Skip to content

Walmart Black Friday 2011: A Touching Tale of Humanity

2011/11/25

Upon the urging of Mssr. Meathorse, I come to you today, with the ressurection of Opinionated Misfits,  to share my personal experience tale of the currently nationally maligned Walmart Black Friday (alright, more like ‘Crimson Thursday Night’) experience with a tale of awesome.

Image

There's Not Enough Visible Swearing For This To Be Accurate

Prologue: So, a few months back, we got a free Xbox360 4gb with the purchase of a Dell laptop – went through some debate back and forth on whether to keep it or sell it because I primarily game on the PC, and rather like it there….but, there’s a few things along the line that I’ve found I missed about consoles, so in the end, we opted to keep it so ‘Santa brings Matty something nice’.

Cut to two weeks ago, and the release of the Black Friday ads…specifically Walmart’s. See, not being a total selfish jackass (just mostly), I realized I’m going to have to share this thing with the children so I start looking at the Kinect and whatnot, but I’m still firmly against spending 60 bucks on a game, ever.  Lookee here! A Kinect bundle for 99 bucks….and what’s this? All sorts of new games marked down to 15, 20 and 28 bucks respectively….including the two I’m eyeballing, Arkham City and Madden 12….plus Just Dance 3 for the chillins’. So I make the decision: I’m diving into the pile.

The Story: Forward to last night: my stepdaughter (age 13) decides she’d like to ride-along on this glimpse into the ugliest of human endeavors, and I think ‘okay, because these dudes are bound to put the games and the bundles at separate sections of the store’ (correct assumption)….so I could use the extra legs on the case.

We arrive at 8 pm, with these particular items getting ‘released’ at 10 – decent parking, the crowd is just starting to assemble. We go searching for the bundle, to no avail….finally we ask the woman by the ‘full bundles’ video game area (over in the paint section) and she proceeds to hand me a map.  Those are two aisles over, between the stationary and boys’ sweatshirts.  Except they aren’t.  Nothing there….I figure ‘they short-sheeted this item’ and proceed to the three video game kiosks, or whatever those square cardboard displays are called. One for the PS3, one for the Wii, and in the middle, one for the Xbox 360…there’s folks already gathering, but none on the side where my three quests are conveniently lined up next to each other.

So we lock the position, quickly joined by a woman who, for purposes of this story, we will call ‘Latifah’, because if this were a movie, that’s who would be playing her. And she is fantastic….she begins to ask Brina, my step-daughter, if this is her first time doing this….upon finding out it is, she begins to provide education. ‘First off, girl, what do you have on your feet? Soft boots? That’s your first mistake. ALWAYS wear some shoes with a nice sole for comfort and traction, because you’re gonna need to move fast, girl’.  She continues: ‘Next up, NEVER grab a cart until after you have your hands wrapped on that one thing you absolutely came for. And don’t trust anybody – these people, THESE PEOPLE, are barely human, girl, they will take things out of your hand, your cart.  Don’t trust nobody’. Latifah then proceeds to play a game of Personality-Type  scavenger hunt for the next hour….’Okay, there he is…that’s ‘Unexplainably Pissed-Off Already Guy, you see him? That’s a dangerous one, stay away from him’….’whoop, there she is, ‘Unprepared Girl Who Thought She Could Show Up Late’…..’I’m still missing one….missing one….OH! You hear that?  There it is! It’s complete now…finally got ‘The Drunk Shopper’.

The crowd begins to slowly gather….to my immediate right is a fiftiesh-year-old woman who teaches special education and also has a side-gig at Dress Barn she has to open up at six in the morning.  She’s here for three copies of Madden for her son-in-laws, and one Let’s Dance for the granddaughter.  Noble, she is.  Next to her, off my back right shoulder is a woman there for one copy of Battlefield 3 – her first time in, a little nervous.

And then, behind them assembles a line of manpower equaled in history only by the ‘97 Broncos, maybe. Off my left shoulder is a 17 year old kid wearing a Barry Sanders jersey (nice work) there to pick out his own Christmas gift – this kid is about 5”11, 260, and does tell us ‘I’m not worried about the pushing; I play offensive line’.  He’s got his 10 year old brother with him – a real hydrant of a kid, whom Latifah brokers a deal with:  ‘Lil’ Joe’ is going to work the Wii kiosk (next to two ladies who got there early and sealed off the middle cut-lane with two carts – clearly not their first time in the championship game), grab Latifah the two Wii games she needs, and she’ll grab his copy of Arkham City. Off my right shoulder – behind the two nice, but nervous ladies, are three dudes – one who walked off the set of Roadhouse (he’s here for Batman), one a little larger than Roadhouse in a Clay Matthews jersey (Batman and some racing game) and a dude in a knit cap, not as big but wiry as hell – all the looks of a real scrapper. When asked what he was here for, his response was quick: ‘Me, I’m not here for anything, I’m with him (Matthews).  I just came to block’.

Artist's Rendering

Artist's Rendering

And right behind me….a 23 year old behemoth, going about 6’10”, 280 easily, that we’ll just call The Big Show.  And his friend, positioned right behind him, who had to have been about 6’5”, 250.  The crowd starts to really get thicker, and Big Show announces to our core group ‘now, nobody worry about this. There’s going to be some pushing, I do this every year, but we’ve got an exit strategy in place.  I only need to know one thing: do we all want to exit down the chip aisle or the toilet paper aisle’.  I take the opportunity to call the tissue aisle and he responds ‘Alright, that’s the exit. Just stay calm, people, and we’ll all get out alright.’ His friend Mini-Giant  then takes a cursory glance around and announces to the general population ‘so everybody understands, I’m not afraid to cut-block, so expect it’.

At this point, I send Brina out of the mass, and send her on a quest for the Kinect Bundle (which hasn’t been brought out yet, and nobody knows where it’s going to be unveiled….to shorten this a touch, she works magic and figures it out), we remain in constant contact via the text messaging.  I instruct her very clearly ‘if where you’re at starts looking ugly, cut and run, I don’t need you getting hurt, rookie’. Meanwhile Latifah is continuing to broker deals and reminding our core ‘the push is gonna come, expect it, it’s GOING TO HAPPEN.  Just remember, we hold the position; we get what we came early for’.

Barry Sanders says under his breath ‘I’m not worried about this, but my brother Joe…man, nothing better happen to him or my mom is going to kill me.  JOE! Maintain a line of sight!’

We’re still forty-five minutes away from the launch….but, we’ve taken the opportunity to pre-slit the shrink wrap for easy access (all the idea of Special Needs Teach).  We start to hear some rumbling behind….a new competitor to the field has arrived….a  5-3, Buck-O-Five 17 year old red-haired girl  we’ll call ‘Little Beyotch’ on account of it fits, who continues to ensure her friends ‘I’ll get up there, watch’ and on four separate occasions tries to whittle forward to be met with the unyielding elbow of Big Show.  When her mewling complaints start to get irritating, and she says ‘stop putting your elbow in my face’, Big Show never looks at her, only announces ‘This is America, not Russia.  I’ll do what I like, you may want to stop trying to cheat’. This is getting terrific.

Meanwhile, helpless Walmart Kiosk Guard emerges on my left side to announce ‘just remember folks, if anything gets out of hand, we WILL pull these pallets right out of here!’ Idler threats have never been spoken, as I highly doubt he was planning at any point to be physically disassembled by a bunch of rabid housewives in an aisle for $7.50 an hour. I note that in front of him this whole time is an 8 year old Pakistani kid who has spent the previous ten minutes practicing his spin moves and jukes in order to claim four separate items from three sides of the kiosk in under twelve seconds.  Yeah, we’re talkin’ practice, kid…good hustle. He also lets us know he’s planning to go over the top of the kiosk to escape.  Good luck son….hope to see you on the other side.

So I finally decide to ask Big Show ‘what are you here for anyway?’….and he replies ‘FIFA Soccer, which is kind of weird, because I don’t like soccer’. I look at him, and finally say…’you know, you probably don’t have to even wait here, I don’t think ANYBODY came here for FIFA’….and he returns the greatest sh*t-eating grin I’ve seen in years and replies ‘Oh, I know….I’m going to GameStop after this anyway.  I just love doing THIS.’

Twenty minutes to 10, and it’s starting to get unruly….Kiosk Guard announces, again, ‘We need you all to remember your humanity…’ – no lie, that’s a direct quote – ‘…and that’s what will let this go smoothly’….Big Show taps Special Needs Teach on the shoulder and says ‘Ma’am, you need to lock your knee.’ She replies ‘What?’ and he returns ‘You’ve got your left leg cocked, I know it’s tiring out here, but you HAVE to lock your knee and keep it there.  This is my third year, SOMEBODY is going to try to go under you if you don’t, and that’ll break bad’. She complies.

A rather large woman with eyeglasses  manufactured in 1978 pops her head up about three deep on the other side and points at me and says ‘excuse me, could you grab me a copy of NASCAR?’.  My only reply was ‘Ma’am, there’s way too many people here, I’m promising nothing to anyone except this guy behind me, you really should have gotten here earlier’.  Latifah takes a moment to address the squad one more time: ‘Remember people, WE HAVE POSITION.  WE ARE GETTING WHAT WE CAME FOR, DO NOT FORGET!’

And at 9:45…..I see a manager-type slowly work his way through the crowd, lean on the Wii Display and announce in a low tone ‘Folks, if you can act civily, you can begin to remove your games and continue with the rest of your shopping’…..Latifah and I process this instantly and begin going, giving us a half-second lead on the onslaught of jackals…and ‘jackals’ is an understatement.  Perfectly normal human beings instantly flushed with rage and panic – becoming an odd mash-up of ‘zombies’ and ‘rabies victims’ in an instant….and then Big Show’s ‘Exit Strategy’ unfolds.

I immediately grab one Arkham, the Just Dance, and two Maddens, handing one to Barry Sanders…the moment his hand hits the gamebox, I see Big Show’s face and hear ‘IS HE GOOD?’ I respond ‘He’s got it’ and Barry Sanders just disappears, re-emerging six feet over in under a second by the Charmin.  I wheel around and grab the FIFA, flip it over to Big Show who in one fluid moment of grace grabs it, flips it over his shoulder to Mini-Giant, grabs my shoulders  and asks ‘YOU GOOD?’, I reply ‘GO’, and he proceeds to grab me by the shoulders of my 220 lb, 6 foot frame, physically lift me off the ground about a foot or two -it really was a blur –  and extract me from the thrall with no more effort than I use to pick up a fun-sized bag of chips.  In a blink of an eye, I’m standing next to Barry Sanders again and looking onto a melee I can only imagine existed previously at Rolling Stones and Who concerts in the 70s, before ‘security’ became a thing.

I turn, and hurtling down the aisle at us is a woman shouting ‘Where’s Joe?  WHERE’S JOE?’….I look at Sanders, and he’s about to dive in when we hear ‘I GOT HIM’.  And woosh, another body drops out of the crowd out of nowhere.  It’s ‘Lil Joe, with four games in hand and a thousand-yard stare. Big Show dives back in again…..

Winston Churchill Had It Goin' On Back Then

Winston Churchill Had It Goin' On Back Then

It’s now when I realize ‘holy hell, Brina might be getting trampled’….so I hurtle down the aisle to the end, run down eight more aisles and kick back over by the frozen pizza, our designated ‘safe zone’. She’s nowhere, I search left and right and finally see her three aisles up, just watching the mass hysteria.  I shout her name, and she turns around….Kinect Bundle in hand and smile on her face.  I ask ‘are you okay?’ and she just says ‘nobody knew what the woman had on the pallet, so they all kept walking…she just handed this to me and I walked over here.’ Perfect.

We proceeded to the checkout, where I saw Sanders, Lil Joe and Mom again, we exchanged congratulations and hearty farewells….victory was ours this day, thanks to superior strategy.  And Brina announced ‘that was more fun than I’ve had in forever, let’s do this every year!’

As we walked to the car, she turned to me and said ‘How’d you get out of that so fast anyway? It’s was completely insane down there!  All I heard was a bunch of screaming and one guy yelling ‘get the…well, you know…..off of me!’ I thought you’d be dead.’

No baby, not dead.  Thanks to a man I know only as ‘Big Show’.  Last I saw him, he was launching back in and grabbing ahold of Special Needs.  Because America needs heroes.

Epilogue:
 I never saw  Latifah or Pakistani Iverson again….god speed noble allies.  I hope you got your 3 dollar waffle iron later, Latifah….you were the best field general  I ever knew.

misadventures in disingenuity

2011/02/06

Meatless Squirt tube

It’s been ages, I know. 6 months or so, (at least). To my one follower, ‘I apologize’. I became busy; we all became busy, and sorta, accidentally pulled the plug, (except meathorse, he pulled Relish Rickles finger instead.) We are nonetheless trying to return to mediocre-ness, as our respective schedules permit. Believe us, this absence does not do wonders for our collective self esteem. Know this though, in contribution to my absence, I must admit, that I was offering far too many positive reviews in-a-row for my own good. Therefore, today’s review is resplendent with spite, ire, anger and hate. It’s not that we do not want to provide positive reviews, we do, when warranted. However, the impetus of our blog is to razor-wire through the over-fluffed rhetoric that is branding and marketing. Trust me, we can ‘spin’ too, if necessary, but really, where’s the benefit?

That said, Let’s begin.

We all know that I’m a vegetarian. Done. As a ‘V-guy’, (short for vagitarian,) I’m really not interested in substitutes which actually ‘taste like meat’. I am looking for protein alternatives, which don’t resemble rubber, and which compliment the other variety of ingredients which I use in meal preparation. In that regard, I tried something new to me last night. I was skeptical from the onset, but allowed other food blogs to assuage me. My mistake. Opening the packaging to Lightlife’s Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style Veggie Protein, (yes the title alone is more than a mouthful.), sent me reeling backwards in disgust. I think that I may have actually preferred the cruel torture depicted in Peta‘s latest rabbit campaign. If I don’t want to taste meat, I sincerely do not want to be made to believe that I am handling some form of it. Let it be known, I am by no means squeamish, but I do not like fisting around in animal cadavers, especially ground ones. The aversion I felt when I cut the end off of the package, combined with the texture and overall stickiness of the substance within, really turned my stomach. I can see where this sensation would appeal to someone who wants to ‘experiment’ with vegetarianism. Baby steps; it looks, feels and sorta tastes like meat, so you can fool yourself once in a while. But seriously, squirting this shit out of its plastic casing was just short of watching the package bleed. And seriously, If your marketing is as I alluded previously to encourage new recruits, why the hell would you place your items in the produce department, and not the butcher section of the grocery store. And yes, I get that these items are manufactured from produce, and are sold as an alternative to the frozen items by the big K companies.  But even Kellogg and Kraft know to put their non-meat equivalents in a unique setting of the market. Way to fool you.

Now that's a spicy meat-tless ball

The protein itself, aside from the experience, has a good flavor. Granted, I have a very spice driven appetite, and in reality, I have the ability to make just about anything edible. In that regard,  I cannot truly grade the product on its own merits, as I never tasted it in it’s naked environment. The stuff is terribly sticky, and therefore difficult to manage if you plan on forming the it in any way. While sauteing some garlic, ginger, shallots and green onions in olive oil, lemon juice and white balsamic vinegar, I added strips of red and green bell peppers, portobello mushrooms and some heat. In this case, Vietnamese garlic-chili paste, (Huy Fong is the shizznet, I go through at least 1 18oz jar a week,), ground Thai style chilis and cayenne pepper. I removed all but the liquids, added some soy sauce and white wine, brought to a boil and then dropped in squeezed out chunks of the Gimme Lean, sauteed for a few moments, added some extra firm tofu cut into small squares and then recombined everything to mix all flavors, and added some frozen corn. After everything settled, I served the ingredients on top of Korean Sweet potato starch noodles, (Dang Myun). The meal, with or without the GL was excellent. However, due to my aversion of  the packaging and disagreeable exposure to its contents, I’ll never buy this product again. Thanks for the memories. 1

Happy Halloween!

2010/10/26

All Hallows’ Eve! That joyous time when the red portal opens and The Dragon descends to reclaim the throne! The Cinder of The Dragon shall scorch the sky, and blood will rain from the un-heavens. Lakes shall scab, timber shall burn and flesh shall melt away. The Dragon pulls the sinew strings, and writhing skeletons of trunk and man will dance in the blackened hellfires. An unwilling army of ash and souls will rise to servitude. Cries of fear shackle The Dragon’s realm in eternal nightmare.

This darkest prophecy is written in the holiest of scriptures.

Daniel 8:13
“How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?” And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.”

As Christ returns so does The Antichrist, to reign, revel and punish the many left behind… to cleanse the land with fire, and purify the world by pain. As Satan is the tool of God, we are the tools of Satan.

Take heed, biblical days flow differently than your days. The universe was built in six…  two thousand three hundred days is 400 times longer than all of creation. Prepare yourselves, sinners. Your wrathful God is preparing to deliver 6 billion of your souls unto Satan.

Signs of the apocalypse.

Deuteronomy 35:4
Woe unto the working man, woe unto the idle rich man, woe unto to the mother living on her own. There’s no place in your life for God’s grace.

Man has forever toiled to survive, but populations of idle rich and unwed mothers have increased exponentially. As the world falls from God’s grace, in enters favor with The Dragon’s.

Isaiah 60:25
My disciples shout to search you out and they shall obey. Follow me my child not the meek or the mild, do just as I say.

God guides the meek to inherit the Earth. In Isaiah, Satan’s hand pushes the meek to slave for the bold. As more nations submit to the corrupted will of America’s military and economic might, we all plunge closer to the day of reckoning.

Exodus 40:39
There walks a lady we all know who shines white light and wants to show how everything still turns to gold.

Greed and lust combine in the modern world to give rise to million dollar whores. Protected by a guise of naivety, women sabotage their own lives for monetary gain. I believe the proper term is “Gold Digger”.

Ezekiel 49:2
Mountain lions found me there and set me on an eagle’s back. Mountain lions found me here, and set me on an eagle’s wing.

Here is a symbol of the treacherous delivering the treacherous from danger. It’s just like in that movie Lord of War, where the president of Liberia captures Bilbo Baggins for the Nicholas Cage character after Bilbo attempts to assassinate him. Nicholas Cage brings The Dragon ever closer.

John 21:26
Never fading with the sunset when the rain set in and your footsteps will always fall here along Jerusalem’s greenest hills. Your candle burned out long before your legend ever will.

An ominous ending to a John’s gospel. It greets the current tranquil earth with the threat of returning darkness. The Dragon’s candle shall be reborn, and the sun will set over the holy land once again. And when that sun does set…

Revelation 22:22
Evil in the air, thunder in the sky, killers on the bloodshot streets. Down in the tunnel where the dead are rising I saw a young boy starting to foam in the heat.

22:25
Naked bodies shimmer in the night, dancing and chanting in a sacrificial rite. Your feet are dried with the ashes from dead babies.

God’s abandoned souls will be left to millennia of unbridled torment. Does your God love you, sinner? Will he lift a finger to help you save your soul? In His own book it is written that he shall not! We have all been willed to The Dragon. Gain his favor now.

That distant fire that stains the night sky will burn amongst us soon.  Mucilage skinned multi-phallused demons shall erupt from the earth and rage amongst the fires. The world will be engulfed in blood, demon seed and inexorable wails of both fury and despair for ten thousand years. The only visions that will remain in your shattered mind are the tortured, twisted visages of every man, woman and child on the face of this barren earth. Embrace it.

4 Quick Ones: Repo Men, Marmaduke, Pirahna 3D and The Box.

2010/09/15

I’ve had five footballs de fantasy drafts these past couple weeks, meathorse is in the same category, Jenny-Jenny and primary are being worked to the bejeebus, and school is a-startin!  In other words, expect more greatness, more regularly soon – such is the way of a free repository of opinions, I suppose…. 

Repo Men  – is a pretty great sci-fi idea, the sort of thing Schwarzenegger would have been in twenty years ago.  Short form:  in the future, if you have a bad heart, or kidney, or eye or whatever, you can get a new one.  Except it’s really expensive, and the interest rates are a bitch – so when you stop paying, some dudes are going to show up and take it back.  FUN!  But what happens when one of the best repo men gets a heart transplant and can’t pay for it? 

Jude Law and Forest Whitaker tied together don’t equal Arnie, that’s what happens….I’ll give Repo Men this:  it’s the second movie I’ve seen in a year’s time I didn’t hate Jude Law in, and Forrest Whitaker, even the new thin version, is a fun guy to watch beating the hell out of people, because I never expect it to be believable, yet it is.  Other than that, this is ‘okay’ – nothing real memorable, a couple decent fight scenes, pretty gruesome blood and slicing overall (unless you’re one of those freaks that likes watching surgery on television) and it made one of the nearly unforgivable blunders in film-making:  giving John Leguizamo work.  Will you never learn?  All in all, 3 out of 7. 

Marmaduke – I watch a lot of kids’ movies, alright?  Comes with having kids, unless you’re an elitist dick.  I mention this because I want you to understand this salient point:  not all children’s (or ‘family’) movies suck ass.  In fact, those that bother to give children credit for being halfway intelligent and don’t worry about talking down to their audience tend to be the best, most re-watchable (and that’s key with kids’ movies) of the genre.  Point in fact:  my next entry is going to be about the five best family movies for jaded and bitter adults.  However, we aren’t there yet. 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

 

See that picture over there to the right?  Yep, the one with the dog in the sportster wearing RayBans and cruising?  If only five minutes of this had half of the energy and effort put into that picture, this might have gotten a 1.  I should have known better than to watch something featuring the voice ‘talents’ of Owen Wilson and George Lopez.  Rarely have two so limited worked so often. 

I don’t even know who this was aimed at; milady and I hated it from word one, our 11-year-old fell asleep at least once, and my five-year old didn’t laugh.  Maybe it was for the elderly and the infirm?  No, entirely too many fart and pee jokes.  Dogs?  No, neither of mine were interested, and the pug likes Man V. Food, so it’s not a matter of total disinterest in the teevee.  In short, if PETA wants to do something, they should go after the makers of this pile for cruelty to the image of animals.  Zero out of 7.  

Pirahna 3D – I was totally stoked (yeah, I said that) to wrap up my summer with this offering.  I mean, I expected it to be bad, so how could I be disappointed? 

Why do I set myself up like that?  Okay, here’s all the positives:  Elizabeth Shue is great, but she usually is.  Ving Rhames has one AWESOME ‘going out blazing’ scene, and the last twenty minutes are a really fun ‘insane and improbable action montage’, pretty much starting from the point where Adam Scott leaps from a boat to a sinking floating rock stage, falls onto a jet-ski, grabs two bikini girls, and starts shooting piranhas with a shotgun. Yep, that says ‘shotgun’. 

But even for a purposely shitty movie, it’s mostly dull getting there – kinda like how ‘Planet Terror’ mostly failed in the Grindhouse experiment a couple of years back.  ‘Big Crazy Titillation’ just doesn’t work with me as much anymore.  Not that they didn’t try – there’s more boobs in this movie than on the internet, and let me tell you this:  if you’ve always had a dream about seeing Jerry O’ Connell get his crank eaten off by fish, followed by one of them burping the remnants of his wang out, then this is your film!  IN 3D!!!  Eh, 3 out of 7, just for giving Shue and Christopher Lloyd some work, killing Jerry O’Connell (AND Eli Roth in a phenomenal ‘didn’t die from the fish’ head-crushing scene) and for just blatantly not giving a rat’s ass about how horrible this was going to be, because they knew.  They had to know. 

The Box – Pretty much since Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan has progressively made worse and worse movies over and over again, with his trademarked ‘twists’ becoming increasingly trite and predictable.  However, his twist with The Box is pure genius:  he somehow had nothing at all to do with its making at all. 

Which surprised me, because – after reading dozens of bad reviews, and seeing friends opinions that concurred with the overwhelming hate – I said ‘it can’t possibly be that bad’, and then proceeded to leak on a perfectly good evening.  This is AWFUL.  First, it’s set in the 70s, for no apparent reason at all, and that kept bothering me, because it was the only thing keeping my interest.  

See, here’s the plot:  a married couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden) have gotten a couple bad breaks, and money’s getting tight – so much so that Cameron’s ‘fixin’ my foot that only has the one toe’ surgery is gonna have to go on the back-burner, mostly because Marsden failed his psych screening to become an astronaut to Mars.  Huh?  Anyway, Frank Langella as Two-Face shows up at their door and gives them a box with a button on it.  If they press the button, they get a million bones, and somebody they don’t know dies. 

Dumb Box

 

Two things – I couldn’t concentrate on any acting when Langella was on-screen, because I was hypnotized by watching his visible jaw move.  And there was no reason he had to look like that, it was distracting.  Second, he shouldn’t have had to explain anything – pretty much as soon as ‘if you press the button, you get a million dollars and then – ‘ the button would be pressed and he’d be dusting himself off on the curb. 

So of course they press the button, after some anguished-seeming soul-searching, or something.  Then they get the money, but don’t spend any of it, and then all sorts of things start happening.  I’m not sure what, exactly, because the next hour had the most f-ed up editing and pacing I’ve ever seen.  I fell asleep for a minute – a MINUTE – and nine things had happened.  I looked at milady and said ‘how long was I out?  And what’s going on now?’  Her answer:  ‘about a minute, and I have no idea’.  It was like they were only filming every fifth page of the script, seriously. 

And it didn’t even end up being a morality tale, which it should have been – The Box, by all rights, should have been a poorly made Twilight Zone episode than was an hour too long.   But it wasn’t!  No!  

It’s about alien invasion.  Awesome.  HOW DIDN’T YOU DIRECT THIS, M NIGHT?  WHY DO YOU SUDDENLY FAIL ME?  Zero out of 7. 

More this week….thanks for joining us again.

A Young Person’s Guide to Life Part I: Leaving the Nest

2010/09/07

The purpose of these chapters are to help you, the high school aged American Citizen, transition from the suckling momma’s boy you are into a self sufficient member of modern society. At the age of 30 I have the life experience you’ve yet to acquire, but I’ve not quite become a complete tool like your dork parents.

A triumphant symbol of independence. Young men literally brought home this bacon.

This puts me in the perfect position to help dispel some misinformation you may have received from your friends (who don’t know shit) and your parents (who are jealous of your freedom and want to keep you down). You’ll be especially surprised at how much of what your folks have been telling you is bullshit. Please do not hold it against them, they cannot help but to hold you back. No parent wants to be outdone by their offspring. It’s embarrassing.

EDUCATION:

Don’t need it. This is probably the biggest lie your elders will feed you. Age 17 to 25 is the prime of your life, yet the “normal” thing to do is make them the years you work the hardest. How illogical! It’s painful for adults who wasted their prime see that you’re smart enough to do what they did not. Ignore their advice about college; it’s rooted in jealousy, not your best interests. Your best interests, oddly enough, are to be more short-sighted. Secondary and University education is, if anything, detrimental to your well being. Once a man has devoted his best years to study, he feels compelled to make use of that education no matter how he ultimately feels about his career choice. An educated man will shun his true calling of being an artist, musician or blogger and settle into a dead end software development job that he feels obligated to hold. The college educated individual is unhappier, and surprisingly (generally) worse off financially.

An educated man hating the job he spent his life preparing for.

Check out this random sampling of people who have and have not received a formal education past the elementary level.

Chester Thompson
Formal Education: 4 years Syracuse University
Occupation: Unemployed Accountant
Accomplishments: Married to a woman he doesn’t love and has three kids who hate him, which makes sense since two of them are his brother’s. Also made, like, the awesomest batch of chili last night. It was a new recipe and he wasn’t really sure how it was going to turn out, but he substituted sirloin for ground beef which makes a winner out of everything. It’s so nice outside today. I think I’ll take a swim. Aw, sweet! Ghostbusters is on!
Judgment: Miserable, openly despised, and needs to adjust the privacy settings on his Facebook page.

Benjamin Franklin
Formal Education: 2 years primary school
Occupation: Publisher, Ambassador, Scientist and Postmaster General.
Accomplishments: Founded America. Invented lightning.  Banged a lot of French chicks.
Judgment: One of history’s true geniuses and a complete badass.

I’ve never seen a “Chester Thompson” statue.

Whose life would you rather have? No way in hell Franklin obtains all that fame and glory if he went to the candle making academy like his father wanted him to.

Society says you must have at least a high school education or you will not be able to support yourself. Of course we can see this isn’t true. Why spend years of your life and go thousands of dollars into debt for something that isn’t practical or enjoyable? Believe it or not, even minimum wage is enough to support your lifestyle. Check it out.

MOVING OUT

Are you ready to live by your own rules? Then let’s replace your parents with a couple people who understand you! Leaving home is even more awesome when shared with friends. All it takes to obtain a $150,000 party house are three people on minimum wage! $7.25 times three is $21.75. That’s doctor money, but more stable. If the doctor loses his job, 100% of the household income is gone. If one of your friends gets fired for coming in an hour late again, you can get by on 66% wages for a bit. It’s much easier to land an unskilled position than it is a doctor job, too. Income will be back up to 100% in a week. You also get to divide all of the house and yard work three ways. It’s more efficient, and everyone has more free time.  This well oiled machine is the optimal short or long term living situation, and it requires no forethought, preparation or planning whatsoever. You could grab two friends, quit school for fast food jobs, and be set up for life before this weekend.

FINANCES

Of course you’ll need some extra money for the occasional large purchase. Maybe you want to take a few vacations this year. Maybe it’s time for a third car. Let’s talk about a couple simple money saving/making tricks.

The first is tax related. Did you know that getting a big springtime refund actually screws you over? “Refund” does not mean “bonus”. This is money you are owed. Every time taxes are taken from your paycheck, you’re giving an interest free loan to The Man, and every April he settles up by returning your money to you. This country makes money the same way a bank does. It invests your (forced) deposits and turns a profit that you don’t get a part of. On top of this, your refund is actually devalued thanks to inflation! Fixing this problem is easy; all you need to do is submit a fresh W-4 to your employer. Fill it out as normal, but put the word “EXEMPT” into box 7 and you’re good to go! You won’t have any tax deductions from your paycheck, and you won’t get that phony bonus check each spring.

Sticking it to The Man

The second trick is more fun. There are three things needed to make money. 50/50 odds of winning, the magic number 4 (more about this later) and patience. That last one is what deters most people and keeps this method a little more secretive than it should be. But if you’re willing to put in a few extra hours work at the casino, you can double your paycheck in an afternoon.

A golden (palace) investment opportunity

Blackjack. This is a tried and true method you may have heard of before. Bet $20. If you win, bank it and go again. If you lose, bet $40. If you lose again, bet $80. Once you break even by winning on a double bet, you can go back to banking 20s. Let’s talk about that magic number 4 now. If you’re performing any activity that has even odds, the point where the chance of repeated results becomes almost infinitely improbable is 4. For example, if you flip a coin 4 times, there’s a 1 in 65,536 chance that it will land heads 4 times in a row. You can apply this same logic to blackjack losses. Just make sure you have enough reserve to cover 3 losses and you will be fine! The $20 is just an example. Divide your paycheck by 7 to obtain the value of your starting bet. If you’re extra paranoid, only take half of your paycheck to the table so you can get two tries. The odds of having the coin land on heads 4 times in a row twice are 1 in 4,294,967,296.

Roulette. Here’s a new one, and the one I prefer. It’s a proven fact that the roulette table already gives you the best odds of winning. Now let’s enhance the chances even more. We can apply the lessons from the blackjack table here for some red/black betting. The odds of landing on red or black are 50/50. Remember the rule of 4 from earlier? Watch the table until either black or red has hit 3 times in a row, and then bet everything you have on the other color. You’ll have a 99.998% chance of winning!

That’s it. Everything you need to know about life in 1,300 words.

Kick-Ass, The Losers, Cop Out and Daybreakers…..Eh, I’ve Been Busy

2010/08/27

Fantasy Football season is coming up, and I finally finished watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer in its entirety — I’ve been distracted. Look at the benefit to you:  now it’s a really long post that can fill four days worth of your spare time.  HOORAY!  See, I love you after all…..   

Kick-Ass (2010) – Mark Millar, the comic creator of Kick-Ass has had a nice run with his style – which generally consists of ‘making the comic world a little more real’.  For a more precise definition, with his work on The AuthorityThe Ultimates and Wanted, amongst others, this has typically involved dropping liberal handfuls of f-bombs, a more brutal type of violence and a heightened sense of super-being self-awareness in the world around them.  They are pretty good reads, and Wanted, despite Millar’s claims with the movie release that he never wanted it set in a world of superheroes in the first place, is about nine million times better in the comic form than that random-fighting snuff-film of a movie.  Essentially, he’s taken the old Marvel ‘What If?’ series from the 70s and 80s and made himself a millionaire off it.   

In the case of Kick-Ass, it’s essentially:  ‘What if Peter Parker never had any powers, and wasn’t particularly smart, but decided to become SpiderMan anyway?’.   The answer is pretty clear:  He’d be a slightly malnourished-looking doorknob in a scuba suit who gets his ass handed to him a lot.  And that, really, is Kick-Ass in a nutshell.  Our hero (played by Aaron Johnson – a surprise, since I just assumed these parts only went to Michael ‘Limited’ Cera and Jesse Eisenberg)  never really gets any smarter, or better, at the job throughout the course of the story – he mostly just gets fortunate that he doesn’t die.  He does get some of his bones lined with metal after being run over by a car (What’s up, Wolverine!), but that pretty much just enables him to take fiercer beatings.  Oh, and a video of him taking a beating gets posted on YouTube, so he becomes popular (and – in what seems to be his primary motivator – now seems to have the ability to ‘maybe get laid sometime’.  SUPER!).    

His arch nemesis is The Kingpin – oh, wait, no that’s not what he’s called here…eh, too lazy to look it up, so it’s The Kingpin, only skinny, and his nerdy son – played by McLovin who has somehow managed to keep falling into roles that work well within his wheelhouse of ‘lispy, whiny bully-target’.  McLovin wants his old man’s respect, and to eventually inherit his giant mafia, so he goes undercover as another new superhero, Red Mist (whose primary super-ability is ‘owns a pimped-out car’) and befriends Kick-Ass in order to trap him for his father.  Eh, the whole thing is pretty average.   

EXCEPT.  Three things pull this movie out of the ‘forgettable’ category, and two of them – TWO OF THEM – involve Nicholas Cage.  You can still surprise me with your occasional awesome-out-of-nowhere talents, Weird Hair, and I will give credit where credit is due.  All whilst Kick-Ass is getting props and accolades, Cage plays an ex-cop who was framed by The Kingpin years ago, put in jail, and had his pregnant wife OD (with the baby surviving)….now, Cage and his daughter are REALLY vigilantes, and Kick-Ass is sorta bringing the whole profession some unwanted publicity.  See, Big Daddy (the ‘Cage as Batman’ character) has been quietly tearing apart the crime organization without anyone inside buying that there’s ‘a guy who looks like Batman’ setting up the crew to tear themselves apart, and now that Kick-Ass exists, KP needs to take out all the heroes.    

Point one of awesome:  Cage is fantastic as Big Daddy – a man who is stark-raving-insane, but in a disturbingly calm manner, driven by vengeance.  He’s not a millionaire like Bruce Wayne – no, he pays for his gadgets and toys the way his job dictates he needs to:  he just takes all the drug and weapon money from the criminals and keeps it.  And, in a rare moment of Cage genius, he talks exactly like Adam West (TV’s Batman from the 60s) whenever he has the costume on.  Also, for the first time in a decade, he doesn’t have a ridiculous looking wig.   

Point two of awesomeness:  Nonetheless, Nic Cage gets fully lit on fire.  Even though I liked him in this, this was satisfying for all the time wasted in dozens of other craptaculars he’s starred in that others try to convince me are good.  Thank you for this.   

And Point Three:  Hit Girl.  Hit Girl gets a 7 out of 7 – Chloe Moretz plays Big Daddy’s daughter, who has been raised by a lunatic bent on revenge, and she is phenomenal.  With the vocabulary of a longshoreman and a scary-creepy steely glare, Moretz is a pint-sized ass-beating machine, and while I thought it would get disturbing, it doesn’t.  Fantastic character, outstanding performance.  My only regret is she doesn’t kill Kick-Ass for being a complete moron by the end.    

Kick-Ass is vivid, ultra-violent and mostly ‘just okay’.  I’d give it a 4, but Moretz and Cage are worth the watch, so I go 5 out of 7.  But barely   

The Losers (2010) : Also in the world of ‘What If’ stories from the world of comics – a little under a decade ago, writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock asked the question ‘what if The A-Team was half-way realistic?’ and created a good little book called The Losers.  There’s not much more to the story than that – 5 Special Forces guys get framed for an international incident, fake their deaths, and then come back to wreak hell on the guy that framed them.  Honestly, much better as a serious action film than the A-Team series ever was.   

This is a great cast, Jeffery Dean Morgan (who I love in all things action and/or serious and vehemently hate in ‘light’ movies) as the leader Clay (Hannibal), Idris Elba as his right hand Roque (B.A.), Chris Evans as the smart-assed tech-guy Jensen (sort of a combo of Face and Murdock) and then two extra guys – the family man Pooch, and the silent sniper Cougar.    

There’s nothing revolutionary in here – it’s just a solid, smarter-than-most action movie.  The effects are good, and not particularly hyperbolic or overdone (until maybe the end, but that’s sort of expected, isn’t it?).  There’s a female character who isn’t particularly well-developed – she’s mysterious, and the reason the team gets a shot at vengeance, but she’s mostly just a catalyst to get things moving.  The villain is played by Jason Patric, who I didn’t recognize, and he keeps crossing the line back-and-forth between ‘kinda funny’ and ‘irritatingly eccentric’.   

This isn’t perfect – there’s a lot of bizarre and distracting editing choices throughout that on a couple of occassions made me fear it was about to transform into a Duran Duran video.  There’s also a really weird sex-and-fighting scene in the middle of a burning hotel room that I think was inserted for titillation purposes, but comes off more ‘disturbing’….all in all though, JDM and Elba in the leads are infinitely watchable.  The Losers won’t change your life,  or even make you remember you saw it in five years, but it’s a decent shoot-em-up and a strong 5 out of 7.   

Cop Out (2010):  Then there’s this.  I’m not sure what this is.  Other than a bizarre experiment in ‘open-source filmmaking’, maybe.  I think it’s supposed to be a comedy, but then part of me thinks it’s an action picture, then part of me thinks it’s a buddy-cop movie, then part of me thinks it’s tired of trying to figure it out and goes out and eats tacos.  That last part is one that wins.   

The sad part is, I like all four of the primaries on this mission:  Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Sean William Scott and director Kevin Smith.  It just doesn’t seem that any of them were working off the same script, ever.  Willis spends most of the movie primarily doing his John McClane character, Morgan – a guy who is ‘outrageous’ – is ‘outrageous’ as ‘the goofy cop’, Sean William Scott just shows up for a bit part that goes WAY long and is centered around one joke – and that joke is: ‘it’s annoying when people repeat what you say’ – brilliant, right? –  and Kevin Smith may or may not have actually shown up on the set.   

Seriously.  I get that Smith’s brand of vulgar humor and random-funny-can-happen-all-around isn’t for everybody, but he generally puts out something that maintains a consistent pace and tone.  This is just a mess, and one thrown on top of the flimsiest of framework.  Here’s your plot:  these two renegade cops get suspended for being ‘over the line’, but then McClane gets a rare baseball card stolen from him by Sean William Scott which Die Hard needed to sell in order to pay for his daughter’s wedding so that dickhead rich step-dad Jason Lee doesn’t pay for it and get credit.  Meanwhile, Crazy Tracy thinks his wife is cheating on him.  This all revolves around a Mexican drug cartel.   

W.  T.  F.   

Look, there’s one hilarious scene at the very beginning when Tracy Morgan interrogates a suspect using nothing but movie quotes.  And a lot of them.  It felt stupid at first, but the longer it goes on, and the more arcane the reference, the more it works.  Good show….but after that, well….   

Here, this’ll make your decision easy.  Look at the picture  to the right.   

Gauge your reaction:   

a) HA HA HA!  LOOK AT THAT CRAZY TRACY MORGAN DRESSED LIKE A MOTHERF-ING CELL PHONE!  HE’S CRAZY!!!  HAHAHAHA!  Then this might be a fine selection for your evening.   

b) Why is Tracy Morgan dressed like a Jitterbug phone?  And can somebody get Bruce a water already?  Does he have an appointment to get to or something? Do cops still really file everything in file boxes?  Computers have been around for decades now, right?  And why is that such a bright blue?  Does that mean those files are for sex crimes or maybe Smurf-related felonies? And what’s with that 1978 typewriter?  Is that for detail?  Is this set in the 70s?  No, wait it can’t be, then the cell phone doesn’t make sense…wait, why is Tracy Morgan dressed like a Jitterbug again?  Then you’re in my camp.    

And my camp gives this a 2 out of 7.  It’s not particularly offensive to my senses, but I expect more from all four of the headliners here, way more.   

Daybreakers (2009) Let’s start with the positives:   

First, the set-work and scenery in this futuristic vampire flick are really gorgeous to look at.   

Second, the vampires in here – both the ‘educated and refined’ ones, and the ‘feral, needs bloods to eats NOW’ ones look really fierce and effective.   

Third, look at this poster.  That is a great looking poster.  That poster totally makes Daybreakers look completely like something I will see, and then buy on DVD and watch three times a year, and then eventually buy the poster of and hang in my office so I can think about how cool Daybreakers is.   

But that’s the thing about posters.  Posters lie.   

‘Take The Matrix and 28 Days Later and you’ve got Daybreakers‘.  Filthy, dirty lie.   

‘Take the confusion and unneccessary plot complications of The Matrix: Reloaded combined with the angst and painful feeling you had watching Sandra Bullock play an alcoholic in the overacted 28 Days and you have an idea of how you’ll feel after watching Daybreakers‘.  True.   

Great story idea:  It’s the future, and the world, or ‘us’, are now primarily vampires.  Maybe it’s a 95 vamp/5 human split at this point.  Problem:  ‘We’ the vamps, are running out of food (the humans – who we have been farming and harvesting like cows for decades), so what now?   

This crap’s answer?  Throw Ethan Hawke at it.  Yeesh.  Here’s the thing, Ethan, I don’t hate you.  You’re just not very interesting, ever, no matter how many poetry books you release on an unsuspecting public.  Another thing: it’s been sixteen years since Reality Bites: it’s time for a nice new hairstyle, one that doesn’t seem like it’s about to go mullet if you look to the right quickly.  Also, stop growing back that weird mustache/chin fuzz thing you have:  it’s never coming in, and you look like a guy that’s spent his life going to so many Soundgarden shows that you think the band are your actual friends, which makes the restraining order from Chris Cornell so hard to understand.   

I know, I want to mangle Ethan Hawke too, buddy.

 

Anyhow, Hawke plays a vampire blood researcher who is working on a blood substitute that vamps can drink instead of the actual thing, only everything they’ve tried makes vampires explode.  Deep down, though, he doesn’t agree with consuming human blood in the first place – he gets by on pig blood – because he finds it immoral.  So he is using science to try to find a solution that works for everybody.  A lot of science.  Science focusing on the intricacies of vampire blood.  Which isn’t real.  So it’s a lot of dull sciencing-time based off of horseshit, which is not entertaining.  That’s like going to college and finding out at the end that instead of a marketable degree you get a Post-It Note that says ‘Dun Good’.   

Of course, Hawke gets abducted by the human resistance where he meets a not-surprisingly-uninteresting Willem DaFoe (apparently cast so to try to make Hawke seem captivating by comparison), who is a former vampire who got lit on fire once and turned back human.  Or something.  I don’t know, it was hard to stay awake with all the scenes involving Hawke and DaFoe talking….seriously, you could not have gotten a more lethal combination of dullness than those two.  Stick to supporting roles, fellas, you’re best off there not drawing attention to your inability to draw attention.    

Then there’s more science – although this time, involving Ethan Hawke being set ablaze numerous times, which I do have to admit looked cool.  Finally, he goes human, and goes back to his old work to turn his jerk of a boss (Sam Neill) back to a human so he’ll have to agree that humans are better, I think.  Neill’s pretty good as the blood company’s Steve Jobs, who’s keeping the world in his control through the evil machinations of supply and demand, but it’s not near enough.   

The worst part about this is it’s completely not fun – Daybreakers takes itself seriously throughout the whole thing, like it has a point to make or something.  Look, sci-fi can accomplish that kind of allegorical lesson-learning once in a while. District 9 had a great take on race relations, for example, as did Enemy Mine – but you have to pick one lesson and teach it.    

I have no idea what the hell Daybreakers is trying to comment on; for a while, I thought it was a race-relations thing, but then it seemed to be anti-corporations, then it flips over to implications of the evils of modern food processing, then it seems about big ecology, or possibly socialism.  Good god, man, just blow up some more freaking vampires with your explosive crossbow bolts already, your talking is making my head hurt.   

A mess of movie inside of a pretty wrapper, Daybreakers gets a 2 out of 7.

The Expendables: So Close to “Not Shit”

2010/08/17

Please allow me to start by saying that I enjoyed this movie. It’s just that the AmazingMattyP has been sucking its cock so hard… someone had to put some teeth on that blowjob.

The Expendables isn’t bad… ok, it’s bad. But it’s that one in a million GOOD bad. It could have been a legitimate good good if not for one fatal and unforgivable mistake. This supposed throwback action flick fell victim to the modern technique of quick cut action scenes. The whole purpose of this movie was to show dudes punching each other, but when it came time to do honorable battle, the camera had a fucking seizure and I was lost. Maybe you younger folks can follow these chopped up fights, but I’m unable to tell what the hell is going on. If Stallone didn’t flat out tell me that he just got his ass kicked right after he got his ass kicked, I wouldn’t have known. I used to think that quick cut action was an undesirable shortcut. Maybe the actors can’t fake fight for shit… maybe the budget is a bit thin and time needs to be saved, but I don’t know anymore. What excuse would this, the resurrector of old school action, have for such unwatchable fight scenes? It has to be a style choice. Does everyone really have a quarter second attention span? Can we not be bothered to sit through two punches in a row without having our point of view jarringly cut from behind Austin’s head to up Stalone’s ass?

Just look at this crap. Here’s a brief clip of a fight from the movie. It’s the 2nd Jet Li one. No, wait, I think I just saw Stone Cold. Dude, I can’t even tell who’s in it. This is the perfect example. The scene changes every freakin’ half second.

I don’t care how unbelievable the plot is, or how super-human the heroes are, or how bad the dialogue is. Real action movie fans will say the same thing. Just want to see Stallone punch a bitch. They tried hard to fuck that up, too.

Not everyone can be Jackie Chan, but this is the kind of perfection that one should aspire to.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.