there is water underground.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Boom de Yada!!!!

Best. Commercial. Ever.

Awesome. Favorite part? Definitely Stephen Hawking. And check out the sendup on XKCD. Obviously there's great admiration there.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gee, he was just here a minute ago.

"Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits."

When I was about twelve or thirteen, I remember riding along with the family on one of our road trips. We were listening to a tape (remember those?) of different comedy routines - there were about a dozen comedians in all, each one had about a five-minute excerpt. Some were funny (Bill Cosby) and some were apparently quite dirty (Redd Foxx) and deserved fast-forwarding, much to my disappointment. But the one that stood out in my young mind was a bit called "Wonderful Wino Radio" by George Carlin. In one of his rare no-swearing routines, he portrayed a drunk radio announcer who broadcast his show on a bandwidth "just above the police band." The absurdity stuck with me, and before long I convinced my parents to let me listen to his full albums.

Carlin became a huge influence on my sense of humor. He was a total wiseass and existed to be subversive, but he was never mean (except to people who really pissed him off). Carlin's routines had an even greater impact on my appreciation for the English language and how severely fucked it is. Yeah, he swore a lot (boy, did he!) but it was usually to prove a point. Like when he talked about the aggressive "k" sounds in the words cocksucker and motherfucker as being just as aurally assaulting as the literal meanings. The act of breaking down the swears 1) made it okay to use the swears while talking about them and 2) made the routine that much more intelligent, which in turn made it even funnier. "Tits... such a friendly sounding word! Sounds like a nickname, right?"

He also made light of religion, having been brought up Irish Catholic and - through life, comedy, and a shitload of drugs - eventually questioning the whole idea of faith. If he believed in anything, it was that people, in general, can fuck things up and thereby provide him with an endless source of material for his comedy. Maybe in the end, that proved to be his god; the people of this doomed planet an ever-present wellspring of funny. Or maybe he prayed to Joe Pesci.

More than anything, though - Carlin reminded us that life is pretty damn funny and strange sometimes. As a comedian, he said that his job was "reminding you about the things you forgot to laugh at the first time." He loved the absurd, whether it was little things we all experience but don't really talk about or the wacky ideas he came up with while letting his mind wander (e.g. tissues with bulls-eyes on them). Or how strange it is to see an empty plate in the refrigerator ("Did something eat something else??").

He did a lot with his career - he was the very first host of SNL, he recorded many albums and won Grammys for them, he wrote books, he had stints in movies and even had a short-lived TV show. His HBO specials were the reason to have HBO. He even was the voice of the narrator in the kids' animated series Thomas the Tank Engine. And - like we all knew he would - he became a dirty old man. He was a dirty young man, so why not, right? But it was sad to watch some of his last routines... he could still knock 'em dead with the humor, but he didn't look too healthy. The drugs weren't good to him, and we all knew it was only a matter of time.

And so, as the networks and talk shows are undoubtedly scrambling to compile as much footage as possible for the tributes, real fans of George Carlin feel a twinge of sadness at his passing. But it was his time, and for someone who while still alive was regarded as one of the greatest comedians of all time, his passing will serve to introduce a whole new legion of youth to his material.

So George... thanks for the laughs. And go fuck yourself. You probably would've wanted me to end the post that way.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Spoiler Alert

I saw the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series last week. Dear God, I hope it’s the last. A wooden script, a vague and tenuous plot, and an ending that made me think “What the fuck?” If this was the best they could’ve come up with after nineteen years, they really should’ve let the series die a dignified death. The Last Crusade was an amazing movie – not just a great Indy movie, but a great movie – and a satisfying, fitting bookend to one of the most exciting series in movie history. I approached the release of this film with a mix of anticipation and dread: Was I excited that Indiana frickin’ Jones was coming back? Hell yes. Did I believe that the filmmakers would be able to match the awesomeness of the last one? …not really. But you’d best believe that I expected more than this.

The movie opened in a promising fashion. Seeing the opening sequence was kinda fun, and the re-introduction of the Indy character and musical theme was admittedly awesome, but it devolved pretty damn quickly. Surviving a nuclear explosion inside a lead-lined fridge? Yeah. Almost as believable as Cate Blanchett’s horrendous attempt at a Russian accent. I don’t get it – apparently they spent a great deal of time and effort to ensure that the Russian soldiers were authentic, and then they go and find a Brit with a terrible accent to play the Russian with the most lines? Wacky. Also, the pacing was all wrong; I felt like I was watching The Mummy rather than an Indy flick (which is fine if the stars are Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, but y’know… this is Indiana frickin’ Jones). There was a sense of awe and mysticism present in the first and third movies (not so much in Temple of Doom) that just didn’t exist here… all the films touch on the supernatural, but I just found it very hard to care about this plot. But when Shia LeBeef (I don’t care about the correct spelling – “LeBeef” is funnier) entered the picture as a character named Mutt, I just knew that the screenwriters would be so shortsighted and predictable to make him be Indy’s long-lost son. Sure enough, after the whole escapade he had with the Ark of the Covenant, he probably had a lot of sex with Karen Allen’s character and then left her to go rooting through spiders, snakes, rats, and other ugly beasties to find artifacts and other old things (like his father). So yeah, it’s not too difficult to figure out that Henry Jones Junior’s kid is, well… Mutt. And he’s also a Henry (shocking, I know). But would the screenwriters be so banal and unoriginal as to end the movie with a wedding? Nah… they wouldn’t do that.

Oh… wait. They did. And seeing Indy in a white suit tying the knot was about as natural as an oral bowel movement (yes, I quoted Clerks). Forget the paper-thin plot of a race of alien superbeings who contacted the Mayans thousands of years ago and left them with technology, civilization, crystal artifacts, and herpes (okay, I made that last one up)… and wasn’t that the plot of Alien Vs. Predator? Forget the complete X-Files ending ripoff. Forget the blatant Disney-fication of having Mutt swing on vines with monkeys. Indiana Jones is the guy who sifts through dirt and finds clues and decomposed bodies and ancient tablets, then gets to screw the hottie that’s with him… and then gets to do it all again with different clues and different women in the next movie. He’s like the James bond of adventure movies. Bond works, in part, because the audience never really cares about the fate of the girl. Next movie, same Bond, girl from previous movie is gone (although I could watch Sophie Marceau in every Bond movie and be perfectly happy). Same principle with Indy, and Lucas et al should’ve listened to Sean Connery’s line at the end of Last Crusade: Febtober "Let it go." I’m glad that Connery chose to stay out of this one.

Adding to the movie’s crappiness was the couple sitting behind me. Please realize that I went to see the film directly after work on a Thursday evening, hoping to avoid crowds, children, and rude teens. To my delight, there were only eleven people in the theater when the previews started. And then a couple came and sat directly behind me. Yippee. At least they were Korean, so their semi-whispered conversations during the movie didn’t really register as annoying because I couldn’t understand them. But seriously, the theater had 250 seats. Eleven were taken. Get a clue. And the guy kept burping.