Thursday, February 28, 2019


"Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffin' glue" is about as funny as a one-liner gets. Its sardonic charm is applicable in just about any situation and can be delivered by anyone. In fact, the more unlikely the deliverer of the line, the better. Just imagine Queen Elizabeth watching coverage of parliament's Brexit arguments, then turning to a nearby footman and delivering the line in a perfect deadpan.

The problem: "Airplane!" isn't well-known among many of my generation. So when I recently busted out the line amongst friends and casual friends, there was a minor stir of confusion. "Wait, you used to sniff glue?" No no, it's from a movie....well, I don't want to get into the full explanation, but needless to say, whenever you deliver a joke and then need to explain it afterwards, brother, you just told a bomb of a joke. Not only did the reference fly over everyone's heads, but given how some of these people didn't know me very well, they might in fact think that I'm actually some kind of glue-sniffer.

For the record, I'm not. I've always had a very indifferent relationship to glue as a product, let alone as a stimulant. In grade school, I quickly grew tired of the unnecessary stickiness and lumps caused by Elmer's Glue and moved on to staples and tape at a young age. Glue irritated me so much that it never occurred to me to try and sniff it. Would you sniff something that annoyed you? Exactly.

I guess my point is that everyone needs to watch "Airplane!" again so I can keep using this line. Since surely that's a more reasonable request than for me to just stop busting out that quote.* The only other alternative is for glue-sniffing to become so socially acceptable that even if nobody gets the reference, at least I'm not looked on as a weirdo. But do I want to be responsible for a generation's drug addiction issues? No dice.

* And don't call me Shirley.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Hot! Live! Music!

Rab Noakes, "Mississippi"
This just reinforces my long-standing theory that nobody sounds better singing Bob Dylan songs than anyone other than Bob Dylan.

Alvvays, "Archie Marry Me"
I highly recommend Alvvays' debut album, which was released in 2014 but I only recently just heard from start to finish.  Hey, by the way, isn't it hilariously weird that the Archie Comics characters were rebooted into a hard-bitten noir show that is, by all accounts, crazy?  I realize this doesn't technically relate to the song or the band, but still, it's pretty weird, right?

Queen, "Under Pressure"
Not to repeat myself from the "Worst Movies Of 2018" post, but it still blows my mind that people felt a half-assed biopic was necessary to fall in love with Queen's music, can just listen to Queen's music.  Or, if a visual element is required, just watch the actual performances, like this one.  Who needs Mr. Robot when you can watch the actual, inimitable Freddie Mercury?

Oasis, "Acquiesce"
I love that this is sort of the gritty underbelly version of the aforementioned Queen performance.  Liam Gallagher isn't Freddie Mercury (who is?), but damned if that hands-behind-the-back, microphone-pressed-up-against-upper lip singing stance isn't almost as iconic in the pantheon of British rock performances.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Best Movie Scenes Of 2018

A great scene can take place in a great movie, an awful movie, or anything in between.  It can be one line of dialogue, maybe even as simple as a character's glance or even a quick camera cut...or it can be a massive setpiece that lasts for 10 minutes or more, as I stretch the boundaries of what a "scene" exactly is, perhaps compared to what a "sequence" is.

Anyway, here is my annual compilation of the scenes that most stood out to me over the course of the last cinematic year.  I laughed, I cried, I said "wow" out loud to no one in the theatre.

SPOILER ALERT for some of these movies, as though I tried to be somewhat vague about some plot details, it couldn't be helped in some cases.

33. John forgives Dexter (Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot)
32. Cassius and Salvador heatedly compliment each other (Sorry To Bother You)
31. Kayla and her dad at the dinner table (Eighth Grade)
30. The Wolf King shows up (Hotel Artemis)
29. Nina and Boris go for a boat ride (The Seagull)
28. Lena enters the lighthouse (Annihilation)
27. Will makes the big jump (Skyscraper)
26. Sullivan finds the secret hallway (Bad Times At The El Royale)
25. The High-Five enter The Shining (Ready Player One)
24. The Russian state dinner (Creed II)
23. Joan and Joe return from the banquet (The Wife)
22. The heist (Widows)
21. “How much do you weigh, Mary Poppins?” (Mary Poppins Returns)
20. The trip to the beach (Roma)
19. Luis recaps the first movie (Ant-Man & The Wasp)
18. The second heist (American Animals)
17. Evelyn gives birth (A Quiet Place)
16. Karen chases after Nic and Lauren (Beautiful Boy)
15. Reverend Toller meets with Michael (First Reformed)
14. Sharon goes to Puerto Rico (If Beale Street Could Talk)
13. Mr. Arthur and Alice against the tribe (The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs)
12. Thor, Rocket, and Groot arrive in Wakanda (Avengers: Infinity War)
11. The ending (First Reformed)
10. Bobby tearfully backs out of the driveway (A Star Is Born)
9. Kayla and her dad by the fire (Eighth Grade)
8. The bathroom fight (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
7. The formation and, uh, breakup of X-Force (Deadpool 2)
6. Jerome Turner’s speech (BlacKkKlansman)
5. Cassius watches the video (Sorry To Bother You)
4. The 15-minute countdown (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
3. Ally and Jackson sing “Shallow” (A Star Is Born)
2. Jack Mulligan drives from his inner-city campaign event to his house (Widows)
1. The decimation (Avengers: Infinity War) 


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Worst Movies Of 2018

We’re back for my rundown of some of the year’s dirt-worst films.  It’s quite a mixture this year, ranging from random Netflix movies to some of the year’s biggest and most star-studded pictures.  Just as a reminder for the countdown, we're starting from the least-worst, with #1 being the absolute crappiest filmic experience of the year.

10. Bohemian Rhapsody
People know that the actual footage of Queen’s Live Aid performance is easily accessible on YouTube, right?  You can just watch that 25-minute clip, as opposed to watching a half-assed recreation sandwiched within two hours of just about every musician biopic cliche in the book.  It’s an embarrassment that this was nominated for the actual Best Picture Oscar, and possibly even more embarrassing that it only just barely beat out another Best Picture candidate for the #10 spot on my list.  (Looking at you, Adam McKay!)

9. The Mule
John Mulaney and Pete Davidson recently had an entire Weekend Update segment on SNL devoting to ripping on his ridiculous movie, and unfortunately I can’t find the clip online.  (Damn you, Lorne Michaels’ stringent copyright policies!)  I forget if Mulaney & Davidson mentioned this part or not, so if I’m repeating their bit, I apologize.  But for me, the single most absurd scene was the head of the drug cartel inviting Clint Eastwood over to his mansion for a party, as a nod to all of Eastwood’s good work.  Granted, I’m not an expert in how drug cartels operate, but I’m pretty sure the bosses don’t have an Employee Of The Month program.

8. Escape Plan 2
7. Ibiza
6. Small Town Crime

My “worst movies” list has been gradually getting shorter every year, which I attribute in part to a) Netflix, and b) my increasing lack of patience with garbage.  If I find my attention waning after, say, 20-30 minutes, it’s easy to just shut down a movie and move on to something else.  That said, I watched all of Escape Plan 2/Ibiza/Small Town Crime from start to finish, and for that I have no excuse.  Was I too sleepy to bother hitting the stop button?

5. First Man
Click here for a more in-depth look on this snoozer.

4. A Wrinkle In Time
Many considered this classic children’s book to be unfilmable.  They were right!

3. Den Of Thieves
Imagine “Heat,” except terrible yet somehow almost as long.  And, imagine instead of the mano-a-mano acting showcase that is Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, you instead had Gerard Butler and Pablo Schreiber.

2. The Catcher Was A Spy
This one is a particular disappointment for me as a baseball fan, since I’ve heard of the Moe Berg story for years, and always felt it would make for an interesting film.  (Especially since there’s no small chance that Berg was actually something of a fraud, making for a Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind-esque type of movie.)  So I was excited to see that a Moe Berg movie was finally being made, and starring no less than Paul Rudd himself.  The end result, however, was an absolute snore.

1. Like Father
I almost hesitated calling this my worst movie of the year since, really, it isn’t a movie.  It’s a 90-minute commercial for Royal Caribbean cruises.  This is the most egregious case of actors taking a bad job to get a paid vacation since Couples Retreat….which, it should be noted, also starred Kristen Bell.  (Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a better movie, but also a pretty strong example of this phenomenon.)  Everything in this movie felt completely hackneyed.  The premise, the entire relationship between Bell and Grammer as estranged father and daughter, their steps towards reconciliation, their inevitable blowup, and their just-as-inevitable thawing by the end of the movie.  This isn’t meteorologically possible for a Caribbean cruise, but I was rooting for an iceberg by the 40-minute mark.

Worst Supporting Actor: TIE!  Chris Hemsworth/Bad Times At The El Royale, Lin-Manuel Miranda/Mary Poppins Returns
Everyone in BAATER is operating on some level of bad Tartantino pastiche, but Hemsworth really goes for it as a Manson-esque cult leader, and the result is yikes.  Five points to Thor for effort, minus a thousand points for execution.

As for Miranda, I haven’t actually seen “Hamilton,” so obviously I hesitate in writing this guy off as a bad actor.  But in everything I’ve seen him in, the hamminess and overly theatrical nature of his performances would make even Kenneth Branagh tell this guy to take it down a notch.  It probably also didn’t help Miranda that MPR was maybe the single most “why is this happening?” movie of the year, so his performance was just icing on a cake of un-necessity. 

Worst Supporting Actress: TIE!  Claire Foy/First Man, Mindy Kaling/A Wrinkle In Time
Mindy Kaling has pretty much just play “Mindy Kaling,” which is a persona that (surprise surprise) doesn’t translate super-well to playing a cosmic entity.  As for Foy, if you took a shot every time she looked at her husband with pensive worry, you’d be dead within about a half-hour.  If you gave yourself a dime every time she didn’t have a look of pensive worry on her face in the film, you’d leave First Man with a total of zero dimes.  

Worst Actor: Clint Eastwood/The Mule
Eastwood was a pretty limited actor even in his prime, and now it’s safe to call him completely over the hill, to the point that his age actively detracts from the plot of the movie.  He’s 88, for pete’s sake!  Eighty-eight years old!  Again, I didn’t intend for this post to focus on how I’d do things if I operated a drug cartel, but while there’s some logic in the “hire old people as mules because nobody looks twice at them” plan, enlisting an 88-year-old has its own unique set of issues.  Chiefly, there’s the whole HE COULD DIE AT LITERALLY ANY MOMENT obstacle.  Casting even a 70-year-old in the role would’ve made more sense.  Hell, Dianne Wiest is right there, in the completely thankless role of Eastwood’s ex-wife, just use her as the lead instead.  Wouldn’t this movie suddenly be way better if Dianne Wiest is The Mule?

Worst Actress: Kristen Bell/Like Father
Keeping it all in the family, Dax Shepard won my worst actor award last year.  On the bright side, I like Good Place and the podcast!

Supporting Actor: Tom Hardy/Venom
Wait, supporting actor?  That’s right, this is a real thread-the-needle situation where I’m specifically awarding Hardy not for his role as Eddie Brock, but as the voice of the symbiote.  I’m convinced that Tom Hardy hates the sound of his own voice, and only takes roles where he is allowed to deploy whatever weird accent or vocal tick he wishes.  In this case, his choice for the symbiote is halfway between Shredder on the old Ninja Turtles cartoon show, and Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors.  It is so absurd and over-the-top that it turned all the way around into being entertaining as the film went on — I admitted laughed out loud when the symbiote referred to itself as “a bit of a loser.”

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway/Ocean’s 8
Her character is, essentially, Everyone’s Perception Of What Anne Hathaway Is Like, so it’s kind of a clever bit of casting to simply cast Anne Hathaway.  This movie, by the way, ran a close second to Mary Poppins Returns in the “most unnecessary film” race.

Lead Actor: Rami Malek/Bohemian Rhapsody
Let’s see, how many qualifiers can I put on this award?  I would’ve much rather seen what Sasha Baron Cohen would’ve done in the role.  Malek absolutely shouldn’t win the Oscar.  It is nigh-impossible for any actor to properly play Freddie Mercury, though I guess technically Malek isn’t playing “Freddie Mercury” as much as he’s playing a watered-down, audience-friendly version of the man.  Other than all that, Malek is fine? 

Lead Actress: Toni Collette/Hereditary
Academy, if you’re going to nominate an actor from a bad movie, maybe throw Toni Collette a bone?  She doesn’t make my personal ballot, but she does her level best at carrying this completely overrated and overblown horror movie.  Raised expectations are partially to blame, since the critics praised this one as a real landmark in the horror genre and I went in thinking I was going to see something special.

You might remember this guy as the sleazy producer/record company exec who signs Lady Gaga, turns her into a generic pop star, and also more or less encourages Bradley Cooper to kill himself.  I daresay that last item kind of took the whole movie down a peg — narratively, it’s more powerful if Cooper decides for himself that he’s holding Allie back, rather than have someone else spell it out for him.  This isn’t exactly a subtle movie, but Gavron might as well be twirling a mustache and tying a puppy to railroad tracks.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Today's Fact About Clotheslines

The number of people who have been knocked down by an actual clothesline < the number of people clotheslined during childhood games of Red Rover, or by the professional wrestling maneuver known as the clothesline.

This has been today's fact about clotheslines.  Tomorrow's fact will likely be related to the actual act of hanging clothes from a line.

I'll be frank --- I may be short on clothesline facts by roughly Day Six of this feature.  It definitely needed more workshopping.  Then again, I'm the same guy who began a "Shakespeare re-read" project almost seven years ago and still haven't finished.  Ah, stick-to-it-iveness! 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Crazy Ex-Bloopers 3.0

What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with a collection of bloopers from that most romantic of all shows....*checks notes*....Crazy Ex-Girlfriend?  Sure, let's roll with it.  Series finale is in a few weeks, FYI.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Goose Down

My high school drama class often played “trust-building activities” that were meant to make us less self-conscious and more cohesive as a group.  In short, they were summer camp games.  The roster included that old favourite, Duck Duck Goose.

I’m assuming everyone in the word knows how to play DDG*, so I won’t bother rehashing a description of the rules.  But I will point out, that there’s a bit of a logistical gap between playing this game as a little kid and playing it as a teenager.  As a child, you stick to the spirit of the game and chase the tagger around the circle.  As a teenager with a slightly more developed idea of game theory, you realize that the intent is merely to tag the tagger, and if there’s a more efficient way of doing this than chasing, so be it.

* = Daniel Day-Goose is a great actor

This led to one memorable class where I almost accidentally….well, killed is a strong word.  Let’s say just maybe concussed my friend Shawn.  (By the way, I vaguely remember it being Shawn but I’m not actually certain of who it was.  Who cares, you don’t know any of these people anyway.)  Shawn was the one going around the circle dubbing everyone as ducks, and when he got to me, I was made the goose.

So, even at that younger age, I wasn’t known for my speed.  I wasn’t necessarily slow at this point, but it just took me a while to get going — think of Bowser or Donkey Kong in Super MarioKart.*  Shawn was also a pretty quick guy himself, so by the time I got myself up from my cross-legged stance on the ground and rumbled into full motion, Shawn would’ve been at least two-thirds of the way around the circle.  With this in mind, I had to use strategy and cunning, rather than sheer physical velocity.

* = I am delighted to learn that “MarioKart” is a valid word in my word processor’s spellchecker.

This is why, after Shawn tagged me, I immediately pivoted around (from a seating position) and swung my outstretched arm in Shawn’s path.  My plan was to just clip his leg before he fully ran away, though as it turned out, I ended up catching his foot and sending him headlong across the floor.  Fortunately, he was none the worse for wear, at least visibly.  Shawn also played football and rugby, so if future medical examinations reveal CTE, I’ll blame sports for his head trauma rather than my aggressive Duck Duck Goose maneuver.

The drama teacher, perhaps unused to such a situation, didn’t yell at me.  Instead, the class got a reminder to adhere to the rules of Duck Duck Goose.  In theory, I could’ve spoken up and noted that my tactic didn’t technically break any rules, though I probably made the right call by just keeping my mouth shut.

In hindsight, it’s kind of amazing that my swinging arm didn’t catch the face of the person sitting next to me.  I feel like that might’ve caused a bigger problem for me.  Shawn laughing off being tripped was fine; a bloody-nosed classmate might’ve resulted in your old boy Mark going to the principal’s office.  Thought that would’ve led to an amazing pun opportunity.

Principal: Mark, did you backhand someone in the face during a game of Duck Duck Goose?
Me: I guess you could say they should’ve….ducked!

Thursday, February 07, 2019

I Heard It

This particular clip was posted to YouTube 12 years ago, yet I feel like it's gone viral three or four times over the years.  Can't blame people for being instantly wowed whenever they stumble across it, and then re-sharing it all over again.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Super Accuracy

Shout-out to me for correctly predicting a Rams/Patriots Super Bowl in my preseason picks.  The Herbie Theory was dead-on!  Now, you may note that I picked Los Angeles to win, but that was just really an oversight on my part.  You see, the original "Love Bug" movie was directed by Robert Stevenson, and written by Bill Walsh* and Don DaGradi.  So naturally, Super Bowl 53 (a.k.a. the Herbie Bowl) would be won the team owned by a Robert (Kraft), and led by a Bill (Belichick) and a...uh, "DaGradi" may rhyme with "Brady."

* = no, not that one

Also, the Herbie Theory explains why last night's game contained just enough offense to fit inside a Volkswagen.