would have held me in its spell throughout the afternoon had not my mother, with her soft questioning voice, called me back for the afternoon meal. I would turn and rush back to the house, elated at the sound of her voice, my heart full and my cheeks burning with the prospect of her attentions. In truth I would often wander down to the roadside for the sole purpose of waiting there for her call, to force her to raise her eyes from her business and search for me. As the angle of light would pivot gently in the sky, the shadows in the bulrushes deepen and the waving grasses take on depth as they transmitted a golden light, the anticipation of her call would play up and down my thin young limbs, tugging at my heels and shoulders. Finally the moment would come when she would call, and I would turn and sprint, a hound released after fowl, into her arms.

On one such afternoon I spied a chicken standing across the road, pecking at something unseen among the sedge. It reminded me, in its distracted air, of an old friend who visited regularly when

[Here five hundred pages are missing]

be that in crossing a road to retrieve a chicken pecking at errant grains, only to find that the chicken, as you step out into the road, rights itself with purpose, and as it fixes you with an inimitable stare, struts also into the road, meeting you as you were set to meet it, that it is yourself you meet, as the chicken likewise meets itself at the centre, thereby passing over to the opposite side, whereby both you and the chicken turn to face your counterpart, and it is only yourselves that you truly face?

A: I lost track of what I was saying around 20 000 words in. Let's say that the chicken was looking to get to the other side of the road, and we'll leave it at that, okay? Tell you what, you want to monkey with this a little, shave it down a bit, I don't mind. You could say that the chicken was throwing itself into the road, under the wheels of a rampaging bicyclette or the heel of l'homme des chaussures cruelles. Whatever. Just - just do it. Do this for me, would you?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

no ekphrasis available

I just don't understand. I'm sorry. Sorry about this, folks.

And if we're all being honest with each other, I'm having trouble with this photo of Lech Walesa plying the paddles as well:


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

office christening

Evening around the home. Who doesn't love an evening around the home? Communists, that's who. I digress. Still evening. Palinode walks into the office, spies a piece of cat shit that's been kicked out of the litter box by an overenthusiastic cat. He walks into the living room.

Palinode: Do you know how you can tell that the spare room's an office?

Schmutzie: No, how?

Palinode: There's cat shit on the floor.

Schmutzie: Oh, that's definitely an office then.

Palinode: It's like I said.

Schmutzie: At our office there's cat shit everywhere.

Palinode: But it's not fresh quality cat shit like our home office.

Schmutzie: No, we have to get it outsourced and brought in.

Palinode: You need in-house cat shit capability. Is management going to get on that?

Schmutzie: It's true, we need a cat shit delivery system.

Palinode: Where's ours right now?

Schmutzie: It's in the bathtub waiting for a bug to crawl out of the drain.

Palinode: That's some good office infrastructure.

The seven highly effective habits of darth vader

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, people still had goods to trade and business to conduct. They had jobs to get to, moisture evaporators to fix and military robots that said "Roger roger" to build. Planetary federations and mercantile guilds aside, there was still a place for motivated businessmen and managers in the Galactic Empire.

As the only child of a single mother, Anakin Skywalker rose from obscurity on a desert planet to become the second most powerful man in the galaxy, a black-clad behemoth known to the worlds as Darth Vader. What leadership lessons can the smart manager of today take from Darth Vader's example?

1. Never Let Them See You Smile
Poker players often attribute their success in the game to their 'poker faces'. Often it's described as a state of mind, a 'zone' in which the subtle muscular telltales of excitement and frustration are dampened by the player's concentration on the cards. Well, screw all that. Darth Vader wore a mask and he never, ever took it off. Nobody knew what he was thinking or feeling. He had to tell them, which he did, often. For being so tactiturn when it came to tactics, Vader was pretty voluble about his feelings. I wonder why that was?

2. Don't Let the Past Hold You Back
Do you think the Republic would have feared someone with a namby-pamby name like Anakin Skywalker? Please. He knew from the outset that no matter how many Paduans he cut down, he'd never get to the top of the imperial heap with his pretty-boy looks, deadpan line delivery and a name that cries out for a schoolyard pounding. So he strapped on some black and had himself renamed Darth Vader. You want to argue the fine points of diplomatic immunity with a guy named Darth Vader? Didn't think so.

3. Get A Cape
You may think that Darth Vader's imposing presence comes from his shiny black boots or his full-face helmet, but it's the cape that does the heavy lifting on the menace front. Without the cape, he's a big guy in a clumsy helmet and a suit with a panel of buttons stuck to the chest. The cape lends majesty to his presence and punctuates his exits with the sweep of fabric. People respect a man with a cape and treat him as a leader. And they'll respect you too, as long as you don't get a red velvet number with a gold cord. Then you're Little Red Riding Hood.

4. Use Star Power
If there's one thing that Anakin Skywalker did not have, it was an impressive or sonorous voice. In fact, he sort of sounded like a whiny teenager who'd had his PlayStation privileges revoked. "But me and my friends were gonna go versing!" he'd plead. But no. Naughty Sith Lords don't get to play Halo 2 with their buddies. They have to sit in their rooms and feel the Force. So good on him for being aware of his limitations. Skywalker promptly went and hired James Earl Jones to voice all his lines for him. It's possible that he may have actually grafted Jones' head to his body, which necessitated the helmet. That's just a theory. Apparently Dustin Hoffman auditioned for the part but later dropped the project in order to star in Tootsie.

5. Choke People At A Distance
I cannot stress enough how effective this can be as a tool in your leadership kit. If a colleague or employee is giving you altogether more guff than you think is productive, shouldn't it be a good thing to crush their windpipe from across the room? And shouldn't it be legal? Why isn't upper management exempt from the law? Don't they know the pressure you're under as a Vice President? Stupid big government and their labour laws.

6. Don't Pay Attention to Mumbo-Jumbo
During the climactic but leisurely lightsaber duel between Vader and his nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi, Kenobi tells Darth that if he is struck down, he will become more powerful than Vader can possibly imagine. This sort of talk is typical of the ageing liberal-left hippie who just can't cut it in today's world of high-speed commerce. And Vader, a leader for the future, knows what to do with his kind. He cuts him neatly in half, leaving the top of his body spewing blood and fluid while Kenobi's legs topple over and twitch uselessly on the floor. For a good thirty seconds, Kenobi is trying to scream out in pain before shock and blood loss finally overwhelm his flagging consciousness. It's the look in his eyes that really stays with you. That and the stink of burnt human flesh mixed with intestines spilling out onto the cold metal floor.

7. Don't Forget Family
In your climb to the top, it can be all too easy to forget that you have a loving family at home. Sometimes it can be all too easy to forget that you have children who were separated at birth and sent to different planets so as to keep them away from your crazy homicidal ass. Sometimes you find yourself so bogged down with small stuff that you never even learn about your twin children growing up somewhere out there in the galaxy. That's when you need to stop what you're doing and use the Force to sniff one out. And then you try and kill him. Except in the middle of the killing, right after you chop off his hand, you offer him a job. Then kill him. No wait, kill the CEO when he tries to kill your son (how's that for actioning your expertise?). Then let him take your mask off and... whoah. Dude. Put your mask back on. That's not pretty.

Friday, August 04, 2006

an ugbull movie

I haven't seen the movie Barnyard: The Original Party Animals and I never ever will, but as a blogger I feel that I have the god-given right to pass judgement on it, or at least make inane comments about the movie to nobody in particular.

According to the portions of the reviews I've read, this is the story of some barnyard animals (hence the title) who stand up and start walking and talking like humans. And apparently they're a bunch of rowdy partiers, with all the dancing and the rock and roll and the sex with chickens hijinks. From what I can tell and guess - mostly just guess - one of the bulls grows up and becomes a man mature bull when he learns to put his aside his partying ways and take responsibility for himself and be a barn leader bull person. Maybe he brings out the humanity bovinosity in his evil father after he defeats said father in single combat and then the Regional Agricultural Agent decides to kill him but the evil father kills the Regional Agent because the sight of the young bull being killed moves him to action. What do you think? I sure think so.

Anyway, two things I can't figure out regarding this movie:

1) All the cattle have big pink udders, cows and bulls alike. Why did they do this? It would be like making a movie where all the men had big honking tits and nobody says a thing about it. You know, just casual, the guy's got tits, would you just follow along? There's a tender love scene coming up.

I figure that the writers must have had a conversation like this:

WRITER 1: Okay, so as soon as the farmer drives over the hill, the cows all stand up. Here's the storyboard.
WRITER 2: Hey. Whoah.
WR1: What?
WR2: Aren't those ones supposed to be bulls?
WR1: Yeah.
WR2: So why do the bulls have udders?
WR1: Why wouldn't they?
WR2: Udders are mammary glands.
WR1: Shit.
WR2: Yeah.
WR1: Well we can't have that.
WR2: No.
WR1: So what should they have in place of udders then?
WR2: Well they're bulls, so they would have - they'd have -
WR1: What?
WR2: Ah shit.
WR1: Yeah.
WR2: Let's just leave it smooth then. Nothing there.
WR1: But that would draw too much attention to the cows with the udders.
WR2: Are you kidding?
WR1: We'd look like cow perverts or something. The reviewers would say we had an udder fetish.
WR2: Naah.
WR1: You mean Yes naah.
WR2: What are we going to do? We can't have the bulls walking around with big old scrotums* swinging around.
WR1: Why not?
WR2: What?
WR1: You heard me. Let's push the envelope on this one. Let's make Animated Animal Responsibility Story the most honest goddamn family entertainment ever! Let's -
PRODUCER: Hey, while you guys were in here talking, we finished the film and released it and now it's out and the critics are calling you two a couple of idiots who don't know the difference between a cow and a bull.

2) The enemy of the barnyard in this movie is the coyote. Or coyotes. Whatever. Ben the party bull eventually has to cowboy up and take charge of the barnyard to protect every creature there from the coyote threat. To the best of my knowledge, nobody stops and says "Hey, did you know the farmer's going to kill us all and sell off our butchered bodies part by part? Did you know that the coyote represents a possible threat, but the farmer is our real enemy? Could it be that the coyote is a distraction, a device to keep us occupied while the farmer sharpens his butcher's blade, loads the bolt and readies the hook for our throats?"

Perhaps there are real-world parallels here. Maybe we're in a similar situation, blasting our brains on entertainment while we fear and strike out at the wrong targets, and meanwhile the butcher awaits us all, picking his teeth with his cleaver. Or maybe it's just stuff that's happening and none of it means anything and you should just shut up and take the kids to Barnyard.

*You can tell the characters in my dialogue are writers because they say scrotum in place of 'bovine ballsack' or 'bully wang' or 'alien pudenda' or any of the other things that longshoremen say.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I bitch the body electric

I don't know what television's like in the real world, but here in Canada our home channels are infested with old government-sponsored PSAs that hatched like fruit flies somewhere back in the early '70s and '80s. Today they swarm in the dark moist spaces between programming blocks, reminding us all that we once thought television was a tool for educating and improving the masses. Anti-smoking, anti-alcoholism, anti-drug abuse, pro-fitness and general positivity, the spots age more and more badly each year, colours degrading and sounds dissipating. The messages generally get hokier as they recede into the past as well - somehow I find the spectacle of Stevie Wonder singing "don't drive drunk" less persuasive nowadays. And it's only with the maturity of age that I realize they hired a blind guy to tell us how to drive. Was this a joke that everybody laughed about in 1986?

Some of the PSAs, I'm betting, are probably recent but they look old. Case in point: an ad promoting a healthy balance of food and activity, featuring a purple blob with googly eyes. The purple blob runs in place, opens its mouth, flexes purple biceps, melts into goo, and spins around repeatedly, little lightning bolts sizzling around its head to demonstrate its good health. Because nothing's healthier than a purple blob with googly eyes and a manic grin. The blob dances around to a cheery government-sanctioned rap track, the kind of lame positive faux-rap that invariably features lines like "I'm so-and-so/And I'm here to say...". At the chorus they break out into this jaunty tune that you instantly hate but can't dislodge from your head: "You got to balance food and activity/Put 'em together... the body electriciteee'. It doesn't even make sense. You're humming this line that doesn't make any sense, and you keep on wondering why they wrote nonsensical crap, and the people in line at the grocery store are starting to hate you. That's what this ad does to you.

Then it gets satanic.

Somewhere around the thirty second mark (this is one long-ass PSA), the purple blob holds up a grey blob that says 'food' in one hand and a grey blob that says 'activity' in the other. Rapmeister Active MC is explaining that you need both food and activity for a healthy body. So the blob guy demonstrates. First he throws the grey blob marked 'food' into his mouth, where it will no doubt be converted by the creature's digestive system into a purple blob. Then he takes the grey blob marked 'activity' and does the exact same thing.

He eats activity. This infuriates me.

Why can't he take 'activity' and start doing, I dunno, some activity with it? Stretch it out into a skipping rope? Make a kayak out of it? Why not a set of weights or a basketball or something?

I'm sure there's a reason for it. If the animators and the director and Active MC were to defend it in court (brought in on a charge of Well Intentioned Crap), they'd probably say that they'd considered a number of options: that they had to keep the pace fresh but consistent, that their budget was limited (true dat), that the blob really needed to transition smoothly into yet another spin-and-flex, and that hey, they had a project to complete on time, and for god's sake it's just for a bunch of kids and who cares if the blob eats activity anyway? Well, the judge would say, I do. Because I would be that judge. And I'd sentence them to a long hard life as Janet Jackson's personal assistants.

Because that sounds like a bad time to me.