Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Dude Abides

The time has come for a brief respite from the seriousness of our impending economic collapse. Anyway, if you read the subsequent column, you are aware the problem will soon be solved. Let us move on then, towards a subject laden with frivolity and bereft of the soul-crushing sadness some may be feeling as a result of our current catastrophe. Such a journey will take us beyond our own world and into the realm of fantasy, driven on the wings of a projector whose light lands softly on a wide screen. So come with me and my roundish buddy Roger Ebert, as we go to the movies.
I have ranked some of my favorite flicks in three categories - comedy, action, and drama. There may be some overlap - "Pulp Fiction" could easily fit into any of these three groups, for instance. Go ahead and disagree, we still live in a free country, at least for the moment. Besides I lose a brain cell or two every day and may have left out a classic. I have also included a quote from each movie - any suggestions in that area are also encouraged.


1. "The Big Lebowski" - That rug really tied the room together.
2. "Monty Python's The Search for the Holy Grail" - Now go away before I am forced to taunt you a second time.
3. "Clerks" - Try not to suck any dick on the way to the car!
4. "Army of Darkness" - That's just what we call pillow talk baby.
5. "Airplane" - Have you ever seen a grown man naked?
6. "Office Space" - Why should I change? He's the one who sucks.
7. "MASH" - [as Frank Burns is being taken away in a straight jacket by the MPs] Now, fair's fair Henry. If I nail Hotlips and hit Hawkeye can I go home too?
8. "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" - She's the village bicycle. Everybody's had a ride.
9. "Blazing Saddles" - Mongo only pawn in game of life
10. "Animal House" - Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

1. "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" - We grow copious amounts of ganja and you are carrying a wasted girl and a bag of fertilizer. You don't look like your average horti-fucking-culturist
2. "No Country For Old Men" - Carla: I got a bad feeling Llewelyn / Llewelyn: Well I got a good feeling, so that should even out.
3. "Pulp Fiction" - Did you see a sign on my house that said dead nigger storage?
4. "Lord of the Rings" trilogy - One ring to bind them and all that jazz.
5. "Fight Club" - The first rule of Fight Club is don't talk about Fight Club
6. "Reservoir Dogs" - Are you gonna bark all day little doggie? Or are you gonna bite?
7. "Star Wars" trilogy ("Star Wars", "Empire Strikes Back", Return of the Jedi") - Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?!
8. "Aliens" - We're fucked man! Game over!
9. "Kill Bill" Parts 1 and 2 - He hates caucasians, despises Americans, and has nothing but contempt for women. So in your case it may take awhile.
10. "The Usual Suspects" - I hear that Soze is some kinda fucked up psycho butcha, eh? (or basically any line Fenster/Benificio Del Toro spouts throughout the entire flick)

1. "The Godfather" - Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.
2. "Shawshank Redemption" - Get busy living, or get busy dying.
3. "Full Metal Jacket" - Oh that's right Private Pyle, don't make any effort to get to the top of the obstacle. If God had wanted you up there he would have miracled your ass up there by now, wouldn't he?
4. "Lone Star" - All that other stuff, all that history? To hell with it, right? Forget the Alamo.
5. "Last of the Mohicans" - I will find you!
6. "Almost Famous" - Rock stars have kidnapped my son.
7. "Trainspotting" - We called him Mother Superior on account of the length of his habit.
8. "Gandhi" - An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
9. "The Professional" - Leon: Stansfield? /Stansfield: At your service/ Leon (pulls pin from grenade): This is from Matilda.
10. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" - Is that crazy enough for ya? Want me to take a shit on the floor?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Economy is Stupid

The thought just hit me like lightning striking the tallest tree in the forest, leaving nothing but ash to remind the world of a tenuous existence. Since I am one of the world's leading figures, at least inside the warped confines of my brain, I should weigh in on the recent economic crisis that has hit the banking/mortgage industry over the last couple of months. I don't know very much about the problem, frankly, but that has never previously inhibited my forward momentum.
With 700 billion dollars about to be injected into the economy, I feel there have just got to be better ways to use the cash than to send it to people who have already proved they are inept at dealing with other people's money. Although, the Daily Show's concept of giving each American 2000 McDonald's apple pies is appealing when one considers the inflation-driven food prices of the last year, I feel we may need to look at a solution that attacks the crux of the matter. Henry Paulson, our infallible Treasury Secretary, has proclaimed himself the overlord of all the economy, and has inserted language into the planned bailout package giving himself unquestioned authority in these areas. Such economic tyranny balances well with the current status quo in our governing system, but Paulson is clearly not the right choice for our dollar bill dictator. There is only one way to spend such an absurd amount of money and only one person we can count on to make certain the cash flow is sent out in a diverse and effective manner. We have to dig up and reanimate the corpse of Richard Pryor.
In the 1985 flick "Brewster's Millions" (complete synopsis) Pryor's character, Montgomery Brewster, inherits an absurd fortune worth three hundred million in cash. There are a couple of intimidating roadblocks in between Brewster and his inheritance. Montgomery must first manage to spend thirty million dollars in a month's time - without accumulating any assets whatsoever. He is also forbidden from telling anyone what he is doing, so of course he is thought nuttier than giving a fruitcake as a Christmas present. In the end, our hero is able to complete his task, avoiding various obstacles along the way. Such a man is needed to steer our current economic ship. Here is a man who knows how to blow ridiculous sums of money in a creative fashion. Henry Paulson may not have the experience necessary to properly dump the American people's money down the crapper. Richard Pryor clearly does.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Sweltering Armpit of South Carolina

South Carolina is a state often under fire from outside. The controversy surrounding the confederate flag atop the state house comes to mind, but we are often the butt of other jokes concerning our ignorance and apparent desire to marry relatives. All in all though, I am a fan of our fair state of South Carolina, regardless of these criticisms, some deserved and others not. There is, however, one part of our beautiful land that I will not stoop to defend. Our capital,Columbia, South Carolina's sweltering armpit.
During two separate summers of my blissful youth, I was torn away from happiness and carried toward despair. Mom and Dad claimed that for the benefit of their historical research (both were college professors working on books at the time) we needed to leave our home in Charleston and head up I-26 to Columbia, where they could be within shouting distance of the State Archives. My brother and I were abandoned, thrown into a series of summer camps amidst the barren wastes of the city. Most of these camps took place in the open air, and although the town is a shit hole inside and out, the summer weather is assuredly the worst feature. Satan had originally planned to have Hell located in Columbia, but he decided that the town was just too hot to subject anyone to, regardless of how bad their behavior in the previous life had been. Heat and humidity combine to form a perfect storm of oppression that makes the Sahara desert seem like the ideal location for a vacation.
The city of Columbia was originally founded in 1786 due to complaints of those in the Upstate that Charleston, the previous capital, was just too far to travel. These whiny bitches/legislators chose a chunk of terrain located in the very center of the state as a compromise solution and moved the seat of government there permanently in 1790. Apparently no one had considered why the land had been unwanted in the first place. Besides the oppressive heat, the area was swampy, plagued with mosquitoes, roaches, and other signs of God's displeasure. The arrival of politicians only made the place even less desirable.
What of the quality of today's Columbia? Maybe the addition of various modern amenities could help the place to overcome its unfortunate location. Riverbanks Zoo is certainly a positive one can point to in defending the beleaguered city from its detractors. There is no better spot in the state to view caged animals prancing around their prisons. Kid stuff, though, and I imagine the thirsty reader not into exotic bestiality requires a bit more to be enticed into visiting our lovely capital.
For those in need of an oat soda or two, there is Five Points, the bar district made famous by the state newspaper, creatively entitled The State. The notoriety is due to the areas attraction to underage University of South Carolina football players and their apparently intense desire to get arrested there. Starting quarterbacks seem to be especially prone to the affliction, although former star running back Derek Watson did at one time have an entire unit dedicated to dealing with his illegal machinations.
If you would rather see this group stomping around the football field unfettered by handcuffs, then Williams-Brice stadium is the place to be for several Saturdays a year. Tailgating is a must, for watching the Gamecocks play in a sober frame of mind has been known to cause self-inflicted blindness and at times, outright insanity. The Cocks have been so terrible over the years that even Chicago Cubs fans like me feel sorry for their plight. The stadium nicknamed, "God's fingers," has seen much more plague and famine than it has seen feast over the turbulent recent years.
Despite misgivings, I traveled back to Columbia last month in order to see if the place had improved much since my troubled adolescent years. Since seeing Flogging Molly play live in Atlanta had improved my views on the city of Atlanta, I tried the same plan - seeing the band play live at Columbia's own, Headliners nightclub. Our capital still managed to come up snake-eyes though. The acoustics at Headliners were some of the worst I have ever experienced. Sound bounced around the box-shaped club like a deranged racquetball, clattering into itself in a wave of incomprehensible white noise. Only when the band started to play some of the slower songs in their set was I able to discern any of the lyrics, which are a somewhat integral component when listening to a group that specializes in sing-a-longs. The floor area was so small that the jam-packed crowd alternated between being slammed into the bar and the stage, which were only around twenty feet apart. Somehow, in the midst of it all Flogging Molly still managed to put on a great show.
Although there was very little in the way of actual sound quality, Headliners did manage to kick the violence up a notch, with three major fights occurring during the concert. You can't blame the folks, though, I would be pretty angry too if I lived in Columbia.
After the bruised and broken bodies of the wounded were cleaned up, I returned to the house of a Columbia native, with whom I spent the night before heading back home. She taught me how the locals deal with their appalling surroundings. I was handed a bottle of moonshine and ordered to drink heavily. After a short time, my senses all blurred and my consciousness began to slip slowly away. Hmmm, I thought as I fell into the welcoming arms of catatonia, this does seem to make things a bit better.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The 70s Return Uninvited

I have just returned from a short jaunt to Asheville, where we celebrated the birthday of the lovely, luscious lass that my younger sibling is lucky enough to be dating. I forget her name, but although it does not rhyme with a part of the female anatomy, it does have something to do with delicious fast food burgers. The host of the party, a good man we call by the name of Dan, chose to give the party a theme, eschewing the traditional birthday cake nonsense. Instead, we traveled back into the past, making a visit to the decade we should by all rights have forgotten, the 1970s. On the other hand, what better time to hearken back to those years? With skyrocketing inflation, energy crises, an unwanted and unnecessary war, and an extremely unpopular Republican president, residents of the decade could travel to our time and feel right at home.
Since the entire ten year period was an unholy fashion abortion, party goers had a vast array of possible costume choices. Unfortunately, I could not find a company willing to make me a fur suit made out of shag carpeting. Instead, I sported a tribute to the ABA, the era's failed basketball league, which gave us Julius Erving's plush afro and sporty Chuck Taylor shoes, not to mention the patriotic red, white, and blue ball. Every time someone managed to put the colorful orb into the hoop, a dollar was donated toward the defeat of the Russian horde. Although I was not able to grow an impressive afro in time for the event, I did manage to find the requisite headband, armbands, and tube socks that composed the outfit of the era's ballers.
Once attired in my jester's outfit, I felt right at home amongst the rest of the fools. My brother Colin chose to compose an ode to Starsky and Hutch with his costume. After donning his dark shades and a shirt somehow colored silver and brown, his sideburns and hair suddenly seemed as if they were beamed directly to him by Erik Estrada or some other 70s demigod. The birthday girl flashed a white and red flower-print dress resembling the kind worn by the Brady girls. In a celebratory mood, Wendy proceeded to eat a bowl composed of jello shots and pass out on top of the Twister board. Although there were other impressive costumes, I think we have reached the limit of my ability as fashion impresario.
With the red carpet rolled up, we then proceeded to annihilate ourselves in the traditional fashion. Twelve games or so of beer pong later I too was ready to become one with the Twister board. My zen drinking master, David Carradine, would be proud if he saw me today.

Monday, September 1, 2008

This Land is Your Land, But This Land is Not My Land

Over the last couple of years I have developed the habit of going on walks in the vicinity of my home. On many instances, my steps have led me onto the local golf course that abuts my neighborhood, known as Pebble Creek (not to be confused with Pebble Beach in name or quality). Never have these meanderings caused any problems - until recently.
Last week, as I strolled along the cart path, I was intercepted by the Marshall, a gentleman whose main tasks normally include making sure that golfers have paid and that they maintain a steady pace of play once they begin their round. Marshalls are generally fairly old and cantankerous by nature, and this fellow was no exception. I was informed that I could not walk on the golf course, non-members could not walk on the golf course because members payed a lot of money, and people who were not wearing a t-shirt could not walk on the golf course. The manner in which I was told directly resembles the monotony and lack of thought you just witnessed in the previous sentence. If my presence there was considered trespassing perhaps just telling me once would suffice. The man's verbal diarrhea continued, but I put on my headphones and proceeded off the grounds, resolving never again to play either of the Pebble Creek courses.
So am I overreacting? Sure you may say, they have a right to kick anyone off their land they see fit to, America is a country founded on the sanctity of private property and I was in the wrong. Perhaps, but allow me to humor you, the patient reader, with my point of view.
First off, I have to confess that at the time of my apprehension, I had been walking on the property for a decent stretch of minutes. In fact, about nine separate holes had been graced with my presence. During this period I gazed upon the faces of a grand total of zero golfers. You are correct in assuming that is not very many. I must have been bothering quite a lot of folks, like maybe the ghosts of former members, who knows? The Marshall sure wasn't lying when he mentioned during his interminable spiel that Pebble Creek was an exclusive club.
So I wasn't bothering anyone that particular day, what if there had been actual people occupying the fairways and greens, would I not have caused them difficulty. Highly unlikely - as I mentioned earlier this was not my first rodeo, so to speak. On many previous occasions my destiny has crossed that of golfers. I am, believe it or not, a duffer of some quality myself, with a handicap easily below fifty. With my vast experience and expertise I am aware that golf is a game requiring an intense amount of concentration, not to mention mental focus and brain wave function of some sort. As a result, when I come upon a portion of the links inhabited by fellow hackers, I turn my wheels in a different direction. There are myriad spots to exit the course or move to a different portion.
Why not walk an alternate route? Give Pebble Creek a miss and avoid the hassle completely. I could and I have and it seems I will do so again in the future. When I have the time, I steer my car over towards Furman and use the many trails that dot the campus. The university is a decent drive from my house, however, and the recent rise in gas prices has made repeated trips there prohibitively expensive. Instead, I choose to stay in the vicinity of my residence. The majority of my sorties take me along the roads adjacent to my neighborhood. These streets include major thoroughfares such as Stallings and Rutherford. Travelling here adds not a small bit of risk to my journey, with speeding vehicles passing within feet of my fragile human anatomy. Blind curves on several sections do nothing to increase the safety rating of this area. One of my favorite authors during the foolish days of my youth, Stephen King, was nearly killed when he was hit by a van coming around a turn similar to several I encounter while traipsing along my way.
I suppose none of that really matters to some folks. I was on someone else's property, therefore I was not on the side of the angels. Perhaps I am on to something with the heavenly reference, though - would a higher power not be on my side in this matter? God, Allah, Zarathustra, Bob or whatever you want to call him or her gave us this Earth as our home. The idea of fencing off and dividing the land into pieces is a human invention, not a divine one. Are we not insulting our maker when we banish and punish people who are doing no harm? Just a thought, feel free to let it simmer in your skull.