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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another Christmas Round-Up

December 18, 2013:  Needless to say, I’ve been neglecting my Christmas duty (which is not to be confused with my Hanukkah duty, which is completely different and involves greasy potato pancakes). Year after year, you lovable fools depend on me to offer my holiday assessments, and being that the big X is a mere week away, I thought I’d better get my tired and curvaceous bottom to it and offer these latest words of cheer.

I know many of you have enjoyed previous Blah-ugh! postings involving Christmas iconography – pieces on Johnny Mathis, Patrick Stewart’s Christmas Carol, and of course Johnny Mathis. This year I’ve decided to again focus on the music, which is of course what Christmas is all about (along with the presents and Lactose-Free egg nog), so I thought it might be of equal—if not inferior—value to share what I believe are some of the definitive Christmas song versions accessible on our burgeoning airwaves (and through telepathy if you’re really, really good).

For me it’s easy to start with Michael Buble (or is it Bubble? None of us are ever really sure) and his incomparable version of “Let It Snow.” (Please don’t make me write that three times!) I was so happy the first time I heard it, and I thought it was Bobby Darin, and it may have been Bobby Darin, or still be, for that matter, but it’s a really great jazzy version and he just sounds so happy singing it … the fool. I especially like that it climbs up a step, or half a step; there’s climbing involved. Just peachy stuff!

I’d be hard pressed to find a better version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” than that sung by the great Jimmy Dean (whoever he is. I just remember he had a sausage commercial when I was growing up). It’s a very good version and has that unsettling overly serious quality so particular to good seasonal music. And as my real fans know, I simply can’t resist anything with the word “ye” in it!

Probably my most favorite holiday performance comes from Celine Dion doing “O Holy Night,” which just floors me. She holds those last monster notes forever and simply doesn’t sound human. I even went out and bought her album after hearing it, but it kind of sucks, to be honest, so I don’t ever put it on, except when I want to hear that song, which I don’t do often now because I’ve become really good at impersonating her in the shower, and when I want to hear the song it motivates me to bathe.

“Sleigh Ride” is one of my very favorites, and of course the best version would have to be The Ronettes. There’s just nothing like it, nor like Ronnie Whateverthehellhernameis’s wonderful churlish lisping voice. But I must say I also love the terrific instrumental Leroy Anderson version, which many of you will recognize from those bizarre old WNEW station identification commercials, where some weird melonhead family members of some WNEW employee would come on and give a video Xmas greeting with a Bronx accent. (It may have been channel 9, but I think anyone growing up in the 1970’s in the tri-state area knows full-well what I’m talking about.)

Tammy Wynette clearly does the best version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” and it’s such a cold, icy version it just puts me right there outside, like I’m lurking in a pine clearing on a full-moon snow night, watching some Jesus star causing all sorts of trouble. I just love that.

Mitch Miller gets the vote for Silver Bells, as does Moe the Bartender, but that’s another random tangent I can’t get into now.

There’d be no Christmas were it not for the Andrew Sisters, so I have to give them both “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Both brilliant hopping versions make subtle cameos in the great movie “A Christmas Story,” both feature that awesome Big Band orchestration so near to my heart and intestinal tract, and while we have to suffer a bit of Bing Crosby in each, it’s worth it to enjoy Laverne, Maxine and Patti at the top of their games.

The Chipmunks probably do the best “Rudolph” version, and feature Rudolph himself singing. But I have nothing that funny to say about it, so I’ll move on.

While I intended to leave him out, as in my mind he is Mr. Christmas, Johnny Mathis’s “Marshmallow World” is beyond compare. But so many of his versions trump others too, I don’t want to go down that road right now, in part because I’m getting really tired and want to get back to watching “Die Hard 2” for the 23rd time.

And what would Xmas be without mentioning old Nat King Cole, that merry old soul, and his quintessential “Christmas Song” version. But he also has other great versions, such as “Caroling, Caroling” and “Hark! the Herald, etc.” so I wish you people wouldn’t pigeon hole him just because he’s black.

Finally, what song list would be complete without the mealy acknowledgement of Vince Guaraldi and his piano’ed stuff, including “O Christmas Tree,” which has come to represent so much Christmas paste to us all who thrive on the magic of Linus Van Pelt and “5” … (I’m betting that less than five of you will understand that reference, but trust me, it’s a vividly clever one!)

There are many other holiday favorites too, but some are not officially standards owing to the singular recording. Great examples include Paul’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time,” John’s “So This is Xmas (or whatever the hell it’s called)” and of course the Beach Boys’ “The Man with All the Toys.”

Of course, this wouldn’t be the Blah-ugh! if I didn’t focus on the negative, so it’s important to note some of the awfulest Christmas songs and albums as well, which include Madonna’s “Santa Baby” and that “Donde Est Santa Claus” debacle. Other surprising disappointments have been several albums I’ve bought and either returned, destroyed or given away to book sales, from artists I would have otherwise had faith in for holiday fulfillment who failed me miserably – Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow and John Denver among them.

Anyway, I’m tired of all this nonsense and need to get back to filling my sleigh with nougat and my ears with wax. Please have a safe and happy holiday and if you’re a Jew, I’ll see you over at Chiu Fai Gardens on Christmas Eve …

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ode to Starbucks

December 3, 2013:  I like Starbucks.

I feel like it’s somehow wrong to say it, but it’s true it’s true! I like Starbucks. It’s the closest thing I have to a real home. (And isn’t that sad?!)

In fact, I wrote a poem about it:

Starbucks, Starbucks, you’re my home
Regardless of how far I roam

In Westport, Norwalk, Fairfield too
I’m always coming home to you

Your plain black tea is on the spot
It’s okay iced, but better hot

I love to drink it from a mug
An earthy option that I love

I dig walnut banana bread
but sometimes get lemon instead

Espresso’s strong to give me hope
It’s great on ice; I won’t say nope

The music can be sort of cool
I tap my foot—a dancing fool

Of course, some things confuse me so
Like what the hell’s “macchiato?”

And other terms like “venti” too
Make no sense to me; do they to you?

But those are only minor banes
The rest is magic, though one question remains

Why does every store in your lovely stable pride
a dour-faced, pale, skinny, pierced, dark-haired girl with tattoos?

I hope you enjoyed that, and as an important footnote, I hope everyone is aware that by simply ASKING the lovely Starbucks staff, they will gladly serve your drink in a real porcelain mug or glass, the way they do in Europe (or so I imagine). It not only tastes better and looks much, much cooler, but you’re helping your disturbed environment and, believe it or not, also getting a TEN-CENT DISCOUNT!

So spread the word. And don’t be ashamed, like I am, to love Starbucks—my home away from home!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Jarret's FFF: The Most Awful Gatsby

November 23, 2013:  Good Lord!

I’m less than six minutes into the new Great Gatsby movie and I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed such all-out crap! Who, on god’s brown earth, gave this bozo Baz Lurhmann permission (let alone money) to make a movie. It’s a crime!

I never would have imagined anyone could begin with so much and turn it into so little. This is an outrageously laughable production, beginning with a painfully comical performance by Tobey Maguire, who I actually like, but who did his turn as Nick Carroway like a bug-eyed worm with the social poise of Lou Costello. He looks like he’s trying out for an elementary school acting part and some near-sighted silent film actor is directing him and keeps telling him, “Be broader! … Broader!!” It’s horrendous.

I haven’t even seen Leonardo DiCaprio yet, but I honestly don’t want to. And whoever is playing Daisy Buchanan—I don’t even care what her name is—couldn’t be more boring. And I could forgive her if she were drop-dead gorgeous, but all my expectations were dashed in the first millisecond of her reveal. (While I wouldn’t object to being seen publicly with her, I’m trouble to introduce her as my secretary, or perhaps my hairdresser.)

It’s astounding to think how much money this travesty cost—how much Larman was given to waste. (I won’t even do him the meager respect of spelling his weird name right.) I consider it a joke and a crime how anyone could build such carefully architected stupidity and put it before an audience. He could have followed Maguire to a urinal and filmed it and it would have had more merit as both a story and a work of art.

Please understand, while I’m a great fan of the book, it’s not the raping and ruining of that novel that bothers me. Truly, I’m ready for a movie-ing up of the thing. It’s fine. But this is just such a weak example of filmmaking, and simply stings of his over indulgence and tacky style over substance. Really, it’s got me dumbfounded, and I’m not usually dumb, as we all know.

Now, I consider his Romeo and Juliet a colossal piece of kaka. How that ever got made I’ll never know. But what’s so amazing about Lorhman is this bizarre reverse gift he seems to have to make his actors looks completely ridiculous and amateurish. When DiCaprio finally made his appearance, it was stunning to hear him unable to decide on what accent use—a poor conglomeration of Louisiana, British and Brooklyn, all geared to supposedly capture a character from the Midwest. Ouch! The tragedy goes on … And again, the way this amateurish—Yes, AMATEURISH! Completely AMATEURISH DIRECTOR—does his dips and cuts and special zooms and exploding computer-graphic silliness, it’s a wonder that any self-respecting actor would work with him.

Then there was the party scene, with the big bass beat rap music and the 20’s characters gettin’ the yo-yo-yo out. Puh-lease! I can just hear the sycophants standing around praising Blerman’s genuine genius. It makes my stomach hurt. “Oh, Buzz, you’re brilliant! Oh, the way you combine the sensibility of the 20’s sensibility with your own sensibility … It’s just … so … so … so sensible!”

The word pointless is thrown around a lot these days, especially by people who read my Blah-ugh! But I think we have a new dictionary definition of word following the release—I think it just came out; I don’t know; I don’t care; I don’t follow any of it—of this spectacle. Why any time was invested in this monumental crap will join the multitude of twisted human endeavors that will forever baffle me.

But don’t take my word for it! Rent the DVD from the library for free and watch the first seven or eight minutes and try to keep from laughing when Muguire bugs his eyes out … I dare ye!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Remember Mania ...

October 23, 2013:  It somehow makes perfect sense that I’d have had a grandmother named “Mania,” which was pronounced “Mahn-ya,” but certainly doesn’t look like it. Mania Andrusevich was my mother’s Polish mother, and she’s been on my mind lately in relation to food, parenting and the coming winter …

Just tonight, as I embarked on filling my gaping god hole with a marvelous concoction I’ve created and lately often indulged in that combines mashed potatoes, peas and chicken in a sort of shepherd’s pie filling, I thought of her and her selfless love giving in the guise of food.

This woman loved to make me food, in that old-world immigrant way that somehow seems a lost ghost our kids could never know or imagine. She lived in Manhattan on the Lower East Side and used to come up to Connecticut quite a lot for weekends. And she’d cook and cook. Saturday mornings I remember especially well, when she’d make an enormous pot of these simple potatoes that cooked for hours and tasted like nothing better than you could imagine.  And she’d make mashed potatoes and stuffed cabbage and meatballs and potatoes. (God, everything had potatoes in it.) And chicken soup and pancakes and pot roast and chicken with little potatoes all around it …

But it wasn’t just the awesome quality of this simple fare. It was the way in which she offered it. I lived with her in my late teens in the city, and I would come back to the apartment at one in the morning in a state of wasted gracelessness, trying to sneak in softly so she wouldn’t hear. But she always heard and would come out tut-tutting, would share her scolding comments, and then ask if I’d eaten. Then she’d literally prepare a salad, a fresh fried steak, French fries, and a bowl of frozen peas with those fabulous little pearl onions, and I’d sit like a dope in the living room and with squinting eyes watch Channel 9 Up All Night—this is back when there were less than 10 channels—and stuff my gob with this grand wealth of culinary love (or culinary enabling, depending on how cynical you’re feeling as you read this) …

When she died a couple years later, she left me with a quantum of guilt, for I recognized the extent of her selfless caretaking and love, and I knew I had never repaid it, or even perhaps never could have repaid it. That sucks when you’re like me and sometimes juggle the precarious self-esteem of Charlie Brown.

And so it goes, as my friend Linda Ellerbee always said. (At least I think she was my friend, though I never got a thank you for all that toffee I sent her.) Anyway, it goes … so …

But again today, as I scrambled to get the chicken parmegian made for my daughter’s dinner, and yesterday, when I made my son’s refried bean after-school snack, or this evening, when I was cooking the chicken for their lunches, or this morning, when I made their breakfasts, it got me to thinking about my grandmother …

And yes, one of the thoughts centered on how great it would be having her here so I could sleep in. But that was a passing thought, because—even though it qualifies as work, and I sometimes don’t have all the motivation I can muster—I really love doing it. It’s an honor, really, and a privilege to have them want me to make Glop (the recipe for which I provided in a recent Blah-ugh! posting), or to make a spaghetti sauce, or to bake something, or “that sandwich” I make … or the potatoes!

You get the idea …

And so we pay it forward, year after year, a collection of clueless clowns bumping our heads again the well wall of humanity's clouded stupidity, trying to find something that makes sense ... and it's the food. It was always the food ...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

My Flocking Followers

October 13, 2013:  A strange suspicious email from some "feed" people is prompting me to compose an impromptu Blah-ugh! These people are claiming they have Followers of mine, which is both baffling and arousing. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do in response, but I thought if it was really true and I actually do have new Followers (and not just the same 23 I've had for four years), they deserved some new fodder from this virtual crap factory we call the Blah-ugh! If any of them are reading this, I urge you to contact the authorities right away, or just send me an email in 100 words of less explaining why I'm your God! (

There's so much to talk about. So much to malk about, and yet my ongoing midland blases--a poor, pathetic perpetual indifference to all things--keeps me short on enthusiasm for anything relating to reality. That said, let me tell you about some of the better movies I've watched lately -- "Oblivion," "Star Trek - Into Darkness," and of course "Ed Wood."

Alright, enough about those. Let me tell you about the X Factor. It's this interesting show involving Simon Cowell and shameless people from the heartland who have dreams of glory and songs in their hearts and spleens. I'm enjoying it so much, I'm even able to tolerate watching all these modern hand-gesture performances from people with sideways baseball caps and finger-pointing theatrics. Just grand stuff. Though I find Demi and PooPoo, or whatever her name is, especially vomitous, I'm quite taken with Kelly's level-headed insight, though if she says "Y'All" one more time, I'm going to defecate on my keyboard.

Another thing that's keeping me going these days is pumpkin pie, which as you know is my favorite--ice cold with lots of artificial whipped cream. I find myself sitting naked on the kitchen floor at odd hours eating it with my fingers, listening to Wolf Man movies in the next room. This is living! (At least, this is my life!)

Speaking of living, it was dead last night at my performance, and I'm wondering why none of my so-called Followers ever take the time to come hear me sing. In truth, I can sing circles around some of those X Factor people and have even begun giving some serious thought to entering the competition, once I perfect my ability to cry with efficacious fervency. And despite my awful sick sore throat, and perpetual despondency, I was quite good last night, even after I dropped my pick in my tea. I'll be playing next month, so the hope is that my readership will organize a fitting field trip to support their leader in the heartland of Connecticut.

Speaking of television, I've also been reading a lot, which is good, except some people poo-poo Dilbert books as literate fare. I disagree. I'm also discovering renewed joy in my H.G. Wells, Charles Dickens and a wonderful how-to book on witchcraft, which is very informative and may be the find of the year in the library's discard bin.

So, nothing else new to report. People still seem on the verge of killing me every time I drive down the road, owing to their text messaging, my weight has been staying relatively low, though the pumpkin pie binges promise to change all that, my ears are hairier than ever, my feet hurt constantly, but I'm glad to report my fingernails don't seem to be growing as quickly as they have in the past.

Halloween is coming, by the way, and this is good, except for the goblins and toilet paper.

In closing, with regarding to my potentially faux followers, and in the spirit of the holiday at hand, I can only think to paraphrase Linus Van Pelt in his letter to the Great Pumpkin, "P.S. -- If you don't exist, please don't tell me. I don't want to know!"

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Jarret's FFF: The Jowls of Being Brad Pitt

I have to imagine it’s not easy being Brad Pitt.

Of course it’s not easy being Jarret Liotta either, but there are many more perks, one of which is not having those jowls.

But I like Brad Pitt and I like his jowls, even though I don’t really think he’s that impressive an actor. I simply like that he’s out there on the edge, making the hard-hitting zombie movies that those Hollywood Fat Cats are too scared to create …

No, seriously, this is a very poor movie—World War Z—and the whole time I watched it I kept trying to figure out what motivated Brad to bother making it. I mean, of all the stories that could be told, of all the colossal creations he could have been a part of, what compelled this silly little man to make a painfully predictable, painfully over-budgeted, painfully acted zombie flick.

Don’t get me wrong (as you’re wont to do so often). I love zombie movies. My god, didn’t I just do a Blah-ugh! about them?! Hmm? … Well, didn’t I?!

Yes, and the costly creation of a worthwhile zombie movie would be, in my humble and extremely selfish estimation, a great use of American money …

But this mess …

And to make matters worse, Brad felt compelled—and you know it was his doing—to use this ugly vehicle as a demented forum to wax philosophical about the state of the world—when really all any of us want to do is see the droves of insect-acting zombies piling up the Jerusalem wall and leaping off buildings with no consideration for the drop.

No, it must not be easy to be Brad Pitt, to feel a fire to want to speak out and be a helpful example to humanity, and yet be only able to find release in the stupidest of forums … Poor Brad!

(I’m suddenly realizing that Brad is jowly, and his wife’s last name is—if said with a southern accent—“Jow-lee” … Kinda makes you think, huh!)

And that’s what the Frank Film Forum is all about—thinking. And I think I summarily bashed Angelina in a recent posting too, but to my credit, I’m far too lazy to find the link it deserves back … Or am I? (You’ll know by the end of this chant, and you’ll know right away, if there’s a link there to link … to, I mean!)

No, I guess it’s just not easy being any of us! But despite your jowl issues, a $20-million salary plus gross points certainly makes it harder to garner sympathy …

And remind me next time to bother writing something about the movie. After all, that's what this was supposed to be about too!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Jarret Reports Groundbreaking New Weight-Loss Technique for Fatties!

September 8, 2013:  You're going to love this, but first I have to go off on tangents ...

For starters, I don't know how I did it, but I managed to bring my Blah-ugh! into the 21st century and fix the problem with line spacing. I think it was the addition of the new picture that made the difference, and while it's getting mixed reviews, mostly from people who believe I look dangerous, I think it goes far in capturing the contemptuous glint of surly intolerance that many people -- mostly friends -- relate to me ....

But this is my time of getting things done, and toward that end I wanted to share some awesome discoveries I've made about weight loss and staying in shape.

Many of you loyal Blah-ugh! readers will recall my earth weight creeping up the scales recently to where I almost hit 200 for the first time in my life. (I continue to draw comfort knowing that on the moon I remained under 40 pounds.)

I'm happy to say -- and mainly because more women are glinting at me -- that I've reduced my abundance to something in the upper 170's at this point, and more pounds promise to drop, provided I don't drop first.

I'm proud to report I've made a concerted effort to win back my sveltitude, and while it hasn't been a linear process (mostly owing to my love of fatty meats and blue velvet cupcakes), I've exhibited incredible concentrated consciousness in making the hard choices that served to redefine my beautiful body and finally make my pants looser ...

Now, I can tell you there are obvious things to put into practice when it comes to getting thinner, such as considerable reduction of breads and pastas. But these ideas have been reported in many places and I won't waste a valuable forum like mine on the obvious. (In truth, if you don't already know this stuff, you're probably too dumb to grasp the subtle magnificence of my new idea, so stop bothering me and go eat some kippers.) Instead, let me tell you about a unique realization I had in the shower today ...

I've noticed in recent years that I tend to actually get thinner once autumn grows cold. In fact, I've found that I feel myself losing weight with the cold weather, and I kind of noticed -- though I'm not sure now, because my memory is so bad -- that I don't gain weight when the weather turns colder ...

Now, a key element of weight loss involves increasing your metabolism. This means -- at least to me, and I don't know why it has to be any more complicated than this -- getting your heartbeat moving faster. Anyone who does a good lot of exercise in a period of time knows that feeling of increased heart. It's kind of like when you drink a lot of coffee on an empty stomach. You see, weight loss occurs not from the targeted time of exercise, but over the ensuing hours, when your heart rate is up and your beautiful body is pumping away the pounds through its panicked mania.

To make a long story short -- and I see already this is becoming a long one, if not a particularly dull one -- I realized today that cold shower increase your heart rate. Yes! This is the secret that those so-called fat-cat scientists in Washington don't want you to know about! Cold showers are the route to real effective weight loss!

Yes, I'm as surprised as you are, but it makes perfect sense if you think about it. This is why the advent of the cold weather brings increased heart rate -- because it's cold, dammit! And if you can replicate that through the pain of ice water doused on your head and private parts, so much the better for you and all of us (and our domestic partners in particular).

Try it! I guarantee that a few solid minutes of icy water will step up your system to a new level of panic. And isn't that how we should be shedding the pounds -- through fear and intimidation?! I mean, it works in every other area of our lives, after all, so why not use it here ...

But I'm serious, and I hope that in my own small way I'll be making a difference not only in your commanding ownership of your body, but also in perhaps saving you money on hot water ...

Saturday, August 31, 2013

When Next We Ever Meet ... Please Don't Touch Me!

NOTE: MY BASTARD BLAH-UGH! IS NOT FORMATTED PROPERLY, SO THIS THING IS ALL RUNNING TOGETHER. I THOUGHT I'D HAD GOOD INTERACTIONS WITH THE HOMELAND SECURITY PEOPLE ON PLUM ISLAND THIS WEEK, BUT APPARENTLY NOT!! NEXT TIME I'LL BRING DONUTS .......................... By this point I should just officially notify everyone that I hate to shake hands. It really makes me uncomfortable with rare exception. (Of course I say that mainly so you can believe you’re the exception, although you’re probably not …)............... Generally speaking, I have a strong aversion to any casual physical contact, except with attractive women, and then I’m usually comfortable being touched, if not overtly groped. But where most people are concerned, I really like to stay at a distance for a variety of reasons and not have them glad-handing me, like I was so many ripe tomatoes or a bag of frozen soup................ The worst place it comes up, of course, is in the work world. There, if one intends to move forward in the hunt for green opportunities, one must be ready to shake a few hands. It’s whorish—we all recognize that—but that’s what they mean when they say you have to “get your hands dirty” in order to make a living................ Socially, however, I see every reason to try and curb this practice. Fortunately, as I’ve found myself moving (albeit gracefully) toward middle early later adulthood, I find I care much less about faux impressions and am learning to protect myself from humanity at large. “I don’t want to shake hands,” I’ve boldly told several people lately when they’ve made the attempt, one of whom was a stranger and I guess will remain so................ “Sorry, I can’t shake hands right now,” I tried with a few others, mumbling something incoherent about being injured and dirty. That usually works well and even draws some sympathy, which is always a welcome commodity in any sociopath’s world. The only problem is, one then has to keep rubbing their hand as if it continues to bring pain, or has to treat it as if it’s infected with some weird bacteria that you don’t want to touch to any other part of your body, thus demonstrating why you spared that good-souled hand-shaker your cooties................ Another tactic I use is simply ignoring the outstretched hand, which sometimes works very well. I turn away and bluster some witty pontifications about how humorous the weather can be, what with its sun and rain. By the time I turn back, they’ll often have grown tired of holding their anticipating hand out—and while my heart sometimes feels a pang for that quick dropped look of disappointment they display, I subsequently try to do my chipper part to buoy their deflated spirits with more bluster about the wind and hail................ Another contact item that I find especially offensive is the hand wipe on the shoulder or back. While it sometimes comes from authentic affection, it doesn’t always, and I’m too dumb to differentiate, so it’s in my best interest to avoid the whole thing. This is a popular tactic of politicians and entertainment industry people, who do a great deal of handshaking and try however they can to wipe off each contact as fast as possible. Look for it—it’s a two-step process that involves first the handshake, then the same hand on the shoulder or back, with the quick wipe. (It’s nearly impossible to duck under it, and these pros use a hypnosis tactic to district you when they do it.)............... At the end of the day, it remains in my best interest to stay home more often. There I only have to contend with the cats, and I have complete control over them and their tails................ So, going forward I want you to understand the situation. It’s not that I’m not happy to see you—although I’m honestly not entirely sure I am—but let’s do our best to confine our connection to the mental and spiritual planes …............... It’s not that I don’t love you. I’m merely repulsed by your very presence!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Jarret's FFF - "The Defiled - We Are All Meat"

August 8, 2012: Just when you think you've seen it all, a movie like "The Defiled - We Are All Meat" comes along and reboots your reality. Actually I'm somewhat hesitant to even call it a movie. It's almost more like a bit of strange videotape that someone shot and managed to wrangle onto a DVD. You see, I found this very alluring zombie compilation at my wonderful local library called the Zombie Horror Fright Fest. Four movies! How can you beat that, and from the titles and pictures on the back -- "Woods of Terror" and "Fast Zombies with Guns" among them -- I really thought I'd found something remarkable. (We won't even START on trying to understand WHY my library stocked this weird item, but to me it's merely a credit to their awesome video section and its kind caretakers, who are among the few, rare people who treat me with any respect, despite my inability to ever get anything back on time.) Anyway, it was promising enough at first -- an appropriately moody black-and-white piece that began with your quintessential Romero-esque zombie stumbling through the woods on the wooden legs of a British punk rock guitarist, the way they do (the good zombies, I mean). He even looked like the classic first zombie in Night of the Living Dead, with the tall grey crewcut, casual jacket and face like my mailman. It wasn't long, however, before it all took a strange turn, beginning in about the first 90 seconds when apparently what was this guy's zombie family joined him at the side of a pond to lap up some water and grunt at each other. I mean, it couldn't have been dumber, despite the good make up. His son was more dog than zombie, and proudly bearing his one X'ed-over eye, he hobbled around on four legs and kind of barked. The daughter, meanwhile, made the most incessantly annoying whining sound, like Felix Unger. Things picked up at about Minute 12, however, when, after a sizable amount of zombie pantomime that reminded me of Raquel Welsh in One Million B.C., or Ringo's wife Barbara Bach in Caveman, the father and son find a pre-wrapped dead body in a tent for some reason, which we never actually get a good look at, but they bring it home to this odd structure in which they live, which is kind of some sticks tied together, and they eat it. This seems to be a key pay-off moment, and the director -- who I believe also shot, edited, wrote, produced and possibly acted in the film -- seemed to really relish the moment of some classic old-school zombie wolfing down. This includes one rather sexual moment, when the father zombie is kind of erotically having his wife suck down some stuff out of a very phalic sausage-like part -- I have to assume the intestines. Anyway, the film really gets entirely weird when the dog boy awakens in the middle of the night to see his father violently humping Zombie Mom from the back. It really brings disturbance to some new levels, and that's not even taking into account that the mom is on the verge of dropping her zombie baby. So then the next morning, when you're expecting the son to rape his sister -- and I'm still not entirely sure he DOESN'T, because these clothes are thrown down, but it's not clear whose they are -- the sister starts making that incessanty whining sound and the Dog Son begins losing his guts or something -- some parts come out of him, and the father tries to stuff them back in, but they won't go ... So then the daughter whines even more and she dies. It turns out that the dead body they ate was spoiled with some toxic waste or something that the guy had in the tent with him. And then, right after the wife dies, the mutated baby suddenly pops out. I'll be honest: this is as far as I got before my daughter came home and I got scared she'd see me watching it. In fact, I felt like I had the worst kind of demented porn or something in the player, and I fumbled it out with a wealth of fearful shame. Of course I wouldn't want to give the ending away, but at the same time, I'm not completely sure I want to know what it is myself. Still, if you're looking for a disturbing piece of crap with sick sexual zombie undertones, this might be the picture for you.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Good Gravy - Part IV (4, not IV)

August 6, 2013: Okay, so I cheated a bit with Part 3, but that's among the gems I have waiting in the wings, and what better time to employ a little typographic chicanery ... And look at this -- We made it! You and I! See, we're not like the others -- the jerks! We stuck this out, and look at the reward we've received: That bouyant sense of accomplishment and accomplished sense of bouyancy, which is not to be confused with the nonsense of bouyancy, or girlancy for that matter. Here I am, in the home stretch, and all I think about is renewing my stupid movie before I go to sleep. And I am ready to go to sleep, although not necessarily to sleep. These days I've been taking tremendous heart in rereading my old James Bond books, which I do periodically, owing to my compulsive nature, desire for comfort familiarity and ongoing failure to have a life. Still, I continue to garner a range of great living lessons from the mind of Ian Fleming -- everything from the sexual subordinance of women involved with spies, to the exotic wonder of Blue Mountain coffee. I'm also still winding down from my 11 o'clock night jog, which I just spent 45 minutes doing, which has got to be some kind of record for me, in part because this time I ran on my feet. And believe me, my feet are killing me, and I don't even like feet, although I tolerate mine because they get me into places I might not otherwise be invited. One of the great mysteries in life for me remains how and where (and perhaps even when) to find suitable comfortable supportive shoes that also make me look like James Bond. (Women love men who wear shoes, by the way, especially on their hands.) Another thing I've got to settle is this business of why some of the stars in the night sky seem to be slightly askew. This logically doesn't make sense, but I've got my suspicions that the same people who are tapping my phones are involved with some kind of star-moving project. Yes, I know it sounds highly unlikely, but you go outside right now and tell me if Anteres is where it's always been.

Good Gravy - Part III (Three, not One Hundred & Eleven)

August 6, 2013: Do you know your nanny was on her i-phone? It’s true, I saw her. While you left your precious bundle of boo-boo in the stroller this morning hoping Nanny would tend to all their needs with the same careful nut-butter that you employ in this domestic chicanery when you’re not rushing off to corporate stardom, your Nanny—Yes, your Nanny—the one who’s either Jamaican or Russian or German or Haitian or goes to college—your bloody Nanny was i-phoning herself into a pointless and demented euphoria while your bundle of precious sat silently stooped in the stroller with a dumb look of helpless amazement at how someone in such close proximity could not be interacting at all for such a long, long time. I know, I know. You’re really glad to hear this. Me too, because it means that your child is getting conditioned to the new world in which we live. Once again it’s morning in America and the harvest of our many decisions is coming due again. Yippee! Hurrah! Huzzah! But nannies aren’t the only ones devoting their frail attention to keep our kids in line for a better tomorrow. I can’t tell you how many mothers I see nowadays out for power strolls with their progeny gluing all the attention they can into that marvelous cellular device. The kids look befuddled of course, but that’s part of the training curve, and we all know the good things this conditioning is leading to. Yippee! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Good Gravy - Part II (2, not 11)

August 6, 2013, again: Well, it worked. I saw it with my own eyes ... and this brings us to the second part of an ongoing series that's only vaguely related to gravy. And needless to say, I already find myself regretting this whole commitment. I mean, why do I feel any allegiance to any of you to devote my time to doing this? During my six-week absence, did even one of you think to ask about my welfare, except perhaps Cara M., who was pleasant to me at Starbuck's recently but in the end only wanted me to buy her a latte. Damnit, what is with you people?! Is that all this Blah-ugh! is to you? A joke? Something to AMUSE you?! ... Well, if that's the case, you're far worse off than I ever imagined. Which brings me to another question of whether, if I were gay, would I fall harder over Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington? It's a close race, as you know. Anyone who's seen Jack Reacher, which really has to be the gayest name, would have to bet on Tom. It's a delightful movie with great examples of mystery and violence, and it just left me grinning from ear to ear. And yet my recent history involves a couple of enjoyable Denzel -- (and by the way, what the hell kind of name is that?!) pictures that had me admiring not only his acting ability, but his ease with both wearing a suit and blowing up cars. This one called Man on Fire is about this guy -- this man, actually -- who becomes really angry and sort of figuratively catches fire and starts killing everyone. It's all happy, really, because we're all rather in agreement that he should be killing everyone because they're all these evil types and they caused him to catch fire (figuratively). (Part of it involved them shooting him, and none of like to be shot.) For me the story culminated when he put a large explosive device up a man's rectum and gave him three minutes to answer some questions before he blew him up. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, it worked on so many levels. On the opposite side of these films, I rewatched some old movies that I used to swear by and I was really kind of disappointed to find how lame they were. Among these were The Omen, The Seven-Ups, The Boys from Brazil, and most recently The Marathon Man. What is it with movies with "The" in the title?! These were films my memory saw as so exciting and interesting, but when I sat my son down recently and, over several nights, forced him to watch these, he was hardly smitten. It's was almost comical, in fact, to see what the industry got away with in terms of quality back in the 1970's. The Boys from Brazil in particular was just so much unchewed Strasbourg sausage, and while I liked the part where he attacks the guy at the dance and then later tends his wounds, it just didn't hold butter. But I digress and it's getting late, and I still need to renew a movie online. Let's see if I make a Part 3 after all ...

Good Gravy - Part I

August 6, 2013: Something is seriously wrong with my Blah-ugh! site. I've known for some time the H.S. people were monitoring my phone calls and sending high-frequency tonal messages to my brain, but I didn't think they'd have the audacity to screw up my composition page ... So now I'm attempting to get word out through the HTML (whatever that is) and I feel not unlike a trapped victim of war working with the underground trying desperately to send coded messages out to the free world. The only difference is my messeages are stupid and involve things like bosoms and movies, and not tyranny. That all said, I was taken agog to realize I'd neglected my Blah-ugh! for so long. There have been so many developments -- so many entries I've composed in my head and was too tired and lazy to transcribe, such as one about terns. But my intention is to make it up to your right now by composing -- Yes, get ready for this! -- a complete Four-Part Blah-ugh! ... I know, I know. I've never even considered attempting something like this, let alone attempted it, let alone completed it, but that's all going to change tonight like the history this is. Of course, I don't want you to necessarily thing they're going to be very good, or of any substantial length, but if all goes according to my crazy plan, there will be four new posting on this shithole, I mean on this site before the night is through ... So sit back, tune up your fingers and reading eyeballs, and get ready for the first part to come to a close, because that was it.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Embracing the Obvious: Teaching Texting Thru Driver’s Ed

I’m dumbfounded and contrite that it took me so long to finally realize what this country needs to dramatically increase safety on our roads and really make this a better living world for all of us … It was so simple!

Driver’s Ed classes, driving courses, and Motor Vehicle Departments at large need to focus on teaching new—and especially experienced—drivers how to text message efficiently while they’re on the road.

You see, the problem is that people are not fully equipped to text and drive at the same time. Their brains haven’t evolved far enough, nor have they been properly instructed in how to combine the two seemingly disparate acts into one.

You must notice it as often as I do. You’re innocently heading down the road when the oncoming car suddenly starts veering into your lane, looking like they’re going to hit you head on. Then, usually after you’ve had a strong, sour dose of adrenaline internally injected into your nervous system, the oncoming car regains control and jerks back across the yellow line. Needless to say, as the car passes you see that the poor driver is struggling to efficiently text message on their phone-computer-device thing while worrying over bringing their car to the next destination as soon as possible.

While some people will make a fatuous argument that this is a negative result of people combining too many activities into one moment, I say otherwise. This, to me, is really a winning example of American resourcefulness and industry. There are places to go and things to be communicated, and if God has given us the means to do both simultaneously, then it’s our responsibility to get it done.

Yet being such an independent lot, we Americans sometimes fail to seek out the guidance and instruction necessary to take it to the next level. That’s why I believe it should become mandatory for people to receive several hours of practical instruction on how to text message efficiently while driving.

For instance, there are eye coordination practices that make it much less likely to smash your car into an oncoming vehicle. There are numerous abbreviations that could be used to consolidate the content of your message. There are certain sections of roads—certain highway patterns—that just don’t need to be observed as closely as others, such as straightaways and two-lane roads. And, of course—once we’ve massaged the proper dual capabilities into our still-evolving brains—there are mental means by which you can absolutely be concentrating on two things at once, and it just becomes a matter of holding the phone-computer-messaging device a little higher so that it is properly taking up half your line of sight, along with the windscreen.

Of course car companies, computer tracking companies and the government at large have already done such a great service for humanity by installing these large, blue-screen GPS devices atop dashboards. This is great because it gives drivers something else to look at beside the road. This is already a clever opportunity for people to begin learning that they needn’t—heck, they shouldn’t—be wasting all that attention on one thing, like the road around them. Instead, they’re beginning to grasp that part of their attention can be used to watch this little television-like screen, and, of course, another part can certainly be well-spent sending off the myriad messages that have become so vitally important to the betterment of humanity. (For instance, “Hi, how RU?” and “LOL,” to name just a couple.)

Again, the real crime here is that I—a self-centered, somewhat abrasive complainer with new hairs appearing in his ears on a regular basis—should fail you faithful Blah-ugh! readers by not seeing—and fervently advocating for—such an obvious boon to us all much sooner ... and much more fervently. I’m contrite (not to mention gaseous).

I think it’s important to note that new, young drivers will probably need much less instruction on this topic, for their brains are already being bred for this new kind of split-level thinking. It’s the older neurological holdouts, such as myself, who will really need to be retrained. (Fortunately some of us have gained valuable related experiences with writing notes and reading elegant passages in books while we’ve been driving, but we all know it becomes an added skill when bright blue light is added in.)

Please help spread the word about this. Forget everything else I might have told you in the past—I don’t even remember what that might have been, but that’s good—and let’s focus on getting some real tidy legislation passed toward this objective instead.

We need safer roads out there and I’m absolutely convinced this is the only way to get them. It’s a modest proposal, really, if you think about it, and there’s not much else that’s so wrong with the world at this time that we can’t give this some serious attention.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

More Crap About Movies, Me & My Mania

June 19, 2013:  Part of me feels I should be honored that so many people invest their time in reading my Blah-ugh! Another part of me, however, feels many of you should be doing so much more on my behalf, and you're not, so clearly things even out.

So it's June and I'm still not a bride, though I find myself spending more and more time trying on gowns. I understand that weddings are all the rage these days. I can't help but think of a great Dave Berg cartoon wherein a woman is sharing her regrets over some of the text in her wedding ceremony. "I'm going to do it differently next time," she says. Hilarious! ... Whatever happened to Dave Berg anyway? He's probably dead, like so many of us. I think Don Martin's dead too, though I honestly don't really care, having been a dedicated Sergio Aragones man myself.

Which brings me back to The Flintstones. I'm really starting to have a problem with Wilma, who just seems the most incredible B. Did you see the one with the beauty contest, where they're arguing over who has the most beautiful baby? Wilma just flatly says, "Why, of course, anyone can see that Pebbles is much more beautiful." I mean, it's appalling. But then, what's stranger is how fast Betty ultimately forgives her. What the hell's her problem?! I just don't see how that couldn't cloud their relationship forever going forward. Betty is either a blessed forgiving saint, or a nitwit, and I'm starting to suspect the latter.

But I didn't come here to talk about the Flintstones -- or the Rubbles, for that matter. I wanted to share about some films I've recently seen, about the insanity of the human race, and about how badly I'd like to kill my cat. The thing is, however, I won't share about two of those things because, really, I know no one wants to hear about them. All you care about is what I think of movies. That's all I am to you -- a movie buff. A fan in the buff. Why, the implications are downright intrusive, and I am wearing pants as we speak.

I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say here, but a lot of that can be blamed on the cat -- Bob -- who seems to spend a great part of his day dreaming up ways to annoy me. And now, suddenly, he's sitting there all innocent, like we're casual friends and he can just lounge atop the table and pretend he isn't out to destroy me, as so many people and animals are.

But I digress. I wanted to touch on some of my recent film joys and discoveries. I really, really liked Django Revisited, or Unchained, whatever he was. It was Quentin Tarantela's finest hour, and while I found it utterly disturbing for its brutal depiction of slavery -- which I want to make clear at this point, I'm dead set against -- it also had many moments of jovial blood-letting and fun, happy squib explosions. He really did something of a winner, although he of course has to go and ruin it by trying to act in it, which really just annoys us all, though we pretend it doesn't, like the sycophantic scum we are, enabling QT's narcissism and bad acting, pretending we're happy about it, just so he'll like us. Yeesh, you people drive me crazy!

I also saw a pretty good movie with this guy Ryan Gooseling, but I can't remember what it was called. It was about this guy who drove a car and kind of killed people when he wasn't driving. Except then it got kind of stupid because they had to bring this woman into it and she didnt' kill anyone, so I don't really see what the point of her character was.

I may have mentioned seeing Iron Man III, which I loved, because that guy Robert Downey is just great, even though I saw some special feature clip of him on Youtube and he had his shirt off and it was actually kind of disturbing. This, in turn, motivated me to see Iron Man I and II, which I watched in order, and it was great fun, mainly because he kept his shirt on. That's real acting!

I also saw a handful of Marx Brothers movies this week, and let me tell you, if you don't like the Marx Brothers, you're just an idiot and that's all I have to say to you. In fact, if you don't like them -- I mean, if you can't even like Harpo, let alone Groucho -- then I have no use for you or your family, and I'd like you to stop reading this Blah-ugh! immediately. You clearly don't appreciate it on the numerous levels that are required and you're taking up valuable ether space from lunkheads who would be benefitting from reading this crap.

Yes, I hold the Marx Brothers high in my realm of genius. There are so many brilliant moments in their films, I can't even explain them all. If you've never seen one of their movies, I can recommend most of them, although right now I'm feeling a particular fondness for The Big Store, despite all the racial improprieties, A Night in Casablanca, despite the fact that they make fun of Germans, Go West, despite all the racial improprieties, and At the Circus, despite their possible mistreatment of a seal.

Which all reminds me, I still have some chocolate hidden in the kitchen drawer ... Gotta go! Rent "A Night at the Opera" and watch the expression Harpo makes after that cad who whips him scolds him in front of his friends after he passes him the business card, and he looks at the woman standing next to him ... Absolute genius! It is, dare I say, even funnier than this Blah-ugh!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

On The Flintstones (and a Tiny Bit About the Infestation of Pointless PR Schmucks)

June 13, 2013:  Good Morning, Class ... This week we -- (meaning me) -- were  -- (meaning was) -- torn between between writing about why PR people are such uselesss, unnecessary, resource-sucking schmucks whose meaningless purpose in life centers on driving poor, innocent, good-intentioned writers like myself to the point of sour diarrhea with their utterly pointless and time-consuming formalities and importunate moronically self-consumed bullshit ... and writing about The Flintstones. For my own relative peace of mind, I thought it wise to go with The Flintstones.

It's a tad surprising that my Blah-ugh! has, up until now, omitted any Flintstone commentary, for it's a grand show and certainly a vitally important cultural, social and, dare I say, political lynchpin. Yet it's a big world out there. I realized this week that the Blondie (Chris Stein) song "Shayla" deserves an entire entry of its own, for Chris'sake, so with that kind of pedantic focus I'm having to regularly apply, it'll be years before I ever give Steven Spielberg his long-warranted and overdue due.

Anyway, I remain a faithful Flintstones fan, as we probably all do. But that doesn't mean -- like with everything else about me -- there aren't authentic concerns and questions that will probably never be answered. For instance, who was Gerry Johnson and why did she (or he) replace Bea Benederet as the voice of Betty Rubble? Why, in fact, did they stop crediting Benederet in the controversial 3rd Season? What was Wilma's relationship with Boney Hurdle really about (or, for that matter, her history with Rodney the Knife Thrower) And why was I so stupid my entire life as to believe that line in the opening song -- "Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet" -- was "Rudolph, turn and see a place to eat"? (Although, the more I think about it, there really were some valid reasons.)

It's hard to know where to begin writing about a show -- a phenomenon, really -- to which one could devote an entire series of books and perhaps several college courses. The clever use of animals to perform their menial tasks and replace modern automated machines alone is worthy of an essay. (I find it interesting how, even though it was in primitive times, some of the inventions are much more practical than what we have today, such as the turtle jack that will actually lower your car when you tell it to. Of course, some make no sense at all, such as the elephant sprinkler that Barney invents; I mean, how much water can it really hold in its trunk anyway?!)

Where to begin focusing? For one thing, it's fascinating to realize that the great Allan Melvin was one of the regular supporting voices on the show -- something I didn't ever realize until last month! Those of you (cretins) who don't know the name will recognize him not only as the extremely annoying Sam the Butcher from The Brady Bunch, but also Archie Bunker's neighbor and sometimes friend Barney Hefner. (A good trivia question, if nothing else -- Who graced the cast of three of the best and most important TV shows of last century?) I assume you already know that the Great Gazoo was voiced by the great Harvey Korman, who as you must also know did the voice of Carol Burnett.

We just started on the 5th Season last night and it's surprisingly startling how the show demands that you suspend reality going forward. Honestly, I never had a big problem accepting things like the Barney 'Copter (a.k.a. the Flintstone Flyer), Barney's invisibility, or Fred fighting the Bull-osaurus in Rockapulco. But Season Five starts right away with the introduction of Hoppie (the hoparoo -- a much less believable animal than Dino ever was). By the second episode Barney takes Fred to Dr. Len Frankenstone to help restore his sense and, consequently, he switches his personality with, respectively, Dino's, Barney's and ultimately Wilma's. (You probably also remember this episode as including the disturbing oddity of Dr. Dracuslab and his three bats; I mean, come on!)

But I don't want to imply I have a problem with any of this. I don't. It's just surprising to me that a show that was able to establish such a frank believability as a human drama had to, after only four full seasons, resort to such high chicanery. For example, in the rodeo episode, Pebbles suddenly has blue eyes in one scene. I mean, what the hell is that about?! Do they need to, from a dramaturlogical standpoint, establish her obvious love of her daddy by flashing new blue baby eyes? It just seems odd to me, that's all ...

I love The Flintstones, and could spend valuable hours reminiscing about a litany of Flintstone-related moments and experiences -- the spy woman who's "too important to be captured," the gravel-voiced song cameo of Ann Margrock doing "I Ain't Gonna Be Yo Fool," the walk and accompanying jazz music of Perry Gunite walking across the room in the bar to order "Rocks over rocks," Rock Quarry, the extreme oddity of Bam-Bam and Pebbles singing that "Let the Sunshine In" song, Uncle Giggles, "slalom," Wilma as the Happy Housewife singing "Make Your Hubby Happy," Fred's "Pass the poi!" line, "H-E-P-L," The Flintstone Canaries singing the Soft Soap theme on the Hum Along with Herman show, the grissly choking sound the cop makes when Fred tries to drag him through the hole in the wall of his new addition remove that's partially on Barney's property, Grandma Dynamite, Betty as Mrs. O'Lady, the Happy Anniversary song, and of course the cameo by the Beau Brummels, as the Beau Brummelstones, singing their awesome song "Laugh Laugh."

I could go on ... One day I may have to ...