I let this book sit for too long; as a substitute teacher, I end up getting sick more than I'd like due to exposure to germy kids. So this took me longer than I'd like to read.
On to the book: The Twits was another strong, wonderful Dahl tale of people getting what they deserve. The book is short, but not slight. The first half deals with Mr. and Mrs. Twit, the two most disgusting people on Earth. They're nasty and hateful, dirty and ugly, and they sit around thinking of ways to get at each other. For instance, Mrs. Twit puts worms in the spaghetti, so Mr. Twit makes his wife think she's shrinking. They're just nasty, nasty people. They like to put strong glue on their dead tree to catch birds to make pies out of.
The second half of the book deals with their monkeys. The Twits used to be animal trainers, and Mr. Twit keeps four monkeys, Muggle-Wump and his family, in a cage outside where he trains them to do everything upside down. Muggle-Wump tries to warn the birds not to sit on the branch, but he speaks an African language the English birds can't understand. But one day a vacationing African bird stops by and the monkeys are able to get back at their horrible keepers.
Dahl's childrens' novels are in a similar vein, but so far they've not been tiresome. What struck me the most about this book, besides the excellent writing (I like, for example, the description of Mr. Twit trying to get out a predicament: "Mr. Twit wriggled and squirmed, and he squiggled and wormed, and he choggled and churned..."), was finding out that Dahl wrote the book because he had a strong dislike of beards and wanted to write something about them. The description of rotting food in Mr. Twit's beard is said to make some adults physically sick, and I sympathize with them, it's pretty gross.
Another funny, witty book by Dahl. I like the way he writes conspiratorially, as though he and the reader are sharing a joke about how odd people are. It respects your intelligence.
Originally posted at the Spring Reading Challenge (2008).
Saturday, March 29, 2008
I let this book sit for too long; as a substitute teacher, I end up getting sick more than I'd like due to exposure to germy kids. So this took me longer than I'd like to read.
Flipping channels this morning, Becca ended up stopping on something on Disney Channel called Happy Monster Band. They were singing a song about how it's okay to cry and they were crying a LOT.
BECCA: Jesus, tone it down. What the hell, man? Yeah, it's okay to show emotion, but this is really over-the-top. I mean, no wonder kids today are such pussies.
ME: Sadly, TV has just been turning kids into pussies since at least 1982. What do you think all of those shows about caring were for?
BECCA: They just want softer targets.
ME: For what?
BECCA: It makes them easier to market to.
ME: So, Corporate America has been purposely making children's programming that will turn children into emotionally soft teenagers and whiny adults so that they're more easily marketed to and become super-consumers?
ME: Wow. They did a good job, because I never thought about how obvious it was before.
BECCA: They're evil geniuses.
ME: I'm kind of scared... let's turn this off.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Random thoughts, questions, and observations for the week.
1. At the grocery store last week, I saw one of the tabloids with this girl on the cover. She has a real special ed look, I’m just saying. The cover declared: Audrina Partridge: “How I Was Betrayed”… and I have no idea. This is how I know I’m getting old; I have no idea who some of these “celebrities” are now. If I read an article about Audrina Partridge, here are the questions I’d want asked: 1. Who are you? 2. What are you doing here? 3. Why is your presence on the cover of a magazine a good marketing decision? Who the hell is this person?
2. The FCC fined 13 Fox stations $7000 each for airing an episode of Married by America that showed pixeled-out nudity that the FCC found to be indecent. Fox has refused to pay, and now the FCC is in a real quandary. Are they going to back down from Fox? Fox gives a lot of money to the FCC. But, if they back down, that sets a real precedent and other media conglomerates will stand up to them, too. I can’t wait to see what happens. This is what the FCC gets for trying to regulate cable, as far as I’m concerned. It’s not up to them to set decency standards. It’s up to you and me and our remote controls. Quick rational thought: isn’t it creepy how many groups there are pushing agencies like the FCC to actually stop us from setting our own standards and exercising our own judgment?
3. How depressing is it that American kids fail in school and turn to crime and then can’t even commit a crime correctly. An 18 year-old kid in Chicago, Ruben Zarate, went into a muffler shop and waved a gun around, demanding money. When told that the only manager who could get into the safe wasn’t in yet, Ruben’s bright idea was to leave his cell phone number and tell them to call him when it was more convenient for them to be robbed. The even sadder part is that when the cops called him claiming to be the manager, he actually went back to the shop expecting this to work. This time when he waved his gun around a cop shot him in the leg. He lived, so it’s okay if I say this: fucking dumbass.
4. A firefighter in Erie, PA, wants her job back. Even though she admitted that she tried to commit suicide by, yes, setting her father’s house on fire. And there’s a lawyer taking her case. This country has really developed a fucked up sense of justice. But hey, I guess that’s why we keep giving child molesters second and third and fourth cracks at being parish priests…
5. Elliott Spitzer had another prostitute besides Ashley Dupre? When the fuck did this guy have time to work?
6. Oh my damn. Jellyfish get that big? I really didn’t know that!
Oh my damn!
7. Boy, how fitting is it that the Grim Reaper is hanging out at White Castle in their new commercial? I mean, I know White Castle will kill you, but I’m surprised to see the company reinforcing that message.
8. Wow, Dina Lohan is even sicker than I gave her credit for. It was obvious she was going to turn her other daughter, Ali Lohan, into another exploitation outlet, but I didn’t think she’d take the girl as far as surgery to make her look like Lindsay 2.0! New hair color, new contacts for a new eye color, new lips. Wow, Ali’s only 14 years old. If I wasn’t famous and I did something like this to my daughter, she’d be taken away by the state. And if I did something this stupid, I’d deserve it.
9. Heh. Heh heh. Ha ha ha. Oh, man. Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haha ha haaaaah! Oh! Oh, man. Heh heh. Oh, Christ on a bike, that’s silly.
10. There, see? A “date” with Kristin Davis was auctioned off this week for $52,100, with the money going to OxFam. I guarantee you it wouldn’t have been anything near that much if there hadn’t been pictures of Kristin Davis with a cock in her mouth all over the internet last week. Every guy who bid on that was thinking she must be easy and they got the bidding up pretty high. So, either that’s the stunt, or it all worked out and Kristin doesn’t have to be embarrassed any more. Okay? We done with that one?
11. I’ve talked about this in past Throwdowns, but to come up to speed: last year, over-privileged little shitbag Nick Hogan, son of Hulk Hogan, was out racing a car. He races a lot; loves it. This was on a city street, however, and he ended up crashing with a passenger in the car. The passenger, John Graziano, who had survived the Iraq War just to end up in this situation, went into a coma. The Hogan family has been apologetic. Last week or so, the Hogans came to visit Graziano in the hospital—he’s still in a coma—and apparently brought cameras with them. Because their reality show is still, goddamn it, still going on. And Graziano’s family saw that for what it was; an attempt to show the world how much the Hogans care and absolve themselves of guilt. So now the Grazianos are suing not only Nick, but also his parents, whom the lawsuit claims encouraged their son’s reckless and negligent driving, pointing out Nick’s terrible driving history, including two tickets in 2006 for going over 100 mph (something he bragged about on Hogan Knows Best) and three speeding tickets from last year, as well as his supposed history as a drift racer. Linda Hogan has apparently said some stuff in the past about how exciting her son’s stereo-blastin’, heart-poundin’, cop-dodgin’ speeding is; Hulk, who is an owner of the car involved, is alleged to have known that Nick’s Toyota Supra, the car that almost killed John Graziano, was dangerously suped-up. Oh, and Nick was also legally drunk at the time of the crash, and the lawsuit says that the Hogans supplied the alcohol. They should dig up the episode where Hulk actually gets Nick into semi-professional racing and encourages him to be reckless with it. And did I mention Nick only turned 17 last year? Charming. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Nick Hogan, you’re what’s wrong with America.
12. Ouch, Spidey. I have to say: downgrade. Is a moment of pleasure worth a lifetime on Valtrex?
13. Hilary Duff sure is taking her new sexy image seriously. I’m…surprised by this clip. But not in an altogether unpleasant way.
14. Heather Mills said she cancelled a meeting with Bill Clinton because she didn’t want her endorsement to affect the outcome of the election. Seriously, she said that. She also thinks she deserves a peerage for being married to Sir Paul McCartney briefly.
15. I recognize I’m just being a dick now, but a question: if Hillary Clinton forgets that she was never under the threat of sniper fire when she’s been sleep-deprived, how spry is she going to be the day she gets the 3 AM phone call?
16. Remember when we all the Democrats had to do to win was show up? Now, thanks to lie upon lie upon lie just to puff up a resume, we’re edging closer and closer to President McCain, and I guarantee you the poll gap between McCain and the two Democratic candidates is going to get wider and wider as people tire of the fighting and lying between Obama and Clinton. Now Hillary’s talk about Chelsea helping on 9/11 turns out to be a lie (she was asleep as it began and watched it on TV), and Obama turns out never to have been a law professor (he was a non-tenured senior lecturer). Guys, all you had to do was not be Bush. Quit it, for fuck’s sake, just quit this idiocy. This is why I cringed every time someone told me “It’s the Democrats’ election to lose,” just like they told me in 2004.
17. Also: Bill Clinton, shut the fuck up. I liked Bill Clinton, except for the total lack of accountability. When he was railroaded over an oval office blowjob, he had the chance to show the backbone people wanted to see in him and say “You know what? It’s none of your fucking business who shines my knob as long as I’m doing my job.” Instead, he decided to smugly parse the meaning of “is.” Now he’s out shilling for Hillary, and everything he says is just fuck dumb. Now he’s saying that Hillary shouldn’t drop out of the race, because she’s playing it right; she’s attacking Obama on his record. Except that she isn’t. She’s doing to Obama what she said the entire right wing was doing to her and Bill. Remember that vast right wing conspiracy? Lots of us believed it was true. And now, instead of taking the high road, she’s playing the exact same game with Obama. She’s playing Mutually Assured Destruction; if she can’t be president, no Democrat will. The Clintons are getting manic, throwing out more lies than they can cover, because they see Obama winning and they’re getting desperate. Bill Clinton just said that he hates all the name-calling going on, saying “I’ve heard them say all these things about her. Apparently it’s okay to say bad things about a girl.” His idiot implication there is that it’s not okay to say bad things about a black guy, but he wishes it was, because that would somehow be fair. And trying to set up a moral inequality by literally saying Obama’s association with Reverend Wright is somehow worse than getting a blowjob from an intern… ta loco, man. Ta loco. We get it; America’s still terrified of black people, so something like Reverend Wright is supposed to scare them. At least, Hillary’s hoping to play on that to scare people into electing her. I knew Hillary Clinton was a bad choice, but I didn’t think she’d go completely insane.
18. Here’s a positive story for a change: the Naturist Society named Helen Mirren their number one showbiz personality for “promoting healthy nudity.” Said spokesperson Nicky Hoffman, “Nude is not lewd. It is beautiful.” Nice to see someone out there I can still understand. Thank you, Dame Helen.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Swinebread has a fantastic post featuring his favorite B-listers from Marvel Comics. I was inspired to do the same thing myself.
You know, for financial reasons, I stopped buying monthly comics a couple of years ago. And in that time, I haven't really missed them very much. And I have to admit, although I loved Marvel Comics when I was young, by the age of 15 I was much more into DC Comics and less into Marvel. As time went on, I dropped Marvel book after Marvel book until I got down to just the occasional miniseries, Daredevil, and the books in the Ultimate line. Then it was down to just Ultimate Spider-Man. And then I just stopped altogether. Looking up all of these Marvel characters, I really realized something, and I'm going to just be blunt, so I apologize if anyone thinks this is overly harsh: Marvel Comics sucks.
Things have gotten really lame in the comic book world and I just don't care about Marvel at all. I still don't mind reading the occasional miniseries, but what a gala of idiotic characters they have. Sure, like a lot of people I still love the idea of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and the Hulk and Iron Man and Captain America and, occasionally, the X-Men. I like to read the comics I grew up on or the classic storylines. But it's just such a waste of time to keep up with the continuity in any way. It's just so... bad.
I'm not judging anyone else who loves Marvel Comics. I have nothing against people who are still fans. I still love those characters. But I just don't, you know, care about much of it anymore.
Anyway, I'm still listing my favorite Marvel B-listers, although my definition of B may be a little wide. So here we go.
The Fall of the Mutants storyline, especially the New Mutants issues, made a big impression on me in elementary school. Still one of my favorite comics stories.
Where's the Killraven movie, huh? For that matter, where's the Rom: Space Knight movie?
Leech and Artie
Shanna the She-Devil
And, B list or no, my very favorite Marvel characters:
I do still have Spidey and Mary Jane, Hulk, She-Hulk, the Thing, the Silver Surfer, Iron Man, Cap, Thor, Ant-Man and some of the Avengers on the inside, though. But as for buying Marvel's convoluted continuity... no.
Is Harvey Weinsten just going to release Fanboys or what?
It's been about two and a half years now since the Weinstein Company picked up Kyle Newman's Fanboys. Does everyone interested know this story by now? It's about some fanboys who cross the country to break into Skywalker Ranch in 1999 to steal a print of The Phantom Menace to screen for their friend, who's been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Harvey thought the cancer angle was depressing and brought in another director, Steven Brill (director of Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, and Without a Paddle and the scribe who wrote you not one, not two, but three Mighty Ducks movies), to take out the cancer subplot and turn the movie into a teen comedy instead of a sort of geek dramadey. Word from people who've seen the Weinsten version is that the comedy is now, of course, all at the expense of Star Wars fans; now we have another movie making fun of geeks.
So, instead of just getting pissy, fans actually took some action for a change. Not only was the Weinstein Company apparently bombarded with over 300,000 emails, there was also a planned boycott of Superhero Movie (which, frankly, there should be anyway--seriously, will you people stop going to see these fucking spoof movies? it only emboldens them to make more of the goddamn things!). See, that's using capitalism to protest, something a surprising number of Americans can't figure out. The people who want to see the original cut of Fanboys got it, though, and now Harvey doesn't seem to know what to do. Harvey is a guy who has no idea what goes into the making of a good film; just sign the checks and quit taking credit for what works.
Harvey, perhaps the worst person in the film industry since Sid Sheinberg when it comes to ruining the works of other, more talented people, is now supposedly exploring the possibility of releasing both versions theatrically. Um, sure. I believe that. He also plans to release both version on DVD, an empty promise he's made many times in the past when it comes to movies he's pissed on (where's that director's cut of Velvet Goldmine, Harve? been waiting a decade now...).
By this point, he might as well just release it on DVD. It's probably not going to be a hit anyway (something to keep in mind: Newman's previous effort was a straight-to-video modern version of Sleepy Hollow with Nick Carter, and his remake of Revenge of the Nerds was shut down by Fox Atomic, who hated the dailies so much they released The Comebacks instead--ouch), so why not just put it on DVD in its original version and let the audience it's aimed at enjoy it. I'd like to see it, and so would many others. So here's the question, Harvey: are you going to be big about it and just put Kyle Newman's cut on DVD, or am I going to see it as a bootleg on the internet instead? Because those are the only two ways I plan on seeing it.
There's a meme going around right now (por ejemplo) in which one is to imagine a six word memoir, a nice line that is a summation of one's life. I really can't do that, so instead, I'm offering two ideas of what I'd like to be on my headstone. Since I'm obnoxious and disliked, why not antagonize people just for the humor value? Here are my two choices; I've yet to decide.
Agitator and Layabout
"You are all idiots."
Pissed Off a Lot of People
Died As He Lived: Beating Up Kindergarteners
No, fuck you.
I've yet to decide.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
ME: I don't know, I just think this In Treatment show looks kind of dumb and cliched. And it asks a huge commitment, five days a week for two months.
BECCA: I'm just waiting for the day when I walk in and find you watching it on OnDemand and giving me this lame explanation, "I was bored and it turned out to be a really compelling show. It's really interesting."
ME: Sabes que, you don't know me! Damn! I'm not watching this show!
BECCA (on the phone): I need you to check my email for an address so I can mail this piece of art I sold. It should be in my email.
I wait two minutes for a CD to finish burning, then my paused TV goes live and gets REALLY loud and I can't reach the remote, and then I check Becca's email.
ME: I can't find it.
BECCA: Check all of the emails from him.
ME: I did, the address isn't there!
BECCA: Well, I got his check in the mail yesterday, and I thought I'd mail it today, but I don't have his address.
ME: Well, you can email him again when you get home from work...
BECCA: Wait, I'll bet it's on the envelope the check came in.
ME: Where's the envelope? I'll check.
BECCA: I have it here at work.
BECCA: You think I'm an idiot, don't you?
ME: Yes. A big one. Not all the time, just right now. And more than you've ever been one.
Bonus: she doesn't know it yet, but she interrupted me while I was watching In Treatment on OnDemand. It's spring break. I was bored and it turned out to be a really compelling show. It's really interesting. Sabes que, you don't know me!
PJ posted films 101-250 on the IMDb's list of Top 250 movies, again bolding the number of movies she's seen. So, what the hell, here I go, too. My list of the first 100 is here. I'd seen 92 of the Top 100. Let's add that to this total.
101. Strangers on a Train (1951)
102. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
103. Batman Begins (2005)
104. The Bicycle Thief (1948)
105. The Wages of War (1953)
106. High Noon (1952)
107. Return of the Jedi (1983)
108. Ran (1985)
109. The Big Sleep (1946)
110. Notorious (1946)
111. Back to the Future (1985)
112. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
113. Oldboy (2003)
114. Fargo (1996)
115. Unforgiven (1992)
116. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
117. Donnie Darko (2001)
118. Princess Mononoke (1997)
119. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
120. Ratatouille (2007)
121. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
122. Yojimbo (1961)
123. For a Few Dollars More (1965)
124. The Green Mile (1999)
125. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
126. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
127. Nights of Cabiria (1957)
128. Into the Wild (2007)
129. Gladiator (2000)
130. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
131. Die Hard (1988)
132. Annie Hall (1977)
133. The Deer Hunter (1978)
134. Ben-Hur (1959)
135. It Happened One Night (1934)
136. The Sixth Sense (1999)
137. Platoon (1986)
138. The General (1927)
139. Life of Brian (1979)
140. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
141. The Killing (1956)
142. Wild Strawberries (1957)
143. Les Diaboliques (1955)
144. Amores Perros (2000)
145. Finding Nemo (2003)
146. The Incredibles (2004)
147. V for Vendetta (2005)
148. Heat (1995)
149. The Wild Bunch (1969)
150. Children of Men (2006)
151. Brief Encounter (1945)
152. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
153. 8 1/2 (1963)
154. The Princess Bride (1987)
155. The Graduate (1967)
156. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
157. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
158. The Big Lebowski (1998)
159. Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
160. Juno (2007)
161. Crash (2004)
162. Stand by Me (1986)
163. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
164. Gandhi (1982)
165. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
166. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
167. Snatch (2000)
168. Harvey (1950)
169. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
170. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
171. The African Queen (1951)
172. The Thing (1982)
173. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
174. Trainspotting (1996)
175. Gone with the Wind (1939)
176. The Gold Rush (1925)
177. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
178. Groundhog Day (1993)
179. Beauty and the Beast (1946)
180. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
181. Scarface (1983)
182. The Conversation (1974)
183. Patton (1970)
184. American Gangster (2007)
185. Duck Soup (1933)
186. Toy Story (1995)
187. Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
188. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
189. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
190. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)
191. The Terminator (1984)
192. Sleuth (1972)
193. Umberto D. (1952)
194. The Hustler (1961)
195. Stalker (1979)
196. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
197. Glory (1989)
198. Ed Wood (1994)
199. King Kong (1933)
200. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
201. The Lion King (1994)
202. The Exorcist (1973)
203. Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
204. Spartacus (1960)
205. Grindhouse (2007)
206. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
207. The Lost Weekend (1945)
208. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
209. The Lady Vanishes (1938)
210. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
211. Magnolia (1999)
212. Stalag 17 (1953)
213. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
214. Run Lola Run (1998)
215. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
216. Frankenstein (1931)
217. Big Fish (2003)
218. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
219. Out of the Past (1947)
220. Casino (1995)
221. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
222. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
223. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
224. Mystic River (2003)
225. Rififi (1955)
226. Toy Story 2 (1999)
227. Once (2006)
228. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
229. Hot Fuzz (2007)
230. A Christmas Story (1983)
231. Infernal Affairs (2002)
232. Ikiru (1952)
233. Dial M for Murder (1954)
234. Manhattan (1979)
235. Rope (1948)
236. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
237. Young Frankenstein (1974)
238. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
239. Roman Holiday (1953)
240. The 400 Blows (1959)
241. His Girl Friday (1940)
242. The Searchers (1956)
243. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
244. Hero (2002)
245. In Cold Blood (1967)
246. Le Samourai (1967)
247. La Strada (1954)
248. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
249. The Kid (1921)
250. Harold and Maude (1971)
I've seen 129 from this batch. Coupled with the 92 from earlier, that means I've seen 221 of the Internet Movie Database users' Top 250 films. Which, I'm not bragging, is a hell of a lot more than anyone else I've seen doing this. Again, if you haven't seen a majority of these films--an overwhelming majority--stop calling yourself a film buff now. Oh, for the good old days when you had to actually see movies and know movie history, instead of just bypassing the canon because you had a blog and a lot of spare time. Being a film buff is something you used to have to devote real time to.
Hell, even I'm embarrassed by this list. Why? Because there's some godawful stuff in there, just some absolutely awful, horrible, stupid, useless movies. But I'm embarrassed to be a film buff who hasn't seen, for example, High Noon, Ran, 8 1/2, and All Quiet on the Western Front. And I'm going to fix that. I've kept track of every movie I've ever seen; I know the exact number, and it's well over 6000. But I don't consider myself an expert. How can I be? I haven't seen All Quiet on the Western Front.