Monday, January 31, 2005

Foodstuffs Stuff

Burger King's breakfast sandwich slogan "Wake Up with the King" reminds me a lot of the exclamations made by Annette Bening's character during her affair with the Real Estate King (Peter Gallagher) in American Beauty.

Saw a crushed Silver Thunder can on the sidewalk outside my office building (it wasn't mine, I swear). It's good to know that between the tandem of Silver Thunder and Green Lightning, one of the two elemental malt liquors is still being produced (and consumed). Shortly after the "Summer Storm" (a well-documented event involving 40s, prank phone calls, a half-dozen hurled eggs, and a job termination), Green Lightning was discontinued (possibly for the dangerous levels of mischief it incited). I have a 16-ounce can of Green Lightning shelved somewhere that I hope will be poured on my grave.

A note to brand-name 40 drinkers: Colt 45 is the choice for value (45 oz for the price of 40), but Olde English 800 is still the Cadillac of 40s.

"All this computer hacking is making me thirsty." --Homer Simpson


Friday, January 28, 2005

Sight Unseen: January 28, 2005

Continuing the Friday series of reviews of movies I haven't seen.

Alone in the Dark

In the department store of Hollywood, intertwining escalators of fame have landed Christian Slater and Tara Reid on the Alone in the Dark floor. Slater seems to be back on the ascent (still earning a living by impersonating Jack Nicholson though, now in a London production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), while Reid (much publicized implants and all) is on the way down (although AitD has to be a step up from the abysmal Van Wilder). Co-star Stephen Dorff is just happy to have been mentioned in two separate Bloody Knee Jerk entries.

Alone in the Dark is based on a 90s computer game, but judging from the trailers, it appears that a name is all the two share. The preview to the movie features the worst CGI monsters I have ever seen (and I've seen An American Werewolf in Paris). This is a shame, because the graphics and movements in the game were revolutionary at the time. The game was a supernatural thriller that cast the player as Edward Carnby, a detective investigating a haunted mansion. Alone in the dark, Carnby collected clues, solved problems, and avoided boobytraps (insert joke about Reid here) in order to escape alive. Maybe I'm being picky, but with two companions (and the military?), Slater as Carnby in the film version really isn't alone in the dark.

Somehow I don't expect the movie will feature a man in a Santa Claus suit beating demons back to hell with a frying pan.

Hide and Seek

Does DeNiro read scripts anymore?
This man used to be a Raging Bull. Now he's an aging fool.
Analyze that.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Wilco? Still No.

Pop Quiz!

From the list below, pick the city not on
Wilco's tour itinerary
a) New York City
b) Baltimore
c) Philadelphia
d) Washington DC

This is not a tough question. The answer is: c.

For the third leg on their A Ghost Is Born (a sub-par album by Wilco standards) tour, Jeff Tweedy and company are skipping Philadelphia a third time. With three strikes, Wilco is now at the top of the list of performers who slight Philadelphia (a slot previously reserved for Radiohead who cancelled a Philly gig to play Madison Square Garden).

The last Wilco
show in the City of Brotherly Love was a phenomenal waterfront concert with Sonic Youth on July 28, 2003. That evening was particularly memorable for me because I got thrown out halfway through Wilco's set for pissing in the bushes only to sneak back in a song later.

In other Wilco-screwing-its-fans news, the band is reissuing A Ghost is Born with bonus tracks only available on the expanded version of an album their most loyal fans already own. Other reissue rip-off artists include The Flaming Lips, The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, etc.

And record companies wonder why people are downloading songs for free off the internet. It's because they're tired of getting screwed, you greedy bastards.

Other record scams include the "Best Of" compilation with one new song only available on said comp, and the motion picture soundtrack with a new recording (usually a cover) by a favorite band sandwiched between a lot of shitty filler music.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Sponge Blog: Part Deux

OK. I try to write on a new topic each weekday (toil not on the Sabbath or Saturday), but today I'll make an exception. I'm violating the rule that says if you ignore it, it will go away (of course, racism has been ignored for decades and it hasn't gone away, but I digress).

Tonight, The Daily Show (Stewart/Colbert 2008!) carried the "story" of the jackass who attacked SpongeBob Squarepants. They aired a clip of said jackass on a Fox News political talk show. Fox News invited this guy on the air!!!??? WTF?

I'm over analyzing (but then again, so is the jackass who attacked SpongeBob), but isn't an attack on a character who wears a shirt and tie and faithfully goes to work every day (rain or shine in Bikini Bottom) really an attack on the American work ethic?

That bigot is attacking America! Should we be tolerant of his viewpoint or beat his unAmerican ass?

(Please note: Fox News channel supports unAmerican bigots)


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Sponge Blog

No doubt you've heard about the latest flap from the Religious Right that SpongeBob Squarepants promotes tolerance for homosexuals. Tolerance--there's an unChristian value. First it was Bert and Ernie, then the Teletubbies, now SpongeBob. What does the Religious Right have against stoner-friendly kids shows?

Seriously, I'm not going to dignify putting the name of this moron in my blog (the links I've included name names). His slurs were covered in the New York Times because he was wearing formal wear and paid a lot of money to attend an inaugural ball for George W. Bush. Shit. Put this same jerk on the street corner and his homophobic remarks wouldn't even draw a crowd. Every day I have better, more tolerant ideas than this jerk, but I haven't been reported in the New York Times (as far as I know).

Maureen Dowd's January 23rd op-ed
piece on the subject (hurry link is only good for 2 more days, then you have to pay for the article) draws a comparison between SpongeBob, champion of tolerance, and "SpongeBush", champion of preemptive war under false pretenses. Why haven't we heard any complaints from the Christian Right about G.I. Joe? Shipwreck looks like a member of the Village People, but as long as he's killing COBRA in his white sailor's hat, he's OK. If G.I. Joe were to stop glorifying war and start negotiations with COBRA in the interest of building a peaceful, harmonious world, then just watch the homophobic accusations fly.

Bottom line is, this bigot wanted some press and he got what he wanted: I wrote a blog entry condemning him and his bigotry.

The price of media exposure is eternal vigilance against possible homosexuality in cartoon characters.


Monday, January 24, 2005

Of Snow Importance

There’s no business like snow business. And my place of employment is open for business today. Damn. I was so warm in bed before I made the following phone call to the receptionist.

Work: Good morning.
Jesse D: Hi. Are you open today?
W: Yes, we’re open.
JD: Is it a delayed opening?
W: A what?
JD: click.

Leaving the house was bad, but the walk to the subway was brutal: below-freezing temperatures coupled with inconsiderate jerks walking side-by-side on marginally-shoveled sidewalks. Pedestrians who hog the entire sidewalk without a thought to letting others pass infuriate me on days when the sidewalks are clear. On a day like this, I’m liable to start throwing elbows at couples walking side-by-side (when it is not a matter of physically supporting an infirm/unsteady companion). The most egregious offenders were the customers
waddling out of Burger King. While cramming sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit sandwiches into their gaping maws, they blocked traffic and inconvenienced other commuters with their girth. Stop bunching (and munching) and walk single-file, dammit!

After getting around these obstructing individuals (I'd liken it to circumnavigating the globe, but that would be insensitive), the westbound train at the 8th Street station was delayed. The hum from the halogen lamps, the stink of piss on the tracks, and Jennifer Garner’s stare boring into me from an Alias advertisement made waiting to crowd into an already overstuffed car almost unbearable. When I first moved to Philadelphia, I guessed that SEPTA might be an acronym for Safe Efficient Philadelphia Transportation Authority. Nothing could be further from the truth with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, but my slogan might make a positive marketing campaign (SEPTA representatives may contact me through this blog to discuss my fees).

Even my grumpiness waned when confronted with the undeniable loveliness of Philadelphia in the snow, and the town’s exuberance for the Eagles going to the Super Bowl! The banner headline on this morning’s Philadelphia Inquirer says it all: “Finally!”


Friday, January 21, 2005

Sight Unseen: January 21, 2005

First in a Friday series of reviews of movies I haven't seen.

Assault on Precinct 13
Reality bites Laurence Fishburne in the ass when he and Ethan Hawke are assaulted in precinct 13. Fishburne wishes he'd wake up to find he's still stuck in The Matrix. Rent Deep Cover instead.

Are We There Yet?
Critics are going to give Ice Cube a bad rap for this movie.

They'll astutely note that the one-time gangsta rapper is in a family movie and looks the fool getting pummeled by a deer (how many movies has that tired scenario been played out in).

And that's just fine with Cube.

As near as I can guess from the previews, Are We There Yet? is a road-trip starring-vehicle for Ice Cube (complete with an Amtrak promotional tie-in) in which he portrays a playa (a stretch for the man who once declared, "I'm Only Out for One Thang") forced to put up with some brats and put aside his bravado to woo a single mother. Take a tour of the Ice Cube library, and you'll discover that the boy n the hood who asked, "do I look like a muthafuckin' role model", also knows how to turn on the charm ("she didn't get offended it was splendid to me/cause Mister Nice Guy is what I pretended to be"). Ice Cube's on familiar ground in Are We There Yet?, and because it's a family film there's sure to be a happy ending with the protagonist learning a life lesson and the female lead "givin' up the nappy dug out" before the credits roll.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Nothing Succeeds Like Secession

January 20, 2005: The second inauguration of George W. Bush.

America is a democracy and the people have spoken. The Midwest and South went Red (Republican, pro-War, pro-debt, anti-environment, greedy, and uninformed), while the Northeast and West Coast voted Blue (Democratic, socially conscious, and tolerant). For a more eloquent analysis, read Michael Feingold's piece in the Village Voice.

Maybe instead of bitching about how the South has risen again in the guise of George W. Bush and his freedom-trampling minions, the Northeast and West Coast should be proactive and secede from the Union. The possibility of a second Civil War is remote, because the South doesn't care enough about snow, open-mindedness, tolerance, and racial equality to want to keep us (as if they could).

Just ship King George II to Texas to rule over New America. He won't have to listen to the protests of literate people who care about human rights and the welfare of the less fortunate.

The secession would be a mutual break-up, an amicable split, a no-fault divorce. We'll take Illinois, the South can have Ohio and Missouri. Both sides would have visitation rights. Think of the revenue generated from tourism and interstate (now international) trade. I went to Dixie and all I got was this red neck and lousy t-shirt.

What does the North lose by striking out on our own? Atlanta? Disney World? Spring Break? The South doesn't want carpet baggers bothering them. Southern hospitality is a smile worn after spitting in a Yankee's grits back in the kitchen.

The only downside to the whole split that I can see is that the North would be morally obligated to start a Civil War if the South decides they want to reinstate their "peculiar institution" again.

(Note: Things aren't as black and white--or red and blue--as North vs. South. The generalizations above were made for the sole purpose of this reactionary blog. Hell, with the exception of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is practically a "Red" state. Both sides can agree that the United States was built with the toil of enslaved and immigrant labor on land stolen from Native Americans.)


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Uncle Jesse Gap

This past year, I was fortunate to become an uncle for the first time when my younger brother and his wife welcomed my niece, Mia, into the world. The day of her birth, I sent e-mail announcements to friends with the signature “Uncle Jesse”. And that’s when the onslaught of John Stamos and Olsen twins jokes began. None of them were funny.

There is a clear line of demarcation between those who know Uncle Jesse as the bearded patriarch on The Dukes of Hazzard and young whippersnappers who worship at the altar of Stamos. In an informal poll, people born in 1980 or later invariably cited John Stamos as “Uncle Jesse” from the shitcom Full House, whereas children of the 70s knew the truth (with a few disappointments here and there). This makes sense. The Dukes of Hazzard ran from 1979 through 1985, spawned a spin-off in 1980 (Enos), and was successfully incorporated into a term paper on Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development in the mid-90s (paper not available for this blog). Full House blighted the airways from 1987—1995 and unleashed the two-headed monster known as the Olsen twins upon society.

According to the Internet Movie Database (the destination for 99% of the links in my blog so far) the Stamos character’s name is Hermes Katsopolis. WTF? How do you get “Jesse” out of that? Worse yet, many Full House fans are ignorant of The Dukes of Hazzard and are under the misconception that I like Stamos, his music, and his crummy sitcom. Apparently the original Uncle Jesse (masterfully portrayed by Denver Pyle) isn’t quite the iconoclastic figure I envisioned when I drafted my e-mail. One Full House devotee naively mused that Stamos’s character was named independently of The Dukes of Hazzard character. Puh-lease! TV is notoriously self-referential and inbred. I haven’t found the evidence yet (it might be in a Full House episode, I wouldn’t know), but the chance that it is coincidence that these two characters share a moniker is fatter than Boss Hogg’s wallet.

Hollywood may finally settle this feud as the Dukes are primed to ride again in 2005. In the time-honored tradition of reviving 70s television for the big screen, The Dukes of Hazzard movie is more revisionist history bullshit than a faithful remake of the cult show. Jessica Simpson can never fill
Catherine Bach’s high heels as Daisy Duke. Daisy was neither blonde nor a ditz seeking to profit from not knowing the difference between tuna and chicken.

For her first birthday, I’m getting Mia the
Dukes of Hazzard DVD sets so she won’t grow up thinking Willie Nelson is Uncle Jesse (although he’s still more Uncle Jesse than Stamos).



Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Supernatural Is Super!

Last weekend while watching a Halloween episode of The Simpsons, I was asked, “Would you rather have a vampire or a werewolf chasing you?” If I were living in the early 20th century, I’d go with the werewolf. Even in Chucks (with their patented no-arch-support or shock absorption design), I think I could outrun The Wolf Man (1941) or Michael Landon (I Was a Teenage Werewolf, 1957). I’d probably fare less well against Bela Lugosi’s mesmerizing powers in Dracula (1931).

But as Biggie Smalls said, “Things Done Changed”.

Lugosi could entrance his victims from across the room with eye powers. I see none of that in the smoldering blank stare of alterna-vamp Stephen Dorff (Blade). On the other side of the coin, werewolves have gone
berserk since the 1970s. There are about a thousand ways to take down a vampire, but only silver can kill a werewolf, and who has silver just lying around. Vampires are sophisticated monsters; they can be reasoned with and they wait politely outside until you invite them in. Try having a rational conversation with a werewolf as it’s busting down the door to rip the flesh from your bones.

The Friday the 13th and Halloween series ushered in the era of the uber-monster. Michael Myers was an unstoppable killing machine and Jason Voorhees is still around after how many sequels? Movie audiences are no longer content with lurching Frankenstein monsters or stiff-jointed mummies. The new monsters of Hollywood are super-supernatural. To hold the attention of an ADD audience, mummies must be able to conjure sandstorms (The Mummy, 1999), vampires burst from their graves knowing karate (Blade, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and werewolves are computer generated (Underworld, An American Werewolf in Paris). Computers have yet to design a werewolf as terrifying as those in An American Werewolf in London or The Howling (both 1981, a banner frickin' year for werewolf transformation movies). Only zombies have enjoyed (if you can call the undead hunger for brains enjoyment) a greater augmentation of their killing powers in recent cinematic history (compare the original Night of the Living Dead with the hyperkinetic 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead).

I can’t recall the last time I was truly scared by a horror flick (Ringu was creepy, 28 Days Later had a few bumps). I find From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) to be immensely entertaining, and it surprises the hell out of first-time viewers who aren’t expecting a vampire flick. Other vampire flicks worth checking out: The Lost Boys and Near Dark (both 1987).

Well, so much for poignancy from this blog. I was going to throw in an awkward comparison between horror films and the scare tactics used by the Republicans and Democrats to win support for their
respective Social Security plans (Republicans spin ghost tales of a phantom collapse of the entire Social Security system, Democrats frighten seniors with claims that Republicans want to slash their benefits like Freddy Krueger). The truth is the Republicans do want to cut benefits (and undermine the safety net for people in our society who can't take care of themselves, in my opinion); however, the current Social Security system can't exist indefinitely without some changes.



Monday, January 17, 2005

Talkin' MLK, Gonna Find a Way (and Welcome to Bloody Knee Jerk)

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It should be a national holiday in the United States, but it isn't. If Public Enemy is to be believed (and I have no reason to doubt Chuck D, Flavor Flav maybe, but not Chuck D) then:

"The powers that be in the states of Arizona and New Hampshire have found psychological discomfort with paying tribute to a black man who tried to teach white people the meaning of civilization."
--Sister Souljah, intro to "By the Time I Get to Arizona"

Some opponents to a national MLK holiday contend that students should be in school on Martin Luther King Day learning about Dr. King. There are two major fallacies to this argument. First, it assumes that schools will teach lessons about Dr. King. We all know the saying, when you assume you make an ass out of yourself (don't drag me down with you, you ass). There is no guarantee that a school will teach anything about Dr. King's significance and legacy. In an extreme instance, a racist school would be in session on MLK Day and the students wouldn't learn anything about the man. Second, why can't students learn about Dr. King on the Tuesday after the holiday? Students should be taught of Martin Luther King, Jr. as part of the core academic curriculum, not just one day a year.

With my day off, I'm going to read articles on MLK and watch Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. The Criterion Collection edition of this film is fuckin' sweet. Lee got robbed of an Academy Award. Do the Right Thing wasn't even nominated and Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture? WTF? At least Denzel took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1990.

And welcome to Bloody Knee Jerk.